House of Commons Hansard #115 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was years.

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Order Paper Question No. 614
Points of Order

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order to respond to a point of order that was raised by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. I must admit that when I heard the objection he was making to a question that was put on the order paper, I was a bit surprised given your ruling about four years ago when he and I had an exchange on the same point. What I see are very similar issues and he appears to be making the same errors in terms of his analysis of this particular question by the member for Honoré-Mercier. It is about Standing Order 39(1) and 39(2) and just for the record. Standing Order 39(1) reads:

Questions may be placed on the Order Paper seeking information from Ministers of the Crown relating to public affairs; and from other Members, relating to any bill....

I will not go on with the rest of it, as it is really the second part that is important. It authorizes the Clerk of the House to be able to determine whether the question is a proper one. The test for that is that the question must be coherent and concise.

The question was submitted and I will give a quick history because this is not in the record right now. We had the pattern up until, I believe, 1999 where there were very little limits on the number of questions members could put on the order paper. I have heard some commentary suggesting it could be as much thousands of questions on the order paper. There was no limit on the number of questions that individual members could put on either.

In 1999, we changed the Standing Orders and limited to four the number of questions that any member of Parliament could have on the order paper at any given time and, at that time, introduced Standing Orders 39(1) and 39(2) where we are dealing with this issue of what test is used.

Obviously, Mr. Speaker, the way around the limit of four, which I think you have recognized in previous rulings, is to put a whole bunch of sub-questions in.

Mr. Speaker, in terms of the rulings, and specifically the one you made in 2006 involving a question that was on the order paper to the defence department by Dawn Black, a former member of Parliament from New Westminster--Coquitlam, you made a specific ruling and I want to draw your attention to that because it has not been mentioned by the other people who argued this in previous days. You made several rulings that have guided us since then, which is why I am surprised that it is here, but I want to draw your attention to it again.

You made reference to the history and then you talked about a pattern that we had seen by members of the opposition, Conservative members or Reform Alliance, I am not sure which party they were, where very lengthy questions were being put in. Within this one ruling, Mr. Speaker, you made it very clear that length was not the test, that it was conciseness. In this case, you made a ruling on October 18, 2006, and I will read two points with regard to the issue of length. The first point is on the fourth page of the decision:

The issue was not the length of the question but rather the fact that it contained unrelated sub-questions.

Therefore, you made the point that it was back to conciseness. With regard to how conciseness is looked at, you made this point:

It is no longer interpreted to mean short or brief but rather comprehensible. Undoubtedly, this practice has evolved as a means of getting around the limit of four questions per member.

Mr. Speaker, I want to read part your decision in Question No. 9 because you set out the means by which you proceeded to divide the question. I must say that what you did at that point was logical. You broke it down into three sub-questions. With regard to the paragraph that deals with that, you said:

The first question concerns the government's objectives, strategy, vision, results and capabilities with respect to the Afghanistan mission and includes 33 sub-questions. The second deals specifically with Canadian Forces casualties in Afghanistan. It contains five subsections. Seven sub-questions related to financial matters are grouped together in a third question.

You broke it down that way and it seemed to be a logical and appropriate result. I think the House, generally, was quite satisfied and has tended to guide itself by that ruling over the last four years.

However, now we come to the question that the member for Honoré-Mercier has put forward. I have looked at it, using your same criteria, and I must admit that it is quite a lengthy question, as the parliamentary secretary pointed out repeatedly. However, although it is very lengthy, it really asks the government if it has done the analyses. There are five analyses and then two other sections. I could see it being broken down into two questions but no more than that.

The point I want to make in this regard, and I feel like I may be acting on behalf of the member for Honoré-Mercier, is that what he has really done is to be helpful to the government in terms of it being able to respond. He is saying that here are the analyses that he wants to know about, whether they are legal and the effect it has on privacy. He has listed those at the start of each subsection and then explains the kind of detail he wants, if the government has it.

It is easy for the government to say that it has very clear points that the member wants to know, which, I believe, makes it easier for the government to respond, as opposed to the member just putting the individual headings of the analyses that he wants and then the government is left to try to guess how much detail he wants. He has set that detail out. Therefore, his question is concise and comprehensive.

Mr. Speaker, if you are going to break it down at all, I think it should not be into more than two questions: one is very clear analyses, and there are five of those, and there are two other areas.

The parliamentary secretary kept arguing that if the intent here is to delay the matter. If the effect of these questions are to cause some delay to the government, it is not a criteria that you, Mr. Speaker, would take into account, at least you have never ruled that way in the past. So that is a specious argument as far I can see.

Order Paper Question No. 614
Points of Order

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I thank the hon. member for his interest in the subject and I am sure I will be coming back to the House in due course.

Order Paper Question No. 614
Points of Order

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on the same point of order. I would just point out that during his intervention, which was timely, the member said that the way around the rules of the four questions is to have many subsections. I think it is up to us as parliamentarians not to find ways around the rules but to actually live by the rules.

Order Paper Question No. 614
Points of Order

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I thank the hon. member for his interventions also. I will get back to the House in due course in respect to this matter.

The House resumed from December 8 consideration of the motion that Bill C-30, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Shoker bill is a response to a decision by the Supreme Court of Canada that came down in February 2006. The government is finally getting around to dealing with this almost five years after the ruling.

The ruling, even in 2006, was not a surprise because it started at the trial level, went to the Court of Appeal and then the Supreme Court of Canada. In each case, as I recall, the rulings were the same all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada.

It was interesting to listen to the parliamentary secretary in response to a question from the opposition side saying that the government needed three years to consult before it could even draft the bill. I have a hard time with that. The reality is that it has decided that this bill and correcting the problem are not very important because it does not do the usual thing that its crime bills do. There are no easy victims that it can trot out for photo ops and push its ideological agenda with regard to crime.

On the other hand, for our police forces in particular, and our prosecutors and judges who deal with the criminal justice system, this is a very important problem for them. The solution is quite clear. I am not suggesting that the government could have turned this around overnight but almost five years after the fact is way too long.

In terms of the constant false accusations that we hear from the Minister of Justice about opposition parties delaying crime bills, this bill is before the House only because I asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice a couple of weeks ago why we were bothering with this bill going through its normal process.

It is a technical bill and, even though the bill is fairly lengthy, it is quite simple. We are responding to the Supreme Court of Canada decision. It was only before the House earlier this week and today for debate on the agreement of all parties that we will limit debate and send it through all stages today once I finish my speech.

What it really says is that the government has a priority around crime but only where it benefits it from a partisan political standpoint, and this bill does not do that. I want to go back to just how important this bill is for the police officer on the street. I will put it in context.

I cannot remember how long this goes back, but for a long time people have signed recognizances when they are initially charged and they are sometimes released with financial bail but usually just on conditions and most often those conditions are for the individual to abstain from the consumption of alcohol or, at the very least, drugs and other illicit substances of that nature. There are many cases of where people have been convicted within the criminal justice system and put on probation or, as part of their parole when they come out of incarceration, the same conditions, which are no consumption of alcohol or drugs.

What has been a practice for about 20 to 30 years that I am aware of is that if police officers, in their normal course of duty, came across individuals who were subject to a recognizance, probation order or parole order, including these conditions, and became suspicious that they were breaching those conditions, they would demand a sample, usually urine but sometimes blood, and if the analysis of the substance was that there was alcohol or drugs present, they would lay a charge against the individuals for breach of recognizance, probation or parole and the courts would then deal with it, with the analysis being the principal piece of evidence against the individual.

Around 2004, the Shoker case came before the courts on a charge of breach of probation. The defence counsel raised, for the first time in Canada, that there was no authority anywhere in our criminal laws that allowed the police to demand the sample. Even though accused people, convicted people in most cases, had probably breached their terms of probation or parole, there was no way police officers could demand what in effect was the proof they needed.

As I said earlier, it was found that this was the case, that there was no authority for the police to do this. It went through the Court of Appeal and on up to the Supreme Court of Canada, all confirming there was no authority and unless the federal government set in place provisions within the Criminal Code and a system as to how those samples would be dealt with, the practice had to cease, and that has happened.

The result of that is we have substantial frustration within our police forces. If police officers have a very solid suspicion that a person has breached these conditions, the consumption of alcohol or drugs, they are prohibited to act on that. Unless police officers actually catch the person in the process of consuming alcohol or drugs, which is rare for them to do, there are no effective means of proving the person has broke his or her parole conditions. When police officers catch people who they are suspicious of doing this, they have to turn a blind eye and let the person go.

I want to emphasize the significance of what this has meant in one area. In trying to combat the street gangs, a few years ago Police Chief Blair in Toronto, the chief in Halifax more recently and I believe in Calgary as well will charge an individual who the police are suspicious of is part of a street gang, oftentimes a violent street gang. In most cases that person will get out on bail, but he or she will be under these conditions.

Police forces have been targeting specific areas of their cities. They have been going to the houses of those people every day to check on them, particularly if they are on a curfew. If they have breached their conditions under that recognizance, then they will charge them, and in most cases those people will then be incarcerated until their trial.

It has been a very effective tool. There are areas in the city of Toronto with I am fairly familiar. There are two areas in particular where the crime rate among the youth gangs dropped by 30%, 40% and 50% because of this tool. We have no way of proving this, but we can argue that if Shoker did not apply and if we had Bill C-30 in place, it would be even more effective. In cases where police officers are suspicious of drug or alcohol consumption prohibited by the signing of a recognizance order, they have no way to charge them because they cannot prove it.

We were speculating in the earlier debate on this that the number of cases where the police have been unable to charge people clearly has to be in the thousands over the last five or six years. Again, it is not an issue that the government felt was important enough to deal with, but it has certainly been a very important one for our front-line police officers.

I will go back to the decision by the Supreme Court. It was made very clear that there had to be a clear regime of how the samples would be demanded, how they would be treated and how they would ultimately would be disposed of. I acknowledge that the government has done this, which is a bit surprising given some of the other things it does with crime bills.

The government made it quite clear, and I suppose it was because the Supreme Court would have ruled this ultimately, that any of the samples could only be used for the purposes of proving the breach. The samples could not be used in any other criminal charges.

The importance of that is to be very clear to the Canadian public generally that we understand, the courts understand and the criminal justice system understands that asking for a bodily fluid sample is an invasion of that person's general rights to privacy. Therefore, we had to be very careful, and the Supreme Court made this clear in its decision, in upholding the lower court ruling. That was the major reason for doing it. It said that this was a major incursion into an individual's rights of privacy.

I want to make it clear that this is no reflection on the average police officer. However, some police officers, who were either overly zealous or abusive of their authority, would make unreasonable demands. Therefore, it wants to be very clear that if these demands are made, they are made for a very limited purpose in compliance with that court order or recognizance or parole condition and only for that purpose, thereby reducing the potential for those demands to be made unreasonably or abusively.

That section is in Bill C-30 and it is one that is in keeping with both the wording and the spirit of the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in R. v. Shoker.

As well, I want to be quite clear on the fact that the bill deals with the three separate areas where it is used. I made reference to the recognizance. The majority of cases where the police will attempt to enforce this are probably the recognizance cases. Again, when individuals are charged but not yet convicted or found innocent, if they do not want to be incarcerated pending their trials, they are required sign this recognizance, which in effect is a court order at that point.

There are very standard clauses in the recognizance right across the country. The abstinence from alcohol and drugs is a very common one. Not associating with certain people is also a very common one. Being subject to a curfew between certain hours, not being out on the street, having to be in their residence and having to maintain a regular residence, is very standard. Those are the most common ones that I can think of just off hand. The one on alcohol and drugs is really important.

It is hard to perhaps make the case without talking about the methodology and the mechanism that was used in New York to reduce the amount of crime. Generally the chief of police, but also Mayor Giuliani, really insisted on this. We can look to other communities in the U.S., and in some cases now Canada because of the current administration, where they use legislative responses to high crime rates.

Any number of studies in the United States and some here have shown that a legislative response generally is much less effective in dropping the crime rates than it is using these kinds of tactics. I mentioned the ones that Chief Blair used in Toronto and the ones that chief in Halifax uses currently. I believe other chiefs have done it as well.

New York City went after the little crimes. We talk about them cleaning up the graffiti. One of the areas that it went after was breaches of conditions, and the alcohol and drug one was the major one. Again, much was done in Toronto, this was widespread across the city. If people were caught consuming alcohol or drugs when they were prohibited to under the recognizance, they ended up back in jail.

The effect was the serious crime rate for crimes such as drug trafficking and serious violent crimes, not the graffiti, not consumption of illicit drugs, dropped dramatically because the person was incarcerated and was physically removed. It also it gave the message to that crime element in New York City that it would not longer be tolerated. If people did something like this, they would be caught.

It comes back to everything I learned in law school, in my law practice and in all the work that I have done here as a member of Parliament. It completely reaffirms, every time, that we could have a safe society, as safe as we can make it, by saying to that criminal element, those people who are so anti-social that they will commit crimes, and by convincing them that if they commit that crime, they will be caught. If we have a society where the vast majority of crimes are identified and prosecuted successfully, we very much drive crime rates down and we protect our citizens, which is our fundamental responsibility as parliamentarians.

The fact that we have been unable to do this for the last four or five years has resulted in more crimes being committed that otherwise would not have been. We would have had these people either getting the message clearly that they would not get away with this, or they might be incarcerated and not available to commit crimes. That is why this is so important.

The other point I want to make is with regard to those individuals who have been convicted, whether they are on provincial probation orders from the courts or they are under a parole order from our corrections authorities at the federal level. The availability of this right to demand samples and to use them is a key ingredient for those people, such as the social workers and corrections officers, who supervise people who are out on probation or subject to a parole order.

It is one of the key ways they have of being able to say to people that they are engaged in lives very actively, that they want to ensure they do not commit a crime again. This is the message that goes to people who have been incarcerated but who are now out. The message is they are very closely monitoring their conduct. If they are subject to an order that requires them to abstain from alcohol or drugs and they identify or become suspicious that they have breached that, then they will insist the samples be given. If they are correct in their suspicions, those people will be charged.

It is the ability of the corrections officers to use that tool in their monitoring and supervision that makes their jobs a lot easier. That is not the only consideration, but the major consideration is it makes their jobs much more effective. The enforcement of the probation orders and the enforcement of the parole conditions are much easier if they know they have the ability to turn to the police and say that they are suspicious, that they believe the person whom they have been supervising has breached his or her conditions and that they want to use the provisions of Bill C-30 and take the sample. If the person has breached the condition, then the individual will be charged. This technique makes their jobs much more effective.

Again it begs this question. How many people out on probation, who were not caught quickly enough, who have deviated from the path they were supposed to following, get into more serious crimes? We do not know. I have had comments from other members who have worked in this area in the past and it has to be in the thousands. Therefore, a lot of crimes may have been prevented had this been in effect.

The bill will go through the House today. It will get to the Senate. Hopefully it will not play any of its delaying tactics and we will have this before the courts for use in the next few weeks.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his explanation of the importance of the bill.

Under proposed subsection 732.1(12), the Governor in Council may make regulations specifically related to a number of sections; and subsection 732.1(8), where regulations are prescribed, I find very interesting. It says:

...subject to the regulations, the Attorney General of a province or the minister of justice of a territory shall, with respect to the province or territory,

(a) designate the persons or classes of persons that may take samples of bodily substances;

(b) designate the places or classes of places at which the samples are to be taken;

(c) specify the manner in which the samples are to be taken;

(d) specify the manner in which the samples are to be analyzed; (e) specify the manner in which the samples are to be stored, handled and destroyed;

The list goes on. It really begs the question about these sections with regard to how things may be done, that they would be imposed on provincial jurisdictions that already have in place methods of taking substances, approved through their own legislation, as well as trained and designated people. They have already done this, but federal legislation would now ask the entire country to conform to this.

It raises for me the question of what kind of costs would be involved to coordinate the entire country for these specific regulations and designations, what training would be required, and what codifications would have to be done.

It is a naive question on my part, but it would appear to me that this is one of the problems we have in our criminal justice system, that we tend to make the system more complicated and probably provide more latitude for appeals on various cases simply because of the intense detail to the smallest details that are given in legislation such as this.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's question does highlight a valid concern, although I have to say, one that I do not think is applicable here.

I just want to confirm what we have seen so many times with this government, of doing the photo ops on crime bills and then dumping the responsibility and the cost onto the provinces, with no cost-sharing arrangements at all. We are seeing that repeatedly, especially with regard to the rates of incarceration and how many billions of dollars that will cost the provincial levels of government.

However, in this particular case, as I said earlier in my speech, we had been doing this; the samples were being taken up until 2004 or 2005. So the system was in place across the country. The laboratories to which the samples were sent were already on contract. Most of them are private. They are not government agencies. So that system was already there. It has been languishing, but it is still being used for other purposes, because we take samples in any number of other ways. But that forensic skill is certainly in the country. We have been spending less money on it at the provincial level because we have not been able to take the samples, because we have not been able to use them. So there will be an increase in cost, but it is costs that the provinces were running, up to about five years ago.

I will make one final point, though. It is, I believe, a benefit to people who are accused that we have national standards. I am assuming and I certainly would expect that those regulations would set those national standards. I have to assume as well that they may not have always been met in the past, so we will now have national standards, which will make it much easier for our prosecutors, when they take those samples into court, to convince a judge that they are valid, that they have been done properly because they have met the national standards, and the conviction will pretty well always flow from it.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague has provided an in-depth analysis of why this piece of legislation is so critical. I am familiar with this great work and how he has provided feedback on this incessant crime and punishment agenda from the government.

