Budget Implementation Act, 2001

An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on December 10, 2001

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.

Helping Families in Need ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2012 / noon
See context


Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thought for sure the NDP members would finish their debate first, but you are the person in charge so I will go on your advice.

It is a great pleasure to join the debate on Bill C-44. It is important and worthwhile legislation. The committee has been somewhat seized by it the last number of meetings and by very compelling testimony, which I will refer to as I make my remarks.

At the outset, the Liberal Party believes in the spirit and intent of the legislation. Since the bill was brought forward by the government, It has supported the legislation throughout the process.

The essence of bill is to amend the Canada Labour Code and the Employment Insurance Act, to make consequential amendments to the Income Tax Act and the income tax regulations that will offer support to families facing unthinkable and traumatic sad events.

Over the past month, the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities has heard from medical experts, social service experts, charities, not-for-profit groups and others that are doing good work to help families through incredibly difficult times, trying to care for a critically ill, missing or murdered child.

Most important, we heard from the families. I want to thank them first and foremost for the strength and courage they brought to these meetings and for their ability to advocate for the types of support that would have helped them through times of unfathomable grief.

As I look around at the members in the House today, I think we can all agree that regardless of what the legislation might be, when the bill goes to committee, we have access to people, experts in the field. Many times we are inundated with numbers in the millions and billions. The testimony through these hearings and through the review of the bill was not about millions or billions; it was about the one child who had gone missing or the one child who was lost because of a critical illness. The testimony was about knowing that this was more important than anything else in the lives of people.

It was a very emotional time for those witnesses who came to our committee and shared their stories. I know they hold the appreciation, the thanks and the respect of our entire committee.

Some who gave testimony said that this was a first good step, but there was more that could be done. I will speak about that a little later on when I talk about some of the amendments put forward.

Bill C-44 could have been improved. Many of the witnesses made some very concrete and positive recommendations to strengthen the bill. I had hoped that those recommendations would not have fallen on deaf ears, but unfortunately the government did not feel changes had to be made. The way that the bill was presented certainly took a couple of those amendments off the table. In fact, none of the amendments offered either by the NDP or by the Liberal Party made it through.

We based our amendments around the testimony we heard. We went through the process of gathering that information, and we made the amendments according to the facts that were established during the course of the hearings. We certainly put our amendments forward in the spirit of making the bill better for Canadians.

A number of amendments were declared out of order on the grounds they were beyond the scope of Bill C-44. It was disappointing they were not implemented and the opportunity to strengthen the bill was overruled by the government.

I would like to talk about a couple of the amendments. On behalf of our party, I raised two categories of amendments to Bill C-44. These would have made changes to the Employment Insurance Act and the Canada Labour Code.

The first one was to extend the leave of absence for a parent of a critically ill child from 37 weeks to 52 weeks. We heard from parents and other stakeholders that 52 weeks would be an absolutely reasonable period of time. Critically ill children are often struggling for their lives well beyond 37 weeks and it seemed unfair and unreasonable to restrict the period to 36 weeks, especially when the legislation would provide for 52 weeks for parents of a missing or murdered children.

As a person, not even a member of Parliament, how do we quantify the amount of pain and grief that one experiences when one has a missing and/or murdered child? What that would take from a person, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually, would be enormous. However, if parents have to watch their sons or daughters battle with a critical illness, are we in a position to judge which is more distressing or more hurtful? We thought we could apply the same grace to parents of critically ill children by increasing the employment insurance benefit to 52 weeks from 37.

The other amendment was to extend the unpaid leave in EI benefits to 14 days after the day on which a recipient's child died, instead of the last day of the week, to provide parents with additional support during a period of grief.

Both of these amendments asked that the parents of children who died from a critical illness be afforded two additional weeks to grieve. As it stands in Bill C-44, special benefits for parents of a critical ill child would expire on the last day of the week in which the child died. This means that if a child passes away on a Thursday, the child's mother or father would be required to return to work that following Monday. Therefore, the parent loses a child on Thursday and has to return to work on Monday.

