House of Commons Hansard #92 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was elections.

Topics

Canada-EU Trade Agreement
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is in regard to the Canada-EU comprehensive economic and trade agreement.

The petitioners indicate that most of what we know about the CIDA negotiations comes from leaked copies of the draft agreement and closed communications with various Canadian and European government officials, which is unacceptable for an agreement as wide and deep in scope as this one.

Therefore, the petitioners request that the Government of Canada and the provincial and territorial governments immediately cease negotiations with the EU while nationwide public consultations can be held on how and whether or not to proceed with the potential trade agreement.

Child Care
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is quite appropriate that I am tabling this final petition on International Women's Day.

The petitioners say that child care is often not acceptable or affordable for Canadian families and is often of uncertain quality for young children. They say that child care creates jobs, makes Canada more competitive, helps achieve women's equality, builds local economies and is a recognized human right.

The petitioners call upon the House of Commons to legislate the right to universal access to child care and provide multi-year funding to provincial and territorial governments to build a national system of affordable, high quality, public and not for profit early childhood education and care accessible to all children.

The federal government must establish funding criteria and reporting mechanisms that ensure accountability for how the provinces and territories use federal funding to ensure quality, accessibility, universality and accountability and that acknowledges Quebec's right to develop social programs with adequate compensation from the federal government.

Foreign Aid
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions this morning. The first is from people in my riding who petition the Government of Canada to protect foreign aid spending.

The undersigned residents wish to bring to the attention of the government that departments have been asked to table plans for savings of 5% to 10% in preparation for the budget and that the Canadian International Development Agency accounts for only 2% of the federal budget, the budget which has been frozen for two years, which they say results in an actual cut of 5% in real terms when measured against inflation.

They indicate that CIDA's work results in substantial improvements in the lives of many of the world's poorest people. It goes toward training teachers in regions with limited education, improving health care and providing access to clean water. Moreover, they say that many non-governmental organizations in the development sector depend on CIDA as a source of funds in order to run their own programs.

The petition is from youth organized through Memorial University of Newfoundland Oxfam group. The petitioners say that while youth are suffering from the recession in Canada, they still support a strong foreign aid budget and call upon government to exempt CIDA from the budget cuts in the new budget to come down.

Search and Rescue
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, the second petition, which is one of many petitions we have received so far on this issue, calls on the government to reverse the decision to close the Newfoundland and Labrador marine rescue coordination centre in St. John's and to reinstate staff and services. They oppose this decision because they believe that the government should understand and acknowledge that the closure will result in the suffering of services and will put lives at risk.

There is a huge proportion of distress incidents in Canada, the largest in this region, responding to an average of 500 incidents per year and saving over 600 people in distress. The results, though, are due to the unique knowledge and understanding of the area of ocean and the people involved. That is very important to its protection.

Shark Fins
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise here this morning to present three petitions.

The first petition comes from residents primarily in the Vancouver area of British Columbia and deals with the issue of shark finning. The removal of the fin of the shark for no purpose other than to prepare a particularly rare soup is leading to the annihilation of a species. Nearly 70 million sharks are killed every year for this reason.

The petitioners are calling on the House of Commons to ban the possession, trade, distribution and sale of shark fins in Canada.

The Environment
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition comes from residents from across Canada on the subject of the proposed Enbridge pipeline across northern British Columbia to Kitimat and the breaking of a 40-year moratorium against oil supertankers. This petition urges the government to await evidence before taking a position.

Bottled Water
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the last petition is from residents in my riding from Pender Island, Galiano Island and Salt Spring Island. They point out that Parliament should stop the practice of providing bottled water within this institution. The petition ties in slightly with an important bill that we will be debating later today on banning bulk water exports. I certainly hope to speak to that bill, Bill C-267.

Seniors' Poverty
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from a number of Canadians who recognize that in June the House unanimously passed a motion presented by me that the government take action to raise all seniors out of poverty by increasing the guaranteed income supplement. Of course, we know that has not happened. The government's efforts in this area have been less than acceptable.

