House of Commons Hansard #134 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was information.

Topics

The House resumed from February 9 consideration of the motion that Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act, be read the third time and passed.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

10 a.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to finally have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-42, which amends the Aeronautics Act to allow airlines to send personal information of passengers to foreign security services.

Let me begin by reminding members in this House that the right to privacy is a fundamental cornerstone of any western democracy. Equally important is the right of the people to know what their government is doing so that the government can be held accountable by a knowledgeable electorate.

Bill C-42 turns that accountability on its head. It suggests that the Government of Canada has the right to know what its people are doing at all times and that it even has the right to share that information with foreign governments, but it reserves for itself the right to be the most secretive government in Canadian history with its citizens continually being denied access to information. It is a government run amok, and frankly in this instance, it is dangerous.

The law before us today purports to hand over to foreign security agencies undisclosed information about Canadian passengers who may not even be landing on their soil. As my NDP colleague, the member for Welland, pointed out earlier in this debate, this is really a fundamental question about the rights of Canadians to privacy as opposed to the decision of a foreign government, be it the United States, Colombia or even Panama, that wishes to have the personal information of anyone in our country who chooses to travel by air. He said:

I find it quite astounding that somehow we think that giving this information up is okay and we can trot out security as being the justification for giving up our private information.

Honestly, where is it going to stop? Is it just our names, the hotel we are going to, the car we are renting and our destination? The government is trying to play Canadians for fools.

We all know that security agencies, including our security agencies, build profiles of those they deem of interest. We are also talking about the security agencies of other countries that do not share our laws and with whom we have had a serious concern about violating the rights of Canadian citizens. Even our own security agencies have behaved badly. We can try to remedy our own institutions, but how can we remedy those of other countries?

Dr. Mark Salter, an associate professor at the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa, had this to say:

Governments want this information so that they can build profiles of not just risky passengers but safe passengers as well.

He went on to say:

What worries me about this particular legislation is that the data not only go to the destination country but may go to all states that the airline might fly over.

That, I feel, is the significant change this legislation brings and that worries me a great deal. He is right when he says:

I think it is dangerous to sacrifice our privacy and our freedoms for the dream of zero risk or perfect security.

This particular measure does not provide additional security for the aviation sector and it places an additional burden on Canadian citizens who are flying.

I noted earlier that this hypocritical secretive government is so eager to divulge its citizens' private information to other governments, yet it will not disclose these agreements to its own citizens.

Fortunately, we have some understanding of a similar information transfer agreement between the European Union and the United States. I want to share some of the contents of that agreement.

The information forwarded will be the passenger name record, which is the file a travel agent creates when a vacation is booked. The passenger name record could include credit card information, the person a citizen is travelling with, hotel details, and other booking information such as tours or rental cars. Astoundingly, that agreement also provides details on any serious medical condition of the passenger.

The information collected can be retained by the United States for up to 40 years. This information may be forwarded to the security service of a third nation without the consent or notification of the other signatory. The United States may unilaterally amend the agreement as long as it advises the EU of the change. No person may know what information is being held about him or her by the United States and may not correct that information even if there are errors.

I want to come back to this last point, because as I noted earlier, we have no control over agencies of other countries. Who in their right mind would agree to allow a foreign country to hold private information about a Canadian citizen? Who in their right mind would allow that country to hold wrong information about a Canadian citizen for up to 40 years? Who would accept that there is no recourse to correct this wrong information about a Canadian citizen? Well, none other than the Conservative government. That is who. The bill that is before us today would essentially allow data mining of Canadians' personal information by foreign security services.

Dominique Peschard, president of Ligue des droits et libertés, gave two examples of the consequences of ending up on the U.S. secure flight program. I quote:

My first example is that of Hernando Calvo Ospina, a Colombian journalist living in France. On April 18, 2009, Mr. Ospina was travelling to Nicaragua via Mexico for Le Monde diplomatique. Five hours before Air France's Paris-Mexico flight was scheduled to land, it was diverted to Fort-de-France, Martinique. The captain informed the passengers that the United States had not authorized the aircraft to fly over the country because one of the passengers constituted a threat to national security. Unknown to him, Mr. Ospina was on the United States' no-fly list. Mr. Ospina is a regular contributor to Le Monde diplomatique and has written a number of articles criticizing U.S. foreign policy and the CIA's role in Latin America. Mr. Ospina's prohibition has nothing to do with air security. The flight's co-pilot even went to see Mr. Ospina during the flight to verify that he was indeed the person targeted by the prohibition. In Mexico, Mr. Ospina was briefly questioned by Mexican authorities before taking another flight to Managua.

Another case I would like to discuss is that of Paul-Émile Dupret, a Belgian citizen who is an analyst for the European Parliament and who has conducted a campaign opposing the transfer of European travellers' personal information to American authorities. As his flight was on route to Mexico—his final destination was Sao Paulo, where he was travelling to attend the World Social Forum—the aircraft had to circumvent the United States because U.S. authorities were not authorizing Mr. Dupret to fly through American airspace.

These individuals clearly do not represent a threat to air security, and individuals like Mr. Ospina and Mr. Dupret could very well have been Canadian journalists or public servants travelling to Latin America.

It is an illusion to think that the information provided under the Secure Flight program will be protected, that it will be destroyed or that it could be corrected in the event of any error. On the contrary, that information will be added to the data bases of the U.S. intelligence agencies and will be compared with information held by all the agencies I've just mentioned to determine whether such and such a person should be prohibited from flying over the United States or even placed on another list.

Justice O'Connor's investigation of the Arar affair has shown to what extent the ill-considered sharing of information can have harmful effects. Four years after Judge O'Connor's report was tabled, we are still waiting for implementation of his recommendations for the introduction of a mechanism for monitoring security intelligence activities in Canada.

We know that Canada is being bullied by the U.S. and that unless this bill passes, the United States could close its airspace to Canadian aircraft.

I have stressed before, and so have my colleagues, that Canada and the United States have a long history of co-operation in politics, economics, defence, security and culture. We know that our closest neighbour and ally, the United States, cannot simply cut off its airspace to our flights and passengers. That simply is not realistic.

The government could do better for its citizens, but it is not. We on this side of the House are dumbfounded why the government, which bills itself as the great defender of our privacy, would so readily abandon our rights. The Conservative government's sponsorship of Bill C-42 is truly shameful.

I want to stress that this debate is not an ideological one. Its significance is due to the extent to which the federal government would go in relinquishing our rights without any disclosure to its citizens. This bill is truly reprehensible.

Members need not take my word for it. Here is what others have said about this legislation.

Roch Tassé, the national coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, states:

After running a risk assessment for each passenger, Homeland Security in turn issues a “boarding pass result” back to the airline. The “result” instructs the airline to issue a boarding pass, deny permission to travel, or issue an enhanced screening requirement.

These regulations give the U.S. access to a whole subset of information on air passengers who are not entering the U.S. but merely overflying its airspace. Furthermore, this information can be shared among at least 16 U.S. agencies and with foreign governments. The program gives the government of a foreign country a de facto right to decide who gets to travel to and from Canada since the vast majority of Canadian flights to and from Europe, the Caribbean and South America overfly American airspace.

Maher Arar is on the U.S. no-fly list. Several other cases in which Canadians have been denied boarding by the U.S. even for domestic flights in Canada have also been reported. Those cases include several individuals who have been deemed by Canadian courts and commissions of inquiry not to pose a risk to the national security of Canada. They include Abdullah Almalki, Adil Charkaoui, and others.

If Bill C-42 is adopted, even the rulings of Canadian courts would not be able to be enforced.

Mr. Edward Hasbrouck of the Liberty Coalition, a U.S.-based civil liberties group stated:

You should be very clear that the enactment of Bill C-42 would grant to the U.S. government de facto veto power over the ability of virtually anyone to obtain sanctuary in Canada, since in most cases it's impossible to get to Canada to make a claim for political asylum or refugee status without overflying the U.S., and that power of the U.S. would be exercised at the worst possible point: while a refugee is still on the soil of and subject to the persecution of the regime they are trying to flee.

There are measures that could be taken to balance the needs for enhanced security with protection of our citizens' privacy. In 1998 the European Commission put forward six key principles which must be included. They are worth repeating.

First is the purpose limitation principle. Private personal information should be processed for a specific purpose and subsequently used for further communication only insofar as this is not incompatible with the purpose of the transfer.

Second is the information quality and proportionality principle. Information should be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date. Further, the information should be adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purposes for which it is transferred or further processed.

Third is the transparency principle. Individuals should be provided with information as to the purpose of the processing and the identity of those in control of the information in the third country and other information insofar as this is necessary to ensure fairness.

Fourth is the security principle. Technical and organizational security measures should be taken by those in control of the information that are appropriate to the risks presented by the processing. Any person acting under the authority of those in control of the information, including a processor, must not process information, except on instructions from the controller.

Fifth is the right to access rectification and opposition principle. The subject of the information should have the right to obtain a copy of all the information relating to him or her that is processed and a right to rectification of the information which is inaccurate. Furthermore, in some situations, the person should be able to object to the processing of the data relating to him or her.

Sixth is the restriction on onward transfers principle. Transfers of the personal information to further countries should be permitted only where the second country is also subject to the same rules as the country originally receiving the information.

Bill C-42 does not include any of these protections. Under this bill, it would be open season on the private information of Canadians. This bill is an affront to our rights as Canadian citizens.

In conclusion, I want to end with another quote from Dr. Mark Salter. He states:

Canadians' data should not be hostage to the most paranoid regime that an air company chooses to fly over. The proposed change to these data protection regulations to include overflight states dramatically increases the vulnerability of Canadians' data while offering no means of redress or appeal.

We can assume that citizens know when they travel to a particular country that they are consenting. They know they go through a visa process and a border process, so they know their data is being evaluated. However, Canadians would have no way of knowing which of the countries they flew over would get their data, what would happen to their data, or how to appeal the use of that data. I think this is a dangerous change that poses clear costs but offers no benefit.

Clearly, this is a bill that should not be passed by this House. It embodies all that is wrong with overzealous governments that are prepared to sacrifice their citizens' privacy in the name of unspecified threats.

To my Conservative colleagues, I would say this. Just this past summer, the government did away with the long form census. The justification given was that it was an intolerable invasion of Canadians' privacy. It was deemed an intolerable invasion of privacy to ask how many people are living in one's home.

The fact that census information is vital to making evidence-based decisions so that we can design programs that are appropriate and adequate to meet the needs and demands of the population did not matter.

We were simply asked to accept that no end could justify the means of such an onerous invasion of privacy. Yet here we are less than a year later and the government members are suffering from a case of collective amnesia. Privacy no longer matters.

They now just want all of us to accept that somehow it is okay for the government of the United States to know not only that someone is flying on a particular day but also to know the person's credit card information, with whom the person is travelling, the hotel he or she will be staying at, other booking information such as tours or rental cars, and the person's personal health information, one of the things that nobody has the right to know except that person and his or her doctor.

I cannot square that circle and Canadians cannot square that circle, either. However, what is absolutely clear is that they deserve better from their government. By voting against Bill C-42, we are sending the government back to the drawing board.

As I said at the outset, the right to privacy is a fundamental cornerstone of our democratic society and we will not condone or support the data mining of Canadians' personal information by foreign security services.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I know we have heard about the British man who cannot get back to his country, et cetera. However, I have been getting calls from Canadians. A lawyer called me saying he had a client who was concerned about travelling to Mexico, because he would have to go through Toronto with his family to get a flight to Mexico. His concern was that he might be held in Toronto while his family would be able to go on their already paid vacation, because there might be something on the Canadian Police Information Centre's computer, or CPIC.

I have been a lawyer for 30 years and I cannot tell members all of the information that CPIC has. Even people who get pardons for offences could be on CPIC. People who have been charged with offences and had the charges withdrawn or who were acquitted could be on CPIC. There is a lot of prejudicial information.

Things that we might not take very seriously in this country, such as a conviction for simple possession of marijuana 25 or 30 years ago when someone was a teenager or in his or her early twenties, might be taken very seriously by the American authorities, because they would think of it as a conviction under a narcotics control act. We do not know how seriously these things will be taken by other countries, particularly the United States. It may have a totally different attitude toward that.

What concerns me is that Canadians will have their freedom of movement and their own personal information available or subject not only to the Americans but also to anybody else they choose to give it, without our knowledge or consent. This is fundamentally wrong.

The member mentioned that ordinary Canadians should be concerned about it. I believe that is the case. Would you comment on that, because I think many ordinary Canadians would have very good reason not to want this bill passed.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am sure the hon. member knows that I cannot comment, but perhaps the hon. member for Hamilton Mountain will.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to. I very much welcome the question from the member for St. John's East. I know he has been following this issue closely, along with the rest of our caucus.

He is right. This raises a fundamental issue not just about Canadians' right to privacy but should also be of concern to everyone the world over, as these are fundamental changes in how two countries collaborate with respect to the exchange of information.

The really frustrating thing from where I sit is knowing that the Europeans, who also have an agreement with the United States, were actually able to negotiate improvements to their agreement with the U.S. The Conservative government is not even trying. It is rolling over and saying, here is the bill that the U.S. wants us to pass and let us just do it.

I know the Americans are our friends and allies, but that does not mean it is not the responsibility of the Conservative government to protect our interests as Canadians, and it is refusing to do that. That is why I would encourage all members of the House to vote against Bill C-42 and send the government back to the drawing board and stand up for the people who have sent us here to represent them. We should to stand up for their privacy and vote against Bill C-42.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, as members know, there were headlines in the media today about hackers from China who were attempting to access the House of Commons' computers. Of course, that is a matter of some real concern, because it would expose confidential information.

If we set aside that issue, we have a government that is willing to hand over to the United States, Panama or any country that basically asks for it, confidential information that should be protected. This is the appalling aspect of the Conservatives' bill. Although it has made loud noises about hackers endeavouring to access the House of Commons' computers, it is actually offering the United States government, the Panamanian government or any government that wants it, personal credit card and personal health care information and everything else that is on the passenger name record.

I want to ask the member for Hamilton Mountain how she thinks the Conservatives could possibly justify this hypocrisy.

She mentioned the census, and we are concerned about hackers getting into the House of Commons' computers. However, we basically have a Conservative government that is willing to hand over, wholesale, Canadians' confidential information to any foreign government that requests it. It is absolutely absurd.

How can the Conservatives justify this?

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I cannot justify the Conservatives' approach to confidentiality and access to information. We have just spent an entire week in the House on, and the Speaker had been asked to adjudicate, an issue with respect to access to information that my colleague, the member for Ottawa Centre, raised in the House just yesterday.

We have been spending a tonne of time here as parliamentarians having to fight the government for access to information that we should have had as a matter of right for our being able to do our job.

There is now before the Speaker the question of whether we, as members, have a right to access information about the cost of the government's crime bills. We received a piece of paper yesterday, but, unfortunately, that paper contained hardly any information, and paper alone is not good enough.

We have asked for and not yet received appropriate projections of the costs of corporate tax cuts.

Members will remember only too well the seminal ruling given by the Speaker on the issue of members' access to the documents pertaining to Afghan detainees. Of course, there is another issue as well regarding who said what, when and where about the funding cuts to KAIROS, another matter for the Speaker to adjudicate.

We are taking up an unbelievable amount of time in this House appealing to the Speaker over and over again so that we can get access to the information we require to do our jobs on behalf of Canadians, instead of debating the issues that Canadians care about, such as jobs, pensions and health care.

Yet here we are discussing Bill C-42 by a government that will not share information with us or Canadian citizens and yet is eager to hand that information over to foreign countries. As my colleague pointed out, it is not just any information but information that includes travel plans, car leases and, most importantly, and potentially, the medical records of the people who are travelling. Medical records should never be shared with anyone beyond the patient and his or her doctor, yet the government is opening the books to foreign governments.

There is a huge inconsistency in the way the government deals with the protection of information. It is trying to close its books to us but opening them to foreign governments. I think that point alone is reason enough for every member in the House to vote against Bill C-42.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank and congratulate my colleague from Hamilton Mountain. I think she set out the reality of Bill C-42 in a succinct and very clear way.

It terrifies me, and I know it terrifies my constituents, because I began to hear from them when news of this bill first emerged about a year ago. They absolutely recognized the danger of allowing other foreign capitals to have the information that we have always regarded as key to our security in this country.

The member talked about the long form census and she made reference to the secrecy of the government.

It is interesting, but we have just been exposed to one ludicrous crime bill after another. The government seems desperate to make criminals of Canadians. In the course of doing so, it keeps talking about victims. However, with Bill C-42, it seems to me that it is victimizing the citizens of this country, exposing them to whatever might possibly happen to them from the release of sensitive information to the likes of Mexico and Panama.

We know what happens in Mexico and the violence and insecurity that travellers experience there. We know from this new trade deal the government has signed with the government of Panama that we will be exposed to the lack of support and security that Panama provides its own citizens.

So how on earth are we going to expect that government to support the citizens of Canada and protect them?

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague raises absolutely essential points in this debate.

It really is about the onus on our government to protect our citizens, Canadian citizens, from the potentially corrupt practices of other governments. The government is actually condoning the potential victimization of Canadian citizens. It is completely appalling. We should all be resolutely against this bill.

We have laid out the reasons. There is no protection for the private information of Canadian citizens. There is no guarantee that it will not end up in the wrong hands. Therefore, there is no guarantee and no control over how that information would be used against Canadian citizens.

At a minimum, Canadians have the right to expect that their government will stand up for them in any international obligations. We are not simply a doormat for its friends south of the border. Yes, we have friendly relationships and important trading relationships with them, but that does not mean it is not the responsibility of our government to protect our citizens. In proceeding with Bill C-42, clearly the government is abdicating that very important responsibility.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I want to describe the aspects of the bill that I feel are very important. I want to thank the Library of Parliament, and we probably do not thank it enough, for the good work that it does and the expertise that it holds. This summary was put together by Alysia Davies, and I thank her for the great job that she has done. In general, I want to thank the Library of Parliament for the research work that it does.

On June 17, 2010 the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities introduced Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act. Its short title is strengthening aviation security act. The bill would amend the Aeronautics Act to create an exception for the application of another statute, the Personal Information, Protection and Electronic Documents Act, or as we know it around here PIPEDA.

The bill would amend the Aeronautics Act and PIPEDA is the main federal legislation governing privacy rights and obligations of the private sector. To date, its application in the aviation context is mainly concerned with the handling of personal information of passengers flying on Canadian aircraft.