I would like to ask him what his thoughts are as to why such a useful and critical piece of legislation took so long to come forward from the government. What could possibly be going on when the government claims to be committed to cutting back on crime and the usual phrases it uses, but when it comes to actually bringing forward useful and effective legislation, we are just simply not seeing that? I would like to ask for his thoughts on that.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is difficult to say this, but there does not seem to be any other explanation. We have known for over five years, because it precedes the Supreme Court of Canada decision, and it was quite obvious what was going to happen when Shoker got to the Supreme Court of Canada from the Court of Appeal. So there was a lot of time for the government to do this.

However, there are no obvious victims. We cannot point to an obvious victim, because what is really being said is that if this law had been in effect, this person would not have been a victim. We cannot go and find that person because there is just no way of doing that. The Conservative Party needs those photo ops for the Minister of Justice or the Minister of Public Safety to trot out, and it just did not have them. So this one gets pushed down to the bottom, even though if we were to ask the police officer on the street or the corrections officer, they would have wanted this right near the top to be dealt with very rapidly.

This is the second time this bill has been before the House. We had the election and it was knocked off the order paper. We had prorogation twice and it was knocked off the order paper. However, other bills have gone ahead. We have had 50 or 60 crime bills in the five years. We did not need them, but this one was always pushed down, because again, the Conservatives did not have that photo op.

I want to be very clear on this. When the Conservative government had to make a decision over which bills they were going to proceed with, they did it on an individual basis. Of those 50 or 60 bills that we have had, including quite frankly some of the private members' bills from the Conservatives, we could have brought almost all of those into two or three omnibus bills. That would have used up a lot less time in this House and more effectively dealt with a number of issues that do exist within the Criminal Code and the criminal justice system. We could have used omnibus bills to do that.

This next bill that we have right after this debate, Bill S-6, is a classic example of that. There are at least three other bills that have either gone through or are coming that should have all been combined around this one issue, and we can just repeat that over and over again.

That would not have allowed the government have those photo ops. It has to have an individual bill on every section of the Criminal Code, at the rate the government is going. If we do not have that, then too bad, it is no longer a priority for the government and is just dropped.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting. The member mentioned an omnibus bill. I seem to remember one that we had, protecting victims from violent crime. I remember the shrill of the NDP that we brought an omnibus bill on crime and how they opposed that.

The other thing the member spoke about was the provinces. I do not know if the member understands that people were gaming the provinces, for example, on pretrial custody. The provinces supported us putting an end to two-for-one and three-for-one credits in the provinces.

How many mandatory minimums can the member point out to this House whereby it would not put incarcerated offenders into the federal system as opposed to the provincial system? I would love to hear his list.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the member knew what he was talking about, he would look at this. In fact, between 80% and 90% of the mandatory minimums that we have passed or are coming are two years or less. Those are all provincial incarcerations. We are going to increase the incarceration rate at the provincial level by 100%.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Who is going to pay?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Yes, Mr. Speaker, who is going to pay? This government is not. It has not spent one dime helping the provinces in the cost of those prisons.

We are going to increase the provincial incarceration rate by 100% and we are going to increase the federal incarceration rate by about 30% to 40%. Those are the facts.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

That concludes the debate on this bill.

Pursuant to order made Tuesday, December 7, 2010, Bill C-30, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, is deemed read a second time, deemed referred to a committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage, and deemed read a third time and passed.

(Bill read the second time, considered in committee, reported without amendment, read the third time and passed)

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill S-6, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and another Act, as reported (with amendments) from the committee.

Speaker's Ruling
Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

There are three motions in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill S-6. Motions Nos. 1 to 3 will be grouped for debate and voted upon according to the voting pattern available at the table. I will now submit Motions Nos. 1 to 3 to the House.

Motions in Amendment
Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Bev Oda Durham, ON

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill S-6 be amended by restoring Clause 1 as follows:

“1. This Act may be cited as the Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act.”

Motion No. 2

That Bill S-6, in Clause 3, be amended by deleting the following after line 28 on page 3:

“(2.7) The 90-day time limits for the making of any application referred to in subsections (2.1) to (2.5) may be extended by the appropriate Chief Justice, or his or her designate, to a maximum of 180 days if the person, due to circumstances beyond their control, is unable to make an application within the 90-day time limit.

(2.7) If a person convicted of murder does not make an application under subsection (1) within the maximum time period allowed by this section, the Commissioner of Correctional Service Canada, or his or her designate, shall immediately notify in writing a parent, child, spouse or common-law partner of the victim that the convicted person did not make an application. If it is not possible to notify one of the aforementioned relatives, then the notification shall be given to another relative of the victim. The notification shall specify the next date on which the convicted person will be eligible to make an application under subsection (1).”

Motion No. 3

That Bill S-6, in Clause 7, be amended

a) by replacing line 9 on page 6 with the following:

“3(1), within 90 days after the end of two years”

(b) by replacing line 19 on page 6 with the following:

“amended by subsection 3(1), within 90 days”

Motions in Amendment
Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure for me to speak to Bill S-6, the most serious time for the most serious crime act, now that it has been reported back to the House by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, of which I am a member.

This bill proposes to amend the Criminal Code to repeal the so-called faint hope clause or the faint hope regime for all future murderers and to tighten up the application procedure for those who have committed their crimes prior to this bill becoming law. Bill S-6 would achieve these goals in a balanced way, something that was recognized in the other place, where this bill was thoroughly and strongly examined and sent to the House without any amendments. However, I regret to say that the amendments adopted in the justice committee threaten to undermine the most important elements of Bill S-6 by reintroducing the very uncertainty that the bill was designed to overcome.

Before going on, I note that the punishment for high treason and murder is life imprisonment without parole eligibility, set in accordance with section 745 of the Criminal Code. Thankfully, as there is no one serving time in Canada for treason, I will confine the remainder of my remarks to the offence of murder.

As we know, there is an automatic 25-year parole ineligibility for first degree murder and for two categories of second degree murder. The period of ineligibility for parole for other categories of second degree murder is between 10 and 25 years, as determined by a sentencing judge and in accordance with section 745.4 of the Criminal Code.

Despite these clear provisions, the faint hope regime in section 745.6 and the related provisions permits convicted murderers to seek an earlier parole eligibility date than the one to which they were originally sentenced. Since its inception in 1976, the faint hope clause has been a continuing source of controversy and has certainly been the object of derision by many victim groups in this country.

The families and loved ones of murder victims are particularly affected as they often live in dread and uncertainty as to whether an offender will be bringing a faint hope application that will then force them to relive the tragic pain of their losses yet again. In recognition of such concerns, amendments were brought forward by a previous government in 1997 and 1999 to render post-1997 multiple murderers ineligible to apply for faint hope and to toughen the application procedures for all other murderers.

Bill S-6 would build on these earlier initiatives by effectively repealing the right of all future murderers to apply for faint hope and by further toughening the application procedure. This is important. Barring future murderers from applying for faint hope would not only benefit the families and loved ones of victims but also protect society by keeping offenders in prison for the full time to which they are sentenced. What could be more reasonable than that?

As all hon. members will recall from past debates, the current application process has three stages: first, judicial screening to determine if an applicant has a reasonable prospect of success; second, a unanimous decision by a jury to reduce the applicant's parole ineligibility period; and three, an application for parole to the Parole Board of Canada. Allow me to highlight the key changes proposed by Bill S-6.

First, applicants would have to meet a stricter test at stage one by showing a “substantial likelihood” of success. This would screen out all less-meritorious applications. There would also be a longer statutory waiting period for re-application after unsuccessful applications, five years instead of the two at present.

The House will undoubtedly know of the high profile case of Clifford Olson, who has been making repeated faint hope applications virtually every two years. In fact, one was just last week. All this has accomplished is to make the families of the victims of Mr. Olson relive the horror and terror every two years.

Most important, Bill S-6 would impose a new 90-day window for offenders to apply, or reapply, under the faint hope regime once they have served 15 years.

Failure to make an application within that application window would bar any further applications for five years, at which time another 90-day application window would open.

These time limits are explicitly designed to shelter victims' families and loved ones by requiring offenders to make their intentions clear at the earliest opportunity and by restricting the number of applications that can be made over the course of an offender's sentence.

The amendments made at the committee stage undermined virtually all of these worthwhile goals.

The government is committed to protecting the rights of victims of crime. We want to see an end to faint hope reviews so that victims' families would not need to suffer the anguish of attending repeated parole eligibility hearings and relive their losses over and over again.

I think it is mindful that the House be advised of what one of the spokespersons for victims of crime said at committee regarding repeal of the faint hope close.

Ms. Sharon Rosenfeldt, who is the mother of one of Clifford Olson's many victims, said:

We at Victims of Violence believe this process is heavily weighted in favour of the offender. The emphasis is on rehabilitation rather than on the crime itself, the victim, or the impact of the crime on the family and communities. We believe that when Mr. Warren Allmand, the member of Parliament responsible for this clause, talked about the waste of the life of the offender who is kept in prison for 25 years, he seemed not to take into consideration the innocent life the offender wasted when he or she made the decision to commit murder. There is no parole or judicial review for murder victims and their families. They have no faint hope clause or legal loophole to shorten their sentence. Victims of Violence also believes the offender is not sent to prison to be punished, but rather the sentence itself is the punishment, according to the Criminal Code of Canada. Thus we continue to ask a very simple question: Is the sentence 25 years, or is it 15 years? It cannot continue to be both.

That ends Ms. Rosenfeldt's testimony before the justice committee.

As was demonstrated at the committee, the Liberals, on the other hand, are more interested in playing politics instead of listening to the victims of crime.

As a result of the several unnecessary Liberal amendments to Bill S-6, such as removing the name of the bill, this important legislation will now have to return to the other place, unless of course this House decides to agree with the proposed amendments put forward today and reverse the amendments at committee.

The Liberal caucus claims to share Canadians' and victims' concerns about crime, but when the cameras are off, it uses every opportunity to gut, derail or delay our important government law and order, safe street and safe community bills.

These unnecessary amendments were clearly used as a political tactic to delay our justice legislation. It is inconceivable to me that such an important matter as the protection of the families and loved ones of murder victims be delayed by a dispute over semantics.

We are really getting to the bottom of the intellectual barrel when we start wasting time in committee debating the names of bills. That really, I think, brings a disservice to the intellectual debate that these bills require and that Canadians want and demand that we pass.

For all these reasons, I urge all hon. members to reflect on what I have just said today and to vote in favour of the government's report stage amendments that would reverse the unnecessary changes introduced by the Liberals at committee and allow this bill to quickly become law to the benefit of the victims of crime in this country.

Victims of crime have spoken loudly and unequivocally that they want this legislation passed and that they want it passed expeditiously. I urge all hon. members of the House to give deference to the victims of crime.

Motions in Amendment
Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the amendments, it was interesting that the new Ombudsman for Victims of Crime was recently appointed this past summer, as the government did not like what the prior one was doing, because he was being too forceful especially around the gun registry. The Conservatives did not reappoint him. At that point he was in favour, as were a number of the victims activist groups, of keeping the gun registry and opposed to the government's position. Anyway he did not get renewed in his position, like so many other people who do not agree with the government's agenda even though they are doing the job they are supposed to be doing.

Specifically on one of the amendments being proposed in trying to delete one the amendments made at the justice committee, we heard very clearly from the ombudsman and other victims about their absolute need for information, to know what is going on, such as whether there is another proceeding coming. Are they going to be faced with a process that they want to be involved in out of respect for their family member or loved one who has been murdered?

One of the amendments put in that the opposition parties supported was to deal with the situation. We have a situation with the faint hope clause where, a year before individuals are eligible to apply, the corrections officers have discussions with them, and all of the evidence that came out in the course of analyzing the bill and the faint hope clause—

Motions in Amendment
Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I will terminate the hon. member's remarks so that the member has an opportunity to reply, which will be after oral questions.

Organ and Tissue Donation
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday schools across the town of Aurora took part in the torch of life relay. Students took turns carrying the torch of life to mark the launch of the Step by Step Organ Transplant Association's eighth awareness campaign, SOS The World.

Step by Step is a charity dedicated to increasing the number of organ and tissue donations and hopefully saving lives. By carrying the torch of life, students are empowered to spread the message of the importance of organ and tissue donation.

It was students Blair and Marla Cuthbert from Aurora who inspired Step by Step to hold the launch in Aurora by carrying the torch to Queen's Park to save their dad, Bruce, who was in need of a liver transplant.

Yesterday's 25 kilometre route involved students from St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic High School; Dr. G. W. Williams Secondary School, my high school; Aurora High School; George Street Public School; Aurora Senior Public School; Devins Drive Public School; Aurora Heights Public School; Lester B. Pearson Public School; Our Lady of Grace Catholic Elementary School; and St. Andrew's College.

Congratulations to all the students who have helped raise awareness of organ and tissue donation.

Mental Health
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Navdeep Bains Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, for far too long mental health has hidden in the shadows of Canadian society. Stigma and ignorance have made it taboo. Yet 20% of Canadians will suffer from some form of mental illness during their lives.

The impact is particularly hard on young people. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people under 25, yet only one in five children who need mental health services actually receive it.

Every member in the House knows someone afflicted by mental illness. However, the system that is supposed to protect these patients is a patchwork at best.

That is why I was proud to table in this House a motion calling on Parliament to study this important issue and make recommendations to improve our mental health system.

I ask all hon. members to join me in supporting this motion in order to shine the light on an issue that has hidden in the shadows for far too long.

Operation Red Nose
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, this year, I am co-president of Operation Red Nose 2010 with my parliamentary colleague from Hull—Aylmer.

We encourage people to volunteer to drive home others who have been caught up in the “joy” of the holiday season.

If anyone wants to volunteer to help with Operation Red Nose, they should go to Operation Red Nose headquarters at 120 Charlevoix Street around 9 p.m. on December 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, 30 or 31.

To have Operation Red Nose drive you home, you simply need to call 771-2886. Donations from clients will be given to Loisir Sport Outaouais for amateur sports.

Hats off to Lise Waters and Jean-Marc Purenne as well as to all the volunteers who make Operation Red Nose possible.

Thanks to Operation Red Nose for helping to save lives.

I hope we will see many people out there.

Pensions
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, since the beginning of this Parliament, I have been listening to seniors from my riding and from across the country and this is what they have been telling me: Seniors need retirement income security guaranteed throughout their retirement years. Seniors need an OAS and GIS income that will keep them above the poverty line. Seniors need an end to the clawing back of GIS when there is a cost of living increase to CPP. Seniors need a national pension insurance plan to protect their company pensions.

Over 60% of today's workers have no pension and no retirement savings. These workers are facing a bleak retirement unless the government moves to significantly increase CPP with a goal of doubling it over 35 years.

That is why when the federal, provincial and territorial finance ministers meet next week in Kananaskis, Alberta, the NDP urges the government to follow through on its commitment to expand the CPP.

Human Rights
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, today we celebrate International Human Rights Day.

Human rights are at the very heart of this government's policies whether it is at home or abroad. Our policies have always been based on the principles and values of a free and democratic society. However, Canadians must be mindful that the rights we enjoy are not shared by all around the world.

On this occasion, I would like to take this opportunity to honour those who have stood up and defended human rights. In particular, I congratulate Mr. Liu Xiaobo on winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

We also commend individuals like Nguyen Van Dai, Gao Zhisheng, Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, Ko Mya Aye and countless others around the world who have raised awareness about the struggle for the promotion of human rights.

Our government will continue to promote freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law around the world.

Harry Denison
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a man I am proud to have called my friend, Flight Sergeant Harry Denison.

Harry was an amazing human being who lived a remarkable life. In 1944, at age 17, Harry joined the RCAF and became a mid-gunner in a Halifax bomber. In March 1945, his plane was shot down during a night raid over occupied Europe. Harry fell 22,000 feet without a parachute and survived, earning him the nickname “No Chute”. After the war, Harry returned home and in 1947, he and his brother John bought an old army truck and together they became two of the original ice road truckers in the Northwest Territories.

Whether it was at the Legion, the 406 Wing or downtown North Bay, Harry always had a smile on his face and a joke to brighten up someone's day.

Harry passed away on Sunday at the age 85. On behalf of all members of Parliament, I would like to thank Harry for leaving a lasting impression on all those who knew him. We will miss him.

Livestock Industry
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, after years of neglect by the Liberals, Canadian livestock producers are finally getting the respect and support they deserve from their federal government.

On Monday our agriculture minister pledged up to $3 million to help Canadian meat producers move their products across provincial borders. On Tuesday it was announced that Canadian beef exports to Russia will double this year thanks to the minister's efforts to increase access to this important market.

I was pleased to make an announcement recently that will support livestock producers in Saskatchewan and create more than 200 jobs in the Palliser riding. Thanks to an investment of more than $1.7 million by this Conservative government, Donald's Fine Foods will reopen the Moose Jaw processing plant as Thunder Creek Pork, after being closed for the past four years.

I would like to commend the agriculture minister for his hard work in supporting Canadian livestock producers. I ask my colleagues to join me in welcoming Donald's Fine Foods to the community of Moose Jaw.

Simon Paquin
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay tribute to a young man from my riding whose commitment to volunteer work is exemplary. Simon Paquin spends his time and energy fighting against cancer, poverty and childhood diseases.

Add to that his position as volunteer host of public affairs programs on Les Moulins' regional television station, where Mr. Paquin is also an anchor.

