An Act to amend the Budget Implementation Act, 1997 and the Financial Administration Act

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2002.


Paul Martin  Liberal


This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997Government Orders

May 9th, 2001 / 3:30 p.m.
See context


Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, the amendment put forward at the report stage of the bill is of such a nature as to satisfy numerous criticisms from various people in connection with accountability and improves the act. I would however like to speak about the reasons why we are opposed to Bill C-17, even with the amendments.

Understandably, everyone is in favour of supporting research and development, and innovation. I sit on the standing committee on industry and as the matter progresses, we begin to wonder if there is not something other than a financial strategy behind the funding of R and D efforts.

At this time it seems to me that there is one aspect that is totally lacking. For example, there are the post-secondary institutions, which are key figures in R and D support and in the training of the people involved in it. The bulk of the funding for post-secondary institutions, which are administered by the provinces, comes from the provinces, but of course there are federal transfer payments for post-secondary education.

All the additional funding since we have moved from a context of zero deficit to a context of surplus has been via initiatives such as the budgets allocated to bodies outside the government, such as the foundation. Non-governmental structures are being created in various fields and then they are given funding.

On the one hand, the government is putting money into human genome research, which is desirable, praiseworthy and correct. Yet there is one essential key element that must not be lost sight of: the funding of basic services and the necessity to increase the budget for transfer payments to the provinces, which in turn have to increase their budgets for post-secondary education accordingly. This is where the first problem with basic activities lies.

There is a second one as well. I have had the opportunity to mention it several times in a parliamentary committee and I once again want to make my message very clear to the government. There is another shortfall in terms of research and development and I am talking about the indirect costs related to the need for post-secondary institutions to submit projects and funding proposals to the Canada foundation for innovation or granting councils. For instance, universities have to pay additional indirect costs related to these proposals while their core budgets remain relatively stable. There have been cuts, but now their budgets are stable and have not been adjusted accordingly.

I understand part of the government's reasoning on this; although I do not agree with it, I understand the logic of it. It believes that this money is not as visible as direct investments in granting councils or agencies like the foundation. These investments are also necessary, extremely important and a top priority at this time. We have to stop thinking in terms of politics and start thinking about efficiency.

One fact remains: we have to be more open about the investment objectives set for research and development. There is no problem with setting a target and saying that investments in research and development will double over the next ten years, but our priorities need to be defined more clearly. If such a vision does exist, it should be more transparent.

The auditor general himself has, on several occasions, criticized the fact that there seemed to be a problem in terms of follow-up, as well as a lack of transparency with regard to R and D investments.

We sense that there is some kind of agenda because huge sums are being invested in this area, but effectiveness should not be measured merely by the amount of money invested. In this case, the bill will authorize an extra $750 million for the foundation on top of the $500 million announced last fall and on top of previous measures. This is a lot of money.

I am convinced that all these people do commendable work. In most cases there are peer review panels where people from the scientific community play a very important role in the selection of projects. However, there is a certain amount of criticism regarding the overall strategy and also regarding the ability of small universities, those located in less populated areas outside the large urban centres, to compete with larger universities. This kind of criticism cannot be ignored.

As a member representing a region, I know what this means in practical terms. We know the importance of post-secondary institutions and of their ability to generate research and economic activity in our communities. A post-secondary institution is an extremely important tool for the economic development of a community. It is also a tool for social development because research is not limited to the economy, but also takes in social and other fields.

Nor must we forget basic research, which is extremely important in increasing our knowledge in all fields. This requires research which is more basic. Educational institutions are far more oriented toward basic research than private companies often are even though it is in their interest and certain companies are very good at it. Unfortunately, they are all too rare because we have a problem here.

The research and development efforts of private companies are not what they should be, with the result that there are often problems of competitiveness which are not solely due to public under-investment in research and development.

The approach needs to be rethought in order to ensure that private sector stakeholders do more and are more aware. There is perhaps also a message here that small companies have trouble qualifying for government programs, which are often geared more toward supporting the research and development efforts of big business.

There are therefore concerns for small communities. There are also concerns for small businesses which often have some very clever individuals. We should make better use of them in order to improve our research and development efforts and bring about innovation.

We are far from being opposed to a research and development timetable, but we do not like it when political objectives take centre stage and funding does not proceed according to a timetable readily understandable to everyone, while at the same time, a very important aspect, that of basic funding through transfer payment programs, is being neglected.

As for the other provisions of Bill C-17 and the amendment moved, the latter will likely set to rest a number of fears expressed by other opposition parties at second reading and in committee. We do not have much to add on this particular amendment.

There is one aspect of the bill which leaves us basically unsatisfied however. Although the amendment is positive in nature it does not change the essence of the bill, nor will it change our position.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997Government Orders

May 9th, 2001 / 3:25 p.m.
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Etobicoke North Ontario


Roy Cullen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the member for St. Albert exaggerates the case when he talks about a broad exemption. We debated that at committee just yesterday.

The amendment proposed to Bill C-17 by the hon. member would mean that sections 131 to 154 of the Financial Administration Act would apply to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. This was not intended when the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act was passed by parliament in 1997.

Amendments to the Canadian Wheat Board Act in 1998 inadvertently removed the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board from subsection 85(1) of the Financial Administration Act, a change which made the board subject to various crown corporation control provisions under the FAA. The error put it in conflict with its mandate to operate at arm's length from government, a result which was neither wanted nor intended.

The objective of Bill C-17 is to reinstate the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board as one of the crown corporations exempted from divisions I to IV of the Financial Administration Act. This was the intent of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act and of parliament in the first place.

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board was created through federal-provincial agreement to operate at arm's length from government. Its legislated mandate and sole objective is to maximize returns for CPP contributors and beneficiaries without undue risk of loss.

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board has been structured with great care to ensure independence from political interference. At the same time, the board's own legislation contains strong accountability provisions. The board makes its quarterly reports public and is required to submit its annual reports to parliament. The board is also required to hold public meetings at least every two years in participating provinces.

The auditor general is responsible for auditing the financial statements of the Canada pension plan as a whole. The auditor general has access to whatever information from the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board he or she considers necessary to audit the Canada pension plan.

In a 1997 letter to the finance committee chair Mr. Desautels indicated he was satisfied with audit and access provisions for the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, information that is contained in the Canada pension plan legislation. For these reasons I urge members to vote against the amendment we discussed yesterday in committee.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997Government Orders

May 9th, 2001 / 3:15 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

John Williams Canadian Alliance St. Albert, AB


Motion No. 1

That Bill C-17, in Clause 6, be amended by replacing lines 14 to 22 on page 3 with the following:

“6. (1) Section 85 of the Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (1):

(1.1) Sections 89 to 130.2 and 153 and 154 do not apply to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.”

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to my motion, which is a fairly simple motion regarding a fairly simple bill. Bill C-17 is only about four or five pages long, but it is the last two paragraphs I had a problem with. They are the only two paragraphs in the bill that deal specifically with the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. A clause in Bill C-17 asks for broad exemptions in the Financial Administration Act for the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

While we agree with exemptions that would allow the board to act more as a private organization, we take serious exception to the fact that Bill C-17 would prevent the auditor general from looking at the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

I raised this issue at committee the other day and I introduced an amendment, as hon. members are aware, that the auditor general be allowed to examine the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board if he or she so desires and to be the auditor of the plan if he or she so desires.