Organizations are generally prevented from collecting, using or disclosing the personal information of customers to third parties without the customer's consent except in certain specified situations involving law enforcement, national security, defence, international affairs, compliance with a warrant or subpoena, as well as other situations that would rarely apply in the air travel context such as debt collection.

Currently the Aeronautics Act exempts the operators of aircraft from PIPEDA's restrictions on disclosing personal information without consent when the laws of a foreign state require disclosure of information about anyone onboard a flight that is landing in that state. People in my riding have had issues with this over the years, especially the town of Gander. Gander is the home of the Gander International Airport and it has been and continues to be an important route for many people over the years. It is part of the great circle route and as a result a lot of planes fly into Gander for refuelling and the like. Gander airport has been a famous refueling stop for many years and continues to be. With that in mind, we certainly appreciate the security. We know a lot about international law when it comes to privacy.

Passenger information for any Canadian flight that will land in a foreign state, whether or not the flight originates in Canada, can be disclosed to a foreign government without restriction by the air carrier, provided the disclosure meets the existing requirements in the Aeronautics Act. It is required by the laws under the foreign state. Such disclosure would not require the consent of the passengers or the triggering of the normal exceptions in the PIPEDA legislation.

What brings us to this third reading stage of the bill is the amendment. Bill C-42 would amend the section to expand its application. It would now apply not only with respect to foreign states in which the flight is landing but also to any foreign states that the flight would travel over. Accordingly, whether or not the foreign state that a flight lands and requires the disclosure of any personal information under this bill, an air carrier would be able to provide disclosure without consent or other restrictions to which it would normally be subject under PIPEDA if the laws of the foreign state and the flight path require it.

In addition to this, the bill is an in-depth piece of legislation which would have a great effect on the passenger protect program. The Aeronautics Act is the authority for a federal government program called the PPP, or the passenger protection program. It is informally known in the common vernacular today as the no-fly list under which Transport Canada provides aircraft operators with a list of names of potential passengers that must be checked before issuing a boarding pass. It is called the specified persons list.

There has been much discussion about this program. It is intended to identify potential terrorists on airline passenger lists and block them from boarding domestic or international flights. It is similar to a parallel program run in the United States for the same purpose. There has been some heated discussion about this particular no-fly list and some people have found themselves on this list for reasons such as similarity of name and so on. There may be some past association that no longer has any bearing on their behaviour today. Unfortunately, they do find themselves on the no-fly list and therefore we have a lot of complaints.

Many members of Parliament would agree that they have received several calls regarding the no-fly list and how some people have managed to end up on that list, for example, by just having the same name as someone who is under suspicion, we will say.

The program was the focus of some controversy in the early days and Transport Canada, assisted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, CSIS, added names to the list without the knowledge or consent of the potential passengers. There has been considerable concern that names will end up on the list mistakenly, resulting in an innocent passenger being banned from air travel. For example, there were media reports that two young boys, a 15-year-old junior champion athlete and a 10-year-old, both named Alistair Butt, were initially stopped from taking domestic Air Canada flights in 2007 because this name appeared on the list.

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada joined with all of her provincial and territorial counterparts in the year 2007 to issue a resolution expressing concerns about the PPP or the no-fly list and recommended that it be referred to the parliamentary committee for study.

The resolution also recommended, among other things, that more detailed and specific legislation authority for the program be developed under the Aeronautics Act, and an independent oversight body be established for the program, which brings us to this debate now.

Several parliamentary committees have received briefings about the program since then, most notably, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, and the Standing Committee Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

In 2009, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada conducted an audit for the program, PPP, passenger protection program, and under Transport Canada it is regulated, as I mentioned. In most respects the program was compliant with the applicable statutes and policies, although there were some points that needed attention. The Privacy Commissioner of Canada intends to follow up with another audit of the program this year, 2011.

Bill C-42, which we are debating at third reading, deals with what happens to the personal information of passengers once the air carriers have obtained it, either from Transport Canada's specified persons list or from another source. It therefore affects the application of PIPEDA, the statute which regulates the air carriers, as private sector organizations rather than the Privacy Act, the statute which regulates the federal public sector.

Bill C-42 contains two clauses. The first clause provides its abbreviated title, the Strengthening Aviation Security Act, and the second clause amends the Aeronautics Act, the crux of the bill, to exempt the operators of aircraft from the restrictions in PIPEDA on disclosing personal information without consent when the laws of a foreign state require disclosure of information about anyone on board a flight over that particular state.

Specifically, passenger information for any Canadian flight that will fly over a foreign state, whether or not the flight originates in Canada, could be disclosed by the air carrier to that state's government without restriction, providing the disclosure meets the existing requirements in the Aeronautics Act as required by the laws of the foreign state. Such disclosure would not require either the consent of the passengers or the triggering of the normal exceptions that we pointed out which are in PIPEDA.

I understand many of the concerns that are being brought forward here today, concerns of the NDP, and certainly the concerns of the average individual. Individuals and our society in general require protection and want to feel secure. They depend on us here as MPs to enact the laws that provide security of the people. We also hold the bar rather high when the government puts forward legislation like this, which is why amendments were made at committee.

At a transport committee hearing on air safety on May 11, 2010, Assistant Privacy Commissioner Chantal Bernier stated that the U.S. will retain this information for as long as 7 days to 99 years. She also added:

--our understanding is that information collected can be disclosed and used for purposes other than aviation security, such as law enforcement and immigration purposes.

The government waited until the last sitting day before the summer recess which we feel was a transparent move to avoid parliamentary scrutiny over these measures. The amendment to the bill at the transport committee was to introduce oversight measures, such as periodic parliamentary review and a requirement that airlines and travel agents inform Canadians of this information transfer before their ticket is purchased.

The opposition is very concerned about the changes being proposed in Bill C-42 which we brought up in second reading of this debate. The Aeronautics Act already allows for the disclosure of personal information by airlines to foreign states and if the flight is landing within the foreign state itself. The act also provides a legislative authority to create the no-fly list, with the PPP, intended to identify potential terrorists in airline passenger lists and block them from boarding domestic or international flights.

As we know, since the early part of the last decade, since 9/11, this has been an incredibly large issue in the United States, particularly for reasons that are obvious, but it has also become a very important issue here as to the security of our people. Since that time we find ourselves now looking at the situation in a different light. Many of our laws have been changed since then to provide for the security of peoples. We have seen many incidents that have taken place internationally, whether it be the London bombings, the Middle East, or other major destinations across Europe and North America that have been threatened. In some situations, attempts to create mass acts of terrorism have been thwarted.

Many of the measures that we have taken as a government, internal security matters as well as foreign security matters, have been implemented and some certainly have been quite successful in thwarting the attempts of people who wish to do terrorist acts around the world. Again, not just in North America but around major destinations all over the world, including key ports in Asia as well as Europe.

The no-fly list, however, is not infallible. Further, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has expressed concerns with the measures enabled in the Aeronautics Act, by further changing the act, forcing Canadian airlines to disclose personal information of Canadian passengers who are simply flying over a foreign state.

Bill C-42 further endangers the privacy rights of Canadians which we acknowledge and worked through at committee. Maintaining public security however is important and a balance must be achieved.

The opposition members expressed this concern when the bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. Liberal members amended the bill in three specific ways.

First, the House of Commons will be required to conduct a review of these measures two years from the date they come into force and every five years thereafter. Second, this data transfer will be limited to us in legislation. The original version of the bill allowed the Canadian government to add other countries by order in council. Third, airlines and travel agents will be required by Canadian law to inform passengers of this impending data transfer before their ticket is purchased.

It is important to note that the Canadian government did secure an exemption for Canadian flights where the origin and destination are both in Canada but the plane would enter U.S. air space.

Bill C-42 amends the Aeronautics Act to exempt the operators of aircraft from the restrictions in PIPEDA on disclosing personal information without consent when the laws of a foreign state require disclosure of information about anyone on board a flight over that particular state.

Currently the Aeronautics Act exempts the operators of aircraft from PIPEDA's restrictions of disclosing personal information without consent when the laws of a foreign state require disclosure of information about anyone on board a flight that is landing in the states. That is why, when we looked earlier at the situation, we decided to make the amendments through the committees and now we find ourselves here at third reading.

Accordingly, passenger information for any Canadian flight landing in a foreign state, whether or not the flight originates in Canada, can be disclosed to a foreign government without restriction by the air carrier, provided the disclosure meets the existing requirements in the Aeronautics Act and is required by the laws of the foreign state. Such disclosure would not require the consent of the passengers or trigger the normal exceptions in the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, PIPEDA, part of the Aeronautics Act.

Only specific pieces of information will be required by the U.S. government, such as, name, birthdate, gender, flight and passport information, as available. The U.S. government insists this information will only be used for no-fly list matching. The U.S. has the right to control its own airspace and that is enshrined in international law. If we were not to pass this bill, Canadian airlines would be barred from U.S. airspace, which would cripple their ability to operate.

This is the situation in which we find ourselves.

As I mentioned earlier, security over the past 10 to 15 years has changed dramatically. At the beginning of the decade we found ourselves in a situation where security was the utmost when it came to acts of mass terrorism. We found ourselves creating and enacting legislation that changed our behaviour and way of thinking in many ways.

This was not isolated only to the United States, which was the recipient of the damage of 9/11 in a most inhumane manner. In this country we realized how linked we are to the United States in trade, air travel, borders, which is still a contentious issue, and at the same time maintaining our sovereignty and of course respecting the privacy rights of all individuals. We found ourselves in a situation where we had to balance our right to privacy with our right to be secure.

This debate has given us the chance to flesh out that balance to achieve between security and the right to privacy. Since coming out of committee, we have struck a balance that we certainly believe is the right way to go. I commend all members of this House voting for or against this piece of legislation for having a mature debate about how to achieve that balance and be responsible for securing our citizens in this country and North America in general.

At the same time, we have to be respectful and uphold the rights of our citizens in this country. To do that we have made amendments that we feel are responsible. We brought our concerns to the table at second reading and to committee. I want to commend the committee on the work it has done and on the amendments it has accepted.

We now find ourselves at third reading of this bill. I think it goes a long way in protecting our security. It is good for our economy and is respectful of the rights of our citizens to their privacy.

As I mentioned earlier, a community in my riding has played a very important role over the last 50 years or so when it comes to aviation and international travel. The town of Gander, home to the Gander International Airport, was the main refuelling stop for major flights between Europe and North America. Back in the day, in the 1950s, 1960s, and even into the 1980s, air security was not debated as much and was certainly not top of mind for citizens of this country. However, it certainly is today. The world is changing. Gander has changed accordingly. The airport security regime has changed accordingly. Today we are now responding to threats we did not face many years ago, back when Gander International Airport was in its heyday with major international flights coming in from Europe to North America.

In closing, I have appreciated the opportunity to speak to Bill C-42.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to hear a speech by the member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, the homeland of my ancestors and my wonderful grandfather.

He made cogent and thoughtful arguments, but I have to add some things, to which I would appreciate a response from the hon. member. He speaks of the need to balance interests, to ensure that Canadians are secure against terrorists, and the need to balance rights. I would ask him why he did not initially say the bill before the House should at least include the minimum conditions that the Europeans sought and obtained from the United States of America in order to protect the interests and security of the citizens of Europe.

Why did the Liberals not propose amendments on reciprocity? Surely that is what would secure us. This bill is not going to secure Canadians. It may, in the minds of American lawmakers and security officers, provide greater security to them because many still believe the terrorists all came from Canada, but I fail to see how any of these measures are ensuring the security of Canadians.

I have heard some of the speeches in the House, including the one by the hon. member. Despite the fact that he provided very cogent arguments and interesting information on the background of the no-fly list and so forth, it is important for the House to remember we are not talking about mere friendly principles. We are talking about our basic constitutional rights, which include the constitutional right to the security of the person, the right not to be deprived except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice or due process, and the right to notification. The government is now attempting to deal with that, but my question would be whether it is enough to simply notify, or is that going to be in fine print at the bottom of the ticket.

The charter provides the right to be heard, for Canadians to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure and not to be arbitrarily detained and imprisoned. These are not minor friendly principles; they are overriding constitutional charter rights. We cannot talk about a balance to ensure that Americans feel secure against potential terrorists coming from Canada and flying over their airspace, against our constitutionally entrenched rights.

I can assure everyone that if we called for the same kinds of impingements on the freedoms of Americans, there would be a great hue and cry. Where is the reciprocity in what the member is proposing, to make sure this act does not throw the scales out of balance and impinge on our constitutional rights in the interests of the fear of Americans?

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's question is a good one. It is a good one in the sense that we have struggled with this for quite some time. I am not going to dismiss her concerns, let us put it that way; this is something I think she puts a good argument towards.

On the balance we have achieved, obviously each of us has a different version on where that balance lies. Nonetheless, her arguments about reciprocity certainly are good ones.

Of course we find ourselves in a situation where it is not a black and white issue in many cases; there is a lot in here to sift through. We want to do this for the security, not just of Americans but also North Americans, including us, and I think this piece of legislation does go forward in doing that.

As I mentioned earlier, we find ourselves in a situation where the amendments we put forward are key to this, in three specific ways. First, the House of Commons would be required to conduct a review of these measures two years from the date they come into force, and every five years thereafter. Second, the data transfer would be limited to the United States in legislation; the original version of the bill allowed the Canadian government to add other countries by order in council. And, third, airlines and travel agents would be required by Canadian law to inform passengers of this impending data transfer before the ticket is purchased.

Again, it is important to know that the Canadian government did secure an exemption for Canadian flights where the origin and destination are both in Canada and the plane would enter into U.S. air space.

Things are different on the reciprocity issue when it comes to Europe, but again, in achieving this balance with Bill C-42, we feel it is right to go forward. The review would examine that as well, which is a very important aspect of it.

While there is no doubt that the American government wants to keep its citizens secure, we do also, but with rights of privacy too. Would the Americans be equally as upset if it were the other way around? I am sure they probably would be. In this case, I am sure they would also respect that our air space is very close to theirs and that an attack on them would certainly be an attack on us.

We must consider that we have the responsibility to keep our citizens secure.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to pick up on a particular part of this legislation, in fact, on the absurdity of putting this legislation forward in the first place. As the member would know, the bill is being proposed by a government that very recently told Canadians they had to do away with the long-form census because it was far too intrusive: “We could not possibly ask Canadians how many bedrooms were in their homes.” How intrusive, how appalling that the Canadian government should know that about citizens.

Everyone in the country, except members of the Conservative Party, seem to appreciate how important census information is for social planning, for effective planning of all kinds of programs that affect average Canadian families. Yet, while the Conservatives have a problem collecting that information, they have absolutely no difficulty sharing the personal information of Canadian citizens, with not only the U.S. government, but frankly with governments all over the world, potentially including governments like Panama and Colombia.

If Canadians realized with whom their information was going to be shared, I am not sure they would not be protesting, right now, outside of this building. The reality is that the kind of information being shared is not just point of departure and point of arrival for any particular air flight, it includes things like credit card information. More troublesome than that, it includes personal medical information, which we would now be sharing at the drop of a dime, as soon as this legislation becomes law.

The Canadian government has done nothing to protect the personal information of Canadian citizens from being spread around. It is almost like the government wants to hit “reply all” and send it to any agency, any government, that might want this information. It is doing nothing to protect that information.

I find it passing strange that is being introduced by the government that is so unwilling to share its own information, government information, to which we, as members of Parliament, have a right. We saw that in the House this week. We could not get access to the costing of the government's justice bills. We could not get access to the projections of the cost of corporate tax cuts.

We could not even get a straight answer about what happened in committee on whether a certain minister inserted the word “not” into the submission on funding for KAIROS. That is an institution that we on this side of the House certainly fully support. We thought KAIROS should get funding from this government. The government is obfuscating what happened around that funding initiative, although I have to say the obfuscation is not particularly effective, since every Canadian seems to know about it. It has become an item in every single news outlet and media outlet all over the country.

The government is trying to protect itself from having to give out information about what it is doing, but it has no problem with widely disseminating information about its citizens.

I wonder if the member is at all troubled by that.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member that certainly the irony is not lost on me regarding Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act, in comparison with the long form census controversy. The lack of intrusion on the long form census and the so-called intrusion in this bill, I guess the ideology does not rub together. Nonetheless, I appreciate the member's comments.

I do appreciate the fact that in this particular case obviously there is more information which, under different circumstances, people would not want to sacrifice to any airline or any particular individual regarding their privacy. We find ourselves in a new age, a new era. Therefore, I think that the balance which needs to be achieved is close to being achieved here.

The Economy
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, the main priority of Quebec Conservatives is the economy in all regions of Quebec and our country.

It is clear that my constituents do not want an election. They do not understand why the Bloc leader and his members of Parliament are stubbornly making unreasonable demands for the upcoming budget, with the sole purpose of triggering a useless election.

The Conservative government is listening to Quebeckers in the regions. With our help and targeted investments, Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière have gotten concrete results across the riding. We have repaired our roads and bridges and have built viaducts as well as sports, community and multi-functional infrastructure.

Since 2006, a number of our government initiatives, such as Canada's economic action plan, have helped keep Quebec vibrant and strong, a reflection of today's Quebec.

I believe that the leadership of the people of Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière will bring hope for future generations.

John J. Nugent
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, this past week across Cape Breton many people mourned the loss of a community leader and a great Canadian. John J. Nugent had been fire chief for Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia for 31 years. He worked as a coal miner and postal worker. He was instrumental in the construction of a local fire hall and community centre which, fittingly, was named after him.

A dedicated fire chief, John made sure his department had the latest in training and equipment, making Sydney Mines one of the best volunteer fire departments in this country. John did not seek the spotlight, but demonstrated great courage by saving a boy from drowning in an ice-covered pond. For his actions, John was awarded the Star of Courage from the Governor General of Canada.

John J. Nugent was a father and grandfather and he will be missed by all who knew him, especially his family and friends. I urge all members of the House of Commons to remember him as an outstanding citizen. His legacy of community involvement will live on for future generations.

Port of Montreal
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

Luc Malo Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, on February 15, at a luncheon organized by the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, the President and CEO of the Port of Montreal provided an outlook on the global maritime industry. The future looks promising with sustained growth in container shipping and, given its geographic location, the Port of Montreal will reap the benefits.

