House of Commons Hansard #39 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was identity.

Topics

Canada Post
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition from people across Canada. This particular petition comes from people from Alberta and it is calling on Parliament to support Bill C-458, An Act to amend the Canada Post Corporation Act (library materials), which will protect and support the library book rate and extend it to include audio-visual materials.

Income Trusts
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to present this income trust broken promise petition on behalf of a number of people across the country, a large number in western Canada, who remember the Prime Minister boasting about his apparent commitment to accountability when he said the greatest fraud is a promise not kept.

The petitioners would like to remind the Prime Minister that he promised never to tax income trusts, but he broke that promise by imposing a 31.5% punitive tax, which permanently wiped out $25 billion of the hard-earned retirement savings of Canadians, many of them seniors.

They therefore call upon the Conservative government to admit that the decision to tax income trusts was based on flawed methodology and incorrect assumptions, to apologize to those who were unfairly harmed and, finally, to repeal that punitive 31.5% tax on income trusts.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.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

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Alleged impediment in the discharge of a Member's duties
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, on October 18, 2007, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley rose on a matter of privilege relating to the designation of certain persons in his riding to serve the role of a quasi-member of Parliament instead of the elected member.

It raised an interesting issue because on January 11, 2008, during our break period, a constituent came to my office. I was there. The constituent asked about the serious issue of the policy of the government related to the importation of goods from countries such as China where there has been some problem in terms of health and safety.

We immediately contacted Service Canada to find out if it had the documentation on this issue that is very prevalent. It told us that we had to talk to Health Canada product safety.

My staff did contact Health Canada product safety and they were advised by Health Canada product safety that it would have to get back to them on that matter because there was some process to go through.

A phone call was received back from a different number totally. I have the name and phone number of the individual and I have personally talked to the person subsequently.

The question that was posed to my staff and subsequently to me was: “Is your member of Parliament a member of the opposition?” The Health Canada product safety representative was asking, with regard to my query, whether or not the member was a member of the opposition.

When I learned of this communication from my staff, I immediately contacted this person. I had an extensive conversation with the individual. I was told that there was a requirement for Health Canada product safety to fill out an MP response form which it receives from Ottawa. It must fill it out including quotations and extracts from the conversation with the member of Parliament or the member of Parliament's staff.

This matter goes to Ottawa so that Ottawa, wherever this little black hole may be in this government, it appears decides what can be told to a member of Parliament. It also wants to know specific details, I was told, to monitor our activities, so that it could be prepared should the matter ever come up in question period.

I want to refer you, Mr. Speaker, to page 87, House of Commons Procedure and Practice by Marleau and Montpetit, which quotes Speaker Bosley from May 6, 1985, in which he states:

It should go without saying that a Member of Parliament needs to perform his functions effectively and that anything tending to cause confusion as to a Member's identity creates the possibility of an impediment to the fulfilment of that Member's functions. Any action which impedes or tends to impede a Member in the discharge of his duties is a breach of privilege. There are ample citations and precedents that bear this out.

I further refer you, Mr. Speaker, to page 69 of the 21st edition of Erskine May, Treatise on the Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament, where it says:

Each House also claims the right to punish as contempts actions which, while not breaches of any specific privilege, obstruct or impede it in the performance of its functions, or are offences against its authority or dignity, such as disobedience to its legitimate commands or libels upon itself, its members or its officers--

We have a duty, Mr. Speaker, to uphold the privileges and the rights of members of Parliament and to ensure that they have all of the tools available to them to serve the people who elected them.

In this particular regard, I do not consider this to be a partisan matter when we asked about matters such as product safety and we were making a legitimate inquiry. However, I was also told specifically by this person that if a constituent had called directly he or she would have been given the answer immediately, but if members of Parliament who are in opposition ask the question, we have to be sanitized in terms of what can be said to us.

This is outrageous. This is a breach of my privileges as a member to serve my constituents.

I do not believe this is a matter simply to suggest that a member such as myself or any member who has these kinds of experiences with the government, which wants to somehow impede our ability to do our job, should raise it with procedure and House affairs.

