House of Commons Hansard #82 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was information.

Topics

Foreign Documents
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present to the House a petition from a number of constituents and others regarding the Hague Convention of 1961 which abolished the requirement of the legalization of foreign documents.

Canada is not a signatory to that convention even though China, the Czech Republic, France, Korea, Romania, Great Britain, U.S.A, Albania and many others are. The difficulty this has created is that without a certified document Canadians must endure a time consuming and expensive process to obtain authentications from foreign consulates.

With the large influx of newcomers to Canada, the petitioners believe it is time to simplify the flow of legal documents. They call upon the Government of Canada to conclude negotiations with the provinces and territories for the adoption of that convention within the next 12 months or, failing completed negotiations, to proceed unilaterally to ratify the convention.

Passport Fees
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my petition calls upon the Canadian government to negotiate with the United States government to reduce the United States and Canadian passport fees. The number of American tourists visiting Canada is now at its lowest level since 1972. It has fallen by 5 million people in the last seven years, from 16 million in 2002 to only 11 million in 2009.

Passport fees for an American family of four can be over $500. Fifty per cent of Canadians have passports but only 25% of Americans do.

At the recent Midwestern Legislative Conference of the Council of State Governments, attended by myself and 500 other elected representatives from 11 border states and 3 provinces, a resolution was passed unanimously and reads:

...that [the] Conference calls on President Barack Obama and [the Canadian] Prime Minister...to immediately examine a reduced fee for passports to facilitate cross-border tourism; and be it further

RESOLVED, that [the Conference] encourage[s] the governments to examine the idea of a limited time two-for-one passport renewal or new application;

To be a fair process, passport fees must be reduced on both sides of the border.

Therefore, the petitioners call upon the government to work with the American government to examine a mutual reduction in passport fees to facilitate tourism and finally, promote a time limited two-for-one passport renewal or new application fee on a mutual basis with the United States.

Old Age Security Pension
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, today I take pride in presenting a petition on behalf of constituents who oppose Bill C-428, which would lower the residency requirement for receiving Old Age Security from 10 years to 3 years. They believe that the 10 year requirement currently in place is the appropriate level.

Therefore, they are asking Parliament to oppose Bill C-428.

Employment Insurance
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, once again I rise on the occasion of the EI pilot projects receiving only an eight month extension. These are programs that my constituents feel should be made permanent for areas of high unemployment.

One of the measures contained within that would be the best 14 weeks and, within that measure, it allows employees and employers to be at a more comfortable stage. Under the current system of the last 14 weeks, there is no incentive to go back to work. Therefore, if the company wants to hire workers back for two or three days, there is a built-in disincentive because the workers will receive less in benefits.

This petition pertains to the expiry date of October 23, which has been extended to June, but I will continue to present these petitions until these programs are made permanent.

I want to thank the people on this particular petition from Wesleyville, New-Wes-Valley, Lumsden, Newtown, Moretons Harbour, Cape Freels region, Tilting and Fogo on Fogo Island. Most of the names pertain to those areas.

Motor Vehicle Safety
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions. The first one asks the Government of Canada to introduce a regulation under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act requiring side underrun guards for large trucks and trailers to prevent cyclists and pedestrians from being pulled under the wheels of these vehicles, and that we should harmonize Canadian vehicle safety standards with the ECE regulation 73 which requires sideguards on all trucks and trailers in Europe.

Several coroner reports have stated that without these sideguards cyclists and pedestrians are pulled under these large vehicles. They also noted that 37% of these collisions resulted in cyclist fatalities compared with only 8% of accidents resulting in cyclist injuries.

We have petitions from across Canada saying that sideguards are legal requirements in the U.K. and there is no reason for them not to be installed on trucks and trailers here in Canada.

Citizenship and Immigration
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have another petition asking the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism to grant a temporary resident permit on humanitarian and compassionate grounds so that Gary Freeman can be united with his four Canadian children and his wife in Canada.

Mr. Freeman arrived in Canada in 1974. He is a well loved and respected member of the community. He used to work in the library system in Toronto and he has four grown children. In the sixties, he committed a crime and served his time of 30 days in jail. He has made a major contribution to the Chicago Police charity. Since he has done his time, we should allow him to come back to Canada on humanitarian grounds so he can be with his entire family in Canada.

Visas
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, coming from Burnaby—New Westminster, the capital of the Taiwanese community in Canada, I am pleased to present a petition signed by more than 500 residents of Burnaby, New Westminster, Vancouver, Richmond and other areas of the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.

