House of Commons Hansard #103 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Madam Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 459 and 462.

Question No. 459
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

With respect to Bill C-10, An Act to enact the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act and to amend the State Immunity Act, the Criminal Code, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and other Acts: (a) what steps did the Minister of Justice undertake to conduct a review pursuant to sbs. 4.1(1) of the Department of Justice Act to ensure Bill C-10’s constitutionality and compliance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; (b) will the Minister table the review mentioned in subquestion (a) before the House; (c) did the Minister review Bill C-10 in light of section 7 of the Charter regarding cruel and unusual punishments; (d) did the Minister conclude that Bill C-10 respects section 7 of the Charter; (e) has the government undertaken cost projections with respect to litigating challenges to C-10’s constitutionality and, if so, how much has been allocated; and (f) does the government plan to amend Bill C-10 in light of the R. v. Smickle decision?

Question No. 459
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

March 30th, 2012 / 12:10 p.m.

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), (b), (c), and (d), Bill C-10 is a comprehensive bill that includes reforms that were previously proposed in nine bills introduced in the last session of Parliament.

Bill C-10 includes the following former bills: Bill C-4, Sébastien’s Law (Protecting the Public from Violent Young Offenders), proposed to amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act;

Bill C-5, the Keeping Canadians Safe Act, proposed to amend the International Transfer of Offenders Act;

Bill C-16, known as the Ending House Arrest for Property and Other Serious Crimes by Serious and Violent Offenders Act, proposed Criminal Code amendments to prevent the use of conditional sentences for serious and violent offences;

Bill C-23B, the Eliminating Pardons for Serious Crimes Act, proposed to amend the Criminal Records Act to expand the period of ineligibility to apply for a record suspension, currently referred to as a pardon, and to make record suspensions unavailable for certain offences and for persons who have been convicted of more than three offences prosecuted by indictment;

Bill C-39, the Ending Early Release for Criminals and Increasing Offender Accountability Act, proposed amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to support victims of crime, and to address inmate accountability and responsibility and the management of offenders;

Bill C-54, the Protecting Children from Sexual Predators Act, proposed Criminal Code amendments to better protect children against sexual abuse, including by increasing the penalties for these offences and creating two new offences aimed at certain conduct that could facilitate or enable the commission of a sexual offence against a child;

Bill C-56, the Preventing the Trafficking, Abuse and Exploitation of Vulnerable Immigrants Act, proposed to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to authorize immigration officers to refuse work permits where it would protect vulnerable foreign nationals against exploitation, including sexual exploitation;

Bill S-7, the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, proposed reforms to allow victims of terrorism to sue terrorists and supporters of terrorism, including listed foreign states;

Bill S-10, the Penalties for Organized Drug Crime Act, proposed amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to provide mandatory minimum penalties for serious drug offences, including when offences are carried out for organized crime purposes, or if they involve targeting youth, or where other stated aggravating factors are present.

Pursuant to subsection 4.1(1) of the Department of Justice Act, the Minister of Justice is required to examine every government bill presented to the House of Commons in order to ascertain whether any of its provisions are inconsistent with the purposes and provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the charter, and to report to the House of Commons on any such inconsistency.

Each of the component bills that make up Bill C-10 were reviewed for consistency with the purposes and relevant provisions of the charter. Such reviews constitute legal advice and are subject to solicitor-client privilege. The Minister of Justice is confident that Bill C-10 is not inconsistent with the charter.

In response to (e), notices of constitutional challenge to provisions of the Criminal Code and other federal statutes are considered on a case-by-case basis. Generally the attorney general of the province where the challenge is brought, namely the attorney general that has prosecuted the offence, would respond to the challenge. The Attorney General of Canada determines on a case-by-case basis whether to intervene to defend the constitutional validity, particularly at the appellate level. Where the Attorney General of Canada does not intervene, our officials provide assistance as needed to the attorney general of the province to do so.

The Attorney General of Canada has sufficient capacity to defend the constitutional validity of the provisions of Bill C-10 and/or to assist the attorneys general of the provinces to do so.

In response to (f), the government does not intend to amend Bill C-10 in light of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision in R. v. Smickle.

The Attorney General of Ontario has filed a notice of appeal with the Court of Appeal for Ontario

Question No. 462
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

With respect to the government’s filing in L. and M. v. Attorney General (Canada) and Attorney General (Quebec) regarding same-sex couples married in Canada but comprised of one or more non-residence spouses: (a) by what process was the filing reviewed, by which government employees, and on what dates; (b) did the Minister of Justice or his office, or any other agent or officer of the government, issue any directive with specific regard to this case, and, if so, what were the contents of the directives or memo; (c) has the government amended its filing; (d) if the government has amended its filing, in what way has it done so, and, if not, why not; (e) will the government withdraw its filing; (f) who was the highest-ranking official to have approved the filing and when did this occur; and (g) is it the government’s policy to make similar filings in cases of this nature?

Question No. 462
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the Attorney General of Canada’s answer to the application in L and M v. Attorney General of Canada and Attorney General of Ontario was filed on June 29, 2011. The answers to the six specific questions posed are as follows.