This issue relates to each and every member of Parliament who is not a member of the government. Far too many people are impacted, and far too many members of this honourable place are impeded from doing their job in a responsible and a prompt fashion as is our duty.

Mr. Speaker, I therefore ask you to consider this clear breach of my privileges and the privileges of all members who are not members of the government. Should you find a prima facie case of a breach of my privileges and the privileges of other opposition members, I would be prepared to move the necessary motion.

Alleged impediment in the discharge of a Member's duties
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the question of privilege raised by the member for Mississauga South.

The Bloc Québécois has no reason to disbelieve what he has told us; the facts he shared seem to show that the machinery of government now distinguishes between elected members who are Conservatives and in power, and opposition members.

He described his experience, and I completely agree that this is a breach of his privileges as a member. He supported his question of privilege with quotes from House of Commons Procedure and Practice. For the benefit of Quebeckers and Canadians, I would like to read an excerpt from page 67, which states:

Thus, the House also claims the right to punish, as a contempt, any action which, though not a breach of a specific privilege, tends to obstruct or impede the House in the performance of its functions; obstructs or impedes any Member or Officer of the House in the discharge of their duties—

That is on page 67. In this case, it is quite clear that Health Canada's procedure discriminates against the member. In my opinion, for the past several months, if not the past several years, the government has been taking steps to impede the work of opposition members, and this can be seen in all sorts of situations.

Yesterday, a point of privilege was raised about the fact that the Minister of Foreign Affairs had not informed the House that Canada had stopped transferring Afghan prisoners to the Afghan authorities on November 5, I believe, even though this House had been told the opposite.

I also know that in many of our ridings, Conservative candidates are being presented as though they were already sitting members of Parliament. I would like to draw my colleagues' attention to the aerospace announcement made by the senator and Minister of Public Works and Government Services. He was present along with all the candidates for the island of Laval, even though there is no Conservative member in that area. The message was that if people voted for the right party next time, these ridings and the people in them would reap the benefits. I find this very damaging to democracy.

I would like to tell another anecdote that shows how this government behaves. Recently, a Conservative member was in Rivière-du-Loup along with our friend from Repentigny. Some seniors were protesting the Conservative government's failure to keep its promise to make retroactive guaranteed income supplement payments. The Conservative member implied that if the seniors voted for the right party next time, they could expect to receive the retroactive payments they are entitled to, which the Conservatives had promised.

In my opinion, this sort of behaviour is widespread. That is why the Bloc Québécois members take the events reported by the member for Mississauga South extremely seriously. We would like you to rule on this point of privilege, Mr. Speaker. With this attitude—in this case, we are talking about Health Canada, but there are other cases as well—the government and the whole government bureaucracy are truly impeding the work of opposition members, who form an essential part of democracy, even Canadian democracy.

Alleged impediment in the discharge of a Member's duties
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

First, Mr. Speaker, I would like to rise in support of the member for Mississauga South on his question of privilege. He is a very experienced and longstanding member of Parliament and I do not think that he raises this matter lightly today. He raises it with a very deep concern about the implications of that particular case and what it means not only for him and his constituents but for all opposition members in this House.

I am glad he referenced the situation that took place in Skeena—Bulkley Valley, which was held by the NDP and where there was a conscious and deliberate attempt and effort by the Conservative government to undermine the elected member in that riding and to sort of superimpose an unelected person who would become the spokesperson for the government on whatever the issues were. It was very offensive. I can tell members that the local community reacted immediately and very strongly.

Here we have another incident where clearly the principle that all members of the House are equal, which is a founding principle of our democracy in the House of Commons, is being undermined by what has taken place.

I do want to say that I believe very strongly that public servants in the civil service act in a very honourable way. When our office deals with various departments, whether it is Service Canada or whatever it might be, we find a level of professionalism and we find that individual public servants want to do their jobs in the best way possible and to carry out their role and recognize our role.

I want to be very clear that this is not any sort of negativity in terms of the public service. This is a political direction that has come through from the government and it is trying to make a differentiation between those who are government members and those who are opposition members.