The petitioners call for visa-free travel between Canada and Taiwan. Over 150,000 visitors from Taiwan come to Canada every year and about 15,000 Taiwanese students attend Canadian schools. There is an undeniable economic advantage of strengthening the ties between Canada and Taiwan.

The United Kingdom, Ireland and New Zealand have all recently waived visa requirements for Taiwanese visitors. In each of those cases, the number of Taiwanese visitors and tourists has increased significantly. It is also important to note that Taiwan has waived visa requirements for Canadians visiting Taiwan.

These 500 individuals throughout the Lower Mainland are calling upon the House of Commons to pass my private member's Motion No. 530 which requests that the government implement the visa waiver program for Taiwanese citizens coming to Canada in response to Taiwan's decision to waive visa requirements for Canadian visitors to Taiwan.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

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

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from October 18 consideration of the motion that Bill C-39, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Ending Early Release for Criminals and Increasing Offender Accountability Act
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

When this matter was last before the House, the hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona had the floor and he has 13 minutes left in the time allotted for his remarks. I therefore call upon the hon. member for Elmwood--Transcona.

Ending Early Release for Criminals and Increasing Offender Accountability Act
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to continue today on the debate on what is now Bill C-39.

The bill is designed to improve public safety and notably by stating explicitly that the active participation of offenders in attaining the objectives of the correction plan is an essential requirement for their condition of release or any other privilege. It is also designed to deal with expanding the categories of offenders who are ineligible for an accelerated parole review and the categories of offenders subject to continue detention after their statutory release date when they have served two-thirds of their sentence. For example, offenders convicted of child pornography, luring a child or breaking and entering to steal a firearm are examples.

In addition, the bill would extend the length of time that offenders convicted of a subsequent offence must serve before being eligible for parole. Also, it would increase from six months to a year the waiting period for a hearing after the National Parole Board has turned down a parole application.

The bill would also authorize a peace officer to arrest, without a warrant, an offender who is on conditional release for a breach of conditions. It would grant the Correctional Service of Canada permission to oblige an offender to wear a monitoring device as a condition of release when a release is subject to special conditions regarding restrictions on access to a victim of geographical areas. It would increase the number of reasons for the search of vehicles at a penitentiary to prevent the entry of contraband or the commission of an offence.

The bill also focuses specifically on the interests of victims by expanding the definition of “victim” to anyone who has custody of or is responsible for a dependant of the main victim if the main victim is dead, ill or otherwise incapacitated. It would disclose to a victim of the program in which an offender has participated for the purposes of reintegration into society, the location of an institution to which an offender is transferred and the reason for the transfer. It also would entrench in the act the right of victims to make a statement at parole hearings, which is a new element.

The whole development of victims' rights over the years did not start with the Conservative government. It was not an idea that somehow the Conservative government developed in its policy rooms. The fact is that this is a long-term process. In fact, I recall in Manitoba, as far back as, I believe, 1970, when Premier Ed Schreyer, the first NDP premier in Canada, was elected on June 25, 1969. Within his first four-year mandate, he brought in substantial changes to the province of Manitoba and to the country of Canada. One of the initiatives that he brought in was a criminal injuries compensation fund, which may have been the first of its kind in Canada at the time.

Nevertheless, the criminal injuries compensation fund has been around in Manitoba now since 1970. Therefore, the Conservatives have absolutely no monopoly on victims' rights and victims' services in this country. As a matter of fact, the Conservative government, the champion of victims' rights, hired Steve Sullivan as the victims' ombudsman. When he started doing the job of advocating on the part of victims, the government, which appointed him, got rid of him by not renewing his term. That has some reflection on the government's real commitment to victims' rights.

However, over the years, beginning with the criminal injuries compensation fund and initiatives such as that, we have seen a gradual progression toward more rights for the victims. There was a time not so long ago, maybe 20 years ago, when it was almost impossible for a person to find out the resolution and the developments of their break-and-enters, for example. Many people have come to me over the years and told me how their house had been broken into and that they were told by the police to go home and forget about it and that they would deal with it. However, no information came their way as to what stage the case was at and the disposition of it.

That was changed not only under NDP governments but I am sure under Liberal governments in other provinces and, of course, Conservative governments in Manitoba. The Filmon government made some moves, as well as the Gary Doer government. Now there is an array of victim services available. After a break-in of a property, the victim gets a call from the police and a kit is dropped off indicating phone numbers that people can call for counselling, if required.

