House of Commons Hansard #139 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was arrest.

Topics

The House resumed from March 2 consideration of the motion that Bill C-55, An Act to amend the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Act and the Pension Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Pursuant to order made on Wednesday, March 2, Bill C-55, An Act to amend the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Act and the Pension Act, is deemed read a second time and referred to a committee.

Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs.

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

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved that Bill C-60, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (citizen's arrest and the defences of property and persons), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am excited to get going on Bill C-60, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (citizen's arrest and the defences of property and persons). Bill C-60 represents a responsible expansion of a citizen's power of arrest as well as the simplification of the self-defence and defence of property provisions in the Criminal Code.

I want to thank the initiatives of a number of people and one of them is certainly the member for Mississauga—Erindale who is also my parliamentary secretary. He has been a champion of the reform in this law. I am pleased to join with my colleague, the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound. I thank him and my colleagues who are in the House with me. They have been very supportive of our justice legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that all Canadians are grateful for all the support that you have given us on these bills.

The bill before us today is balanced and necessary. In describing the particular amendments contained in this bill, the bill will focus on three main areas: first, what the law currently provides for; second, the policy rationale for reform; and third, most important for statutory interpretation purposes, the legislative intent behind the elements of the reforms.

On this last point, it is crucial for colleagues to be reminded that the debate in this place and the other provides guidance to our courts in finding the legislative intent of the laws we pass and is often cited by our courts in coming to a decision.

I will first deal with citizen's arrest reforms, followed by the defence of property and then self-defence.

With regard to citizen's arrest, it is important to recall that an arrest consists of the actual seizure or touching of a person's body with a view to detention. The pronouncing of words alone can constitute an arrest if the person submits to the request. A power of arrest is found in a range of federal and provincial law but for our purposes we are focused on the power that exists in the Criminal Code.

As members can imagine, there are substantial differences between the power of police and that of a citizen to make an arrest under the Criminal Code.

Currently, under section 495, a peace officer may arrest without a warrant any person whom he or she finds committing a criminal offence, as well as any person whom he or she believes, on reasonable grounds, has committed or is about to commit an indictable offence.

What the courts have told us is that for an arrest to be valid on the basis of reasonable grounds, the arresting officer must personally believe that he or she possesses the required grounds to arrest, and those grounds must be objectively established in the sense that a reasonable person standing in the shoes of the officer would believe that they are reasonable and probable grounds to make that arrest.

In comparison, currently under section 494 of the Criminal Code, the private citizen may arrest those found committing indictable offences, those being pursued by others who have authority to arrest and those committing criminal offences in relation to property.

It is important to note that there is a legal duty under section 494 to deliver an arrested person to the police forthwith, which has been interpreted by the courts to mean as soon as reasonably practical under all the circumstances.

As members can see, there is a clear distinction between the power of arrest for the police and the power given to citizens. There are good reasons for these differences. The focus of Bill C-60 relates to the power of arrest of persons found committing a criminal offence on or in relation to property.

In this regard, the bill would expand 494(2) of the Criminal Code to permit a property owner or a person authorized by the property owner to arrest a person if he or she finds the person committing a criminal offence on or in relation to his or her property, not just at the time when the offence is being committed, which is the current law, but also within a reasonable time after the offence is committed.

It is essential to ensure that the proper balance is maintained between citizen involvement in law enforcement and the role of the police as our primary law enforcers.

To this end, the new measures will include the requirement that before an arrest can be made at some time after the offence is committed, which is the expansion the bill provides for, the arresting person must believe on reasonable grounds that it is not feasible in the circumstances for a peace officer to make the arrest instead.

The intention behind this last requirement is to ensure that citizens use this expanded power of arrest in cases of urgency. Citizens must turn their mind to whether the police are able to make the arrest, which is a far preferable circumstance. However, if people reasonably believe that the police will not be able to respond in time and make the arrest, property owners would be authorized to do it themselves.

The courts are familiar and comfortable with assessing the reasonableness of beliefs and would consider each case on its merits. In practical terms, the court may choose to look at such factors as the urgency of the situation, the safety of the people involved and the location of the incident, whether adequate information to identify the suspect was available and perhaps even the past conduct of the suspect.

In a nutshell, what is the change in the law? I would summarize the essence of the reform in the following way. Under the current law, if people find someone committing a criminal offence, they are only allowed to arrest him or her at that time. Under the proposed change, the arrest can take place later, within a reasonable time of finding the person committing the offence, as long as there are reasonable grounds to believe a police officer cannot make the arrest.

Members may ask what a reasonable period of time is. The phrase is not defined in the bill. The intention behind the phrase is to allow the courts, on a case by case basis, as they have done in so many instances, to examine the facts and circumstances and to make a determination on whether the time was reasonable in that particular case. The courts would likely turn to such factors as the length of delay, the conduct of the suspect and the conduct of the arrester, among other things. Imposing a rigid time limit on an arrest, for example an authority arrest within 12 hours would not be sound policy. The law must provide flexibility, but at the same time, build in safeguards, as Bill C-60 does.

Some may argue that this reform encourages vigilantism. I would completely disagree with that. The bill requires that a person witnesses an offence being committed and provides a degree of flexibility in terms of when an arrest can be effected for that offence. The bill does not change the amount of force that can be used in making an arrest. In short, people must continue to act responsibly.

This reform is being advanced because we have been hearing clearly from Canadians that limitations on citizen's arrests require change. There have been well publicized cases of individuals being charged and prosecuted for citizen's arrests that occurred shortly after an offence was witnessed. The government's goal is, therefore, to provide a balanced extension of the period of time to make an arrest.

Finally, for greater certainty, the reforms specify that the existing requirements in relation to the use of force in effecting arrests, which are provided for under section 25 of the Criminal Code, apply to citizen's arrests. I think that is only reasonable. There is no change to the rules regarding how much force can be used to make a citizen's arrest. An individual who makes a citizen's arrest is, if he or she acts on reasonable grounds, justified in using as much force as necessary for that purpose.

It is important to highlight that a person making an arrest is never justified in using force intended or likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm unless he or she believes on reasonable grounds that it is necessary for self-preservation or for anyone under his or her protection from death or grievous bodily harm.

These legal standards have been in place for a long time and continue to reflect appropriate policy today. This reform and our discussions of it in this place give us an opportunity to speak directly to Canadians. In this regard, I would like to say that citizen's arrests made without careful consideration of the risk factors may have serious unintended physical consequences, as well as legal consequences for those involved.

When deciding if a citizen's arrest is appropriate, people should consider whether a peace officer is available to intervene, whether their personal safety or that of others would be compromised by attempting the arrest, whether they have reasonable belief regarding the suspect's criminal conduct and identity, and whether they can turn over the suspect to the police without delay once an arrest is made.

In developing these citizen's arrest reforms, we consider a number of options. We examine private members' bills currently before this place as well as the laws of other jurisdictions and certainly the representations that are made to me and to the government on this issue. I submit that we have taken the elements of all these efforts and have developed a proposal which makes sense to Canadians.

I would now like to turn the defence of property contained in the bill. The government decided to couple reform with the defence of property with citizen's arrest reforms because there is a logical and factual connection between the two.

Consider the example of a property owner who sees a theft taking place on his or her property. In this situation, he or she could attempt a citizen's arrest if the desire was to capture the thief so he or she could be charged and prosecuted. However, the person could also desire to get the suspected intruder off the property, without intending to make the arrest. In the latter case, the use of force by the property owner could be justified by a claim of defence of property.

The defence of property, like any defence, is a claim made by a person who is alleged to have committed a criminal offence and who asserts that he or she should not be held responsible for that alleged offence because of some countervailing policy. Defending one's property from a threat is just the kind of circumstance that might justify otherwise criminal conduct, such as the use of force against a would-be thief.

Our Criminal Code, since its inception in 1892, provided a defence for the use of force to protect one's possession of property. However, one of the unfortunate realities about the defence is the way it is worded in the code. There are five separate provisions, sections 38 to 42, of the code that could potentially apply to a defence of property circumstance. The provisions create a distinct defence depending on the precise circumstances, differentiating between types of property and the hierarchy of claims to the property as between the possessor and the person seeking to interfere with the property. They are extremely detailed and, in many cases, overlap with each other. This approach to the Criminal Code is well over a century old and does not meet the needs of Canadians today.

The idea behind the defence of property is simple. A person should not be held criminally responsible for the reasonable use of force to protect property in his or her possession from being taken, destroyed, or trespassed upon.

We cannot find many of these words in the law itself. However, we can find many other words which, rather than help to set out this idea, describe narrow subsets of it. This means that Canadians, including police, prosecutors, judges and ultimately juries, must consider too many words and words which overlap with each other to arrive at what, in essence, is a rather simple idea.

Bill C-60 will demystify and clarify these waters.

The defence of property reforms contained in the bill would replace five separate provisions with one simplified provision that captures the essence of the defence, while providing the same level of protection as the existing law and with some modest enhancements.

There are some essential property-related concepts that must be retained, such as the idea of peaceable possession of property. Because different people can have independent claims to property and because the defence must, to some degree, incorporate notions borrowed from property law, the defence must have some technical components.

One enhancement is that a defence could be raised as a defence to any type of act that otherwise would be criminal. The law justifies the use of force in defence of property, which is basically assaultive behaviour against the property trespasser.

In recognition of the fact that people might engage in other forms of otherwise criminal activity to defend their property, such as discharging a weapon into the air to scare away the trespassers, Bill C-60 would allow the defence to apply so long as the actions are reasonable in the circumstances.

Finally, the reform on defence would clearly deny its application in the cases of lawful police action, such as the execution of a search warrant.

The new law of property, like the current law, does not put any express limits on what can be done to defend property. However, it is absolutely essential to note that courts have unequivocally rejected the use of intentional deadly force in defence of property alone and have stated many times that deadly force cannot ever be justified where human life is in jeopardy.

Some property-related conflicts do pose a risk to human life, such as home invasions, and deadly force may be justified in these circumstances.

This brings me to the law of self-defence.

Like the defence of property, the self-defence provisions were enacted in Canada's first Criminal Code in 1892 and have remained largely unchanged since that time. Like the defence of property, the law governing self-defence is set out over several separate provisions that describe situation-specific defences which overlap or conflict with each other, depending on the facts of a particular case.

I would submit that this complexity in the law cannot remain, especially when we are delineating the legal tests to be used for people using force in self-defence.

The complexity of the law makes it extremely difficult for the police to assess whether charges should be laid, causes trial counsel to have to devote time and energy to making arguments about which version of the defence should apply and poses challenges for judges on instructing juries how to apply the law. We can only imagine what juries think when the law is read to them.

Described in a general way, the proposed reforms would replace all of the existing defences with a single, general test for the defence of the person. In essence, people would be protected from criminal responsibility if they reasonably believe that they or another person are being threatened with force and they act reasonably for the purpose of defending themselves or another person from that force.

The reforms would also include a list of factors the court could consider in determining whether the person's actions were reasonable, such as a pre-existing relationship between the parties, including any history of violence, and the proportionality between the harm threatened and the response.

The list of factors codifies well-recognized features of many self-defence situations and will help guide judges and juries in applying the new law.

Consistent with the present law and for sound policy reasons, the defence would not be available where the person would be responding to a peace officer or other person who would be acting lawfully for a law enforcement purpose, such as when a person is arrested.

I am pleased to report that the proposed reforms on self-defence are consistent with those agreed to in 2009 by federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for justice based on the collective work of their officials. These reforms also respond to calls for simplification by many criminal justice stakeholders.

The citizen's arrest reforms extend the time in which an arrest can be made for an offence committed on or in relation to property. There is a real need in doing so to keep a clear distinction between the powers of the police and those of citizens. Police officers are rightly cloaked in the duty to preserve and maintain the public peace. They are our first and foremost criminal law enforcement body and with this reform, they continue to be so.

With regard to the defence reforms, at a practical level, very few Canadians would be able to read the many existing provisions and understand what the law allows. The law should be accessible to Canadians, and these reforms will help accomplish that goal.

Bill C-60 represents a responsible expansion of the citizen's power of arrest as well as a simplification of the law relating to the defence of persons and property. I urge all members to support this law and, in doing so, support the calls for reform made by law-abiding Canadians.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
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10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a few questions.

I know where the minister is coming from on this, but the message he is giving to the public on how he is going to protect citizens in a number of circumstances perplexes me. The first is protecting the citizen who is engaging in a false arrest. The second is protecting the person who is being falsely arrested, Does he not think he is encouraging an environment for vigilantism? Also, how does the person engaging in the arrest of a citizen know what reasonable force is?

The minister mentioned that a person could do this when a police officer was not around. However, does this not run counter to what the police are telling individuals, that they should be very careful in trying to engage in an arrest when individuals possibly engaging in criminal activity could use force and hurt the person trying to intervene? We have seen many cases where this has happened.

I would be very interested to learn how the minister is going to deal with those issues under those circumstances.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
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10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON

First, Mr. Speaker, in these cases we are talking about victims. It would better protect victims and explain what they could or could not do. The legislation is all about that.

I am not alone on this. The member's colleague who sits diagonally to him in the House of Commons was among those who said that we had to clarify and expand the provisions with respect to citizen's arrest. My colleague, the member for Mississauga—Erindale, and the NDP have indicated that as well. There is widespread support for clarifying the rules and the laws as they relate to victims of crime. That is who we are talking about. This has been a consistent theme and priority for this government.

Again, the bill has set out as it does and as the laws have interpreted over the years that people must act responsibly. For instance, individuals are not entitled to use deadly force in a citizen's arrest unless their own safety comes into question. It seems to me that when we draw up these laws, we have to look at them in the light of protecting individuals and their right to protect their property or, as in the other provisions of the bill, to protect themselves.

No, it does not encourage vigilantism. The bill is very clear that in the existing provisions of the Criminal Code one makes these arrests when it is not practical or reasonable to have a peace officer do it. That is the first line of protection and that is what we encourage people to do. However, we know of situations where it is not reasonable or where police officers are not available and people should still have the right to protect their property. That is exactly what this bill would do.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
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10:25 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois would like to try to follow and understand the government. My question will be simple. In his speech, the minister spoke about self-defence, defence of property and the use of force. Could a citizen who uses force to defend his property—not himself—go so far as to do the unspeakable and kill a human being? Does the minister believe that a citizen could use such force to protect his property that he could kill another human being?

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
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10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I made it very clear that if people are protecting their property, they are not authorized to start using deadly force. That is very clear under the present law. With respect to protecting property, all the law does is clarify the provisions.

As I indicated, there are nine provisions in the existing Criminal Code which cover the protection of property and self-defence. They are very confusing. They were included in the Criminal Code in 1892, and I am told these provisions go back to colonial times before 1867. It has been a long time since they have been updated.