The genesis of this clause is that it was inadvertently omitted when we last amended the Financial Administration Act and an exemption that had been granted the board was inadvertently re-introduced. Now the government wants to put the exemption back in place and exempt the board from the Financial Administration Act.

I want to ensure that the auditor general has the opportunity to look at the plan. The reason I put the motion forward on the floor of the House is that when I went to committee we had a debate about whether the auditor general wanted to be involved in auditing the plan. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance said that it was no problem to the auditor general in 1998 and that the auditor general had said that there was no problem, that he agreed with the amendment and that everything was fine.

However I am a bit concerned that everything is perhaps not fine and that the auditor general did have serious concerns about being prevented from auditing the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

We are talking, first, about a $40 billion amount which is growing. We are talking about an investment plan that is there for all Canadians. We are talking about money that is paid by all employed Canadians and held in trust by the government to be repaid to them during their retirement years. We are talking about a lot of money.

We need a lot more supervision than a financial statement addressed by an auditor once a year to the Minister of Finance. Canadians need to know that the watchdog of parliament, the auditor general, if he or she so desires, has the opportunity to do a value for money audit on the board. That is what my motion intends to achieve. It is more narrowly drafted than the one I presented at committee but it is absolutely mandatory.

We heard the Prime Minister talk today about parliamentary reform, openness and transparency. All I am asking is that the auditor general have the opportunity, if he or she so desires, to look at this plan. Is that too much to ask? I do not think so. I do not think any Canadian would want it any other way. That is what I am arguing for. I am not asking for a change in legislation. I am not asking for a change in the way the board does its business. I am not asking for any change other than some accountability on behalf of the board that holds $40 billion of taxpayer money. I am asking that it ensure Canadians are satisfied that their money is well managed and is held in trust appropriately on their behalf. That is all we are asking for.

At committee I asked that the auditor general come in. Other members said no, that they had a letter and that everything was fine. We moved to clause by clause and then it was too late for the auditor general to speak at committee.

Although I do not have definitive proof, I believe that the auditor general, when it was debated in 1998, had fairly serious concerns about his inability to audit the plan. A compromise was reached because the government in essence held a gun to his head and told him it was all he would get.

That is not fair to Canadians. We must let the auditor general be the watchdog on behalf of all Canadians. We must give him the opportunity to audit the plan. In that way the government and Canadians can be assured the plan is managed appropriately and in the best interest of all Canadians. I ask all members and parties in the House to recognize the importance of the amendment and to support it.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997Government Orders

May 9th, 2001 / 3:15 p.m.
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The Speaker

There is one motion in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill C-17, an act to amend the Budget Implementation Act, 1997 and the Financial Administration Act.

Motion No. 1 will debated and put to a vote.

Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2001Government Orders

May 7th, 2001 / 12:35 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate today in debate on Bill C-15, an act to amend the criminal code and to amend other acts. When the bill was first introduced almost two months ago, one of my new colleagues asked “Animal cruelty, child pornography, and firearms, what do any of these issues have to do with one another?” and said he did not understand why they would all be put in one bill.

While past practice has often demonstrated that logic is not essential to the legislative process or for the legislative provisions themselves, there is a clear logic to grouping together the diverse provisions of this bill. It is a Machiavellian logic motivated by the politics of cynicism. It is a logic that raises the spectre of the worst of the American legislative process.

It is a logic that attempts to coerce agreement from opposition parties by requiring their consent to a political agenda of flawed partisan legislation as a precondition to the enactment of legislation widely recognized as necessary for the protection of the most vulnerable in our society. How else can one logically explain, for example, the coupling of the provisions seeking to amend the fundamentally flawed legislation concerning the billion dollar long gun registry failure with provisions that seek to protect our children from sexual predators?

This omnibus bill is a deliberate and cynical attempt to curtail any substantive debate on the flaws of the political agenda evident in the long gun registry provisions and to require members either to accept legislation that our constituents fundamentally disagree with or to vote against legislation that our constituents would never want to oppose, such as laws aimed at protecting children.

There is no question that there are some good provisions in the bill. Most important, the legislation contains long overdue laws against luring children over the Internet for the purposes of committing a sexual offence. I commend these initial efforts to protect children from criminals using the Internet.

The Canadian Alliance has consistently called for legislation to protect children from those who keep finding ways to prey on their vulnerability. Law enforcement agencies and child care agencies regularly advise the public through the media or otherwise that predators frequently use the Internet, mask their identities and pretend to be children or young adults in order to lure children into a situation where they could be sexually abused. These situations are becoming more common and I am relieved to see that the government has finally recognized the great need to amend the law. It is a good first step, at any rate.

However, I have serious doubts whether the legislation, which attempts to provide protection to children from sexual predators, will be either effective or sufficiently broad. The same government that has to date failed to create an effective national sex offender registry now wants us to believe it can keep track of the criminals who lure children over the Internet or who deal in child pornography. Why should we believe that it would follow through with effective measures that enforce the legislation?

Furthermore, these provisions would only provide legislative protection for children who are less than 14 years of age. Canadians would be shocked to learn that even under this legislation an adult could lure a 14 year old girl or a 14 year old boy over the Internet with no legal consequences. Parents and children deserve a greater measure of assistance and protection from these predators.

I agree with those law enforcement and child care agencies that recommend that the law set out for child luring should be extended to all children under the age of 16. This way parents and other concerned authorities would have some legal recourse to protect children of 14 and 15 years of age who fall prey to sexual predators they encounter over the Internet.

There are also new offences set out for transmitting, accessing or distributing child pornography over the Internet, punishable by a maximum of 10 years. This is a laudable goal, but I would be interested in being advised of the practical difficulties involved with these kinds of investigations and prosecutions in order to determine whether these legislative proposals meet those very real concerns.

Similarly, I would like to point out that in Bill C-15, although there are provisions for substantial maximum sentences for accessing child pornography, luring children for sexual purposes, animal cruelty, criminal harassment and a variety of other offences, the legislation will be ineffective if judges will not impose appropriate sentences.

When maximum sentences are increased it is rare to see a proportionate increase in sentences, as many judges simply ignore the direction signalled by parliament when it enacts these changes in legislation. Not only do the appeal courts appear to be reluctant to establish sentencing ranges that are proportionate to the crime committed and the legislative penalty provided, there is a corresponding reluctance on the part of the government to send clear, legislative directions to the courts that the sentences imposed on many serious and repeat offenders are simply inadequate.

This apparent reluctance on the part of the government is compounded by the imposition of new and fundamentally misleading sentencing tools that encourage the pretence that offenders are in fact imprisoned, while the truth is that they are free to exploit more victims in our communities.

I refer of course to the practice of authorizing and imposing conditional sentences. As crown attorneys continue to advise, the enforcement of breeches of these conditional sentences are increasingly rare because of the lack of adequate resources to apply these very complex provisions. Then the failure to provide the appropriate resources fulfils another political agenda of the Liberal government to make it appear that these sentencing provisions are in fact working because there are so few reported breeches.