If bereaved parents returned to a workplace that required a degree of concentration, maybe it would impact on the safety of others working around them. We would expect people in a position of trust or responsibility to be sound of mind and mentally prepared to perform the duties that are asked of them on a daily basis. I would think if parents are dealing with the death of a child, they would want some time to come to terms with that, to work with their families, their spouses and their other children. We thought it would have been in order to extend that benefit for an additional two weeks. That was ruled out of order as well.

Our amendments would have increased the supports for the parents to receive the same types of benefits through this incredibly dark time.

The other amendment was to eliminate the unequal and unfairness of the labour force attachment by reducing the number of labour force attachment hours required of employment insurance claimants from 600 to 420 that would have to be worked over the six-month period. Reducing the number of hours required would have the effect of extending benefits to part-time workers. We know the number of part-time workers has grown in the country.

In 2004, one in eight jobs were of a part-time nature. Now, one in seven jobs are of a part-time nature. That is fairly significant. It is a big change in the fundamentals of the workforce structure in our country. The amendment we put forward would have addressed the number, especially if a primary caregiver were the mother. The number of women in the workforce who work part-time far exceeds the number of men who work part-time.

We asked the government how it arrived at this number and it could not really provide a legitimate rationale for the 600 hour requirement. We quizzed officials on this and they said that they chose this number because that was what was required to receive special benefits. It was synchronized up like that. There was no other rationale for it. If they had looked at the changing nature of the workforce and the fact that the part-time worker segment had grown so much over the last eight years, they may have been able to alter their perception to improve the legislation.

In analyzing how many parents could potentially qualify, we found a significant percentage would not meet the minimum hourly requirement. In 2011, 25% of parents of children under age 18 worked part-time, a very substantive number, part-time being fewer than 30 hours a week. These parents worked an average of 16.5 hours a week. Had they worked continuously for six months, they would have only worked 430 hours, not enough to qualify for the EI benefit. In fact, 80% of fathers and 75% of mothers who worked part-time, worked fewer than what would be required to reach the 600 hours over the course of 26 weeks. That means 275,000 fathers and 680,000 mothers would not qualify for this new special benefit. It is just wrong to take that number of Canadians and tell them they will be unable to receive the same support as another group of Canadians. It is truly unfortunate and is a missed opportunity.

Had the bill not been introduced so quickly, the opposition may have had time to make improvements at second reading. We heard time after time, almost to a witness, that the age requirement of 18 should be increased. Certainly both opposition parties made a point of this knowing that parents did not stop caring for or trying to support their children just because they turned the magic age of 19. Parents are in it for the long haul. The witnesses believed that the age requirement should be increased.

The bill was brought forward and rushed through second reading. The minister announced the legislation on September 20. The next week, on September 26, the debate at second reading of Bill C-44 began.

However, the technical briefing on the bill, which would amend three pieces of legislation, did not occur until after second reading debate had already begun. We were in the midst of that when the technical briefing took place.

That is the devil in the detail aspect of the way the government has decided it is going to put forward its legislation. We have seen that in the omnibus bill and in a number of other pieces of legislation. Probably the most egregious example would be the budget bill. If they can jam as much as they can in there and run it through as quickly as they can, it would serve some type of purpose. However, if had been given a real opportunity to refine that piece of legislation, we could have put forward the amendments to increase the age and changed the allowable number of hours for part-time workers from 600 down to 420. These changes would have included a greater number of the Canadians who really live on the edges.

However, that is not the way the Conservatives decided to go about it. Indeed, considering the expertise within the public service in the Department of Human Resources, it would have been very useful to have the briefing well before the debate at second reading to provide adequate time to prepare amendments to strengthen this legislation.

I bring members' attention to the fact that in 2002 the Liberal government of the day passed Bill C-49, and I was fortunate to be part of that government. That bill amended the Employment Insurance Act to make the stacking provisions more lenient. The intention of the bill at that time was to ensure that a person who fell ill during a parental leave could also collect EI sickness benefits. What unfortunately happened was that the bureaucracy did not follow the intent of Parliament's legislation and refused perhaps thousands of parents who fell ill during their parental leave.