The Port of Montreal will outgrow its current capacity by 2015, and Contrecoeur, in the riding of Verchères—Les Patriotes, was chosen as the expansion site. I, along with the eastern Montérégie CRE and officials from the RCM of Marguerite-D'Youville, was pleased with this announcement, as the decision will have major economic spinoffs for our region and for Quebec.

Given that the Port of Montreal is a true gateway to North America, we hope that the federal government will support this project, which will revitalize the economy and create wealth, notably through the gateways and border crossings fund, of which Quebec is still not receiving its fair share.

Harmonized Sales Tax
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, every day I receive desperate messages from seniors, unemployed workers and low-income constituents who live in fear regarding how they will manage their energy bills. Electricity rates alone have increased more than 26% in Ontario under the current provincial government.

People, especially seniors and lower income families, are falling further and further behind. The reality is without immediate government action, many of these people will lose their homes. I therefore call on the government to adopt the NDP proposal to take the federal portion of the HST off home heating costs and give Canadians a break on their utility bills.

The government has utterly failed Canadians when it comes to pension protection, environmental protection, job creation and respect for our veterans. Canadians do not ask for much, but they do have every right to expect a government that is prepared to look after bread and butter pocketbook issues. Some tax relief on energy bills would go a long way to keep the wolf from the door.

Family Physicians
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome three new doctors to the city of Williams Lake, B.C., which is in the great riding of Cariboo—Prince George.

There has been a critical shortage of doctors in Williams Lake over the last couple of years, so I would like to welcome with great joy Dr. Meandi Els, Dr. Billy Longland and Dr. Deléne Wassermann. These doctors are family physicians who have come to Canada from South Africa.

I am very proud of the role my riding office played, and my two wonder ladies, Jeanne and Soraya, who helped to facilitate these three doctors and their families coming to Canada, and indeed to Williams Lake, B.C.

Outstanding School Principal
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, education is the cornerstone of our country's efforts to grow and prosper. It is crucial to ensure that our children have access to a top-class learning environment.

At the heart of our educational institutions are the teachers and administrators who work tirelessly to provide knowledge to our children, which is why I am pleased to rise today to recognize Ms. Donna Manos for being named one of Canada's outstanding principals by the Learning Partnership.

Since 2007, Ms. Manos, the principal of Honoré-Mercier Elementary School in Saint-Léonard, has been working very hard to ensure that her students receive the best possible education, never hesitating to go the extra distance to meet the needs of every child.

As the member of Parliament for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, as a former school board trustee and as a parent who lives in the same riding, I am very proud to have Ms. Manos as a principal in one of our schools and I wish her every success in the performance of her duties.

Congratulations, Ms. Manos.

Donald Kwasny
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, let us pay tribute to Sergeant Donald Kwasny.

Don was born in a coal-mining town in Alberta in 1919. The oldest of eight children, he left school during the Depression to support his family.

As part of the First Armoured Brigade, Sergeant Kwasny served in England, Sicily and across Italy. In 1943 his unit fought its way up the Italian peninsula, sometimes in hand-to-hand combat.

He fought in the Battle of Monte Cassino, helped liberate Rome, advanced to Florence, and survived under a record 441 consecutive days of bombardment. He earned five medals for service and bravery.

Sergeant Kwasny went on to serve the Calgary police force for 31 years, becoming the sergeant of detectives.

Sadly, Sergeant Kwasny passed away in Calgary on January 11, at the age of 91, and was laid to rest with military and police honours.

He was a great and true Canadian hero.

Sarto Dupéré
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay tribute to a committed volunteer in my riding, Sarto Dupéré, who very much deserves the honour bestowed on him by the city of Blainville: the city's Order of Merit.

His volunteer career began with the scouting movement in Blainville in 1968. He has also been involved in the figure skating club, the Optimist Club, the Conseil régional des loisirs des Laurentides, the Camp quatre saisons and the Air Cadet sponsoring committee. He helped create the Fondation le Sentier de l'Entraide, whose mission is to provide last resort assistance to the most vulnerable individuals and families in Thérèse-De-Blainville. In more recent years, he helped establish the Centre 50+.

At 82, Mr. Dupéré remains young at heart and continues improving the lives of his fellow citizens through his commitment and his advice.

Congratulations, Mr. Dupéré, on this wonderful honour. You have earned our utmost respect.

Canada-U.S. Relations
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, while our economic recovery is still fragile, increasing the flow of goods and people with our largest trading partner will lead to stronger economic growth and more jobs.

Keeping our common borders open to commerce and closed to criminal activity and terrorist threats is the key to strengthening our sovereignty and solidifying our relationship with our southern neighbours.

The Canadian and American economies are intimately linked, with some 1.6 billion dollars' worth of goods crossing between our borders every day. Not only are we talking of goods, but people to people movement is also essential to foster this strong relationship.

Our co-operation is very unique in the world. The opposition needs to wake up to this reality.

On this issue, the opposition is acting like an ostrich with its head in the sand oblivious to what is happening around it.

Ed MacDonald
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a fellow elected official from my riding of Cape Breton--Canso.

Ed MacDonald, a former warden of Inverness County, passed away earlier this month.

Red Eddie, as he was known, had a distinguished career in municipal politics. Over a quarter century he was elected to nine terms as councillor and three terms as warden.

He was a true servant of the people he represented, anything but shy about making his voice heard when it came to speaking up for his constituents.

When asked to comment on Ed's legacy, long-time Port Hawkesbury mayor Billy Joe MacLean, who fought beside him on some issues and against him on a number of others, stated that in his career he had never come across anybody more stubborn or bull-headed than Red Eddie MacDonald. In speaking with Ed's wife, Mary Jess, a few days later, we agreed that Eddie would have worn those words as a badge of honour.

On behalf of my constituents of Cape Breton--Canso and members in the House, I offer my condolences to Mary Jess and all of Ed's family.

Taxation
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government is standing up for taxpayers at home and on the international stage. Last year, we successfully fought a global banking tax that would have hit millions of Canadians in their pocketbook. While others were forced to bail out their banks with taxpayer money, our banks survived without a dime of taxpayer money to bail them out.

Indeed, the World Economic Forum has ranked Canada's banks the soundest in the world for three straight years. However, the coalition does not agree. It wants higher taxes. The NDP has a bill to tax Canadian banking transactions, punishing hard-working Canadians' wallets directly and indirectly. We are stunned the NDP and its coalition partners yet again want to raise taxes on Canadians.

Rest assured, our Conservative government is committed to lower taxes. We have cut taxes for the average Canadian by $3,000 and will fight any new coalition tax hike.

Shipbuilding Industry
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, we have heard from Britain's House of Commons that Britain and Canada have been in serious discussions regarding the joint building of naval ships. Yet, even as it negotiates giving away Canadian jobs to other countries, the government continues to claim that it is fully committed to the national shipbuilding strategy; a strategy that we fought very hard for.

As the MP for Halifax, where the Halifax Graving Dock Company started in 1889 and the shipyard continues on today as part of Irving Shipbuilding, I am proud of the rich history of shipbuilders and shipbuilding throughout the Maritimes. It only makes sense to keep building ships in Halifax. We have the workers, the capacity, the history and the know-how.

Shipyard workers said they do not trust the government. The Conservatives broke their word on shipbuilding tariffs, and the people of Halifax are worried they will break their word again.

The government must stop endangering the jobs of Canadians and risk losing a century of skills. It is time to stand up and fight to keep these jobs in Halifax.

Immigration
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Tim Uppal Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, we would like to congratulate Canada's world cup cricket team, which gave England quite the scare this week with batsman Rizwan Cheema almost scoring a century. Best of luck in the weeks ahead.

Last year, our Conservative government welcomed the highest number of immigrants since 1957. Yet the Liberals cherry-pick statistics to say the numbers are going down, not up. I wish Liberals were not only in it for themselves.

Here are the facts. Conservatives increased economic immigration to historic highs. In 2011, we will help up to 65,000 mothers, fathers, husbands, wives and children immigrate here under the FC1 and FC4 family class programs. The Liberals, meanwhile, let backlogs expand and processing times explode.

Our Conservative government will continue to support immigration, including supporting cricket players in Canada, such as Rizwan Cheema and Tyson Gordon, while pursuing immigration policies that will attract the Canadian Sachin Tendulkar.

Louis Riel
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the third Monday in February is devoted to the memory of Louis Riel, who was hanged by the Conservative government of John A. Macdonald following the North-West rebellion of the Métis.

The struggle by Riel and the Métis resulted in the founding of Manitoba. Defending the rights of his people cost Riel his life. The day after Riel's hanging, Honoré Mercier, future nationalist Premier of Quebec, said, “Riel, our brother, is dead, victim of his devotion to the cause of the Métis of which he was leader; ... victim of the fanatism of Sir John and of some other friends of his; for the blood on their hands will forever signify their cowardice and tarnish their legacy.”

Today the Bloc Québécois is honouring the memory of Riel and the battle fought by the Métis for the advent of democracy in French Canada.

Thank you, Louis Riel.

Homeless World Cup of Soccer
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada's homeless population is somewhere between 200,000 and 300,000, and another 1.7 million struggle with housing affordability issues.

The Homeless World Cup of Soccer brings thousands of players together in a phenomenal once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play soccer for their country and change their lives forever. Their courage, determination and tremendous human spirit to overcome obstacles should be an inspiration to us all.

Street Soccer Canada has been sending teams to the Homeless World Cup since 2004 and for the first time, will send a women's team, as well as a men's team.

I hope everyone in the House will join me in congratulating our Canadian stars in making it to the World Cup. I hope members will take the opportunity to play Team Canada here on Parliament Hill this summer and send a message that we need a national strategy to fight homelessness.

Sponsorship Program
Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, it was also known as "adscam" or “sponsorgate”.

It has been over five years since Justice Gomery told Canadians the truth about the Liberals' shocking culture of deceit, entitlement and corruption in his report on the Liberal sponsorship scandal.

Canadians are still waiting for the Liberal Party to pay back the millions of dollars they stole from Canadian taxpayers in this disgusting breach of public trust. However, that has not stopped the man at the top from holding out his hand for another taxpayer funded payout.

Former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien will receive a $25,000 court-ordered payday for having suffered the inconvenience of a hearing on the corruption that took place on his watch.

Thankfully the culture of deceit, entitlement and corruption of the Liberal government is a thing of the past.

I again ask on behalf of Canadian taxpayers, where is the $40 million?

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, they have been called little white ones, they have been called big fat ones. Those who tell them are at risk of having their pants catch on fire.

What we know is that the Minister of International Cooperation is standing smack dab in the middle of one and we know that the Prime Minister refuses to do anything about it.

We have seen the contempt that has been shown for this place. We have seen the contempt that has been shown for truth.

The Prime Minister does not want to act. When will he fire the minister?

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I say to my friend from Cape Breton, we know no such thing.

Here is what we do know. We know that the minister made a difficult decision. She made a courageous decision to not provide a $7 million grant to this particular non-governmental organization because she felt that money could be better spent to help some of the world's most poor and vulnerable people.

The minister did the right thing.

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, it has been easier getting Hosni Mubarak out of the presidential palace in Cairo than it is to get truth out of the government.

What we know is the minister responsible for CIDA has misled Canadians in this chamber. She underlined those misstatements when she appeared before the standing committee.

Canadians want truth from their government. When they do not get that they expect the Prime Minister to show some integrity, to show some leadership. When will he replace the minister?

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, here is what the Minister of International Cooperation said in this House:

--but ultimately the decision to not provide funding was mine, as Minister of International Cooperation.

The minister communicated her decision to the department. What the minister did is work tremendously hard to help the most vulnerable people in the world rather than to provide funding to this non-governmental organization.

She has been a real leader in Haiti. She has been a real leader in Afghanistan. She has been a real leader in helping Canada's commitment to double our aid to Africa.

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has been pretty quick to throw other ministers under the bus. The difference this time is that he has been driving the bus. His DNA is all over this crime scene.

He wanted to silence his critics. The big hand of the PMO comes down and it has a pen in it. That pen writes across the application “not”.

That is not what we want. We cannot put up with this. Does the Prime Minister put up with the minister because it was he who put her up to it in the first place?

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I just read a quote from the minister. She said 11 times last year at a committee of this place that it was she, as Minister of International Cooperation, who made the decision.

She said in the House of Commons and again, I will repeat it for the member for Cape Breton—Canso:

--ultimately the decision to not provide funding was mine, as Minister of International Cooperation.

Let me say this. The minister made a difficult decision. She made a courageous decision. The minister made the right decision, to support the most vulnerable people in the world.

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, Voltaire said, approximately, “Lie, lie, there will always be something left.”

In the case of the Minister of International Cooperation, all she has left is her limousine. We know how she loves limousines and her seat at the cabinet table. That is also the case for the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, who might want to look in the mirror before accusing journalists of lying.

How can the Prime Minister tolerate such repugnant behaviour?

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the minister was clear. She has not stopped repeating it. She said it 10 times before a House committee and she also said it before the House: she made the decision to not approve funding for this organization. The minister made a difficult decision, but the right one, in order to help the most vulnerable people in Africa.

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians deserve better than that. For most Canadians, honourable conduct is very different than the conduct of the Conservatives. The bad example comes from the top.

Does the Prime Minister realize that by sending these two ministers to do his dirty work he is trying the patience of our citizens even more? Perhaps he is choosing to act this way because he is so cynical that it is exactly what he wants.

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, that is not at all the case.

The minister made the decision to not fund this non-governmental organization. She decided to spend this money in Africa, Haiti and Afghanistan to help the most vulnerable, and she has done a fantastic job as minister over the past five years. It is very important to point out that my colleague's assertions are false.

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is mounting pressure for the Minister of International Cooperation to resign. The three opposition parties have raised a question of privilege regarding the minister's misleading statements on the KAIROS file. Editorial writers and tens of thousands of citizens who have signed a petition are calling for her firing.

If the minister has any honour left, what is she waiting for to resign?

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, here are the facts: the minister made the difficult decision to refuse funding to this non-governmental organization. She told the House and the committee that she was the one who had made that decision, which I believe was the right one.

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the problem is that on April 23, 2010, she said the exact opposite. She said that CIDA had made the decision and that she had approved it.

Despite public pressure and our repeated demands, the Prime Minister insists on keeping her as the Minister of International Cooperation.

Did the Prime Minister personally intervene to cancel the KAIROS funding? Was it his decision, and is that why he is keeping the minister?

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the minister very clearly said that she was the one who made that decision. It cannot be more clear than that. She said it 11 times in committee and repeated it in the House.

I can repeat it again, for my dear Bloc colleague, that the minister made that decision herself. She was responsible for grants awarded by CIDA. She was responsible for decisions and she was the one who made them.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative House leader knows very well that that is not true.

This government, which claims to be tough on criminals, still has not frozen the Ben Ali family's assets. Everyone knows that the former dictator pillaged and extorted money from the people of Tunisia for years. Now Tunisians are demanding justice and have asked Canada to freeze that crook's assets.

Does the Minister of Foreign Affairs realize that, by refusing to freeze Ben Ali's assets, he is sending a message to the dictators of the world that Canada is a safe haven for anyone who wants to escape justice?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Mississauga—Erindale
Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, members of the Ben Ali regime are not welcome in Canada.

Canada is ready and willing to use all tools at our disposal, including working with the international community to support democracy in Tunisia.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, members of the Ben Ali family are expert money launderers and the Conservative government knows it. Every day of respite we give them is another opportunity for them to transfer their money to tax havens.

Does the government realize that its failure to act makes it an accomplice to those who stole from the people of Tunisia?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Mississauga—Erindale
Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, our government is working with the Tunisian government on this issue. We have communicated to the Tunisian government clearly and on several occasions the specific information necessary for Canada to freeze any assets in Canada. The government of Tunisia has not yet responded to our request.

We remain committed to working co-operatively to bring justice for the people of Tunisia.

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the government House leader used the word “courageous” eight times during question period, once describing a wounded veteran, but seven times referring to the Minister of International Cooperation, and twice already today.

Let us see, “courage” is misleading a parliamentary committee and pretending bureaucrats recommended this decision.

Real courage is showing leadership, acknowledging a mistake and taking responsibility.

When will the government stop talking its mindless talking points and take responsibility for this gross misconduct?

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it will not come as any surprise to my friend from Vancouver East that I reject the premise of her question.

The minister has been clear that she took the decision on behalf of her department. The minister is not one to go along just to get along. She is not afraid to take difficult decisions and I think she made a good decision in this regard.

Just because a non-governmental organization gets a grant from the government does not mean it has an entitlement to receive it in perpetuity.

The minister has done a lot to reform CIDA. She has done a lot to ensure that every single dollar allocated to support the most vulnerable in difficult and poor places on this earth can get the best result for the Canadian taxpayer.

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, is accountability a meaningless concept? Is answering a question actually beneath the Conservatives?

We have become accustomed to the Conservatives' methods, the promises of openness followed by secrecy, promises of transparency followed by withholding crucial financial information, promises to close revolving doors for lobbyists followed by unprecedented access to ministers, and now condoning of unethical behaviour.

Will the Conservatives grow up and take responsibility for these mistakes?

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it is this government that brought in the Federal Accountability Act, the toughest anti-corruption legislation in Canadian history. It clamped down and made major reforms to the lobbyists registry, made major reforms to eliminate the influence of big money, and made major reforms to ensure that we had an independent Ethics Commissioner who did not simply work as a staffer in the PMO, something that was absent in the 13 long years of the previous Liberal government.

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, ever since Embassy magazine uncovered the doctored document exposing the minister's sneaky conduct, Conservatives have concluded that twisted talking points, not honesty, was the best policy.

CIDA officials recommended funding KAIROS because it was devoted to helping others, defending human rights and helping build democracy. Yet Conservatives cut funding to organizations like KAIROS, based on ideology not aid effectiveness.

When will the government acknowledge that foreign aid should be based on good policy and effective work? When will it reinstate KAIROS' funding?

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I think the minister has been very clear that she was the one who took the decision with respect to not providing the $7 million grant to an organization.

Let me read a quote from her deputy, the president of CIDA, a well-respected public servant, who said:

This is quite normal, and I certainly was aware of her decision. The inclusion of the word “not“ is just a simple reflection of what her decision was—

I do not know what kind of stand the New Democrat Party would like to take, but in this party and this government, elected officials make decisions, and that is the way it should be.

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Lise Zarac LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is serious enough that the Minister of International Cooperation falsified documents and misled the House, but it is even more disturbing to see who the minister attacked with her fraudulent ways.