Accordingly, unless the government takes the necessary steps to implement effective and truthful sentencing in the Canadian justice system, these important child protection provisions in the bill will simply be another example of the failure of our laws to protect the vulnerable in our society.

In terms of the animal cruelty sections of the bill, I am aware that the government has made certain changes from the previously proposed legislation, Bill C-17. However there are still significant concerns that many organizations, businesses and individuals have in respect of these provisions.

I know that some of my colleagues in the Canadian Alliance will go into further detail on many of these issues, but I would also like to touch briefly on the issue on behalf of the various groups that took the time to contact me personally to raise their concerns. These groups included the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, the Ontario Farm Animal Council, the Ontario Veal Association and the Canadian Cattlemen's Association.

These organizations have consistently said that they welcome amendments to the criminal code that would clarify and strengthen provisions relating to animal cruelty and that they do not condone intentional animal abuse or neglect in any way. Many of these groups support the intent of the bill as its objective is to modernize the law and increase penalties for offences relating to animal cruelty and neglect. However, despite the minor improvements to this legislation, they advise that this bill requires significant amendments before it becomes acceptable to the vast majority of hunters and farmers, many of whom are dependent on the harvesting and husbandry of animals for their livelihood.

One of the central concerns with the bill is that the criminal code would no longer provide the same level of legal protection presently afforded to those who use animals for legitimate, lawful and justified practices. The phrase “legal justification, excuse or colour of right” in subsection 429(2) of the criminal code currently provides protection to those who commit any kind of property offence. However in the new bill, the fact that the animal cruelty provisions would be moved out of the general classification of property offences and into a section of their own would effectively remove these provisions outside the ambit of that protection.

Moving the animal cruelty sections out of the ambit of property offences to a new section in its own right is also seen by many as emphasizing animal rights as opposed to animal welfare. This significant alteration in the underlying principles of the legislation is something that needs to be carefully considered. These groups are concerned that elevating the status of animals from property could in fact have significant and detrimental implications for many legitimate animal dependent businesses.

Another major and very serious concern is that the definition of animal is too broad, subjective and ambiguous. The proposed definition of animal in Bill C-15 includes non-human vertebrates and all animals having the capacity to feel pain. This definition marks a significant departure by providing protection for an extremely wide range of living organisms which have never before been afforded this kind of legal protection.

In terms of practical difficulties, this definition as worded could cause potentially enormous problems by extending the criminal law to invertebrates, cold blooded species such as fish, as well as the extremely wide variety of other types of both domestic and wild animals.

In her speech last Thursday, the justice minister assured us that what was lawful today in the course of legitimate activities would be lawful when the bill received royal assent. She promised the House that these changes would not in any way negatively affect the many legitimate activities that involve animals, such as hunting, farming or medical and scientific research.

Her statement was at the same time self-evident, but also misleading. Of course the new provisions would not prevent legitimate activities from being carried out. The law only prescribes illegal activities. The problem is, and therefore the concern, that these new provisions would arguably narrow the scope of what constitutes legitimate activities by increasing the scope of this provision.

If it is not the minister's intent to prohibit the presently acceptable and legitimate activities in Canadian agricultural or fur industries, I would suggest that the wording of the legislation be amended to clarify the intent of these provisions. If it is not amended, I and many of my colleagues will have a very difficult time supporting the bill.

The riding of Provencher, which I have the honour to represent, is primarily a rural riding. The farmers and hunters and other businesses associated with those activities have enough to worry about these days without having to wonder if they are going to be criminalized for practices they have been carrying out their entire lives. I have the option of voting against the bill on the basis that farmers and others who use animals legitimately have voiced reasonable and serious concerns regarding the implications the bill would present. However, in this case I would also be voting against new laws to protect children.

It is a difficult situation and one of which I am certain will be exploited by the Liberals for crass political advantage. It is truly unfortunate that the minister is asking us to consider provisions that deal with the lives of children in the same context with provisions that impose conditions on how farmers and hunters and related businesses should handle animals.

There is no legal requirement to proceed to weigh the merits of this bill on the basis of such inappropriate relative comparison. It demeans the value of human life and at the same time prevents the House from fully considering the impact of the animal cruelty provisions on the economic circumstances of many rural people of Canada.

Bill C-15 contains a number of good things. As I have said, it contains updated legislation to protect children to some extent from sexual predators on the Internet. It would make viewing, transmitting and distributing child pornography over the Internet an offence punishable by up to 10 years.

More important, the bill would increase protection for police by creating the new offence of disarming a police officer. The bill outlines reforms to rules governing criminal procedure. These are procedural reforms that are long overdue. Much of this legislation in the bill is in fact badly needed. The opposition has been calling for these provisions for years. Personally, I am relieved to see that the measures are being finally introduced.

As I have said before, I would like to support the bill. The bill presents a very difficult situation. I am disappointed that the government would put such diverse and I would argue completely unrelated issues in the same bill. As I stated earlier, I see this approach to lawmaking as a blatant and cynical political move on the part of the Liberal government to force flawed legislation through the House. More important, it shows a callous disregard to the constituents who have asked us to serve their best interest in the House.

I would ask the minister to consider introducing a motion to split this legislative package into several bills. That would remove the provisions that have a broad base of support in the House so that those provisions could be fast tracked and proclaimed. We saw an example of that this morning with Bill S-4.

Members in the House are willing to co-operate. I believe that on many provisions there is broad if not unanimous consensus in the House to move them forward. The technique of bringing forward a motion to split the bill would accommodate the need to move those provisions that do have that broad consensus, while subjecting the others to a more rigorous debate and, I suggest, to better legislation. If need be, I am prepared to sit down with representatives from all parties to facilitate that discussion.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

May 4th, 2001 / 12:05 p.m.
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Maurizio Bevilacqua Liberal Vaughan—King—Aurora, ON

Madam Speaker, during the last parliament the Standing Committee on Finance tabled a report entitled “Challenge for Change. A Study of Cost Recovery”.

Parliament was dissolved before the government was able to provide a comprehensive response to that committee pursuant to Standing Order 109. For that reason I have the honour to present the fourth report which restates the committee's request.

I also have the honour to present the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Finance regarding its order of reference of Monday, April 23, in relation to Bill C-17, an act to amend the Budget Implementation Act, 1997, and the Financial Administration Act.

The committee has considered Bill C-17 and reports the bill without amendment.

Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2001Government Orders

May 3rd, 2001 / 4:20 p.m.
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Edmonton West Alberta


Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved that Bill C-15, an act to amend the Criminal Code and to amend other acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to begin second reading debate on Bill C-15, an act to amend the Criminal Code and to amend other acts.

As omnibus bills before it, Bill C-15 has a number of diverse elements. Most recently we have seen examples of omnibus bills: Bill C-51 in 1999, Bill C-17 in 1996 and Bill C-42 in 1994. These examples demonstrate that the practice of introducing criminal amendments through an omnibus bill is a longstanding practice and one that has served the criminal justice system well.