It was only after one lady appealed the denial of her benefits that the real issue came to light. In 2010, Natalya Rougas, a Toronto mother, was diagnosed with breast cancer while on maternity leave. However, after applying for EI sick benefits her claim was rejected on the grounds that she was on maternity leave and therefore not available for work. She appealed the decision and won her case last year, entitling her to a maximum of 15 weeks of sick benefits in addition to the 50 weeks of maternity and parental benefits that she took after her son was born in January 2009. In his ruling, released in 2011, Justice R.J. Marin said that the legislative changes in 2002 in Bill C-49 were intended to make sick benefits available to women who became ill immediately before, during or after receiving maternity benefits.

Justice Marin later explained that “If the (Employment Insurance) Commission were to give a more liberal interpretation to the provisions of the Act in relation to women who are able to establish a serious illness at the end of their maternal/parental leave, its approach would be consistent with the will of elected officials”. That is a key point, which has been reinforced by a further ruling. Marin also stated that the law was not being interpreted “in the way in which Parliament had intended”.

The lawyer for Ms. Rougas, Mr. Stephen Moreau, expects there are 3,000 or 4,000 such people out there to which this applies. It was funny too that when Bill C-49 was being put forward to make people eligible for those stacking provisions, the Conservatives voted against it. One of their favourite lines is: “These guys voted against it”. Well, they voted against this stacking provision. I do not know where this stands right now and whether these people are being allowed to receive the benefits. However, Judge Marin certainly believes these have always been in order.

I look forward to answering some questions.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

May 1st, 2002 / 4:05 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the transport minister on at least waking up the justice minister to his wonderful display of arm waving which was good.

First, I want to comment on his final comments with regard to airport traffic. I will move specifically to Bill C-55 in a moment. The minister said that airport traffic is back after September 11 and somehow that is a great feat by the government.

First, airport traffic is back because people already bought their tickets prior to April 1, so they did not have to pay the $24 tax. Second, people are booking their flights today for the summer to avoid paying the $24 tax and it is the travel season. Third, the vast majority of air carriers are having broad seat sales right now because they are scared of going under because the government is taxing them into the ground.

I rise on Bill C-55 which is an act to amend certain acts of Canada and to enact measures for implementing the biological and toxin weapons convention to enhance public safety. It is also known as the public security act.

Bill C-55 gives cabinet members acting alone outrageous and broad new powers with limited checks and balances. If these powers were exercised to their fullest possible extent, they could represent a grave threat to the notion of parliamentary democracy that Canadians hold so dearly.

We were glad that the Liberals withdrew their Bill C-42, but they seem to have missed the entire reason why so many members of the House and so many members of the public were exercised with concern about the problems of Bill C-42.

Specifically, the concerns that Canadians had with Bill C-42, which are still present in Bill C-55, are the capacity of cabinet ministers to invoke a number of interim order measures and the capacity for the minister of defence acting alone to create military security zones. Both of those aspects of Bill C-42 are alive and well in Bill C-55. It is because of those aspects that a number of Canadians will continue to have concerns about the bill and that the official opposition will oppose the bill and encourage all others to do so as well.

As I said, the government can still create a military security zone to protect, as the bill says, “property that is provided for the armed forces for the department and is situated outside a defence establishment”.

In the old bill the government could have declared an area like Kananaskis where the G-8 summit will be a military security zone. It still can in Bill C-55. All it has to do is put some military equipment like a jeep or a helicopter in the zone and they can therefore declare it a security zone under section 260.1(3) which reads:

A controlled access military zone may consist of an area of land or water, a portion of airspace, or a structure or part of one, surrounding a thing referred to in subsection (1) [basically equipment and personnel]...The zone automatically includes all corresponding airspace above, and water and land below, the earth's surface.

This power should not be in the sole, arbitrary hands of the minister of defence.

A recent poll has shown that 69% of Canadians see our federal political system as being corrupt. Canadians are unlikely to be thrilled by this legislation such as this, where the government grabs more unchecked power for ministers. At present the public's faith in democracy is tainted more than ever by the Liberal government's track record on things such as imposing a $24 air tax, despite the fact that air security at most airports has not been improved as the minister says and that the transport committee recommended against such an extreme airline killing measure.