His volunteer work and the fact that he uses new information technology earned Simon Paquin the young volunteer—Claude-Masson award in communications, which is presented annually by the Government of Quebec.

Simon Paquin demonstrates the spirit, compassion and altruism of Quebec's youth. With people like him waiting in the wings, we can rest assured that Quebec's future is in good hands.

I would like to sincerely thank Simon Paquin for his commitment, and I want to assure him that the Bloc Québécois recognizes his efforts in carrying on Quebec's tradition of humanitarianism.

Gender Violence
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Colin Mayes Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, today the worldwide 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence end with International Human Rights Day.

Gender violence is a violation of women's human rights that creates significant barriers to their freedom and full participation in society. It is every citizen's responsibility to work toward eliminating it. Individual men's and women's organizations are now joining that effort in ever increasing numbers.

Michelle Bachelet, executive director of the newly established United Nations women's agency, noted recently that over 100 countries have no specific laws against domestic violence.

In Canada we have a strong legal foundation for gender equality and a solid status of women government machinery in place. Nevertheless, violence against women and girls persists and new challenges face us every day. Canadians, however, share in and support our government's commitment to ending the violence through funding programs, education and activism.

Today and every day let us re-dedicate--

Gender Violence
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order. The hon. member for Beaches--East York.

Human Rights
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, exactly 62 years ago, humanity took a considerable step forward when it adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since then, Human Rights Day is the occasion for people of all races to reflect on the way they treat one another, a day to reflect on how governments treat individuals.

At the same time, never has our country seen so many attacks on human rights on the part of its politicians. Never has a national party so systematically attacked human rights for petty political gain as today. The attacks on the charter, the attacks on women, immigrants and refugees that we have seen from the Conservative government are unworthy of Canada's heritage.

The Prime Minister should take advantage of the opportunity provided by this international Human Rights Day to examine his conscience and reconsider his many authoritarian and undemocratic decisions.

Justice
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Bruce Stanton Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government is committed to making our streets and communities safer.

This week, after nearly a year, our government was successful in passing important legislation to strengthen the national sex offender registry and the national DNA data bank which will provide greater protection for children and all Canadians.

Currently our Conservative government has over 20 other bills before Parliament to get tougher on crime and to make our streets and communities safer, but here is the problem. Due to the lack of support from the coalition of the Liberals, the hug-a-thug NDP and the Bloc Québécois, these bills have not passed.

The coalition continues to stall legislation to eliminate pardons for dangerous offenders, to repeal the faint hope clause and to end house arrest for serious crimes.

The Ignatieff-led coalition should support our efforts, need I say again, to get tough on crime--

Justice
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order. I remind hon. members that it is out of order to use members' names in the House. I am sure the member will bear that in mind. The hon. member for Halifax.

The Environment
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the recently released environment commissioner's report painfully details the government's unwillingness to address the future effects of climate change, a fact that is evident with Canada's poor showing on the global stage in Cancun.

There are people and companies across Canada working on innovative green technologies, yet the government has not taken the steps necessary to prepare our environment and our economy. In fact, it has spent only 3% of the $200 million green innovation fund which reflects the government's lack of commitment to protecting Canadians.

The absence of a strategy could have a devastating impact on fisheries and coastlines in Nova Scotia, as well as every aspect of Canadian life. Our government is letting the environment commissioner's report go foolishly and stubbornly unheeded, but it needs to know that my constituents and Canadians across the country want Canada to take a leadership role on climate change.

The time for action is now if we want to protect the planet for the next generation. I hope that the Conservatives are listening.

Status of Women
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, today marks the end of 16 days of action to end violence against women as we celebrate international Human Rights Day.

Gender-based violence is a breach of women's fundamental rights and constitutes a major impediment to their freedom and participation in society. More and more men and men's groups are helping to unsilence violence.

UN Women recently noted that over 100 countries do not have legislation against family violence. In Canada, the principle of gender equality has a solid legal foundation, and we have government mechanisms to support women. Nevertheless, there are still cases of violence against women and girls, and we face new challenges every day.

Our government is committed to ending violence against women and girls. Today and every day, we must work to end all forms of gender-based violence and ensure respect for all women.

Roger Fournier
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise here today to thank Roger Fournier, who keeps Bloc Québécois members well informed, through his curiosity and interest in many social issues.

Every week, Mr. Fournier prepares a detailed press review and provides my office with documentation—such as articles found in newspapers or on the Internet—that have to do with the status of women. He does the same for the Bloc Québécois environment critic and fisheries critic, among others.

Mr. Fournier, a retired employee of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, became a sovereignist largely because of the blatant lack of respect shown to Quebeckers within the public service in Ottawa. He is a member of the Bloc Québécois riding association executive in Brossard—La Prairie.

Mr. Fournier, on behalf of the members of the Bloc Québécois, I wish to express our appreciation for the work you do and thank you for supporting our daily efforts to become a sovereign country.

Visually Impaired People in the Outaouais
Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, 25 years ago, Marihel Mermier, Monique Beaudoin and Alan Conway launched the Association des personnes handicapées visuelles de l'Outaouais to promote and defend the rights of people with visual impairments, and to raise awareness among the public and decision makers about the difficulties visually impaired people face every day.

Today we have services that help visually impaired people attain greater independence and safer mobility thanks to the amazing work over the past 25 years of the founders, directors, members and generous volunteers of this association.

On this 25th anniversary of the founding of the Association des personnes handicapées visuelles de l'Outaouais, I would like to congratulate and thank the founders, directors, members past and present and the generous volunteers for their impressive dedication to the well-being of visually impaired people in the Outaouais.

The Environment
Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal environment critic seems to be a part-time critic or, as he styles himself, a shadow minister. His leader has taught him a thing or two about that.

After Canadian taxpayers paid his way to attend the UN climate change conference, he was supposed to spend the week there working. However, that was not good enough for the Liberal critic. In fact, he bailed from the conference two days early, not even bothering to wait for Canada's national statement to be delivered before heading to the airport.

While our Conservative government is getting the job done and showing leadership as a clean energy superpower, the Liberals are supporting a position that would cost Canadian jobs and not protect the environment.

Conservative, NDP and Bloc MPs are still at work at the conference, so why is the Liberal environment critic not? Is it because Liberals are not in it for Canadians and are just in it for themselves?

Canada-U.S. Border
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the government about the democracy deficit syndrome from which it still continues to suffer.

I wonder if the Minister of Foreign Affairs could tell us how the government could be contemplating signing an agreement with the United States that will impact immigration, will impact refugees, will impact intelligence, will impact security, will impact trade. In fact, it will impact all of our relationships with the United States.

Why would the government contemplate doing that without first of all discussing it with the House of Commons right here in Canada?

Canada-U.S. Border
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, yesterday my colleague, the Minister of Public Safety, had the opportunity of responding to that question. He quite clearly indicated that we obviously do not comment on hearsay and speculation.

In terms of keeping our borders open for business and closed for security and terrorist threats, it is a joint priority of both our government and the Obama administration.

Canada-U.S. Border
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the problem is the lack of respect for democracy in Canada and the lack of respect for the work of the House of Commons. That is the issue before us today.

Clearly, the government is contemplating a comprehensive agreement with the United States that will affect our sovereignty, immigration, refugee system and security intelligence.

How can the government do this without once consulting the House of Commons? How is this possible?

Canada-U.S. Border
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is getting carried away again. He is ranting about mere rumours and speculation. I would like to reassure him that our government's objective is to keep our borders open for business and closed for security and terrorist threats. This is the objective of both our government and President Obama's administration.

Haiti
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are very concerned about the situation in Haiti at present: cholera, 1.5 million homeless people, problems disbursing funds, people's fragile faith in MINUSTAH, and now, electoral fraud.

There is a Haitian proverb that says, Asire ou ke se limen bouji yo anvan etenn a Alimèt, which in English means “Make sure the candle is lit before putting out the match”.

What will Canada do to ensure that the results of the presidential election truly reflect the will of the people? By the way, when will our embassy in Port-au-Prince reopen?

Haiti
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to acknowledge and thank the hon. member from Bourassa for his excellent work on this matter.

This morning, I asked President Préval and Prime Minister Bellerive to make every possible effort to restore order in Haiti. After our discussions, I am very hopeful that the ballot recount will be carried out in an orderly, transparent and legitimate manner and will put an end to the population's concerns. I also offered Canada's help in this operation.

Although order seems to have been restored at this time, because of the volatility of the situation we continue to recommend to Canadians—

Haiti
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Don Valley East.

Tobacco Products
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, big tobacco lobbyists are freely roaming the halls of power, having undue influence over the Conservative government. After spending millions of dollars on the new and more effective warning labels for cigarettes, well-connected lobbyists like Perrin Beatty, a Mulroney cabinet minister, are convincing the Conservatives to scrap the labels.

Exactly when did big tobacco start determining public health policy in Canada?

Tobacco Products
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Nunavut
Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to standing up to big tobacco and curbing smoking, we have no lessons to take from the Liberals.

The news stories are simply wrong. Additional health warning labels are still under review, which I stated many times, and an announcement will be made soon. Our government is committed to preventing young people from starting smoking and helping Canadians quit smoking and addressing the pressing issue on contraband tobacco.

Tobacco Products
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister can get big tobacco to work for her.

Regarding the new warnings on cigarette packaging, why did the minister tell her provincial counterparts that changes were off the table? Why did she lead the tobacco industry to believe that changes were off the table when now she is saying that changes are imminent?

Will the minister stop playing cheap political games with the health of Canadians and come clean with what her intentions are?

Tobacco Products
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Nunavut
Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I have passed on the information to my provincial and territorial colleagues that I was continuing to review the labels. I have never said to the provincial and territorial governments that it was off the table. That work is in progress and we are continuing to do that. We are also taking action on many fronts. For example, the Cracking Down on Tobacco Marketing Aimed at Youth Act, which recently came into force, will make it even harder for industry to entice young people to use tobacco products.

Let me speak about our record. We have passed the cracking down on tobacco act. We have also invested $15 million--

Tobacco Products
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am afraid the hon. member's time has expired.

The hon. member for Joliette.

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, a May 2007 memo sent by the top military legal adviser, Brigadier General Kenneth Watkin, warns senior officers that the Canadian Forces could face criminal charges if prisoners were transferred to Afghan authorities while there was reason to believe that individuals had been or could be tortured.

Given that there have been proven cases of torture in Afghan prisons, will the government acknowledge that it new full well, as early as 2007, that Canada was violating its international obligations by continuing to transfer prisoners?

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Edmonton Centre
Alberta

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.

The simple fact is all the Judge Advocate General was doing was giving prudent legal advice and guidance to senior leadership of the Canadian Forces. That is his job. There was a lot going on at the time. He was merely making sure that everyone understood their duties, which they have carried out. All members of the Canadian Forces at all levels have abided by their obligations nationally and internationally for the welfare of the Afghan people in keeping with their good reputation and the great work the Canadian Forces have done in the process.

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the legal opinion also says that the higher a person is in the military hierarchy, the greater their responsibility.

Will the Minister of National Defence, who is at the top of this hierarchy, acknowledge that by continuing to transfer prisoners to Afghan authorities, he failed in his ministerial responsibilities, contravened international conventions about torture and exposed military personnel to criminal charges, through no fault of their own?

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Edmonton Centre
Alberta

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, that is absolutely false. The Minister of National Defence, the Chief of the Defence Staff and everyone in the chain of command, adheres to their obligations under international law. We brought in an improved arrangement when the previous arrangement was found to be insufficient. The opposition members are trying to make a news story of something that is merely routine. It is the JAG advising members of their responsibilities and that is his job, and it is their job to abide by those responsibilities and that is what they have done.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, in Cancun, when the federal Minister of the Environment acknowledged that Quebec and the provinces had taken the lead in the fight against climate change, he tacitly acknowledged that he had not fulfilled his own responsibilities.

Will the government finally show some leadership, beginning with agreeing to extend the Kyoto protocol beyond 2012?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, our provinces and territories have demonstrated real leadership and will contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and we thank them for that. Quebec, for example, has done its part. In green energy we can be proud of what we have accomplished as a country. There is still a lot of work to be done, but together we will do the right thing for Canada, for the environment and for all Canadians to share in this great, great land.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, he should look at what Quebec has accomplished, not at what the country has accomplished.

Not only is the Conservative government dragging its feet by failing to do its part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it is also undermining efforts by Quebec and the provinces by refusing to set emissions targets that would provide the foundation for a carbon exchange. This government, which has become an obstacle to Quebec and the international community, must stop behaving like the oil companies' lackey.

This is the last day of negotiations in Cancun. Will the government reconsider its position and agree to do its part to fight climate change?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, our government seeks an outcome that includes commitments from all the major emitters and reflects the balance achieved by the Copenhagen accord. The Copenhagen accord has the support of 139 signatory countries, and covers not just 27% of greenhouse gas emissions, as reported by the Bloc, but 85% of total greenhouse gas emissions. When it comes to fighting climate change it is this government that is taking action.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have been so unhelpful at the Cancun summit, many Canadians are wondering why they bothered to go. The part-time Minister of the Environment went to the summit and dismissed the Kyoto accord, dismissed Canada's responsibility to address its historic greenhouse gas emissions. These are “sidecar issues” he said.

Once again, Canada is seen around the world as a stumbling block to global climate progress. Are the Conservatives really trying to beat the Liberal record and get more fossil awards than they did?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, Canada's negotiating team is in Cancun to participate in serious discussions that will lead to a legally binding treaty that includes all the major emitters.

Canadians do not like the publicity stunts of individuals or groups who are trying to embarrass Canada. This government is a constructive player in the Cancun negotiations. We stand up for Canada, we stand up for the environment and we stand up for good Canadian jobs.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' irresponsibility also hits hard at home.

The government has only one long-term border testing site on the Athabasca River, 150 kilometres downstream of the tar sands. It was designed to monitor pulp and paper mills, not pollutants from the tar sands. Contamination and low water levels are limiting first nations to practise their traditional way of life.

When will the Conservatives regulate the tar sands? When will they protect the communities that depend on the Athabasca River?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows the government is committed to ensuring the oil sands are developed in the most environmentally responsible way. That is why we struck a federal panel of Canada's leading scientists on water monitoring, headed by Elizabeth Dowdeswell. She will be reporting very soon on whether the monitoring systems are adequate.

Our decisions are based on science, not rhetoric.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives can deny the effects of climate change, but Canadian communities are already being affected. For example, this week people in the Gaspé and Charlevoix were flooded by huge tides driven by strong winds, the likes of which had never been seen before. A state of emergency was declared.

Why abandon communities that have to adapt to climate change by getting rid of the special adaptation fund in March 2011? Why?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the member well knows that what he is proposing would only deal with 27% of the total greenhouse gas emissions. This government is focusing on 85% of total greenhouse gas emissions through the Copenhagen accord.

Canada will continue to work with the nations on the five pillars of the accord: financing, mitigation, adaptation, technology, as well as measuring and verification.

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation on March 15 stated to this House:

CIDA thoroughly analyzed KAIROS' program proposal and determined, with regret, that it did not meet the agency's current priorities.

Yesterday, however, the president of CIDA stated that she had recommended that KAIROS receive the grant.

In light of that statement, does the minister wish to correct the statement made by her parliamentary secretary?

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Durham
Ontario

Conservative

Bev Oda Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, departments are responsible for making recommendations all the time but ultimately it is the responsibility of the minister to make the decision.

This government is choosing to make its international assistance more efficient, more effective and more focused. This means more food, more education and more help for people living in poverty in developing countries.

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the minister was sitting beside the CIDA president when she testified that she recommended the KAIROS grant. When asked who put the not in the line recommending the grant, the minister said that she did not know.

If the president and the vice-president of CIDA recommended the grant and if you, minister, do not know who put in the recommendation for the grant, then who did?

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please. I would remind the hon. member for Scarborough--Guildwood that he must address his remarks to the Chair but I think the hon. Minister for International Cooperation was the person to whom those words were directed.

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Durham
Ontario

Conservative

Bev Oda Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, I will reiterate what I have already clearly said.

Departments always make recommendations to ministers and the minister ultimately decides what course to take. This government always ensures that our international assistance is directed effectively, efficiently and transparently to those people who live in poverty, and that is what we will continue to do.

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the Scrooge responsible for the cuts in seniors' pensions told the House that the cuts are now cancelled, cancelled, cancelled. In today's Globe and Mail, the minister's own spokesman, Ryan Sparrow, confirms that the cuts are really just on ho, ho, hold.

According to Sparrow, the government has yet to figure out if it will ever be able to cancel, cancel, cancel these cuts. The minister's statements seem to get richer and richer while the seniors get poorer and poorer.

When will the government finally, formally, honestly and legitimately fix these cuts?

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Souris—Moose Mountain
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, the minister has been very clear. The policy change has been cancelled. I do not know what the member does not understand about that.

Everyone affected since May 2010 will have their case reviewed based on the old policy. If the member actually reads the various documentation and listens to the statements, he will see that the department has been instructed by the minister to follow her instructions immediately, and is following through.

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, according to Service Canada's own pension call centre, the pension cuts are definitely not cancelled.

Just this morning, a pensioner from my riding called the 1-800 line and was told by Service Canada staff that no instruction had been given to revert pension eligibility rules to the old rules, nor had any instruction been given to any staff member to reassess and approve anyone already rejected.

Unless there is something very dishonest the minister has to hide, why does the government not table a copy of the exact pension rule instructions in the House today?

