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  • Her favourite word is thanks.

Conservative MP for Sarnia—Lambton (Ontario)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 52.60% of the vote.

Statements in the House

National Day of Mourning April 28th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to attention that today is the National Day of Mourning. It is on this day each year that we remember workers who have been killed, injured or suffer illness as a result of their duties at work.

Today, our thoughts and prayers go out to the families, friends and colleagues of the victims. No words can ease their pain. The best way we can honour the victims is by striving to create safer and healthier workplaces by striving to prevent accidents and injuries from happening.

I ask all hon. members to take the time to remember the workers who have lost their lives or have been injured on the job. Let us honour them by putting forth our best efforts to foster safer and healthier workplaces through continued education, awareness and cooperation. Let us prevent these needless tragedies from happening again.

Committees of the House April 18th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the ninth report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women in relation to gender budgets.

Justice April 10th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, after more than 10 years as a justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Justice Michel Bastarache announced yesterday that he will step down from the high court. Throughout his career Justice Bastarache distinguished himself as a skilled lawyer, legal educator and appellate judge.

Would the Minister of Justice comment on his plans to fill the vacancy created by this departure from the Supreme Court?

Drugs and Pharmaceuticals April 9th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food announced our new measures to restore Canada's trust in the safety of the goods and products they buy and use. Part of this announcement proposed a new life cycle approach to the regulation of pharmaceutical drugs, which will, for the first time, ensure drugs are monitored constantly as they enter and remain in the health care system.

Could the Minister of Health please update the House on this new approach to pharmaceutical regulation and explain to Canadians how this new system ensures their safety?

Committees of the House April 7th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, everybody needs to realize that Canada is one of the only nations that includes aboriginals in its Constitution.

We are concerned. We work aggressively with our aboriginal people. Since taking office in 2006, our government has acted on many fronts to improve the quality of life and promote a prosperous future for our aboriginal people.

We take a practical agenda. We focus on real results. We look for tangible progress. Our government has dealt in areas such as land claims, education, housing, child and family services, safe drinking water, and the extension of human rights protection to first nations on reserve. We have been pushing to have section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act repealed.

Our government deals very much with our aboriginal people with respect to human rights.

Committees of the House April 7th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for her question, and she is another member who certainly has done a lot of work on this issue, has been very interested in it, and contributed a great deal.

I would like to point out to the hon. member that, as I said in my speech, Canada's position has remained consistent and principled. We have stated publicly that we have significant concerns with the wording of the provisions of this declaration and that those living on the lands, territories, and those affected by the wording by these provisions will be consulted.

We voted against the adoption of the current text because it is fundamentally flawed. It lacks the clear guidance we need to finally put this issue to rest and come to a decision that is in the best interests of those concerned.

Committees of the House April 7th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I know this is certainly an issue that the member opposite has been very interested in over the years and has worked very hard on, and I would like to thank her for her contributions on this issue.

That brings me back to a point that I really would like to make. This is a very long time issue. It has been worked on for a great many years and it is something that we know we must get right.

I know there are many members in the House who do not share the priorities and policies that the government shares, but that does not make the government priorities and policies wrong. We need to have differences of opinion and debate. The fact that we have worked on this issue for so long and have not resolved it speaks to the fact that we need to take the time to get it right.

We have had a lot of consultation. We know there needs to be investment in a great many areas. We certainly have consulted on a great many areas and will continue to consult. That is part of this government's commitment, that we will continue to consult with the groups that will be impacted by this.

Committees of the House April 7th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to respond to the motion by the hon. member for London—Fanshawe, which states:

That this House endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on September 13, 2007, and call upon the Parliament and Government of Canada to implement fully the standards contained therein.

As I am sure the House is aware, on September 12, 2007, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians and the Minister of Foreign Affairs issued a statement indicating that Canada could not vote in favour of the United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples.

The following day, Canada delivered an explanation of vote, setting on the record its position on the declaration. Canada stated, among other things, that the declaration did not provide practical guidance to states and that some of the provisions were overly broad and capable of a wide variety of interpretations.

Since taking office in 2006, our government has acted on many fronts to improve quality of life and promote a prosperous future for all aboriginal peoples. This agenda is practical, focuses on real results, and has led to tangible progress in a range of areas including land claims, education, housing, child and family services, safe drinking water, and the extension of human rights protection to first nations on a reserve.

We are also pushing to have section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act repealed. This would ensure the protection of fundamental human rights for all aboriginal people, including aboriginal women, who are often the most vulnerable.

It should be noted that Canada supports the spirit and intent of the United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, but further negotiations were necessary to achieve a text worthy of Canadian support that truly addressed the interests of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples in Canada and around the world.

Canada's position has remained consistent and principled. We have stated publicly that we have significant concerns with the wording of provisions of the declaration, such as those on lands, territories and resources; free, prior and informed consent when used as a veto; self-government without recognition of the importance of negotiations; intellectual property; military issues; and the need to achieve an appropriate balance between the rights and obligations of indigenous peoples, member states and third parties.

