House of Commons Hansard #74 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agreements.

Topics

The House resumed from May 28 consideration of the motion that Bill C-509, An Act to amend the Canada Post Corporation Act (library materials), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Canada Post Corporation Act
Private Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to rise in this House and to represent my constituents, the 228 good people of Crowfoot, who have contacted me with regard to the library postal rate, the 228 concerned Albertans and concerned people from my riding, who have asked the government to ensure that the rights that the libraries have appreciated and enjoyed over the years would continue.

It is a pleasure to thank the member for Brandon—Souris for bringing forward this very good private member's bill.

Before the summer break, I had the opportunity to speak to this bill for 8 or 10 minutes, so I only have 2 minutes left. In the meantime, I would like to thank our government for moving. This past summer was a time when members from all parties were able to approach and lobby the government to keep the postal rate for libraries, recognizing how important it is for every rural library and northern library to be able to access resources that people appreciate in the cities.

What is that loud shout going out across the country? It is the shout of people saying that our government listened. Perhaps the shush after the loud shout is the librarians telling everyone to quiet down. However, there is not too much of that because people are very happy.

I congratulate the member for Brandon—Souris. All parties have come toward this bill and have now accepted it and our government is accepting it.

Since 1939, libraries in Canada have been able to exchange books at a reduced rate, historically known as the library book rate. This Conservative government has said that it will continue. I want to thank the member for Brandon—Souris for making it possible.

Canada Post Corporation Act
Private Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Crombie Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise with pleasure to participate in the discussion on this private member's bill, Bill C-509.

I, too, thank my hon. colleague, the member for Brandon—Souris, for his numerous introductions of the bill and his commitment to this cause. I realize that he has introduced this bill several times since 2007, and his tenacity needs to be commended.

I have worked with the member in his capacity as the chair of transport, infrastructure and communities committee. He has always shown fairness in his rulings and has a strong understanding of procedure.

As my party's critic for crown corporations, I will be supporting the bill at second reading and have suggested that my caucus do the same. My party does support greater service for and more affordable access to library materials for Canadians, Canadians in rural areas, in remote areas and seniors, and Canadians with disabilities. We support a reduced postal rate for all library materials and we support the new definition of library materials to include modern media.

I do, however, have a few concerns that I will address later.

The substance of the bill is two-fold. First, that Canada Post receive approval from the Government of Canada prior to any increase in the library book rate; and second, that the library book rate include the shipping of new media materials, such as CDs, CD-ROMs, DVDs and other audio-visual materials. I will be addressing both issues in that order.

First, I will deal with maintaining the library book rate. I have a letter from the Canadian Library Association, CLA, dated May 14 of this year. In the letter the association shows its full support for the bill, and rightly so. It goes on to explain its reasoning, and I could not agree more.

Over 2,000 libraries across Canada rely on the library book rate for transferring materials back and forth. Canadians from coast to coast, especially students, the disabled, seniors and those living in rural areas, should be able to take full advantage of this system. Quite simply, the fact that libraries can share hard copy materials with one another at an affordable rate allows people to obtain information on a more regular basis.

As we know, information is king, knowledge is eternal and we in the Liberal Party stand for lifelong learning. As the CLA pointed out, it is imperative that we retain the library book rate for many reasons. Without a sustainable library book rate, the CLA has the following concerns: First, that it would create a two-tiered service for Canadians; simply those who can afford to borrow material and those who cannot.

Second, that material would be difficult to obtain if it were not regularly transferred between libraries. This would make things very difficult for the elderly, students, the disabled and rural residents.

Third, that it would put added pressure on libraries to reckon costs and remain viable due to lower supply and, ultimately, fewer visitors.

Finally, that it would strain smaller libraries. Their ability to loan would be in jeopardy due to lower supply and lead to diminished lending.

Those reasons alone are good enough for me to support the bill. However, another concerning issue in the CLA's letter is the fear that the current library book rate is scheduled to end unless it is renewed by the end of the year. If this is true, we as parliamentarians must do what is right and extend the library rate without hesitation. The timing of the bill is impeccable and it is the perfect vehicle for doing so.