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Souris—Moose Mountain
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, I do not know how much more clear I can be. The member needs to listen. He cannot understand that the policy is cancelled. It is the old policy that is in effect.

The member is purposely misleading Canadian seniors. He is trying to score cheap political points on the backs of our poorest and most vulnerable seniors. That is incredibly irresponsible and shameful and it needs to stop.

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Jean Dorion Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, when the Minister of International Cooperation was asked about the cancellation of funding for the NGO KAIROS, the minister suggested that she had nothing to do with the decision and that CIDA officials were responsible. Yesterday in committee, the minister finally acknowledged that she was the one who made the decision against CIDA's recommendation.

Why did the minister deliberately mislead the House? Why is she trying to blame public servants for her own ideological decisions?

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Durham
Ontario

Conservative

Bev Oda Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, quite the contrary. I will take full responsibility. It is my responsibility to ensure that Canadian public funds are utilized in an accountable and effective way to help people living in poverty. As I have always done, I take advice from the department as well as other parties.

This is something that is important to Canadians. They want to see more food, more children going to school and more medicine getting to those in need.

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Jean Dorion Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, KAIROS has been working with the federal government since 1976. The report prepared by government officials was very positive and recommended that the organization continue to be funded.

Will the minister admit that her decision to cut funding to KAIROS was based solely on political and ideological factors that have nothing to do with the quality of service provided by that organization? Will the minister restore funding to KAIROS?

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Durham
Ontario

Conservative

Bev Oda Minister of International Cooperation

The answer to the question, Mr. Speaker, is no. It was made on the most effective use of public funds for people living in poverty, and, no, the decision will stand.

Public Safety
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Vaudreuil-Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Globe and Mail has obtained the Conservative government's communications plan designed to make Canadians and Quebeckers swallow its plan to harmonize Canadian and U.S. border controls. The Conservative government believes that the general public underestimates the terrorist threat.

Does the government not think that this security perimeter should be established in a more transparent manner, and that a more balanced approach to security and freedom should be adopted?

Public Safety
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it is quite obvious that the main objective is to ensure not only that the Canada-U.S. border is secure and meets all standards, but also that Canada's interests are protected through increased trade.

We know that this government has defended Canadians' interests and, by means of its economic action plan, increased Canada's economic activity, which has created jobs. Furthermore, we take our responsibility to protect the border very seriously. We defend the interests—

Public Safety
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order. The hon. member for Vaudreuil-Soulanges.

Public Safety
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Vaudreuil-Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebeckers are quite right to be wary of the Conservative plan to create a Canada-U.S. security perimeter. All we know about the plan is that it was negotiated in great secrecy. The federal government is preparing to share personal information about individuals with the American authorities.

Can the government tell us if its plan, which is to be made public in January, has been approved by the Privacy Commissioner?

Public Safety
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is getting worked up about hearsay and speculation.

Let us be clear: of the political parties in the House—not even counting the Bloc Québécois, of course—ours is the one that defends the interests of Canadians. We do so by promoting our trade agreements, opening up our borders and creating jobs in Canada. That is what Quebeckers and Canadians want to see.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, according to the 2009-10 public accounts, Canada spent roughly $18 million on its embassies in Europe. For the Caribbean and Latin America, it spent about $17.5 million and for Africa, barely $1 million.

Is this imbalance a precursor to decisions to come with regard to our ability to have a diplomatic presence on the African continent?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am glad for the hon. member's question because it gives me an opportunity to reiterate that this government has been able to double its aid to Africa. This government has been able to provide additional funding for food aid. When this government has a chance to review all its operations—as well it should—it does so in the best interests of all Canadians. This is just another rumour started by the Liberals.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, since I am not getting a straight answer I will change the subject.

In March, the House passed a bill on Supreme Court justices. A majority of the representatives elected by the people passed a bill and sent it to the Senate. The bill has been languishing there ever since. The Conservative senators refuse even to refer the bill to committee to allow people to discuss it. As the old adage goes, things come in threes.

Two or three weeks ago, they killed Bill C-311. This week Bill S-216 got the axe.

Will Bill C-332 be the next victim of the Conservatives in the Senate?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia
Manitoba

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Minister of State (Democratic Reform)

Mr. Speaker, the member referred to the Senate. What would be very helpful for the Liberal Party to do would be to support our legislation that would limit the terms of senators to eight years and, also, to support our initiative to have senators elected. I think that would go a long way to ensuring democracy remains strong in Canada.

Why does the Liberal Party not support democracy?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government's deceit, inaction and hypocrisy have left Canada shunned at climate conferences like Copenhagen and Cancun. Canadians are furious.

Canada's obstruction at Cancun is so undermining that it has been criticized as ecocide.

Shamefully, our part-time environment minister is publicly blaming Canada's own intransigence on China, a developing country that has already made massive investments to reduce emissions and has committed to a major reduction target.

Is poking China in the eye the government's new climate policy?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, to truly address the issue of climate change, we need to have all the major emitters as part of the solution and that is this government's position. Unfortunately, the Liberals do not take the environment very seriously and they laugh about it.

A couple of months ago, taxpayers paid for those members to go to the Nagoya biodiversity conference. They did not even show up. Now in Cancun, the Liberal critic on the environment left two days early. Is his suntan done and now he is leaving and going back? Shame on the Liberals.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec has been affected by disastrous conditions this week and I would like the government to recognize that shoreline erosion is a serious problem, and that it is aggravated by climate change.

The federal government must not only be present in times of emergencies but it must also develop preventive measures. This is a very important issue for the people of the region, and the Prime Minister would be aware of that had he not refused to answer reporters' questions during his last visit.

How does the Prime Minister plan to work with Quebec to address the problems caused by shoreline erosion?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, that is already happening. Environment Canada, through partnership and funding, has worked with the Ouranos consortium to assess the bank erosion problem on the lower St. Lawrence River. The work is in progress on the erosion problem and it includes the whole lower St. Lawrence River.

In terms of the commissioner's report, we agree with the recommendations and are developing a national adaptation strategy.

Copyright
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Braid Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians deserve effective copyright laws to protect jobs and ensure our economy remains strong. Our government's copyright reform is widely supported by creators, consumers and the businesses that drive Canada's economy. On Wednesday, our committee heard from another prominent Canadian who supports copyright reform, the former Liberal deputy prime minister, John Manley.

Could the parliamentary secretary please inform the House what the former deputy prime minister told our committee?

Copyright
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Kitchener—Waterloo for all his hard work on this file, and he is right.

The former Liberal deputy prime minister and member for Ottawa South, John Manley, appeared at our committee and his message was clear when he said, “I strongly endorse Bill C-32. It brings Canada's copyright rules into the 21st century”. He said, “It gives creators a tool to control how their works are made available. The bill is needed to ensure that Canada does not become a haven for piracy”.

I hope the current member for Ottawa South realizes how much the former member knows about copyright and how much this bill could help creators in Canada.

Potash Industry
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Industry has told the House he had to wait 30 days before giving his reasons for turning down the BHP hostile takeover of Potash Corporation. Then he assured the House he would act with alacrity.

The House has plenty of reasons not to take the minister at his word. He is already a week late. Is he still working on his lines, or will he tell Canadians today why he and the Prime Minister changed their minds and turned down this deal?

Potash Industry
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont
Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the government did rule that this proposal was not of net benefit to Canada. BHP Billiton issued a statement on November 14, announcing that it had withdrawn its application for review under the Investment Canada Act. Once an application is withdrawn, there is no opportunity for the Minister of Industry to make a final decision and thus provide reasons.

Potash Industry
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, it was not so long ago that the Prime Minister decided to ignore concerns about the acquisition of the Potash Corporation by BHP. At the time, his ignorance was amazing. He certainly learned a lot in a very short period of time.

Can the minister now explain what made the Prime Minister change his mind? Was it the NDP's solid economic logic or the Conservatives' political opportunism that made him change his mind?

Potash Industry
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont
Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, there was no change in mind. There was one decision in this case. The decision was made to the net benefit of the country of Canada and only the country of Canada. Canadians expect that from this government.

Canada Revenue Agency
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, the court proceedings involving Tony Accurso's businesses have revealed that at least a half-dozen public servants from the Canada Revenue Agency are being suspected of corruption and complicity. Spokespersons for the agency refuse to tell the truth about the scope of the scandal affecting Revenue Canada.

Can the Minister of National Revenue confirm how many public servants are being investigated and how many construction businesses like Tony Accurso's profited from this system in which tax auditors were paid off?

Canada Revenue Agency
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière
Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, the Canada Revenue Agency has a very strict code of ethics for all its employees. Any allegation of wrongdoing is taken very seriously and thoroughly investigated.

Canada Revenue Agency
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, Tony's boat is for sale for $9 million. The problem is that taxpayers paid to have it built. We have also learned that a false invoicing scheme generated a lot of cash to cover the personal expenses of executives of Constructions Louisbourg and Simard-Beaudry Construction.

Now that it has caught Tony Accurso's businesses, will the Canada Revenue Agency go after those who benefited from all that cash?

Canada Revenue Agency
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière
Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to protecting our tax base from anyone who tries to avoid paying their taxes.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, the report tabled this week by the commissioner of the environment was very damning and reads like a tragic comedy.

The ineptitude on the part of the government would make the Trailer Park Boys blush. It raises very important and serious questions. Where is our national emergency management plan? Where are the regional EMPs? Why has the government disregarded and rejected any investment in training?

The big question that people are scratching their heads over and want asked is this. Why has the government turned the responsibility for marine cleanup over to Ricky, Julian and Bubbles?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I thank the commissioner for his report.

We are committed to addressing environmental issues that are of concern to all Canadians. The fact is we are already taking action on preventing and preparing for environmental emergencies, strengthening our water monitoring systems and investing in climate change adaptation.

The government has accepted the commissioner's recommendations and actions are already under way.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, maybe we will hear from Ricky and Julian later.

It has gone from a tragic comedy to a fairytale now. It sort of reads like this: “Once upon a time Canadian governments cared about the environment and now they do not give a damn. The end”.

We saw what happened with the BP crisis and the catastrophe of that. There is no happily ever after on this. If those guys do not get it together, we are looking at dire consequences.

When will the government wake up and do something on this important issue?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the member knows well that this government takes the environment seriously. We show up for conferences, and we stay and work hard.

This is what the commissioner of the environment said about the Liberal Party and the gap between what the Liberal government said it would do and what it actually did. He said:

When it comes to protecting the environment, bold announcements are made and then often forgotten as soon as the confetti hits the ground.

The Liberals owe the House an apology for what they did.

Government Priorities
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadian household debt levels have been rising at an alarming rate for the past four years. Even the Governor of the Bank of Canada is worried. They are now almost one and a half times disposable income.

Where are the jobs the government was supposed to be creating? Without jobs Canadians cannot afford to keep up with even the basics, never mind spending extra to stimulate the economy.

The Bank of Canada is calling for action. When will the government finally get serious about creating quality, family-supporting jobs?

Government Priorities
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, that is a very troubling question considering that every time we put forward policies to help create jobs, members of the NDP have voted against it.

Members of the NDP have a lot of audacity to stand and say that we are not helping Canadians. Over 440,000 net new jobs have been created since July 2009. The NDP has voted against every initiative we have put forward that has helped to create those jobs.

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, we hear the parliamentary secretary, but there are new documents from Service Canada showing that HRSDC is still moving forward with changes that could claw back the GIS payments of thousands of Canadian seniors. Last month the minister said she would end the policy. This week she said, “we have cancelled it”.

In light of these new documents, has it been cancelled or not? Will the government please stop playing games and tell Canadian seniors the truth about this policy?

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Souris—Moose Mountain
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, for the benefit of the member and the Liberal-Bloc-NDP coalition, the policy has been cancelled. Not only has the policy been cancelled, but we have reverted to the old policy that was effective in May 2010. All of the departmental officials have been instructed to follow the old policy. The new one was cancelled. It is not in existence.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, the part-time environment critic for the opposition coalition, the member for Parkdale—High Park, had Canadian taxpayers pay his way to attend the UN climate change conference. He was supposed to spend the week in Cancun working, but he bailed out of the conference two days early, not even bothering to wait for the delivery of Canada's national statement before heading for the airport.

Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment tell us what he thinks about this part-time critic's behaviour?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I do not think that question has anything to do with the administrative responsibility of the government.

The hon. member for Kings—Hants.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, last month Maple Leaf Foods announced the closure of Larsen's plant in Berwick, Nova Scotia, leaving nearly 300 people out of work. Many of these workers have been at Larsen for over 20 years and some of them have never ever drawn EI benefits. The jobless numbers in this area are now worse than they were last year.

Will the minister extend the program for long-term workers so the people at Larsen, who paid into EI for years, can now get the full EI benefits they deserve?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Souris—Moose Mountain
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, we have extended the EI pilot projects that related to working while on claim, the best 14 weeks, the extra 5 week pilot project program. We have done a number of initiatives with respect to employment. We have unprecedented investments in training to get Canadians back to work, of over $4 billion in training to help 1.2 million Canadians.

We have done a number of things, including preserving 260,000 jobs protected through our enhanced work-share program, programs that the opposition party members did not necessarily support. We ask them to get behind us in support of those programs.

High Tides in Eastern Quebec
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Gérard Asselin Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, during the 2007 floods in Rivière-au-Renard in the Gaspé, Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions committed to helping affected merchants who were not fully covered by Quebec insurance companies and emergency programs.

Does the government plan to take its cue from this precedent and help businesspeople, merchants and NPOs that were victims of the high tides in eastern Quebec?

High Tides in Eastern Quebec
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the hon. member that the Government of Quebec and the federal government have been working very well together on this issue. Members will recall that yesterday my colleague, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, made reference to this collaboration. Once again, I want to assure the member that the federal government, the Government of Canada, is keeping an eye on the situation.

Airline Industry
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the government is driving billions of dollars away from the Canadian airline industry. In Winnipeg alone the airport authority believes more than 50,000 Manitobans a year stream across the border for cheaper flights.

A January 9, 2011 flight from Winnipeg to Los Angeles, priced at $342, is only $97 from Fargo, taxes included. The government's taxes, the highest in the world, account for up to 70% of the total fare. It is hurting Canadian airlines, taking $3 billion more every year than it puts in.

Why will the government not help the Canadian aviation industry compete?

Airline Industry
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, it is nice of the member to stand in question period every time, cry foul, talk about encouraging the economy and talk about creating jobs. However, that NDP member represents a caucus that wants to close down Canada and wants to stop creating jobs in Canada.

For the member to stand now and say that he wants to create jobs is very funny indeed. Every opportunity the NDP members have to create jobs in Canada they oppose it. They oppose every one of our economic action plan programs. They should be ashamed of themselves.

The Economy
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, our government has taken unprecedented steps toward supporting Canadians during this global economic recession. Thanks to the leadership of this government, Canada's fiscal situation remains one of the strongest in the world today.

We have brought forward a three-point plan to bring this government's budgets into balance. The plan was reflected in the appropriations act that we voted on in the House last night. I wonder if the Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board might update the House on the results of that vote?

The Economy
Oral Questions

Noon

North Vancouver
B.C.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, last night by voting full confidence in our Conservative government's priorities, the Liberals once again admitted that our economic action plan was on track and working. Securing the recovery and creating jobs for Canadians is our number one priority. We will continue to focus on completing the economic action plan and balancing the budget.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

Noon

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, if the Larsen's plant had closed in September, the workers would have received additional EI benefits under the program for long-term workers, but the program ended in September and the Conservatives did not renew it. The jobless situation in this area is worse now than it was last year when the workers would have actually qualified under this program.

How can the Conservatives justify billions for planes and prisons and next to nothing for the good, hard-working people who have spent years and decades working for Larsen's in Berwick?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

Noon

Souris—Moose Mountain
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, we of course extended EI benefits for five additional weeks. We extended it for five to twenty weeks for long-tenured workers during tough economic times during the last couple of years.

In fact, we have taken a number of initiatives to create jobs. If the member and his party had their way, they would increase taxes and kill, according to experts, approximately 400,000 jobs. While we are trying to preserve jobs and an environment to create jobs, they are doing things just the opposite of that.

Hydroelectricity
Oral Questions

Noon

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and their energy corporations have signed an agreement to develop and transmit 800 megawatts of electricity from the lower Churchill River. The project will bring clean energy to the island of Newfoundland, making its electricity 98% renewable, reduce coal generation in Nova Scotia and provide clean power for New Brunswick and P.E.I.

Does the government agree this is a positive step for Canada in reducing greenhouse gases and providing significant industrial benefits? Will the government commit the financial support for the project and do its part to resolve outstanding aboriginal claims, which could stand in the way?

Hydroelectricity
Oral Questions

Noon

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, of course this government is always in support of things that will help our environment.

Our government has put together Public-Private Partnerships Canada Inc. There is a request that has come in to them to help fund this. The private portion of it is the most important thing that we think should be involved in a project like this. It is under review, it is arm's length from government and we will be looking forward to its solution.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

Noon

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Foreign Affairs has temporarily closed the Canadian embassy in Haiti because of the current environment of political and social unrest.

Can the Minister of Foreign Affairs tell us what is being done to maintain a minimum level of diplomatic service and, most importantly, continue activities to reunite families?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

Noon

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I will let my colleague, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, answer the question about reuniting families. However, I would like to assure the hon. member that, as I already mentioned, I had the opportunity to speak to Prime Minister Bellerive and President Préval this morning. We have been assured that the votes will be recounted.

