House of Commons Hansard #170 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was first.

Topics

Criminal Code
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Gatineau, Official Languages; the hon. member for Churchill, Aboriginal Affairs.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I stand to speak in support of this bill which, by way of agreement of all parties, will go through the House today at all stages and will become law. This cooperation reflects a response from us demanding to deal with the piracy of movies.

The bill has basically three provisions of note. We are creating a new offence in the Criminal Code for videotaping a movie without the consent of a theatre manager. In clause 1 of the bill, no person is entitled to videotape the film that is on the screen.

I am being told by the member for Timmins—James Bay that I will be sharing my time with him. I did have a note of that, Mr. Speaker, but I think it might be a little Freudian that I buried it somewhere here in my papers. In all seriousness, I will be looking forward to the comments from the member for Timmins—James Bay who is our critic for heritage. I am sure he will have some very enlightened comments on the bill.

The second part of the bill would make it an offence, again without the consent of the theatre manager, to videotape the film for the purposes of sale or other commercial activity.

In the case of the first offence, which is simply videotaping without consent, there are certain penalties but they are of a lesser nature. If it is a situation where the person is intending to use the film for commercial purposes, which is the activity that we are most focused on preventing and, hopefully, stopping outright, the penalties would be more severe. If people are convicted of an indictable offence, they would be looking at a maximum of five years in jail.

The third provision in the bill, and it is an important provision given to the courts, is the right of forfeiture of the equipment that was used either for filming, copying or creating additional copies. This provision would give the courts the authority, on application from the crown prosecutor, to seize all those goods and forfeit them to the Crown. The one exception to the forfeiture is the situation where the property actually belongs to someone else. In those circumstances it would not be forfeited.

What we are doing here is responding to concerns that have been raised within the film industry here in Canada and within the film industry internationally, particularly in the United States, to this outright piracy of films. In that regard, the bill responds to that initial concern that we have had.

It also reflects on the current state of the laws, both under the Copyright Act and under the Criminal Code, which do not provide adequate response to this type of criminal activity, and, therefore, the need for it.

Members may have heard some of the other speakers mention a number of incidents but I want to mention one notorious incident that occurred in St. Jerome just north of Montreal. Two young men were in a theatre with a video camera, obviously intent on video copying the film on the screen, when they were accosted by the staff. The men told the staff that they had no right to demand they leave or that they not copy the movie because there were no laws in Canada requiring them to leave the theatre or to stop copying the film. At that point the staff persisted and one, who was a young woman, was actually grabbed around the throat and pushed. The police were subsequently called. When the police arrived they said that they had no basis on which to charge the men because there were no laws in Canada that would allow them to charge them, either under the Copyright Act or under the Criminal Code.

That incident in particular, but a number of other ones highlight the need for this bill and hence the support we have received from all parties in that regard.

I want to cover one other point and that is to perhaps express a bit of a concern over whether the bill would be as effective as we may have put out the image that it would be. I want to express some reservation about that and I do that in light of some of the background research I did in preparation for analyzing the bill and the need for it.

The United States addressed this problem at an earlier stage than we did. It does have a federal statute that is a little over two years old and there has only been one charge and one prosecution under it in the United States. A number of the state legislatures have also passed laws. California was the lead one. It passed it at the start of this year. Again, there have been no prosecutions whatsoever under that legislation. Illinois, one of the other earlier ones, has one a year or two old now with no prosecutions under that.

The point I would make from that experience in the United States is to perhaps caution how effectively we will be able to use this legislation. The notorious case that I described in St. Jerome will put a stop to that type of activity.

However, we know from information and research that we undertook in the public safety committee on counterfeit goods getting into Canada generally, but piracy of films as well, that a great deal of this activity is conducted by and paid for by organized crime and, in most occasions, at a very sophisticated level.

Although we would be stopping, fairly effectively with this legislation, the small operators, the success of it with regard to organized crime, to a great extent, remains uncertain. That may very well require additional efforts on the part of our governments, both at the federal and provincial level, and by our police forces right across the country to deal with the piracy of film and the use of counterfeit goods generally.

We are prepared to support this at all stages so we can put a stop to at least some of this piracy that is going on, to protect our film industry here in Canada and to protect our international reputation from this kind of conduct. We will be supporting it and we look forward to seeing what happens.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to the bill in cooperation with my colleague, the member for Windsor—Tecumseh.

New Democrats are pleased the piracy bill is before the House. It seems to me that it took a visit from The Terminator and pulling of all Hollywood films out of Canada to get the government to finally move on this, but I am pleased it did move.