As the member pointed out in his opening statement in his speech back in May of this year, the library book rate has been in existence since 1939. Libraries have become dependent on the rate and it has allowed them to transfer materials affordably around the country. Although Canada Post has kept the rates at reasonable levels through the years, it has periodically increased them in order to keep up with inflation or for other economic factors.

The bill addresses the concern that Canada Post could, ad hoc, increase the library rate by requiring it to obtain a mandate from Parliament prior to doing so. I am in agreement with this notion but once again I have some concerns with costs.

On the matter of sustaining the library rate and costs, I would like to get some friendly clarification from the member for Brandon—Souris, which I will seek at the conclusion of my time. The second half of his bill deals with the addition of modern media, such as CDs, CD-ROMs, DVDs and other audio-visual materials to the library book rate.

I am in full agreement that as technology advances, Canadians will have a desire to keep up with current trends. The need for advanced information grows.

It is imperative that our libraries are well stocked with modern media. Without such measures, the growing concern is that this material might be hoarded at larger metropolitan libraries and not shared with smaller rural libraries, because they simply cannot afford to transfer them. Smaller libraries would definitely suffer as a result.

In this modern day of Internet, speedy file transfer, email, social media, and large broadband, it is refreshing to know that I can still walk into a library and borrow or lend a tangible item like a book, a newspaper, a music CD, a movie DVD, or even an ebook.

I know that my constituents feel the same way. For this reason, we have a responsibility to maintain this fundamental right for all Canadians.

I have spoken in favour of this bill and will continue to support it. However, I have some concerns regarding the sustainability of the library book rate, its effectiveness, and compensation measures and subsidies.

For the benefit of speedy passage of this bill to committee, I will not be putting forward any amendments today. However, I would like to express my thoughts as this bill continues to move forward through committee.

First, I ask the hon. member if he has considered ensuring that Canada Post maintains a library book rate in perpetuity.

Second, how often can Canada Post seek an increase in the library book rate? What is the time frame? When will this bill confirm that Parliament's approval is necessary before the rate can be increased?

Third, I want to address compensation to Canada Post for the loss in revenue. In speaking to representatives of Canada Post, I have learned that it currently loses $5 million to $6 million per year as a result of the reduced library rate. While I agree that this is a cost of doing business, a small cost to pay for maintaining such an important aspect of our society, I would like to know if the hon. member has considered compensating Canada Post for the losses through an order in council.

Finally, we need to look at the matter of subsidy. Has the hon. member determined the value of the subsidy that Canada Post provides to libraries? This important question was raised in the first hour of debate last spring.

Once again, I will be voting in support of Bill C-509. I have urged and will continue to urge my caucus colleagues to do the same. In fact, I urge every member to follow suit.

Before I end, I need to voice one final concern. This concern has to do with party principles and policies.

To my knowledge, the question of the library book rate came to light in 2006. While I commend my friend, the hon. member for Brandon—Souris, for taking the lead on this issue, I do not understand why the government would not simply have addressed the issue of the library rate in a more responsive and timely manner.

Why has it taken four years? Many options were available to them: adopting it as a government bill, making a regulatory change, or seeking an order in council.

Unfortunately, this speaks volumes about the government's lack of connection with average Canadians, as well as their lack of direction and execution.

The hon. member for Brandon—Souris has my full support for this bill at second reading and for sending it to committee. I look forward to seeing the bill in committee and raising the concerns I have mentioned.

Canada Post Corporation Act
Private Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak in support of the library book rate, specifically Bill C-509, which amends the Canada Post Corporation Act to protect the reduced postage rate for library materials.

I commend the member for Brandon—Souris for bringing this important bill forward and for his tenacity in pursuing it ever since he was first elected in 2004. I wholeheartedly agree with him that maintaining the book rate is crucially important for a whole host of reasons, some of which I will enumerate shortly. I hope the member will understand that I also have to put this bill into the larger context of this government's record on issues related to Canada Post, learning, and literacy. While that context does not in any way detract from his personal efforts to do the right thing with this bill, it calls into question whether this bill, even if passed, will meet its desired objective.

By way of background, for those who may have just tuned into the debate, I should explain what the book rate is. Since 1939, libraries in Canada have been able to exchange books at a reduced postage rate. That is what is known as the library book rate. It allows all libraries in Canada to access one another's reading materials at relatively low costs, so that smaller libraries, for example, have access to the larger collections that exist primarily in urban centres. That is critically important.