On a similar note, we are recommending that Canadians not travel to Haiti, and our embassy in Port-au-Prince is asking Canadian citizens who are in Haiti not to—

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

Noon

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. minister.

That concludes today's question period.

The hon. member for Hull—Aylmer is rising on a point of order regarding question period.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

Noon

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat surprised and disappointed. We had an arrangement with the government whip as far as a pairing agreement is concerned. Our critic for the environment was down in Cancun over last weekend and met with dozens of important officials and participated in some meetings that he was allowed in. Other meetings, as we all know, were strictly for government officials, so he could not attend.

Obviously those members here do not want to listen to the explanation, but I will continue.

I am told that he was back in Canada as of last night and attended a large community council meeting on the environment.

Let us face it. He was down there, he did the work he had to do and he came back and did the work he had to do in Canada.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am sure the House appreciates the clarification, but I do not believe it is a point of order.

The hon. member for Ottawa Centre is rising on a point of order arising out of question period.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, during question period the Minister of International Cooperation led us to believe that the answer to KAIROS was that the department and she had rejected the application. In fact, at committee yesterday the president of CIDA said very clearly that it supported the application from KAIROS and, in fact, it was the minister who had rejected it.

We have on the record in Hansard both the parliamentary secretary and the Minister of International Cooperation stating that it was the department. I believe, if we look into it, that this was a case of the minister misleading the House.

Mr. Speaker, I want to bring this to your attention to look into. I can provide the relevant Hansard and committee blues from yesterday for you to take a look at, or offer that the minister straighten it out today, right now.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am afraid that it is not for the Chair to decide whether statements made in the House are accurate. I have stressed this on a number of occasions. This is the second time today. I do not think that is a point of order.

Points of order deal with procedural matters. Whether a statement is accurate is not a matter of procedure.

I urge hon. members to restrain themselves on points of order.

Is there another point of order from the hon. member for Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte? I hope it is a point of order.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, it is the practice and convention of the House to seek unanimous consent for the production or tabling of papers referred to during question period.

During the course of debate on pensions over the last number of weeks, I have attempted to table in the House, for the benefit of all members, various papers that have been brought into my possession. I have referred to these papers during question period and they have formulated much of the basis of many of my questions to the government. They actually indicate that there has been no change whatsoever in federal public pension policy except to deny seniors pension benefits should they cash out their RRIFs for emergency circumstances.

The parliamentary secretary, during the course of today's question period, referred to a point of which members should take note. He said that the previous policies, or the current policies, on the administration of public pensions and the eligibility rules surrounding the guaranteed income supplement, were indeed cancelled.

It is common knowledge of all members who understand the administrative practices of the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada that in order for those policies to be cancelled, specific documents would have to be assigned or distributed to Service Canada employees. Those documents are called functional guidance and policy procedures. Those written documents are formal documents that describe the government's policies.

In order for the parliamentary secretary's statements to be accurate, there would have to be a written record of that decision through the functional guidance and policy procedures documents.

Would he now table those documents in the House so that all Canadians could actually see whether or not there is a shred of truth to what the parliamentary secretary has said?

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I do not think it is a point of order. It is a question that the hon. member is asking, one that he could ask in question period next week if there is no answer forthcoming. So we will move on. I am afraid I do not think this is a point of order.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I have a second point of order.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I thought that is what the member just got up on.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, during the course of my questions, I referred to documents that were drafted and distributed by the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development. They are indeed documents called functional guidance and policy procedures. There is also a service delivery directorate that I referred to during the course of my questions.

I will ask for the unanimous consent of this House to table those documents, noting that what the parliamentary secretary said in his answer is not actually revealed in these documents whatsoever. There is a problem of fact in the parliamentary secretary's answer.

I now ask this House for unanimous consent to table those documents I referred to during—

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Does the hon. member for Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte have the unanimous consent of the House to table these documents?

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

House of Commons
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I have the honour to lay upon the table the Report of the House of Commons to Canadians for the year 2010.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's responses to nine petitions.

Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, in relation to Bill S-5, An Act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.

The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House without amendment.

Finance
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the ninth report of the Standing Committee on Finance regarding Bill C-470, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (revocation of registration).

The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendments.

Justice and Human Rights
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Mississauga—Erindale
Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 12th report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

In accordance with its order of reference of Tuesday, November 16, your committee has considered Bill C-48, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to the National Defence Act, and agreed on Thursday, December 9 to report it with amendment.

Scrutiny of Regulations
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Kania Brampton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations, in relation to the Indian Estates Regulations.

Canada Labour Code
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-603, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (minimum age of employment).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce this bill today, which builds on the incredible work of young members in the trade union movement who have launched a national campaign to raise awareness about Canada's inadequate minimum age laws, and to advocate for Canada to ratify International Labour Organisation Convention 138.

My bill would bring federal labour legislation into compliance with ILO C138 by ensuring that the age of employment shall not be less than the age of completion of compulsory schooling, which in Canada is age 16.

This threshold is set to protect the health and well-being of young people and to ensure that they have the proper means to develop as individuals and citizens through sufficient education. The only exception states that light work of persons between 13 to 15 years of age may be permitted, if it is not likely to be harmful to their health or development and not such as to prejudice their attendance at school or their participation in vocational orientation or training programs.

Today all of the existing minimum age laws under Canada's federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions contravene C138. In some cases, as with the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, official minimum age laws have weakened in recent years, dropping to as low as 12 years of age. At the same time, young worker injury rates are on the climb, and still too few young workers are aware of their rights at work.

I hope that passage of my bill will be the first step toward ensuring that the federal government will officially sign on to ILO C138 and that Canada will become a leader in the fight to defeat child labour around the world instead of remaining passively complicit to, if not active proponents of, child labour here at home.

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

Firearms Offences
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am saddened to present a petition collected in my riding of Etobicoke Centre in memory of Boris Cikovic, a teenager who was gunned down by thugs trying to rob him.

This time of year is very hard for Boris' parents and his many friends in the neighbourhood where he lived and where his promising young life was snuffed out by a bullet that terrible day, October 3, 2008.

This second petition, signed by over 500 constituents, comes on the heels of a 700-person petition last week.

The petitioners urge the government to get tough on crime by passing my private member's bill, Bill C-537. This bill would ensure that offences involving firearms are automatically tried by a superior court. It would also toughen bail conditions by forcing those accused of crimes involving firearms to have to demonstrate in court why they should not be detained in custody before trial.

The individual charged with the murder of Boris allegedly refuses to co-operate by naming his two accomplices and is out on bail.

Boris' parents, Vesna and Davorin, struggle daily knowing they may actually be passing their son's murderer in their own neighbourhood.

Prevention of Coerced Abortion
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Maurice Vellacott Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition in hand. These petitioners indicate their support for Roxanne's law, Bill C-510, which would empower women to press charges if they are coerced into an unwanted abortion.

The petitioners also reference Roxanne Fernando, a Winnipeg woman whose boyfriend attempted to coerce her to abort their unborn child and subsequently murdered her for not doing so.

The petitioners would also like Parliament to support Bill C-510, which would help protect vulnerable women from being aggressively coerced against their will to have abortions.

Passport Fees
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition on behalf of a number of Canadians who are concerned about the significant reduction in tourism. In fact, the number of Americans visiting Canada is now the lowest since 1972, having fallen by five million visitors in the last seven years. This is blamed on increased costs as a result of the requirement of passports for Americans and Canadians, mostly the American law requiring American citizens to have passports to re-enter the U.S.

The petitioners ask for a fairer process and want the Canadian government to negotiate with the Americans to try to examine a mutual reduction in passport fees to facilitate tourism. It now can cost an American family of four in excess of $500 to obtain passports. This is a significant barrier to the traditional kind of cross-border family vacations that existed for many years.

This is a serious problem. It is something that we think the Canadian government should be working on because it is reducing tourism, and as the numbers show, it is significantly reducing the number of Americans who come to Canada and spend money in our tourism facilities and enjoy the benefits of Canadian vacations. This is something that the petitioners urge upon the Government of Canada, and we support this petition.

Human Rights
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to present a petition that was put together by the Council for Human Rights in North Korea. I have worked with this group from Toronto for a number of years now.

The petitioners are calling upon the Government of Canada to use all means available to put pressure on North Korea to end and dismantle the Kwan-li-so political prison camps, or the gulags, where all kinds of atrocities are taking place.

This petition is some 70 pages long, with hundreds of concerned Canadians asking the government to take action.

Prevention of Coerced Abortion
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to present two petitions from the people of Saskatchewan to all members of Parliament.

The first petition calls upon all members of Parliament to support Bill C-510, Roxanne's law, to help empower women to press charges if they are coerced into an unwanted abortion.

Right to Life
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, the second petition asks for this House to pass legislation for the protection of human life from the time of conception until natural death.

It is my privilege to present these petitions on behalf of the residents of Saskatchewan.

Afghanistan
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today.

The first is signed by dozens of Canadians to end Canada's involvement in Afghanistan. In May 2008, Parliament passed a resolution to withdraw Canadian Forces by July 2011. The Prime Minister, with the agreement of the Liberal Party, broke his oft-repeated promise to honour the parliamentary motion.

Committing 1,000 soldiers to a training mission still presents great danger to our troops and unnecessary expense when our country is faced with a $56 billion deficit. The military mission has cost Canadians more than $18 billion so far, money that could have been used to improve health care and seniors' pensions right here in Canada.

Polls show that a clear majority of Canadians do not want Canada's presence to continue after the scheduled removal date of July 2011. Therefore, the petitioners call on the Prime Minister to honour the will of Parliament and bring the troops home now.

Passport Fees
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the second petition calls on the Canadian government to negotiate with the United States government to reduce Canadian passport fees.

The member for St. John's East explained how tourism has dropped over the last several years and how passports can be expensive. For example, it can cost $500 for an American family of four.

At a mid-west legislators conference held this summer, I was able to get a resolution passed unanimously in the Council of State Governments, consisting of 11 border states and three provinces. The resolution called on the Prime Minister and the President to examine a reduced fee for passports to facilitate cross-border tourism and it encouraged the governments to examine the idea of a limited-time, two-for-one passport renewal or a new application fee. It was further resolved that the resolution be submitted to the appropriate federal, state and provincial governments.

To be a fair process, passport fees must be reduced on both sides of the border. Therefore, the petitioners call on the government to work with the American government to examine the mutual reduction of passport fees to facilitate tourism, and secondly, to promote a limited-time, two-for-one passport renewal or new application fee on a mutual basis with the United States.

Public Transit Safety
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to present a petition on behalf of the members of ATU Local 107 in my hometown of Hamilton and many of their supporters who are users of public transit.

As members will be aware, there has been a big increase in violent assaults against public transit, school bus, para transit and intercity bus workers across Canada. Almost 40% of Canadians bus operators have indicated that they have been physically assaulted in their careers. In 2008 alone, 2,064 assaults were reported by bus operators, an increase of 438 assaults over reported cases from 2007.

Not only are these operators at risk when assaulted, but so too are the passengers who place their faith in the operator to transport them safety to their destinations. An assault on an operator with a vehicle in motion risks the lives of these operators, the passengers and the public in the vicinity of the vehicle. These Canadians provide a valuable service to the Canadian population, and as such, deserve stronger protection under federal law.

The petitioners request that the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada amend the Criminal Code to recognize the growing incidence of violence against public transit, school bus, para transit and intercity transit operators, affecting their safety and that of the travelling public in Canada, in the same fashion that peace officers are recognized in the code.

Vale Inco
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to bring forward the voices of the people of Thompson, Manitoba. Today I would like to present petitions on their behalf, calling for the federal government to stand up for Canadians and Canadian jobs.

On November 17, Vale announced devastating news that they are planning to shut down the smelter and the refinery in Thompson. This announcement means the loss of over 600 jobs and will have a devastating impact on the community, the northern region and the province of Manitoba.

The people of Thompson are saying that the federal government must stand up for them. Not only did the government allow the foreign takeover by Vale, it also gave them a loan of $1 billion just over a month ago, this just weeks before such devastating news.

Many people in Thompson and Manitoba wonder when the government will stand up for Canadians rather than stand up for foreign companies, and they are asking that the federal government work with all stakeholders to save the 600 jobs and the Thompson Vale smelter and refinery.

Sisters in Spirit
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present.

The first petition has to do with the Sisters in Spirit campaign. In this petition, the many petitioners who have signed ask Parliament to ensure that the Native Women's Association of Canada receives sufficient funding to continue its important work protecting women through its Sisters in Spirit initiative, and to invest in initiatives recommended by the Native Women's Association of Canada to help prevent more women from disappearing.

Animal Welfare
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is in support of Bill C-544. This petition asks the House of Commons to bring forward and adopt into legislation Bill C-544, An Act to amend the Health of Animals Act and the Meat Inspection Act (slaughter of horses for human consumption), thus prohibiting the importation or exportation of horses for slaughter for human consumption, as well as horse meat products for human consumption.

Passport Fees
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition today from people who are concerned about the deteriorating state of tourism in Canada. As was mentioned by my colleagues from St. John's and Winnipeg, many Canadians are concerned that the cost of a passport inhibits travel between Canada and the U.S.

To facilitate tourism, the petitioners call on the Government of Canada to negotiate with the Government of the United States a reduction in passport fees on both sides of the border. They are also asking that the government promote with the United States government a limited-time, two-for-one passport renewal or new application fee on a mutual basis.

The petitioners urge the government to act on this as quickly as possible.

National Housing Strategy
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today, as I have on a number of occasions, to present petitions concerning my Bill C-304, which seeks to ensure a national housing strategy.

The petitions are signed by people from Toronto, as well as from Barrie, Orillia, Gravenhurst, Midland, and Utopia. They clearly demonstrate that people across the country are concerned about the housing crisis, the lack of affordable housing, and the lack of a national housing strategy in large centres such as Toronto, Vancouver, and Halifax, but also in smaller communities. We are receiving a lot of petitions from smaller communities.

I am delighted to present these petitions calling on Parliament to ensure swift passage of Bill C-304, an act to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians.

The petitioners also want the government to note that we need to consult with first nations when it comes to housing. We need housing for the homeless and access to housing for individuals with different needs, including seniors and persons with disabilities. In short, the petitioners are saying we need a national housing strategy.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 514 and 517.

Question No. 514
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Beaches—East York, ON

With regard to Canadian child labour laws: (a) what is the government’s policy regarding ratification of International Labour Organization Convention No. 138 (C138) concerning the minimum age of admission to employment; and (b) has the government studied the impacts of ratification of C138 and the associated costs?

Question No. 514
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Halton
Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, as jurisdiction for labour matters in Canada is constitutionally divided between the federal, provincial and territorial governments, the Government of Canada seeks the support of the provincial and territorial governments before ratifying International Labour Organization, ILO, conventions that deal with issues falling under their jurisdiction. This is the case with ILO Convention 138 concerning minimum age for admission to employment. Prior to ratification, provinces and territories are asked to confirm their acceptance of the obligations of the convention and agreement to implement these obligations within their jurisdictions.

The principles of Convention 138 are generally respected in all Canadian jurisdictions. As Convention 138 is an internationally recognized core labour standard, when the Minister of Labour met in February 2010 with provincial and territorial ministers responsible for labour, she raised with them the importance of Canada's consideration of ratification of this convention. A federal-provincial-territorial review of Canada’s conformity with the convention’s technical requirements will be launched in 2011.

Question No. 517
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

With regard to the regulation of oil and gas development in the Northwest Territories and the clean-up of the Pointed Mountain gas production facility near Fort Laird, in detail: (a) what is the current status of the clean-up of the Pointed Mountain gas facility; (b) if the clean-up is on hold, what steps are being taken to prevent contamination of the environment near the site; (c) why have several clean-up deadline extensions been issued for this gas field; (d) what consultations have been conducted with and what information has been provided to local First Nations concerning the clean-up of the Pointed Mountain gas field; and (e) on what date does the government expect the clean-up of this gas field to begin?

Question No. 517
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Vancouver Island North
B.C.

Conservative

John Duncan Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), active reclamation has been placed on hold until additional studies carried out under the active land use permit are complete. The cleanup of the Pointed Mountain gas facility is authorized under land use permit MV2007X0007. The Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board, hereinafter referred to as the board, issued this permit in June 2007. This permit replaces land use permit MV2002X0017 which required the submission of an abandonment and reclamation plan. This plan was submitted to the board and approved for implementation. Correspondence from the board still refers to this plan as being valid.

The land lease documents defer the decommissioning and reclamation of the Pointed Mountain gas plant to the abandonment and reclamation plan submitted to and approved by the board.

In response to (b), annual groundwater monitoring of the BP Canada Pointed Mountain gas field, near Fort Liard, Northwest Territories was undertaken in August 2006 and September 2007.

A supplemental phase II environmental site assessment, ESA, of the BP Canada Pointed Mountain gas field was conducted in September 2007. The purpose of this supplemental ESA was to further assess soil, groundwater and surface water quality at the plant site, A-1 through A-4 well sites, B-1 and B-2 well sites, and the airstrip.

The 2008 progress report states that annual surface and ground water sampling has shown no significant changes in hydrocarbon, metals, or salinity. BP plans to sample surface and ground water every two years.

The 2008 supplemental environmental site assessment conclusions state that “risk to potential human and ecological receptors remains low” and “unlikely to reach the nearest water body located 2.5 kilometers southeast of the pond for many years. There is no increase in the potential impact to surface water sources” .

