House of Commons Hansard #87 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was information.

Topics

Economic Action Plan
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean
Québec

Conservative

Denis Lebel Minister of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, the member is a good man.

Our country's economic and fiscal leadership is indisputable. This Conservative government's economic action plan is enabling Canadians and Quebeckers to take advantage of an enviable situation, with lower taxes and major investments in infrastructure and skills training. Quebeckers are thrilled about this economic action plan. Employment has continued to increase, to the tune of 15,000 new jobs in September 2010, for a total of 122,000 new jobs, out of the 420,000 across the country.

While the armchair critics in the Bloc do nothing but vote against us and criticize us, we are delivering the goods for Quebeckers.

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

October 26th, 2010 / 2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, at Escuminac wharf in Miramichi the federal assistance program for lobster fishers is considered a joke. There are more than 200 lobster fishers there and only two would be eligible under the terms of the program.

Why do the Prime Minister, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the MP for Miramichi care so little for families like the Willistons of Hardwicke, who work very hard year-round as fishers? They make nets, they fix traps, they mend nets, they dry nets and they are still suffering from one of the worst years in the lobster fishery in this century.

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Egmont
P.E.I.

Conservative

Gail Shea Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, we have been very proactive in supporting the lobster industry to invest in its own sustainability. Long-term sustainability is a focus of our government and we are well on our way to achieving that goal.

We have invested more than $70 million in this very important industry, and that is $70 million more than the Liberal government ever did.

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, news out today is that ducks have yet again landed in a toxic pond in the tar sands. Weak regulations, out of control development and too much of the foxes watching the hen house have led to this disaster. The province is investigating, but under federal law so must the federal government.

Does the government plan to hide behind its provincial cousins again, or will it launch a full investigation of this disaster and report back to this House immediately?

The Environment
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, our government takes this issue very seriously. The oil sands must be developed in the most environmentally responsible way. Environment Canada enforcement officials will investigate, and where appropriate, charges may be laid.

Public Safety
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, hundreds of people were denied their rights and freedoms during the G20 summit this summer. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is so concerned that it is demanding an explanation from Canada. Yesterday, in committee, the Minister of Public Safety washed his hands of the whole thing.

Will the Prime Minister call an independent public inquiry to shed light on the abusive arrests that were made during this summit, and will he apologize to the people whose rights were violated?

Public Safety
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Provencher
Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, our front-line police officers were able to protect the safety of Canadians, delegates and visitors to the city of Toronto and the town of Huntsville, working in what were exceptionally difficult circumstances.

As I have always said, specific bodies exist to handle complaints regarding police conduct. It is appropriate for individuals to direct their complaints to those bodies.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of the Hon. Rosy Bindi, Vice-President of the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Republic.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Bill C-300—Speaker's Ruling
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on Monday, September 20, 2010, by the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons concerning the need for a royal recommendation to accompany Bill C-300, An Act respecting Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining, Oil or Gas in Developing Countries, standing in the name of the hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood.

I would like to thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons for having drawn this matter to the attention of the House as well as the hon. members for Scarborough—Guildwood and Mississauga South and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation for their comments.

In raising this issue, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons argued that Bill C-300 established a new, quasi-judicial function regarding Canadian companies engaged in mining, oil or gas activities in developing countries to be exercised by the ministers of foreign affairs and international trade. He also contended that the framework required to implement the provisions of the bill was not foreseen by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Act and that considerable expense would be required to put it in place. In supporting this point, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation noted that during 2009 the World Bank had expended $3.3 million conducting what he described as “parallel investigations” to those he believed would be required by Bill C-300.

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons noted that in other cases, the Speaker had found that bills mandating an expansion of the functions of an existing department or agency required a royal recommendation. He referred in that regard to the ruling concerning Bill C-280, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (Employment Insurance Account and rate setting) Debates, June 13, 2005, pages 6990-1, as well as to the ruling concerning Bill C-474, National Sustainable Development Act, Debates, February 11, 2008, but I will not cite the pages.

It is in that context that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons maintained that the terms and conditions of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Act were therefore being altered by Bill C-300 and that funds would need to be appropriated to carry out the new function imposed by the bill. He concluded that for these reasons, a royal recommendation would be required for Bill C-300.

In his remarks, the hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood asserted that the bill had been carefully drafted with a view to avoiding any requirement for a royal recommendation. He acknowledged that some reorganization of existing resources would be necessary, but that new resources would not be required.

The Chair takes very seriously the need to respect the requirements for a recommendation of the Crown to accompany any legislation requiring new expenditures. The Chair has therefore examined with care the details of Bill C-300, An Act respecting Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining, Oil or Gas in Developing Countries, as well as the precedents enumerated by the parliamentary secretary.