Since 1967, Development and Peace has undertaken nearly 14,000 projects and delivered over $440 million in international aid. Denying funding to KAIROS hurts Development and Peace.

What do the Conservatives have against Development and Peace?

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Newmarket—Aurora
Ontario

Conservative

Lois Brown Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, our government is working to make sure that aid is efficient, effective and focused.

We want to ensure that our assistance is getting into the hands of those who need it the most. Our aid effectiveness agenda is focusing assistance on food security, children and youth, and sustainable economic development.

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Lise Zarac LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, following the tsunami in Indonesia, Development and Peace helped rebuild 3,000 victims' homes. Nearly half of Development and Peace's aid goes to South America, more than one-third goes to Africa and the rest goes primarily to Asia. Canadians did not give anyone the mandate to abandon the poorest people in the world.

How can the Conservatives have the gall to attack an organization of such merit and, on top of it all, commit fraud to do it?

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Newmarket—Aurora
Ontario

Conservative

Lois Brown Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, as I said before, our government is working to make sure that aid is getting to the people who need it the most.

I would like to tell the House about some of the amazing projects that we are working on. Last week I announced the international aboriginal youth internships initiative. Each year, 140 Canadian aboriginal youth will have the opportunity to work in developing countries on Canadian-supported development projects with recognized organizations. That is getting the job done.

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, contrary to the House leader's claim, the Conservatives are taking foreign aid away from the poorest of the poor and giving it to the wealthiest of the wealthy.

Barrick Gold, Canada's largest and wealthiest mining company, with a market capitalization of $47 billion, is the happy beneficiary of a half billion dollar corporate social responsibility grant in Peru.

Is that what the House leader had in mind when he said that the KAIROS decision was based on focusing limited funds to help the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable in the developing world?

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Newmarket—Aurora
Ontario

Conservative

Lois Brown Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the opportunity to clean up something that he misled the House about last week.

Barrick Gold has received absolutely no money from the Canadian government or CIDA. The pilot project to which the member refers started in 2009. It is putting local Peruvians to work as part of a reforestation program. Barrick Gold has contributed over $150,000 to this project, and we would like to see more companies get involved in corporate social responsibility.

We welcome support from Canadian companies that want to help the world's poor.

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is a wonderful example of reverse Robin Hood.

Sudan just went through a painful and bitter and, some would say, genocidal separation of northern and southern Sudan. KAIROS has been there for years attempting to bring peace and democracy. Just as the people of Southern Sudan embraced peace and democracy, the CIDA minister, at the direction of the Prime Minister, cut KAIROS' funding and KAIROS was forced to close its office and abandon Sudan.

Is this just one more example of what the House leader had in mind when he said that the KAIROS decision was based on helping the poorest of the poor?

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Newmarket—Aurora
Ontario

Conservative

Lois Brown Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, I reiterate that our government is working to make sure that aid is efficient, effective and focused. We want to ensure that every assistance dollar that we put out there is getting into the hands of those who need it the most.

Natural Resources
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, the obscene subsidies given to the oil companies by the Conservatives are making taxpayers in Quebec and in the rest of Canada sick. According to a major poll, the majority of people are calling for an end to these tax gifts. Public funds should instead be used to reduce our dependence on oil.

When will this government stop sparing the oil companies? When will it require them to pay their fair share of taxes?

Natural Resources
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable
Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, again, the Bloc Québécois is trying to be divisive on energy policy. It is important to realize that, with the oil sands and its energy resources, Canada can be an energy superpower, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in this country. It is no secret that the energy sector will help the economy to grow and rebound in the years to come.

Government Spending
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, in addition to helping the oil companies, which already earn indecent profits, the Conservatives are paying close attention to Ontario automobile manufacturers, which are once again asking for public money. But the Conservatives just gave them $10 billion.

When will the Conservatives realize that it is now Quebec's turn to get its share and that it is time to help the sectors that have too often been abandoned, like the forestry and aerospace industries, or, more generally, Quebec's manufacturing industry?

Government Spending
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable
Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, they are completely disconnected. Canada Economic Development is more active than ever in our regions. We have never seen anything like it. In the forestry industry, there was $1 billion for the community development trust, $1 billion for the community assistance fund. The members opposite voted against this and I still hear them screaming. How ineffective can they be? There was $1 billion for pulp and paper green transformation programs, an announcement at Tembec in Matane and an announcement at Domtar in Windsor.

They have the audacity to stroll around their ridings and take credit for our measures, and then they come crying here for no reason.

Davie Shipyard
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, when it comes time to help businesses in the west and Ontario, the Conservative government answers the call. But when it comes to Quebec businesses, the Conservatives create roadblocks.The Superior Court has given the Davie shipyard an extension in order to restructure, but this week the Conservatives amended the largest request for proposals in the history of Canadian shipbuilding to keep the company from bidding.

Why is the government doing everything possible to try to prevent the Lévis-based shipyard from bidding?

Davie Shipyard
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove
Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, in fact, the Davie shipyard is welcome to bid on these contracts. We obviously encourage that, but companies that are doing business with the Government of Canada do have to be solvent. That is a requirement to be able to bid on these contracts.

Davie Shipyard
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives got elected by saying that being in government was the way to be heard. However, the people of Lévis are realizing that their member, a Conservative, is not able to guarantee that Quebec will get its share of shipbuilding contracts. What is worse, they are realizing that he is part of a government that is trying to push Lévis aside and favour the shipyards in Halifax and Vancouver.

Why did the Conservatives amend the request for proposals at the last minute just to hurt this shipyard in Lévis?

Davie Shipyard
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove
Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, this is a very competitive process, but it is an open, fair and transparent process that is under way, and it is arm's length.

Importantly, there is an independent fairness monitor who has just issued a draft report. He has stated that, in his opinion, the decisions that have been made have been made objectively, free from personal favouritism and political influence, and they encompass the elements of openness, competitiveness, transparency and compliance. That is exactly how we will continue to run this process.

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Jean-Claude D'Amours Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, less than two weeks after the Prime Minister claimed border integration between Canada and the United States, he has already failed Canadians twice.

First, President Obama introduced a $5.50 border tax for Canadian travellers, and now in the U.S. Congress a proposed freight fee that would cost importers and exporters over $100 million a day. That is over $40 billion a year. We Canadians are being asked to fix the American deficit.

How did the Conservatives screw this up so fast?

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, first let me be very clear that this is a proposed bill and is not law and it is a very bad idea, just like the passenger inspection fee proposed in the draft 2012 budget.

We want to ensure that trade and travel between our countries is easier, not more difficult. We will do everything we can as a government to make sure that happens.

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Jean-Claude D'Amours Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, they are the ones who want this agreement.

The United States is in the midst of a debt crisis and that is only the tip of the iceberg. Despite this, a Conservative senator is proposing a sort of integration that would include a joint assembly, like the European Union.

Do Canadians want their policies to be dictated by the Tea Party and the Republicans? Will the Conservatives be able to tell the difference between co-operation and assimilation?

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, we want to ensure that trade and travel between our two countries is made easier, not more difficult. This kind of a tax would have harmful and negative long-lasting effects on trade that is vital to the economies on both sides of the border. It is one of the reasons why our government has been clear that we will not raise taxes in the upcoming federal budget, unlike the hon. member opposite.

Public Safety
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister continues to show his contempt for Parliament and for the Canadians who send us here by refusing to table the real cost estimates for his Conservative government's crime legislation.

Take, for example, Bill S-9, the auto theft bill. The documents tabled yesterday say it would only cost $600,000. That is only enough money to incarcerate roughly seven more criminals each year. That is not only ridiculous, it is an insult to the intelligence of Canadians.

Why is the government hiding the real cost of this legislation from taxpayers?

Public Safety
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I wish, for once, the Liberal Party would talk about the costs of crime to the victims who suffer from crime.

We tabled in the House a response to the questions that the Liberal members requested. What about the cost to insurance? What about the cost to victims when their cars are stolen, particularly in the city of Winnipeg where the number of automobiles that are stolen is incredibly high?

I would like to ask the Liberals, would they for once consider the cost to victims of crime?

Public Safety
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what we are asking for: the costs. According to documents tabled yesterday, 13 crime bills will not cost a single penny.

The Conservatives are seriously trying to make us believe that it will not cost anything to keep prisoners in their cells, that it will not cost anything to feed them and that prison guards are volunteers.

What fairy tale is the Minister of Public Safety living in?

Public Safety
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the information that we tabled before Parliament yesterday is in response to the questions the Liberals asked.

One of the bills that will cost a significant amount of money is the truth in sentencing bill. This is the terrible situation where criminals get a two-for-one benefit to their sentencing.

Interestingly enough, when the bill passed Parliament on June 8, the Liberals made no request for how much this would cost. They are now asking how much it will cost after they voted for it.

Why did they not do their job and ask these questions before they supported this important legislation?

Finance
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Mr. Speaker, while the Liberals launch a tour to promote their Liberal leader's reckless $6 billion tax hike, our Conservative government is standing up for lower taxes at home and abroad.

On the global stage we are fighting a global financial transaction tax on Canadians. This tax would hit Canadians in their wallets, taking their hard-earned money out of our local communities to fund an unprecedented global tax.

Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance please tell the House what our Conservative government is doing to oppose reckless tax hikes?

Finance
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to answer that question.

Our Conservative government believes in low taxes, not higher taxes. We are fighting against the Liberal tax hike on job-creating businesses. We oppose any global financial transaction tax on Canadians as well. Unfortunately, the Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition does not agree.

I am absolutely shocked to report that the NDP member for Burnaby—New Westminster is introducing a bill to impose a financial transaction tax on Canadians. We will fight against a new coalition tax both--

Finance
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order. The hon. member for Burnaby--New Westminster.

International Trade
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, just like everything else, the government now has a major problem with its botched trade agreement between Canada and the European Union.

Last week, we learned that this agreement will result in increased drug prices. Today, we learned that Canada's automobile industry is also threatened by this agreement. People are worried that Canada's automobile industry is being sold at a rock-bottom price.

What does this government intend to do to reject this faulty deal now that this sector has joined the likes of agriculture, arts and the municipalities? What will they do now that this agreement—

International Trade
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

International Trade
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear. The member is simply incorrect in his entire statement.

Canadian manufacturers compete with the best in the world. They can count on our government to continue to open markets and allow them to do this. A trade agreement with the European Union could boost Canada's economy by $12 billion. That includes improvements for sectors across the Canadian economy.

Negotiations are ongoing. There is no agreement yet. The hon. member and Canadians can rest assured that any agreement will be in the best interests of Canadians.

International Trade
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is not what the auto sector is saying.

We have seen what the Conservatives can do. They badly botched negotiations on softwood lumber, costing our softwood communities $1.2 billion and counting, and 50,000 jobs. Our companies are still being denied access to the U.S. because of botched buy American negotiations.

The auto sector now joins other sectors to say no to the botched EU negotiations.

How can we trust a government so willing to sell out Canadian jobs? It does not do its homework. It does not do its due diligence. It is incompetent at the negotiating table. How can we trust Conservatives when they have failed Canadians again and again?

International Trade
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I will tell the member what our government is committed to.

We are committed to promoting free trade, opening new markets and creating jobs for Canadians, unlike the member opposite and his party who are committed to creating higher taxes and having jobs leave Canada for the rest of the world. We want jobs to stay in Canada.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Josée Beaudin Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, in advance of the next budget, the Bloc Québécois has toured Quebec to get a sense of what Quebeckers expect; more than ever, a comprehensive reform of the employment insurance system is necessary. Older workers, seasonal workers, young victims of discriminatory clauses, independent workers and women working part time came forward to denounce the flaws in the system.

Instead of misappropriating EI contributions, will the government finally start improving the system?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk
Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, during the global recession, we have introduced a number of initiatives to help those most affected by the global recession. That is why we had programs for long-tenured workers, in order to increase the benefit period by five weeks. We have a number of other programs, including programs to train workers for another job, another career, after the recession. However, the Bloc voted against all our initiatives.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Josée Beaudin Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, instead of improving the employment insurance system, the Conservatives are limiting access to EI by not renewing the pilot project for regions with a high rate of seasonal employment. In the Gaspé and on the Magdalen Islands, this change has had dramatic consequences.

Will the government show some compassion and reinstate pilot project No. 13 to help seasonal workers?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk
Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, the government is using pilot projects to determine whether one idea or another will achieve the government's goals. Since this government is accountable to Canada's taxpayers and this pilot project did not achieve our goals, we abolished it.

Taxation
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, victims of Earl Jones have been defrauded of their life savings by a man who cared not one bit for their well-being despite the trusting exterior he projected. His victims are not only victims of a con artist, they are also victims of the federal taxman.

The Canada Revenue Agency has refused to reimburse the victims of Earl Jones the taxes they paid on years of fictitious income.

Where is the CRA when victims of white-collar crime come knocking to ask for their money back?

Taxation
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Oxford
Ontario

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, this is ironic. This issue came up in the House this week with Bill C-59. The victims of Earl Jones have been very clear on their expectations of the party opposite. They have been sadly let down. They were the first to tell us that.

I wish the member would have stood in his place and supported Bill C-59, but he remained silent.

Taxation
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about money that belongs to the victims of Earl Jones that the government is sitting on and earning interest on. For years the victims of Earl Jones paid taxes on money they actually paid to themselves. In other words, the so-called interest they received and were taxed on was paid out of their own capital. Earl Jones recycled their money as part of his scheme.

Why can the government not understand this and give the victims of Earl Jones their money back? Why is the government sitting on taxes paid on fictitious income?

Taxation
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Oxford
Ontario

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I can tell the member that the victims of Earl Jones and other large frauds wonder what that party did for 13 years. They wonder what that party is doing right now on Bill C-59 and why those members did not support the bill.

It is high time that members listened to their constituents. I know that Senator Larry Smith is listening to constituents. I wish the Liberals would.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, Canada committed at the Cancun climate change negotiations to deliver a national low-carbon development strategy, but while the world waits and watches, the government does nothing. Despite promises at the G20 to end perverse subsidies to fossil fuels, it continues to give billions to coal-fired power and oil sands while investing peanuts on alternative energy solutions.

Time is running out. Why will the government not level the playing field for cleaner energy solutions and give Canada a clean energy future? Where is the strategy, and who is being consulted?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order. The hon. Minister of Natural Resources.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable
Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, it is very ironic to hear the member stand in the House to say that we did not invest a lot in the energy sector when we made a lot of historic investments.

We are going to a clean energy superpower. What did the member and her party do in the House of Commons? They stood up and voted against the budget. This is unacceptable.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, Canada committed under the NAFTA environment agreement to directly engage concerned Canadians in decisions impacting the environment, yet Canadians remain shut out.

The government supported my motion for a comprehensive public review of environment and safety risks from unconventional oil and gas development, but it refused to commission the review.

The Conservatives ran on a platform of openness and transparency, but opposed my bill to enshrine Canadians' rights to participate and hold the government accountable.

Will the government finally deliver on these promises and support passage of Bill C-469?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, it is a very simple answer: no.

Counter-Drug Operations
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians do not want illegal drugs in our communities. We do not want the problems that illegal drugs bring to the communities.

Our government has brought in strong measures to fight the illegal drug trade with new, tough crime laws, but illegal drugs are a scourge against which many countries around the world are fighting.

Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence update us on the things that Canadian Forces are doing in this international fight against illegal drugs?

Counter-Drug Operations
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Edmonton Centre
Alberta

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, today we welcome home the crews of HMCS Toronto and two Aurora surveillance planes.

They have been working through the past month with the U.S. Coast Guard in the Caribbean Sea on a counter-drug operation called Op CARIBBE. They intercepted 1,650 kilograms of cocaine worth $33 million. The men and women from HMCS Toronto prevented these drugs from entering Canada and other North American communities.

Since Op CARIBBE started in 2006, over 1,000 metric tons of illegal drugs have been prevented from entering Canada, the United States and other countries.

Canadians can be proud of the impressive ability of the Canadian Forces to work with other nations to tackle problems like illegal drugs which challenge our safety and security.

Health
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government's response on MS has been totally inadequate: a scientific working group with no CCSVI experts; a review of a handful of papers; no contacting of international experts; no asking for unpublished data.

An estimated 12,500 liberation procedures have been undertaken worldwide while Canadians wait for seven studies which are still in the planning stage.

How can the minister claim to be moving ahead quickly?

Health
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Nunavut
Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to moving as quickly as possible on the best available science, and is working with the MS Society, the MS clinics, and the provinces and the territories to ensure that all Canadians living with this disease receive scientifically valid information.

We are moving as quickly as possible based on best available science. Let me quote Dr. Marc Girard, president of the Quebec Association of Neurologists, who said:

Now more than ever, these studies are necessary so as to better understand the prevalence of CCSVI and determine how research should proceed with respect to the approach proposed by--

Health
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Vaudreuil-Soulanges.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Vaudreuil-Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, Abousfian Abdelrazik is asking to be taken off the UN Security Council's 1267 list, since he has been cleared of any suspicion.

My colleague, the hon. member for Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, wrote to the Prime Minister about this three months ago. The Prime Minister replied that he would transfer responsibility for this file to the Minister of Public Safety. This week, that minister wrote to us indicating that he was transferring the file to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. This game has gone on long enough.

Who will give this file some serious attention to ensure that Mr. Abdelrazik is removed from that list?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Calgary East
Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as we have stated on many occasions, there is a process in which one can delist oneself from the no-fly list. We have encouraged the lawyers of Mr. Abdelrazik to go through that process.

There is a process and people should follow that process.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, average family debt in Canada now tops $100,000. That is $1.50 owed for every $1 earned, and since the recession began, the number of middle-class families falling behind on their mortgage payments has skyrocketed.

Under the Conservative government, less than half of unemployed Canadians qualify for EI, meaning even a short-term job loss can be devastating.

When will the government start to pay attention to the plight of Canadians and fix the EI system so that they can have access to the benefits that they paid for?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk
Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out to the House and to Canadians, the people who do pay for EI, that over 80% have access to it. In fact, well over 90% have access to EI benefits.

During the recent global recession we made sure that we were delivering their payments to them on time. In fact, we increased the standards of payment, made sure that Canadians received them. We also enhanced EI during the recession offering an additional five weeks of benefits and making sure there was training available to help Canadians get the skills they need for tomorrow.

Unfortunately, that member voted against each of these--

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please. The hon. member for Palliser.