At more and more stages, people are being kept updated and informed of the processes, and we in the NDP support that. The member for Burnaby—Douglas and others in the NDP are on record as being very strongly supportive of victims' rights and services. So it is somewhat surprising; well, maybe it is not so surprising but it is unfair for the Conservatives to keep riding this horse. The Liberal critic yesterday spoke on this bill and I listened carefully to his speech, which was very good. He kept referring to the Conservatives' calling him a hug-a-thug.

The fact of the matter is that it is peculiar to the current Conservative government. I do not recall the Conservative government of Joe Clark, which of course was not around that long, or of Brian Mulroney taking this kind of approach. This seems to be something that is peculiar to the group that is in power right now, and I really do not think it has had a lot of results to show for its efforts in this area.

The government may think that somehow it is making progress by coming up with boutique-type bills that are not 100% necessary. For example, a lot of the measures that it is introducing in these bills are already covered under the Criminal Code. What it should be doing, as has been mentioned by many people in the House, is taking the time to revamp the entire Criminal Code, something that is long overdue. It is a very old piece of legislation that is hundreds of pages long. If the government were showing vision in this area, it would make an announcement that it is going to revamp the entire Criminal Code and invite the parties onside.

I remind government members that it was one of their own colleagues, Gary Filmon who they appointed to a federal board, who developed the approach, in a minority parliament, that he would involve all opposition parties on controversial issues. It was not only Meech Lake. That was a very good example of how a very smart leader operating in a minority situation confronted a very important decision in this country.

He did not make an arbitrary decision like the Prime Minister does and drive ahead at all costs. He involved the party leaders. He got Senator Carstairs, who was a leader of the Liberal Party, involved in the committee. He got Gary Doer, who was opposition leader at the time, involved in the committee. That is how they dealt with the issue of Meech Lake.

Even when it came to something as simple as a smoking ban that was controversial in those days, Premier Filmon reached out to opposition leaders and got them on board. He found that system actually worked. The government actually did that on Afghanistan just last year and it worked reasonably well. Why it continues to refuse to learn from history and previous good practices that would help the government, Parliament and the country is really beyond me.

We can allow the Conservatives to continue their beating of the drums, their calling the member for Ajax—Pickering a hug-a-thug and their cheap shots, but the reality is that the public is not buying it. I think the member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor agrees with me.

The Conservatives have been doing this now for almost five years, but where are the results to show? They have gone through a couple of elections. They showcase them, but they are all the same bills. They brought them in two, three and four years ago. Then they prorogued the House, then brought them all back; then they had an election, then prorogued the House again and then brought them all back.

Where are those great polling numbers that this policy is supposed to produce? It is just not there. The Conservatives are no more popular today than they were then. They should be looking at how they are running the government right now.

Let us look at the long form census, the debacle of this summer. The Conservatives cannot seem to get their agenda on track.

I had wanted to talk about the “Roadmap to Strengthening Public Safety”, which is one of the reasons why the government is bringing in the legislation, but I know our public safety critic will be speaking on this bill later, and there are other members in the House who will deal adequately with that particular issue.

I understand the bill will be going to committee, because the Bloc has indicated its support for the bill. Hopefully at committee we will be able to make the adjustments and amendments needed to make this a better piece of legislation for the benefit of all Canadians.

Ending Early Release for Criminals and Increasing Offender Accountability Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Madam Speaker, after listening to the gentleman across the way from the NDP espousing the virtues of his party and how it stands up for criminals, I am wondering if this is a change of focus for the NDP.

Could the member tell me if this means that, instead of sitting down every time one of our bills to protect victims comes forward, the NDP is now going to start standing up to protect Canadians? Is that what he is saying?

Ending Early Release for Criminals and Increasing Offender Accountability Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I think if the member checks Hansard, he is going to find that he misspoke.

He really meant to say “stands up for victims”. I am sure he would apologize for that error. He accidentally said “stands up for criminals”, which of course is probably what he actually meant to say at the end of the day, but of course he did not intend to do so this morning.

I know the member is a very good member of Parliament. He is hard working and he follows the party line over there. He is probably the first one up in the morning, getting the orders from the Prime Minister's office, reading them and being right up to snuff on all the latest nuances.

I would guess that the member would be the number one MP over there doing that. I know he has read up on the latest news. I get my MP hits in the morning, and he gets his at eight o'clock at night, before some of the papers have even hit their deadlines. He is well-informed. I am sure he is just following the Prime Minister's orders.