A number of elements need to be examined in the legislation. One is the message it sends and the other is the efficacy of the legislation.

In Canada we do not support the illegal proliferation of bootlegged products, which are sold and undermine the intellectual investments and the massive investments that are made to make good films in Canada and around the world.

In terms of the efficacy of the legislation, my colleague, the member for Windsor—Tecumseh, raised the issue of how much this legislation will cover. I do not doubt that there has been piracy with camcorders, but I have questions about the numbers that are thrown around such as 20%, 40%, 70% of all bootlegged products go out of Canada. I do not think that will stand up to serious second scrutiny. Once the legislation is in place, it will give us a better chance to look at that.

Consumers do not want to watch something that was shot under a raincoat with a hand-held mic and a camera. They want quality. The quality of many of the bootlegged products out there is very high, which leads some to say that these movies are being cut much closer to source. Once this loophole in the legislation is filled, Canada will no longer be the whipping child for so-called piracy. The issue of where high quality bootlegged products are coming from will have to be addressed.

We also need to address copyright legislation for the 21st century. Piracy and bootlegging are different than the issue of remuneration of copyright, but there are overlaps. Sometimes the overlaps are confusing, but they are instructive.

Canada is in a position to come forward with copyright legislation for the 21st century. The biggest danger would be coming forward with legislation that was perfect for 1996, meaning that it would be all but irrelevant in the incredible changeover of digital technology that we see right now.

At this juncture in history, the movie industry is on the cusp of what happened to the recording industry back in the early part of this millennium. The band width now available on the Internet is almost at the point where people can start to stream movies quickly and efficiently. That will raise serious questions as to how we start to monetize this grey market exchange of intellectual goods on the Internet.

One model has been put out for us and that is the DMCA, the digital millennium copyright act, which was brought forward by Washington. Washington's trade representatives will do as much as they can to ensure that Canada signs on with a very similar restrictive copyright regime. However, there are a number of problems with that legislation.

Just a few months ago, I was in Montreal at an international conference on copyright and Bruce Lehman, who wrote the DMCA, was there. He was one of the key legislative planners who saw the legislation as a way of protecting the intellectual property of the United States. The message he gave in Montreal was that the legislation failed. His message to law students in Montreal was that Canada needed to learn from the U.S. mistakes and be ready to move forward. This is again talking about building 21st century copyright policy and not 20th century policy.

The fundamental issues that came forward came out of the 1996 WIPO treaty, which was supposed to deal with all the millennium issues. Unfortunately, the legislation was brought forward when the FAX machine was cutting edge, so a number of changes have happened along the way.

One of the fundamental principles of WIPO is the ability of the copyright holder to place a digital lock, the DRM, on top of the product, so it cannot be used without permission. The digital lock model is definitely a model to be considered, but what we have seen in many places is the locks have been broken. In fact, in many of the key areas in music, Apple for example, say that if it is to compete, it cannot put the digital locks on because nobody will even buy the legal product.

Therefore, there is a question of how to deal with this. In the United States, the issue was if people broke the digital lock, the company would sue them. Then we had the instance of a bunch of 13-year-old kids being sued for downloading songs. At the end of the day, has that changed anything about the massive trade of songs and other merchandise on the Internet? It does not change anything, yet it creates a black eye for the music industry, which is trying to protect its property.

In Canada we saw the rise of the Canadian Music Creators Coalition. It said that there had to be another way to do this.

We need to start looking at how we monetize. The traffic is out there. Some very interesting models have come forward. With the peer to peer mechanisms out there, there are companies that can actually track how often a song is traded. They do not necessarily have to decide to look at which door it goes from, from whose house to whose house, but they can get a general sense of how many times a song has been traded on the Internet. That technology exists now. If we know how much product and what artist's music is being traded, then it is possible at some point to monetize this in the same way for radio play and for any other use of songs.

Therefore, the question is this. How do we start moving forward in the 21st century to monetize the value? The biggest threat we could have is to have outmoded legislation that will not address the problem. Once the bandwidths on the telcos reach the point, and we are almost at the point, where movies can be streamed at any point to anybody without any remuneration, then we will be into a serious problem.

The movie industry must be commended because it has begun to anticipate this. We have seen video on demand take a number of steps. It has seen a number of the mistakes that were made by the record industry. I am not kicking the horse when it is down, but the it really believed it could ride this out and it would go back to business as usual. It lost the market and that market will not return. However, the movie industry is it is starting to anticipate how to learn from those mistakes.