The case of Bill C-280, cited by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, involved the creation of a new employment insurance account outside the consolidated revenue fund. Bill C-474, to which he also referred, assigned new functions to the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, including the assessing of provincial performance in the meeting of sustainable development goals, which was clearly a significant expansion of the existing mandate.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons was correct in saying that both Bill C-280 and Bill C-474 required a royal recommendation. In the first instance, the bill created an employment insurance account outside the consolidated revenue fund as well as several other proposals. These included lowering the threshold for becoming a major attachment claimant; setting benefits payable to 55% of the average weekly insurable earnings during the highest paid 12 weeks of the 12 month period preceding the interruption of earnings; reducing the qualifying period before receiving benefits; and removing the distinctions made in the qualifying period on the basis of the regional unemployment rate. From a mere listing of the measures in the bill, one must clearly conclude that the bill had the effect of authorizing increased expenditures from the consolidated revenue fund in a manner and for purposes not currently authorized.

As for Bill C-474, it sought among other things, to modify the mandate of a new independent Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. Specifically, it sought to develop “a national sustainability monitoring system to assess...the state of the Canadian environment, nationally and by province” as well as “...the national and provincial performance in meeting each sustainable development goal...” listed in the bill. There is no doubt that extending the commissioner’s mandate into the provincial arena was clearly a significant expansion of the existing mandate.

Thus, we are in agreement on the issues raised by these two bills, however, it seems to me that the situation presented by Bill C-300, the case now before the House, is not analogous to the circumstances just described.

Bill C-300 does require the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to examine bona fide complaints concerning possible contraventions of the guidelines to be established under clause 5, but the bill is silent with respect to the manner in which such examinations are to be conducted. The respective ministers appear to have entire discretion in this regard. Furthermore, the Chair is of the view that the examination of such complaints is not a departure from or expansion of the current ministerial mandate under the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Act to carry out such examinations. Bill C-300 may put forth more stringent requirements, but it does not expand the mandate per se. Hence, a parallel cannot be made to Bill C-474.

In addition, Bill C-300 does not actually call for the establishment of the quasi-judicial process referred to in testimony by departmental officials. Nor does it require that investigations be carried out in other jurisdictions. It may be that a reorganization of resources or even additional funds would be required, however, it appears these would be operational in nature. In short, there is little ground for comparison of Bill C-300 with Bill C-280 and Bill C-474.

Consequently, from a strictly procedural point of view, the Chair cannot find that Bill C-300 requires the expenditure of public funds for a new and distinct purpose. I therefore rule that there is no requirement that the bill be accompanied by a royal recommendation. The House may continue to consider it in accordance with the rules governing private members' business.

I thank hon. members for their attention.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

When this matter was last before the House, the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster had the floor and he had concluded his remarks. There are 10 minutes remaining for questions and comments consequent upon the hon. member's speech.

The hon. member for Western Arctic.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's excellent speech really touched on the main issue.

The main issue, and our contention with the bill, is the failure of the government to provide protection for privacy issues within the potential agreements that could be signed with a number of countries around the world. The agreements would be signed in secret without any accompanying understanding of how our privacy rights are protected.

Could my colleague perhaps elaborate further on this situation and how we could alleviate it and what kinds of changes could have been instituted to the legislation to make it more palatable?

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to praise the member for Western Arctic for the work he does on the transport committee and in the House. He has been first and foremost in fighting for transportation safety in this Parliament. In the previous Parliament, he fought to stop the government's irresponsible plans around self-managed safety systems, or basically self-serve safety, the famous SMS systems, in the airline industry. He managed to stop the government cold from doing to the airline industry what it irresponsibly did to the railway industry. We certainly saw an increase in accidents and derailments in the railway industry.

His work there and now his work on Bill C-42 shows that he has the concerns of Canadian families from coast to coast to coast, since he represents the Arctic in mind. It is because of his incredible efforts in the House that more and more Canadians are becoming aware of what the government is intending to do with Bill C-42. It is ripping up personal information protection and allowing personal confidential information, in an unprotected way, to be given to other countries, like the Dominican Republic, which is an authoritarian government, or Panama, which ranks among the world's worst in terms of dirty money laundering and tax havens.

What the government could have done, to answer the member for Western Arctic's question, is put in place the principles around confidentiality and protection of private information, which include, most notable among the six principles that the European Commission has adopted, the restriction on aberrant transfers, that we can only transfer information to third parties or third countries when it is protected.

In this case, as we know, and as the member for Western Arctic has very eloquently raised in the House, the government did not do it. It did not get the job done. It did not even try to get the job done. It did not even try to apply any of those principles of protection of confidential and private information, not even one. That is why the bill is so bad. It did not even make the attempt to provide some protection of Canadians personal private information, including credit cards. It is clear that the government did not understand what it was doing, that it did not understand the implications and that now the current government really has to withdraw this bad bill.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the member talked about ripping up things. What the member is and has been ripping up are the facts. I would like to reiterate the facts for him. First, Canada asked for and received an exemption for domestic Canadian flights flying through U.S. air space. Second, the legislation only facilitates the sharing of information for flights to the United States or over U.S. sovereign air space to a third country.

If passed, any information that air carriers will be required to share with the United States are full name, date of birth and gender. This would amount to less information than is required to be included in a Canadian passport to cross the border. I do not understand what the member is trying to put forward, but clearly, if the information is confirmed not to be linked with terrorism, it will be erased after seven days.

I do not know what the member is going on about and the fearmongering that he is trying to cause, but clearly the information given to the United States is less information than that which is already given by individuals in a passport. What is the member on about now?

Would he please tell Canadians the facts because that is not what he has been talking about so far.