Canada voted against the adoption of the current text because it is fundamentally flawed and lacks clear, practical guidance for implementation. These comments apply to a number of different areas of the law, including intellectual property.

Clarity of language should be an important consideration before a government decides to commit to any document, yet articles 11 and 31 of the declaration include a number of terms where the international community has not been able to come to a consensus as to their nature, scope or legal implications. These terms include, for example, “traditional knowledge”, “traditional cultural expressions” and “free, prior informed consent”.

Let us take, for example, the term “free, prior informed consent”. During the vote on the declaration, the Canadian ambassador stated that some of the provisions dealing with the concept of free, prior informed consent were unduly restrictive. Provisions in the declaration said that states could not act on any legislative or administrative matter that might affect indigenous peoples without obtaining their consent.

While Canada has a strong consultative process, reinforced by the courts, as a matter of law, the establishment of a veto power over legislative or administrative action for a particular group would be fundamentally incompatible with Canada's parliamentary system. Such a comprehensive veto power would impact on intellectual property and other federal and provincial laws.

The declaration also refers to the “violation of their laws, traditions and customs”. Such language could imply the recognition of a body of aboriginal intellectual property law in Canada without having first identified and studied these laws, determining how many such laws exist across Canada, how they interface with federal and provincial laws and policies, and whether they pose any concerns for Canada's ability to honour its international legal obligations.

This concern is increased because there is no explicit reference in the declaration that states such aboriginal customary laws would be subject to Canada's national laws. I would further add that we are not aware of any country, in particular our major trading partners, that recognizes dozens if not hundreds of domestic intellectual property regimes.

Some may suggest that any implications for Canada's intellectual property regime and intellectual property rights holders posed by these two articles would be minimal, as they would apply only to aboriginal communities. Let us not forget that intellectual property law recognizes a property right. One characteristic of a property right, intangible or otherwise, is the ability to exclude others from using the property.

We can consider, for example, that a traditional symbol in the public domain is governed by some aboriginal customary law. If the aboriginal customary law were to be recognized as having priority over Canada's intellectual property regime, it would affect the ability of all Canadians, including other aboriginal Canadians, to use the symbol in a new work, such as a painting, for example. If the symbol were incorporated in an existing trademark held by a foreign rights holder, it would raise questions as to the legal status of the trademark. Recognizing a new intellectual property regime in such a manner and without consulting Canadians is not acceptable to this government.

Supporters of the declaration have stated that Canada should not be concerned because the declaration is not a legally binding instrument, yet there could be attempts to rely on the declaration as an interpretive tool and to demand that the federal government bring its policies in line with the declaration. The precise wording, therefore, is very important. And to this point, the declaration has in fact already been cited in legal proceedings in Canada.

Moreover, such an approach would be inconsistent with Canada's position in ongoing self-government negotiations where Canada has insisted that the Government of Canada retain exclusive law-making authority in relation to intellectual property in areas of federal jurisdiction.

Apart from my comments about the government's concerns with the declaration, I would add that Canada's national intellectual property regime does not discriminate against its aboriginal citizens or any other group of people in Canada. All Canadians, aboriginal or otherwise, benefit equally from Canada's national intellectual property regime within Canada and abroad.

The government is working to better understand the concerns of Canada's aboriginal peoples regarding the interface between their cultural heritage and Canada's intellectual property regime. For example, we have provided funding to allow aboriginal Canadians to take part in relevant meetings of the World Intellectual Property Organization and the Convention on Biological Diversity. We have also accepted invitations to go to aboriginal communities to explain the benefits and limitations of Canada's national intellectual property regime and to learn their concerns about intellectual property law.

We believe that this measured, step by step approach to addressing the concerns of our aboriginal citizens regarding intellectual property represents the best way forward. Adopting a text that is fundamentally flawed and lacks clear, practical guidance for implementation is not to anyone's benefit.

Oil Heritage April 3rd, 2008

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to inform the House about a historical Canadian event that is taking place in my riding this year.

Lambton County is the birthplace of the oil industry in Canada and the world. The village of Oil Springs is home to the site of the first commercial oil well in North America which was dug in 1858. This area is also home to Canada's first oil gusher, first oil exchange and first oil company. Today oil is still being produced using the same techniques used by early oil producers.

To commemorate this 150th anniversary many events are occurring from February to December. I invite everyone to visit us and listen to the music of the working jerker lines, operate a spring-pole drilling rig, let one's nostrils tingle with the sweet smell of black gold, and discover the stories of Lambton's foreign drillers who helped drill many of the great oil fields around the world.

To uncover a truly fascinating oil history and heritage that changed our lives as Canadians, come and celebrate Canada's oil history in Sarnia--Lambton.

The Environment April 1st, 2008

Mr. Speaker, my riding is home to the St. Clair River. It is of great benefit to the local economies in the region and nearly 170,000 citizens rely on the river for drinking water.

For many years there have been few, if any, cleanup dollars from senior levels of government. Funding for serious environmental issue was very hard to come by.

Could the Minister of the Environment please tell the House how the government is supporting the people in my riding in helping to clean up the St. Clair River?