I will conclude with this comment. We saw the recent partnership between Warner Bros. and BitTorrent, where it allows them to do massive peer to peer trading. When Hollywood is saying that it cannot fight these guys forever so it should start working with them, it raises again the question of how to monetize this into the 21st century.

The New Democrats support the bill as it stands. Let us deal with the issue of piracy and with the issue of bootlegging, but let us start an honest, open discussion on how we can copyright in the 21st century that works for everyone.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank both my colleagues for their eloquent interventions on this bill. I share their support for it, but share their view that it does not fully address the issue of copyright, nor even the issue of bootlegging film.

I come from Toronto and am pleased to represent a riding with so much artistic talent such as filmmakers, writers, musicians, painters and dancers. It is a very rich area and the whole issue of copyright is of great concern to my constituents.

Obviously we want to protect the rights of the creators of art and ensure that their rights, their work and their livelihoods are protected. However, we also want to adapt with the changing world of technology, and we do not want to be so restrictive that we are limiting educational institutions, universities and libraries in getting access to art.

Therefore, how does my colleague envision the changes with this technology affecting copyright and access by educational institutions while still protecting the rights of creators?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague hit the nail on the head. Copyright has always been an issue of balance. It is the balancing of competing interests and it is messy. It is not an easy way of going forward, but it is possible. From previous legislative attempts, we saw there were major concerns about access for universities and schools.

The principle we need to start with, and I will it put forward to the House, is a simple one. We have to get over our fear of the big, bad Internet. The Internet has provided possibilities for development for cultural expression, which were unimaginable 10 years ago.

When I first came into Parliament, we talked about the threat of the Internet, the threat of digital culture and how it would wipe out all our protected little Canadian industries like some big terrible cultural tsunami. We have to find out how we can start to use the digital culture so our immense cultural value that is being created can get out there. Again, I refer back to the Canadian Music Creators Coalition. It is starting to show some really interesting business models for success of Canadian artists internationally, based on the new music digital trading.

We have to look at where those successes are. We have to look at the issues of piracy. We have to deal with the issues of bootlegging. However, we need to start a serious discussion in order to ensure that our film, television and our audio visual content, which is very expensive, can be monetized at a value that can bring some return to our artists, but also ensure access for anyone, anytime, anywhere in the world.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Pursuant to order made earlier today, Bill C-59, an act to amend the Criminal Code (unauthorized recording of a movie) is deemed read the second time, referred to a committee of the whole, reported without amendment, concurred in at report stage, read a third time and passed.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time, considered in committee of the whole, reported, concurred in, read the third time and passed)

Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

John Baird Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

moved that Bill C-51, An Act to give effect to the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

Daniel Petit Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, as parliamentarians, we are sometimes rewarded with moments of profound satisfaction, and today is one of them.

With the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement—the last Inuit land claim settlement in the country—we have now come full circle. The Inuit of Nunavik will once again become the owners of a group of islands totaling 5,100 square kilometres located north of the 53rd parallel.

In Inuktitut, Nunavik means “place to live". From now on, 10,000 Inuit living in 15 communities scattered along the Ungava Bay and the east coast of the Hudson Bay will own the land they have been using for over 4,000 years.

This agreement was overwhelmingly supported by the Inuit of Nunavik. Indeed, some 78% of the eligible beneficiaries and 90% of everyone who voted supported the agreement. Such strong support is an excellent indication of the commitment of the Inuit people of Nunavik and just how important the agreement is to them.

I would also like to point out the measures set out in the agreement to protect the traditions that have ensured the survival of the Inuit culture. With the new act, the Inuit of Nunavik will have the right to harvest wildlife on the lands covered by the agreement, in order to meet their economic, social and cultural needs.

Thanks to this bill, and to the agreement at its foundation, the Inuit of Nunavik will own the surface rights and subsoil rights in fee simple. The islands belong to them without question.

These claims were particularly complex because of the overlap in the Nunavut land claims, the offshore land claims of the Crees of Quebec and the land claims of the Inuit of Labrador. It was impossible to settle the claims of the Inuit of Nunavik without first putting some order into these issues. It was essential to achieve the desired agreements to clarify the ownership rights on the land and the resources.

Here is an example. The Inuit of Nunavik and the Crees of James Bay had created three adjacent zones along the coast of Hudson Bay and James Bay.