Also, the government invoked closure to impose the legislation, Bill C-49, and which imposed the tax. These things do not build confidence with Canadians. The government also has a lack of respect for free votes in this place and the treatment of private members' bill. It has a lack of commitment to a democratically elected Senate. It has muzzled politically free speech for their own backbenchers. It has a lack of free votes allowed by Liberals in this place. There are also countless other examples and they do not build the confidence of Canadians.

The government should be building the confidence of Canadians in democracy and governance. Bill C-55 will only work to continue the downward spiral of public faith in the institution of governance.

Bill C-55 is a vast and comprehensive bill affecting some nine federal departments. It amends 20 federal statutes and implements in domestic law an international convention that Canada ratified back on March 26, 1975. That treaty is the biological and toxin weapons convention and it shows a stunning lack of vision that it has taken us a quarter of a century to finally make it part of our laws.

In times of trial lucky nations remember great leaders. The British remember Winston Churchill. His unbroken spirit strengthened British resolve during the darkest days of the second world war. Americans remember Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the president who led their nation to great victories across two different oceans at a time when freedom itself was at stake.

All those who are alive today know that President Bush, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and Prime Minister Blair will fare similarly well with historians. As we struggle to deal with the aftermath of September 11, now roughly eight months ago, these three leaders have set the standard by which the world will judge political courage in a time of crisis in the years to come.

Those standards are tough. They mandate a committed ongoing and continuous fight against terrorism and the defence of our way of life, the rule of law, pluralism and democracy. Tougher still, they will require respect for diversity and understanding through dialogue so that in our zeal to protect the democratic Liberal values, which the western world so shares, we do not inadvertently diminish or deny that which we are striving to protect.

Finally and perhaps most important, those standards require firm, principled leadership. That leadership requires two very simple things: a clearly identified goal and a precise way of reaching it.

In the immediate aftermath of September 11 President Bush led. He set a goal of making America safe against further terrorist attacks and of restoring the confidence of Americans. He launched six different initiatives.

The first was the office of homeland security to deal with threats against American territory and appointed Vietnam veteran, former army ranger and former Pennsylvania governor, Tom Ridge as its director.

Second, he created a military campaign to fight terrorism abroad and involve America's allies in that campaign.

Third, he launched an aggressive worldwide campaign to identify and prosecute those who were responsible for the September 11 attacks.

Fourth, blocking of terrorist financing was a priority and access to international banking networks was fought.

Fifth, he launched a concerted diplomatic effort with America's allies to secure the co-operation of the United Nations Security Council, NATO and the Organization of American States in collectively fighting terrorism.

Sixth, he established a fund to help Afghan children, recognizing that they too were victims of the events of September 11.

Each of President Bush's initiatives were and are distinct and well designed, rather like the blades of a Swiss army knife. Each has a specific purpose but the six together are a powerful and comprehensive combination. Quite simply, they have been designed like a Swiss army knife, to work well together so as to be greater than the sum of their parts and like a Swiss army knife they are designed to get the job done.

If we think of President Bush's initiatives as a Swiss army knife, this government's attempts to deal with the aftermath of September 11 are rather like the tools we might find at the bottom of a box at a rummage sale. Some are good, some are missing pieces, some are quite beyond redemption and even the ones that work are not necessarily designed to work together.

Of all the governments on this continent, the Canadian federal government has by far the most legislative and administrative power. An arrogant Prime Minister can appoint his cabinet ministers and he can make them do his bidding or face political exile in the obscurity of the government backbenches. His decisions are supported by 170 plus Liberal voting machines. Their unquestioning support of every piece of government legislation gives the Prime Minister a degree of concentration of power unseen in other liberal democracies.

Given the vast powers of the Canadian Prime Minister, virtually any bold incisive solution was possible in response to September 11. Whatever measure, whichever regulation desired would have easily become a legal reality. Given such latitude, it is sad, perhaps even a bit frightening, that with respect to the public safety act this is the third time in three attempts that the Liberal government has dropped the ball.

When after September 11 Canadians clamored for a collective sense of security, the government increased taxes on air travellers. Today in reaction to polls showing that Canadians do not trust government, the federal Liberals offer up not accountability but a power grab for the cabinet.

Bill C-55 is another omnibus bill that the government has tabled since September 11 and the tragedy therein. The first was Bill C-36 which the government introduced on October 15, over a month after the tragedy and which amended over a dozen statutes and added a new one.

