House of Commons Hansard #51 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was organizations.

Topics

Airline Industry
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

Mr. Speaker, Liberals led the call for an airline passenger bill of rights. The House unanimously approved, 259 to 0, my motion calling on the government to bring forward this consumer protection legislation.

I will point out that both the current and the former ministers of transport voted in favour of this resolution. However, now, one year later, even the airlines cannot hide the fact that the government has done absolutely nothing on consumer protection in this industry.

Will the government ever bring forward meaningful, enforceable consumer protection provisions for airline passengers? If the Conservatives will not, we will.

Airline Industry
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals had 13 years to do the job. They were just getting around to it had they only had that fifth term.

We strongly support greater rights for air travellers. There were many good points in the member's motion. We were pleased to see the airlines come forward yesterday with some proposals to strengthen the rights of consumers. They could be put into force through tariffs or they could be enforced through an independent commission. We certainly will give them fair consideration.

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

May 5th, 2009 / 3 p.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, the European Parliament voted this morning to ban the sale of seal products in the EU. The ban is to take effect in 2010.

Do the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and her government have an action plan prepared to challenge that decision and do they intend, among other things, to lay a complaint with the World Trade Organization.

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Egmont
P.E.I.

Conservative

Gail Shea Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, the EU has dealt a serious blow to the livelihoods of many of our coastal communities across the country. This is totally unacceptable and we will take whatever trade action is necessary to protect the markets for Canadian seal products. Unlike the Liberal Party, we will stand up for Canadian sealing families.

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, countless temporary foreign workers, live-in caregivers and undocumented workers are exploited by their bosses because of their precarious status in Canada.

Almost 1,000 Canadians took to the streets of Toronto last weekend, urging the government to crack down on those who prey on the most vulnerable. The House is very aware of just how close to home these injustices take place.

When will the minister take action to stop the exploitation, the ripoffs of the most vulnerable by these bosses who have power and have the money to do the exploitation?

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Calgary Southeast
Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney Minister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, first, if people are in possession of information about potential violations of the law by employers, we encourage them to contact the appropriate police or departmental authorities. If they are aware of employees being paid in cash without taxes being paid, we encourage them to contact the Canada Revenue Agency.

When we hear these stories of exploitation of live-in caregivers, it is totally unacceptable if employers take away passports and force people to work outside of the requirements of the provincial labour codes. I am working at the federal level to see that the laws are properly enforced and the rights of these workers properly protected.

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal MP for Brampton—Springdale is in hot water for hiring two live-in caregivers and then refusing to sponsor their immigration applications, essentially keeping them in a position of involuntary servitude. The abuses the Toronto Star documents include improperly seizing their passports, requiring evening foot massages for the member's relatives, cleaning the chiropractic offices of family members.

Could the minister tell me what more the government can do to protect live-in caregivers from these kinds of tragic abuses?

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Calgary Southeast
Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney Minister of Citizenship

Again, Mr. Speaker, we have launched consultations with live-in caregivers and those interested in this issue to seek ways that we can better enforce regulations to protect the rights of caregivers. I encourage provincial ministers of labour to do likewise, to follow the excellent lead of the Government of Manitoba in this respect.

Let us be clear. These are often vulnerable workers. They are filling an important labour market need. The program does provide a very important pathway to permanent residency for live-in caregivers, but none of us should tolerate the abuse of their basic rights. I call on the provinces—

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please. I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of His Excellency Ricardo Alarcon De Quesada, the President of the National Assembly of the Popular Power of Cuba.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I would like to correct the record on a response I gave yesterday to a question from the hon. member for Pickering—Scarborough East.

Yesterday, I stated that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs had met and spoken with Mr. Kulisek in Mexico. In fact, the parliamentary secretary has not met with Mr. Kulisek, but he has met with Mr. Kulisek's wife in regard to this case.

I would also like to mention that our ambassador to Mexico has visited Mr. Kulisek twice, most recently this past April.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-26, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (auto theft and trafficking in property obtained by crime), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

When this bill was last before the House the hon. member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe had the floor and there are 16 and a bit minutes remaining in the time allotted for his remarks.

I therefore call upon the hon. member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I intend to use my 16 and a bit minutes to drive home the fact that certainly the official opposition supports this bill, but there are a number of questions as we send the bill to committee that we as parliamentarians might reasonably ask the government.

I left off after my three and a bit minutes of speech before oral questions in suggesting that the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and municipalities across the country have been directly and indirectly calling on the federal government to do something about auto theft for some time. As the Insurance Bureau of Canada says in its publications, auto theft is not just an insurance or policing problem, it is not a victimless crime and it is not just a properly crime. Auto theft affects cities and the way we think about our communities. Many mayors are concerned. A mayor's nightmare might be that his or her community ends up in the top 10 list of car theft capitals in Canada. No one wants that.