I have been told by law enforcement agencies that when people assert their right to protect themselves or their property, it is confusing what particular provision applies when they look at the Criminal Code. It is appropriate at this time for us to update the laws. As I indicated, in my discussions almost two years ago now with federal, provincial and territorial justice ministers, they too recognize that in this area it was time to start consolidating, simplifying and clarifying the law.

The Bloc members should think about the victims in these situations. I appreciate we need to have a very balanced approach. Think about individuals who are trying to protect their property and themselves. In no way does the existing law do what the hon. member seems to be suggesting. By clarifying the laws with respect to citizen's arrest, the defence of property and self-defence, we have not changed that.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
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10:30 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the Minister of Justice on this bill. Our member for Trinity—Spadina has obviously been out front and centre on this and introduced a bill just prior to this that looks, in some parts, similar to what was introduced today by the minister.

I think the principle here is that we never want to create a situation where a victim is turned into an offender under what we would call reasonable grounds, that is, where someone who is attempting to defend themselves, their family, or their property, becomes a criminal themself. The minister did not mention it specifically, but the case of the Lucky Moose is something that has received attention. The prosecution in that case was over-zealous and brought exaggerated charges. A charge of kidnapping was a bit much and clearly out of line with the public's understanding of what the owner of that property was trying to do.

I have a couple of questions for the minister. Here I would say that I think that when this place is at its best, it takes good ideas and we go back and forth and try to understand how to make decent ideas better.

One question is about the education of the public. If we are going to change the way that people can defend themselves or their property and how much further they can they go in doing a citizen's arrest, I think it is incumbent upon the government to make sure that the public clearly understands where its rights have now been extended to. We do not want to have any situation later on where somebody goes too far in the spirit of this bill and causes grievous bodily harm.

If we proposed certain changes to this bill, potentially even hiving off sections of it to fast track, because we are facing an imminent budget, et cetera, would the government be willing to discuss the fast tracking of elements of the bill, on which I think we could find some consensus to move quickly through the process?

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
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10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, we all have a responsibility with respect to educating the public. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was honoured to be in Toronto with the Prime Minister at the grocery store where the famous incident mentioned by the hon. member occurred. We were right there. This is part of our ongoing efforts to make sure that Canadians know what changes we are bringing about in the Criminal Code and how these changes might affect them. I very much appreciated the Prime Minister being there because when he gets involved with these issues, as he does, Canadians become more aware of them.

Again, we all do our best and, certainly, I see my colleagues in the House being very helpful to me and the government in getting the message out on these issues. I agree with the hon. member and support anything that we can do to bring publicity to all of these criminal law reforms that we are very much in favour of. The meeting with the Prime Minister in Toronto just a couple of weeks ago was an excellent example of getting that message out to the public, and so I thank the hon. member for his suggestion and recommendation.

The hon. member says that we should start splitting up the bill and hiving off sections. This bill is very straightforward. It consolidates the nine sections existing in the Criminal Code with respect to the defence of property and self-defence. It clarifies them. As I say, with respect to a number of those defences, all provincial and territorial justice ministers had recommended a number of these changes in 2009, in my meetings with them.

On the issue of extending the period of time for an individual to arrest someone, I would hope that the hon. member would get up and support all of this bill.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
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10:35 a.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on Bill C-60 as official opposition critic.

I managed to hear most of the speech by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and I noticed that he was calling for this bill to be fast-tracked through the House. The Liberals agree with quickly sending this bill to committee to be studied.

The bill seeks to amend the Criminal Code to allow private citizens who own or have lawful possession of property to arrest a person whom they find committing a criminal offence, or in relation to that criminal offence on or in relation to that property within a reasonable amount of time. This power of arrest is permitted only in circumstances where there are reasonable grounds to believe that it is not feasible for the person to call in law enforcement to make the arrest.

All of this stems from a very high-profile case, that of a shopkeeper in the Toronto area, David Chen. There was a thief, a repeat offender, a small-time petty thief, who had been arrested and convicted on at least one previous occasion and who had charges of theft pending against him. He was victimizing shopkeepers in Chinatown. This particular shopkeeper had been the victim of a theft by this petty thief, whom the police patrolling the area were well aware of.

On this occasion, the person came into his shop and Mr. Chen effected a citizen's arrest with the assistance of a family member and an employee. When law enforcement actually showed up, Mr. Chen, his family member and his employee were the ones who were arrested and charged. I believe some of the charges brought against Mr. Chen were unlawful, forcible confinement, the use of force, et cetera. That is because under the current provisions of the Criminal Code, a citizen may make an arrest only when a criminal offence is being committed, or has been committed and the alleged criminal is in the process of fleeing, for instance.

However, if a citizen is aware that he or she has been a victim of theft, perhaps destruction of their property, and knows there are reasonable grounds to suspect a specific person and then sees that person at a later time when it is not feasible to call law enforcement, or when law enforcement would not arrive in time before the person flees from the premises or location, that citizen effects an arrest.

Under the current provision, if time has passed and it is the next day, that citizen cannot legally effect a citizen's arrest and cannot use force to restrain the alleged culprit.

Mr. Chen was charged.

A Liberal member called on the government, in the name of all Liberals, to immediately enact provisions to protect citizens in those circumstances. It is unfortunate that the government did not move at that time. That Liberal member tabled a private member's bill that would, in fact, have made those changes and ensured the protection of citizens.

An NDP member, on behalf of the NDP, also called on the government at that time to move to act. When the government did not do so, that NDP member also tabled a private member's bill.

Mr. Chen had to hire legal counsel and appear in court, as did the two other people charged alongside him. He incurred legal fees. He had to take time away from his business. He is a small business owner who has created some employment, including for members of his family and other residents of Canada. He pays taxes to the municipal government, to the provincial government and to the Government of Canada, or should I use the term that the Prime Minister has now instructed government employees to use, the “Harper Government”--

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
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10:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member will restrain herself in that respect. She knows it is out of order to use the names of members in the House. Clever as it may be to do that in the chamber, we will avoid that.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
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10:40 a.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I understand that it is against the rules of the House to use the names of other sitting members, but when a sitting member instructs the employees of the Government of Canada in their public communications to no longer use the term “Government of Canada” but instead to use his family name in conjunction with the word “government”, then it is a little difficult for members of Parliament to properly--

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
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10:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I will hear the point of order by the hon. member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
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10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I think it is common practice, as you usually address, to inform anyone speaking here that he or she should stick to the topic. It is quite clear that the member is not doing that, and I would ask you to please enforce that policy.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
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10:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

We have gone off the topic in part because I stopped the member from using that name because she was discussing a government announcement or something, as I recall. The hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, I am sure, is going to return promptly to the bill before us.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
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10:40 a.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I take note of your admonishment. I will make every effort to respect that admonishment and to adhere to the rules of the House of Commons in terms of use of sitting members' family names or first names when taking part in debates or rising to speak in the House.

I do, however, warn that it may be difficult if I am citing from an official government document and that document adheres to the written instructions of the sitting Prime Minister that the term “Government of Canada” should no longer be used; it should be his last name in front of the word “government”. It might be difficult, but I will make every effort to adhere to the rules of the House.

When I talk about Government of Canada in my debate, I will make every effort not to use the Prime Minister's name, although he has requested all public civil servants that it is no longer the Government of Canada, it is his government.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chen had to incur significant legal costs in order to defend himself under the current provisions of the Criminal Code. Thankfully, he was acquitted, as were the two other individuals who worked for him in October of 2010.

If we heed the words of the Minister of Justice, did the government at that time bring forth amendments to the Criminal Code provisions which deal with citizens' arrests? No, it did not. It had months and months in which to do so. It had two private members' bills, both sitting members, who had tabled their respective private members' bills and had offered the government to take them over, table them in the government's name and they and their caucuses would be supportive.

It is yet another example of how the government under the sitting Prime Minister, who now wants the Government of Canada to be called his government, uses real issues that can have a real impact, sometimes devastating, on citizens' lives as a political football. The Conservatives are now worried about possibly the vote in that particular section of Toronto and perhaps in other areas of Canada, so now all of a sudden the issue has become important to the them and a priority.

The Liberals will not stand in the way of getting Bill C-60 to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights quickly. If any member of the government were to stand in future debate and make that insinuation, they would be wrong and they would be making that false insinuation knowingly, because it has been stated here by the justice critic of the official opposition.

My colleague from British Columbia rose and asked a question of the minister. The minister brushed off his question. I wonder why the minister and his colleagues, whose party forms the Government of Canada--I am getting too close to violating again, I was tempted to use the sitting Prime Minister's preferred term--brushed it off.

At committee we wish to make clear and certain that there are no unintended consequences with this legislation and with the proposed amendments, so we need to ensure that the term “reasonable grounds” is clear and the reasonable time after the commission of a criminal offence or reasonable grounds that there was the commission or the attempt to commit a criminal offence and the time in which the citizen's arrest is effected is also well defined.

The other issue is we want to make sure it appears that if a citizen has reasonable grounds to believe that another individual is either committing an offence against the owner's property or the person who has legal possession of that property and effects a citizen's arrest, in some cases using reasonable force, and it turns out the person was mistaken, the individual who was presumed to be a culprit and committing a criminal offence or to have committed a criminal offence in a reasonable timeframe wherein the citizen's arrest could be effected, the person effecting the arrest is protected.

I believe it is clear that individuals are protected. If they are in fact the owners of the property or duly authorized to be in possession of the property and had reasonable grounds to believe another individual was attempting to commit a criminal offence against that property and within a reasonable time effected a citizen's arrest using reasonable force, then that person is protected.

However, clearly there is nothing in the provisions for the individual who is the subject of the suspicions and ultimately the citizen's arrest if it turns out he or she was not committing an offence. Individuals who may have been subjected to damages to their reputation or their own belongings may have civil remedies available and it will be interesting to hear the minister speak to that when he appears before committee.

I have been pretty good so far. I have avoided using the sitting Prime Minister's surname in front of the word “government”, as he has requested be done by all public servants and in any official communication going out from any government department or agency. I have been good about that, however difficult and tempting it has been.

My colleague asked the question about what, if any, protections there are for citizens who become the object of suspicion by another and placed under citizen's arrest, which turns out to be a false arrest because the individual thought to be a criminal is not and has every right to the property in question. Those are issues that need to be dealt with because we do not want to create another category of victims.

We want citizens in lawful possession of property to be able, in reasonable circumstances with reasonable grounds, to protect it. However, we also do not wish to create a category of new victims where people do not understand because we have not done the work.

It is not just the opposition. The Government of Canada will have to conduct clear educational advertising, and not like it did with its economic plan which was disguised political partisan advertising. This needs to be clear educational advertising so that everybody in Canada understands what these new provisions mean, what they allow and do not allow, and what can be lawfully done in different circumstances. Hopefully these provisions will provide very clear limits.

I will conclude by saying that Liberals have been calling for this bill for months, if not over a year, since the time that Mr. Chen was originally arrested by the police for trying to defend his property. We are pleased that the government has finally brought forth a piece of legislation. We are anxious to see it in committee so that we can ensure that it does not go beyond what it should and that it does not, in any way, shape, or form create the unintended consequence of vigilantism.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am not a lawyer, and since Bill C-60 seems complex, I would like my colleague to help me understand by answering a question that came to my mind this morning.

Would this bill allow me, as a private citizen, to arrest one or more individuals suspected of committing election fraud?

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member may not have any legal training, but she clearly has a legal mind. I would suggest that she take a law program if she is looking to do some courses. The faculty of political science and law at the Université du Québec à Montréal would be an excellent place for that. The program is available at other Université du Québec campuses as well. I graduated from that program, and I found both the law course and the political science course to be excellent.

Since some of the charges against the two Conservative senators and two high-ranking officials in the Conservative Party—or maybe I should talk about the Prime Minister's party, since he wants to attach his name to everything—concern the falsification or production of fake invoices, maybe the management at Retail Media Group should have the offenders arrested for falsifying the company's property. Invoices carrying the company's legal name belong to Retail Media Group. But it seems that some of the charges against these four high-ranking Conservatives, including two sitting senators, have to do with producing fake invoices.

That is an excellent question.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Given the time, it might be prudent to move along with statements by members. We can resume the questions and comments after question period is over. I have a feeling that, given the amount of time left for questions, if we start more I will have to cut somebody off and I am reluctant to do that.

In the circumstances I will call for statements by members.

Cornwall Chapter of Victoria's Quilts
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Guy Lauzon Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week, I had the pleasure of visiting a truly remarkable group of women, the Cornwall chapter of Victoria's Quilts.

I walked into St. Matthew's Lutheran Church and was greeted by a roomful of compassion. There were 40 women of all ages and descriptions working together in a labour of love to make homemade quilts for cancer patients undergoing treatments. Since its beginning in 2002, the Cornwall chapter of Victoria's Quilts has produced 1,967 quilts to provide comfort for cancer patients.

I am tremendously proud of all the dedicated volunteers of the Cornwall chapter of Victoria's Quilts and, on behalf of the 1,967 cancer patients who received this generosity, I thank each and every one of them. Each quilt carries the Bible passage, “Be not afraid, I am with you always.”

I can assure the House that this wonderful experience of last week will be with me always.

Big Brothers Big Sisters
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, for nearly 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has been making a positive difference in the lives of our nation's youth by developing and implementing a wide range of mentoring programs.

Serving as role models, these mentors teach by example the importance of giving and giving back, of staying in school and of having respect for family, peers and community. Each time they pair a child with a mentor, they start something incredible: a life-changing relationship built on friendship, trust and empowerment.

Witnessing the transformation of a child into a confident, concerned and motivated young person is a remarkable thing. Ushering them into adulthood, seeing them grow into a successful, responsible member of their community and society at large is even more satisfying. Proudly, it is something its staff, volunteers and donors help bring about every day.

There is no more important investment that we as individuals can make than helping our nation's children realize and share their full potential.

I and Big Brothers Big Sisters believe in the value and values of mentoring.

Elbama Winery
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

Luc Malo Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, in September 2010, a winemaker from Saint-Amable, Martin Gemme, opened his retail shop for the first time to offer his first vintage.

Within weeks, a third of his production, 1,800 bottles in total, had been sold. Mr. Gemme's winery, Domaine Elbama, is the first such business in the Marguerite-D'Youville area and has quickly become a source of pride for the entire region.

Starting the business required a clear vision, plenty of ambition and lots of hard work. Indeed, this new vocation came as a result of crop diversion after the golden nematode infested Martin Gemme's land in 2006. Instead of giving up, he decided to innovate. With the help of Philippe Gemme, Daniel Blain and Maxime Gratton, who collaborated on the project, as well as Richard Champagne, who supplied the first vines, Mr. Gemme was able to reinvent his business. Together, they have built a successful family business. It has gotten off to an impressive start, which I hope bodes well for the future, and it remains a source of inspiration for everyone in Saint-Amable.