First, the book rate ensures that we do not end up with a two-tiered library service, one for those who can afford to pay for access to information and one for those who cannot. This would jeopardize the access of Canadians to the resources necessary to learn, innovate, and prosper in the information economy of the 21st century. Access to library materials should not depend on the size of one's wallet but, rather, on one's thirst for knowledge.

Second, Canadian students, persons with disabilities, and residents of rural communities would be particularly disadvantaged, since they rely heavily on their local library's ability to share resources with larger centres.

Third, it would severely reduce access to books for people living in rural and remote parts of Canada.

Fourth, it would reduce the level of service libraries provide, possibly forcing the program to operate on a cost-recovery basis, with patrons and learners having to bear the costs. Such user fees would discourage many patrons from making mail-based borrowing requests.

Fifth, smaller libraries would stop providing lending services and, in turn, would only borrow materials.

Sixth, it would deprive the rest of the country of the ability to access the unique information resources often preserved in our local libraries.

Seventh and last, it could easily result in denying access to library materials for people who are homebound.

For all of these reasons, it is imperative that there be some control on increases to the book rate. I applaud the member for Brandon—Souris for using this opportunity to ensure that from now on the library book rate would also apply to the shipping of CDs, CD-ROMs, DVDs, and other audiovisual materials. This is important for keeping pace with the changes in technology that have allowed us to access information in new formats, and in fact these new formats may over time actually reduce the cost to Canada Post since CDs weigh far less than books.

In the end, however, Bill C-509 does not prohibit an increase in the book rate per se. Instead, it simply says that any such increase must receive approval of the Government of Canada. The bill suggests that it is the Governor in Council who must okay an application for a rate increase by Canada Post, and the Governor in Council is the cabinet.

I am sure the member for Brandon—Souris made this proposal in good faith. Indeed, when he spoke to the bill he said that it would ensure that Canadians' voices will be heard on this sensitive issue before any rate changes occur. However, if that is truly his intent, why would his bill not stipulate that requests for increases to the library rate must be approved by Parliament instead of the Governor in Council? It is in the House of Commons that the voices of all Canadians are heard through their elected representatives.

The same is not true of the cabinet. Yet the viability and vitality of Canada's public libraries is, or at least should be, of keen interest to every single MP in the House. It is unfortunate that Bill C-509 excludes a review by all of the elected members who have libraries in their communities, and, as a result, it needlessly circumscribes the scope of the arguments that ought to be brought to bear on any request by Canada Post to raise the library rate.

I know that some members of the House will suggest that I am being alarmist and that the distinction of whether it is the cabinet or the House of Commons that must give its sign-off is one of mere semantics, but I suspect most of those members would be from the Conservative benches. Only in their caucus must members act as they are told by the Prime Minister, without any ability to bring independent thinking to the decision-making process. Indeed, that has been the hallmark of the Prime Minister's administration.

Let us recall what the government's track record is with respect to both literacy and Canada Post.

Let us begin with the latter. Just before the end of the last session of Parliament, the House was dealing with Bill C-9, the government's budget implementation bill. What do we find in that bill? We find an attack on Canada Post's exclusive privilege to handle international letters.

I have twice before had the privilege of speaking on this issue in the House, so I will be brief today.

At the heart of the issue was that international mailers, or remailers as they are commonly known, collect and ship letters to other countries where the mail is processed and remailed at a lower cost. In doing so, they are siphoning off $60 million to $80 million per year in business from Canada Post.

Yet Canada Post needs that revenue to provide affordable postal service to everyone, no matter where they live in our huge country. In fact, one ruling by the Court of Appeal for Ontario stressed the importance of exclusive privilege in serving rural and remote communities and noted that international mailers are not required to bear the high cost of providing services to the more remote regions of Canada.

Canada Post won this legal challenge against the remailers in the Supreme Court. What did our law-and-order government do in response? It stood up for the international mailers, who are currently carrying international letters in violation of the law.

The Conservatives are allowing them to siphon off business from Canada Post, and they sneaked the enabling legislation into the budget bill.