Members of the NDP, who are very hard-working in serving the needs of our constituents, actually take that part of our job very seriously. A lot of people think that politics is just what they see in question period, but in actual fact most of us work in our ridings and deal with these individual issues, so our relationships with departments and individual staff members in those departments are very important to the work we do in providing service.

Therefore, it is most disturbing to hear that this took place and that there is a level of discrimination where there are two tiers of members, those who are government members and those who are not government members, and that we will get a different kind of service or a different level of information.

I do think that the member for Mississauga South has a serious complaint in terms of his privilege and the privilege of all of us as opposition members being violated, so I would support him in his submission today.

Mr. Speaker, I hope you would recognize that all members are equal and that this principle needs to be maintained, sustained and in no way undermined. We look to you, Mr. Speaker, to uphold that principle for all of us.

Alleged impediment in the discharge of a Member's duties
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.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 should initially point out, since there were several references to an earlier question of privilege regarding the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, that you ruled on that question of privilege, and I think quite correctly, that it was not a question of privilege and there was no undue harm done to the abilities of the member to do his job as a member of Parliament.

With respect to this current question of privilege raised by my hon. colleague, Mr. Speaker, I would ask, since this is the first time I have heard of this, if you could reserve your judgment and in fact hold this matter over until the minister responsible has an opportunity to respond. If you would do that, Mr. Speaker, I believe we would all be better served.

Alleged impediment in the discharge of a Member's duties
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I thank the hon. members who have raised this matter, starting first with the hon. member for Mississauga South, then the hon. members for Joliette and Vancouver East, and then the parliamentary secretary to the goverment House leader.

I am quite happy to take the matter under advisement. I was going to anyway. I must say I was hoping that there would be some submission on this matter perhaps from the Minister of Health, or whoever is the responsible minister in this case, before a decision is rendered by the Chair. I am more than happy to acquiesce in the suggestion made by the parliamentary secretary. I will take the matter under advisement. I look forward to hearing further submissions on this at a later time and will then render a decision.

The House resumed from January 28 consideration of the motion that Bill C-9, An Act to implement the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID Convention), be read the third time and passed.

Settlement of International Investment Disputes Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, on May 15, 2007, I had the opportunity here in the House to talk about why the Bloc Québécois supports Bill C-53, which is identical to Bill C-9, An Act to implement the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID Convention). Today, therefore, I will talk about how international treaties are now typically drafted with no regard whatsoever for democracy.

I would like to begin by saying that the Bloc Québécois wants all treaties to go through the House of Commons. The current way of doing things completely disregards democracy. Bill S-5, which provides for the coming into force of tax conventions, shows how important international treaties are to our daily lives. These days, treaties are brought before Parliament only when they require enabling legislation.

In Canada, Parliament and parliamentarians play a minimal role in negotiating and ratifying international treaties. The federal executive controls all phases of the process. The executive is also responsible for what takes place in negotiations, which are, for the most part, secret. This secrecy is an important part of the federal government's negotiation strategy. Next to nothing, and sometimes nothing at all is disclosed before the parties sign an agreement in principle on the content and even the wording of the treaty. Even though the provinces are usually kept abreast of negotiations for trade agreements, they participate very little in the process and, with few exceptions, are totally excluded from the decision-making process.

Where international treaties are concerned, democracy is totally absent. There is no complete compilation of such treaties. Governments release them when and if they see fit, and people cannot be sure they are all being disclosed. The treaty section at the Department of Foreign Affairs does not even have a list of signed treaties to consult. The government is not required to table treaties in the House of Commons. It does not even have to inform the House or the public that it has signed or ratified treaties. The House does not get to approve treaties. The government can sign and ratify any treaty it wants without consulting the representatives of the people. At the very most, treaties requiring legislative changes are brought before Parliament before ratification.

In Quebec, since 2002, a vote in the National Assembly is required. Being in no way involved in the negotiation of treaties, the House of Commons cannot consult the public. It is therefore not surprising to see people increasingly expressing their opposition in the streets. In fact, there is no other place for them to be heard. The government is not required to consult the provinces either, even though it cannot implement treaties that concern areas of provincial jurisdiction and the provinces are not bound by the federal government's signature. It is totally absurd that no formal consultation mechanism is in place.