Canadian Forces
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, our Canadian Forces members work tirelessly to protect Canadians and our values at home and abroad. These men and women, who have sacrificed so much, deserve to be taken care of before and after their missions.

Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence tell us what the government is doing to help our serving Canadian Forces members and our veterans?

Canadian Forces
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Edmonton Centre
Alberta

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, our government recognizes our obligations to CF members and veterans.

Today, the Minister of National Defence announced $7 million to support the establishment of five new joint personnel support units, bringing the total to 24. These centres would provide a one-stop access to services like vocational rehab, mental and physical health resources, advice on financial support programs, information about Veterans Affairs programs, et cetera.

Last fall, we announced the legacy of care program for critically injured members. We have almost doubled the number of mental health professionals and we have invested in state-of-the-art rehab equipment.

Our government will continue to provide the best for our men and women in uniform, who do the very best for us each and every day.

Health
Oral Questions

Noon

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, the health minister claims she is working with the MS Society. However, the society is asking the federal government for at least $10 million for research into CCSVI, including clinical trials if and when warranted. The society is also pushing all levels of government to create registries to track Canadians who have been treated outside of Canada.

Will the minister listen to MS patients and take a leadership role in coordinating and funding this work?

Health
Oral Questions

Noon

Nunavut
Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, we have established an expert working group to monitor and analyze the results from the MS Society-sponsored studies already under way, both in Canada and in the United States. The provinces, the territories and the federal government have also agreed to move forward to clinical trials once the evidence is available and that was confirmed in September. The provinces, the territories, the medical experts, the MS Society in Canada and in the U.S. are all working together in moving this research forward.

Public Safety
Oral Questions

Noon

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, we all agree that people wanting to work with Canada's most vulnerable must be thoroughly screened. That is why vulnerable sector screening is now required for teachers, social workers, taxi drivers, daycare workers, sport coaches, and many more. However, delays in processing are now costing jobs and valuable services to our communities.

The minister knows it because he announced new fingerprint scanners that would expedite checks. However, he did not announce any money for police forces to actually buy the machines.

Instead of giving photo ops, will the minister commit today to actually give funding?

Public Safety
Oral Questions

Noon

Oxford
Ontario

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, in fact, this government has put a great deal of money into this whole program. We are working with law-abiding Canadians who selflessly give their time to coach and volunteer with vulnerable groups such as children. That is why we are pleased to announce the live scan technology will reduce waiting time for the vulnerable sector checks. It is good news for volunteers and vulnerable Canadians who deserve the best protection possible.

Airport Fees
Oral Questions

Noon

Bloc

Robert Carrier Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, in order to avoid airport fees, more and more tourists from Canada and Quebec are driving to the U.S. to catch flights. According to a survey conducted by the Association des hôteliers du Québec, one-third of vacationers are using this strategy. Billions of dollars in economic spinoffs are being lost by hotel operators, airports and airlines in Quebec and Canada because of the federal government's avarice.

When will this government revise its policy on airport taxes and fees?

Airport Fees
Oral Questions

Noon

Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, this Conservative government supports a strong and competitive Canadian airline industry. We understand there are concerns. We are continuing to look at the situation, just like all situations, for the interests of Canadians.

However, there are many factors influencing a passenger's decision on which airport to use, including convenience, connectivity and routes.

It is also worth noting that the Bloc Québécois voted against every investment that this government made in Quebec, including every infrastructure investment, new roads, new bridges, et cetera. Its members should be ashamed of themselves.

Nisga'a Final Agreement 2008-09 Annual Report
Routine Proceedings

Noon

Kenora
Ontario

Conservative

Greg Rickford Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the Nisga'a Final Agreement 2008-09 Annual Report.

Canadian Cord Blood Collection Act
Routine Proceedings

Noon

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-630, an Act respecting the collection of cord blood in Canada.

Mr. Speaker, the bill calls on the Minister of Health to convene a national conference with the provincial and territorial health ministers to determine the most effective strategy for establishing, administering and funding a national cord blood bank.

Blood that is found in the umbilical cord of a newborn infant is composed of stem cells which can be collected safely, ethically and without controversy. These stem cells have been used for over 20 years in the treatment of many conditions and diseases, including anemia, leukemia and sickle cell disease, and at an experimental level for the treatment of autoimmune disorders such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis and vascular disorders.

Canadians would benefit from a national bank. The provinces and territories of Canada have determined there is a need for a national collection, which would be subject to our own safety standards and would increase the probability of a match inside our country.

I hope all hon. members will join me in supporting the bill.

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

International Trade
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills
Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Minister of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, I believe if you seek it you will find unanimous agreement for the following motion. I move:

That, in relation to its study on Canada-United States trade relations, twelve members of the Standing Committee on International Trade be authorized to travel to Washington, District of Columbia, in February/March 2011, and that the necessary staff accompany the committee.

International Trade
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Does the hon. Chief Government Whip have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

International Trade
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

International Trade
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

International Trade
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

International Trade
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to)

Cattle Industry
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured today to present a petition signed by numerous cattle producers from southwestern Ontario. Many Canadians have forgotten that on May 20, 2003, a single case of BSE was discovered in Alberta causing a series of events that has devastated the cattle industry. Many of the cattle farmers I have spoken with have told me that the prospect for a full recovery for the cattle industry remains unlikely in the immediate or foreseeable future.

As the federal government is fully aware, a class action lawsuit was launched in 2005 and has now been certified and is proceeding to trial.

The 135,000 hard-working Canadian farm families and the signatures on this petition call on the Government of Canada to appoint the Honourable Mr. Justice Frank Iacobucci as mediator to facilitate a settlement between the Government of Canada and the cattle farmers.

I hope the federal government strongly considers the ongoing financial and emotional hardships caused by this event to these families when responding to this petition.

Social Housing
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am presenting a petition with 120 signatures, which calls on the federal government not to make cuts in the renovation budget for low income housing.

In Quebec, 544 housing offices produced a health impact assessment proving that major renovations to low income housing are needed. The federal government is responsible in part for this situation because it did not invest enough in the maintenance and renovation of low income housing built in Quebec starting in the early 1970s.

In Quebec, 65,000 families live in low income housing. This work will protect the sustainability of housing stock worth more than $7 billion. The Société d'habitation du Québec needs this funding, which the federal government considers to be adequate.

That is why 120 people are asking the Government of Canada to make the required public investment enabling Société d'habitation du Québec to complete its renovation plan for low income housing, which includes covering an accumulated maintenance deficit.

Canada Health Act
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table a petition in the House signed by Canadians from across Ontario calling on the House of Commons to enshrine the Canada Health Act and the five principles of medicare in the Canadian Constitution to guarantee the national standards of quality for publicly funded health care for every Canadian citizen as a right.

The petitioners express their belief that this would protect the five principles of medicare: universal coverage, accessibility, portability, comprehensive coverage, and federal funding based on non-profit administration in the provision of health care.

National Defence
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a second petition from residents of Calgary, Alberta, who are urging the House to hold hearings on the 65 F-35 joint strike fighters.

The petitioners express concern about the roughly $30 billion estimated cost over 30 years, and they express concern about the procedure to approve the cost without open public hearings to review the cost and the need for the joint strike fighters, and to balance those off with the need for icebreakers for the Arctic, transport aircraft, military and civilian personnel, and a major boost to the diplomatic corps, as well as the needs for the environment, health and education.

Right to Life
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions.

In the first one, the petitioners note that Canada is a country that respects human rights, including the right to life. They note that it has been over 20 years since Canada has had a law to protect unborn children.

The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to pass legislation that will protect human life from conception until natural death.

Pensions
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, in the second petition, the petitioners note that if people are to receive old age security currently, they must have contributed to Canadian society for at least 10 years. The petitioners note that there is a private member's bill, Bill C-428, An Act to amend the Old Age Security Act (residency requirement), that would reduce that requirement to three years.

The petitioners are calling upon Parliament to defeat that legislation. They believe the 10-year requirement is reasonable.

Multiple Sclerosis
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present another petition today regarding chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency.

MS patients are frustrated, as they are being told to wait for the results of seven studies to which there are already answers. International studies show that 80% to 97% of MS patients have one or more venous abnormalities, depending on the diagnostic or treatment method used.

An estimated 12,500 liberation procedures have been undertaken worldwide, while Canadians wait for seven studies that are still in the planning stage.

Four hundred people die of MS each year in Canada. Many of them take their own lives.

We have been calling for clinical trials and a registry since the spring. The petitioners are calling for clinical trials with diagnosis, treatment and follow-up in Canada.

Canada Health Act
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition today asking the federal government to preserve and enforce the Canada Health Act and the foundation of medicare in every province and region of Canada, and maintain the five principles of medicare.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to enshrine the Canada Health Act and the five principles of medicare in the Canadian Constitution to guarantee national standards of quality, publicly funded health care for every Canadian citizen as a right.

I would like to thank Russ Rak, a CAW Local 222 retired worker, who has actually taken the time to engage citizens in his community and to raise this very important issue with them, in asking them to sign these petitions. Russ Rack is to be congratulated for this. He and I both look forward to the answer from the minister.

Employment Insurance
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise once more to talk about the EI pilot projects that were recently extended into June.

However, the petitioners from the province of Newfoundland and Labrador draw to the attention of the House of Commons their desire to see these pilot projects extended indefinitely on a permanent basis.

The pilot projects are beneficial to the area, especially the policy concerning the best 14 weeks to be used in the calculation of the benefit rate. If the last 14 weeks are used, it becomes an impediment to employment, not only to them but also to employers in the seasonal work industry. The latter will be unable to find people willing to work for the shorter weeks, given the fact that the rate will be reduced. That becomes an impediment to work and is bad for the employers.

These petitioners, primarily from Trouty and Sweet Bay, as well as Port Blandford, want to see these pilot projects made permanent in order to increase benefits from EI.

Canada Health Act
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, as a member of the party of Tommy Douglas, the father of Canadian medicare, I proudly rise to present a petition from Ontarians.

The petitioners request that the federal government preserve and enforce the Canada Health Act, the foundation of medicare, in every province and region of Canada and maintain the five principles of medicare: universal coverage, accessibility, portability, comprehensive coverage, and federal funding based on non-profit administration in the provision of health care.

These petitioners further call on the Parliament of Canada to enshrine the Canada Health Act and those five important principles in the Canadian Constitution so that the right of Canadians to national standards and quality publicly funded health care is absolutely guaranteed.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:15 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, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Statements by Minister of International Cooperation Regarding KAIROS
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do have a question of privilege and I also have a point of order. They are related, but I would like to begin with the question of privilege.

Yesterday, we heard in the House from the member for Scarborough—Guildwood and the member for Ottawa Centre about the question of the Minister of International Cooperation and the belief and allegations that the minister has deliberately misled the House and the committee.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to add some information on that same question of privilege by bringing to your attention a very recent ruling from the legislature of Saskatchewan. It is a speaker's ruling from Tuesday, May 4, 2010. It has to do with representations by a minister and, in this particular case, whether or not the minister of health had committed contempt by purposely misleading the assembly about a particular matter.

While I will not go into the case, I do want to quote a section of that speaker's ruling, because I believe it will assist you, Mr. Speaker, in your deliberations on the matter before you.

The speaker from the Saskatchewan legislature said:

The charge that a member has made deliberately misleading statements, if well-founded, has been treated as contempt by this Legislative Assembly and other parliaments. On November 3, 2009, I addressed another case of alleged contempt for misleading statements. In that case I referenced precedents that established differences in the way such cases are treated in Saskatchewan compared to other jurisdictions. I will not repeat those precedents except to say they are dated November 18, 1975 and July 13, 1982. These precedents established that in Saskatchewan, the threshold of proof of an offence is not restricted to an admission of guilt. Contempt has been found on the basis of evidence. In this situation the minister has not admitted to have misled the Assembly so the case must be reviewed on the documentary evidence provided by the Opposition House Leader.

The speaker in the Saskatchewan legislature, in his ruling, then went on to look at the evidence in that particular case. I will not go into that, but I do want to quote the conclusion of the speaker in Saskatchewan:

Because of these troubling questions and inconsistencies, I find there is sufficient evidence and reason to warrant the Assembly taking up this question, and as such find that a prima facie case has been established.

I believe that in this ruling, the speaker in Saskatchewan clearly established that the test is not the member's statement in reply to an allegation, but it is actually the evidence before the speaker that establishes the prima facie case. I do think that is relevant to the case that was put yesterday in the House.

Mr. Speaker, I know that you have yet to hear from the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader, but I hope you will consider this information from Saskatchewan relevant to your deliberation.

Statements by Minister of International Cooperation Regarding KAIROS
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

12:20 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, I want to reply to the alleged privilege matters raised yesterday by the members for Scarborough—Guildwood, Ottawa Centre, and Joliette and to today's intervention by the member for Vancouver East. These relate to the content of the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs that was also tabled yesterday.

The sixth report contains a series of quotations taken from evidence gathered earlier by the committee while it was examining a decision of the government relating to a funding application by KAIROS. Those quotations are clear and easily understood.

There are no accusations or other suggestions in the sixth report that the rights or dignity of the House has been compromised. Questions are put and answers are given. There are no indications that the minister or officials refused to answer the questions put to them. There is no suggestion or evidence in the record that the committee has been misled, either unintentionally or deliberately.

The committee concluded:

In light of other information before the House, your Committee wishes to draw attention to what appears to be a possible breach of privilege and recommends that the House consider all relevant documents and ministerial and other statements and take such measures as deemed necessary.

No direct accusation of any sort is contained in the body of the report, no contravention of any aspect of the law of privilege is enunciated, and no person is accused of anything. There are no contradictions of fact, there are no incongruities in testimony and no indication of what the “other information before the House” might be. There is nothing.

What is the matter of privilege that should be examined? What is the prima facie case? Who is accused of what? I do not know. The members of the House do not know. You do not know, Mr. Speaker. The media do not know and Canadians do not know. Why do we not know? It is because the committee has said nothing by way of accusation. What charge is there to be answered? None of us know. There is no accusation.

The member for Scarborough—Guildwood used this report as the basis of a complaint asking that the Speaker find a prima facie case of privilege. However, since the committee transmitted no grievance, the member's accusations are apparently based on something for which there is no reference or evidence in the committee report.

I respectfully suggest that it is not open for a committee to report that an undescribed and undefined breach of privilege may have occurred, as that would then open the door for any member of the House to make a new accusation without the support of the committee.

What does the member say is the breach of privilege? Yesterday, the member accused the Minister of International Cooperation of contempt for the House, in that she had “deliberately attempted to mislead the House by way of a statement” and “that she knew or ought to have known that the statements to the House were either false or an attempt to mislead”.

That is the accusation by the member, not the committee. Let me repeat: it is by the member, not the committee.

What is the evidence put forward by the member? He cites testimony from the December 9 meeting, and a reasonable reading of that exchange cannot substantiate his charge. The minister is precise in her answers and they are clear in meaning. There is no double meaning or other deception.

In particular, there was an exchange in answer to a simple question about whether the minister knew who had written in the word “not” to signify the minister's decision. There was nothing before the committee, and nothing now in its report before the House, to suggest that the answer was inaccurate. Once again, there was nothing before the committee and nothing now in the report before the House to suggest that the answer was inaccurate.

In light of other direct and clear answers given by the minister at the same meeting to the effect that the decision at issue was taken by her, there was no omission in the answers with the intent to mislead. Perhaps the member should have asked different questions or more questions or have been more diligent in his inquiry, but his unhappiness with the answer is not a breach of privilege.

The member for Scarborough—Guildwood then went to the answer to a written question, which I assume is Question No. 106, put by the member for London North Centre. This was answered on April 23 last year. The date is last April. At that time there was no discussion of the minister's decision.

It is therefore not surprising that the response to the question followed the structure of the question. The question referenced CIDA priorities, CIDA criteria and CIDA examination. The minister's response referenced an activity within CIDA that was the subject of the inquiry. She was not asked about the decision process insofar as the minister and officials were concerned. Again, it was a straightforward and, on all the evidence, an accurate answer to the question put.

Were the member to read the answer given to his own written question, Question No. 31, he will find these words:

The Official Development Assistance Accountability Act, stipulates that official development assistance may be provided only if the competent minister is of the opinion that it (a) contributes to poverty reduction; (b) takes into account the perspectives of the poor; and (c) is consistent with international human rights standards.

The answer further states that “CIDA receives more proposals than it has the budget to fund”, so even if some of the proposals that meet the broad framework of the act must be turned down because of budget restrictions.

This answer was given in March. The April answer is of a similar construct in that, “CIDA encompasses both officials and the minister responsible for CIDA”.

Turning now to the focal point of much of the discussion and debate in the House over the last few days, that is, the minister's answers as to the identity of the person who inserted the word “not” in the document, the minister told the committee she did not know who did it. She told the House the word was inserted on her instructions. These are not contradictory statements. On all the evidence before the House, it must be concluded that both statements are true. Once again, the member asking the question failed to pursue the inquiry. Precise answers to questions do not constitute contempt.

The member's fourth accusation does not relate to anything said or done by the minister.

The member for Ottawa Centre and the member for Joliette echoed the points offered by the member for Scarborough—Guildwood. There is no evidence that members have been obstructed.

Some may say that the departmental document carrying the inserted word “not” is an issue. I respectfully disagree. Few of us in this place ever see these internal documents. They are not parliamentary documents and they are intended to convey information within the executive government.

What is clear is that the senior departmental officials knew the wishes of the minister, knew that she had full authority to differ with officials and to refuse the application. No member of the House has suggested that this was improper, and no one ever suggested that a bureaucratic and ministerial paper flow had to be a work of art.

The means chosen to communicate the minister's decision back to officials may not have been what others would or should do, but it was intended solely to communicate to officials the minister's decision, nothing more, nothing less, not in the knowledge that it might one day be made public and with no intention whatsoever to deceive or mislead anyone about the officials' recommendation.

The committee makes no specific charge or accusation. The member for Scarborough—Guildwood, who is a member of the foreign affairs committee and therefore an author of this report, cannot use an empty committee report to concoct his own accusations and grievances and then suggest that they carry the authority of the committee. And a committee report whispering the word privilege and other unspecified information is not a sufficient authority on which to find a prima facie case of privilege.

In conclusion, while the committee report does not make a charge or offer evidence of anyone making deliberately misleading statements, these charges are being made against the minister in the media and by the opposition in this place. The facts do not support these charges.