What does that have to do with the library book rate? There is an integral connection. Canada Post would raise the book rate as a way of increasing its revenue stream so that it can continue to meet its mandate. This revenue crunch is now becoming a reality, because the cancellation of Canada Post's exclusive privilege to deliver international letters is taking a $60 million to $80 million bite out of the corporation's coffers.

Why would we trust a government that is hell bent on leading Canada Post down the road to privatization to safeguard affordable rates for access to library materials? It does not make sense.

We know that private corporations are driven solely by profit motives, and subsidies for things like the library book rate detract from that bottom line.

Similarly, the notion of trusting the government to protect access to library materials as an important tool for improving literacy in our country flies in the face of the government's record on the issue.

When the Conservatives came to power in 2006, one of the first things they did was cut $1 billion from critical programs, including literacy and skills training. Yet there was and is a preponderance of evidence to prove that education is critical to achieving a just and prosperous future.

Even the C.D. Howe Institute, which is hardly an NDP think tank, has repeatedly noted that Canada continues to under-invest in education, especially since research shows that the impact of functional literacy on productivity and GDP is three times that of capital investments.

In spite of that evidence, the Conservatives cut their support for literacy training and left to fend for themselves the 42% of Canadian adults who have, by international standards, an inadequate functional literacy level.

In light of that record, it is far too much of a stretch to suggest that the government would act decisively to protect the library book rate on behalf of Canadian families. In fact, the opposite is much more likely to be true.

Therefore, while I have no quarrel with what I believe is a sincere desire on the part of the member for Brandon—Souris to safeguard the library book rate from arbitrary increases imposed by Canada Post, I would ask him to go just one step further. Do not give cabinet the responsibility for final approval. Make the issue come to the floor of the House of Commons and allow the views of all Canadians to be brought to bear on this crucial issue. Only in this way can we be assured that the collections of all libraries are recognized as national assets that must be accessible to all Canadians, so that they can support education and lifelong learning and help to enhance Canada's global competitiveness and productivity.

I know that all members of the House would support that laudable goal.

Canada Post Corporation Act
Private Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend, the member of Parliament for Brandon—Souris, for working so diligently for so many years on the library book rate. I congratulate him for finally being able to get up in the draw and have his bill brought before the House, which has been so wildly endorsed by our government and by all members in the House.

I also thank the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities for his support and understanding in working with the member for Brandon—Souris in developing the bill and ensuring we are addressing the needs and the concerns that have been expressed by our libraries across Canada.

Bill C-509 seeks to enshrine the library book rate in the Canada Post Corporation Act by including the definition of what library materials should be in the act and by giving Canada Post the ability to regulate the rate charged to libraries for shipping these materials, subject to Governor-in-Council approval.

The bill is very straightforward and to the point. First, it would expand the list of library materials. Second, it would give Canada Post the power to regulate the rate. Third, it would provide for the Department of Canadian Heritage to enter into an agreement with Canada Post to continue the library book rate. I will speak to these three points.

First is the expansion of the list of library materials. As currently offered, the library book rate is only available for books. There is a historical reason for this. Back in 1939, and for most of the last century, books made up the lion's share of the collections in all our libraries. New material, such as CDs, DVDs, books on tape and other media, are relatively new developments in the course of history. When the rate was first established, these materials were not even envisioned. For the past couple of decades, the library community, including in my riding, have been calling for this rate to be expanded beyond books to include all this new technology media, which are increasingly important as part of their collections.

While library material other than books are being shared and sent between libraries right now as part of the parliamentary inter-library loan system, they do not qualify for the library book rate. The rate is significantly discounted by up to 95% of the regular parcel rates available to all Canadians at a Canada Post counter. Not surprisingly, libraries would like to take advantage of these great rates for all the materials that they provide to their clients and libraries.

The libraries in Selkirk—Interlake are telling me that if they did not have access to the library book rate, what right now only costs them a few thousand dollars a year to access the great collections across the country and bring those collections into their libraries would cost them tens of thousands of dollars a year. That is not acceptable. Our libraries need to keep those dollars to invest in their programs and their facilities to accommodate the increased usage that we see in our libraries.