In response to (a), the filing was reviewed by counsel in the family, children and youth section and the human rights law section at Justice Canada’s national headquarters, as well as by officials in the Ontario regional office, including their litigation committee at a meeting on June 15, 2011. The reviews took place from mid-April to mid-June of 2011.

In response to (b), no directive was issued with regard to this case by the Minister of Justice, his office or any other agent or officer of the Government of Canada. In response to (c), (d), and (e), the filing has not been amended. A preliminary motion challenging the applicants’ standing to challenge the constitutionality of the Divorce Act on the basis that their marriage was not legally valid in Canada was discontinued on January 17, 2012. On February 17, 2012, the Government of Canada tabled Bill C-32, an Act to amend the Civil Marriage Act, which would change the law in Canada to allow non-residents who were married in Canada to access divorce where they are unable to do so in their country of residence because their Canadian marriage is not recognized.

In response to (f), the answer was reviewed and approved by the litigation committee of the Ontario regional office of Justice Canada. That committee comprises the senior litigators in the regional office and the regional director general. That approval was given on June 15, 2011.

In response to (g), on February 17, 2012, the government introduced Bill C-32, An Act to amend the Civil Marriage Act. This bill would fill the legislative gap left in the Civil Marriage Act by the previous government.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Madam Speaker, if Question No. 464 could be made an order for return, this return would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 464
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

With regard to Confidential Services for Victims of Abuse (CSVA) program: (a) what steps are being taken to ensure stronger federal-provincial coordination in the delivery of CSVA; (b) once a victim enters the CSVA, what steps are being taken to make sure that access to a secure identity is provided as quickly as possible; (c) how does the CSVA ensure that victims receive adequate support and services during the period in which their new identities are being processed; (d) how does the CSVA adequately provide access to secure housing and financial support for victims entering the program; (e) how does the government intend to redress the fact that victims in the CSVA program in the past were not provided with adequate housing and financial security; (f) what steps are being taken to ensure that the victims entering into the CSVA program now will not face similar difficulties with accessing housing and financial security; (g) what services are provided to victims in the CSVA program after the secure identity is obtained; (h) how are these services coordinated among the provinces and between each province and the federal government; (i) in the event that the secure identity is compromised or revealed, what recourse within the program is available to victims; (j) how can victims whose secure identity is compromised access further services and support; (k) if a victim has complaints about CSVA services received, what recourse is available to them; (l) if a victim has complaints about the timeliness of services provided, what recourse is available to them; (m) what is the timeline for distribution of services in the CSVA program; (n) how is the timeline for distribution of services from the CVSA coordinated with the provinces; and (o) what is the government’s policy concerning the relationship between the CSVA and its international obligation to protect women and girls from violence?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

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

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to continue this discussion. I have already flagged it will take some time to go over the Conservatives' economic record and what they have done with the budget to provoke a worsening of the Canadian economy.

Madam Speaker, to start off with, I would like to say through you to Canadians who have been sending in all sorts of commentary by emails, faxes, tweets, and messages on Facebook that I will read some, but by no means will I be able to read all of them today. There has been such a huge amount of information coming in.

I want to thank Canadians very much for making their thoughts known and to encourage other Canadians who are concerned about the reckless and meanspirited cuts that are contained in the Conservative budget, the cuts to old age security and the cuts that we saw in December to the long-term sustainability of our health care system, to write or to phone their local NDP MPs. If they do not have an NDP MP yet, we certainly encourage them to phone the nearest NDP MP across the country, because this information is very important.

I want to thank all of the people who are writing to us and sending us messages via Twitter, Facebook, email and fax, as well as the people who are calling us. Their thoughts are important.

I will read some of their messages before getting back to the Conservatives' lack of credibility on economic matters. First up, a woman from Montreal's south shore posted this message on Facebook: “This is a partisan and biased budget that will not help the country or its people. This budget was created by and for Conservatives. Is that what democracy is about nowadays? I think that we should remind the Prime Minister, who was elected by fewer than two out of five voters—fewer than one in four Canadians of voting age, taking voter participation rates into account—that he has to consider the 75% of Canadians who did not vote for him. The nation's budget is a budget for all Canadians, and I am willing to bet that this budget does not respond to the needs of 75% of Canadians. Just who is this government working for?”

A man in Montreal wrote, “Isn't it more than a little suspicious that the Conservative government, which is suspected of bending the rules and has been found guilty of violating the Elections Act, has cut Elections Canada's budget? That should raise more than a few eyebrows.”

I have many other messages here, but I will not read them all. I had to put many of them aside because question period was just 45 minutes long. Canadian families are certainly interested in this budget, but not in a good way. Canadian families are very worried.

Here is another comment. We have received a number of comments about the programs that have been eliminated, including the following comment from a person in the West Island area of Montreal.

Here is a little bit of good news for the Conservatives. A Canadian says that abolishing the penny is a good move. We have said that this is a penny-wise and pound foolish budget. Certainly we do not mind the abolition of the penny. In fact, it was the member for Winnipeg Centre who first raised this issue in the House of Commons. He has succeeded in his campaign. It will save money for the Royal Canadian Mint.

