House of Commons Hansard #71 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was legislation.

Topics

Export Development Canada

10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I have the honour to lay upon the table the Auditor General's report on the design and implementation of Export Development Canada's environmental review directive and other environmental review processes.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(g), this report is deemed permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

Information Commissioner

10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I have the honour to lay upon the table the annual reports on the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act of the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada for the year 2008-09.

These documents are deemed to have been permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

An Action Plan for the National Capital Commission
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Pontiac, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-37, An Act to amend the National Capital Act and other Acts.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

An Act Creating One of the World's Largest National Park Reserves
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice Minister of the Environment

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-38, An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act to enlarge Nahanni National Park Reserve of Canada.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Justice and Human Rights
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

In accordance with the order of reference of Wednesday, April 22, your committee has considered Bill C-268, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (minimum sentence for offences involving trafficking of persons under the age of eighteen years), and agreed on Monday, June 8, to report it with amendment.

Status of Women
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women in relation to the consequences and effects the current employment insurance programs have on women in Canada.

The report came out of a study by the committee, which looked at the impact that the current recession is having on women and specifically at how increased unemployment is affecting them.

Canadian Mission in Afghanistan
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Conservative

Rick Casson Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan, following the recent fact-finding trip to Washington, entitled “Visit to Washington, D.C.”.

Income Tax Act
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-411, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (removal of charge).

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in this House today, with my colleague from Nanaimo—Cowichan, to introduce a bill that I think all members of Parliament will find a very straightforward and agreeable bill.

It is a bill to amend the Income Tax Act, particularly where a charge, lien or priority on a binding interest on a property has been created, and where the minister has reason to believe it will be in the public interest to remove the lien on these buildings to allow for redevelopment, and that the minister may, in accordance with regulations, discharge the lien, priority or interest.

The bill refers to the problem that we are facing in many of our communities where buildings have been abandoned and liens have been put on them. At a certain point they become unsellable. The buildings are left to deteriorate. Nobody wants to assume the redevelopment of properties or brownfield sites because of the heavy liens on them. We end up with many buildings being left derelict and falling apart.

In 2006, the province of Ontario amended the income tax act to allow the province to discharge liens, to return them to the municipality so that properties could be redeveloped.

Support for this bill comes from a number of organizations. The National Brownfield Redevelopment Strategy for Canada has spoken about this. The Timmins Chamber of Commerce, in terms of the issue of redevelopment of downtowns, and the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy have all spoken of the need to have a plan so that the minister, when it is in the public interest, can discharge liens on abandoned brownfields and abandoned derelict buildings.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Iran Accountability Act
Routine Proceedings

June 9th, 2009 / 10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-412, An Act to combat incitement to genocide, domestic repression and nuclear armament in Iran.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce the Iran Accountability Act, seconded by my colleague from York Centre.

This is an important legislative measure to combat incitement to genocide, domestic repression and nuclear armament in Iran.

Simply put, Canada must not indulge the state sanctioned incitement to genocide, the impunities that attends it and the weaponization that underpins it.

Specifically, the Iran Accountability Act divests Canada from investment in Iran; establishes a mechanism to monitor incitement in Iran; renders the most virulent inciters inadmissible to Canada; freezes the assets of those who contribute to Iran's nuclear or military infrastructure as well as its machinery of hate; uses the framework of the international community, including Canada's bilateral relationships and the United Nations, to bring Iran to justice through recognized principles of international law; and targets Iran's dependence on imported petroleum.

I want to say that this bill targets the Iranian regime and not the great Iranian civilization or the Iranian people, who are increasingly victims of the repressive regime in that country.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Iran Accountability Act
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise to ask for unanimous consent of the House to revert to presenting reports from interparliamentary delegations.

Iran Accountability Act
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is there unanimous consent to revert?

Iran Accountability Act
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the report of the Canada-NATO Parliamentary Association respecting its participation and visit to Paris and Nancy, France, by the Defence and Security Committee Subcommittee on Transatlantic Defence and Security Co-operation, held in Paris and Nancy, France, April 27 to 29, 2009.