Unlike a lot of other major crimes that are monitored by the media, such as spousal abuse, sexual abuse, murder and assault, the root causes of which are very difficult and profound for cities and leaders to deal with, auto theft is probably something that can be affected by a community response and not just a federal government response. For example, the communities themselves could help by educating the public as to where not to park and certainly by providing better lighting. That is the minimal end of it.

However, with respect to investment in technology, the government has a very poor record. For instance, the Insurance Bureau of Canada says that investing in industries would give us certain deterrents such as immobilizers. Immobilizers are electronic devices that arm automatically when a vehicle is switched off. They prevent the unauthorized starting of a vehicle. Canada should be a leader in this technology. Instead we heard today about world-leading scientists leaving the country. that is the track record of the government.

Auto theft is a global problem. It is profitable for criminals. It is expensive for law-abiding citizens. In fact, although auto theft might not affect every small community in this country, it does affect everyone's insurance rate. The Insurance Bureau of Canada suggests that up to $35 of one's insurance premium per year is attributable to auto theft. For those of us who have never had a car stolen and paid auto insurance for as many years as we have been paying insurance, one gets the depth of the problem with respect to auto theft. It is a $1.2 billion per year cost that affects not only the people who have had their vehicles stolen, but everyone who pays insurance.

It is an economic issue which the government should be doing more about than presenting a bill. In the last Parliament, Bill C-53, the government's first stab at it, was not really carefully drafted. The Conservatives have come back with advice from the opposition and from the IBC law reform section. They have improved it to put in a separate offence for auto theft. Cheers for that.

There is some literature out there that says that this only affects high-end SUVs and high value import models, but it is not so. To give an idea of how this affects the average Canadian driver, the top 10 stolen vehicles for 2007 include models that are very popular, such as the Honda Civic, the Honda Civic SIR, the Dodge Plymouth Grand Caravan, and everyone who has ever been a van dad or a van mom knows that the Dodge Caravan is a very popular vehicle. Other models in the list are the Grand Caravan Voyageur, the Plymouth Shadow, and the Neon. These are vehicles that average Canadians drive. They are stolen and chopped up sometimes by criminal organizations, which I will get to in a minute.

The statistics indicate that there are over 1,200 instances of auto theft per 100,000 population in the province of Manitoba as a high, down to roughly less than 150 instances per 100,000 population in provinces like Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. The mayors of Winnipeg, Abbotsford, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, London and Hamilton must be very concerned that their cities are at the top of the heap when it comes to motor vehicle theft.

We on this side of the House will not be opposing this legislation. The bill will be sent to committee where we will discuss some of the statistics and some of the things that could be done in a better way to tackle the issue of auto theft.

After over three years in government and with cities like that which are not all in Liberal held ridings, and in fact very few of them are, one would think the Conservatives would understand that auto theft is a bigger problem than the bill it brought in two years into its mandate and one which was not really drafted that carefully. Finally, over three years into its mandate, the government has drafted a bill that would do something toward the problem of auto theft.

The mayor of Winnipeg appeared before committee about a year ago. He is looking for federal legislation. With the power the federal government has and the programs and policies it has access to, one would think the federal government would be doing more about auto theft.

People in the cities that I just mentioned from the ground up might push their MP, who in turn might push the Minister of Justice and those responsible for science and technology to do something about auto theft. One would think the government would present a bill that would meet no opposition. After three and a half years, there should be more to it.

The issue of how the Insurance Bureau of Canada has made this information available is quite relevant. The information has been online, for anyone who cared to look at it, for the last seven years. This has been a problem over the last seven years.

I applaud the steps in the bill in defining car theft as a separate offence, and getting at the issue of organized crime as an element, which is the next aspect of my speech. I want to start with how this affects the average Canadian.

Although we think it is important to target organized crime as it profits from the theft of autos and the chop shops and the creation of a whole industry out of the theft of vehicles, the other reality is that only one out of five auto thefts, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, benefits organized crime. The four other auto thefts are auto thefts per se. These are the items that touch every Canadian and the items the government should be doing something about.

Although I said the bill is not perfect, it is a good start in that it is updating the Criminal Code. The Criminal Code is a massive document, a panoply of rights and derogations created by maybe one of the last really good Conservative prime ministers going back two centuries. Sir John Thompson, who was from my part of the world, Nova Scotia, basically wrote or scripted or copied and pulled together the Criminal Code in 1892, I believe.

The Criminal Code has grown. It needs a more wholesome review than just the piecemeal approach that has been taken by legislators for the last 50 to 60 years. We have to look at a more catholic view of codes around the western world, the jurisdictions with common law as their source of law, and do something about reforming the Criminal Code.

As we go along we have to realize, obviously because that document is so old and such a compendium of additions over the last 100 years, that more than Criminal Code amendments could be brought to bear on issues touched by the Criminal Code. The case in point is auto theft and organized crime.