To the north, was the Inuit zone, where the Crees of Quebec are permitted to harvest wildlife resources. The common zone is shared by the two groups. Finally, the southernmost zone will be the exclusive property of the Crees of Quebec, but the Inuit will be allowed to harvest wildlife resources in that zone.

In case of any disputes, the regulations provide for a resolution mechanism based on arbitration.

In addition to clarifying the territory belonging to the parties, this final agreement provides greater certainty about the future of the region.

It is in the interest of all parties to establish certainty regarding the use and ownership of the land and the resources. The certainty consists in replacing ambiguous ancestral rights with rights that are very precisely defined in the agreement. Section 35(3) of the Constitution Act, 1982 expressly grants the same protection to ancestral rights as to rights flowing from a treaty.

The benefits of obtaining certainty are clearly illustrated in another important point of the agreement: the creation of a new Canadian national park.

The Torngat Mountains National Park is a magnificent park of about 9,700 square kilometres with some of the most marvellous landscapes in Canada. It extends from Saglek Fiord in the south up to the northernmost point of Labrador, and from the border with Quebec on the west, to the Labrador Sea on the east.

The park protects a spectacular, untouched arctic area that is home to numerous archaeological sites and wildlife resources of great interest to Canadian historians.

Under the agreement, the Government of Canada will pay about $94 million over 10 years to the Inuit of Nunavik, who will invest those funds for their future. This amount includes the transfer of $54.8 million to the trust fund of the Inuit of Nunavik. The money will be distributed to some 10,000 Inuit of Nunavik, individually and collectively, to meet their educational, social, cultural and socio-economic needs. The great success of the Makivik Corporation shows that the settlement of land claims leads to the creation of businesses, jobs and new national and international markets, which strengthens the ability of First Nations and Inuit communities to meet the needs of their members.

That translates into a better quality of life for Aboriginal people, which is precisely the objective that we had set out to achieve. To guarantee that the economic development generated by this agreement procures sustainable benefits to the Inuit of Nunavik, the regulations provide for creation of several institutions public government. The Makivik Corporation will have legal authority to nominate 50% of the members of those institutions. For the first time, the Inuit of Nunavik will exercise real decision-making powers and be able to act decisively in the review processes that govern development of the region.

For example, the Nunavik Marine Region Wildlife Board will be responsible for wildlife management and conservation. It will conduct research, monitor the allowable take, including the Nunavik Inuit share, and set quotas as needed.

For its part, the Nunavik Marine Region Planning Commission will establish policies, objectives and goals to be used in managing the Nunavik Marine Region together with the federal and territorial governments. The Commission will also create land use plans for the development and exploitation of resources in the marine region.

Among other things, the Nunavik Marine Region Planning Commission will be responsible for assessing impacts, and will pre-select proposals for assessment. It will assess the impacts of proposed projects and monitor their progress.

As with all other land claims agreements, people will wonder which act takes precedence. I want to be very clear: all general federal, territorial and local legislation applies to the Inuit of Nunavik on the Inuit of Nunavik lands. Should incompatibility or conflict arise between these acts and the agreement, the agreement takes precedence, but only in cases of incompatibility or conflict.

It is clear that this final agreement, which has been so carefully drafted, seeks to strike a balance between the past and the creation of a better future for the Inuit of Nunavik.

This agreement is beneficial to all parties. We should celebrate this final step, which is a major achievement, and highlight its benefits for all Canadians. I therefore wish to reaffirm my support for this important bill.

Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-51 and encourage its passage. My leader supports the bill, as do, I believe, all leaders in the House today.

Many years ago a great Inuit leader, Zebedee Nungak, called for what he termed the completion of the circle of Confederation by the acceptance of Canada's Inuit peoples. It has taken too long, but we are moving closer to that goal.

I was greatly impressed by the briefings I received from Nunavik Inuit leaders on this treaty. The agreement, and the bill that implements it, reflects their objectives while respecting the rights and interests of my Inuit and other constituents in Labrador.

I wish to acknowledge in the House the president of Makivik, Pita Aatami, and my good friend and cousin, Johnny Peters, vice-president, representing the Nunavik Inuit.

I have had a warm relationship over the last decade with the leadership of the Nunavimmiut as we have collaborated in trying to ensure that all Inuit people in the Labrador peninsula are accommodated. This is a historic agreement for Canada, for Nunavik, for Quebec, for Labrador, and for all Inuit.