The amendments proposed in the criminal law amendment act, 2001 respond to serious crimes against children and other vulnerable members of society, provide additional safeguards for the law enforcement community, strengthen our laws concerning cruelty to animals, make administrative and procedural improvements to the justice system, and make administrative amendments to the Firearms Act.

First I will deal with the proposed amendments to better protect our children. The provisions that deal with protecting children respond to the government's commitment in the Speech from the Throne to safeguard children from criminals on the Internet and to ensure that children are protected from those who would prey upon their vulnerability. They also respond to a consensus of ministers responsible for justice at the last FPT meeting to create an offence of Internet luring.

The Internet is a new technology that can be used to stimulate the communication of ideas and facilitate research, but, as with any instrument, when placed in the wrong hands it can be used for ill and to cause harm. Canadians will not tolerate a situation where individuals, from the safety and secrecy of their house, use the anonymity of the Internet to lure children into situations where they can be exploited sexually.

The new offence seeks to address what has been reported as a growing phenomenon not only in our country but globally. It criminalizes communicating through a computer system for the purpose of facilitating the commission of a sexual offence against a child or the abduction of a child.

We also want to ensure that those who view, or transmit child pornography to others, will not escape criminal liability by using new technologies.

We will extend the scope of current child pornography offences to make it clearer that actions that constitute an offence when committed with traditional means remain an offence when committed with electronic means.

Bill C-15 seeks to create four new offences: an offence of transmitting child pornography to cover one to one distribution, such as e-mail sent to one person only; an offence of making child pornography available to cover those who post child pornography on a publicly accessible website but take no other steps to distribute it; an offence of exporting child pornography to meet our international obligation; and an offence of accessing child pornography to capture those who intentionally view child pornography on the net but where the legal notion of possession may be problematic. The offence is defined to ensure that inadvertent viewing would not be caught under this offence.

I will now turn to three other proposed measures to better protect vulnerable Canadians. The first measure I wish to mention is the offence of criminal harassment, or stalking as it is sometimes referred to. This is a serious offence that can have a devastating effect upon the emotional and physical well-being of the victim.

In Bill C-15, this government is taking strong measures to ensure that the criminal justice system treats criminal harassment as the serious offence that we know it to be.

The government's response to this issue is twofold: first, to strengthen the existing legislation; and, second, to strengthen enforcement of the law through comprehensive guidelines for criminal justice personnel on criminal harassment.

Bill C-15 responds to our first commitment by proposing to increase the maximum penalty for criminal harassment when prosecuted on indictment from five to ten years. This sends a strong signal to would-be stalkers. Criminal harassment is a serious offence and its sentence would now better reflect this serious nature.

With respect to our second commitment relating to enhancing the enforcement of the criminal harassment provisions, I am pleased to note that together with our federal, provincial and territorial counterparts a handbook for police and crown prosecutors on criminal harassment was developed and released in December 1999. The handbook provides a practical set of guidelines for criminal justice personnel on all aspects of a criminal harassment case, including victim safety.

I now wish to address the difficult issue of home invasions, one that has been raised by a number of my colleagues on all sides of the House. The term home invasion is generally used to describe a robbery or break and enter of a private residence when the perpetrator forces entry while the occupants are at home, and this is key, and the perpetrator threatens to use or does use violence against the occupants.

The proposed amendment to the criminal code would indicate that where the offender's conduct was in the nature of a home invasion the court must consider this to be an aggravating factor when determining the sentence to be imposed. Such an amendment would provide clear direction to the courts and would express parliament's view that home invasion is a grave form of criminal conduct which must be dealt with appropriately during the sentencing process.

Another important measure proposed in Bill C-15 is the new offence of disarming or attempting to disarm a peace officer. This new offence would apply to anyone who tries to take away an officer's weapon when the officer is acting in the course of his or her duties. It is proposed that this new offence carry a maximum penalty of five years to reflect the seriousness of the offence and to send a clear message that taking or attempting to take a police officer's weapon would not be tolerated. The safety of police officers is a priority for the government.

The criminal law amendment act, 2001, would revive amendments introduced in the last parliament dealing with cruelty to animals. The proposed reforms have two primary objectives: to simplify and better organize the existing laws and to enhance the penalties for animal cruelty.

In particular we are increasing the penalties for animal cruelty offences with the highest penalty being five years in prison, up from the current maximum of six months. We would eliminate the current limit of two years maximum duration for an order prohibiting the offender from possessing animals and would include a new power for the court to order as part of a sentence that the offender repay to a humane society the reasonable costs associated with the care of the animal.

I would like to make clear this afternoon that these changes do not in any way negatively affect the many legitimate activities that involve animals, such as hunting, farming, or medical and scientific research. These are regulated activities subject to specific technical rules and regulations and codes of practice. The criminal law is not being used to establish or modify industry standards but rather to prohibit conduct that is grossly unacceptable. Simply put, what is lawful today in the course of legitimate activities would be lawful when the bill receives royal assent.

The law already requires that we treat animals humanely and with respect. These amendments would ensure that the law can adequately deal with those who would wilfully abuse animals. I believe that all members of the House can support this principle. There is no subject on which I receive more mail from Canadians on a weekly basis than on the question of modernizing our laws in relation to cruelty to animals.

I would like to speak now in relation to the proposed amendments concerning firearms. The Canadian firearms program is an example of the preventive approach our government takes to public safety. Moreover, the program is already achieving higher levels of public safety for all Canadians and the facts demonstrate it.

Since December 1, 1998, more than 3,000 licences have been refused or revoked by public safety authorities. The number of revocations is 26 times higher than the total of the five previous years. Overall the licensing compliance rate in Canada is now over 90%.

However, we have learned from the licensing experience. We have also listened to the concerns of gun owners and other Canadians about program efficiency and client service. We are proposing administrative changes to facilitate the registration process and to continue to ensure a high level of service to clients. These administrative changes do not affect the deadline of January 1, 2003, for registration of all firearms nor the government's commitment to public safety.

We are responding to the needs and wishes of Canadians and firearms owners by proposing changes that will make the program more user friendly, more cost efficient and client oriented. We will design a more streamlined system by simplifying the licence renewal process, by redesigning the registration process and by making better use of new and emerging Internet technology, for example, by allowing for registration of firearms online. We also intend to improve efficiency and reduce costs, for example, by staggering firearms licence renewals to avoid a surge of applications in five year cycles.

With these amendments, we will reach a balance between the interests of responsible firearms owners and our shared objective of public safety.

The efficiency of any criminal justice system depends upon its ability to protect the innocent while bringing those who are guilty of crime to justice. Despite all the precautions that our justice system takes to avoid the conviction of an innocent person, no system is infallible. Wrongful convictions can occur and regrettably have occurred in the past. The names Donald Marshall, David Milgaard and Guy Paul Morin make my point.

In such cases our entire justice system finds itself in disrepute. That is why Bill C-15 includes important improvements to section 690 of the criminal code, the conviction review process. It is a final safety net for those who are the victims of wrongful conviction.