Air Canada
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, over the last few days, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities has assured us that there will not be layoffs of Air Canada heavy maintenance workers. However, contrary to the minister's statements, Aveos has already posted layoff notices for some of those very jobs.

For example, in Winnipeg, 58 workers will be laid off on May 12 and another 40 workers on June 30, for a total of 98, or almost 100 people. Vancouver will lose 101 workers on May 12 and Montreal will lose 72 on June 7.

Air Canada has already had heavy maintenance work done in the U.S. and China, and Aveos has begun international maintenance work in Central America. Air Canada's heavy maintenance contract with Aveos expires in 2013.

The workers at the Canadian facilities are very concerned that, after the contract expires, Aveos and the government will not honour the intent of the Air Canada act.

Canadian International AutoShow
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, this year marked the 38th edition of the Canadian International AutoShow, Canada's largest consumer trade show.

The auto show is an independent component of the Toronto Automobile Dealers Association which, since 1908, has been at the forefront of consumer protection and the voice of greater Toronto's 340 new car dealers.

Scotiabank recently reported that, “Canada is scheduled to post the largest increase in vehicle output across North America in early 2011...”. It also reported that, “We estimate that rising vehicle output will add roughly 1.5 percentage points to economic growth in Canada...”.

Coming from St. Catharines, I take a special pride in the auto industry and in General Motors. This year was special since the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada gave its 2011 Canada Car of the Year Award to the Chevrolet Cruz, a car built by General Motors.

I am pleased to stand in the House today to say that I am proud of our government's record of supporting the auto industry that, in turn, supports the working families who rely so heavily on it.

Shahbaz Bhatti
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise in remembrance of, and to pay tribute to, Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's minority affairs minister who was tragically assassinated this week.

Minister Bhatti was a courageous and heroic figure who literally put his life on the line in defence of religious freedom, equality and minority rights in Pakistan. He had no illusions about the price he might pay for his courageous advocacy.

As he told me when we met just a month ago, he was under standing threats from extremists for his efforts, especially with regard to the repeal of the blasphemy laws that had been used to suppress the Christian minority and where the mere accusation can incite hatred and even death. Indeed, Minister Bhatti was already under a fatwa death threat when we spoke.

Pakistan has lost a great and courageous son of its people and we have lost a great hero in the struggle for human rights. We honour his memory best by standing steadfast against hatred and extremism as he inspired us to do.

Art from Memory Challenge
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to proudly congratulate a young university student from my riding, Rachel MacGillivray, for honouring our Canadian war veterans with a winning art piece titled “Security Blanket”. The blanket honours the sacrifice and courage of our Canadian war veterans while sharing an important piece of our collective history.

Rachel won first place in the Historica–Dominion Institute's Art from Memory Challenge by drawing inspiration from the memories of relatives who fought in World War II. She further honoured veterans by donating 20% of her prize winnings to the Perley and Rideau Veterans' Health Centre in Ottawa.

I would also like to acknowledge her parents, Campbell and Elizabeth MacGillivray, who are very proud of Rachel and who have joined me here on Parliament Hill today to celebrate this wonderful achievement.

Bernard Bureau
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bernard Bureau has received a prestigious lifetime achievement award. He won the 2010 Homage Award from the Association des camps certifiés du Québec

Mr. Bureau is the director general of Camps Espaces Jeunesse and has been heading up Camp Val-Estrie in Waterville since 1987 and Camp de Portneuf since 1994. Camp Val-Estrie is known throughout Quebec for its hospitality and its fine activities and is a model for all the vacation camps in Quebec. Every year, thousands of people go to Camp Val-Estrie and take part in its wide range of activities.

I want to congratulate Bernard Bureau on everything he has done. Mr. Bureau is contributing to the advancement and development of the tourist industry in the RCM of Coaticook and throughout the Eastern Townships.

A Night with the Riders Fundraiser
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, many of us in this chamber take being able to see and hear for granted but what would we do if this was taken away from us?

This past weekend in February, the Moose Jaw Lions Club hosted its annual A Night with the Riders fundraiser, which helped raise $20,000 for assistance dogs for the disabled in Saskatchewan. Nine members of the Saskatchewan Roughriders football team took part in this event.

People, like Norman Fedrau of Central Butte, who was injured in an accident and lost his sight, are grateful for the assistance they have received through this program. Through the Lions, Norman received his assistance dog, Austin, who is named after the former head coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Kent Austin.

I salute our Rider nation, both for the support that it gives our team during the season and for the support it is giving now to those who need it. I hope all members will join me in supporting the Roughriders and the Lions for the wonderful work they do.

The Economy
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Martha Hall Findlay Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week, with my former and, let me stress, future Brant MP, Lloyd St. Amand, I toured a dozen-plus abandoned or scaled-back businesses in Brantford. These closures represent hundreds of lost jobs. It was sad.

However, one person said, “Not so. We've taken over one of those plants, so it is a wonderful story”.

I congratulate Brant Screen Craft for the expansion of its company, for making use of the emptied Crane facility, and for creating jobs. That part of the story is indeed excellent.

the purpose of the tour, however, was to highlight the still far greater preponderance of losses. Being able to use the Crane facility is good but the fact that Crane had to close and all those jobs were lost is, I repeat, sad.

I have asked the folks at Brant Screen Craft to give credit where it is due. They said that their corporate tax cuts were responsible for their decision to expand and it was in fact the Liberal government that drastically reduced corporate taxes from 29% to 19%. I am glad that our years of Liberal work in making that competitive helped Brant Screen Craft.

The Economy
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, as we saw earlier this week, when the President of the Treasury Board tabled the main estimates, our government is committed to keeping taxes low and ensuring that government spending is prudent and affordable. We are avoiding reckless new spending commitments that will lead to higher taxes that kill jobs and hurt Canadian families. Our prudent approach to economic management is clearly the best choice for the Canadian economy.

In contrast, the Liberal leader wants to trigger an unnecessary and opportunistic election over the government's upcoming budget. That is not because of anything in the budget, after all, the Liberal leader has not even seen it yet. He is upset because we will not raise taxes on job creators.

The Liberals have made job killing tax hikes the centrepiece of their vision for Canada. That is a damaging vision, and we call on the Liberal leader to reconsider.

Students at Princeton Secondary School
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, I recently received a letter from Miss Desiree Cosman, a grade 12 law student from Princeton Secondary School.

Des is concerned that young people under the age of 18 are not allowed to vote and, thus, do not have a say in their future.

As a follow-up to her letter, I visited her class and had a chance to discuss this with her and other students. I would like to thank her teacher, John Kitts, for allowing me this opportunity. We talked about related issues and decided that Des and her classmates would draft up some notes for a private member's bill that I could research, draft and present on their behalf.

I would like to thank the students, especially Des and Bobby Gibb who contributed to a lively and productive discussion. I look forward to working with them as we draft this piece of legislation.

In talking with these young students I am reassured that the future of our country is in excellent hands.

The Economy
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, our government's top priority remains the economy. With the economic recovery still fragile, our government is focused on creating jobs and economic growth by keeping taxes low. We all know that reckless new spending will lead to higher taxes and kill jobs and, most important, hurt Canadian families.

So it is with great concern that we note the Liberal leader's plans to hike taxes and increase spending. The Liberal leader wants a higher GST and more taxes on job creators. He even wants to tax iPods, Blackberries and personal computers. It is unbelievable. We cannot tax our way out of a recession. These plans clearly put our fragile economic recovery at risk.

On our side of the House, we urge the Liberal leader to drop his plans for higher taxes on Canadians and support our prudent approach for the good of the Canadian economy, for the good of Canadian families, including the fine people of Peterborough.

Guy Laliberté
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, during the Inter-Parliamentary Conference on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, Guy Laliberté, who was already a knight of the Ordre de La Pléiade, was raised to officer status. This order was created in 1976 to recognize distinguished figures who promote the Francophonie.

A specialist in contemporary circus arts, Guy Laliberté created Quebec's internationally renowned Cirque du Soleil. He reinvented the circus in a remarkable way by putting the entire spotlight on the performers, whose talents dazzle crowds around the world.

Guy Laliberté has pushed the circus concept even further by making it a real circus of the people. The company helps to fund organizations in some 20 countries on 5 continents. Mr. Laliberté also created the international Cirque du Monde program to help troubled youth.

My Bloc Québécois colleagues and I are proud to congratulate Guy Laliberté on this honour.

Retirement Congratulations
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, in a few days, André Boivin, our Assistant Deputy Sergeant at Arms, who is sitting at the back of the House, will be retiring after 37 years of service, 31 of them here in Parliament.

André began his career as a police officer with the Vanier police department.

He was awarded the medal of bravery for courageously diving into freezing water to save the life of a man who had jumped into the river in an attempt to commit suicide.

Mr. Boivin's most enduring legacy, apart from his extraordinary length of service, is the love and respect that his colleagues have for him. This was earned through his kindness and compassion, his dedication as a public servant and his outstanding leadership.

On behalf of all members in the House of Commons and the people of Canada, I extend our deep gratitude to André for his dedicated service to this institution and to Canada. May he have a long and enjoyable retirement doing stone masonry work and riding his collector T-Bird through the highways and byways of our great country.

Liberal Party of Canada
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, we all know the Liberal leader spends a lot of his time thinking about his country, the United States. Most recently, we learned the Liberal leader's soft on crime spokesman from Ajax—Pickering shares those feelings.

Yesterday, the Liberal public safety critic invited a former U.S. congressman to appear at committee, in a political attempt to advance Liberal beliefs that serious criminals and thugs should not serve their sentences behind bars. It is more of the same from the member who is more concerned with American justice than he is about protecting victims at home.

During his speech opposing our bill to end early parole, he quoted a former U.S. speaker four times, referenced California six times and, shockingly, advocated keeping white collar criminals out of prison ten times. In the same speech, he stood up for victims zero times.

I call on the Liberal Party to finally start put law-abiding Canadians first.

Howard Noble
Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Independent

Helena Guergis Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today with a heavy heart to recognize Howard Noble, who passed away peacefully on Tuesday, February 8, at the age of 92, in my riding of Simcoe—Grey.

The Noble family is one of the first pioneer families in Simcoe county. In the 1800s, Archibald Noble left Ireland and settled in Mulmur township. Over the years, many of Howard's ancestors were buried in the pioneer cemetery. The Noble family established deep roots in the community and those roots are still growing strong.

Howard is survived by three generations, his son, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Howard Noble was also one of the area's most respected businessman. In 1945 he founded Howard Noble Insurance. For over 65 years, this family-owned and operated business has successfully met the needs of the residents in the area.

Howard was also a major participant in establishing the community centre in Avening and the medical centre and Station on the Green, in Creemore. He was active in the Masons, the Shiners and the Eastern Star.

Our prayers go out to Howard's family and friends. He will be missed.

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, two senators may be thrown in jail for perpetrating election fraud of more than $1 million in 67 ridings across the country. These two senators were appointed by the Prime Minister himself, and two members of his inner circle are facing the same charges.

Canadians know that if they break the law, they will be punished. However, for those in the Prime Minister's inner circle, there is a double standard. Why is the Prime Minister turning a blind eye to these shenanigans?

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, our party has always followed all the rules, and we will defend our case in the courts.

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, let me quote the Prime Minister, “Bend the rules, you will be punished; break the law, you will be charged; abuse the public trust, you will go to prison”. However, he should have added, “Unless you're a close friend of mine”. The Prime Minister's top four advisers not only bent the rules, but outright broke them and the law.

As for the public trust, can there be a stronger abuse of it than trying to subvert the electoral process, the bedrock of our democracy?

Why will the Prime Minister not take action against these four people?

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I regret that we still do not have any questions from the Liberal Party on jobs, on helping Canadian families save for the future. It says a lot about its priorities, that all it wants to do is smear personalities rather than focusing on building up the country.

The good news is our tax-free savings accounts have allowed five million Canadians to invest for their futures. Three million Canadians have maximized their contributions to these savings accounts in the very first year. That is money that will be set aside, that will grow out of the reach of government taxation, so families can have a prosperous, secure future.

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives did not say or disclose anything to Elections Canada. The RCMP had to raid their offices, at the request of Elections Canada, to obtain the information requested. They tried to falsify invoices with all the sophistication of a young child who brings home a bad report card and tries to make the F look like an A.

What kind of Prime Minister lets his lieutenants break the law?

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, Conservative candidates spent Conservative funds on Conservative advertising. The central party transferred funds to local candidates. The reason Elections Canada is aware of all these transactions we are discussing is because we told them. And why not? It is perfectly legal and ethical. All parties do it. We will defend our case in the courts.

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' devious in and out scandal has been confirmed now by judges of the Federal Court of Appeal, the Chief Electoral Officer and the Director of Public Prosecutions to have been illegal.

The campaign manager for the member from Simcoe smelled the stench of this scheme and refused to participate. Former Conservative candidate, David Marler, also rejected the Conservative conspiracy to gain power at any cost.

The government's pattern goes from deception and deceit and now to illegality. When will the government finally admit to election fraud, now admitted by its own members and candidates?

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, our Conservative candidates spent Conservative funds on Conservative advertising. It is true that the national party transferred funds to local candidates so they could run their campaigns. The reality is the reason that Elections Canada knows about these transactions is that we told it. Why would we not? We followed all the rules. These transfers are common practice among all parties and they are completely legal. We will continue to defend our case in front of the courts.

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, not only did the former Conservative candidate in Quebec, David Marler, know the scheme was illegal and said, “It is gratifying to note that the Federal Court has come to the same opinion”, but former Conservative MP Inky Mark, when asked to participate, told Conservative bagmen, “No thanks.”

The Conservative senators involved in this scheme are guilty of giving the Conservatives a million dollar advantage they should not have had, yet refuse to resign.

Why does the Prime Minister's defiance allow Senator Gerstein, who faces jail time, to continue to raise money for him?

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, despite the dramatic performance the hon. member has rendered in this chamber, I regret to inform him that the Oscars have already been awarded and it is too late for him to be nominated. Nor do I think he would have secured a nomination if that chronological fact were not in the way.

Conservative candidates spent Conservative funds on Conservative advertising. The party transferred funds to local campaigns. The reason Elections Canada knows that is because we told it, and why not? It is legal, ethical and common practice. We will defend our position in court.

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism knowingly broke the rules of the House of Commons by using his letterhead to raise money to fund an ad campaign for the Conservative Party. The departure of his assistant does not change the minister's responsibility in all this, especially since the letter clearly indicates that this partisan fundraising was being done at the minister's request.

Does the minister understand that he bears responsibility for this illegal use of House resources and that he must step down?

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, this is truly a very serious matter. This practice is absolutely unacceptable. The minister's assistant tendered his resignation to the minister and the minister did the right thing by accepting it.

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of International Cooperation has been telling us for weeks that ministers are the ones who make the decisions. It was his decision, his responsibility, his mistake. The mistake is even more serious considering that as Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, he was asking for money from his Conservative colleagues so that he could then use that money as a Conservative Party organizer to try and attract certain ethnocultural communities.