At the same time, the people of Canada and Labrador deserve honesty, accountability and clarity. Today I want to explore the implications of this proposed treaty. I also want to deliver a message that treaty making is the way of the future for reconciling Canada's sovereignty with all aboriginal peoples, Indian, Inuit and Métis.

We must certainly do better as legislators in moving the process of treaty making forward. Some of the major land claims we have faced were filed 20, 30, even 40 years ago, and most are still unresolved. Surely we can find a better way. Yesterday's announcement, unfortunately, does nothing to relieve the backlog in comprehensive claims.

I also have a special concern as the member for Labrador to ensure that the land ownership, the jurisdictional and the compensation aspects of this treaty are fully consistent with the honour of the Crown. I must be assured that the Nunavik Inuit and anyone else affected by the treaty are fully and fairly accommodated.

The bill before the House is a well crafted, well negotiated and fair expression of Nunavik Inuit interests on the offshore regions of Quebec and Labrador and in the overlap territories the Nunavik Inuit share with my other cousins, the north coast Inuit within my riding.

To be sure, as my friend in the other place, Senator Charlie Watt, has put it, the agreement could be better, particularly in relation to certainty and the continuing demand by Canada that aboriginal groups give up what is undefined about their rights, but the Nunavik Inuit have accepted the wording in the course of their negotiations.

The treaty strikes an important balance in providing Nunavik Inuit, as well as the Inuit of Nunatsiavut, northern Labrador, with solid, constitutionally protected rights and interests in the management of lands and ocean resources.

This treaty has been negotiated over a great many years. The deal has been approved and ratified by the Nunavik Inuit. It has been reviewed and signed off by the Nunatsiavut government, which will play an important role in implementation within terrestrial Labrador.

I am pleased that the government has recognized the hard work done by our previous Liberal government, as most of the federal work was done under our watch. I hope that the reciprocal arrangement defining the rights of Labrador Inuit in Nunavik will soon be finalized as well.

This treaty does not require provincial approval. All the offshore areas involved are fully within Parliament's jurisdiction. The land based impacts are within a national park reserve, the Torngat Mountain national park, to be created by this bill, which is also within federal jurisdiction.

The treaty affirms Nunavik Inuit interests and rights in the Labrador Inuit settlement area in accordance with an overlap agreement between the two Inuit organizations as originally provided for in the Labrador Inuit land claims settlement agreement.

The treaty respects the interests of Canadians, of Labradorians and of Labrador's aboriginal peoples.

I wish to highlight the next steps to bring reconciliation a final and deciding step closer to realization in Labrador.

This is a piece of a wider solution. Part of Canada's agenda must be a treaty with the Innu Nation of Labrador. These negotiations have languished for so long that the social and economic prospects for both the Innu and all Labradorians have suffered. It is important to move ahead and closer to an agreement like those achieved by the Nunatsiavut and now the Nunavik Inuit.

The Innu Nation of Labrador has built important relationships with Nunatsiavut and their Innu brothers and sisters in Quebec. One day they will enjoy a renewed relationship with the provincial and federal governments through land rights resolution and self-government treaties.

Unfortunately, there are legitimate fears that the recent dismissal and shuffling of chief federal land claims negotiators may delay progress on the Innu Nation negotiations. This does not help.

There is also one last Inuit descendant group in Canada that must be accommodated in Labrador. I am, of course, talking of the Inuit-Métis of Labrador, of which I am one. This is a unique group, the only aboriginal people in the country to span the Inuit and Métis peoples recognized in the Constitution Act, 1982.

In 1996 the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples took special efforts to assess and comment on the Labrador Inuit-Métis. In 2003 the Supreme Court of Canada also made specific mention of the Labrador Inuit-Métis in its Powley decision and clearly implied the need for a reconciliation for this unique people.

Only in southern Labrador have Inuit people been associated with Europeans for so long, in fact since the 16th century. Yet, we are clearly an Inuit people of mixed descent, unique in Canada. It is a historical and legal fact.

Last year the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador took these precedents into account and ordered the provincial government to accept reality: that the Inuit-Métis exist and have rights that are certain to be upheld in a court of law. The provincial position that Powley and other aboriginal jurisprudence do not apply in Labrador is simply not tenable.

The province, at least tacitly, has consented to the Nunavik-Nunatsiavut agreement, yet it continues to blockade progress by the Labrador Métis Nation. This is unfair, unjust and hypocritical. It is also contrary to the solemn, written promise made by Premier Williams during the 2003 election campaign. It does not serve the interests of the province of Labrador or of the Métis Nation.