In October 1998 we released a public consultation paper seeking submissions on how our conviction review process could be improved. The consultations informed the measures now found in Bill C-15.

The ultimate decision making authority in criminal conviction reviews will remain with the federal Minister of Justice, who is accountable to parliament and to the people of Canada. The Minister of Justice can recognize and maintain the traditional jurisdiction of the courts while providing a fair and just remedy in those exceptional cases that have somehow fallen through the cracks of the conventional justice system.

However, maintaining the status quo is not an acceptable option. Therefore the amendments to section 690 will provide investigative powers to those investigating cases on behalf of the Minister of Justice. This will allow investigators to compel witnesses to testify and documents to be produced.

In order to make the conviction review process more open and accountable, ministers of justice will now be required to provide an annual report to parliament and a website will be created to give applicants information on the process.

I believe that these amendments are the most efficient and effective way to improve the post-appellant extrajudicial conviction review process in Canada.

Let me turn briefly to the area of criminal procedure reform. The Department of Justice has been working closely with the provinces and territories on criminal procedure reform for some years. This work is now in its third phase.

The objectives of phase three are to simplify trial procedure, modernize the criminal justice system and enhance its efficiency through the increased use of technology, better protect victims and witnesses in criminal trials, and provide speedy trials in accordance with charter requirements.

We are trying to bring criminal procedure into the 21st century. This phase reflects our efforts to modernize our procedure without in any way reducing the measure of justice provided by the system.

As I said at the outset, the provinces and territories support these reforms. As they are responsible for the administration of justice, I believe that we should do our best to give them the tools they need to ensure the efficient and effective operation of the criminal justice system.

In conclusion, I am sure the standing committee will give Bill C-15 its usual thorough review and examination. I believe it contains a number of important improvements to the criminal justice system and measures that will contribute to the protection and safety of all Canadians. I call on all members of the House to support the bill.

With consent, I would move that the debate on Bill C-15 do now adjourn.

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

May 3rd, 2001 / 3 p.m.
See context

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario


Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my opposition counterpart for this excellent question.

This afternoon we will continue with Bill C-6, the water export bill. If this business is finished earlier than the end of the day, which I understand it might be, I would then propose to call Bill C-15, the criminal code amendment. If that is the case, I would ask for the minister and the official opposition to speak. After that, I would adjourn the debate and we would not proceed further.

I want to take this opportunity to indicate that it had been my original intention to call this bill last Monday. However I was informed that the text I had and the text that was provided to other hon. members was not the same. I apologize for the differences that appeared in the texts. It is my intention to at least start Bill C-15 this afternoon. I will get back to the next time we will consider Bill C-15 in a moment.

Tomorrow there has been an all party agreement to consider Bill S-5, the legislation regarding the Blue Water Bridge, at all stages.

We would then deal with Bill S-2 respecting marine liability. That would probably be the end of the consideration of legislation for tomorrow. As a matter of fact I do not propose calling anything else given the progress today.

There has also been similar all party agreement to consider Bill S-4 regarding civil harmonization of civil law at all stages on Monday. We would do second reading stage and by unanimous consent the bill would go to committee of the whole and subsequently third reading all in the same day. This would be followed by Bill C-15, which we will start later this afternoon pursuant to the remarks I just made.

After question period on Monday, regardless of the progress, I would propose to call Bill S-17, the patent legislation. Tuesday shall be an opposition day.

Next Wednesday and Thursday we will be looking at cleaning up any leftover legislation that I have just described and also adding: Bill C-17, the innovation foundation bill; Bill S-11, the business corporation bill; Bill S-16, respecting money laundering; and Bill C-14, the shipping act amendments to the list of matters that may come up.

I will also be speaking to other House leaders about arranging early consideration, and hopefully we can do that now, about Bill C-7, the youth justice bill, given that the committee has now concluded its consideration of this bill.

This is the program I offer to the House for the upcoming week. I thank hon. members on all sides of the House for their usual co-operation.

Income Tax ActGovernment Orders

April 23rd, 2001 / 7:05 p.m.
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Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think you would find consent to apply the vote just taken on Bill C-17 to Bill C-22 and to Bill C-4.

Budget Implementation ActGovernment Orders

April 23rd, 2001 / 7 p.m.
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The Deputy Speaker

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at the second reading stage of Bill C-17.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997Government Orders

April 5th, 2001 / 1:05 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Canadian Alliance Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise on behalf of the constituents of Calgary East to speak to Bill C-17. My colleague from the NDP quite rightly pointed out that a lot of things are wrong with the bill. We agree with many of the issues she raised today.

She said the bill was anti-democratic. I will make this observation. My colleague from Elk Island spoke prior to her. He addressed his concerns about the bill. Due to a mix up he thought he had 20 minutes to speak but he did not. As he did not have time to make all his points he asked for unanimous consent to be allowed to do so. Members from the government side refused.

What is the government afraid of? This is the house of democracy. The Liberals should let people speak. They are the governing party. They should show by example what is democracy. For the Liberals to deny my colleague his right to speak indicates they are afraid of something. They are afraid we will be able to show what is glaringly wrong. They are afraid of this coming out.

As my colleague from the NDP stated very clearly, the bill is anti-democratic because it has two parts, the Budget Implementation Act and the Financial Administration Act. She rightly pointed that it creates a problem for the opposition as to what it should support.

In reference to the Canada foundation for innovation, let me quote the Canadian Alliance policy of the last election. It stated:

We will appoint a Senior Advisor on Technology with private sector technology experience to report directly to the Prime Minister...We will bring the best ideas in business, government, and universities together to facilitate the transition to the new economy and position Canada as a global leader...We will increase support to Canada's research granting councils, and appoint a Chief Scientist of Canada to co-ordinate science activities in all government departments and ensure that science, not politics, prevails...We will increase Research and Development funding by $500 million.

As far as the Canadian Alliance and its members are concerned, we recognize the importance of technology and of supporting research with public dollars. Our nation has a proud history of producing excellent scientists. Our record shows we are quite capable of being the best in the world.

Everyone in Canada is extremely proud of Drs. Banting and Best who invented insulin for the treatment of diabetes and changed thousands of lives around the world. That is highly commendable and Canada is quite rightly proud of it.

We do not lack brains. We do not lack men of distinction in our nation. We agree with the government that it should support technology and research.

The world is becoming smaller. Borders are disappearing. We are moving into an era of globalization and fewer borders. As borders diminish competition increases. As competition increases, nations that are poised to take advantage of innovation and new ideas are the nations that will progress.

Canada should position itself to take advantage of globalization in the coming years. If we do not, someone else will and at the end of the day we will be the losers. It would be a tragedy not to support it when we have such an intelligent workforce and such illustrious persons in our universities and research councils.

We have no problem supporting the first part of the bill, although we have some questions as to the amount. We say $500 million. The government says $750 million. There is a slight difference there but the objectives are the same. We feel that our overall policy of lower taxation, freer markets and less government interference would eventually see more dollars put into research facilities across the country.