Statements by Minister of International Cooperation Regarding KAIROS
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, you will recollect that in round one of this question of privilege you made several observations. You made the observation that you were deeply disturbed, that reasonable people might well conclude that there were some difficulties with this decision making process, that you, indeed, were shocked by the way in which the decision was communicated to members and that a reasonable person might well conclude that there was some possibility that members were misled, but you decided on a narrow ground that no point of privilege was sustainable by virtue of the fact that certain documents were not properly before you.

Mr. Speaker, when that decision was made, the foreign affairs committee therefore issued its report last Wednesday, which had the effect of putting the documentation in question properly before you. Then we, in effect, launched a second round of inquiry with respect to this question of parliamentary privilege. The minister has had an opportunity to clarify the record and at this point we have something in the order of about three, four or five versions of what actually happened.

At some point or another, Mr. Speaker, you are going to have to come to a decision on the basis of the record now properly before you as to whether there is a prima facie case of breach of members' privileges. The documentation that was properly put before you is in addition to the minister's statement on February 14, and is in addition to the exchanges in question period, which seem to be creative, to say the least.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that you extend to me and my colleagues the same courtesy that you gave to the government representative and defer our response to the government's intervention to the first available opportunity when we return after this break week.

Statements by Minister of International Cooperation Regarding KAIROS
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker,there are a couple of points that I think are important to underline in light of the government's intervention and response to the question of privilege.

Mr. Speaker, I should point out that in the report that was submitted by the committee, at the bottom of the report, just before the chair signed off, there is a copy of the relevant minutes of proceedings. I want to underline that because it does give you a full overview of the debate within committee on this issue. I think that is important because it is in context that we are debating this point of privilege.

One of those points is not only the minister saying that, on the one hand, she was not aware of who put the “not” in the document, she was not able to divulge that, then she conveyed in testimony that she was very well attuned to what was in the proposal. That is important because when I asked her questions at committee, I asked if she had read the proposal and she had assured us that she had. That is important because of the dates. She had the sign-off from senior officials on this to approve the proposal and when we came to the point of trying to find out from her how this process worked, she was not able to tell us.

This is where I believe our privileges were compromised and where there is a prima facie case of contempt. As I mentioned in my intervention yesterday, the 1978 decision by Speaker Jerome was notwithstanding that the information that was provided to an hon. member back in 1973, and this was with regard to the opening of mail by the RCMP, there was no knowledge of it at the time. It was later found out that there was, in fact, knowledge and that there was withholding of information from hon. members.

I need to underline one thing here. There is a certain standard of conduct that all hon. members should all ascribe to, that is, telling our colleagues exactly what has happened in a truthful manner.

Cabinet ministers are held to a higher standard, for obvious reasons. They have to absolutely assure all members that they are divulging all information because of the nature of their position.

I say that because when we asked for information about how this decision was made, to be polite, the minister was evasive. She would not tell us who intervened to change this document, which I will speak to in a moment, and she led us to believe that she was not involved. That is clear, when we look at the sign-off of her deputy minister and others, the fact that she had this on her desk for the period of time she did, the fact that she said that she had studied this proposal for the time that she had and, at the end of the day, she could not disclose to hon. members who actually made the intervention to kill the proposal.

This is the higher standard I am speaking of. It is not good enough to shrug and say, “Well, I'm sorry. I should have told you I directed someone to do it, but I didn't." I think that is something that needs to be ascertained and Mr. Speaker, if you connect it to the 1973 intervention of an hon. member which led to the 1978 decision of prima facie from Speaker Jerome, you will see that there is an argument.

Finally, there is the document. I respectfully disagree with my colleague from the Conservative Party when he said that normally people would not see this document, maybe it was sloppy, maybe it could have been done differently, but it is not something we should concern ourselves with because, at the end of the day, the minister said it was her decision.

The problem is that it is the whole focus right now because it is important. It is a legal testament to whether or not this proposal was going to be approved.

To go back in time, the nature of bureaucracy and why we have documents is so that there is accountability. My friend says it is not important because normally we would not see these documents, and that this is just the way things happen, that it was sloppy, but we should not worry about it.

The only way to hold government to account, and this applies to the private sector as well, is to look at documents and contracts. This essentially was a contract, a proposal put forward to government, approved by upper levels of the bureaucracy and given to the minister to sign off.

That is the way this works. How else can we have accountability unless we look at documents to ascertain how decisions were made in this place? I know the government does not like that. It would prefer that none of us see anything. We have seen that before with the Afghan detainee documents.

At the end of the day, Mr. Speaker, I encourage you to focus on the document, the impression that was given by the minister, what was divulged by her, and at what point hon. members were actually given access to how that decision was made. I think a prima facie case will be found. As I said before, I think that Speaker Jerome's decision will help in that instance.

Statements by Minister of International Cooperation Regarding KAIROS
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, let me respond very briefly to the further interventions by my hon. colleagues from Scarborough—Guildwood and Ottawa Centre. I have a couple of points on each.

The member for Scarborough—Guildwood seems to suggest there were answers given at committee that were misleading. I suggest they were not. As I mentioned in my earlier intervention, precise answers, clear answers and accurate answers were given to precise questions. Just because the member may not like the answers does not make that a matter of privilege.

In particular, I would point out the one question about the word “not”. The question to the minister was whether she knew who inserted the word “not”, to which she quite accurately and honestly answered, “no”.

Had the member asked yet another question, such as, did the minister instruct someone to insert the word “not”, I am sure the answer would have been in the affirmative, but he did not ask that question. The minister should not be held in contempt because the member opposite did not ask the correct questions.

With respect to my hon. colleague, the member for Ottawa Centre, when he states that he feels, in his opinion, that he was perhaps deceived, that is a totally subjective interpretation.

The questions were objective in nature. The answers were clear, precise, accurate and honest in their response.

Just because the member feels that he deserved more information, but did not provide questions to elicit that information, does not make this a matter of contempt or a breach of privilege.

I think the facts speak for themselves. I made the government's presentation. Obviously you, Mr. Speaker, will be taking this and other interventions into account. I think all of us in this House look forward to your speedy response to resolve this matter.

Statements by Minister of International Cooperation Regarding KAIROS
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a fairly short intervention. Like many members, I have not been involved in this directly, but I have been watching the story unfold.

First, there was a very clear indication on the record that the minister's answers publicly and in the House of Commons were suggesting that someone other than her had made this decision to not fund, or to de-fund, the applicant KAIROS. Then the story evolved to where she said she did not know who put the “not” in. If she were taking ownership for the decision and someone asked who put the “not” in, I am pretty sure the minister would have said, “I did”, or “I did not do it”, or “I told somebody to do it”.

This was a record of a ministerial decision. These things are not designed to be done on the back of an envelope. The minister failed to provide sufficient clarity when clearly, members of Parliament at the committee were looking for clarity and she could not or would not provide it, thereby causing significant confusion. Then at the end of the whole exercise, very recently, the minister has had to step up and say the only way the confusion could be cured was by her saying it was her decision, even though she has not been able to tell us who made the record of the decision. She is taking ownership of the decision now, as she should have right from the beginning, instead of saying, “I don't know who put the 'not' in”, or “I am not sure how this record was made”, or “I think the department was against this grant or in favour of the de-funding”. She did not do that. She is doing it now. She is trying now to make right what should have been done over the last few weeks or months.

That has confused me. It has confused Parliament. It has confused us in our exercise of holding the government to account, whether it is the Privy Council, whether it is the minister, whether it is public officials; we cannot do our job when there is that type of confusion.

Mr. Speaker, I leave that with you.

One should not accept the suggestion here that everything is all right because the minister is somehow able now to reach back and say all of this from the very beginning was her decision, that she did what she had to do. A minister in the House even described it as a courageous decision somehow.

I am confused. There are still unanswered questions. The minister could have helped by simply saying who put the “not” on the document, the record of what is now her decision. Who put the “not” on the document and when was it done, before or after which signatures? If she could answer those questions she could put the thing in order. It does not mean she has not confused us and the public record, but it could be put in order if answers could be given to those questions.

Until then, I remain confused about the accountability function on this file.

Statements by Minister of International Cooperation Regarding KAIROS
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is that the conclusion of the arguments on the question of privilege?

Then I thank hon. members for their submissions and I will take what they have said today under advisement, as I did the matter yesterday.

Procedure for Dealing with Matters of Privilege
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for your patience. I know that this is a complicated issue and you are listening carefully to what all members have to say.

I am now rising on a point of order. It is a related matter and has to do with the process whereby members raise questions of privilege based on a committee report.

I want to draw it to your attention because I have to say, the way things unfolded yesterday really bothered me, and I want to get some better understanding and clarity about what your understanding is of the practices and the rules for questions of privilege.

You will recall yesterday that the member for Ottawa Centre rose on a question of privilege. When you recognized him, I think you asked whether it was a point of order or a question of privilege, and he made it quite clear it was a question of privilege. Then you recognized the member for Scarborough—Guildwood and heard his question of privilege on the same question. We were wondering why that was, because the member for Ottawa Centre had made it clear it was a question of privilege.

Later, we realized that the letters that had gone in as a result of the committee report, the letter from the member for Scarborough—Guildwood actually came to the table moments prior to the committee report being tabled in the House, an the letter from the member for Ottawa Centre came in exactly after the report was tabled.

In fact, the member for Ottawa Centre was in the House. He watched the report being tabled. He immediately brought his letter forward and therefore believed that he had followed the practices and the rules and he would raise his question of privilege.

I do believe there is confusion as to whether or not a member can write a letter to you raising a question of privilege on a report from a committee that has not yet been tabled.

We believed we were playing by the rules, only to learn that things could go in earlier. If that is the way it is to be, then I think we should be clear about that. Believe me, if we speculate that a report might be coming, we will rush forward and get a letter in. Maybe we will do it a day ahead of time in the belief that something will happen. I think it does raise the question about whether we can even raise a question of privilege by submitting a letter if the report has not yet been tabled.

I realize it is a process question. I realize you are dealing with a bigger issue here, but I have to say it did cause us some concern. We want to be clear on your understanding of the practices and rules around a letter submitted to you when it involves a committee report.

I place that before you, Mr. Speaker, with good intention and look forward to the response.

Procedure for Dealing with Matters of Privilege
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I thank the hon. member for her intervention. I will check the record and get back to the House in due course with a ruling on this matter.

I believe that concludes the points of order for today.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act, be read the third time and passed.

STRENGTHENING AVIATION SECURITY ACT
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, after law school I had the opportunity to work with Professor Wayne MacKay of Dalhousie University, who was working on a couple of papers having to do with anti-terrorism law and privacy and where the two meet. One paper that he produced from this research was for a lecture at St. Thomas University, in New Brunswick. It was titled, “Human Rights in the Global Village: The Challenges of Privacy and National Security”.

Despite having completed my law degree at that time, working for Professor MacKay was the first time I had ever really considered the issues around privacy law. The research I did then, the stories I heard, and the newspaper articles I read had a huge impact on my thinking about law generally.

Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act, raised all the red flags that could possibly be raised for me when it comes to the balance between making our global village function more efficiently and our right to privacy.

I would like to start by reading the opening paragraph from Professor MacKay's lecture at St. Thomas. It provides a good framework for thinking about this bill, a bill that may touch upon our privacy rights. He stated:

In the 1960's renowned Canadian academic, Marshall McLuhan, coined the term “global village”. McLuhan's vision of the global village was that the world was a community in which distance and isolation had been dramatically reduced by electronic media. In the global village we are crossing borders physically, with travel and trade, and we’re also crossing borders virtually with technology, like the phone and internet. There are many benefits to living in the global village but there are also casualties of this new world order, and one of them is privacy.

One of the casualties of this new world order is privacy, and one of the casualties of Bill C-42 is privacy. Bill C-42 is nothing more than an opportunity for data mining by foreign security services, primarily the United States, and it is an unwarranted invasion of the privacy of Canadians.

I would like to spend a bit of time discussing what the bill would actually do, and then provide some of my comments about this bill.

Bill C-42 amends the Aeronautics Act to allow airlines to send personal information about passengers to foreign security services. The information that would be forwarded is determined by requirements laid out in secret agreements with other countries. The details of these agreements have not been released. However, it is known that Canada has signed or is negotiating agreements with the European Union, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Panama, the Dominican Republic and the United States.

Details of the agreement between the European Union and the United States for the same information transfers are troubling. That agreement allows, first, that the information forwarded would be the passenger name record, which is the file that a travel agent creates when booking a vacation, and it could include credit card information; names of the people a passenger is travelling with; hotel or other booking information, such as tours or rental cars; and any serious medical condition the passenger might have. Second, the information collected can be retained by the United States for up to 40 years. Third, this information may be forwarded to the security service of a third nation without the consent or notification of the other signatory. Fourth, no person may know what information is being held about him or her by the United States, and they may not correct that information if there are errors, which is hard to believe. And fifth, the United States may unilaterally amend the agreement as long as it advises the EU of the change.

Apparently there has already been one amendment: all documents held by the EU concerning the agreement will not be publicly released for 10 years, which means there can be no access to information requests.

As I said, in essence this bill would allow data mining of Canadians' personal information by foreign security services. There is the danger that unless this bill is agreed to, the United States could close its airspace to Canadian aircraft. While this threat may result in pressure to pass the bill, it is unlikely the United States would carry through with this threat.

The Conservatives have put the spin on this bill that it is necessary to fight terrorism. There is not one single example of how this data mining has caught one single terrorist, or any other criminal.

In fact, we have many examples of how this type of information can be misused. We have heard about it before, but I will say this name again, Maher Arar, who is the perfect example. If members will not take my word for it, I would ask that they listen to some of the testimony that was heard at committee. It was clear and it was straightforward.

It is hard to imagine that the Conservatives are still supporting this bill. We do not really know what the Liberals are doing, but we will find out. We think they are supporting it.

I will read some excerpts from the committee. There is a very short excerpt, but it is to the point.

Jennifer Stoddart, whom we all know quite well as the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, said very simply:

Bill C-42 raises important sovereignty issues. We are not questioning the American government's authority to implement its secure flight program. International law is clear that a state's sovereignty extends to its airspace. However, the Canadian government has a duty to protect the privacy and civil rights of its citizens.

There we have it: “the Canadian government has a duty to protect the privacy and civil rights of its citizens”.

Dominique Peschard, the President of the Ligue des droits et libertés, testified before the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. Here are some excerpts from his testimony:

It is an illusion to think that the information provided under the Secure Flight program will be protected, that it will be destroyed or that it could be corrected in the event of any error. On the contrary, that information will be added to the data bases of the U.S. intelligence agencies and will be compared with information held by all the agencies I've just mentioned to determine whether such and such a person should be prohibited from flying over the United States or even placed on another list.

Justice O'Connor's investigation of the Arar affair has shown to what extent the ill-considered sharing of information can have harmful effects. Four years after Judge O'Connor's report was tabled, we are still waiting for implementation of his recommendations for the introduction of a mechanism for monitoring security intelligence activities in Canada.

Bill C-42 raises some fundamental issues about Canada's sovereignty and the protection of Canadians' rights and freedoms. The Parliament of Canada has a duty to defend those rights, rather than submit to the United States' endless demands allegedly in the name of security.

I thank my colleagues for their support of my French. I do try.

There is a great quote that I want to use. Nathalie Des Rosiers from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said in her testimony:

Certainly to the extent that there is an expectation of privacy protected by the charter, this bill would not meet a section 1 challenge--

Members probably know that section 1 says that something that violates the charter could actually be saved, because it has certain importance for the Canadian public.

She went on to say:

--because it has no limitations. It does not adequately protect the problems that may arise with the disclosure of information, and so on.

The first point is there is a constitutional vulnerability that should be looked at before we go too much further. There is no requirement in Bill C-42, or in the regulations of the United States TSA, for safeguards to protect the information. There is no safeguard that the TSA would not pass information to other government agencies, such as law enforcement or immigration.

There is no safeguard that the TSA would not pass this information to third countries. This has been a particularly difficult issue for some Canadians, Maher Arar being a case in point. There is no guarantee that the TSA would not use the information for profiling Canadians to put them on its watch list or the no-fly list.

Ms. Des Rosiers went on to say:

I would mention to the committee that in the United States the no fly list is under a constitutional review as we speak. It has been challenged because there are too many false positives arising.

It is interesting to note that Nathalie Des Rosiers does point out that it is under review in the United States.

We also had some interesting testimony at committee from the Liberty Coalition, a U.S.-based civil liberties organization, represented by Edward Hasbrouck. He said:

Unlike the case in Canada, where someone denied travel is given formal notice of that decision and has rights to appeal it, those no-fly orders in the U.S. are entirely extrajudicial. No one in the U.S. has yet obtained court review by any U.S. court of a no-fly order. It is U.S. government policy not even to admit that they have issued such an order, and that includes those denying passage on flights overflying the U.S. that were not scheduled to land.

The former Secretary of Homeland Secretary, Michael Chertoff, is on the public record as saying he believed that no-fly decisions should not be subject to judicial review, and the current U.S. administration has done nothing to repudiate that perspective

While the consequences for anyone are very serious, including those U.S. citizens trapped abroad who are currently unable to return because they are not allowed to fly and have no other way back to the U.S., they are perhaps most draconian for refugees and asylum seekers.

We should be very clear that the enactment of Bill C-42 would grant the U.S. government de facto veto power over the ability of virtually anyone to obtain sanctuary in Canada, since in most cases it is impossible to get to Canada to make a claim for political asylum or refugee status without overflying the U.S. That power of the U.S. would be exercised at the worst possible point, while a refugee is subject to the persecution of a regime they are trying to flee.

The Liberty Coalition went on to say:

These data are also used for purposes of surveillance of travellers. It is not the case that the information is simply used to make a one-time decision about whether to let you fly. All of your PNRs, even if you are not deemed suspicious and are allowed to fly, will be added to the lifetime travel history and compilation of data already being kept about you as part of the automated targeting system. This includes, as Professor Salter alluded to, a wide range of information. We've been coordinating efforts by individuals in the U.S.—at least, by U.S. citizens, who have some rights in this regard—to request these records. They include, for example, such things as your IP address, who paid for someone else's ticket, what friend's phone number you gave because you were staying at their house when you reconfirmed your reservations, or, in the case of two people travelling together who made their same hotel reservations in the same PNR with their flight reservations, codes indicating whether, behind the closed doors of their hotel room, they asked for one bed or two.