As public institutions, libraries are always seeking ways to minimize their costs at every opportunity, while maintaining their important services to all Canadians. As we all know, cost savings in one area mean more money for another. This would enable our libraries to increase their investments in educational services or in their collections through increased acquisitions.

Rural libraries are totally dependent upon being able to access the greater collections in larger centres such as Winnipeg, Toronto and Ottawa and bringing those books into the rural communities for our clients.

Our constituents are seeing the value in having access to these materials, whether they are books, CDs or books on tape, which is really expanding and growing in our area. My rural libraries are telling me that they are seeing a real increase in usage. In some cases, they have seen, over the last five years, usage within their libraries go up almost fourfold and that has put an increased burden on them to bring in more products, more books and new media to satisfy the ever-growing appetite of constituents for new material. This is something that has impacted upon their budgets and they have told me that we have to ensure that the library book rate is available indefinitely.

What we are seeing is a real mix of users. We have youths coming in who are making use of the computer programs. They love this new media that they cannot necessarily go out and get at the store. We are seeing students doing their continued research through their library systems, as well as accessing huge collections to feed their ferocious appetites. My own kids have great reading appetites and like to have access to a number of different series of books, which they do not have to go out and purchase themselves if the library provides them with their membership.

Seniors are not only there to access books, but they love this new media as well. Books on tape are becoming an ever-increasing need and desire for my constituents.

Second, the bill seeks to give Canada Post the power to make regulations to prescribe a discounted rate of postage for library materials. This is in line with a number of regulation-making powers that Parliament has given to the corporation, including the ability to make regulations prescribing what is a letter, what is mailable and the rates that it charges for these different items.

Canada Post has been continuously offering a highly discounted postage rate for library books for over 70 years. Even after Canada Post was made a crown corporation in 1981, the rate has remained significantly lower than commercial rates, and this is as an unregulated rate and unrecognized in its enabling legislation. Clearly, Canada Post understands the importance of this rate to libraries and all Canadians and the role that Canada Post plays in contributing to Canada's public policy goals. Bill CC-509 would help ensure that this would be instituted in the Canada Post Corporation Act.

Third, the bill would allow Canada Post to enter into an agreement with the Department of Canadian Heritage to continue the library book rate subject to Governor-in-Council approval.

Given the importance of this rate to libraries across the country and to the development of literacy and other essential skills in our population, an agreement between the federal government and Canada Post to continue to offer this rate certainly makes great sense and good policy. After all, this rate has been continuously offered for the last seven decades and the government has had a longstanding interest in its provision. Therefore, an agreement would be useful in ensuring that the delivery of the rate is in line with the government's overall policy objectives for literacy and other related areas. In its ongoing maintenance of the library book rate, since the previous agreement with the Department of Canadian Heritage has expired, Canada Post has assumed this responsibility itself and have ensured in this way that these objectives have continued to be pursued.

The library book rate has played and continues to play an important role in the development of the Canadian library system, facilitating the sharing of books between communities, regions and nationally for decades. The availability of this rate has been a constant for libraries for generations and has therefore shaped both their financial and acquisition planning. Knowing that this rate is available to them, libraries have been able to pursue collection and funding strategies that are in some ways founded on the library book rate. It is great that we are able to enshrine this now in legislation.

The key to adult literacy proficiency and the development of literacy in their children seems to be reading at home. It increases an individual's proficiency through engagement in literacy activities, such as reading books, magazines, manuals or newspapers.

Libraries play a fundamental role in providing access to all Canadians to a wide range of reading materials and literacy activities. With the help of Canada Post's library book rate, libraries are able to dramatically increase rural and remote library users' access to a consolidated Canadian collection of around 465 million items.

Efforts to create future readers and learners, to engage current readers and to help all Canadians build and maintain their skills are vital to our economic development and growth as a nation. Libraries and literacy programs are fundamental to our future for this very reason. The library book rate has played an important role in the sharing of books across the country, especially in rural and remote locations. The support that it has provided to libraries and their communities cannot be overstated.

Given the importance of Canada Post's library book rate in support of literacy, our government supports promoting literacy and competitiveness across the country.