As my colleague from the NDP stated, the second part of the bill, the Financial Administration Act, is where we have difficulty and why we will not support the bill. If the bill had been broken into two sections we would have supported the Budget Implementation Act with reference to the Canada foundation for innovation. However we have a problem with the Financial Administration Act.

Our difficulty arises with a lot of issues. First, the bill was brought forth to correct a legislative error. It is amazing that with all the bureaucrats, research staff and huge departments at the government's disposal it still makes legislative errors. It spends billions of dollars and cannot even make a bill that is right. It then must bring in another bill to correct the mistakes. When opposition members have the opportunity to show what is wrong, the government cuts debate short and does not allow us to speak.

Another reason we are opposing the bill is that the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board would be exempt from the Financial Administration Act. However, we do like the fact that there will be less ministerial intervention. We have been asking for less government and ministerial intervention. When there is government intervention, it spoils the good intention of a bill because it is packed with patronage. Good programs usually develop implementation problems due to unnecessary ministerial or government intervention. We are happy when we see less ministerial intervention.

We also have difficulty with the fact that the board would not be subject to the auditor general's review. The auditor general should have every right to do an audit when public funds are being used. Public funds have been sent to the government, in trust, to be used wisely and the only person who can advise the Canadian public that the money has been used wisely is the auditor general.

We look forward to the auditor general's report because he has shown time after time where the government has failed to use taxpayer money wisely. We are concerned that the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board would be exempt from the Financial Administration Act. The bill would also take away the auditor general's right to audit the board and that is unacceptable.

Similar to what was said by my colleague from the NDP, we have difficulty supporting the bill because it has two parts.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997Government Orders

April 5th, 2001 / 12:55 p.m.
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Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise on behalf of the New Democratic Party to take part in the debate on Bill C-17.

I must be clear from the beginning on what we are debating here today. We are debating an anti-democratic, unparliamentary, omnibus bill. The two parts of the bill have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

The first part of the bill appropriates funds for the Canada foundation for innovation. The second part makes amendments to the Financial Administration Act, which has nothing to do with the Canada foundation for innovation. Both issues are separate and should be dealt with in two separate bills.

In the time that I have had the honour to serve my constituents and the Canadian people in the House, I have worked on quite a few bills. Currently I am my party's critic for industry, transportation and infrastructure. I have also been the treasury board critic and housing critic and have worked on bills in those areas. I have also worked on bills, which were of particular interest to the constituents in my riding: everything from health and justice to aboriginal affairs.

I have worked on a lot of bills, and what concerns me is that the more bills I see the more common it is becoming for the Liberal government to introduce these kinds of omnibus bill. This is not a rare occurrence. This is not something the government does once in a while. It does this all the time now, although it says it is for very good reasons.

The Liberal government does not want to let parliament properly debate and scrutinize its legislation so it just slaps a bunch of completely unrelated items together and makes us vote on them all as a package. This is not a transparent and democratic process.

What is so anti-democratic about the bill? Well, as I said earlier, it has two parts. The first part would appropriate funds for the Canada foundation for innovation and the second part would amend the Financial Administration Act.

The problem is that we, in the NDP, support part one, dealing with the Canada foundation for innovation, but we oppose part two, the amendments to the Financial Administration Act.

By putting these two completely unrelated items together in one bill, we are being forced to vote against something that we like and support, the Canada foundation for innovation.

To register our opposition to the government's changes to the Financial Administration Act, we must vote against the whole bill. Members in the House, not just from the New Democratic Party but from all parties, cannot accurately represent the views of their constituents by voting on these two completely different issues together.

I will now say a few words about the parts of the bill that we would otherwise support before I move on to the reasons that we will be opposing the bill.

We support increasing the funding for the Canada foundation for innovation. The foundation does important work to support research and development in Canada's universities, hospitals, community colleges and other public and non-profit agencies.

Canada has a clear deficit in the area of research and development compared to most other members of the G-8 and this deficit has been made worse by the Liberal government's massive cuts to post-secondary education. The Canada foundation for innovation helps in a small way toward overcoming the research and development deficit. My fellow New Democratic Party MPs and I support the work it is doing.

We have heard from representatives of different areas of science and research on the industry committee about the money that was finally put into research and development. I was extremely impressed with the work they have done in such a very short period of time to promote Canadian research and development in science and technology.

I have been truly impressed by the fact that 75% of people involved in these areas are educated in Canadian schools. It is extremely impressive, I must admit. I did not realize it until I was part of the industry committee.

We have gone in the right direction and put federal dollars into research and development. We do not risk creating an environment where, as in the U.S., only the commercialization of science and research and development is able to succeed. We will finally support those programs.

It would be nice if the federal government had kept this issue separate from the other. We have a few ideas on how to improve the foundation's work and I hope we will be able to address them as the bill progresses.

As my colleague from the Alliance has mentioned, it would be nice if the foundation were reviewed by the auditor general. That is what the auditor general recommended, but it is not the case. As a result there has been criticism that the process is not transparent.

I recognize that representatives from the foundation who came before the industry committee were working among themselves to ensure a transparent process. We heard questions from my Alliance colleague about the improper spending of government dollars. There were suggestions that there is government intervention as to where the dollars go. We therefore need a transparent process.

In spite of Canadians not having faith in our democratic system, politicians, the government and specifically the Prime Minister, and believe me they do not, I would wager a fair chunk that they have faith in the auditor general. They have faith in the integrity of the past auditor general and I hope they will have faith in the new auditor general.

One does not hear criticism of the auditor general's reports or of his integrity. Canadians have faith in the auditor general and in the position that he holds, and I hope that will continue. We should listen to the auditor general's recommendation to have the foundation reviewed. As I said, there is not necessarily a problem. However to have faith in the system and ensure public dollars are spent wisely and legally we must do so.

Part 2 of the bill, the changes to the Financial Administration Act, governs the rules for borrowing by government departments, agencies and certain crown corporations to make them more accountable to the Department of Finance. That is a good thing. It closes a loophole that needs to be closed. What we in the New Democratic Party object to specifically and very strongly is clause 6 of the bill which adds the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board to the list of crown corporations exempted from the Financial Administration Act.

My fellow NDP MPs and I do not support exempting the CPP Investment Board from the Financial Administration Act. The CPP Investment Board is not like the CBC or the Bank of Canada. It does not need to be arm's length from the government. We believe that the crown corporation entrusted with investing the hard earned pension money of Canadians should not be exempt from democratic oversight.

We said the same thing when the CPP Investment Board was created by the government a few years ago and we stand by that today. This is the pension money of Canadians. It is what many Canadians will rely on in their retirement years. For many people it is pretty much all they will rely on.

The corporation entrusted with that money ought to be responsible to the Canadian people, not to a government appointed investment board. However it is not. The way the Liberals have set up the corporation, the only people it will be responsible to are bankers on Bay Street. That is a dangerous way to treat the hard earned pension money of Canadians. By the time my three kids reach retirement age they will look back on how today's Liberal government handled the Canada pension plan and say that it was a mistake to set up it up as the CPP Investment Board.

My party colleagues and I indicated that we believe pension dollars should be invested into ethical funds and ethical investments. What is the reasoning of a government which promotes healthy living and anti-smoking but allows the CPP to invest in tobacco companies?