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Prince George—Peace River
B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I would like to move the following motion. I move:

That, pursuant to Standing Order 27(1), except for Friday, June 12 and Friday, June 19, 2009, commencing on Wednesday, June 10, 2009 and concluding on Tuesday, June 23, 2009, the House shall continue to sit until 10 p.m.

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by stating what might be obvious to folks who watch the proceedings of Parliament closely. By and large, I would have to say that this session of Parliament has been quite amicable and cooperative. I appreciate the efforts by the opposition to help the government get its agenda through Parliament.

As I recently said at a fundraising event for the Children's Bridge Foundation, I was reflecting on this place and reflected that this truly is the house of the common people. I also reflected on that word “common”. I thought that during the time of a minority Parliament, it is important for all of us to reflect on what we have in common: the things that we share as legislators regardless of our partisan differences. Regardless of what it is we want to see for Canada, I do believe very sincerely that all legislators and parliamentarians have the best interests of the country at heart.

I think that it is important that we try to work on those things that we have in common. I believe that there have been many instances in the last five or six months in this place when we have done that. I want to begin my remarks by commending the opposition for oftentimes trying to look beyond partisan differences, look to what we have in common, and actually accomplish things for the people of Canada.

While I am pleased with the progress that we have made thus far, not only as a government but as a Parliament working collectively, there is much more that we can accomplish for Canadians. As I have been saying about this cooperative atmosphere that is sometimes prevalent here, I think that some people who watch the daily proceedings of the House of Commons would actually dispute that.

If one were to watch the 45-minute question period every day, one might be surprised to hear me say that we actually work cooperatively and quite well together. While question period serves an important purpose and is the main focus for the media, no acts are amended, no new laws are created, and no funds for important programs are approved during that period of time.

Today, for example, there are 285 minutes dedicated for government legislation and 60 minutes for private members' business. Lots of time and effort goes into these minutes each day. More importantly, they can also be productive minutes. Thus far this session, our House has passed some 25 bills, including Bill C-33, which restores war veterans allowances to Allied veterans and their families. This required all-party consent and we all agreed that this was in the best interests of not only our veterans but the country.

Bill C-14, our bill to fight organized crime, is currently before committee in the other place. Bill C-29, the agricultural loans bill, will guarantee an estimated $1 billion in loans over the next five years to Canadian farm families and cooperatives. This is all important legislation that we worked together on to further it along the parliamentary agenda.

Our Standing Orders include a specific provision for the extension of sitting hours during the last two sitting weeks in June. In fact, I reflect on my 16 years in this place. It has often been a point of confusion when members, and especially rookie members, look at the calendar and see the last couple of weeks with asterisks beside the dates. They think that those weeks are disposable somehow, but they are not. They are that way because the government has the right to serve, without notice, the motion that I am moving today to extend hours and work into the evening.

At this point in my remarks, I also want to inject the fact that up until quite recently in parliamentary history, the House of Commons sat into the evening for debate almost every night. It has been a relatively new phenomenon that we do not have evening sittings. The only exceptions to that in the recent Parliaments have been for emergency debates or take note debates. Other than that, we do not usually sit in the evenings. It is quite a new phenomenon.

What I am moving today is not something unusual. These rules provide a mechanism to advance government business before members leave Ottawa to work in their constituencies over the summer.

We have a lot of important work to do before the House rises for the summer. After we subtract the three days for opposition supply days and the time for private members' business, we only have 33 hours and 45 minutes remaining to complete our government business before the House rises on the evening of June 23.

Extending the House sitting hours over the next two weeks would allow us to make progress on government bills, such as: Bill C-26, legislation to tackle property theft, which we expect to receive back from the justice committee this week; Bill C-34, the protecting victims from sexual offenders act, which would strengthen the national sex offender registry to provide the police with more effective tools to protect children from sexual predators; Bill C-35, the justice for victims of terrorism act; Bill C-36, which would repeal the faint hope clause in the Criminal Code so that criminals who commit first or second degree murder will no longer be able to apply for early parole; and Bill C-6, the consumer products safety bill, which was reported from committee yesterday. Adopting this bill would protect the health and safety of Canadians by allowing the recall of unsafe consumer products. I urge members to adopt that bill with the utmost speed when we call it for debate later this week.