Are this gender confusion and his voter targeting not further proof that he does not have what it takes to be the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism and that he must step down?

Political Financing
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 case cited in example by the House leader of the Bloc Québécois is totally unacceptable. The minister took responsibility for the actions of his assistant and immediately accepted his resignation. He apologized for the actions of his employees. He did the right thing.

Let me be clear: this Minister of Immigration is one of the best ministers of immigration. He is one of the best ministers in cabinet. He is doing a good job for new Canadians and for all Canadians in every province.

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism is a national disgrace. Requiring people to use the term “Harper government” in all communications is more proof that the Conservatives—

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please. Members must not use the name of another member of Parliament in questions or comments. This is the second time today that this has happened. This cannot continue.

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, we cannot say his name in this House, but they can use it in government advertisements. That is shameful. First we had party fundraising letters from the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism and Conservative Party logos on government cheques, and now the Conservatives are once again confusing the interests of the Conservative Party and the activities of the government.

When will the Conservatives stop using government resources to promote their party?

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

North Vancouver
B.C.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, this has been a long-standing practice across various governments. This terminology is widely used by journalists and the public. In fact, Mel Cappe, who was quoted in these stories, approved many of the releases when he was clerk, using the term, “Chrétien government”.

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Let us continue, Mr. Speaker. It was the case, for example, with Dimitri Soudas's buddies. Even party organizers were put on the Senate payroll. I am thinking of Doug Finley, Leo Housakos, Michel Rivard and Claude Carignan. Furthermore, now we have learned that House resources and departmental press releases are being used to promote the Conservatives.

When will this government stop making taxpayers foot the bill for their election campaign?

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

North Vancouver
B.C.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, contrary to the member opposite's statement, it is well within all government policies to do this. In fact, it has been common practice across many governments. I would be pleased to give examples of previous Liberal government press releases to the member opposite so he can stop using those hypocritical statements.

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are hiding behind an administrative error to disguise their lack of ethics. But it simply proves that they are incapable of managing. The Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism ordered his director of multicultural affairs to raise money for the Conservative Party. He did not ask a party employee, but one of his office's directors. Parliamentary resources would be used, and the minister knew it.

Why is he not doing the honourable thing, since he is the one accountable for this decision? He must resign.

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the use of parliamentary resources for partisan political purposes is completely wrong and completely unacceptable. The employee in question has offered the minister his resignation. The minister has done the right thing and accepted it. The minister has assumed responsibility for these actions. He has apologized for his former employee's actions and believes they were unacceptable.

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, that director of multicultural affairs did not get fired for an ethical breach. He was fired because he was dumb enough to get caught. It is the minister's head that should roll for breaking faith with the Canadian people, for using his office and the weight of his title to orchestrate the Conservative Party's ethnic outreach strategy at the taxpayer's expense. Conservatives cannot pass this off on some overzealous flunky. The buck stops with the guy whose name is on the masthead.

Mulroney used to fire ministers who stepped in a cow-pie. Whatever happened to ministerial accountability for the current Conservative government?

Political Financing
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 believe the minister has done the right thing. He accepted the resignation of his staff member. Let us see if New Democrats will live up to that same standard.

I have in my hand an email from the NDP member for Edmonton—Strathcona's office where she is seeking to have a federal election. It states:

--a federal election called in the next month or two. Help your Edmonton NDP candidates get ready! Re-elect the NDP member for Edmonton—Strathcona and for details on how to work on the campaign, you can contact Erica Bullwinkle at duncanl1@parl.gc.ca.

The Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism has done the right thing. Will the NDP member for Edmonton—Strathcona follow—

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please. The hon. member for Winnipeg Centre.

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I do not know where Conservatives are burying the bodies of all the political staffers they are throwing under the bus. It is a good thing Skippy is practising his mortician routine because the Conservative lobbyists like Tim Powers could only absorb so many of these guys.

The minister of immigration is abusing his office. He is exploiting the hopes and dreams of the very people he is sworn to serve. There is an implied quid pro quo when the minister of immigration is the one heading up the outreach to new Canadian voters and he knows it.

The minister of immigration—

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

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

The hon. government House leader.

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, let us talk about the facts. The facts are that the NDP member for Edmonton—Strathcona knows she cannot beat Ryan Hastman and she is trying to cheat to keep her seat. She should apologize and then she should demand this staffer resign.

Former Public Sector Integrity Commissioner
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Navdeep Bains Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's hand-picked integrity commissioner took no action on the 228 complaints received from public servants. Documents confirm her independence was compromised because she was taking orders from the Prime Minister's Office. The media are now reporting that Ms. Ouimet was paid half a million dollars to resign from her post.

Can the Prime Minister confirm that he paid Ms. Ouimet hush money to cover up the fact that her office was used to bury complaints from public servants?

Former Public Sector Integrity Commissioner
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

North Vancouver
B.C.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, the previous public sector integrity commissioner has resigned and we look forward to working with all opposition parties to find a new commissioner.

The government sought and followed legal advice as to the terms of her resignation based on her years of service. We understand that Madame Ouimet will be appearing before the standing committee next week, which is the appropriate place to raise these questions.

Former Public Sector Integrity Commissioner
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

This position has been a scam since day one. The Prime Minister campaigned on protecting whistleblowers, but as soon as he was elected, he abandoned public servants. He claimed to be squeaky clean, yet he wasted more than $11 million on keeping public servants quiet and sweeping 228 of their complaints under the carpet. And to top it off, the Prime Minister just gave the integrity commissioner more than half a million dollars to keep her quiet and make her disappear.

How can we believe a single word from this Prime Minister?

Former Public Sector Integrity Commissioner
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

North Vancouver
B.C.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner is an independent officer of Parliament, appointed with the approval of all the leaders of all the opposition parties and Parliament.

We are pleased that the interim commissioner has said that a third-party review will take place to ensure that no valid concerns were overlooked. A selection process will be launched shortly to identify and appoint a new Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.

We look forward to working with all opposition parties to find the right person for the job.

Government Communications
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Martha Hall Findlay Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has now ordered that all federal departments, boards, agencies and commissions no longer use the phrase “Government of Canada”.

We are not just talking about press releases, but all sorts of documentation. Apparently the word “Canada” is too offensive to the Conservatives and they now think that the government does not belong to Canada but is somehow the Prime Minister's alone.

With the “H” word now to be used at all times instead of “Canada”, what is next? The Prime Minister's face on the $5 bill? It is blue after all.

Government Communications
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

North Vancouver
B.C.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, this has been a longstanding practice across various governments. Do not take my word for it; let me read some quotes:

That is the direction in which the Chrétien government has concentrated its efforts--

That was said on March 6, 2001.

Let me give another one:

--during the Chrétien government's time in office....

That was said on December 5, 2003. Who said that? It was the Liberal member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville.

Government Communications
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Martha Hall Findlay Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Treasury Board guidelines were actually changed since then.

I would ask, what rule is the Prime Minister not willing to break? Replacing “Government of Canada” with the Prime Minister's own name, suggesting it is his own personal fiefdom, violates Treasury Board communications policy, federal identity program policy, the Conflict of Interest Act and the conflict of interest code for members of Parliament.

We have heard more examples of rules being broken today alone. This is more rule-breaking—

Government Communications
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order. The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board.

Government Communications
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

North Vancouver
B.C.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, as I repeated previously, this has been a longstanding practice across various governments. Let me give some more quotes so the member will not have to take my word for it:

--Jean Chrétien's government and Gordon Campbell's government in British Columbia.

Who said that? The Liberal member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville.

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, two former Conservative MPs have said they refused to participate in the party's fraudulent scheme during the 2005-06 election campaign. They suspected that it was an illegal scam meant to circumvent the Canada Elections Act and the spending limits.

How can the Prime Minister continue to claim that this a simple administrative dispute, when the Chief Electoral Officer, the elections commissioner, the director of public prosecutions and former Conservative candidates and MPs all maintain that the party deliberately—

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I believe I mentioned that Conservative candidates spent Conservative funds on Conservative advertising. The national party transferred funds to local candidates. Elections Canada knows this because we told them.

I would also like to congratulate the Bloc for having created the in and out system. Everyone knows that the Bloc leader is the founding father of the in and out system.

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, Senator Doug Finley, the Prime Minister's henchman during the last two elections, the very one who orchestrated the scam to get around campaign financing limits, broke his silence this week to try to protect the Prime Minister. He would have us believe that the Prime Minister, a known control freak, was not aware of this electoral scam.

Do the chief organizer's comments not prove that the Conservatives know they are in hot water and are now trying to protect their Prime Minister?

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, Conservative candidates spent Conservative funds on Conservative advertising. The national party transferred funds to local candidates. Elections Canada knows this because we told them, and why not? It is legal, it is ethical and it is common practice among all parties. We will continue to defend our position in court.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Robert Carrier Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, we need to take action now and freeze the assets of the family of former Tunisian dictator Ben Ali, even more so since the Liberals are opposed to passing the new Bill C-61 quickly. The government could, for example, use section 354 and part XII.2 of the Criminal Code, as well as article 54 of the UN Convention against Corruption, to freeze the assets stolen from the people of Tunisia.

Why are the Conservatives protecting Ben Ali's family?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, nothing could be further from the truth. We announced new legislative efforts that will assist in tracking down misappropriated, stolen money.

We want to get the message out that Canada is no place to put that kind of money, and yesterday's legislation delivers that message.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Robert Carrier Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, section 462.33 of the Criminal Code is clear:

The Attorney General may make an application...for a restraint order...in respect of any property...if the judge is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that there exists...any property [obtained fraudulently].

What are the Conservatives waiting for to invoke this section of the Criminal Code and the UN Convention against Corruption to freeze the assets of Ben Ali's family?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as was indicated yesterday, there are gaps in Canadian law. That is why I am so pleased to be part of a government that acts so quickly on these matters.

We introduced legislation yesterday in the House of Commons that would address this and Canadians will be better protected.

We are sending out the right message to the individuals who try to misappropriate money that it will not be acceptable and that there will be Canadians laws on the books to deal with this.

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, in order to distance himself from yet another breach of Parliament, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism apologized for the actions of an employee who sent out letters on parliamentary letterhead to raise $200,000 for the Conservative Party of Canada. This is another case of misuse of taxpayers' dollars.

For the minister, who gave the employee the information and the instructions for the improper mailing?

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

As was said before, Mr. Speaker, this is a serious matter and obviously unacceptable.

The minister gave the instruction to have the riding association contacted, but as is always the case in these matters, he fully expected that this would be done, but not with parliamentary resources.

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Here we go ahead, Mr. Speaker, another minister, another breach and another staff member sacrificed to protect their boss.

The employee could not have acted alone. Someone directed this operation. It is the minister who is responsible for the actions of his staff and he must be accountable.

The Prime Minister's ethical guidelines for ministers are crystal clear: Breach the guidelines and they are out. When will the Conservative government learn that it is not above the laws of Canada?

Political Financing
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 minister has apologized. He has accepted the resignation of his staffer. I wonder whether we will see the same from the Liberal Party.

The Liberal member for Charlottetown appears to be using his constituency office in Charlottetown to run the Liberals' re-election campaign in that vulnerable riding.

I have information about the meeting to nominate his successor as the Liberal candidate. Where does one call to get information about the Liberal nomination meeting, to get a membership or to hear the member for Kings—Hants as the guest speaker? One contacts the office of the Liberal member for Charlottetown and his taxpayer-supported office is the address cited. When--

Political Financing
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, beyond the ethical problems with the minister's clumsy fundraising appeal, his very strategy is concerning. A government should show more respect to Canadians, not simply see them as votes up for grabs.

New Canadians who are looking for reasons to call this country their home and to feel welcome here should not be treated like commodities to be won or lost. What are new Canadians and ethnic minorities to think of this? What does “very ethnic” mean anyway?

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, no one has done more for the cause of Canadian immigration. No one has done more for the cause of immigration settlement to make new Canadians feel welcome in Canada than the current minister of immigration.

He has done perhaps more for new Canadians than any minister in the federal cabinet in a generation and he can be very, very proud of that.

The Conservative Party, since its inception, has always reached out and welcomed the involvement of new Canadians in our party and they are responding to the great record of this government.

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative funding plan for new Canadians reeks of contempt. They are categorizing entire ridings as being very ethnic. What does “very ethnic” mean? They are categorizing Canadians and are targeting Asian, Jewish and Ukrainian people.

Do the Conservatives think that some Canadians are more Canadian than others? Are they unable to understand that all Canadians are real Canadians?

Citizenship and Immigration
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 minister of immigration has worked so hard to make every single Canadian, young and old, new and those who have been here for generations, those from the west and the east, and those who have come to make Canada their home, welcome in this country.

He has done a significant amount to reach out to these citizens. He has cut the landing fee for them, something that was imposed by the Liberal government. He has cut that in half. He has brought in a record number of new Canadians to call Canada home, to help build Canada and make it a place for optimism, for hope and for opportunity. We make no apologies for that.

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Maurice Vellacott Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to strengthening Canada's economy. Last week Statistics Canada released the 2009 “Bioproducts Production and Development Survey”. The survey confirms that the investments our government has made have sparked the industry, with 43% of those firms reporting having become involved in bioproducts production or development since our government took office. That is an outstanding growth rate.

Could the Minister of Agriculture tell the House how biofuels are benefiting Canadian farmers while boosting the Canadian economy?

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture

Mr. Speaker, that is a tough but fair question.

The member for Saskatoon—Wanuskewin is absolutely right. Advancing Canada's bio-based economy while providing opportunities for our farmers is indeed a priority for this government. We have taken action by passing the renewable fuels bill in 2008. We have also developed a comprehensive renewable fuel strategy and invested over $2 billion in support of the renewable fuel industry. It is a strategy that is winning praise from leaders such as Don Kenny, chair of the Grain Farmers of Ontario, who said last month:

Thank you to the Canadian government for the implementation of a renewable fuels strategy that will truly benefit our farmers—

Regional Development
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, Atlantic Canadians are still struggling to recover from the recession, but this government continues to chip away at the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. The 17% cut to ACOA's budget while the unemployment rate is above the national average is a stark reminder of the Prime Minister's opinion of Atlantic Canadians. Included in the cuts is a $2.5 million drop in the promotion of official languages and $24 million from RInC funding.

When will this government accept that the people of Atlantic Canada are not locked in a culture of defeat and give them the support they need to prosper?

Regional Development
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Fredericton
New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, our government's economic stimulus measures rolled out through ACOA were wildly successful. I might remind the member opposite that there were significant investments in his own riding.

We have been clear all along that these temporary stimulus measures will be ending. That is why we call them “temporary”. I recommend a wonderful resource to the member opposite. He could use the Webster's dictionary to look up the word “temporary”.