I again thank the member of Parliament for Brandon—Souris for bringing forward this great bill, for supporting our libraries across Canada, supporting our readers and users of libraries. They are all going to continue to benefit from the library book rate. The book rate itself will be expanded to include so many different items that we can all enjoy.

Canada Post Corporation Act
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

As no other member has risen, I recognize the hon. member for Brandon—Souris for his right of reply.

Canada Post Corporation Act
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Brandon—Souris, MB

Madam Speaker, I thank all members on all sides of the House who have shown interest in the bill and also support. I listened at the first reading of this when we had concerns brought to us. Again, today, I acknowledged concerns and issues of members. Over the summer, I heard from many people about their concerns with the bill, so when we get to committee, we can iron some of those things out and hopefully even improve the bill, such as putting in a sunset clause where we have to come back and review it to ensure it actually serves the purpose it was intended to.

I have always believed that communities of all sizes should be treated equally and fairly. The library book rate does that for people who want to increase their literacy, their reading, their knowledge and their access. The reason we expanded it to include audiovisual materials was simply because that was the trend. As the hon. member said earlier, I suspect that a few years from now books will not be the major items that are shipped to and from libraries.

I look forward to the bill going to committee. I look forward to more debate on it, but also at the end of the day, producing a bill that benefits all Canadians, in particular and in my heart rural and remote Canadians to have access to the same benefits that everyone else in Canada enjoys and rightly so.

Canada Post Corporation Act
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

The time provided for debate has expired. Therefore, the question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canada Post Corporation Act
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

Canada Post Corporation Act
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. First, I again want to commend the member for Brandon—Souris. I believe if you were to seek it, you would find consent to see the clock as 6:30 p.m.

Canada Post Corporation Act
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Is that agreed?

Canada Post Corporation Act
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

6 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Madam Speaker, on May 7, I asked the government House leader several legitimate questions about the conduct of his government. Instead the House leader completely sidelined the question and attempted to steer the opposition. I will not go into the details of the allegations made by the minister, but I will say that it is an insult to the intelligence of Canadians.

What is even more insulting is that Canadians wanted answers to the questions that I asked of the government minister. Groups such as the Centre des travailleuses en maisons privées in Montreal listened when I asked the questions, listened to his responses and were not very happy about it.

Instead, this centre had its funding cut this year and as their funding was cut he chose to slap them straight in the face, to add insult to injury, in revving up the political rhetoric in deflecting my questions, which were legitimate ones.

This is an issue of the muzzling of groups by the Conservative government and it is a serious issue. For years the government and the Prime Minister have attempted to silence any reasoned and credible opposition, not just from other parties but also from individuals and groups of average citizens. Anyone with damaging information or a contrary opinion to the government is told to “shut the f— up”, to use the words of a Conservative senator, if they do not want to suffer the consequences.

I will name just a few of those who have been muzzled: Linda Keen, former president of the Nuclear Safety Commission; Peter Tinsley, once head of the Military Police Complaints Commission; Paul Kennedy, once chair of the RCMP public complaints commission; Adrian Measner, once president and CEO of the Canadian Wheat Board; Yves Côté, once the ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces; Munir Sheikh, once the head of Statistics Canada; Steve Sullivan, once the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime; Kevin Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer; Richard Colvin, a Canadian diplomat. I could go on.

This government clearly has a history of attacking in particular what it calls “fringe groups”, meaning ordinary Canadian community groups and government bodies that are following their legal mandate, and muzzling groups with which it does not agree.

For example, the Prime Minister cut the court challenges program. The court challenges program was designed:

to provide financial assistance for important court cases that advance language and equality rights guaranteed under Canada's Constitution.

It was cut by the Conservative government.

In the meantime, when we talk about equality rights, Canadian women are still only earning 71¢ to every dollar earned by their male counterparts.

Here is what one former watchdog had to say about this government.

Peter Tinsley reportedly suggested that his removal from the Military Police Complaints Commission is part of a broader pattern with this Conservative government. Mr. Tinsley said that the former Liberal government, in contrast, deliberately did not remove Shirley Heafey, who oversaw the controversial inquiry into the pepper spraying of protesters by the Mounties at the 1997 APEC summit in B.C., because the Liberal government wanted to avoid the appearance of trying to shut down a tribunal that was generating negative publicity for that government.