As today is International Women's Day, it is appropriate to present this petition because most of those seniors living in poverty are single women who have no access to resources and desperately need that increase in the GIS.

The petitioners call upon the government to honour the motion that was passed in June and increase the guaranteed income supplement enough to lift every senior out of poverty.

Canada-U.S. Extradition Treaty
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

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

The first petition concerns the matter of John Graham who was extradited to the U.S. over 35 years ago for a murder that was committed in South Dakota. These petitions are being collected by the John Graham Defense Committee located in Vancouver. The petitioners feel very strongly about this issue, as do many people.

The petitioners are calling for the immediate release and return of John Graham to Canada. They call on the Government of Canada to make a formal request to the U.S. for his return. They are also calling for a congressional investigation into the FBI's handling of the murder investigation, as well as an amendment to the extradition treaty between Canada and the U.S. to protect the rights of Canadian citizens from extradition based on hearsay evidence alone.

Canada Consumer Product Safety Act
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition contains pages and pages of signatures of petitioners, many from Vancouver, Vancouver Island and Ontario. I have presented many of these petitions before. They reflect the deeply held concern by many Canadians that every year hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats are brutally slaughtered for their fur in a number of regions.

Canada should join the U.S., Australia and the European Union in banning the import and sale of dog and cat fur. Further, it should be mandatory that all fur products being imported or sold in Canada have a label identifying the species of origin.

The petitioners call on the Government of Canada to introduce and support government legislation to amend the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and the Textile Labelling Act.

Firearms Registry
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Annick Papillon Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, today being International Women's Day, I am honoured to present a petition calling on the House to withdraw Bill C-19 to eliminate the gun registry, which, as we all know, will have adverse consequences for heath and public safety, not to mention the fact that it is a terrible waste of taxpayers' dollars.

This petition, with several pages of signatures, is the initiative of women's organizations in the greater Quebec City region, including Violence Info, Centre de ressources pour femmes de Beauport, Centre femmes d'aujourd'hui, and Viol Secours. I wish to congratulate those women on their hard work and thank them for all the services they provide to women.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

March 8th, 2012 / 10:20 a.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

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion--Canada Elections Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson Hamilton Centre, ON

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should, within six months, table amendments to the Elections Canada Act and other legislation as required that would ensure that in all future election campaigns: (a) Elections Canada investigation capabilities be strengthened, to include giving the Chief Electoral Officer the power to request all necessary documents from political parties to ensure compliance with the Elections Act; (b) all telecommunication companies that provide voter contact services during a general election must register with Elections Canada; and (c) all clients of telecommunication companies during a general election have their identity registered and verified.

Mr. Speaker, with your permission, I would seek to share my time with the magnificent deputy critic, the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent.

The motion is in three parts. As I only have 10 minutes, I will deal with the first part and look to my colleagues from our magnificent caucus to shore us up on the rest of the motion over the course of the day.

It has been interesting to listen to the various responses of the government on this matter, beginning early last week when the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent and I asked questions about it. We were not even given the decency of an answer that dealt with this issue. Then the government said there was no real issue. We told the government that what it agreed to in the majority report of the committee is as good if not better. Last night, I was on a CPAC panel with the member for Peterborough, who is the designated point person for the government on this file. He said that the Chief Electoral Officer does not need this power because he already has it. We have been all around on this issue with the government.

It would seem there was a moment of clarity yesterday, however, when the Prime Minister acknowledged that his government was prepared to support this motion. At least that is our interpretation of his remarks but it remains to be seen what the government's actions will be today. If the government does support this motion, then within six months we expect to have legislation in front of us that deals with parts (a), (b) and (c) of the motion.

With respect to the first part of the motion, the government is alleging that the Chief Electoral Officer already has the powers that we are talking about, that there would be no change, which is why the government would be willing to support the motion. I beg to differ big time.