That definitely smacks of all of the terrible accusations of how the mandatory long form census has violated our rights as Canadian citizens. God forbid the government know how many bathroom one has.

Yet, here we are, by law, Bill C-42, allows the government to find out whether a one requests one bed or two.

First of all, it is pretty unbelievable that we would sign on to this. It is shocking that we would. What is even more unbelievable is the incredible hypocrisy of saying no to a long form census that is just trying figure out what the population of Canada looks like, what it is doing, what its needs are and how Canadians are working. This information is to better design programs, to better run the government, to better serve the needs of our people. That is not allowed, yet the U.S. can know who we are sleeping with. It is mind boggling to me.

I would like to read testimony from Roch Tassé, the national coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group. We heard from Canada and the U.S. in terms of civil liberties groups, but this is an international group. Mr. Tassé testified:

After running a risk assessment for each passenger using data mining technology, Homeland Security in turn issues a boarding pass result back to the airline. The result instructs the airline to issue a boarding pass, deny permission to travel, or issue an enhanced screening requirement. These regulations give the U.S. access to a whole subset of information on air passengers who are not entering the U.S. but merely overflying its airspace. Furthermore, this information can be shared among at least 16 U.S. agencies and with foreign governments. The program gives the government of a foreign country a de facto right to decide who gets to travel to and from Canada, since the vast majority of Canadian flights to and from Europe, the Caribbean, and South America overfly American airspace...

We know that Maher Arar is on the U.S. no-fly list. Several other cases in which Canadians have been denied boarding by the U.S., even for domestic flights in Canada, have also been reported. Those cases include several individuals who have been deemed by Canadian courts and commissions of inquiry not to pose a risk to the national security of Canada. They include Abdullah Almalki, Adil Charkaoui, and others I could talk about later. If Bill C-42 is adopted, even the rulings of Canadian courts won't be able to be enforced.

There are other concerns related to Canada's sovereignty. For example, half the cabinet members of the Bolivian government are persona non grata in the U.S., so if Canada were to invite one of those ministers for a diplomatic meeting in Canada, the U.S. could bar this minister from boarding a plane to attend the meeting at the invitation of Canada. The same could apply to refugee claimants, who, even if admitted by Canada, could be denied the possibility of leaving their country by the U.S.

Other impacts on refugees and immigrants include the possibility of mistreatment abroad by third countries with whom the U.S. might share travel information. By adopting Bill C-42, Canada could become an accomplice in the U.S. rendition program, which is already responsible for the torture of Canadians in Syria and Egypt, among others. At the very least it would support Canadian complicity in a foreign government's program that violates due process and the principles of natural justice.

Disclosure of personal information to the Department of Homeland Security on passengers travelling to certain destinations, particularly Cuba, could lead to unpleasant consequences. For example, this information could be used to identify Canadian companies that do business with Cuba or to penalize travellers who have visited Cuba by subsequently refusing them entry into the U.S. How will Canada ensure that the U.S. will not use the secure flight program to apply its Helms-Burton act, which imposes penalties on foreign companies doing business with Cuba?

Again, that was from Roch Tassé, National Coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group.

These are pretty ominous predictions.

I will wrap up by saying that in 2006, internationally acclaimed Canadian author Rohinton Mistry cancelled his book tour after being repeatedly harassed while flying to and from the United States. Mr. Mistry is not a terrorist. He is not a criminal. He is a national treasure. However, he is a very unfortunate victim of flying while Arab or, as it has become, Arab-looking or with an Arab-sounding name or having any skin tone other than the ruddy white of the British Isles and having a name that would be uncommon on the Leave It To Beaver show.

Rohinton Mistry's critically acclaimed novel A Fine Balance sums it up. We need a fine balance when we are weighing the global village's needs against our privacy rights and this bill gets it wrong.

STRENGTHENING AVIATION SECURITY ACT
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I did hear one thing from the NDP member that was correct; that is, she labelled this an issue of Canadian sovereignty. She is right. It is an issue of Canadian sovereignty. Just as the United States expects us to respect its right to its sovereignty and its right to its air space, we expect it to respect our right to our sovereignty and our airspace.

How can we expect the U.S. to do so if the NDP will not even let us pass this law in order to respect the right to sovereignty and expect the U.S. to do the same?

She asked for examples as to where this was used in the past, where the U.S. has actually filtered a list, utilized it and passed it on to enforcement agencies. For the hundreds of millions of passengers a year who pass through the U.S., we have received information from the ambassador that it has been done three times. The fearmongering by the member and by the NDP through its filibuster is simply ridiculous.

However, I will say this to the NDP member. She actually has an advantage. Because of the hard work of the Minister of Public Safety, he received an exemption for Canada, the only country to receive an exemption, for those flights that fly from Vancouver, for instance, to Ottawa, they actually pass through U.S. airspace. The member takes advantage of that. I would think she would stand and say “Thank you, minister, thank you, Conservative government, because you got an exemption for us and your hard work is paying off for Canadians, keeping us safe, keeping our economy strong”. That is what she should be standing and doing right now.

STRENGTHENING AVIATION SECURITY ACT
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I heard 100% correctly, but I think the member said that the minister has worked hard to get an exemption for us in flying to Ottawa.

STRENGTHENING AVIATION SECURITY ACT
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

If you fly over U.S. airspace.

STRENGTHENING AVIATION SECURITY ACT
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

I was just checking.

Mr. Speaker, that is the craziest thing I have ever heard.

I am a member of Parliament. We have a lot of rights and privileges that come with this role. However, we should not have preferential treatment for flying to Ottawa when we are coming here to talk about what is going on in Canada. This is nuts.

There is a British man who is stranded in Toronto and he cannot get home to England. Why? He is on a no-fly list and he cannot fly over American airspace. He is saying, “How can you tell me I'm not allowed to go to my own country?”. He has no rights here because he is not Canadian and he has been denied access to U.S. airspace. He just wants to go home.

Look at the bizarre results of blindly going ahead with this ideological bill, saying, “We have to do whatever the United States does”. We are like that little dog on The Bugs Bunny Show that is always with the big dog, saying, “We're there with you. We're there with you. We'll do whatever you want.”

It is time for us to actually stand up to the United States and do what is right for Canadians.

STRENGTHENING AVIATION SECURITY ACT
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed very much the speech from the member for Halifax.

The parliamentary secretary should know better than to raise what was a patent hypocrisy on this issue. First, the reality is that other countries, such as the European Union, negotiated agreements that go far beyond what Canada even attempted to get.

Second, it is simply not true, as the member for Halifax knows, that this affects just the United States. It affects any foreign state, Panama, Colombia. Any state that wants to go into Canadian bedrooms, get confidential Canadian health records, confidential credit card information, they can do it because this bill provides for it.

It is almost as if Conservatives have not even read the bill and do not even know what is in the bill. As usual, it is the NDP that carefully reads the legislation and brings forward all these concerns that are felt widely in the population.

Canadians certainly get it. The Conservatives do not and they seem beholden to this incredibly radical ideological agenda that they have to the right, where confidential information is only valuable if it is Conservative confidential information. They do not want disclose bathrooms; they want to disclose confidential health records, credit card information and who people sleep with.

I would like to ask the member for Halifax how this plays in her area of the country? How do Canadians react once they hear about it? It is true that members of the press gallery have not been doing their due diligence. They should be reporting a lot more on this. They are starting to wake up. They are starting to understand the implications for Canadians' confidential information.

When the member raises it with the public in her riding of Halifax, how do Canadians react to this wholesale disclosure of Canadians' confidential information?

STRENGTHENING AVIATION SECURITY ACT
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question and also for the incredible work he has been doing on the international trade file and keeping the government honest.

The member points out that the media have not really cottoned on to this idea that there is a problem with Bill C-42. I do not think they have even reported anything about Bill C-42, holus-bolus.

When I talk to people in Halifax about it, people cannot quite believe it. They cannot quite believe, first of all, that it is being introduced; second, that it continues to be supported; and third, that it has support from more than one party in the House.

We have an international airport in Halifax. We do have to fly over American airspace to get practically anywhere because of our location. People go to the international airport and have to deal with issues like this. They cannot believe that the government would continue to support the total abrogation of our rights, the total handing over of our personal information: who we are sleeping with, where, in what hotel and what kind of car we rented.

The response from people in Halifax has not been as strong as I would have imagined because I think people are still in the disbelief stage. I think that is probably true across Canada. Canadians have to wake up because this is going to be a dangerous thing that we are getting into. We need to do everything we can to stop it.

STRENGTHENING AVIATION SECURITY ACT
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, what is dangerous is not adequately screening people getting on airplanes.

What I find really remarkable is that when it comes to travelling safety, when I buy an airplane ticket, I want people to know I do not pose a threat to that aircraft and I do not pose a threat to the United States. I want them to know that. I am as open as a book.

I do not see the bill as an invasion of my privacy in any way. We work with the United States on continental security. Approximately 3,000 people died on September 11, 2001: parents, brothers, sisters, children, sons and daughters. We have to be awake to that reality.

When the people of Halifax look at what is in this bill and at the protection it seeks to provide to the Americans, it is their airspace. We work with them on continental security. We are partners in the fight against terrorism. We are partners in protecting our citizens and making sure that no more sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers or sisters are lost to terrorism. That is responsible.

STRENGTHENING AVIATION SECURITY ACT
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the result is we will become a police state. This is the craziest thing I have ever heard.

When I talked about doing the research with Professor MacKay on terrorism and privacy rights, one other thing we were looking at is the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions. It actually has to report names of people with bank accounts that have names matching a certain list of “identified terrorists”. It is really quite incredible because it ends up forwarding hundreds and possibly thousands of names every year of people who have vaguely similar names. Good luck to anyone living in this country whose first name is Osama.

We have this situation where names are being forwarded, people's bank accounts are being shut down or they are being told they cannot board an airplane because they happen to have the same initials of a known or suspected terrorist. It is craziness.

The worst part about it is there is absolutely no recourse. All of us in this room believe that if we were falsely accused of something we would at least have the right to stand up and say, “No, that is not me. That is not what happened.” There is no right to that. People cannot imagine being told they cannot fly. People cannot imagine being told they cannot go back to their home countries. Actually, people are not allowed to bring forward evidence to disprove what is being said about them.

These situations are happening all over Canada and the U.S. There is no redress. There is no way to challenge it. There is no way to bring forward evidence. We are just doing whatever it is the Americans want us to do. There is no charter right. We are absolutely just S.O.L., if I can say that. We are out of luck.

It is absolutely ludicrous.

STRENGTHENING AVIATION SECURITY ACT
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by addressing what the parliamentary secretary said just a few moments ago in the House.

All of us in the House were appalled by the events of September 11, 2001, 10 years ago, by the loss of life.

The reality is that the violent individuals who got on those planes were able to do so because of cutbacks in security screening at airports that had been privatized, as we know, like Logan airport in Boston, where there were underpaid baggage screeners and inadequate equipment. All of the cutbacks that took place during the Bush years had a contributory factor to box cutters being brought onto those aircraft. All of us lament the loss of life. We mourn for all who died that day.

However, the reality is that this bill has nothing to do with improving security and screening in airports so that people cannot bring box cutters on an aircraft. It has nothing to do with that. It has nothing do with all of the intelligence shortfalls that were present at that time and the mistakes that were made by the government that have been very well documented.

Since this bill has nothing to do with that, I think all of us in the House would prefer that the Conservatives stop raising that in an inappropriate way. It does not respect what happened that day. It does not respect the dead. The government tries to use that horrible day in a way to score some cheap political points. That is what the Conservatives are doing with this bill.

The bill is very simple. Proposed subsection 4.83 tells the airlines that they can provide to a competent authority in a foreign state, whether we are talking about the United States, Panama, Colombia or any other state that demands it, any information in the operator's control. What does that mean?

What is in the operator's control is the passenger name record. In the passenger name record, the health record of the individual is present. If an individual has health conditions and it is noted in the passenger name record, that information is available to those authorities through this bill.

Credit card information is available in the passenger name record and can be made available to foreign authorities. I mentioned some of them a few moments ago, the United States or Panama. Given the Panamanian government's record on the laundering of dirty drug money, it is entirely inappropriate for confidential credit card information to be made available to Panamanian authorities or to Colombian authorities.

As was noted by my colleague from Halifax, hotel reservations, including information regarding sleeping arrangements, whether it is a single or double room, and how many individuals are travelling together is also made available. This is confidential information. There is no doubt about that.

I will cite testimony from witnesses in a few moments, hopefully today but if not, when we resume after the parliamentary riding week. The confidential information that is made available to those authorities is very clearly something the vast majority of Canadians would not want to have shared. It is very clear that this is a vastly inappropriate bill.

As has been mentioned by my colleagues in the NDP, other governments were asked to do the same thing by the American administration. Other governments said no and negotiated different arrangements. Only Canada is saying it is going to make this confidential information available to authorities wherever they are in the world, no matter how corrupt the regime. That information can be made available.

What does that mean, for example, for British Columbians? The province that I come from has heavy air traffic that goes to Asia. Many of my constituents, in fact the majority of them, come from Asia. They fly to the Philippines, China, Korea and Taiwan. In flying across the Pacific, they fly across the sea waters off of Alaska.

What the government is saying to Canadians of Asian origin is that their personal information will be shared. Inevitably, for the vast majority of flights that take place out of Vancouver going through to Asia, their information, if this bill were to be passed, would be shared.

That is completely unacceptable. We have had a whole variety of cases that have been brought forward as to how people can actually be denied access to flights that they have paid for. There is a variety of individuals who will be raising those issues. I hope in the time I have today I can raise those issues.

With all that confidential information, perhaps it does not surprise me that Conservatives do not care and are willing to share that confidential information. We have seen the government talk out of both sides of its mouth on a daily basis, pretending to be about ethics and responsibility with all of the crises and scandals that we are seeing and that have been enacted on the floor of the House of Commons, even this week.

We have heard the government talk about confidentiality, concerned about the number of bathrooms that people have to report. Yet it is willing to share confidential information about what kind of sleeping arrangements in hotels Canadians are undertaking overseas.

That does not surprise me about the government. The Conservative government has been in power already far too long, and the government is desperately in need of a change.

What does surprise me is the seeming willingness of the Liberal Party to support this legislation. A previous Liberal prime minister very boldly, I thought, stood in the House and said that the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation. That was a seminal moment in our nation's history. That was a courageous statement that he made as justice minister. He was a Liberal prime minister.

Today's Liberal Party is willing to sell out that confidentiality. It is willing to say that not only the Canadian state has a place in the bedrooms of Canadians when they are travelling abroad, but that the Panamanian government or the American government, or the Colombian government has a place in the bedrooms of Canadians when they are travelling abroad.

This is the absurdity of the bill that has been brought forward. It shares confidential health information. It shares confidential credit card information. It shares confidential accommodation information when Canadians are travelling abroad.

It surprises and stuns me that the Liberal Party, with that heritage, is unwilling to stand in the House, as the NDP has been standing up for a number of days now, to say that this legislation is completely inappropriate. The Liberal Party that has that heritage should be willing to stand up 40 years later and continue to say that this is absolutely irresponsible and inappropriate. It should be willing to stand and say that this is not something we should adopt as parliamentarians and that the government should go back to work and negotiate the same type of agreements that other countries have negotiated with the United States.

It is not as if it were impossible to renegotiate the agreement. The government has not even tried. We have seen that failure in case after case where the government is unable in any way to stand up for Canadian interests.

The Conservative government has been called in this House by my colleague, the member for Windsor West, the doormat of North America, and it is true that it is a doormat. The Conservative government is often considered to be a bully with Canadians, but once the Conservatives go abroad and negotiate, they are doormats. We have seen that capitulation with the softwood lumber sellout. We have seen it with the buy America sellout, which gave access to American companies to Canada, but did not provide access for Canadian companies to the United States. The Canadian government has not even monitored that. It has just given up representing the interests of Canadian companies at all.

We have seen that with the $5.50 levy that has just come into place. The American tourism industry would be willing to stand with Canadians. It would be willing to advocate and we would surely get the type of agreement to remove that levy, but we have seen the government not act at all. When the government--

STRENGTHENING AVIATION SECURITY ACT
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order. The hon. member will have 10 minutes to conclude his remarks the next time this bill is before the House, but 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 November 17, 2010 consideration of the motion that Bill C-449, An Act regarding free public transit for seniors, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Royal Recommendation--Speaker's Ruling
Free Public Transit for Seniors Act
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised by the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader on November 17, 2010, concerning the requirement for a royal recommendation for Bill C-449, An Act regarding free public transit for seniors, standing in the name of the hon. member for Hull—Aylmer.

I would like to thank the parliamentary secretary for having raised this issue as well as the member for Hull—Aylmer for his remarks concerning the bill.

In presenting his concerns with respect to the bill, the parliamentary secretary noted that the operative clause of the bill contained an authorization to spend for a specific purpose, which, in his view, infringed upon the financial prerogative of the Crown. His main contention was that the bill, because it empowers the Minister of Finance to make direct payments to a trust established to help provinces, territories and municipalities to offer seniors free local public transport, is equivalent to the creation of a new fund outside the consolidated revenue fund.

The Chair notes that the member for Hull—Aylmer, at the conclusion of his opening remarks during the debate at second reading, acknowledged that the bill might require a royal recommendation but that he expressed optimism that a specific modification could be made during the committee stage to address the issue.

It is clear to the Chair that Bill C-449 in clause 3 would authorize the minister to make direct payments to be paid out of the consolidated revenue fund to a trust, which in turn would be used to make payments to a province, a territory or a municipality to fund free local transit for seniors anywhere in Canada during off-peak hours. Such a transfer would clearly create a new appropriation and, for this reason, a Royal recommendation is required in respect of clause 3 of the bill.

Consequently, I will decline to put the question on third reading of the bill in its present form unless a royal recommendation is received.

Today's debate, however, is on the motion for second reading and this motion shall be put to a vote at the close of the current debate.

I thank hon. members for their attention.

On debate, the hon. member for Saskatoon—Humboldt.

Second reading
Free Public Transit for Seniors Act
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to give a response on behalf of the government to this legislation. In particular, I am happy to oppose this irresponsible, excessively costly and reckless Liberal spending proposal.

Second reading
Free Public Transit for Seniors Act
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

You don't need to be happy.

Second reading
Free Public Transit for Seniors Act
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Andrews Avalon, NL

What do you have against seniors?