Government Priorities
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, when I go into Iroquois Falls, Cochrane and Englehart and Timmins, I am hearing the same story over and over. Families are unable to find long-term care facilities to look after their loved ones. They look to this government and see a profligate spending spree to build prisons. No wonder Canadians are saying Ottawa is broken.

Is the government too busy playing political games to notice or care that Canadians are struggling? Where is the plan for long-term care? Why has the government abandoned seniors who should be able to spend their last years living in dignity and comfort?

Government Priorities
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Oxford
Ontario

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I am sure when that member goes to those communities they ask why he broke the faith and voted against Bill C-391. That is the real question in his riding.

Former Public Sector Integrity Commissioner
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have learned that Christiane Ouimet, the former public sector integrity commissioner, received $400,000 in severance pay after she was forced to resign. In a damning report, the Auditor General pointed out the many shortcomings in Ms. Ouimet's performance. It is outrageous to compensate an individual who has done a poor job and persecuted her employees.

Will the Conservatives make public the contract and the agreement reached with Ms. Ouimet, or are we to understand that she was given preferential treatment?

Former Public Sector Integrity Commissioner
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

North Vancouver
B.C.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, the previous Public Sector Integrity Commissioner has resigned. We look forward to working with all opposition parties to find a new commissioner.

The government sought and followed legal advice as to the terms of her resignation, based on her years of service.

We understand that Ms. Ouimet will be appearing before the standing committee next week, which is the appropriate place to raise these questions.

Former Public Sector Integrity Commissioner
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the former commissioner did not resign. She was fired and promised a golden parachute. This royal treatment is rather uncommon, especially since public servants will no longer be entitled to severance pay.

How do the Conservatives explain the special treatment given to Ms. Ouimet, when they quite simply should have fired her, with no severance, because of her incompetence and tyranny?

Former Public Sector Integrity Commissioner
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

North Vancouver
B.C.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, the government sought and followed legal advice as to the terms of her resignation, based on her years of service.

The hon. member is on the committee that will hear from Ms. Ouimet next week. I recommend that he ask her those questions in front of the committee.

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, the CIDA minister's refusal to answer basic questions about her contempt for this place goes beyond just the cuts to KAIROS. It strikes at the heart of what the Prime Minister once claimed to promote. In an edict to ministers, he said that they must:

—answer honestly and accurately about their areas of responsibility.

So, who told the minister to cut KAIROS funding and why has she continued to mislead this House over these past months?

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, on December 9, the minister appeared before a committee, and I believe she answered about 11 times the question of why she made the decision not to renew funding for KAIROS. It was on December 9, before the foreign affairs and international development committee.

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, either the Prime Minister can be taken at his word or he is just paying lip service. He has publicly instructed his ministers to give truthful and precise answers to the questions they are asked. Let us try again.

Who told the minister to cut the funding and who inserted the word “not” in the falsified documents? Is that so hard?

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the minister did. I said that many times in this place.

What I want to know is why I cannot get an answer about why the Charlottetown Federal Liberal Association says:

Memberships may be purchased or renewed at the...Office of [the Liberal member for Charlottetown]—

I want to know who authorized Liberal Party memberships to be sold out of this office and what will the Liberal Party do to make good for the taxpayers?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Human Rights Commission stated publicly this week that continued delays in hearing cases are putting our most vulnerable children at risk.

For over two years, the head of the Human Rights Tribunal, appointed by the Conservatives, has delayed a hearing on underfunding of child and family services on reserves.

Is this another case of a Conservative appointee doing nothing while children's lives are at risk?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Vancouver Island North
B.C.

Conservative

John Duncan Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, we believe that the Canadian Human Rights Commission is not the venue to hear this, because we simply fund child and family services and the provinces and first nation organizations run the services. We have presented our position at the hearings. We have taken decisive action on this file since coming to office. We have tripartite agreements with six provinces and first nations in those regions. We have captured more than 60% of all first nations. More regions are lining up to be--

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please.

The hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona.

Air Canada
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, Air Canada maintenance workers woke up to a shock today. The company has announced almost 100 worker layoffs in Winnipeg. Vancouver is going to lose 101 workers. Montreal will lose another 72. Apparently, their jobs are now destined for Central America, just two days after the Minister of Transport, said that they would not. The minister said:

There will not be any job losses. Air Canada has said that it is going to maintain the overhaul centres in Winnipeg, Mississauga and in Montreal. It has to do so by legislation.

What is the government going to do to protect these jobs or is it breaking its promise to these workers?

Air Canada
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Yellowhead
Alberta

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Minister of State (Transport)

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for the question, but the Minister of Transport, actually answered this question earlier this week.

Air Canada has continued to insist that it is going to maintain its operations and overhaul centres in Winnipeg, Montreal and Mississauga. Its application is before the Canadian Industrial Relations Board. Air Canada is committed to making certain that there will be no job losses, so we will hold it to that.

Libya
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has taken a firm stand on the crisis in Libya.

His government quickly condemned the actions of Gadhafi, imposed economic sanctions, moved quickly to freeze the assets of corrupt officials, and announced humanitarian assistance for the innocent citizens of Libya.

Over the past 10 days, Canadians have been watching the crisis in Libya and have been concerned for the safety of loved ones in the country. They wonder how these people will be able to flee to a safe place.

Could the parliamentary secretary tell the House what the Canadian Forces are doing to help Canadians return to safety?

Libya
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Edmonton Centre
Alberta

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, our government has indeed moved swiftly to take action against the atrocities in Libya and to help evacuate stranded Canadians. Our Foreign Affairs officials have worked tirelessly to ensure that all Canadians who want to leave can leave.

We have facilitated over 325 departures by Canadians. The Canadian Forces have a C-17 in Germany and two C-130J Hercules in Malta and are moving Canadians to safety daily. HMCS Charlottetown is now en route to the Mediterranean to support further evacuation efforts and provide humanitarian assistance as required.

We are proud of all of our government officials and Canadian Forces members who are working tirelessly in a very difficult situation.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Gerard Kennedy Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians want to know why the Minister of the Environment is so enthusiastic to kill one of the few functioning environmental programs the Conservative government has had. He is letting a home retrofit program be eliminated, losing all $390 million.

Why is the minister abandoning the only program to help working families fight high energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas at the same time? In the past year alone families are facing a $200 increase in energy costs.

Would the minister simply admit today that he just does not have the clout to save a vital environmental program?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I would remind my colleague that many of the programs in the past couple of years were designated as temporary. There have been highly successful programs across the environment ministry and, for example, the economic action plan spent more than $100 million in Park's Canada to protect jobs and to ensure the viability and vitality of our economy.

I would suggest that my colleague wait for March 22 for the budget to see the way ahead and how Canada will guarantee both a healthy environment as well as a healthy economy.

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Nicolas Dufour Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government has just cancelled the tendering process to build a police academy in Haiti that the Conservatives had been promising for four years. What is worse, CIDA has said that it is not certain that a new process will be launched.

Are we to understand that, as in the case of KAIROS, the Minister of International Cooperation has unilaterally decided to cut funding to this project, which everyone believes to be a crucial part of Haiti's development?

International Co-operation
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Newmarket—Aurora
Ontario

Conservative

Lois Brown Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, this is an extremely important project. I want to assure the House that Canada is fully committed to building a training centre for the Haitian police.

More importantly, CIDA is continuing to get the job done in Haiti. We announced 13 new projects this week that will help put that country back on track.

Gasoline Prices
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

John Rafferty Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, gas prices in northwestern Ontario and Canada are out of control. Gas costs $1.34 in Atikokan and Thunder Bay today. The price would be at least 6.5¢ less were it not for the new federal HST charge.

When will the federal government start making life affordable for hard-working Canadians instead of raising prices at the pumps, and to add insult to injury, giving away almost $3 billion of taxpayers' money to rich and powerful oil companies?

It saddens me to say this but what does the government have against hard-working Canadians?

Gasoline Prices
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, if there are any issues involving competition or collusion, those go to the Competition Bureau as the hon. member well knows.

I am pleased to report to the chamber that yesterday the Senate passed the Fairness at the Pumps Act so that we can get tough on the chisellers and the cheaters who are trying, through measurement operations, to cheat Canadian consumers at the pumps.

We are on the side of Canadian consumers. That member's party should be as well.

Public Safety
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Tilly O'Neill-Gordon Miramichi, NB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are used to Liberals saying one thing at home in their ridings and doing another when they get to Ottawa. They claim that they are tough on crime yet they consistently vote to put the rights of thugs and criminals ahead of law-abiding Canadians.

On the same day that the member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor was asking our government to spend more on prisons, the member for Beauséjour was calling for prison spending to end.

Could the minister please tell the House why the Liberals should support our tough on crime agenda?

Public Safety
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Oxford
Ontario

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, that is the third good question from this side of the House.

The Liberal Party is not being honest with Newfoundlanders. Led by their soft on crime spokesman from Ajax—Pickering, it has made it clear that the Liberal Party opposes our Conservative government plans to construct necessary prison cells. It is also clear that the Liberals oppose tougher prison sentences for criminals. They even went so far as voting to release fraudsters and drug traffickers into our communities after a mere one-sixth of their sentences.

When it comes to standing up for the rights of victims and law-abiding Canadians, the Liberal Party simply cannot be trusted.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Gerard Kennedy Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, what the environment minister simply does not get is that his abdication on retrofits is not only killing an environment program that people were using, but also killing the green investment it encouraged Canadians to make, and eliminating a green industry that Canada needs at the same time.

The energy efficiency industry reports the loss of 75% of its business already. People are being laid off, much-needed home retrofits are not getting done and Canadians are paying more than they need to for energy.

Is the minister proud of his mess, or will he now agree to fight to save this program and protect Canadians?

The Environment
Oral Questions

Noon

Thornhill
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I have done that. The home retrofit program was immensely successful for the purpose that it was designed, as an interim measure to help keep our economy turning over, to protect jobs and to help Canadians make some environmentally smart decisions. We also had the very successful Retire Your Ride program, which took more than 126,000 polluting vehicles off the road and removed 4,000 tonnes of pollutants from the atmosphere.

However, as the economy recovers, temporary programs must come to an end.

Government Communications
Oral Questions

Noon

Bloc

Nicole Demers Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, to avoid key words that are often used by feminist organizations and other advocacy groups, the Conservatives are imposing a whole new lexicon on the diplomatic apparatus.

The Conservatives do not speak of “gender equality” but rather of “equality of men and women”. They do not speak of “child soldiers” but rather of “children in armed conflict”.

Does the government not realize that it is not necessary to change the whole lexicon used at the Department of Foreign Affairs since there is no chance that the government will ever be confused with a progressive organization?

Government Communications
Oral Questions

Noon

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, what we are talking about is simply a matter of semantics.

If the Standing Committee on the Status of Women wants to move beyond semantics to initiatives and more serious issues, it could worry a little more about, for example, the issue of UN resolution 1325, on which Canada stood up and exerted its leadership. It is too bad that the members on the other side of the House are not doing the same.

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Oral Questions

Noon

NDP

Alex Atamanenko British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, our fruit growing industry is indeed troubled. Apple growers are losing money and current farm support programs are just not working. Cheap subsidized U.S. apples are undercutting prices for farmers and more apples from China will soon be flooding our market.

Will the Conservatives commit to ensure that agristability actually works for fruit growers and that current trade agreements do not harm farmers trying to earn a decent living and provide us with good quality food?

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Oral Questions

Noon

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture

Mr. Speaker, farmers are a first priority of this government. We stand on their side.

Our business risk management programs are delivering for farmers. Under agri-invest, $1.8 billion was paid out to farmers. Agristability, the program that the member just mentioned, paid out $2.1 billion. Agri-insurance paid out $3.2 billion. Agri-recovery paid out $460 million.

We have worked very hard to support farmers and we continue to do so.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

Noon

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like you to call the member for Nepean—Carleton to order for some of his comments, which were far from the truth. A number of times he said that the Conservative Party had notified Elections Canada about what it was doing.

I tend to differ from his opinion. The Conservatives knew about it because there were 67 false invoices. They waited until the RCMP raided their offices. He should apologize and withdraw his comments about the Conservative Party notifying Elections Canada about what they were doing.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

Noon

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I will take a look at the statements that were made. I know that sometimes there are disagreements as to facts. If that is what it is, it is not a point of order. However, I will look at it in case there is something more substantive to it.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

Noon

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I think you would find that would be a matter of debate, with respect to my friend from Hull—Aylmer.

Tabling of Documents
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table in the House an advertisement from the Guardian, Charlottetown, issue of February 19. It is an advertisement by the Liberal Party, the Charlottetown Federal Liberal Association. It has a rather smart looking picture of the Minister of State for Democratic Reform at the top of it.

What I am tabling is an advertisement where people are invited to get memberships in the Liberal Party and they can be either purchased or renewed. It is not just at the P.E.I. Liberal Association. The first place people are supposed to go is to the office of the Liberal MP. The address is 75 Fitzroy Street, Suite 201. I referenced this during question period, and I would like to table it.

Standing Committee on the Status of Women
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs to retract his statements that the work done by the Standing Committee on the Status of Women is not serious. The government made changes to terminology. In reference to rapes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the word “impunity” was replaced with “prevention”. These are serious changes and we had serious reasons to invite government officials to the Standing Committee on the Status of Women

Standing Committee on the Status of Women
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am one of the people who is amazed by the work done by this committee. However, I must say that I would have appreciated it if the committee had focused more on the work that had been done, particularly to promote resolution 1325.

Standing Committee on the Status of Women
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I demand that the Minister of Foreign Affairs retract his statement that the work being done by the committee is not serious.

Standing Committee on the Status of Women
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, sometimes the work is serious and sometimes it is not. This is a question of semantics.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

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

Foreign Affairs and International Development
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development on the subject of human rights in Pakistan.

Afghanistan
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my petition is signed by dozens of Canadians and calls on the government to end Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan.

In May 2008 the Parliament passed a resolution to withdraw Canadian Forces by July of this year. The Prime Minister, with help from the Liberal Party, broke this promise to honour the parliamentary motion, and refuses to put it to a parliamentary vote.

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

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

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:05 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

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-60, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (citizen's arrest and the defences of property and persons), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

12:05 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak on behalf of the Bloc Québécois to Bill C-60, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (citizen's arrest and the defences of property and persons).

This is an important bill. The Conservatives have used news stories to score political points. When the Conservatives introduce bills that are tough on crime or that amend the Criminal Code, we must always consider why and whether we want our society to go in that direction.

I will read the summary of Bill C-60.

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to enable a person who owns or has lawful possession of property, or persons authorized by them, to arrest within a reasonable time a person whom they find committing a criminal offence on or in relation to that property. It also amends the Criminal Code to simplify the provisions relating to the defences of property and persons.

The bill significantly broadens the notion of self-defence and slightly broadens that of citizen's arrest.