Other bills we would like to make progress on include: Bill C-32, which cracks down on tobacco marketing aimed at youth, which received unanimous support at second reading and we hope that health committee can report the bill back shortly so that the House can consider its passage before the summer; and Bill C-23, the Colombia free trade bill.

While not unanimous, I am grateful for the support of most members opposite in enabling the House to pass Bill C-24, the Peru free trade bill. Both Bill C-24 and Bill C-23 would expand market access for Canadian companies at a difficult time. I inject that this is especially important to our farmers who will have new marketing opportunities open up for them because of these two free trade bills.

This is just some of the important work to be done on our government's commitments. It does not take into account additional new legislation that we continue to introduce every week.

I notice the justice minister is sitting here and nodding as I relay a number of justice bills. The Minister of Justice has been extremely active in bringing forward a succession of important justice reforms. This is one of the reasons that I ran for Parliament 16 years ago. I know many legislators on both sides of the House hold near and dear to their hearts the importance of protecting victims and their families and of reforming and changing the justice system in our country to ensure that criminals are held accountable for their actions.

My intent regarding this period of extension would be, and I have discussed this with the opposition House leaders and whips, to set a goal each day as to what we wanted to accomplish. When we accomplished that goal, we would adjourn for the day. Even though the motion says that we would sit until 10 o'clock Monday to Thursday, it may not be necessary to sit until 10. We could work co-operatively and collectively together. If we actually achieved our goals that day at 7 o'clock or 7:20 p.m., we would see the clock at 10 and the House would rise. I think that is reasonable.

I am asking for a simple management tool to maximize our progress with the weeks that are left, a little over two weeks. I am not asking for a shortcut. I am not asking to curtail debate. I am proposing that we work a little harder to get the job done. As I said, I believe I am making a reasonable approach of adjourning each day after we meet modest goals. All parties would agree to these goals. This is not a blank cheque. I cannot adjourn the House without support from the opposition, nor can I prevent an adjournment motion from being adopted without opposition support. The motion has co-operation built right into it.

Sitting late in June is part of the normal process, as I referred to earlier. It is one of the procedures required to make Parliament work and be more efficient. According to the Annotated Standing Orders of the House of Commons:

Although this Standing Order dates back only to 1982, it reflects a long-standing practice which, in its variations, has existed since Confederation. The practice has meant that in virtually every session since 1867, in the days leading up to prorogation or, more recently, to the summer adjournment, the House has arranged for longer hours of sitting in order to complete or advance the business still pending.

A motion pursuant to Standing Order 27 has only been refused once and that was last year. Even under the minority government of Paul Martin, the motion had sufficient opposition support to be adopted. There is bound to be some business that one opposition party wants to avoid, but generally there should be enough interest on the part of the opposition to get legislation passed before the summer recess.

The House leader of the official opposition is often on his feet after question period trying to get speedy passage to some of our justice bills. Here is a chance for him, and collectively Parliament, to actually get that done.

The NDP members complain that we accuse them of delaying legislation when all they want to do, or so they say, is put up a few more speakers to a bill. Here again we are giving them the opportunity to do exactly that.

I am therefore seeking the support of all members to extend our sitting hours so that we can complete work on important bills which will address the concerns of Canadians before we adjourn for the summer.

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government House leader has laid out very clearly some of the background and opportunities that the extension of sitting hours brings.

He listed the bills which he recognized to be important legislation that we need to move forward. He emphasized important legislation. One of the bills that is not on the list is Bill C-8 regarding matrimonial real property. A hoist motion was moved on that bill. The hoist motion was not successful. However, that should have indicated to the government that this important matter relating to aboriginal Canadians was something that should be dealt with.

The member will know that the bill did not enjoy the support of any first nations group or aboriginal women's group. I would simply ask the House leader if it is the government's position that Bill C-8 is not an important bill, and if so, will he withdraw that bill and commence proper negotiations and consultations with first nations?