What is the reasoning behind that? What is the reasoning behind the board's investment in Talisman, the energy company which is tearing itself through Sudan and which is, from my perspective, certainly a part of the carnage taking place within that country?

I take offence to even a penny of my pension dollars going to Talisman, Imperial Tobacco or any fund like that. As a citizen and a payer of pension dollars, I should be able to tell the government it cannot invest at least my share of CPP payments into those kinds of funds.

Believe it or not, some of us feel strongly enough about the issue to forsake the increased profit of selling tobacco to people in China. As the domestic tobacco market shrinks due to growing public awareness of its health risks, I do not want our dollars to promote it anywhere else in the world.

In conclusion, I reiterate my party's opposition to the bill even though there are parts of it we like. It is extremely disheartening that we cannot support the setting aside of money for the Canada foundation for innovation. We are not able to support it because we must vote on the bill in its entirety. Although we support the setting aside of money for science, research and development, we stand clearly and strongly for a democratically accountable CPP investment board which answers to parliament, and the bill does not provide for that.

I restate once again my profound displeasure with the government for bringing forward these measures in an anti-democratic and unparliamentary omnibus bill. It should have brought in two or three separate bills to allow each issue to be voted on separately. It once again shows the Liberal government's profound contempt for democracy. It is something Canadian people will not let the government get away with forever.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997Government Orders

April 5th, 2001 / 12:35 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you for that clarification. I appreciate that you compensate for my inabilities. I am surrounded by people who do that for me and I really am appreciative.

I would like to say at the outset that Bill C-17, the act we are now debating, is an act to amend the Budget Implementation Act, 1997. This is an act that has been around for almost four years, and we are now going to amend it. It deals with the implementation of the 1997 budget.

Over the last number of years we have had a number of these bills. About a year or so ago we debated an implementation bill that extended back 10 years. It just so happens that the finances of the government are done with the announcement of them in a budget by the finance minister and that makes them law. Then afterward we do it. We tax the people and take the money from them. If the budget includes the giving of grants the money is given, and so on. Eventually we get around to passing what we have actually done.

It seems to me that perhaps some of these things should be done in a more expeditious manner. We would not have the problem of people not really knowing where they stand on different issues.

I would like to talk a bit about Bill C-17 and about the whole idea of budgets and finances of the government in general.

First, one of the features of the bill is it increases funding for research and development. I do not think there are very many Canadians who would not acknowledge the importance of research and development. As a matter of fact over the centuries our standard of living has increased based on the things that people have invented and discovered. Sometimes these discoveries are by accident and sometimes they are very methodically carried forward with years of developmental research. Finally, they zero in on exactly what needs to be done to achieve a certain goal, for example, in the health area.

Many decades ago I remember reading about Madame Curie who invented the x-ray. An interesting thing happened. She put a uranium source in the same drawer as some film and lo and behold the film was clouded. Therefore, she was able to deduce from that that the radiation from the source caused an effect on the film which is of course a chemical reaction.

That was the beginning of being able to analyze what was going on in a person's body, whether healthy or ill. Usually of course this is done for reasons of illness or for injury. We are able to examine what is happening without having to perform surgery. Many times, especially over the last 40 or 50 years, it has still been necessary to perform surgery to see what was going on.

I remember a very pivotal event in my life when I broke my ankle on July 1, 1968. I was out with a bunch of boys at a children's camp. I was acting as a counsellor for a couple of days. I took these boys out for a hike and we jumped a fence. I do not know, Mr. Speaker, if you even want to contemplate that. It conjures strange images I am sure when thinking of me jumping a fence, but I did. Unfortunately, when I landed I was in a twisting motion and my ankle broke. I had to hobble back to camp. It was quite a task for a guy my weight to get back since I have always been heavy. It was probably close to a kilometre from where we were to get back to camp. I had to go all that distance on one leg with a makeshift crutch because these little boys could in no way carry me. I am sure everyone understands that.

When I got to the hospital, my leg did not have to be cut off. Although one of the guys at the youth camp had suggested it as soon as I hobbled into camp. He said to some of the others “Hey guys, get the axe. We have to amputate”. We had a little laugh about that.

The first thing they did at the hospital was to x-ray my leg. They determined the ankle was broken and proceeded to put it into what turned out to be an extremely painful cast. I suffered for six weeks in a cast. It was almost two years before my ankle was back to normal. At the best of times my ankles have to work pretty hard in order to carry the burden that is assigned to them. As a result of research they were able to determine how bad my ankle was damaged without having to cut the skin open and get in there and probe.

However, in my own short lifetime I remember a number of occasions where people have had an illness or an injury.

In order to diagnose it they had to do what was in those years called exploratory surgery. It is still done occasionally but much less now. What started out as medical research leading to x-rays many years ago has since developed into other diagnostic tools, including audio diagnosis, CAT scans and magnetic resonance imaging or MRIs. All these different techniques for getting a picture of what is inside a person are very useful. These techniques are a result of very careful research, development and testing.

The question is where the money for the research should come from. I was an academic earlier in my life. I went to university and those were probably the best years of my life. I had more time then, and I say that with all due respect to the pages who are very busy now as students. I had more time then to read books just for the fun of reading them than I have now with the business of life that happens when one accepts adult and family responsibilities and all other things that go with them.

In my career as a student and later on as an educator in a technical institute I always felt that there was a proper role for the use of public funds to fund research and development. One example would be the academic research environment in a university working in conjunction with perhaps the Medical Research Council of Canada. In Alberta we have a very strong Alberta Research Council in Edmonton and Calgary. I am specifically familiar with the one in Edmonton but there is also one in Devon. Each one does different kinds of research and some of it is the medical research I have already talked about.

A lot of research goes into the processing and refining of oil products in Alberta. The council looks at more efficient ways of using energy so that our non-renewable resources are treated carefully and we do not run out of them.

These research projects are very worthwhile. Although there is a proper role for the funding of many of these projects by private enterprise, and that happens big time, there is a role for the use of public funds through the universities, through the research councils and through all the different granting institutions we have developed in the last number of years.

One thing that has happened in Bill C-17 is that there will be an addition to the Canada foundation for innovation. Whereas before it had $500 million in its budget based on the mini budget of the Minister of Finance last fall, the bill would now add another $750 million, making the total $1.25 billion for research. That part of the bill is very worthwhile.

I am rather surprised that you are giving me a signal for time, Mr. Speaker. It was my impression that I had a 20 minute time slot and I am prepared to speak for 20 minutes.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997Government Orders

April 2nd, 2001 / 6:15 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I know I only have a few minutes, but I will get right down to business. Bill C-17 is about innovation.

I would ask the government to allow innovation to start at home in this House. I have been here for seven years and never have I been in an environment where we have seen the death of innovation like this. Every member of parliament has had their rights to speak out freely destroyed and innovation has been choked off. If MPs try to be innovative, they are forced to put their ideas through an interminable series of committees where their ideas are chewed up and destroyed. At the end there is nothing more than pablum, gruel and useless stuff that does not challenge the status quo.