Bill C-55, the public safety act, is just as cumbersome and every bit as complex as Bill C-36. Indeed this bill's complexity and the ham-fisted way incompatible themes have been duct taped together into one bill is obviously a sign of a government unable to and arguably incapable of leading in a time of crisis.

On November 20, 2001 at about 5.25 in the evening the government House leader sought unanimous consent to suspend the standing orders and introduce a government bill at 2 p.m. the next afternoon. The bill, “An Act to amend certain Acts of Canada and to enact measures for implementing the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, in order to enhance public safety”, would be complex and a briefing to staff would be offered. After two months of hibernation on aviation security legislation, there was now a flicker of hope that our government would finally react.

At 2 p.m. on November 21, 2001 the promised bill was nowhere in sight. Last minute problems delayed its introduction. Bill C-42 was introduced the following day on November 22 and contained some 19 parts dealing with everything from money laundering to the implementation of a 1977 treaty on biotoxins. A miniature section on aviation security was thrown in for measured optics.

With the same deft touch that marked the bill's introduction on Wednesday, November 28, within a week of its first reading in the House, the government House leader was again on his feet to state that unanimous consent had been required and obtained to delete clause 5 which dealt with section 4.83 of the Aeronautics Act regarding the provision of information. The clause was to be reintroduced in Bill C-44, an act to amend the Aeronautics Act, which was ordered for consideration at second reading a mere two sitting days later.

Examination showed that the clause which was deleted had been written to comply with section 115 of the U.S. aviation and transportation security act which had been signed by President Bush days prior. In short, airlines would not be able to fly into the United States after January 18 unless they provided certain information to the U.S. customs service.

There was one problem. The clause allowing Canadian airlines to comply with the U.S. legislation was buried deep in a massive omnibus bill and there was no hope of getting the omnibus bill passed before January 18, 2002. The government took the only possible option. It took the useful clause out of Bill C-42 and introduced it as Bill C-44, a one clause bill which was passed in the House on December 6 and received royal assent on December 18.

The Liberals' stunning mishandling of the public safety act is underlined by the fact that more than five months after Bill C-42 was introduced we are discussing and debating a virtually identical bill with most of the same problems. The government seems to have learned nothing.

Bill C-55 addresses a number of totally unrelated ideas. It should be broken up. Just as it made sense last November to put clauses of Bill C-42 into a separate bill, Bill C-44, it now makes sense to break Bill C-55 into separate bills so they might in turn get the committee's scrutiny. This is what our system of government was designed for. It is what Canadians expect. It would allow the various committees of the House to study the relevant parts of the bill instead of sending the entire bill to a single committee, in this case the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations.

Bill C-55 deals with money laundering and the implementation of a 1977 treaty on biotoxins, topics which would hardly be considered the domain and responsibility of a transport committee. Having said that, I will deal in specific terms with the sections of the bill that deal truly with transport. It is our intention to give each of our party's critics the opportunity to speak to the parts of Bill C-55 that would affect the departments they monitor. It is also our intention to allow our justice critic the hon. member for Provencher to address the parts of the bill that would give ministers the power to make interim orders with respect to unforeseen threats in their departments.

I will address the key areas with respect to transport. The first is the apportionment of security costs. As members opposite may notice, this is not dealt with in Bill C-55. That is part of the problem. Bill C-42 which Bill C-55 replaces was also called the public safety act. It contained a clause which would have introduced a new subsection to the Aeronautics Act. Proposed subsection 4.75(1) read:

The Minister may apportion the costs of any security measure between the persons to whom it is directed, or by whom it is carried out, and any person or persons who, in the opinion of the Minister, would reasonably be expected to benefit from the security measure.

In the context of passenger screening this might have apportioned costs among the flying public to whom it was directed, the airlines and airport authorities who carried it out, and any person who could have reasonably benefited from it. Given that the September 11 victims were mostly in office towers and on the ground, this might well have been the general taxpayer.