The government is preventing the provinces from being able to act internationally by controlling their international relations and by not allowing them to reach treaty-like agreements. This is unacceptable.

It used to be that international treaties governed relations between states and had little or no impact on how society functioned or on the lives and rights of citizens. At the time, it was acceptable for the government to unilaterally sign or ratify treaties.

Now, however, international treaties, especially trade agreements, affect the power of the state, the workings of society and the role of citizens. Furthermore, they often have an even greater impact than many bills. The Canadian treaty ratification process is not in line with this new reality. The people's representatives must be involved in decisions that affect the people they represent.

During the election campaign, the Conservatives promised to bring treaties before the House prior to ratifying them, but they still have not kept that promise. Recently, the government signed an investment protection agreement with Peru. This agreement is based on chapter 11 of NAFTA, which has been criticized by many. Yet the government concluded it without putting it to the House. When the House presses the government to honour its international commitments, as it has done in the case of the Kyoto protocol, the government does what it pleases, with no regard for the will of the people or the promise it made when it signed the treaty.

As was the case when Bill S-5 was passed, the fact that Bill C-9 will be passed quickly is an opportunity to show the government that democracy is not something to be feared when concluding fair treaties. The government must honour its promise to submit to the elected representatives any treaties that it intends to ratify, as it is forced to do here today with the three tax treaties. Once it has ratified them, it must honour them, as we hope it will honour the tax treaties we are discussing here today, and the Kyoto protocol, which the House is pressing it to honour.

This failure to involve the representatives of the people is an anachronism. It is impossible to tell from the division of legislative powers provided in the Constitution Act, 1867 which level of government, federal or provincial, has authority to sign a treaty with a foreign government. No provision is made in the Canadian Constitution for a jurisdiction anything like external relations or international relations. This is understandable, however, because when the Constitution Act, 1867 was passed by the British Parliament in London, Canada was still a colony of the British Empire. In 1867, the British Parliament reserved for the British Crown the power to represent the Dominion of Canada internationally and to enter into treaties with foreign countries on its behalf.

Under section 132 of the Constitution Act, 1867, however, the federal government was given responsibility for implementing, in Canada, treaties entered into by the British Crown, where these were applicable to this country.

In 1931, pursuant to the Statute of Westminster, Canada, as well as several other dominions of the British Empire, acquired full independence and, along with it, the authority to act with all the attributes of a sovereign state on the international scene. It was then that the federal government acquired jurisdiction over external affairs. Considered a royal prerogative when the Constitution was written, this authority was transferred to the government which, as the sovereign's representative, exercises it alone and without involving Parliament.

Once the governor in council approves an agreement reached between Canada and a foreign country, no matter who negotiated the treaty, that agreement becomes an international treaty. The representatives of the people do not have a say in it because the federal government has simply inherited a royal prerogative dating back to the British Empire.

Parliament only becomes involved when the ratification of a treaty requires an enabling statute. Canadian legislation may have to be amended because of the treaty. The legislative implementation of these treaties is the only occasion when Parliament has a say in the entry into force of a treaty in Canada.

It should be pointed out that many treaties requiring the Canadian state to adopt specific standards are not presented to Parliament for the adoption of enabling legislation. In such cases, the government believes that the Canadian legislation already conforms to the international obligations adopted or that the subject of the treaty does not require the adoption of new legislative provisions.

Consequently, no amendments are made to existing laws nor is a new law adopted by Parliament. For example, Parliament did not adopt legislation to implement or approve the ratification of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. In such cases, the treaty never goes before Parliament.

In short, Canada is less democratic today that in was in the 20's. In June 1926, Prime Minister King introduced a resolution that was unanimously adopted by the House of Commons. It read as follows:

Before Her Majesty's Canadian ministers recommend ratification of a treaty or convention involving Canada, Parliament's approval must be obtained.

In 1941, Mackenzie King reiterated his commitment to this formula:

With the exception of treaties of lesser importance or in cases of extreme urgency, the Senate and the House of Commons are invited to approve treaties, conventions and formal agreements before ratification by or on behalf of Canada.