We know that one in five cars in Canada is stolen for the purpose of aiding organized crime or gangs. One of the elements in this bill which has long been suggested is to create a separate offence for tampering with the vehicle identification number. The vehicle identification number is a system of 17 alphanumeric characters that provide a unique identifier for each vehicle.

There are those who will take out the 17 digit VIN unintentionally or perhaps without the purpose of benefiting and aiding gang-related or organized crime coffers. In the code, there is a reasonable hybrid offence dealing with that. In one instance, where it has been proven to the satisfaction of the prosecutor that there was intent for criminal purposes to obliterate the VIN, it is a more serious, indictable offence. However, in the cases where that intent cannot be shown, the hybrid aspect allows a prosecutor to proceed, or I suppose by amendment at a trial, a defendant's lawyer could convince a judge that the case should proceed for sentencing purposes by way of summary conviction. I think the maximum is set at $2,000.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada is certainly in favour of such a move, but the Criminal Intelligence Service Canada recently noted:

The Insurance Crime Prevention Bureau has identified an increase in four main fraud techniques that are used by organized crime to steal vehicles. These include: the illegal transfer of Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) from wrecked vehicles to similar ones that have been stolen; a legitimate VIN is used to change the legal identity of a stolen vehicle of the same make, model, and colour, a process called “twinning.”

We would have thought that a VIN might be obliterated by someone selling a vehicle to hide the previous vehicle's imperfections. Mr. Speaker, I do not know how often you have to trade in vehicles, but you want to make sure that the vehicle you have is the vehicle it appears to be from the VIN. However, we are seeing that a vehicle in the wreck heap is actually having its VIN used for another vehicle that has been stolen, thereby purporting to confuse the consumer and perpetuate a fraud.

As in the case of possession of property obtained by crime, in this new aspect of the offence, the property must have been derived from the commission of an indictable offence in Canada or outside Canada. In addition to proving criminal origin, the prosecution would have to prove that the accused had knowledge of the criminal origin. The issue with respect to how this will hurt organized crime will have to be looked at in the discussions at committee.

The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights just returned from a 12-hour day of hearings in Vancouver with respect to organized crime. The discussion was wide ranging. We discussed aspects with respect to the illegal marijuana grow-ops and the currency of organized crime in that part of the world. We also know from our research looking into this bill and now supporting this bill as it goes to committee that some of the currency of organized crime is in stolen vehicles with or without obliterated VINs.

Further, the stolen vehicles are resold, but there have also been vehicles that have been stolen and chopped up into parts for export. In section 355.1 of the code, the definition of “traffic” covers a wide range of activities, including selling, offering and delivering. As we move this bill to committee, it is important for all of us to be very aware that prosecutors and Department of Justice officials themselves will have to convince us that this is a good bill of goods that we are buying here in terms of trying to use the provisions of auto theft prevention as a means also to prevent profit from going to organized crime.

It is all well and good to go on the news and say that we are fighting organized crime and present an auto theft bill. There are two goals: to prevent auto theft, clearly, and for the first part of my speech I talked about the public, the mayors and the FCM from time immemorial having an interest in having that reduced on its own; and also to reduce the cash stream, the lifeblood and currency of organized crime.

Therefore, we need to get underneath this trafficking definition and ensure that as the new law is enacted it will actually have an effect on organized crime. As I mentioned, four out of five vehicles are stolen not for the purposes of organized crime in Canada. As I mentioned, the onus is a little bit higher when it comes to obliterating the VIN number. There needs to be actual knowledge or intent. As I also mentioned, the definition of trafficking might be easier when it comes to things like drugs. There is an item in a cash consideration.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, from your days in law school, consideration can be a mere peppercorn but it also can be wads of cash. With vehicles and chopped parts, it is not that clear.

I want to say finally that, not as an old grey mayor but an old mayor, I am really compelled to do something for mayors. When we had the mayor of Winnipeg in committee a year or so ago, I felt very strongly that as legislators we had to do all that we could.

This is a nice little bill and we will support it when it goes to committee. We are doing what we can on this side to make places like Winnipeg safe. What we also must remember is that the Conservative members have the levers of power. They have the purses that short term political success brings but they can do a lot more with respect to encouraging a reduction in auto theft. One of those things is to talk to the municipalities more often.

For all those ministers to give a score card to us, but the number of times they have been to FCM, I bet, would be pretty pathetic. We will be support the bill as it goes to committee.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, being a former mayor, spoke about speaking to the mayors of Sarnia and Winnipeg. I would like to hear his opinion about what the mayor of Moncton has said. He also spoke about what the mayor of Montreal said.

We come from a riding in the east end of Montreal where we are close to a shopping centre. Car theft is predominant and not enough action has been taken.

However, I would like to hear, as a former mayor, what his current mayor has said about the issue and if we will need to get the bill moving fast or if there will be many amendments that his mayor has suggested.