However, that was the only good thing this individual had to say about the budget. He went on to say, “That very minor point aside, there are numerous serious flaws in this budget from obfuscation on details to ideological moves towards libertarian chaos that the Prime Minister seems to be fond of.” He also said that the New Democratic MPs should keep up the great work.

Someone in Manitoba wrote, “The amount in the budget is a really inadequate amount for Canada's first nations. We will no doubt continue to hear of horror stories on reserves that are far enough north that they will not be easily seen by Canadians. The government continues to believe that most Canadians do not care about what is happening in aboriginal communities. They are wrong.”

Someone in Ontario wrote, “I heard your interview on Anna Maria Tremonti's program this morning on the CBC. Good job. There was also one person who was interviewed who brought up a good point about the budget and R and D. Some of the best innovation in Canada for all types of enterprises have come from our large cities in part because a large influx of immigrants bring all types of talent and work experiences from around the world, but this government is removing itself from the type of co-operative federalism and seems to be doing it from a perspective of ideology. This will leave our cities underfunded as provinces will struggle with their own budgets.”

We made that point as well. This is where we miss Jack Layton. He came from municipal politics and had a deep understanding of the needs of cities and the influence they will play in the future as a result of globalization.

The individual also wrote, “Hopefully the NDP will keep a careful eye on the impact of the federal budget and on provincial budgets as a result of this federal budget.”

We have a number of comments about the cuts to Katimavik. I will read some of them. As I said, the comments are flooding in and we will certainly endeavour to intersperse the comments we are getting from Canadians. As New Democrat MPs, it is our job to bring those comments to the floor of the House of Commons along with prepared presentations that we are getting as well.

My colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour just mentioned another one and I thank him for that. We live in a very interactive world. It is instantaneous. As soon as Canadians raise these concerns, we can bring them to the floor of the House of Commons. Evidently, there is a lot of opposition developing to this budget. People are emailing, twittering, and posting on Facebook their concerns.

A grade 12 student at Auburn Drive High School in Dartmouth said:

Seeing that yesterday the Conservatives and the budget cut has had a serious impact on my life and all those who are anticipating the dates on which we were able to go, the cutting of Katimavik is a serious blow to my future plans and without it I am completely unable to know what I am able to do without such a wonderful program. I have talked to many people about the amazing things that the Katimavik program does for youth participating within it. It helps not only students like myself learning to grow into a more mature and successful adult, but it also helps the community in which Katimavik is placed into. It is an opportunity for youth to do some good, to learn about the vastness of Canadian cultures as well as a volunteer program that had no reason to be cut. It does more good than harm. This is a serious issue. Please work as hard as you can to restore funding to Katimavik. Thank you for reading.

I thank her for writing in.

I have another message from a young woman from Saint Hubert who said, “I am writing to you about something that is very important to me and that is Katimavik. I just learned that this program will not be receiving any more funding from this government. That really saddens me because I am currently in the program. I just finished my first three months of the program and I have been living in Lethbridge, Alberta. Now, for the past two days, I have been in Sainte-Foy, Quebec. The fact that this program will be cut makes me really sad because before this program I had no idea what I wanted to do in life. Now, after going through these first three months I know exactly what I want to do”.

That is another young Canadian writing to us to denounce yet another program elimination by this government for purely ideological reasons.

Here is another message, from Sherbrooke this time, “I have not had time to read the Conservatives' entire budget yet, but I see that they have cut the Katimavik social program. I believe it is a very worthwhile program for youth development in our Canadian communities”.

I have received a message from a woman in the Eastern Townships. She just wrote to me on Facebook about the elimination of the Katimavik program and she thanks me for my prompt reply.

I will read one last comment. I have received so many that I could go on reading them, but I get the impression that this afternoon's session cannot be extended, unless the Minister of Foreign Affairs wants me to keep reading these emails.

I will read one last one about Katimavik, from Vancouver.

The email says, “Our family has been supporters of yours. We also strongly support Katimavik. Today's announcement to end Katimavik was a shock to me. Our family has been a host family with this organization for a long time. We have kept boys and girls from all over Canada in our home. All of them have been friendly, articulate and unique. Some of their best qualities grew and flourished through this program. Katimavik has nurtured young people to grow up, be great and give back to Canada. I believe the decision to terminate its funding was a short-sighted one. Please do your best to battle this decision.”

I would like to thank all of those who are writing in about Katimavik, about the cuts to food safety, the cuts to transportation safety and the cuts to environmental assessment.

The NDP caucus will continue to fight for these people on the floor of the House of Commons because Canadian families deserve better than they got in this budget.

I also received a couple other emails that are not directly related to the budget, but I thought I would answer them just the same. One of them was not a very kind email. It basically said, “Where does your suit come from?”, I think implying that, given the collapse of the manufacturing sector, I must buy my suits offshore. Madam Speaker, through you, I want to assure that Canadian that this suit is made by unionized workers in Hamilton, Ontario. I believe in supporting Canadian manufacturers. I am very proud of the suit.