The 2009 progress report states that 21 groundwater monitoring wells and 8 surface water locations were sampled. There were slight variations in hydrocarbon, metals and salinity but no significant changes.

In response to (c), there have been no extensions requested or given. Land use permit MV2002X0017 was issued in 2002 for five years and expired in 2007. BP Amoco never asked for an extension of permit MV2002X0017 but rather applied for MV2007X0007 which has been scoped for decommissioning and reclamation of Pointed Mountain gas plant and associated sites. This is an extensive cleanup project in a sensitive area that cannot and should not be expected to be completed in a matter of a few years.

In response to (d), all information related to the filings of the land use permit and the reclamation plan are available on the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board website. The impacted first nation, the Acho Dene Koe of Fort Liard, provided a letter of support submitted along with the land use permit application, dated January 10, 2007.

In response to (e), it is up to the proponent to properly assess the environmental impacts that have resulted from the authorized operations and facilities. Only when the impacts are understood can an informed abandonment and reclamation plan be executed.

The operation and all activities associated with decommissioning and reclamation of the Pointed Mountain gas plant are under an active authorization and will remain so until June 2012. Should additional time be required for execution of the reclamation activities, it will be incumbent upon the company to ensure that an authorization is in place from the applicable land and water board to carry out the activities. ¬

Reclamation of brownfield sites can take years as evidenced by work being conducted by the Contaminants and Remediation Directorate, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, on abandoned mine sites within the Northwest Territories region.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, if Questions Nos. 515 and 516 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 515
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Lise Zarac LaSalle—Émard, QC

With regard to the motion adopted by the unanimous consent of the House of Commons on November 25, 2008, calling on the government to develop a violence prevention strategy: (a) has the government developed such a strategy and, if so, is it publicly available; (b) does the government have other strategies to prevent violence against women and, if so, what are the details of these strategies; and (c) if no such strategy has been developed, does the government plan to develop one?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 516
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

With regard to the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor): (a) what is the purpose of the ongoing strategic review of CanNor; (b) how much project funding was allocated by territory and by riding in the Northern region for each fiscal year since 2007-2008, up to and including the current fiscal year, specifying which departments or agencies were responsible for funding administration and program delivery; (c) how much funding was allocated to CanNor under the Economic Action Plan; (d) how many projects were funded by CanNor under the Economic Action Plan; (e) what are the funding and full-time equivalent projections for CanNor for fiscal years 2011-2012 and 2012-2013; (f) how much core and project funding has been allocated to each Regional Economic Development Agency by territory for each fiscal year since 2007-2008, up to and including the current fiscal year; (g) how much funding was allocated to support CanNor's operations office in Ottawa during each fiscal year since 2008-2009, up to and including the current fiscal year; (h) how many staff were assigned to work in the office in Ottawa during each fiscal year since 2008-2009, up to and including the current fiscal year; and (i) what programs or initiatives will sunset in fiscal year 2010-2011 and will any new programs be launched in fiscal year 2011-2012?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

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

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Government Spending
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It has come to my attention that in a question I asked in the House this week I inadvertently included both domestic and overseas travel and gave an inaccurate figure to the House. The travel dollars, including domestic and overseas flights, limousine services, car rentals, and private air service actually total over $83 million. The total I gave to the House included both domestic and international, not just the international figures.

I apologize to the House for that error.

Government Spending
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

I am sure the House appreciates that clarification.

The hon. member for St. Boniface is rising on a point of order.

Government Spending
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I find it unfortunate to be rising on this point of order made by the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan.

We brought to her attention the fact that she made a severe error in including domestic flights and numerous other things in a statement made during question period on December 7. The factual number is $1.579 million as opposed to $67 million that she suggested during question period. She has made another error with respect to this $83 million.

I would ask that the member get her facts straight and apologize.

Government Spending
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

That sounds like a point of debate.

The hon. member for Vancouver East is rising on a point of order.

Government Spending
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to point out that is exactly what the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan did. She rose independently in the House to make the House aware that she was incorrect in her figures. She just apologized to the House. I am curious as to why the parliamentary secretary is now calling on her to do that when the member for Nanaimo--Cowichan actually did the responsible thing. She pointed out the mistake that was made and she apologized to the House. End of story.

Government Spending
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

I do not think the House needs to hear any more on this particular point.

The hon. member for Ottawa South is rising on a point of order.

Remarks Attributed to Member for Ottawa South
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday, December 8, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage attributed a remark to me with respect to the former deputy prime minister of Canada, John Manley. At that time I considered the member's intervention to be of such a frivolous nature, if not in fact malicious, that I did not deem it deserving of a response. However, given he has repeated these remarks outside the House, I feel it is very important to set the record straight. I did not make the comment attributed to me and I want the official record to reflect that fact.

Remarks Attributed to Member for Ottawa South
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, when I asked the member to retract the statement the other day, it was clearly heard by a number of members on our side and I found the comments regrettable. That is why I gave the member the opportunity to withdraw them. It seems to me the former deputy prime minister has in fact taken a very high level, non-partisan position on Bill C-32, one that I think is important. He is joining a long list of leaders in this country who are calling for an update to Canada's Copyright Act to enable employers, to enable investment, to create jobs in this country. I thought the statements he made were outstanding. I found that the comments made by the current member for Ottawa South should be retracted.

Remarks Attributed to Member for Ottawa South
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member may have heard something that he disagreed with, but to my knowledge the alleged remark was not something the Chair would normally rule on. There was no allegation of unparliamentary language. It was a comment that maybe the member does not agree with, but certainly not something that would be worthy of a point of order.

I see the hon. member for Ottawa South rising, so I will hear him and then I think the House would be best to move on to orders of the day.

Remarks Attributed to Member for Ottawa South
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I agree with you. Once again, for the record, in case the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage who was not here moments ago did not hear what I said, I did not--did not--make the comment attributed to me.

The House resumed consideration of Bill S-6, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and another Act, as reported (with amendments) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

When the bill was last before the House, the hon. member for Edmonton—St. Albert had the floor. There are three minutes remaining in questions and comments.

There being no further questions, we will resume debate.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member for Windsor—Tecumseh was in the process of asking me a question. May I answer?

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Fair enough. I will let the member for Edmonton—St. Albert respond to that.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, the question had to do with victims and one of the proposed amendments by the Liberal-NDP coalition regarding the bill before the House. It had to do with the alleged request by victims groups to receive information.

The reason the government rejects the amendment that came out of the committee is that it is absolutely impractical for Corrections Canada to anticipate whether or not an offender is going to make use of the faint hope provisions. This is information that is specifically and particularly in the knowledge of the offender and perhaps his or her solicitor. It is absolutely impractical for Corrections Canada to notify victims' families when an offender has chosen not to make application for the faint hope provisions. They just do not know.

More to the point, victims want closure. Victims do not want to be notified by Corrections Canada of an impending faint hope application or that there is not going to be an imminent faint hope application. Victims have told us unequivocally and loudly that they want closure. If the opposition members are really interested in conforming to the wishes of victims, they will allow the bill to proceed as it came to the House from the Senate without any amendments and to abolish the faint hope clause for future murderers.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, is the member aware that the removal of the faint hope clause would not have any practical effect for 15 years? The Conservatives have led the public to believe that somehow they are going to be removing the faint hope clause, but the public does not understand that nothing will happen for 15 more years.

Would the member comment on whether he has discovered why the Conservative government of Joe Clark in 1979 started mailing pension cheques to murderers in prison? Has he been able to investigate that yet?

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is correct. The provisions of this bill will not be retroactive, nor should they be.

There is a principle of criminal law, which has been reinforced by our charter, that these provisions cannot be implemented retroactively. This will only apply to individuals who are convicted of murder on a go-forward basis from the time this bill receives royal assent and is proclaimed into law. That is appropriate.

Although the situations with Mr. Olson have often been cited and family members of the victims of Mr. Olson appeared before the committee to support this bill, the member is quite correct in that this bill will have no effect on those victims.

Realistically, and sadly, we can anticipate that these types of situations will occur in the future. This is to protect future victims—

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

I will have to stop the member there as he has gone over his time.

We will move on with resuming debate. The hon. member for Toronto Centre.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am participating in the debate today for two reasons. One reason is that I am concerned about the general approach the government is taking toward the House of Commons and toward the process of debate, discussion and amendment in a minority House. I will come back to that point in a minute. The other reason is our concern about the way in which the government is handling criminal justice legislation.

On the first point, my colleague from Edmonton—St. Albert made much of the fact that this bill has gone through the Senate, which the government now effectively controls, and the House of Commons is now receiving the bill.

The government decided to put the bill in the Senate, not us. It decided to put the bill in the Senate and, miracle of miracles, because the government controls the makeup of the Senate, the bill managed to get through without any changes or amendments.

Then when the legislation comes to the House of Commons, and the House of Commons decides that it should be amended, if that is what the House of Commons decides, it is what the committee decided and we will see whether or not it is what the House of Commons decides, at that point the government takes great offence and says that if we amend this bill, that effectively means it has to go back to the Senate again. This is the government's most powerful reason for not providing any amendments.

To say that I am unimpressed with this approach is putting it mildly. The problem we have had with the government in both of its apparitions, the first apparition in 2006 and the second apparition in 2008, is that it has never understood what it means to govern in a minority Parliament.

It is clear that the government has never accepted the fact that it is a minority government. But it has no choice but to accept the possibility that amendments will be made to its legislation if it wants to create legislation on any given subject.

That is why I spoke today about the democracy deficit, which has been a problem with this government since it took power. The performance of the ministers answering questions in the House of Commons is deplorable. They never answer the questions, they just attack anyone who asks a question and there is never any substance to their answers. All they do is attack non-stop. This has nothing to do with democratic dialogue. I would know, because I have been in politics for over 30 years now. In my political life, I have never seen such a performance from a government that is supposed to support the notion of democracy.

I have never seen such a performance as I have seen by the government since my election to this place in 2008. The Conservatives never answer a question of substance. They never deal with an issue of substance. The only method they know to deal with any question is to attack. They attack the character, attack the personality, attack history, attack some other point.

Now the government turns around and says it is not prepared to deal with the amendments to this legislation. I have news for the government. There will be lots of amendments to legislation that it proposes. There will be lots of discussions and there may from time to time even be defeats if it persists in its approach of saying, “It is our way or the highway”.

It is not the way to conduct the public affairs of a country. It is the not the way to conduct the public affairs of a province. It is not the way to conduct the public business of Canada. We see day by day the corrosive effect of the attitude which the government continues to display. The way in which it continues to present itself to the House and the people of Canada increasingly attacks the very notion.

I find it so ironic that it was the Reform Party that came to the House with all of its ideas about how it was going to restore democracy. The government has shown a systematic contempt for parliamentary democracy. It knows nothing of respect for the parliamentary process. It complains about amendments being brought forward by the opposition. Of course there will be amendments. It is our right and our responsibility to bring forward amendments.

The government says it will not deal with them, it will never compromise, it will not negotiate, it will not make any arrangements to allow legislation to go through and that is the way it is going to govern. That is tough because if that is the way it is going to govern, then we have no option but to say we will stand in our places and fight and fight and fight again because this is an approach to democracy which simply cannot be allowed to stand.

The government claims that it is concerned about the economy. The member for Peterborough was up on his feet yesterday asking why we would bring up issues of the charter when we should be worrying about jobs. I would say to the member for Peterborough, show me the legislation you are bringing forward that deals with jobs, every single item. The Criminal Code is going to be bigger than the Encyclopedia Britannica if you guys are allowed to get away with this—

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order. I have to take this opportunity to remind the member for Toronto Centre that he has to address his comments to the Chair and not directly to other colleagues.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

I have only been here for years and I cannot get used to not using the phrase “you guys“. I apologize, Mr. Speaker.

I can only say that the approach to criminal justice that is being taken by the government is an approach that is not going to reduce the level of crime one iota. Every jurisdiction in the United States which has attempted the approach that is now being taken on by the Government of Canada is saying to us, “Please do not do what we did”.

British politicians are telling us emphatically that their prisons are overflowing, that they did not realize what the impact of some of their legislation was going to be. They ask us how we have managed to keep things under control. I look at them and say that we did manage for a considerable period of time with a crime rate that has been going down and not up and with protection of the public that has been going up and not down.

The only message the government over there knows is fear, fear and fear again, which has nothing to do with the reality on the ground and with the need to prevent. Does it have a crime prevention strategy? No. Is it encouraging those communities that want to prevent crime? No. Is it working with the provinces to make sure that we deal with gangs in schools and with violence on our streets? No, it is not.

Its only answer is to lock people up, throw away the key, be done with it, minimum sentences, et cetera. That is the only approach the government knows. It is not an approach worthy of the name. It does not pass muster when it comes to dealing with the challenges and problems we have as a country and it does not deal effectively with the problem that we have.

Do we have a problem of crime? Every country has a problem of crime, a problem of crime that comes out of poverty, a problem of crime that comes out of insecurity, a problem of crime that comes out of addiction, a problem of crime that comes out of drug dependence, a problem of crime that comes out of alcohol dependence, a problem of crime that comes out of hopelessness and no opportunity. The government does not get that. The government's answer to those people is to say it is simply going to lock them up and throw away the key.

Yes, the Liberals are going to be moving amendments to this particular bill. We are going to be hoping that our colleagues in the opposition and whoever has the will to stand on the other side will stand and deal with it. If the government says it is very inconvenient because it got this crystal clear bill through the Senate with no amendments and no discussion and there was no problem, as we say in French, tant pis, too bad.

That is the government's problem, not ours. Our duty, as the opposition, is to ask questions, propose amendments and listen to the witnesses who testify before committees, as is the case here. We need to continue to have a positive and responsible approach to tackling crime, instead of all these things that the government is proposing in the House.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I think the member ended this exactly where I wanted to go with his speech, which I consider to be most unfortunate. The message that the Liberal Party and the coalition members are sending to people in our communities and the message they are sending to victims, the message that they are sending to people who are advocating for justice measures that will protect society, is “too bad”. They are going to be irresponsible when it comes to justice. They would rather play politics with the issues than actually stand up for safe streets and communities.

The message from the member for Toronto Centre is quite simple to the people in my community and the people in communities right across this country who want real justice measures in place, his message is “too bad, we are irresponsible”.

How does the member respond to that?

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I respond to it by saying that the member is full of hot air. I respond to him very directly by saying that.

What we have said is very clear. If we believe for one second that the whole panoply of prime measures that are being brought forward by the government actually address the issue of crime, actually address the question of safety on our streets, actually looked at the problems that people are facing in our communities, we will respond. We will respond in an effective manner.

However, when we are told, as we were told by the member for Edmonton—St. Albert that we should not be bringing forward any amendments because it is very inconvenient for the government, and the bill might have to go back to the Senate again, we have to say that nothing is being delayed. Issues are being debated. Issues are being discussed. We have an issue in the House for the simple reason that the government will not accept amendments. There has not been an amendment proposed that it has ever accepted.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member whether he thinks the government is guilty of a little bit of false advertising.

The provisions under the faint hope clause bill will not take effect for 15 years. The Conservatives will be coming into the election in a few months proclaiming that they have gotten tough on crime and they have eliminated the faint hope clause and people are going to be very disappointed when they find out it is going to be 15 years before any part of this act takes effect.

Meanwhile, month by month, every month Conservatives are putting pension cheques in envelopes, licking stamps and sending pension cheques to Clifford Olson, a process that started under the Conservative government of Joe Clark in 1979, and they have yet to explain why they are still doing it or in fact why they started mailing those cheques in the first place.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think the member is right. When we look at this legislation, the particular bill that is being proposed by the government that they want us to deal with today, the government is saying to us that we have to get this through right away, that it is absolutely vital that we get the bill through because we are going to be making the streets safer.

This legislation will have no impact until 2025 or 2026. It is not urgent legislation. It is important to get it right. It is important to make sure that the people who are the victims of violent crime are given full information, which is what one of the amendments in this legislation is all about.

I do not know why we would not take that approach.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I agree entirely with the hon. member's speech, particularly with respect to the approach of the government to lock them up, throw away the key and maybe some day or another they might get out. The problem with that approach is that it costs a fortune and it does not work.

I would be interested in the hon. member's comments on the enormous amount of money that the truth in sentencing bill is going to cost the Canadian taxpayer. Does he think that locking people away for a longer and longer period of time at great expense to the taxpayer actually will do anything to reduce the crime rate?

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, under the Conservatives we are going to dramatically increase the rate of incarceration, the rate of incarceration among the aboriginal population, the rate of incarceration among many minorities across the country.

We are going to put a huge burden on the provinces because most of the minimum sentencing requirements are affecting the provinces. They are not going to be affecting the federal government at all.

They are going to have a dramatic impact on that and they are not going to deal with the root problem, which is what I am trying to say. Tough on crime, absolutely. Where is it tough on the causes of crime? I do not see national addiction programs. I do not see national mental health programs. I do not see national programs dealing with the need for us to work very closely with the provinces on breaking up gangs. I do not see any of this.

What we see is a simplistic ideological approach to this question that will not do what the government says it wants to do.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to put the debate on this issue back into context. We are not debating Bill S-6 itself. We are debating motions moved by the government to restore the text of the bill to what it was when it was referred to the committee. After studying the bill, the committee made two minor amendments to reflect concerns raised during the study. The government has rejected those amendments.

The minister attended our committee meeting again yesterday. He urged us to spend more time studying Bill C-4 and make suggestions for amendments, which he would take into consideration. Today, he is objecting to such minor things as the title and extending the deadline after obtaining permission from the provincial chief justice or delegate because circumstances beyond a person's control prevented that person from applying before the deadline. That is what we are debating now.