Over the years, approval by resolution has been sought less and less. During the cold war, the government dropped the convention of seeking Parliament's approval before signing treaties or engaging in military intervention on foreign soil.

The government even stopped tabling treaties in Parliament. Except for the Kyoto protocol, not one treaty has been approved by resolution since 1966—over 40 years ago—and that was the Auto Pact. As for Kyoto, the government has refused to honour it. So much for democracy.

Furthermore, Canada is less democratic than the rest of the industrialized world. Most other major industrialized democracies support greater involvement of their parliaments in ratifying treaties. For example, the constitutions of France, Germany, Denmark, Italy and the United States require legislative approval of some types of international agreements prior to ratification.

Some countries that share constitutional traditions with Canada have tried to enshrine their parliament's role in examining treaties.

In the United Kingdom, a convention established in the 1920s, the Ponsonby Rule, requires the tabling of international agreements in both Houses of Parliament at least 21 days before they are to be ratified. This gives parliamentarians the opportunity to debate them before the government ratifies them, even though these debates are not binding. This kind of thing does not exist in Canada.

More recently, in 1996, Australia changed its procedure for concluding treaties. Under this procedure, treaties must be tabled in parliament at least 15 sitting days before any binding decision is made by the executive branch; a national interest analysis of the expected impact of the treaty obligations must be done, for each treaty, and tabled in parliament; a standing joint committee on treaties must be established to examine potential treaties and report on them. There is nothing of the sort in Canada.

As usual, Canada trails Quebec.

In Canada, the provinces pass laws in their constitutional fields of jurisdiction. As the British Privy Council ruled in 1937 in the labour conventions case, the provinces' legislative authority also extends to the implementation of international treaties.

As soon as a treaty or part of a treaty involves a provincial jurisdiction, the provisions in question can be implemented only by the provinces. Since 1964, Quebec has concluded some 550 international agreements involving many fields of jurisdiction for which it has full or partial responsibility, such as culture, economic development, drivers' licences, international adoption, the environment, science and technology, and communication.

For a major agreement to be binding, the Government of Quebec must first submit it to the Quebec National Assembly for approval. Only then will Quebec be bound by an international agreement entered into by Canada and agree to pass legislation to implement the agreement. Furthermore, under the legislation, Quebec's Department of International Relations must list and publish all of Quebec's international agreements. There is nothing of the sort in Canada.

The Bloc Québécois has introduced three bills on treaties to modernize the entire process for concluding international treaties.

The Bloc Québécois bill on treaties was designed to build transparency and democracy into the process of negotiating and concluding international treaties. Since such treaties have an increasingly large impact on our lives, it was more important than ever to make such a change. Moreover, the bill required that the federal government respect the provinces' jurisdictions.

The bill provided for five changes: all treaties were to be put before the House of Commons, the House was to approve important treaties, a parliamentary committee was to consult civil society before Parliament voted on important treaties, treaties were to be published in the Canada Gazette and on the Department of Foreign Affairs website and the government was to consult with the provinces before negotiating a treaty in an area of provincial jurisdiction.

The treaty bill came to a vote only once, on September 28, 2005. All the federalist parties voted against it.

No strangers to contradiction, the Conservatives made two promises about international treaties during the last election campaign. They promised to put international treaties before the House prior to ratification and to give the provinces a role in concluding treaties pertaining to their jurisdictions. Both these promises were broken.

Since they were elected, the Conservatives have amended NAFTA. They have signed two investment protection agreements based on NAFTA chapter 11, one of which has been ratified. They have concluded a military cooperation agreement to authorize British soldiers to train in Canada. They have signed cooperation agreements on higher education, even though education does not come under Ottawa's jurisdiction. They have concluded an agreement to facilitate technology transfers from Canada to China. And they have amended the free trade agreement with Chile.

Aside from the amended NATO treaty, which was brought before the House at the last minute for a mini-debate and vote, none of these international treaties has come before the House.