It is evident that the Bloc Québécois would like to study this bill in committee. The bill touches on a very sensitive and important matter: the right to defend oneself. For the Bloc Québécois, defending oneself and one's property, within reasonable limits, is a fundamental right. It is already permitted by law, but the law is too restrictive. Therefore, we support legislative amendments that would enable an honest citizen to defend himself and his property, as well as others.

However, the amount of violence used must not increase in our societies. It is important to understand that we want citizens to be able to protect themselves and their property, but that the objective must not be to increase violence in Quebec and the rest of Canada.

Quebec must not become a wild west, in which case everyone would lose. Some provisions of this bill are worrisome and could, in the short to medium term, give rise to undesirable situations. For that reason, we will conscientiously do all the necessary work to thoroughly study the bill and to ensure that we are all winners in the end.

This bill was introduced on February 17, and it broadens the concept of self-defence and citizen's arrest, particularly in terms of protecting property. This is in response to an incident in Toronto, where a business owner was arrested and taken to court for catching and detaining a man who had robbed him. This arrest of an honest citizen, who had repeatedly asked for police help without any response, outraged the public, which is completely understandable. It is terrible to think that a business owner was charged for taking justice into his own hands after being robbed repeatedly and not getting help from the police.

In Toronto, and in Quebec too, a significant portion of the public feels that criminals are too well protected and that the law does more to protect the criminal than the victim. So it is not surprising that the members of the NDP and the Liberal Party have introduced bills to broaden the concept of citizen's arrest. However, these private members' bills only slightly broadened the notion of citizen's arrest. The bill before us today substantially broadens the notion of self-defence. That is obviously the Conservative way. The Conservatives are taking advantage of a current event to push their ideology.We need to take these factors into consideration and try to strike a balance, because the Conservative stance is too dogmatic and society needs to move in the right direction.

As for citizen's arrest, Bill C-60 would amend the law to allow a property owner to make an arrest. Basically, a property owner would be given the right to arrest, within a reasonable time, a criminal who committed an offence, if the property owner has reasonable grounds to believe that it would not be possible for a peace officer to make an arrest under the circumstances.

Under the Criminal Code, a citizen already has the right to arrest a person whom he finds committing an indictable offence. This bill would prolong that right within a reasonable time after the offence is committed.

Subsection 494(2) of the Criminal Code currently states:

...(a) the owner or a person in lawful possession of property, or

(b) a person authorized by the owner or by a person in lawful possession of property, may arrest without warrant a person whom he finds committing a criminal offence on or in relation to that property.

Bill C-60 amends subsection 494(2) as follows:

The owner or a person in lawful possession of property, or a person authorized by the owner or by a person in lawful possession of property, may arrest a person without a warrant if they find them committing a criminal offence on or in relation to that property and

(a) they make the arrest at that time; or

(b) they make the arrest within a reasonable time after the offence is committed and they believe on reasonable grounds that it is not feasible in the circumstances for a peace officer to make the arrest.

The goal is to prolong the reasonable time after the offence is committed in which the individual or criminal can be arrested.

Bill C-60 addresses two aspects: citizen's arrest and self-defence. It amends only very slightly the notion of citizen's arrest, the mechanism at the core of the problem.

Regarding citizen's arrest, we all more or less agree on adding the words “within a reasonable time after the offence is committed”. In fact, previous bills introduced by NDP and Liberal members already addressed this aspect of Bill C-60.

The Conservatives want to introduce sweeping changes with regard to self-defence. In fact, the Conservatives' bill removes the requirement of need in the use of force in self-defence.

In clear terms, the bill eliminates a very important guideline, namely that we are not allowed to use force that could result in the death of the attacker unless absolutely necessary. Under current legislation, one has to be able to prove the need for force in self-defence. Bill C-60 adds the possibility to defend oneself in reaction to a threat without defining what type of threat is likely to lead to legal violence. This smacks of Conservative ideology, whereby citizens have the right to defend themselves by using whatever force necessary. This could be translated to mean that a person could go so far as to commit irreparable harm and kill another human being. We have to wonder.

Bill C-60 proposes a major change that is easy to see by comparing the current provisions to those desired by the Conservatives. I will read the current subsection 34(1) on self-defence:

Every one who is unlawfully assaulted without having provoked the assault is justified in repelling force by force if the force he uses is not intended to cause death or grievous bodily harm and is no more than is necessary to enable him to defend himself.

In the current section, it is clear that when we react to an attack, we can use no more force than necessary to repel the attack, and we must not have any intention of causing death, unless the person wanted to kill us. That is different. This is a very important guideline in the current legislation that the Conservatives are changing.

Section 34(1) of the Criminal Code currently states: “in repelling force by force if the force he uses is not intended to cause death or grievous bodily harm and is no more than is necessary to enable him to defend himself.” This has been replaced by the new section 34(1), which states:

A person is not guilty of an offence if

(a) they believe on reasonable grounds that force is being used against them or another person or that a threat of force is being made against them or another person;

(b) the act that constitutes the offence is committed for the purpose of defending or protecting themselves or the other person from that use or threat of force...

The words “not intended to cause death or grievous bodily harm” have been removed. That means that individuals do not really first have to consider whether they are using enough force to cause death. What section 34(1) of the Criminal Code says is that the person who is using the force really must not intend to cause death, unless such force is required to repel the assault.

Clearly, there will be many legal debates but we can certainly see the Conservatives' ideology: people may do everything necessary to protect themselves, including killing, and they do not need to determine whether their attacker is trying to kill them before reacting in the same way.

This is disturbing. We will have to see what effects this will have. It is true that there are situations in which individuals must be able to defend themselves. Self-defence exists in the Criminal Code. However, if this bill passes, we do not want people to say that, if they are attacked, they can defend themselves and it is no big deal if they kill their attacker because the Criminal Code was amended and they are no longer required to first consider whether committing an irreparable harm and taking a human life is necessary, because the attacker was trying to take their life.

We must pay close attention to the Conservatives' philosophy and ideology. The Republicans in the United States have this unfortunate tendency. The Conservatives, who are no longer “progressive”, have the same unfortunate tendency: anything can be done in self-defence, even killing, because, in any case, an attacker does not deserve to live.

That is not the kind of society we want. In the House, we can try to use words, legislation, a text, commas and other devices to make things easier by amending the Criminal Code after seeing an incident on television. Perhaps in the future, someone might kill a human being in self-defence because he was attacked and no longer needed to determine beforehand whether his life was in danger. Suppose a neighbour came onto his property and harangued him, and since this individual felt attacked, he might react by getting out a rifle and shooting the neighbour. In that case, we would have to do the opposite: make the Criminal Code more strict and bring back the section that we are trying to amend today.

It is a fine line when bills like these are introduced by the Conservatives. According to their right-wing ideology, they think that people who pay taxes can do whatever they want. But that is not how society works. That is not the society that our ancestors have handed down to us. That is a right-wing society. Yes, criminals must be punished and we must be able to use self-defence. Subsection 34(1) of the Criminal Code stipulates that, “...the force he uses is not intended to cause death or grievous bodily harm and is no more than is necessary to enable him to defend himself.” A person would have to think twice before shooting an attacking neighbour.

We will have to see. That is why the Bloc Québécois is in favour of sending Bill C-60 to be studied in committee. There, we will be able to discuss it and hear from witnesses.

We need to work with the Quebec and Canadian bar associations to determine what kind of a bill would make our society more enjoyable to live in. But we cannot go overboard and allow a person to take another's life in self-defence unless he feels his own life is in danger.

One potential concern about citizens' arrests is that the amendment could be misunderstood and things could get out of hand. In fact, Halifax's deputy chief of police suggested that the federal government urge caution in the use of citizens' arrest. This is not only to ensure that a well-intentioned person does not commit a crime, but also to remind people that an arrest involves risks and that an ordinary person is not as likely as a police officer to be able to get control of someone who has committed a crime. We cannot forget that police officers are trained to handle situations where there is a high risk of error, and they have the techniques and equipment to be able to adapt to different situations.

If this bill is passed, a citizen's arrest could be used to arrest a person after the crime has been committed. That means the arrest could take place far from where the crime was committed. It could happen on the street. We have the statement from Halifax's deputy chief of police, but the committee would also need to hear from police officers. If we allow this, if we open it up, are we putting business people's lives in danger? It is very frustrating and maddening to be robbed over and over, and if the robber can be arrested, so much the better.

However, if this results in more business people being seriously injured by criminals, I am not sure that we have improved the situation. Well-intentioned people, those in business and others, could even be putting their lives in danger if they decide to pursue a criminal. We need to be careful. Even if the intention is good and commendable, the bill still needs to be studied in committee.

That is the work that needs to be done. For the people watching at home, I would like to reiterate the fact that bills are introduced in Parliament but that the work is done in committee. Bills are examined in committee so that witnesses can be called to try to explain to us whether the bill would help our society to progress. When the witnesses have reservations, we listen to them. In the case of a bill such as this one, it is normal for police representatives to be invited to appear before the committee to tell us whether the bill would help our society progress.

With regard to self-defence, some amendments are well founded, for example, the right to defend someone who is not under our protection. However, the expansion of this regime is worrisome. It is true that many of the provisions of the Criminal Code are archaic and it is important and worthwhile to make amendments because society is changing. That is the perspective from which the Bloc Québécois has always considered bills amending the Criminal Code. We try to see whether the amendments to the Criminal Code would help society to change for the better and would be beneficial to society.

As far as self-defence is concerned, introducing the fact that we can defend someone who is not under our protection can be worthwhile because the population is growing more and more and we know each other less and less. If someone sees a crime being committed, they might want to step in and defend someone else. Being able to adjust the Criminal Code accordingly is a good idea. We have to look into that.

I have two examples of situations that could become legal and could occur more and more. These are hypothetical cases, but they could happen if we pass Bill C-60 as currently worded. In the first scenario, a dispute over a fence degenerates and one neighbour utters death threats against the other and his family. The threatened neighbour, fearing for his life and wanting to defend his property, lunges toward the offender and kills him. He justifies his action by saying the police could not get involved and that neither his safety nor that of his family could be protected for the long term. In that type of case, we would never really know whether the deceased neighbour really intended to make good on his threats. We have to be careful.

In another scenario, a young person shoplifts at a convenience store. The cashier, outraged at this repeated offence in his store, shoves a rifle in the offender's face and kills him, or fires a shot as the young person is fleeing the scene, fatally wounding him.

We have to consider how society will benefit from this bill.

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, the bill provides a degree of difficulty for all of us. In the north and in remote and isolated communities where police services are not available on a prescribed basis or not available at any particular time, the use of this law may cause apprehension and confinement of individuals by other individuals over a specific or long period of time and that may lead to issues as well.

It seems that we are treading into some water that is quite deep. The type of crimes that may be dealt with under this law may lead to other infractions of a very difficult nature.

I wonder how my colleague would see this law being applied in areas where there are no police services available. The citizens who use this may find themselves having to hold on to a criminal for a great length of time. How would that work out?

12:30 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Western Arctic for his question.

I did say that even though we may agree with the bill, before we pass it we must have a full understanding of all the implications. I hope that the hon. member for Western Arctic will have the opportunity to have those responsible for police services in his region appear before the committee, and that he will be given sufficient funding because it is rather far from Ottawa. That will help us understand their situation.

He is quite right. It is not easy to apply the law in vast jurisdictions. If citizens are allowed to arrest criminals, we must determine whether it is dangerous for them to do so. I hope that the committee will have an opportunity to hear from the authorities in his beautiful riding.

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that this bill originated from the private member's bill that the member for Trinity—Spadina had proposed as a result of an incident that occurred in her own riding where a store owner was arrested as a result of attempting to apprehend somebody for his alleged criminal activity a couple of hours after the event.

What we have before us now is a bill that is much broader in scope than the original private member's bill proposed by the member for Trinity—Spadina.

For those of us who have been in this House long enough, we have seen a number of pieces of legislation that the Conservatives have proposed that later on needed some sort of amendment or some sort of repair because of the fact that a piece of legislation was jammed through without due consideration for all of the consequences.

Bill C-60 expands the scope of the initial proposal, and now we are hearing that there will be some need to clarify the laws on self-defence and defence of property.

I wonder if the member could comment on the process in terms of getting these bills before the House. There is an opportunity to study it more fully at committee, but I would argue that we should ensure that when legislation comes before the House for debate, the work to look at potential consequences or unintended consequences has actually been done. I wonder if the member could comment on that.

12:30 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is quite right. The problem with the Conservative Party is that we are never sure whether it has done that work before introducing the bill, especially when it comes to amending the Criminal Code. They are often blinded by their ideology. The problem seemed to be with citizen's arrests. What the Conservatives have added with this bill is self-defence. They are attacking the very heart of self-defence. Section 34(1) states: “...if the force he uses is not intended to cause death or grievous bodily harm and is no more than is necessary to enable him to defend himself”.

The words “not intended to cause death” are being removed. This means that someone could use whatever force is needed, even if it could cause death. We must be careful. This is part of the right-wing ideology that has been rampant in the United States for some time now. This does not reflect the social choices made by our Canadian and Quebec ancestors. The Conservatives are introducing this bill because they like the idea of having weapons. They want to abolish the gun registry and give everyone the right to bear arms for self-defence. If we are amending the Criminal Code to allow that, we have to be careful. If the self-defence provision is amended and this bill passes after a thorough examination in committee, we must be careful to not turn our entire society upside down. We do not want people feeling comfortable with the idea of having a weapon and being able to kill anyone who dares to annoy them.

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, in his response, the member referenced the complexity of the Criminal Code.

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

In 1892.

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

My colleague from Elmwood—Transcona just said that the Criminal Code was passed in 1892. It is a complex code.

Over the last couple of years, we have seen a series of so-called law and order bills amending various aspects of the Criminal Code. Bill C-60 is another example of amending the Criminal Code. It is a piecemeal approach. We are trying to amend one section after another.

It would seem to me that a responsible way to approach this would be to look at the various provisions in the Criminal Code that need to be amended and do it in an omnibus bill. I know the member for Windsor—Tecumseh, our justice critic, called for that. He does an incredible job of managing the various bills that come before the House.

I wonder if the member could comment on the fact that we have this ad hoc, piecemeal, ill-considered approach to looking at this complex piece of legislation, the Criminal Code.

12:35 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, as I said at the beginning of my speech, using a story in the news to amend the Criminal Code is always dramatic. An NDP member did that. She proposed an amendment to the Criminal Code regarding citizen's arrests and the Liberal Party did the same. This is part of our job as parliamentarians. The real problem is that the Conservative Party took advantage of the demands of the NDP and the Liberals to put its own twist on things. It is taking the opportunity to expand the notion. I realize what the member is asking me, but I would say that an NDP colleague opened the door. Now we must do everything in our power to curb the right-wing Conservatives' appetite and their ideology that is focused on the individual rather than on the common good. All of our colleagues will have to work on that in committee.