I was present at the commencement of our review of the Chief Electoral Officer's report on October 7, 2010. We have been considering this report for two years. The Chief Electoral Officer only selected a few things to talk about at committee, those things that were the most important, one being political financing. In his opening remarks, he said:

My recommendations seek to balance two key objectives: trust and efficiency. To increase trust in the management of public funds, I am recommending greater transparency in the review process for the electoral campaign returns of political parties. If requested by the Chief Electoral Officer, parties would be required to provide [an]explanation or documents to support their election expenses, returns. This change would bring the requirements applying to parties more in line with the requirements that apply to candidates and leadership contestants.

On the same day and at the same meeting a question was posed by a former member of the House, whose name I will not mention because it is not necessary. During our public witness discussion, the member asked the Chief Electoral Officer:

I would like to discuss the part of your report entitled “Parties' Returns: Documentary Evidence”. You would like to “Require the parties to provide, upon request, explanations or documents to support their election expenses returns.” You say that the act does not authorize that, but that you can request it. We submit a report, and after that, you have the right to request documentary evidence. What exactly are we talking about?

Mr. Mayrand replied:

I can request that evidence of the candidates, yes, but not of the political parties. That is the current inconsistency in the act. I don't have the authority to ask a political party to produce documentary evidence in support of expenses identified in the election expenses return.

What people may find interesting is that unlike all the other returns that were mentioned, the federal return from the party, the one on which the government's subsidies are based, currently requires no documentation. None. The Chief Electoral Officer is requesting that he be given the authority to request any documents that he would need to assure himself that parties are in compliance.

Further, on page 36 under II.1 of the Chief Electoral Officer's report to our committee, it states:

The Chief Electoral Officer has the mandate of ensuring that those returns comply with the requirements of the Act. However, despite these legislative requirements and the substantial public subsidies attached to them, the Chief Electoral Officer does not have any real means to ensure that parties' returns meet the requirements of the Act. This situation is particularly problematic when it comes to the election expenses return as parties may obtain a reimbursement for these expenses. Indeed, unlike candidates and other regulated entities, political parties are not required to provide any documentary evidence to support their returns.

The recommendation came to the committee and the committee in its majority--which means the government, because the only way to get a majority on a committee now is to have the government on side--rejected this and put a recommendation in the majority report which said that as an alternative, all parties should submit to and pay to have a compliance audit done.

Keep in mind the $1.7 million that Elections Canada spent on the in-and-out controversy where the government ultimately, after having dragged its heels and having gone through every legal means to slow the procedure, in the end pleaded guilty, gave the money back and altered the returns. Do people recall the images on TV of the raid and all the boxes being hauled out by the RCMP? All of that and that whole $1.7 million had to be spent in part because the Chief Electoral Officer did not have the ability to put on a single piece of paper or in an email the documents he would like to see to satisfy himself that the Conservatives were in compliance. That is what we are talking about.

Over the last week or so, as this issue has started to permeate Canadians' awareness given all that is going on in the world, we are at the point where the official opposition, in order to deal with this issue directly and to deal with some of the matters surrounding the robocall scandal, has brought forward this motion which has three components. The other two components are to ensure that any firm doing telecommunications, meaning doing the robocalling, has to register and its clients have to be registered.

Those simple acts alone would go a long way to answering the questions that are currently swirling around the robocall scandal. Who authorized it? Who paid for it? Who actually did it? Where did the scripts come from? There is a whole host of questions to which we do not have answers. The government says it is going to comply with any documentary requests. I guess that suggests maybe this law is not needed. We take the government at its word, but it does not have a great track record of keeping its word, quite frankly, but we will see.

Nonetheless, we believe that this should be in place. I might add that later on there will be an amendment proposed. Of course, the mover of the motion has to agree to any amendments and I will agree to one which would give effect to the law for the Chief Electoral Officer not only for future elections, but on any current file that is in front of the Chief Electoral Officer.

At the end of the day, what is at risk is the respect of our democracy not just around the world, but more importantly, by Canadians. We believe that passing this motion and ordering that the government comply with bringing forward this legislation would go a long way to returning the faith Canadians want to have in their electoral system. I look forward to this motion I hope passing unanimously and having the full force of Parliament to send a message to Canadians that Parliament demands and will ensure clean, fair elections.