It is for Canada, through Parliament, to take action to restore a fair and equitable basis for accommodation and reconciliation. In this spirit, yesterday, we heard the minister announce the creation of a special Indian claims tribunal. It is a step forward.

This acknowledged that in aboriginal claims and rights issues, it is important to provide an efficient and fair avenue for negotiations, and for dispute settlement where negotiations do not succeed. This is all part of the essence of reconciliation.

Although it is a step forward, I have expressed certain concerns about the tribunal. I would stress again that there must be progress on comprehensive claims, as well as on specific claims.

The 6,500 Inuit-Métis of Labrador living in isolated communities, as they have for time immemorial, have been waiting almost two decades for a response to their claim. They have been denied justice.

The royal commission in 1996 had suggested and recommended acceptance of the claim. In 2003 the Supreme Court also commented on the Inuit-Métis claim and clearly paved the way for acceptance. The people of Labrador are ready to accept the Inuit-Métis claim.

I have resolutions from the combined councils of Labrador, representing all municipalities, to the same effect. My friends and indeed relations from Nunavik have themselves been very sympathetic and supportive. It is time that the federal and provincial governments take action.

I have worked to break that deadlock. In 2003 I negotiated an agreement with the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs to have an independent legal assessment done of this Inuit-Métis claim filed by the Labrador Métis Nation.

This is exactly the kind of alternative dispute resolution called for and must be respected through the creation of the tribunal. Yet, the independent assessment that was agreed to has not started.

It is now 17 months into Canada's tired—

Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Order, please. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but we have reached an order of the day. The member will be able to resume his comments when we return to government orders.

Speaker's Ruling--Devils Lake Diversion Project
Request for Emergency Debate
Government Orders

June 13th, 2007 / 5:20 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Earlier today, the hon. member for Winnipeg North requested an emergency debate on the Devils Lake diversion pursuant to Standing Order 52.

The Speaker took the request under advisement and has asked me to inform the House that having considered the request, he has concluded that it meets the requirements of the Standing Order.

Accordingly, to give members an opportunity to prepare for the debate, it will be scheduled for Thursday, June 14, 2007, at the completion of debate on government orders, but in any event no later than 9 p.m. pursuant to special order adopted earlier today.

It being 5:20 p.m., pursuant to order made earlier today, I now invite the hon. member for Burlington to address the House concerning Bill C-279, An Act to amend the DNA Identification Act (establishment of indexes).

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-279, An Act to amend the DNA Identification Act (establishment of indexes), as reported (with amendments) from the committee.

DNA Identification Act
Private Members' Business

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, throughout the debate on Bill C-279 many significant facts have been stated. There are nearly 100,000 missing persons in Canada every year. Over 6,000 missing person cases are currently unresolved, with an addition of over 450 new cases per year.

There are over 15,000 samples of unidentified DNA recovered from crime scenes across this country currently stored in the RCMP's national DNA data bank here in Ottawa.

As well, there are hundreds of sets of unidentified DNA from Jane and John Does found in morgues across Canada.

Given the need for a DNA data bank and the widespread support from Canadians, law enforcement professionals, the provincial and territorial governments, a DNA database for missing persons housed within the national DNA data bank is on the horizon. Bill C-279 helps make that possible.

The public safety committee recently studied Bill C-279 and referred it back to this House. The committee recognized our need for a national missing persons index, an MPI data bank, as soon as possible, and supported my bill in principle, but recognized that more work needs to be done.

That work is being done and experts will be back in the fall to testify before the committee.

I am happy to tell this House that the Minister of Public Safety himself has expressed interest in looking into this concept as a possible future government bill.

Members from all parties have acknowledged their support and the support in principle from their respective parties.

Canada is the DNA leader. It is known for pushing the technology, how it handles DNA, and how it will handle a DNA data bank. We should support Canada's commitment as a leader in DNA and set a great example for other countries to follow.

I would like to thank Lindsey's mother, Judy Peterson, for inspiring this bill and the Minister of Natural Resources who has worked tirelessly on this issue before I took it over.

Bill C-279 may not exist after today, but the concept will and I will continue to work hard with our government to make this happen. At this time I would seek the withdrawal of my bill, Bill C-279, An Act to amend the DNA Identification Act.

DNA Identification Act
Private Members' Business

5:20 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Pursuant to order made earlier today, Bill C-279, An Act to amend the DNA Identification Act (establishment of indexes) is withdrawn.

(Order discharged and bill withdrawn)

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-51, An Act to give effect to the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.