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-60. I have been watching this issue, like the rest of us have, for some time now. In fact, my colleague, the member for Trinity—Spadina, took the initiative and presented Bill C-565 in the House, which was a private member's bill designed to deal with this issue. I give her full credit for responding to her constituent. I suggest that this man is not alone in what he went through. There are many similar cases across the country every year. It is serious and important that this Parliament respond to these situations.

Mr. David Chen, as many of us now know, is the owner of the Lucky Moose Food Mart. He caught a thief who had repeatedly stolen from his store. Mr. Chen was charged with forcible confinement, assault and kidnapping because he caught the criminal an hour later outside he store and held him until the police arrived.

As was indicated by the member for Trinity—Spadina, many store owners in her constituency have had a similar experience as the Lucky Moose owner. She also mentioned at least nine other similar examples. The amendment in her bill would allow the owners to arrest criminals without warrant so that they could be turned over to the police. I believe she presented a petition signed by 10,000 people.

We need to consider what the store owner has gone through. My notes indicate that he has 20 to 40 cameras in the store, which is certainly a large expense for his small business. It sounds to me like he is constantly under attack by people stealing from his store. When Mr. Chen apprehended the thief, he had to go through at least nine months, perhaps longer, of stress and legal bills. I think the prosecution perhaps over-reacted, which is why we have this bill before us in the first place. If the prosecution had been reasonable and not charged him with all of these offences, I do not think we would see the bill we have in front of us today. However, that is the genesis of why this bill has come to the fore.

The government, never wanting to miss an opportunity given an election may be forthcoming, charged onto the scene. The Prime Minister, with the Minister of Justice and the press in tow, rolled into Mr. Chen's store and announced that he would adopt the provisions of the bill.

I believe the Liberal member for Eglinton—Lawrence has a similar bill that was later produced. The government was going to incorporate these bills into his bill. Of course, as we have seen from the government, when its bills come out they do not exactly mirror 100% what the other bills do. There are some considerations and concerns that we have with respect to Bill C-60, which is why we are interested in seeing this bill proceed to committee where some amendments can be made at that time.

As indicated, our party is recommending support for splitting the bill. We want to pass the amendments to section 494 of the Criminal Code at all stages without additional debate. Then we would like to refer the additional changes to the committee for a detailed study. The minister this morning and other members have indicated that we are dealing with five sections from the original Criminal Code of 1892. These five separate provisions create distinct defences and they all depend on the type of property and severity of the offences. So we are talking about something here that is going to need more detailed study at committee.

If we could split the bill, pass the amendments to section 494 of the Criminal Code at all stages without additional debate, and then refer the additional changes to the committee for study, that would be the way to proceed.

In terms of the amendments to section 494(2) of the Criminal Code, dealing with citizen's arrest, to permit arrest without warrant within a reasonable period, we would want to change the present wording. This change was originally proposed by the NDP and by the member for Trinity—Spadina in her private member's bill, Bill C-565, as a result of the “Lucky Moose” situation, which I have explained.

The amendment to section 494 of the Criminal Code has been supported in principle by the chiefs of police and the prosecutors and defence counsels. However, there has been no significant call for the additional changes by those who enforce and prosecute the law. That is why we would like to have this looked at further in terms of those provisions.

We would also recommend splitting the bill because Bill C-60 proposes compressing sections 34-42 of the Criminal Code which deal with: the defence of the person, sections 34-37; and property, sections 38-42 into two new parts. The stated rationale being:

--to clarify the laws on self-defence and defence of property so that Canadians--including the police, prosecutors and the courts–can more easily understand and apply the law.

We also have serious concerns about the overreaching nature of these changes and the possible unintended consequences that may result. There are already press reports concerning this bill and this incident which would give rise to some of the concerns mentioned by my colleagues. The members for Nanaimo—Cowichan; Skeena—Bulkley Valley; and the Western Arctic have all indicated concerns about how far things could develop in terms of vigilantism and how this would be communicated through the press.

As I said, we barely have the bill before Parliament and I have numerous press clippings indicating those very concerns, and perhaps exaggerating the case, because that is how we sell newspapers in this country. This could be misinterpreted by certain people who might feel that somehow the law has been changed and there is no limitation on what they can do to arrest a person.

The reality is we are simply providing that the person will have the power of arrest but on the basis that should there be a police officer available or if one can be reached then he or she must turn that person over to the police in short order. This is not designed to let people become vigilantes and mete out their own justice when and where they like. They will have to deal with the situation as it exists right now.

Another reality is that the bill has come about because of prosecution misjudgments. There is no other way to describe it. We have had prosecutions, such as this case, where a person has been charged with kidnapping. When the prosecution overreacts like that, then it is reasonable to have a law in place to specify that there is some leeway. However, on the other side of the coin, how far do we take this? These are some of the concerns that our colleagues and other members have indicated in their questions.

In terms of Bill C-60 itself, the legislation would:

--expand the legal authority for a private citizen to make an arrest within a reasonable period of time after they find that person committing a criminal offence either on or in relation to their property, ensuring the proper balance between the powers of citizens and those of the police. It would also bring much-needed reforms to simplify the complex Criminal Code provisions on self-defence and defence of property, and clarify where reasonable use of force is permitted in relation to the above.

I did mention that the Criminal Code was promulgated in 1892. The original Criminal Code has these five separate provisions from 1892. They are all in separate sections and vary depending on the distinct defences. However, those depend on the type of property and severity of the offences.

It sounds like a very confusing mess to try to sort out. Pulling these things together in one area is probably the way that we should resolve the issue. But as I had indicated, we want to ensure that we spend some time looking at that and the fact that particular aspect of it is not something that has been the subject of a lot of concern to the police forces and those applying the law. It gives us more reason to want to take a closer look at it. Perhaps it is something that had not been considered.

The proposed amendments to section 494(2) of the Criminal Code on citizen's arrest would:

--authorize a private citizen to make an arrest within a reasonable period of time after he or she finds someone committing a criminal offence that occurs on or in relation to property. This power of arrest would only be authorized when there are reasonable grounds to believe that it is not feasible in the circumstances for the arrest to be made by a peace officer--

That deals with the concern that somehow people would just simply ignore the police. They would still have to contact the police and turn the person over to the police as quickly as possible.

In terms of reasonable use of force, the legislation will make it clear by a cross-reference to the Criminal Code that the use of force is authorized in the citizen's arrest, but there are limits placed on how much force can be used. One cannot arrest a shoplifter and take him out back and beat him unrecognizable. That is unacceptable and would get one into a lot of trouble. However, one would be able to simply make the arrest using reasonable force knowing that he or she would not be charged with kidnapping or have to defend themselves in court for a couple of years and run up huge legal fees as a result.

In essence, the laws permit the reasonable use of force taking into account all of the circumstances of a particular case. That is how the courts look at it. They look at all of the circumstances, not just one.

That is why reading press reports is not always a very accurate way of understanding what really happened. The press view is simply one person trying to fit the story into two or three columns, once again, wanting to sell newspapers, there could be a sensational element thrown into the case. People should not believe everything they read in the press.

A person is not entitled to use excessive force in a citizen's arrest. That is very clear. I want to repeat that, a person is not entitled to use excessive force in a citizen's arrest. It can only be reasonable force.

In terms of other important considerations, a citizen's arrest is a very serious and potentially dangerous undertaking. Unlike a peace officer, a private citizen is neither tasked with the duty to preserve and maintain the public peace nor, generally speaking, properly trained to apprehend suspected criminals.

We do not want people who may be watching too many movies thinking that somehow they are going to be able to go out there and take on knife-wielding criminals, trying to stop them. We want people to do exactly what they are doing right now, reporting incidents to the police and getting them on the scene as quickly as possible.

In most cases an arrest consists of either actually seizing or touching a person's body with a view to detaining them, or by using words whereby the person submits to the arrest. Citizen's arrests made without careful consideration of the risk factors may have serious unintended physical or legal consequences for those involved.

When deciding if a citizen's arrest is appropriate, a person should consider whether a peace officer is available to intervene at that time. If their personal safety or that of others will be compromised by attempting an arrest, they should report information about the crime to the police instead of taking action on their own. If they have the reasonable belief regarding the suspect's criminal conduct and identity, then they can turn over the suspect to the police without delay once an arrest is made.

I have been in the insurance business for 32 years and we have had instances of robbery. Many other agencies have as well. Our staff has been instructed by the police force to just simply give up the money. We do not want people being heroes. We do not want people trying to attack the person who is holding up the office. Whether they can see a gun, or a knife, or whether it is just a fake gun, the fact of the matter is the police do not want staff in businesses or offices taking action against these people because of the possibility that things could go wrong. It is not worth losing one's life over $100 out of a till. We instruct our staff to simply turn over whatever money they have to the thief, then phone the police afterwards and let things develop as they might.

In some ways things will not change. The practices we have will simply continue as they have before. The police will be called, the police will do the arrests. In those few cases where the store owners, shop owners or homeowners take action on their own, at least they are not going to be faced with kidnapping or confinement charges and all the other ridiculous charges that this man was charged with, as well as the cost and stress of having to fight it.

I have quite a number of other points to make. I will simply defer to questioners and perhaps will answer some more points there.

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like some clarification. It is my understanding that as the law exists today, if somebody walks into a store and commits an offence, the shopkeeper is allowed to arrest that person. However, the difference with this bill is that this could now take place subsequent to the fact. According to our current law the person cannot wait for three or four hours and then when he sees that person on the street arrest him or her. That is my understanding of what happened to this poor gentleman in Toronto.

I would like my hon. colleague to clarify this. Is the difference in what is proposed in the law basically the time period? In other words, now there is no time period, so this person could be arrested subsequent to committing the act.

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, we will send the bill to committee for clarification. We will have witnesses make presentations on the bill and deal with the various aspects of it.

We want people to do what they have done before. When a robbery is in progress, we want them to report it immediately to the police and not put themselves at risk. We want them to give the thief the money and protect their lives. We do not want to see examples of people trying to be heroes, whether they are chasing down the suspects at the time of the burglary or chasing them out of the store and apprehending them an hour or two later.

We do not want to encourage that kind of activity because police officers are paid to do a job. They are trained to do a job and they know how to do it. We want people to report the issue to the police. We want more action from the police. That is what frustrates these store owners. They phone and police officers do not show up or they do not show up quick enough.

That is why this law is good. It is will complement what is missing right now.

1 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Elmwood—Transcona for laying out the situation that resulted in at least part of the bill and then some of the concerns with it.

I specifically reference section 3 of the bill. Subsection 3.(2) states:

—a person...may arrest a person without a warrant if they find them committing a criminal offence on or in relation to that property and

(a) they make the arrest at that time; or

(b) they make the arrest within a reasonable time after the offence is committed and they believe on reasonable grounds that it is not feasible in the circumstances for a peace officer to make the arrest.

That section of the bill directly comes from the member for Trinity—Spadina's private member's bill as a result of what happened with the Lucky Moose Food Mart store owner. The bill is more than just that section. The bill would add some additional sections to supposedly clarify the laws on self-defence and defence of properties.

We have some additional sections that would amend the Criminal Code. It seems, from input that we are receiving already from people, there has been undue haste in proposing these extra amendments to the Criminal Code.

Could the member comment on what he sees as a problem with putting forward proposed amendments where we do not know what the consequences of those would be?

1 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member raises a very valid point. The original provisions she talked about were from the original 1892 Criminal Code. Somehow we have gone from 1892 to where we are now and nobody has seen a reason to make these changes until now, just before the election.

It is not that we are opposed to these. Our critic has explained that we are talking about five separate provisions and there are these very different defences in each one of these provisions. Then it ties in and relates to the types of property and the severity of offences. It is almost like a Rubik's cube. To rush this through like the government wants to, there is a possibility that things will be missed. That is why we say we are prepared to deal with the one part of the bill in a reasonably expeditious way to support the government on that issue.

However, with regard to the other parts of the bill, we want to take a little closer look at them. Once again, we have not had any real objections on the part of those bills in the last 100 years and the police officers who enforce the laws have not really brought that to our attention as being a top-of-mind concern. Maybe there are some concerns, but we want a better explanation.

We will deal with that when we get into the committee, and I hope we can get the bill in there fairly soon.

1 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, after the justice minister made his speech today, we put forward a proposal. We are in a minority parliament situation and just a couple of weeks away from a budget and its potential failure and therefore a potential election. If the government is serious about making some changes in the lives of Canadians, particularly around the question of timeliness, when an alleged infraction happens, or someone steals something or there has been some sort of violation, we have suggested, and this came from the member for Trinity—Spadina, that the government extend the time in which a citizen's arrest is permissible. I think we can find common agreement in the House on this.

There are two other parts to the bill which we may need to look into, and that is what we want to do in committee. However, if the government is interested in moving this part forward, making things different, we have offered the option to fast track it. The minister and the government have often complained, sometimes incorrectly, about us stalling legislation. In this case, we are actually encouraging moving it forward. Why is the government refusing that request?

In this period of uncertainty as to whether this Parliament will still be here three weeks from now, why not move something forward on which all parties could agree? Why not extend the time allowed for a citizen's arrest to be made, which is essentially immediate and in the moment, to something more reasonable, such as a few hours? Why is the government refusing to act on behalf of victims?

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, we have seen this kind of positioning before by the Conservatives, where they are willing to cut off their noses to spite their faces. Although, with respect to the case of Karla Homolka, they were willing to separate that off and get it through in one or two days. It did work there. If it worked there, then why do we not try the same thing here?

We have made it clear that we are prepared to be expeditious with this part of the bill because it is essentially what is in Bill C-565, sponsored by the member for Trinity—Spadina. We have no problem with expediting that part of the bill because it is fairly straightforward. We would simply be extending the timeline for a citizen's arrest.

As I indicated, all those other points may or may not be valid amendments. By insisting that we keep these things bundled will basically slow the whole process down too much. Then the committee process will take an excessive amount of time and we may be unable to get the bill done as expeditiously as we could if we separated out that provision.

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, as my colleagues have said, now they get to ask me the grilling questions.

First, I have to recognize and honour the work of the member for Trinity—Spadina. I know she is watching now. She has been engaged in this from day one. Nobody in the House has done more than the member for Trinity—Spadina.

It is of value to all of us to recognize that there is an important role we all play as members of Parliament in responding to our constituents, particularly at a time like this. A shopkeeper in her part of the world was unduly charged with some pretty serious offences, like kidnapping, for having made a citizen's arrest, but not in the time that the law prescribes.

Her reaction was twofold. One was to meet with the citizen and find out exactly what had happened, speak with police and prosecutors and, more than that, start to design the solutions. It is one thing in opposition to criticize. It is an even more important role when we are able to provide proposals to the government, which is what she did. The government has taken that acorn of a good idea and put it into Bill C-60.