These sentiments were expressed in recommendation 14 of the report of the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations, “Building a Transportation Security Culture: Aviation as the Starting Point”, which was released on Friday, December 7. I am glad the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport is here because the report which tabled 15 recommendations on airport and airline security was supported unanimously at committee.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, the hon. member of parliament from Chicoutimi, said the government should not impose a $24 tax and put it all on the shoulders of passengers. He said we should spread out the costs. The view was supported unanimously but the government rejected it. It rejected its own parliamentary secretary and the hard work of the committee.

The recommendation I am referring to reads:

All stakeholders--including airports, air carriers, airline passengers and/or residents of Canada--contribute to the cost of improved aviation security. In particular, the amounts currently spent by airports and air carriers should be continued--

They are not now continued by law. The recommendation goes on:

--with appropriate adjustments for inflation. A ticket surtax could also be implemented, and any funding shortfalls could be financed out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

The initial apportionment of security costs was a good idea. It was in the spirit of what the transport committee had recommended. I was surprised the clause was not included in the new public safety act Bill C-55. After all, we read constantly in the press that the Liberals want to listen to Canadians and their concerns.

When I heard WestJet was cutting 13 weekly flights between Edmonton and Calgary and dropping its Victoria-Kelowna service as a result of the oppressive impact of the Liberal government's air tax on short haul carriers, I hoped the Liberals were listening. I thought maybe they were having a change of heart. Then I noticed the apportionment of costs clause was gone from Bill C-55. If Bill C-42 had not been withdrawn and had been reintroduced in virtually its original form with only a number change, the apportionment of security costs would have ended up being debated and scrutinized by the transport committee which had recommended an apportionment of security costs model in the first place.

Given that the model was rejected by the finance committee after the Liberals who supported it were removed and by the Liberal voting machine which heeded the Prime Minister's orders on Bill C-49, the government did not want the apportionment of security costs clause going back before the committee. Since it was the only way to avoid having such a clause debated by committee the government pulled the bill, deleted the clause, renumbered the bill and reintroduced it as a brand new piece of legislation in Bill C-55. After all this government members wonder why 69% of Canadians think federal politics is corrupt.

The second transport related clause of Bill C-55 that I will address is the new anti-air rage provision. Clause 17 of Bill C-55 would introduce a new section to the Aeronautics Act, section 7.41. In many ways the section would build on concepts contained in the 1963 Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft which Canada ratified on November 7, 1969, and the 1971 Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Civil Aviation which Canada ratified on June 19, 1972.

Essentially these treaties make interference with cockpit crew an international offence. Clause 17 of Bill C-55 would make it an offence punishable by a $100,000 fine and/or up to five years in jail to interfere with any crew member in the performance of his or her duties or anyone who is following the instruction of a crew member. We in our party fully support clause 17 of Bill C-55 and applaud its introduction by the government.

Clause 5 of Bill C-55 deals with the type of information an airline or other transport authority may provide to authorities. It would modify sections 4.7 and 4.8 of the Aeronautics Act. Under clause 5 of Bill C-55 the new subsection 4.82(4) of the Aeronautics Act would read:

The Commissioner, or a person designated under subsection (2), may, for the purposes of transportation security or the identification of persons for whom a warrant has been issued, require any air carrier or operator of an aviation reservation system to provide a person designated under subsection (2), within the time and in the manner specified by the person imposing the requirement, with the information set out in the schedule

(a) that is in the air carrier's or operator's control concerning the persons on board or expected to be on board an aircraft for any flight specified by the person imposing the requirement; or

(b) that is in the air carrier's or operator's control, or that comes into their control within 30 days after the requirement is imposed on them, concerning any particular person specified by the person imposing the requirement.

The modified subsection 4.82(5) of the Aeronautics Act would enable the RCMP to share this information with CSIS. These powers, correctly used and perhaps modified by committee, might give Canadian intelligence authorities access to the same type of information the Americans have in their Computer-Assisted Passenger Prescreening System or CAPPS. It is imperative that this be the case.

For years Canadians have bragged about having the world's longest undefended border. We have had access to America like no other nation. Those days are over because of the government's mismanagement since September 11. Armed national guardsmen now protect the previously undefended border. That single fact, breaking with years of tradition, is a damning indictment of the government's post-September 11 record. By guarding the border the Americans are sending Canada a simple, four word message: “We don't trust you”.