Let us begin with the easy part, the title. The title the government wants to use is not the same in English and French. The English title is Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act. The French title is Loi renforçant la sévérité des peines d’emprisonnement pour les crimes les plus graves. With all due respect, those are not bill titles. They are slogans.

In my opinion, when we are talking about crime and about putting people in jail, we have to take a calm approach. We have to leave the hustings mentality behind and behave like parliamentarians. One would expect a minister of justice to be conscious of the dignity required in exercising his functions and do so of his own accord.

As long as they keep giving us titles that are really slogans, we will vote against those slogans. The trend seems to be on the rise, with the government trying it with nearly all of its bills. If they give us objective titles like the ones the previous government provided, we will vote in favour. This has become absurd. Some of the titles are outright libel against Canada's judges.

In that regard, the most impressive title is that of Bill C-16, which would purports to end house arrest for violent and dangerous offenders. No violent or dangerous offenders ever receive such a sentence, because current legislation clearly indicates that judges cannot sentence dangerous offenders to house arrest. Furthermore, these sentences are for more than two years, and are not the kinds of sentences that violent and dangerous offenders receive. If any judge in Canada were to release a violent or dangerous offender to serve his sentence at home, it would be the duty of the crown prosecutor on the case to appeal the decision. In some cases, the sentence could be overturned.

The government needs to stop making up these slogans and start proposing objective titles. In this case, I see a specific problem. Indeed, this time there are two slogans and furthermore, the French and English are not the same. This is what happens when advertising executives are hired to give titles to bills.

The second amendment, which is more serious, would extend the time period. Lawyers who have experience with these kinds of cases gave evidence before the committee. They explained to us how complex the procedures are and how hard it is to build a case 15 years later. Indeed, these requests are made 15 years after the offences, and the offender may have been through many different prisons in many different cities. The lawyers have a very hard time finding the old files. This was acknowledged by correctional authorities, who told us how much effort they put into these requests. They also told us that in many cases, it would be impossible to fulfill all of the requirements as set out in the legislation within the prescribed 90-day period. I therefore believe that the amendment proposed by the Liberals was carefully designed and drafted to target a specific problem, unlike the bills presented by this government.

It is only in exceptional circumstances beyond the control of the inmate, as the amendment says, that the chief justice of the province or a delegate could grant this additional 180-day deadline.

Victims have waited 15 years and we would be asking them to wait even longer. They will be told to wait 90 more days because for reasons beyond their control, the inmate the inmate's lawyer was unable to follow all the highly complex procedures within that timeframe. What is so unreasonable about that? Does the minister lack confidence? If anything comes from a committee, then it is no good. He asks us to make suggestions and we do. They are justified, but he does not accept them. I fully agree with the eloquent remarks made by the member who spoke before me.

Consider this: 84% of murder victims knew their murderer. Murder is often committed by a family member. In at least one case, that of young Mr. Kowbel, the father and sister testified to give him a chance even though he was the one who attacked them 15 years earlier, killing his mother and seriously injuring his father. Nevertheless, his relatives recognized his rehabilitation efforts.

This is essential legislation and we only use it when necessary. It is essential for setting the stage for someone facing a sentence of more than 10 and up to 25. He has to have some incentive for good behaviour and respect for the guards. This legislation is good for safety within the prisons and it has not been abused.

Statistics show that before 1995 only 63 applications were filed, 13 of which were denied. The fact that not many applications were denied makes sense because before an application is filed, prison officials have already reviewed the case. Of that number, 27 were approved, but with sentences up to 16 years and 20 years. Three were from 21 years to 23 years. Of the cases that were approved by the juries, 6 were denied by the National Parole Board. We can see from this that the safeguards are substantial.

Since that time, 921 people have been eligible but only 169 requested authorization. Of that number, 141 received authorization to apply and 125 were granted early parole. The result? No repeat murders. There was only one serious criminal offence, an armed robbery. Fifteen people were sent back to prison because they failed to meet some of the very strict conditions of parole imposed on offenders under the supervision of the National Parole Board. In addition, 11 people died.

This is not a law that is abused. We are keenly aware that it may require victims to testify and may cause them painful moments. The cases we are discussing, like the Olson case, will not be affected. Regardless, these offenders will have no chance of parole.

This is a useful law in terms of prison security. It is a good law that encourages some criminals who have committed serious crimes to be rehabilitated. It is a law that, in the end, has produced excellent results. What is worse is that we think that we are doing more in Canada but, in this case, it is quite the opposite.

In Canada, the time that murderers spend in prison is greater than in all other western countries, as well as in Australia and New Zealand.

Let us therefore respect the committees and vote the same way as those who have studied the issue carefully.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am surprised the hon. member used an objective statistical analysis to defend the faint hope clause. How does he defend this as being good legislation when he heard from victims of crime this week at committee, although it was on another bill? The committee heard from Sharon Rosenfeldt, the mother of one of the victims of Clifford Olson, who has to go through faint hope hearings every two years. Mr. Olson has said that he knows he will never get a parole but that he puts people through the parole process because “he has the right to”.

What does the member say to the victims of crime and why does he use statistics to defeat the advocacy of the victims of crime?

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am simply going to say that this will not happen again. Olson has spent 25 years in prison. This law does not apply to people who have served 25 years in prison. It allows people who are sentenced to 25 years to apply for early parole. Olson does not fit into that category.

In any event, this will never happen under the legislation as it is going to be passed, although it may be amended. Under this legislation, people convicted of multiple murders cannot apply for early parole. I have a lot of sympathy for the victims, and I think that I reassure them much more than the government does when I say that they should not worry because this will not happen under the laws that we are going to pass.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, to my recollection, the last time we spoke on this bill the committee was still waiting for a report on the actual statistics associated with the faint hope clause. I understand there were a small number of cases of battered women, mothers, who, in reaction, killed their spouse. These were some of the cases that came up with regard to seeking faint hope clause relief.

I wonder if the member is now aware of some of the incidents with regard to the faint hope clause that would put in perspective the kinds of cases that may come about and the frequency with which the provisions under the faint hope clause would be made available.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, anyone who wants to know how the law works should not ask a Conservative.

First, the concept of applying every two years comes from another law that applies to those who have already served 25 years in jail. What we are talking about here is those who would like to reduce their jail time.

Second, the law applies in cases where the application is rejected. Before it is rejected, the offender has to go before a judge, who decides whether it is likely that the application will be approved. Then a jury has to be convened, and it makes the decision. It takes quite a while from the time the offender applies to the time the outcome is known. Furthermore, the jury may decide that the offender cannot submit another application before a minimum, not a maximum, of two years has passed. This would go further than that. It is clear that such repeated applications every two years would no longer be allowed under this law.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill S-6 and the amendments that made their way through the committee in recent days. After reading the transcripts of the committee, I see that it was a fairly acrimonious environment for the members in that committee.

The government wants to make three amendments. the first one being to restore the title. Its slogan on this bill is “serious time for the most serious crime act”. I cannot say that is just peculiar to the Conservative government because I have seen that sort of sloganeering in my own province lately, in the Manitoba legislature. I guess the new trend is to somehow take a bill, attach a person's name to it and give it a good slogan that can be pushed to the public in an election campaign.

The Conservatives seem to think that dealing with crime is all about electoral success and image. However, they raise a lot of expectations when they take on challenges like this. I believe that if we were to do a poll of the public after this bill passes, the majority of the public will believe that somehow the faint hope clause has disappeared, thanks to the government. However, that is not the case at all. It will take 15 years because the law will not be retroactive. It will not apply to anybody who is convicted of murder today. It will only apply in the future. And, because it will only take effect 15 years into the sentence, a lot of us members of this House will be long gone when this legislation sees the light of day.

In committee, I sensed that the Liberals thought they could manoeuvre their way through this process by sitting out the vote and allowing the bill to pass and that, by doing that, they would not get hurt in the election as a result of what they had done, and then, in the future, if they were to form the government, they would simply revisit the whole issue and bring back the faint hope clause. That is the brain trust over there in the Liberal leadership in figuring out how to deal with this. I have seen a lot of manoeuvring before but this one has certainly used a lot of imagination to sort out.

Nevertheless, the expectations that the government has brought upon itself for this legislation and other legislation will fall short at the end of the day when the public realizes that there will be more and more stories over the years about faint hope clause applications. People are going to say, “We thought they eliminated that”. The government will then need to explain that somehow it is 15 years.

It is not only this bill that causes a lot of confusion on the part of the public. Just recently, as a result of information that Clifford Olson was collecting pension cheques in jail, the government got excited and produced a bill, obviously not checking things out too closely, to eliminate pension cheques for prisoners convicted of murder. The government did this without doing any research, obviously, because if it had researched it, it would have found that it was the Joe Clark Conservative government in 1976 that started mailing pension cheques to Clifford Olson every month.

The government needs to reflect on the confusion that will be out there in the public. The public has this image of a minister stuffing Clifford Olson's pension cheque into an envelope, licking it shut, licking the stamp and mailing it every month. While the public is having difficulties making ends meet, the government is sending these pension cheques. It was a Conservative government that brought it in. It was the Conservatives' idea in the first place.

I have asked the government many times to explain what went into the decision-making. What sort of studies did it have? What was it thinking, as the member for Winnipeg Centre asked? What could the Conservatives have possibly been thinking when, in 1976, it decided to send pension cheques to prisoners in jail? We ask the question but we get no response. Nobody over there can explain or wants to try to explain why this happened.

I want to get further into the legislation that is being dealt with here and talk about another one of the three amendments the government is attempting to deal with here.

Part of the second amendment deals with the issue that if a person convicted of murder does not make an application within the maximum time period allowed by this section, the Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada or his designate shall immediately notify in writing a parent, child, spouse or common-law partner of the victim that is a convicted person and did not make an application.

If it is not possible to notify one of the aforementioned relatives, then a notification shall be given to another relative of the victim. The notification shall specify the next date on which the convicted person will be eligible to make an application under subsection (1).

That was there to be helpful to victims. The member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin has explained many times and has given the statistics of the number of people who are eligible. I believe he indicated it was around 900 people who are eligible under the faint hope clause, and maybe only 100 or so apply and then fewer than that actually make their way through the process.He points out, and truthfully so, that there are no re-offenders out of the process.

What we are trying to do is make things as easy as possible for the victims of crime but the government is trying to eliminate that. A government that pretends to support victims' rights is acting against something here that would be seen as supportive of victims' rights.

There was a victims' rights advocate, who the government got rid of because he did not agree with the government. He did not think it was moving far enough and fast enough on victims' rights. We have a criminal injuries compensation fund, which was brought in by the first NDP government in Canada under Ed Schreyer back in 1970-71, and it has been providing benefits to victims of crime for the last 40 years. Ontario also has such a fund but there is no fund at a federal level.

Where is the tough on crime government? Where are the Conservatives? They have been in power for five years.They say that they believe in services that help victims of crime but where is the criminal injuries compensation fund on a national basis that would be there to help victims of crime? That is the approach the government should be taking but that is not the approach it is taking. It is all about public relations.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, the issue of the title of the bill has been mentioned a couple of times by members of the opposition. I was actually encouraged to hear that the provincial Government in Manitoba is taking a similar position to this government.

We actually think that titling bills, consequential amendments to the Criminal Code, does not actually help Canadians understand what Parliament is actually doing on their behalf. When a bill is titled subject to the intent of the bill, it works to ensure Canadians understand what we do here each and every day. We want this place to be relevant. We want people to know that Parliament is working on their behalf and that the government is working on their behalf.

I am encouraged to hear that Manitoba is taking a similar track. I would encourage the Manitoba member to support us in reinserting the title of this bill so that Canadians know what we are doing.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I hate to help the government here, but the truth of the matter is if we are to reinstate the bill and try to describe what it bill would actually do, we should call it the “eliminate the faint hope clause in 15 years”.

While we are at it, when the member stood to ask me a question, and I know he is very well informed, I thought he would at least tell me why the Conservative government of Joe Clark started sending pension cheques to Clifford Olson and other convicted criminals back in 1979. I am waiting for an answer.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order, please. I want to draw to the attention of the member for Elmwood—Transcona that there is nothing in the bill or the amendments before the House that have to do with pension cheques going to prisoners. Because we are at report stage, dealing with the amendments, I would ask members to bear that in mind when it comes to the rules of relevance on debate.

The hon. member for Edmonton—St. Albert.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am quite surprised and perplexed that the member for Elmwood—Transcona supports the amendment that would require Correctional Service Canada to notify the families of victims when offenders have decided not to bring a faint hope application.

The practical considerations aside, because he is right, this is 15 years down the road and some of these people may not exist or their whereabouts may not be known. However, the more practical reality is many of them do not want anymore involvement. Many of them, in fact I would suggest most of them, want closure.

Would he not agree that for those families of victims that want no further involvement, this requisite of notification would be counterintuitive for the whole purpose and would re-victimizes them for no apparent purpose?

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I think the jury is still out on whether they like it or not. I do not think he has done the absolute ultimate in studies on that point.

However, while he is consulting with the families of victims on this point, maybe he should ask them what they think of his idea to phase in the bill in 15 years. I am sure that will make them happy.

While he is at it, would he please give us the answer as to why the Conservative government, in 1976, started sending—

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order, please. I just mentioned to the hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona that is irrelevant to the bill before the House at this stage.

There is enough time for one more brief question and comment, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member has asked that I perhaps apologize for former Prime Minister Joe Clark. I in fact recognize that Joe Clark was not the prime minister in 1976. It was Pierre Trudeau at that time. However, for what it is worth, if such a change was made by Joe Clark, I disagree with it.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

I think we will move on with resuming debate.

The hon. member for Mississauga South.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have spoken to the faint hope clause a number of times over the years as it has come forward.

As members know, Bill S-6 is an enactment that would amend the Criminal Code with regard to the right of persons convicted of murder or high treason to be eligible to apply for early parole. It would also amend the International Transfer of Offenders Act.

We are specifically dealing with three report stage motions. The first one has to do with restoring the short title. The act may be cited as “serious time for the most serious crime act”. The issue of short titles has been a subject matter that has come up with regard to many bills.

At least 20 justice bills have been proposed. Many of them have been recycled a number of times through prorogation and other forms of restart. I think most hon. members who have participated actively in the justice committee and justice issues within the House would admit, very clearly, that instead of 15 to 20 bills, these bills could have been done in three, maybe four bills to handle them all.

The reason they are not being done quickly is because the government really has no intention of passing a lot of the bills. It has the intention to continue to recycle bills and to continue to use them to support a political slogan. The political slogan is it is “getting tough on crime”. It will not pass any bills to do that, but it wants Canadians to know it has a lot of bills and it should prove to them that there is intent to be tough on crime.

Getting tough on crime means the Conservatives better have an agenda and they need to have deliverables. There have not been deliverables. Probably the most contentious thing they are prepared to deal with is the short title of a bill, which is basically intended to give the courts an efficient way to refer to specific law in Canada without having to read an extensive title, which may be more comprehensive and is necessary with regard to a bill.

The short title is sometimes appropriate. In the government's case, the short title is usually longer than the long title and it will continue to play with that, with slogans and the like.

The bill is a very good example of why the Conservatives do not get it with regard to the whole issue of how we deal with people who commit crime. I took a couple of law courses. I have spent a lot of time observing, listening and learning over the last 17 years about how we deal with criminal justice issues. I have learned a fair bit about the importance of it, and the realms of punishment is part of the equation. That means appropriate sentencing for people who commit wrongdoing.

There is also rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is very important because the vast majority of people who commit crimes will eventually be returned to society. There has to be a rehabilitative component in the criminal justice system to ensure we deal with people who have had problems to try to help them to understand the problems. After rehabilitation and it is time to get out, there is the reintegration part and there has to be supports.

The most important part of the whole situation that government members do not seem to want to talk about is the prevention of crime.

When I became a member of Parliament, one of the first things I wanted was to be on the health committee because there was a health crisis in Canada. I remember Health Canada coming before the committee. It said that it spent 75% of health dollars on fixing problems and only 25% on prevention. Its conclusion was that was not a sustainable system.

I submit, similarly, that simply concentrating on the punishment of people who commit crimes in the absence of a commitment to rehabilitation once people are institutionalized and to ensure they are ready for reintegration into society is important, but the prevention aspect also exists. I cannot think of too many bills that are directly related to crime prevention.

The speeches of the members do not explain the sources or root causes of crime, such as the issues of poverty and family breakdown, addictions and mental health. I spent a lot of time in my career on fetal alcohol syndrome, now called fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. We are told that 50% of people in Canada's jails, both federally and provincially, suffer from alcohol-related birth defects or other alcohol-related impacts and rehabilitation is not possible.

In fact, incarceration is not possible for them because there is no rehabilitation for a mental health problem. It is a permanent problem. We need institutions dedicated to helping people learn how to cope with their problems and deal with the wrongs they have committed.

I would much prefer to hear a little more about all the elements of crime prevention, rehabilitation, punishment and reintegration.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Mississauga South will have three minutes left to conclude is his remarks the next time the bill is before the House.

It being 1:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from October 28 consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.

Alzheimer's Disease
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the motion before the House on Alzheimer's disease. This motion addresses something that all of us in the House have been affected by, through family, loved ones or members of our community.