Second reading
Free Public Transit for Seniors Act
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, I hear the heckling from the other side.

The hon. member asks what do I have against seniors. Let me note on this point that I have a 94-year-old grandmother who I very well know would oppose this because, like many other people in rural Saskatchewan, she lived through the Great Depression and understands that there is no such thing as government money. All money is taxpayers' money and all money needs to be spent wisely and prudently. It is one of those things that we need to be aware of whenever we describe something from the government as “free”.

Indeed, the wording of today's proposal, without a doubt, shows how the Liberals respect Canadian taxpayers. Listen to how they describe it as “free” local public transport. Of all people in Canada, our seniors know there is no such thing as a free lunch, particularly when a politician is making the promise.

The hard-earned money that Canadian taxpayers send to Ottawa is not free money. It is their tax dollars resulting from their personal work and sacrifice. Canadians work hard for their money and watch their money; it is their money after all. Our Conservative government understands that. We do not call it “government money” but taxpayers' money. Every single penny spent in the House is taxpayers' money. We do not raise taxes; we cut taxes.

Indeed, since forming government in 2006, our Conservative government has helped families by putting $3,000 back into their pockets where it belongs. It is their money after all. It is not the government's money and it is definitely not free money. It is money they entrust to their government to spend wisely and not recklessly.

What are the Liberals suggested that we do with taxpayers' money? They are suggesting that we spend more of it. They want to create more and new government programs. They want more and massive new government bureaucracies. Let us be clear that today's example is one of those suggestions of reckless spending the Liberal Party and its leader have engaged in during the last few months.

Moreover, the sponsor of the bill has not presented or prepared a valid cost estimate for today's proposal, as he has requested on other issues. Conservative MPs had the proposal costed through a request to the Parliamentary Budget Office.

This bill reminds me of the Liberal promise of everything under the sun, the 45-day work year, and a national daycare plan, a promise that has been repeated in many election campaigns.

Without a doubt, the Liberals' runaway spending commitments are a recipe for massive and permanent deficits in Canada. Permanent deficits would mean that Canadian families and businesses would have to pay higher taxes permanently, as the Liberal leader digs deeper into their wallets with new tax hikes that kill jobs, and perhaps even reverse our GST cut with a GST increase.

It is little wonder that when the Liberal leader was asked about Canada returning to balanced budgets earlier this year, he replied, “It's not my problem”. Luckily for Canadians, it is not their problem to have the Liberals in government. If the Liberals continue to promise spending the taxpayer's money without any forethought, they will not have an opportunity to be in government any time soon.

What Canadians need and are getting from our Conservative government is leadership in finding real and fiscally responsible solutions to benefit all Canadians, especially seniors. Our Conservative government has taken steps since 2006 to recognize the outstanding contributions of seniors in building our country.

We are providing Canadians with almost $70 billion annually through the public pension system. We are providing $400 million over two years to the affordable housing initiative for the construction of housing units for low income seniors. We are increasing funding for the new horizons for seniors program to $40 million annually to help seniors bring their leadership, energy and skills to benefit communities across Canada. We have also appointed a minister of state for seniors to bring the concerns of older Canadians to the cabinet table and to stand up on their behalf. We are creating a national seniors day for all Canadians to honour and celebrate our seniors.

We have done so much more.

We also understand the importance of a secure and dignified retirement for seniors who have spent their lives building a better Canada through their hard work. In fact, we have dramatically lowered the federal tax bill for seniors and pensioners since forming government in 2006, with more than $2 billion in tax cuts, including increasing the age credit amount by $2,000; increasing the age limit for maturing pensions and registered retirement savings plans to 71 from 69; doubling the amount of income eligible for pension income credit; and, probably, most importantly, pension income splitting, something that the noted financial commentator Jamie Golombek declared was probably one of the biggest tax changes in decades in the amount of tax savings it generated for pensioners.

We also introduced the tax free savings accounts, which is particularly beneficial to seniors. As Jonathan Chevreau, the noted financial commentator, declared:

—the TFSA is also a welcome tax shelter for Canadian seniors—

Our Conservative government is also bringing forward fiscally responsible solutions to improve public transportation in Canada in measured ways.

Before continuing, I would like to clarify that public transit is primarily a provincial and municipal jurisdictional responsibility. It would be questionable for the federal government to unilaterally use the federal spending power to dictate decisions in an area under provincial jurisdiction. It is my understanding that it is one of the reasons that one of the opposition parties will be opposing this legislation.

Nevertheless, our Conservative government has worked constructively and co-operatively through the provincial and municipal governments. We have done this through the gas tax fund, valued at $2 billion annually, which many municipalities across this country use to fund their public transit capital needs.

We have also funded many public transit projects using broad-based programs, such as the building Canada fund, as well as through one-time initiatives in the 2006 and 2008 budgets. In total, about $2.6 billion has been allocated for public transit under the building Canada fund and Canada's economic action plan.

Additionally, because our Conservative government believes that cutting taxes is the right thing to do, we have also introduced the public transit tax credit. Not only is this popular non-refundable tax credit helping cover the costs of public transit, but it has also increased public transit use, including buses, subways, commuter trains and ferries, which have in turn helped to ease traffic congestion.

Indeed, my own mayor, Saskatoon Mayor Don Atchison, has applauded it as:

—a tremendous idea.... I think that's a great way to encourage the public to use mass transit—

The Liberal Party opposed helping seniors and other riders of public transit by voting against the public transit tax credit.

Unmistakably, our Conservative government is helping seniors and public transit users in smart and fiscally responsible ways. This is in stark contrast to the Liberals, who are promising free money from the taxpayers' wallet. Canadians and Canadian seniors know that Canadian taxpayers and businesses will be forced to pick up the tab for this free lunch. It is a tab that we cannot afford.

All taxpayers' money belongs to taxpayers. We as government should be very careful and prudent in how we use it.

Second reading
Free Public Transit for Seniors Act
Private Members' Business

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-449 would allow the minister to set up a trust fund for other levels of government so that seniors can take public transit free of charge during off-peak hours. This is a laudable goal. Anything that encourages people to take public transit more frequently is a great idea. It is a more active form of transportation, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions and it keeps our communities vibrant.

The bill is such a tease. We could be talking about a bill that completely re-imagines public transit in this country. Our current approach to transportation is unsustainable. We need to make a transition to a more sustainable form of transport, including public transportation. Improving transit is about setting a legacy, both economic and environmental. We need better, more efficient public transport because it improves access to community services and it improves participation in the community. Poor access to transport causes isolation for individuals and pockets of our communities, particularly in low-income areas, as well as rural communities.

Improving public transportation is an excellent way to combat poverty because it allows the economic engagement in all areas of the city by people who live in all areas. It improves the exchange of money and ideas and allows people to access educational opportunities and services that are outside of their neighbourhoods. It provides individuals and families with the opportunity escape the cycle of poverty. Free transit would greatly increase the quality of life by removing the terrible choice between rent, food, or heat and bus tickets.

Canada is the only G8 country that does not fund public transit and it has negative consequences on the environment and on our pocketbooks. Canada does not have a national transit strategy either.

Seniors are some of our most vulnerable citizens, both economically and socially. Better transport for seniors is an important issue to tackle, particularly with respect to increasing a person's ability to live independently. As seniors age, some can no longer drive and as their mobility becomes limited they may become more isolated if they cannot afford public transit or have access to public transit.

There is a public transit route in Halifax called the Manors. Recently it was announced that it would be cancelled by the Halifax regional municipality. The Manors went to all the seniors' manors on the peninsula. It was a circuitous route and it might not have made much sense to me trying to get from point A to point B, but it made a lot of sense to the community it served; a community of seniors around the city.

It allowed seniors at Joe Howe Manor or Samuel Prince Manor to take the number 3 and get to where they needed to go, such as the grocery store, their doctor's office, the bank, or the shopping mall.

The announcement to cancel the Manors route was made because it was said the bus route did not pay for itself and it had to be cancelled. Seniors from Samuel Prince Manor rallied to fight that decision. They came together with other residents of the other manors and after many petitions, phone calls and letters, they realized their victory. They had worked together to mobilize their community and they saved this vital service. It was an incredible victory for our community.

One may think that this is a municipal issue. Why would it be relevant for an MP to raise this in the House of Commons?

I believe that there is a federal role for transit. I believe there is a necessary federal leadership role for transit. It is too important a service not to have a national strategy. In fact, it is not just a service, it is a necessity.

I am proud that my colleague, the member for Trinity—Spadina, introduced such a bill recently. She introduced the national public transit strategy act and it would coordinate between all levels of government to maintain and expand public transit across the country.

The public transit act, a first of its kind, would decrease the burden on cities and communities. The bill outlines a strategy for the federal government to provide a permanent investment plan to support public transit, to establish federal funding mechanisms for public transit, to work together with all levels of government to provide sustainable, predictable, long-term and adequate funding, and it would work to establish accountability measures to ensure that all governments work together to increase access to public transit.

Better public transit means sustainable economic growth and cleaner, more productive cities. It means a better Canada and a better Halifax.

The story of the Manors is a story from a city, but there are rural examples in my riding as well. When I speak of Halifax in the chamber, I am speaking of the riding of Halifax. The name of the riding can sometimes be misleading because I do not represent the entire city, but I also do not represent only the city. I represent the peninsula, which includes the south end, downtown, the north end, the west end and Westmount, but the riding extends beyond the Armdale Rotary and includes Fairview, Jollymore, Purcell's Cove, Duncan's Cove, Ketch Harbour, Sambro, Harrietsfield and Williamswood. It is much bigger and more diverse than people think.

When I first rose in the House to give my inaugural speech in 2008 after being elected, I talked about some of these communities, which are located in what is affectionately known as the loop because the highway goes around in a loop. Many members of these communities did not have access to bus service at all.

When I first rose to speak in the House, no one could catch a bus in Sambro. People could not get on a bus to go to the grocery store, to go to the peninsula, to go to a doctor or to see friends. Then a pilot project was announced. There was a bus route and then it was reduced. Now there is no service during peak hours.

Another thing to point out about these communities is if people live in Harrietsfield or Williamswood, they have to go grocery shopping in Spryfield. They have to go to another community to access a grocery store. It is absolutely vital that there is public transit in all communities across Canada, as well as across the riding of Halifax.

As a result, the community has come together to try to get increased bus service and increase public transit presence in these communities. There is actually a blog called the Sambro Loop Community Bus Transit blog. People go online, give information about what is going on and try to figure out how to mobilize bus service. There is also a Facebook group. In checking out the Facebook group today, people were posting car shares so people could get a ride with somebody else. They were posting pictures of bus stops that are poles with no signs and talking about how they can rely on each other to get into town or to the grocery store.

While it is wonderful that this community has come together and is organizing ride share programs, they need a bus system. Why is there no service? There is no service because HRM does not have the money to provide this kind of service or is choosing not to find the money.

How can we help these communities at a federal level? The NDP has a solution that has to do with the federal gas tax transfer. The gas tax transfer to the municipality was established, but with very few strings attached with respect to its use. The intention was for improvements to public transit and while many cities have used this transfer for its intended purposes by making service enhancements to their public transportation systems, there are a number of cities that have not. It shows one of the problems with not having strings attached with respect to use.

The federal government can give municipalities stable, long-term funding by transferring an extra cent of the gas tax, making sure that it is dedicated to public transit. This is the NDP's solution. It is a solution that makes sense to me when I look at my own community and realize that not everyone can access a public transportation system. I think about how we can change that at a federal level. This is where good public policy comes from. Good public policy comes from the ideas from communities. We bring them to Ottawa and to the chamber and say, “Here is a solution that would help my community”.

Second reading
Free Public Transit for Seniors Act
Private Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Lise Zarac LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity today to speak to Bill C-449, An Act regarding free public transit for seniors, which was introduced by my colleague from Hull—Aylmer. I would like to begin by thanking and congratulating the member for bringing the matter of transportation for seniors before the House.

Why is this debate so important? Because it seeks to find a solution, one of many initiatives that, when combined, will help make seniors independent. This solution seeks to counter the isolation of seniors who, all too often, do not leave their homes because they do not have the means to do so. They too should have the opportunity to enjoy the activities offered in their community.

I recently read the 2006 Statistics Canada report entitled, “A Portrait of Seniors in Canada”. Two items caught my attention. The first is that 62% of the Canadian population lives in Ontario and Quebec. The second, is that seven out of ten seniors live in urban areas, in centres with at least 50,000 residents. As most municipalities of this size have a public transit system, providing free public transit to seniors in off-peak hours is a timely issue.

I was also interested in the percentage of women who are seniors. I will explain. Women account for 52% of the population between the ages of 65 and 69. This percentage increases with age and reaches 75%. In addition, we know that older women who live alone often have a lower income, especially in Quebec and British Columbia. The Mouvement des aînés du Québec is very concerned about the financial insecurity of women.

In the section that discusses seniors' access to transportation, the Statistics Canada study also shows that the gap between senior men and women is quite significant in older age groups. For example, among seniors between the ages of 75 and 84, 83% of men drove a vehicle to which they had access, compared to only 45% of women. Among men 85 years and older, twice as many men drove a vehicle in their household to which they had access, or 66% of men compared to 33% of women. These differences between men and women are not really surprising because senior men are much more likely to have a valid driver's licence than women. A lower proportion of men than women have never driven a vehicle in their life.

Thus, transportation is becoming increasingly and proportionally important as our population ages. The proposal made by my colleague from Hull—Aylmer is laudable, realistic and achievable. Seniors already face many challenges that would not even occur to younger people. However, one day we will all face the problem of being unable to access basic social services. I am talking about attending doctors appointments, going to the pharmacy, getting around to do volunteer work in the community, getting groceries and so on. We take our ability to do these day-to-day activities for granted until we are forced to deal with the reality of aging.

This reality can have even more profound consequences when it comes to family and friends. How can seniors remain socially active and maintain their independence if they cannot leave home because they do not have access to public transportation? Not all seniors can afford to take a taxi every time they need to go somewhere. Few seniors have the luxury of a family member or friend who is available all the time to drive them around.

Access to public transportation becomes a major issue, especially for seniors who no longer have their driver's licence. Not only do they feel disadvantaged, but they also feel dependent and isolated. Transportation for seniors presents special challenges and is an issue that requires urgent attention. Our colleague's proposal deserves further study.

I realize this issue might overlap on provincial jurisdictions, as our colleagues from the Bloc did not hesitate to point out. However, I think the problem transcends the issue of jurisdictions.

The needs of our seniors are real and are not going away. On the contrary, their needs are growing as the population ages.

I know that the hon. member for Hull—Aylmer is open to amending Bill C-449 in order to have the Minister of Finance look at ways to establish a trust to help make public transit free for seniors.

Our Liberal critic for seniors has also made the following observations: people are living much longer and families are living much further apart because the children often have to leave their home region in order to find work. These new realities present challenges that we must face.

It is not by building mega-prisons, purchasing F-35s, or cutting taxes for wealthy corporations that we will be helping our seniors in Canada.

Not only must we focus our efforts on our country's economic growth, but we must respond to the real challenges of Canadians, the needs of families.

I support the bill introduced by the hon. member for Hull—Aylmer because it addresses a real problem for a growing segment of our society and because it proposes a solution that is worth looking at in committee.

I am calling for the support of this House to send Bill C-449 to committee.

Second reading
Free Public Transit for Seniors Act
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-449 would make it possible to provide free public transportation to seniors during off-peak hours. What is the purpose of this bill? The purpose is to encourage seniors to have an active social life and to reduce the isolation that far too many of them experience. Canada's population is aging; we cannot deny that. We certainly cannot ignore it, as the Conservatives would like to do.

Aging has it own set of problems and we must address those problems with realistic and practical solutions. As I explained in my earlier speech, transportation for seniors is extremely important because they need it to get to social and medical services.

Not everyone can afford to take taxis or has a son or daughter available to provide transportation, as my colleague from LaSalle—Émard said. Furthermore, many seniors, especially women, are on a low income, which restricts their mobility. We must take a look at this issue to avoid having our seniors become isolated.

Isolation is the enemy of seniors. I believe that free public transit must be part of the strategy and action to help prevent isolation and give seniors the tools needed to have a good quality of life. We all hope for that one day.

I would like to thank my colleagues from York West and LaSalle—Émard. Their support for Bill C-449 shows their empathy for Canada's seniors and their eagerness to solve the mobility problems that affect so many seniors, in both urban and rural areas.

I would also like to thank the hon. members for Trinity—Spadina and Halifax. Their support for public transit is only matched by their interest in Canada's seniors. The Bloc agrees that Bill C-449 is an excellent initiative and a recognition of the role seniors play but I have been told that they are reluctant to vote yes.

This is why they should vote yes. It is simple: in order to let the committee look at the question of mobility for seniors and free access to public transit, where it exists, in off-peak hours. This is an important issue for seniors from coast to coast to coast.

I am seeking the support of the House to study the issue of mobility for seniors in committee. The members opposite are hiding behind a procedural smokescreen. They did not even bother talking about the substance of Bill C-449. They did nothing more than reject its form. I think by refusing to take part in this debate on seniors, the members opposite are shirking their responsibilities. They are abdicating the leadership role the government must play.

This government is unaware of the needs of families and seniors. What are the ill-advised priorities of the Conservatives? Spending billions of dollars for the untendered procurement of fighter jets, the construction of mega-prisons, and corporate tax breaks. We, the Liberals, are listening to the concerns of the Canadian public and their priorities: pensions, education, health care, family care and seniors. Bill C-449 falls in line with those priorities.

I want to clarify something. Not that I want to speak for the members of the Standing Committee on Finance, but I will be proposing an amendment in committee to have the Minister of Finance look at ways to establish a trust to help make public transit free for seniors during off-peak hours. This amendment would also eliminate the need for the minister to spend money from the consolidated revenue fund.

In closing, I ask for the support of all members in this House to pass Bill C-449, for further review in the Standing Committee on Finance.

Second reading
Free Public Transit for Seniors Act
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

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

Second reading
Free Public Transit for Seniors Act
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Second reading
Free Public Transit for Seniors Act
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Second reading
Free Public Transit for Seniors Act
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Second reading
Free Public Transit for Seniors Act
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

All those opposed will please say nay.

Second reading
Free Public Transit for Seniors Act
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Second reading
Free Public Transit for Seniors Act
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, March 2, 2011, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

Accordingly the House stands adjourned until Monday, February 28, at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Orders 28(2) and 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2:03 p.m.)