The NDP has suggested to the government that if it were truly serious about this issue, it could work with us. It could talk with us now and we could fast track the element that is most critical to the question of citizen's arrest, which is timeliness. When something happens, how much time does a citizen have to make the arrest or must the arrest be made only in the act and commission of the alleged crime?

It is important for people watching to understand that the situation. That person had in fact stolen from Mr. Chen at the Lucky Moose and then ran down the street. The individual came back several hours later, quite audaciously, and attempted to steal again. If he had in fact stolen something the second time and had been grabbed by Mr. Chen, everything would have been fine and we would not even be talking about this. However, the man failed in his second attempt at theft.

Mr. Chen, recognizing it was the same fellow trying to do the same thing he had done just a few hours earlier, made a citizen's arrest, which under our Criminal Code is permissible. The problem was he had waited too long. Some number of hours had passed since the first crime.

When all of this came to light and went to the crown prosecutor, Mr. Chen was charged with a whole series of crimes. I believe assault was one, as well as confinement, which is essentially kidnapping. He was charged with kidnapping in a situation like that. When Canadians read this story or watch it on the evening news, they were offended that he was made a criminal. Somebody was attempting to defend his property and to do right, which was to arrest the individual because police officers were not available. The last thing members want to do with any legislation, guidance and laws that we establish in this place is to make somebody who started as a victim into a criminal, especially if something the person did was not criminal.

This is the point where we have to pause, following all of our discourse in this place and after talking to Canadians, and not give in to the temptation of oversimplifying what we talk about or suggest that a citizen's arrest is easy, safe and should be done on a daily basis. Any police officer will say that arresting somebody in the commission of a crime or after the fact is a dangerous thing to do. The criminals that people try to arrest could be violent or armed. For a citizen to do this is a very risky thing.

We saw the tragedy recently in the southern United States, where a lunatic with a gun shot a bunch of citizens, one of them a congresswoman. In the end, a citizen made the arrest. Along with friends, he was able to tackle the gunman to the ground. The only reason they were able to stop the guy was because he had to reload his gun, which is legal to have. Thankfully, the clip is not legal here. There had been a proposition in Congress earlier to allow guns with even bigger clips. One can imagine that if that law had passed, that fellow could have shot a lot more people that day. I digress, but in that moment a citizen's arrest was made, a highly risky thing to do.

It has been said a number of times by my colleagues in the House that we should not create an environment that promotes anything that looks, smells, tastes or gives the appearance of vigilantism. We have national, provincial and municipal police forces in our country. They do a good job for us. They do a dangerous job for us as citizens. This is how we come together as a society and determine that we will not police ourselves, that we will not have vigilante forces. We will have professional police forces, and that cannot be emphasized enough.

One of the concerns I have with the government is that in its tendency to oversimplify sometimes complicated questions, it wants to put them in eight second sound bytes, thirty second commercials with lots of dark images. On an issue like this, we cannot ever send out a message to Canadians that it is somehow now permissible to start seeking out criminals and forming our own little forces to do what police do because that is what we pay them and train them to do. It is an important consideration.

Some of my colleagues in the Conservative Party think this is not real, but we have incidences of this actually happening in society, so let us just be careful with it. Let us be thoughtful about it. Let us not be jingoistic. Let us not oversimplify the situation. That is what we are calling for in the New Democratic Party and I think it is a reasonable request, because oftentimes when making laws, one of the things we must be cautious about is making a law that applies to everybody based on somebody, one person guiding an entire law. That is a dangerous precedent.

The Conservatives love to hold up a particular case and then run politically on that case and make a sweep of laws, but it also runs the risk of unintended consequences. We make a law for one particular situation and it actually applies quite well, but the discipline of this place is that our laws apply to everybody in all circumstances and all moments.

If the Conservatives were truly serious about changing the situation that happened at the Lucky Moose store and some other situations, which is to allow a greater amount of time for a citizen to make an arrest, the New Democrats have offered to fast-track that. We said that we should get it done today. They could walk across the aisle, meet us halfway and we will do it. We are ready to change the law for the better.

The justice minister did not answer the question when I put that offer to him earlier. We are doing it explicitly publicly and we are doing it privately. We are willing and able to do this if what we are trying to do is make the laws better for Canadians.

The member for Trinity—Spadina made a suggestion to the government, the government took that suggested and added a bunch of other things to it. We are saying that we need to go back to the first principle of this, which is changing the period in which a citizen's arrest can be made. If that were done, the New Democrats would be on side and we would be ready to move. The government has said no to that so far. Perhaps with some quiet sober reflection over the weekend, hopefully sober, the government will decide that it is a sincere and legitimate offer on which it can meet New Democrats and actually get its so-called crime agenda, at least in some part, moved through.

It is also important to recognize that in Bill C-60, which is not a large bill, but the implications of at least two of the pieces, clauses 1 and 2, are things we need to very seriously consider as legislators, and that will require committee work and it will require witnesses. I would hope that the justice minister would also agree that we need to hear from people who understand the implications of law. We need to hear from our police forces. We need to hear from victims groups to ensure all pieces of the bill, as drafted, are right and in order.

I hope the government does not have the arrogance to say that its first draft of this is perfect. I would suggest that it is not. There are some things in the bill that we want to look at, get some research on and actually, for once, get some evidence. Would it not be nice to deal with evidence when dealing with a crime law as proposed by government? We have seen that in this place time and time again when the government has brought forward its crime agenda.

One of the question we have asked is about effectiveness. Do the Conservatives believe the law will be effective in reducing crime? They say yes but when we ask to be shown the proof, they tell us to get lost.

The second question we have asked is about cost. We would think the Conservatives would be preoccupied by cost, that they would be worried that, as they are running the largest deficits in Canadian history, they would also be concerned with the idea of what any proposed legislation would cost.

When we dealt with issues of the environment, they were obsessed with the idea of cost. Every second question from the Conservatives was about the costs, so we costed our bills. They refused to accept those numbers and kept going on about costs. Fair enough, they can ask questions like that, but when the tables were reversed, as they are now and we are asking what their crime agenda costs, they plead ignorance. They plead cabinet confidentiality, that the cost of a piece of legislation is so secretive and so important to national security that Canadians cannot be trusted with that kind of knowledge.

Who is paying for this little show? It is Canadians of course. With any piece of legislation, there should be an attempt to prove two things: Is it effective in getting done what we want to get done; and, what does it cost to implement. That seems reasonable to us.

The government, which is admittedly going to spend billions of dollars on its crime agenda, would cut programs that prevent crime. This is an offence to the sensibilities of Canadians to say that the only crime reduction program is a jail cell.

We know the importance of jails and prison time in a system of justice, but it is one component of the system and not the whole. The best crime program we could have is where crimes are not created in the first place. We would not hear from those victimized by crime because the crimes would not have happened. We have seen in this country, as well as in many others, that there are programs that work to reduce crime and we should be funding them.

Because Bill C-60 is addressing the needs of victims, the government in its most recent budget, cut grants for victims of crime by more than 30%. That seems strange. The government talks about victims all the time and how it is standing up for victims, but the same government cut the funding for victims by 30%. This is also a government that cut the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime by 98%. I guess they were not doing a good job, but we have no idea, the government has not justified that.

Government members commercials, ads and question period time and again say how the Conservatives are meant to be victims' great protectors, but when they get down to actual spending priorities, the Conservatives cut programs that are meant to support victims.

I am dealing with someone right now in my riding outside of Fraser Lake who tragically lost his daughter to a terrible crime. She was murdered just before Christmas and he is desperately trying to access some kind of funding to get out on the road to talk to parents about what happened in the case of his young daughter so families could avoid that happening to them. This began with Facebook, which was how the initial connection was made with her and the murderer. There is nothing that the government is offering; it is a tin ear, a tragedy and hypocrisy.

I grow weary of the government time and again pretending that it wrote the book and is the sole protectors of victims. However, when we look at budgets and real situations, its interest in victims is purely political and so much less on the moral and ethical side of the question which is of deep interest to New Democrats and has always been.

As a social justice party, we believe that to deter crime takes more than just minimum mandatory sentencing. There is more to the conversation. To become overly fixated on one solution, so that if all one has is a hammer, then every problem would look like a nail. All the government has is the same answer and it needs to expand. It has to mature this conversation.

With Bill C-60, we have offered a solution that the government, to this point, has refused. We hope it reconsiders over the weekend because time is pressing. The member for Trinity—Spadina worked on her legislation months ago.

This bill is not enormous at ten pages, French and English. It is not as if the government had to write some massive document, that is it, but it took months. We are on the eve of an election threat and the government is not willing to fast track or move at all. Again, it is as if the Conservative government is the sole owner of justice and rightness in this country, and that is offensive to Canadians.

At committee we need to talk about what is permissible in defence when making a citizen's arrest. How can we assure that so-called proportionality in the use of force in a citizen's arrest matches the threat of the crime? That is absolutely critical. Otherwise, we could create a situation in which Canadians believe they can use twice or ten times the amount of force to prevent a crime and the courts will refuse them. The government bears a certain responsibility to make sure that impression is not put out into the public because people will end up going to jail and will get hurt.

We must remind folks as often as we can that the citizen's arrest is not meant to be the first option. The bill, thankfully, does not change the order of law in Canada that says if one has a reasonable expectation that a police officer can make the arrest, then one must seek that first because they are better at it. They have guns, handcuffs, a badge and the law. These are important things to have when making a citizen's arrest.

Seeking help of a police officer is first and foremost, and that cannot be pushed to the side, forgiven or dismissed. We need to understand that it continues under Bill C-60. We need to have it confirmed because the government has written more than we have offered.

We believe that offering solutions is what this place should be about for Canadians. We are concerned that some of the standards used in this bill are subjective. They are not hard and fast. We need to understand what “reasonable force” is. We need to understand what “a reasonable amount of time” is. This is critical for us to understand.

Is the government imagining that several hours after a crime someone can still legally make a citizen's arrest? Is it a day later? Is it several days? Are we going to allow the judges and juries to decide what “reasonable” is? These are important things for us to understand.

As the minister noted earlier, some of the laws that we are affecting here are more than 100 years old, and some of them have not seen any substantive changes in 100 years. If we are going to modernize this thing, let us modernize it properly. What will the effects be on the day to day lives of our citizens?

There is a potential for prosecutorial over-reaction, as it is sometimes called. We get a very enthusiastic public prosecutor coming forward, as we saw in the case of the Lucky Moose, ringing up a whole raft of charges that had little or nothing to do with the actual citizen's arrest in the case in Toronto. That is something that we also need to be concerned about. Government courts often give prosecutorial direction. They give some inclination and direction to those lawyers who work on behalf of Canadians, for the crown, as to what the guidelines for prosecuting a case are. That is important. We do not see those here and those are not meant to be in legislation, but it is certainly something government has to be cognizant of. What kinds of directions will be given to prosecutors to ensure we do not have folks out there hoping to make a name for themselves or who are just reading the law in such a limited and circumspect way that we end up with charges that to Canadians seem out of control and disproportionate to what is going on? We want to ensure that the reasonable time is offered in a succinct way.

We have seen, with the latest budget and, I expect, we will see it in the next budget, how much out of balance the government is by dealing with crime only after it has happened versus trying to prevent it in the first place. I attention is due. It has been so out of whack that billions of dollars have gone into more prisons and prison guards, which is very expensive. A prisoner in maximum security will cost $138,000 per year on average. A female prisoner in the same system will be as much as $178,000 per year. That is a lot of money and this is billions of dollars to build this, much of which is being dropped on the backs of the provinces that had no hand in crafting many of these laws. These are provinces that are not exactly flush with cash.

To not have been properly consulted on the raft of laws the Conservatives have brought forward, but to have a bill attached that the provinces also have to buck up to, for a government that wishes to have peace in the federation, wishes to have some sort of respect for our colleagues who work at the provincial level, it sure is making it difficult on them, straining relations because it is straining the budget. Some provinces have come out and said that they are directly opposed to some of these laws because they will be forced to build more penitentiaries. This is something we need to be careful about when we bring legislation forward.

The New Democrats have offered the government an olive branch. We have said that we are willing to move forward today, particularly on clause 3, all the way through committee and back here because it is something we believe in.

The member for Trinity—Spadina has been front and foremost on this from day one looking for some sort of justice for some of the citizens she represents. It seems incumbent upon the government to listen and entertain a reasonable offer, one that will make positive change in the country, and leave those parts of the bill that need further study to the study they need. However, to leave the entire bill in jeopardy and not listen to the offer made by the New Democrats today, on behalf of the member for Trinity—Spadina, is a mistake. It is hubris, it is arrogance and it is something the government has too much of an inclination toward. If the government wants to make something positive happen, we can do that. We are willing to meet the government half way and hope it will meet us the other half.

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his thoughtful input into not just this bill but with regard to the whole litany of justice bills in which there is an absence of information.

Prevention, punishment, rehabilitation and reintegration are all elements of dealing with crime in our society and yet the government continues to go in the other direction by eliminating parole, creating larger mandatory minimums, building more prisons and then not funding the provinces that must take care of much of this as well. There are some consequences to this.

Does the member see this pattern as a rejection of the long-standing understanding of the criminal justice psychology, and that there has to be a balance in the programs but that, as parliamentarians, we also need to know the costing of various options so we can make good laws and wise decisions.

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, in all of the debates that take place here a certain level of rhetoric happens in trying to make a point, a certain enthusiasm that we all bring to our positions. Ultimately, when we respect one another's attitudes, positions and beliefs this place can work quite well.

One of the principle beliefs that the Conservative Party previously claimed was some sort of prudence when it came to public coffers, that it wanted to be careful with how money was spent, even though history would show Conservative governments fall under the constant addiction of spending more than we have and it is doing it again.

The question of crime and when we ask the cost, the response from the government has been that it if it protects one person then the cost does not matter. The government claims that if one person is protected from a crime then the cost is worth it. This suggests the scenario that multiple billions of dollars to protect one victim of crime would somehow be in the government's interests. It is going to get awfully expensive under those guys, and it already is. We have to get a bit of balance back.

Preventing the crimes in the first place is the best kind of crime prevention program we could possibly have, the best kind of justice reform we could have in this country.

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

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 proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-501, An Act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and other Acts (pension protection), as reported (with amendments) from the committee.

Bankruptcy and Insolvency
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

There being no motions at report stage, the House will now proceed without debate to the putting of the question on the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.

Bankruptcy and Insolvency
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

NDP

John Rafferty Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

moved that the bill be concurred in.

Bankruptcy and Insolvency
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

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

Bankruptcy and Insolvency
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed

No

Bankruptcy and Insolvency
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

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

Bankruptcy and Insolvency
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea

Bankruptcy and Insolvency
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

All those opposed will please say nay

Bankruptcy and Insolvency
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay

Bankruptcy and Insolvency
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

In my opinion the yeas have it

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 98 the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, March 9 immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until Monday, March 7 at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 1:32 p.m.)