The press cannot speak to MPs. It is directed by parties as to who it can or cannot speak to. The individual MP cannot be innovative.

If the public wants to know why their MPs are having a very difficult time being innovative and challenging the status quo, it is because they are not allowed to. They are ostracized if they do. We should be dealing with issues like reforming health care and saving pensions. We should be putting forward new ideas to improve our environment. We should be putting forward new ways to deal with federal-provincial issues, defence issues, our role in the world, innovation that prevents conflict, innovation that enables people to get jobs and innovative ways to reform our tax structure. We should be dealing with large issues in the House. That is a pox on all of us if we do not do these things.

The bill before us is about creating a Canada fund for innovation and spending $1.25 billion. As my colleague from St. Albert mentioned very eloquently, why not allow the fund to be audited? Why not allow the auditor general to look at it? Why leave it up to the government? We know that if governments were allowed to dispense funds through such a mechanism, those funds would not be spent wisely. This has to be done in a different way.

There is a model to do that. The government wisely created the Canadian Institutes of Health Research which works well. It is a public-private partnership. It is at arm's length from the government. It has and will be audited. The institute provides public scrutiny for the disbursement of funds. It is innovative. It allows dynamism and flexibility. That is what this fund needs to be.

It not that we do not support the notion of being able to fund and give our Canadian researchers the ability to innovate, it is the manner in which this fund will be disbursed. That is the problem. It is a matter of accountability and transparency. The government is sorely lacking in foresight if it thinks the public will watch $1.25 billion of its money be given away without having an opportunity to scrutinize it.

There are other things we need to do to allow innovation. First, we must decrease the tax structure. Second, why not put into the tax structure our ability to create foundations like the United States has done? This will enable us to tap into a huge pool of funds that could be used and dispersed according to what the foundations wanted. It will provide researchers and non-governmental and charitable organizations an enormous pool for innovation.

We should allow individuals to donate to non-governmental organizations and innovative groups that do research like the Canadian Juvenile Diabetes Association or the Heart and Stroke Foundation. We should allow individuals the same tax write-off that another individual would receive if they donated to a political party. What is the difference? Why not allow a person who feels compelled to donate to the Canadian Cancer Society the ability to have the same tax write-off as somebody who donates to the Liberal Party or the Canadian Alliance? This is simply an issue of fairness and equitableness.

While the government has been removing funds from these organizations, why not allow the organizations to have the ability to provide for themselves?

Budget Implementation Act, 1997Government Orders

April 2nd, 2001 / 5:50 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the people of Surrey Central to participate in the second reading debate on this bill. I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for St. Albert, and I am sure the House will look forward to his comments as well.

Bill C-17, an act to amend the Budget Implementation Act, 1997 and the Financial Administration Act, has two components. The first is to add additional funding of $750 million for the Canada foundation for innovation to the economic statement and budget update of October 18, 2000.

The second component involves amending the Financial Administration Act to clarify that parliament must provide explicit authority for any voting by or on behalf of the crown. I will deal with that later.

I will now turn to the first part of the bill, the Budget Implementation Act. The bill seeks to extend funding for the Canada foundation for innovation by $750 million to include operation and maintenance costs for research infrastructure. The bill also proposes to extend funding for the foundation to include the purchase access to international research facilities and research projects. The new funding will be spent over an undefined period of 10 years or more but will be booked in the current fiscal year.

The foundation's purpose is to combine government and private sector funding to enhance education and research infrastructure at post-secondary education institutions and research hospitals. The government stated that the foundation would be funded by an upfront investment of $800 million.

In 1997 funding of the Canada foundation for innovation was included in the deficit as if it were a liability at that time, even though the foundation did not exist by the end of the year. The foundation did not exist but the $800 million funding was included as a liability. This made the government depart from its own accounting policies, practices and principles for the third year in a row in contrast to the Public Sector Accounting and Auditing Board, PSAAB, guidelines. The auditor general called it inappropriate accounting and a parliamentary oversight.

The foundation is not obliged to report the results it achieves with $800 million, and parliament may consequently have difficulty obtaining the information it needs on expenditures.

I will quote from the Canadian Alliance policy. It states:

We will bring the best ideas in business, government and universities together to facilitate the transition to the new economy and position Canada as a global leader. We will also increase support to Canada's research granting councils, and appoint a Chief Scientist of Canada to coordinate science activities in all government departments and ensure that science, not politics, prevails.

Let me make it very clear that the Canadian Alliance supports research and development. We regret that the government has overseen and caused our economy to perform so poorly that it is now necessary for the federal government to step in and apply massive doses, hundreds of millions of dollars, to R and D.

The private sector is not encouraged to do R and D by the government because taxes are high. The government is not only arrogant but weak as well. It lacks vision and we cannot trust it. It is unclear what criteria the Liberals would use in granting decisions made by the foundation, which is to be administered by the Minister of Industry.

During the election campaign, the Canadian Alliance proposed an additional $500 million in R and D funding. We support increased funding for research and development. While we support the objectives of the Canada foundation for innovation, technical innovation would be more likely to happen in an environment of lower taxes and less regulation rather than increased bureaucratic spending with ill-defined funding criteria.

The second component involves amending the Financial Administration Act to clarify that parliament must provide explicit authority for any borrowing on behalf of the crown. The bill would also define regulations surrounding what is considered to be borrowing of money.

The bill would require the Minister of Finance to authorize money borrowing transactions. It would give the finance minister the power to authorize money borrowing transactions under any terms and conditions he considers appropriate.

Finally, the bill would amend an oversight in which the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board was removed from the list of crown corporations that are exempt from aspects of the Income Tax Act, reducing the possibility of ministerial intervention in the pension board.

The Canadian Alliance policy on financial administration states:

To ensure transparency, accuracy, and confidence in the government's finances, we will authorize the Auditor General to examine all federal government documents, including those from government agencies and crown corporations. The government will be required to report to the House within one year on how it has dealt with issues raised by the Auditor General. We will apply generally accepted accounting principles to government finances.

We will apply them not in the way that suits the government, but will use generally accepted accounting principles.

The bill would correct a legislative error made two years ago which opened the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board to interference by the finance minister in various areas such as cash stripping, appointments, and corporate business plan debt.

The government is again wasting parliamentary time with amendments to correct legislative mistakes it has made. The other day I was debating Bill C-4 and was surprised that the government had to amend its own bill six times. That is how poorly designed it was. The government has to recognize that it must draft bills carefully.

Time and again the official opposition finds that we are holding the flashlight for a weak Liberal government that lacks vision. The problem is that when the government passed the Canadian Wheat Board legislation, it took the CPP investment board out of the Financial Administration Act along with the wheat board.

The fact remains that rather than having excuses from the government, the minister responsible for legislation should be responsible for errors. There should be no mistakes because the minister should be carefully scrutinizing the work the government does.

In conclusion, we support the part of the legislation that corrects the government's mistake of two years ago. We support putting a stop to the finance minister's ability to intervene in the affairs of the pension board.

We have seen the government engage in cash stripping when it comes to the EI account. It stripped $30 billion from that account. We are pleased to put a stop to that.