An Act to amend the Federal Court Act, the Judges Act and the Tax Court of Canada Act

This bill was last introduced in the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in April 1997.

Status

Not active
(This bill did not become law.)

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament.

March 16th, 2011 / 4:25 p.m.
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NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

It seems to be pretty well the same thing for all the bills. They seem to be moving forward with their eyes shut when it comes to their law-and-order bills, assuming that it won't cost anything.

Mr. Paquette referred to Bill C-48. There again, no detailed costing has been provided, because the decision is discretionary and does not apply to multiple murderers. The impact will only appear in subsequent years.

But bills are being passed. However, you say the opposite—that there is a responsibility to provide accurate information and tell people how much this will cost.

March 16th, 2011 / 4:20 p.m.
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Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

In closing, I would like to specifically address Bill C-48, which is intended to allow judges to refuse parole before an inmate has served 25 years in prison. A costing was necessarily prepared in relation to this bill. Yet the Minister says that he didn't want to provide that information because it was too uncertain. If I understood what you said, the decision not to disclose the cost of the bill was the Minister's. That costing does exist somewhere.

March 16th, 2011 / 2:25 p.m.
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Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like you to signal me when I have one minute left, because my colleague would also like to ask a question.

I would like to confirm what Mr. Brison has just said. There are interesting, if not substantial, differences. We cannot be a party to this masquerade. I looked at the document quickly: 90% of what is here are simply copies of bills regarding which the Standing Committee on Finance requested information. And we are still being served up the same excuses. So, they are not complying with the order from the House. If I'm asked what I think, I can tell you that, having quickly reviewed the document, they are still not complying.

I could cite the example of Bill C-48. It allows judges to order that an accused will not be eligible for parole for 25 years for each offence. In the document you tabled on February 17 with respect to Bill C-48, it says: “The Correctional Service of Canada is not expecting a significant financial impact on the Service. Any future impact will be dealt with as part of the usual reference level adjustment process”. So, there is the bill, but it is only two and a quarter pages long. That is the new material. It also says: “Longer sentences could result in increased costs for the Correctional Service of Canada [...]” Before there were no increased costs, but now, there are. I will keep on reading: “[...] but it is not possible to project those costs at this time”.

And because those costs cannot be projected, there is no answer being provided to the following questions either: “What is the estimate of marginal costs, broken down by category (capital costs) [...]” and so on. The answer is: “This does not apply. See section ‘Explanation for failure to answer questions’.” And the explanation is simply: “[...] it is not possible to project costs at this time.” And a little further on, it says: “[...] If CSC requires additional resources as a result of this bill, supplementary funding will be requested.”

It is fairly normal, for parliamentarians who are looking at bills that have passed, to at least have an idea of what they will cost. I cannot believe that the Department of Public Safety is not in a position to provide a rough estimate of the cost of Bill C-48 over time. In my opinion, they are hiding figures from parliamentarians that the latter have every right to receive. The Speaker was very clear on that point.

I would just like to remind you, once again, that this document was tabled on February 17 and that, after it was tabled, the Speaker handed down his ruling, saying that this was potentially a case of contempt of Parliament. It also raised a question of privilege.

My question is simple: how could the committee's finding possibly be anything other than that the government is guilty of contempt of Parliament? What are your arguments? That certainly is not one.