Everyone in the House acknowledges that the federal government has a role to play when it comes to dealing with Alzheimer's. If we put this in context, this issue is akin to other issues that we have discussed in the House with respect to health care. We have seen an increase in autism, ALS and Alzheimer's in the past 10 or more years.

Our health care system was formalized back in the sixties and into the seventies. The Canada Health Act came into force in the eighties. The things that we have to deal with now were not contemplated back then, particularly the proliferation of Alzheimer's disease.

It is important that this motion put forward by my friend from Edmonton—Leduc be debated in this House. It is also important for us to seize this opportunity to engage on this issue.

Some are calling what we are seeing in Canada with regard to Alzheimer's a grey tsunami. The numbers are fairly significant and they only speak to the proliferation of this disease. The individual stories we have all heard speak to the impact of this disease on families and communities. The numbers are important because we often have to look at statistics when making policy in this place.

Statistics show that one in six women and one in ten men who reach the age of 55 can expect to develop Alzheimer's. Those figures are staggering. A disproportionate number of women are affected by this disease than men. There is certainly a gender difference.

The point is that Alzheimer's affects society. Its doppler effect is hugely significant. This is not just about the one in six women or the one in ten men; it is about the fact that this disease affects individuals, families and communities at large.

A couple of my parent's friends suffered from Alzheimer's. Some of us have family members who suffer from Alzheimer's. What is so drastic about Alzheimer's is that it robs people not only of their ability to take care of themselves but of their ability to function in a coherent manner. It robs them of their ability to recognize people they love and with whom they lived their entire life. As with a friend of mine, Alzheimer's robs people of the ability to recognize their grandchildren or friends. That is profound because it gets to the heart of what makes us human, and that is our individual relationships and our ability to see the world, understand it, feel it and touch it.

The profile of Alzheimer's is different for each person and that is extremely important to understand. Like the autism spectrum, no two cases of Alzheimer's are the same. We are just now learning about how the brain functions. It is very difficult for us to understand what it is like for someone to go through this. We do not know the profile of Alzheimer's disease, like other ailments, so we cannot say that we know how to treat it. Because we do not know a profile, we cannot say that all the diagnoses will be similar and therefore make prescriptions.

Alzheimer's requires a much more human dimension and human capacity to help people; it is similar to areas where we have learned a lot more in education, like autism.

It is important to understand what our role is as Parliament. Alzheimer's was not something that we were aware of when our health care system was being put together. What is needed is a strategy for dealing with people and their families when it comes to Alzheimer's. We need to be able to create stability of care. We need to be able to provide flexibility of care. We need to understand that there are differences in the regions in terms of ability and capacity for people to access care for Alzheimer's.

We need to make sure we are listening to those who have already gone through dealing with Alzheimer's, and that is where the Alzheimer Society is so important. Here we have a civil society capacity that came together to help people who are going through a horrific experience. The Alzheimer Society of Canada, as well as chapters throughout the country, gets it. They understand that there is no one answer, but they understand that there needs to be a comprehension in terms of our care. They believe that we need to provide communications for people to understand that they are not alone, that there is support. They believe there is an important role here for government to be able transform our health care capacity so that people and families who are suffering from Alzheimer's actually are going to be able to get the help they need. What they understand most profoundly is that when people are going through Alzheimer's with their family, it is important that they are not left alone, that they are not isolated and that we, and I mean the royal we, are there to support them.

What does that require? Sometimes it requires very basic things. Sometimes it means that there is going to be sufficient home care, not just for the patients themselves, but also for the people who are caring. What is not understood in this country is the amount of care that is done by families and that people who have to put their careers on hold and put their income aside are not getting the recognition and support. That is something we have to grapple with, not only as we see a proliferation of Alzheimer's but as we see an aging population. These things go together.

When we look at the motion that has been brought forward, when we look at what the possibilities are in terms of dealing with Alzheimer's, we need to make sure that not only is there a role for the federal government and that is support for the Alzheimer Society and the capacity at the community level. We need to make sure, when people and their families are suffering from Alzheimer's, that they indeed are not left alone, that they are not walking the path of dealing with Alzheimer's solo. If we look at the successful models for dealing with Alzheimer's, we will see they all have something similar and that is access to basic services, which is a straightforward health care policy but should be in tandem with the community supports that exist.

What I hope to see from this motion is not just a debate in the House and support of a good intention here but that we also see direct action, that we support at the federal level our communities so those who are suffering from what some call the fog of Alzheimer's will have support to make sure they are not alone and that they are supported and that we do our job here as a Parliament to support them.

Alzheimer's Disease
Private Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, today more than half a million Canadians suffer from Alzheimer's and other related dementias. In fact, it is the single biggest cause of disability among Canadian seniors. It is a disease that takes away more than someone's memory; it takes away a person's identity and independence.

Treating this disease can be physically and emotionally exhausting, even fatal for the caregiver. With an aging population, the incidence of Alzheimer's in Canada is rapidly increasing, and this is a global phenomenon.

At its most recent annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum called Alzheimer's “a medical tsunami waiting to happen”. Here in Canada, experts in the field are calling for a national strategy on Alzheimer's and dementia.

Earlier this year, the Alzheimer Society published a report called: “Rising Tide: The Impact of Dementia on Canadian Society”. This report is helping to advance our discussion on dementia. It gives us a clearer picture of how this epidemic is affecting Canadians today and how it will affect them over the next 30 years.

For example, the report shows that, as of 2008, 55% of Canadian seniors with dementia were still living in their own homes. In 30 years, this number is expected to increase to 62%. Put another way, Canada must prepare for an additional half a million seniors who will be trying to cope with the effects of dementia while trying to remain in their own homes.

It is true that home care is often the best option for patients, provided they have the home care they need. However, it is not always the case. There are too many patients with dementia who simply cannot remain in their own homes, but they are left in their own homes, not by choice but by the fact that there are inadequate public resources. There are not enough beds or rooms for them in places where they can be taken care of in a humane and responsible way.

The shortfall in 2008 was more than 15,000 beds, but this number is projected to explode to more than 157,000 long-term beds within 30 years. There will be a massive increase in the burden placed on family caregivers from coast to coast to coast. The “Rising Tide” report places the economic cost of Canada's dementia and Alzheimer's epidemic at $15 billion per year. In 30 years, this economic burden is expected to grow to $153 billion a year, which includes $56 billion annually in lost wages for caregivers.

This does not include the significant human cost of the disease, both for patients and caregivers. Many of the caregivers feel absolutely overwhelmed by the terrible effect this disease is having on their loved ones. They are looking to governments for leadership and for help.

There is hope that the situation can change for the better, but it requires action. Canada needs a national strategy on Alzheimer's and dementia. We are one of the few developed countries without a national strategy in place. Important work towards a national strategy is being done by groups and organizations, including the Canadian Dementia Action Network. However, the current federal Minister of Health has refused to meet with them.

Last January when the Conservatives prorogued Parliament, the Liberal Party held a round table on Alzheimer's and dementia. It was co-chaired by our leader. We brought together leading experts, including Scott Dudgeon, the author of the “Rising Tide” report, leaders from civil society organizations, caregivers, patients and others. They discussed the need to support research into better treatments as well as a cure, increased prevention and awareness, enhanced integration and coordination between researchers and front-line support, as well as income security for caregivers.

At the round table, the Liberal leader committed to a national brain strategy to lessen the social and economic impacts of dementia. Our round table on Alzheimer's and dementia played a significant role that led us to the Liberal family care plan, which was released in October.

On a personal note, on November 16, 2009, a little over a year ago, my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Mom is 81 years old. She has, during her life, been a successful and hard-working business woman, mother, wife and community leader. The diagnosis for our family has been a difficult one. She has a wonderful doctor, Dr. Catherine Smith, and she has a terrific specialist, Dr. Kenneth Rockwood. The drugs that were prescribed to my mother provided some element of hope in a way because there was a 33% chance that there would be some improvement, a 33% chance that the condition could be stabilized for a period, but then a 33% chance that the drugs would have no impact and her condition would continue to decline.

There is nothing curative today. We can treat symptoms but there is nothing curative. The prognosis for patients with Alzheimer's is always a bad one long term. The condition will continue to worsen. That is why research is important and the research in places like the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation is so critical. The work being done by researchers, like Don Weaver, Dr. Kenneth Rockwood and Dr. Sultan Darvesh, is absolutely essential to finding a cure for Alzheimer's, a cure that may not benefit my mom but may benefit somebody else's mom in the future.

I also want to speak to my own personal reflection on the caregiver issue. My dad, who is 87 years old, is taking care of mom. When I spoke on this issue with my leader, whose mother died of Alzheimer's, he told me that in his case his mother's Alzheimer's actually killed his father before it killed her. That happens a lot. The caregivers actually can die before the patient.

In my dad's case, he had colon cancer in the 1960s, a triple bypass in 1987 and has had prostate cancer for 15 years. He told me a few weeks ago that my mother's Alzheimer's was the toughest thing that he had ever been through. I reflect on that by saying that Canadian families need help. My parents have four children who are trying. My mother is fortunate to have a husband who is doing everything he can to help. Other people, however, need more help from home care support.

Many Canadian families have it far tougher than our family. In fact, I was reading in The Globe and Mail a few weeks ago, which did an excellent series on Alzheimer's, the story of a 26-year-old mother who was taking care of her two little kids while, at the same time. taking care of her 52-year-old father who had early onset Alzheimer's. This sandwich generation that is emerging in Canada where parents of young children taking care of their own parents at the same time will only grow.

We brought forward the Liberal family care plan because it would provide enhanced EI benefits for family caregivers. It would also provide a family care tax benefit, which is very similar to the child care benefit that would benefit disproportionately low and middle income families. Our Liberal family care plan has received support from many organizations, including the Alzheimer's Society and the Victorian Order of Nurses, the VON.

I sense that around this issue of Alzheimer's and dementia, there is multi-partisan support, not just for words in the House in support of Alzheimer's research and caregiving for families, but also for a real national action plan on Alzheimer's and dementia.

I urge the government to take serious action on this issue. It is a crisis that is going to grow with time. We are in this place not just to be looking at the priorities this week politically, but we are in this place to be looking at the challenges and opportunities facing Canada 10 years, 20 years, 30 years out.

Tackling Alzheimer's and dementia needs to be something that Parliament takes seriously. I commend the member for bringing forward this motion but I urge the Conservative government to take action.

Alzheimer's Disease
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to Motion No. 574. I would like to commend the hon. member for Edmonton—Leduc for bringing forward this motion.

Neurological conditions, such as dementia, can affect many aspects of an individual's life. There can be physical, cognitive and emotional effects, in addition to stigma and social isolation.

Among the more common of these conditions is Alzheimer's, and I am sure we all have friends or family members whose lives have been touched by this disease. Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia are devastating and cause memory loss, impaired judgment and reasoning, impaired ability to communicate, and changes in mood and behaviour. Over time persons with this disease become unable to perform the activities of daily living that so many of us can take for granted.

Dementia places a significant burden on families, friends and caregivers. It also places demands on community health and social services, and on long-term care facilities. Alzheimer's disease and related dementias most commonly affect seniors who are also at risk of having other health problems, increasing the complexity of their care, however dementias can also affect younger individuals.

In 1% to 7% of cases, dementias develop well before the age of 65 and can affect individuals as young as 30. As the population ages, the number of people with dementia is expected to increase, including a growing number of people under age 65.

“Rising Tide: The Impact of Dementia on Canadian Society”, is the final report of an Alzheimer's Society project funded by Health Canada, Pfizer Canada and other private sector sources. It predicts that the incidents of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias in Canada will increase from one new case every five minutes in 2008 to one new case every two minutes in 2038.

Our government recognizes that understanding this complex condition and its impact on individuals, families and communities is necessary in order to be able to develop effective programs and policies that will meet the needs of people with dementia, their families and their caregivers. We are aware of the valuable contribution that informal caregivers make to Canadian society and are taking measures to ensure that our understanding remains current and relevant. In fact, the government has recently launched a three-year external research program to fill important knowledge gaps. As well, in 2012, we will run a national caregiving survey to ensure that the best data is available to understand the challenges that caregivers face and that they have the supports they require to continue in their vital role.

In addition to research, the Government of Canada is committed to helping seniors remain healthy, active and socially engaged. To start with, we have increased funding to $40 million annually for our new horizons for seniors program, which can make a real difference in communities by keeping seniors engaged, living actively and participating in social activities. Every Canadian, regardless of their age or situation, should feel comfortable in and a part of their communities.

It is debates like this that add to the knowledge and awareness of the issues around unpaid caregiving and support for families of persons afflicted with Alzheimer's and dementia. The need to better understand the complexity of neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and related dementias has led to Canada's first ever national population study on neurological conditions.

In June 2009, the Minister of Health announced an investment of $15 million over four years toward a study that will look at neurological conditions and their effects on Canadians, filling many current knowledge gaps. This study is led by the Public Health Agency of Canada, working in close collaboration with the neurological health charities of Canada, a collection of 21 charities, including the Alzheimer's Society of Canada, joining forces to improve the quality of life for all persons with chronic brain disorders and their caregivers. Health Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research are also partners in planning and co-ordinating this important work.

In planning the national study, the Public Health Agency of Canada and Neurological Health Charities Canada have worked closely with the neurological community to identify the community's needs and priority areas for the study.

This included a wide-reaching public consultation with more than 3,000 persons affected by neurological diseases. A plan has been put in place for the four-year study and is currently in its second year of implementation.

Expert advisory groups including researchers and stakeholders are providing advice on each component of the study. A call for proposals was issued and projects have been reviewed. Successful project teams will be invited to present their planned work at the first annual progress meeting in winter 2011.

As part of the study, the Public Health Agency of Canada is working with Statistics Canada to conduct three surveys on neurological conditions. The surveys will focus on the numbers of Canadians living with a neurological condition in Canadian households and in long-term care facilities, as well as the impact of these conditions on individuals and their families.

As many people with dementia are living in long-term care facilities, it will be of great value to understand the number of people in these facilities with dementia, as well as other neurological conditions.

By expanding the Public Health Agency of Canada's Canadian chronic disease surveillance system to include Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, as well as other neurological conditions, the study will leave Canada with the legacy of a timely and ongoing source of national data on the number of new and existing cases of these neurological conditions to inform public health action.

In the final year of the project, an analysis of the future impacts of neurological conditions in terms of numbers of people affected, quality of life, and economic impacts will be produced.

A consensus meeting will be held at the end of the four-year study, in 2013, to bring all the available study findings together. A report on neurological conditions in Canada will be developed to summarize the key findings of the suite of studies.

Over the next three years, the national population study on neurological conditions will gather information about the numbers of people affected by brain conditions in Canada, the impact on individuals and families, health and community service needs, risk factors, and other health conditions that affect people with conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

The outcomes of this study will provide valuable information to guide policy and program planning for people with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, as well as other neurological conditions.

Alzheimer's is a devastating disease and touches far too many Canadian families. I hope that all members of the House will join me in supporting this very important motion.

Alzheimer's Disease
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

There being no other members rising, I will go to the hon. member for Edmonton—Leduc for his five minute right of reply.

Alzheimer's Disease
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, I introduced this motion in an attempt to have a national discussion in Parliament on this very important issue and I believe that has happened.

I would like to take this opportunity in my wrap-up remarks to expressly thank the people in the chamber who have spoken to this: the hon. members for Etobicoke North, Verchères—Les Patriotes, Halifax, Elmwood—Transcona, Oak Ridges—Markham, Ottawa Centre, Kings—Hants and Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar. As I have said before, I appreciated both the substance and tone of their remarks. It has demonstrated what can happen in Parliament when we focus on a very important issue that touches all Canadians.

I want to again thank the Alzheimer Society of Canada and its excellent study entitled “Rising Tide”, which, does an outstanding job of identifying the challenges of this disease and some very practical solutions on which we should be working.

I also want to thank the Neurological Health Charities Canada. It has called for a brain strategy for Canada, which would be even broader than what we are talking about in the motion. I certainly encourage members to look at that as well. It is very much a partner in the four-year national population health study of neurological conditions.

The reason I brought this forward is this will have such a massive impact beyond what it even has today. In terms of financial cost, it is estimated to rise tenfold, from $15 billion today to nearly $155 billion by 2038. This will have a massive financial impact, but its human impact will be even greater. Members have spoken very personally about mothers, fathers, grandparents and others who, unfortunately, have had this disease. It has had a very real personal impact for my family and friends.

I want to perhaps offer one human aspect to this. My father recently visited a family friend who has had this disease for 20 years and whose wife has cared for him for that time. My father returned and said, “It's like Jim is existing in a mental prison and we just have to do something about it”. As the member for Kings—Hants said, it is at this point not curable but we have to keep searching.

In that vein, I want to thank all the researchers across Canada who have done such excellent work. Even beyond that, we need to recognize the caregivers in long-term care facilities who do so much, especially family members who devote countless hours to their loved ones in these conditions. This is why the focus is on this issue today. This is why I ask all members of Parliament to support the motion to work toward a national strategy for Alzheimer's.

I thank members again for their attention and I encourage them to support this motion.

Alzheimer's Disease
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

The question is on the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

Alzheimer's Disease
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Alzheimer's Disease
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

(Amendment agreed to)

Alzheimer's Disease
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

The next question is on the main motion, as amended. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion, as amended?

Alzheimer's Disease
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Alzheimer's Disease
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

(Motion, as amended, agreed to)

Alzheimer's Disease
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

It being 2:04 p.m., the House stands adjourned until next Monday at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2:04 p.m.)