And where is the nation of Quebec in all this? The federalist parties say they rejected the Bloc Québécois bill because of two clauses, 4 and 6.

First, clause 4 provided for a mechanism for consulting with the provinces:

Canada shall not, without consulting the government of each province in accordance with the agreements entered into under section 5, negotiate or conclude a treaty

(a) in an area under the legislative authority of the legislatures of the provinces; or

(b) in a field affecting an area under the legislative authority of the legislatures of the provinces.

As for clause 6, it recognized the validity of the Gérin-Lajoie doctrine:

Nothing in this Act in any manner limits or affects the royal prerogative of Her Majesty in right of a province with respect to the negotiation and conclusion of treaties in an area under the legislative authority of the legislatures of the provinces.

The clause on consulting Quebec and the provinces is nothing revolutionary. When the federal government discusses, in an international forum, the text of a treaty having an impact on the provinces, then it consults the provinces beforehand.

Under an agreement concluded in 1975—and still in effect—between the Trudeau government and the provinces, Ottawa consults the provinces at every stage of the negotiation of treaties involving human rights.

Every federalist party in Ottawa is more centralist than Pierre Elliott Trudeau on the issue of international relations.

It is not just a Bloc Québécois bill that the federalist parties have rejected, it is a Quebec law. Section 22.1 of the Act respecting the Ministère des Relations internationales requires the consent of the Government of Quebec with respect to the signing, ratification or adherence by the Government of Canada, before the latter acts internationally on any agreement concerning matters under Quebec's constitutional jurisdiction.

As far as the section recognizing the provinces' right to negotiate and conclude international treaties in their jurisdictions is concerned, it was simply a recognition of the Gérin-Lajoie doctrine which every Government of Quebec has been following since 1965.

The Gérin-Lajoie doctrine is closely linked to Quebec's independence: the provinces are completely sovereign within their jurisdictions and they must exercise their authority over the entirety of their jurisdictions, which includes signing and ratifying international treaties.

In closing, these are some of the arguments in favour of more involvement by parliamentarians in the negotiation and ratification of international treaties for the good of democracy.

Settlement of International Investment Disputes Act
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, as the member is probably aware, members of the NDP oppose the bill because of our concerns about it. The bill in and of itself, in terms of the process that it outlines for the settlement of investment disputes, is not so bad as far as it goes. However, we are very concerned about the larger context of the bill, its relationship to the World Bank and the involvement of multinational corporations.

One of the things we have raised in the debate on Bill C-9 is that the ICSID process does not allow for third party testimony except where there is consent from both parties in the arbitration, which is not necessarily easy to get. This has been held up as one of the serious concerns about this process. It makes the whole dispute mechanism, which is meant to be transparent, accountable and open, very inaccessible to local communities and third party stakeholders that may have a lot to say about representing a public interest in this process.

Could the member comment on that? Does she and members of her party also have concerns about that?

From our point of view, we think it will affect southern developing states most of all and will further marginalize developing countries in these transborder processes. It really eliminates the genuine and meaningful input of third party testimony of stakeholders and local communities, so the whole process becomes meaningless because they are in effect cut out.

Would the member comment on that?

Settlement of International Investment Disputes Act
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. In fact, there are certain limitations in this type of treaty.

What I was trying to highlight in speaking about the context in which these matters are dealt with—and I did point this out—is that, on the one hand, civil society has no input and, on the other hand, even we as parliamentarians who represent civil society, do not have the opportunity to debate these treaties. This occurs in a context where it is the government that decides. Obviously, when the mechanism itself is included in these treaties, there may be some elements that are problematic. However, we believe that these treaties are much better than the current situation. It still represents a step forward in the resolution of conflicts that may arise from international treaties.

Settlement of International Investment Disputes Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member for her excellent address to the haggis last night.

At the beginning of the member's speech, she mentioned consultation with the provinces and territories in advance of such treaties. My understanding is that she was suggesting there was no consultation with the provinces and territories. If she asked federal employees in the Department of Foreign Affairs, they would tell her that they do consult with the provinces and territories about treaties affecting them.

Does the member believe no consultations are held with the provinces and territories when treaties are being negotiated?