Sunday's 60 Minutes report may help convince some of the voting machines opposite of the urgent need to act. We face a choice as a nation. With regard to the new fortress America we can either be inside looking out or outside looking in. We are on probation. It matters greatly what we do in the coming months.

It is critical that we build computer system like the one America has, the Computer-Assisted Passenger Prescreening System or CAPPS. This would show we were serious about protecting our border from terrorism and those who would use our tremendous support of legitimate refugees as a cover for criminal acts. A cornerstone of CAPPS is getting information from airlines. Bill C-55's modifications to subsections 4.82(4) and 4.82(5) of the Aeronautics Act are a step in the right direction.

It may come as a surprise to members of the House that airlines maintain two types of files on their passengers. First, they maintain a passenger name record or PNR. This is the file airlines create when they reserve a seat for a passenger. It contains information such as the passenger's name, address, phone number and form of payment. It also contains reservation information such as boarding city, destination, connections, flight numbers, dates, stops and seat assignment. Based on this information the manifest is prepared for each flight showing who is sitting where. Routinely at present this is the information handed over to authorities when there is an airline accident.

Second, airlines maintain the APIS or advanced passenger information system data. It includes five fields: passenger name; date of birth; citizenship, nationality and document issuing country; gender; and passport or document number. Other than the passenger's name this information is not normally collected by the airlines. Unless passports are machine readable much of the information must be entered manually. For this reason airlines only collect it when they must provide it to immigration authorities.

The U.S. currently requires this type of information for U.S. bound Asian passengers transiting through Vancouver under the Canada-U.S. memorandum of understanding which allows such passengers to go through U.S. customs without first passing through Canadian customs. It is not immediately clear whether the modified subsections 4.82(4) and 4.82(5) of the Aeronautics Act would apply only to PNR information which airlines normally have in their reservations systems or also to APIS information which may be collected as passengers board flights overseas destined for Canada.

In the U.S. the new aviation and transportation security act mandates that the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration require air carriers to expand the application of the Computer-Assisted Passenger Prescreening System or CAPPS to all passengers regardless of baggage. In addition, passengers selected under the system are subject to additional security measures before boarding including checks of carry on baggage and of their person. Both the PNR and APIS information is sent electronically to the U.S. customs supercomputer in Newington, Virginia where the CAPPS system enables the passenger profiling that keeps America's skies safe.

The U.S. is actively fighting a war on terrorism. It is walking the walk, unlike the Liberal government. Given that page 95 of the budget allocates $76 million to improving co-ordination and information sharing among government agencies, I call on the government to follow America's lead and send both PNR and APIS information to a single agency so Canada can create its own CAPPS system to enhance intelligence gathering on would-be terrorists. This would keep Canadians safe in the air and on the ground. More importantly, it would help restore America's trust in Canada's commitment to fighting terrorism as opposed to merely talking about fighting terrorism which is all we have seen from the government. It would be nice if the government would make the real legislative and budgetary commitments to send that signal. With a view to enabling this type of information gathering the Canadian Alliance will be tabling amendments at committee.

I conclude by calling on the government to divide Bill C-55 so the appropriate standing committees may give the bill proper examination. I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after “that” and substituting the following:

“this House declines to give second reading to Bill C-55, An Act to amend certain Acts of Canada, and to enact measures for implementing the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, in order to enhance public safety, since the Bill reflects several principles unrelated to transport and government operations rendering it impractical for the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations to properly consider it”.

Excise Act, 2001Government Orders

April 30th, 2002 / 1:40 p.m.
See context


Robert Lanctôt Bloc Châteauguay, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for recognizing me once more in this debate. I will make the link between Bill C-47, microbreweries and the hon. member for Beauharnois--Salaberry.

Why? Because this is another opportunity to point out that there is a microbrewery in his riding, Brasserie Saint-Antoine-Abbé. I hope the hon. member for Beauharnois--Salaberry will stand up, just as we do to defend the people and the small businesses of Quebec, for a microbrewery that needs his help. I explained this morning why it needs help.

In the last two days, the Bloc Quebecois has been demanding that the amendment moved by the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe--Bagot be discussed in committee. If I am singling out the hon. member for Beauharnois--Salaberry, it is because there is a microbrewery in his riding. He too is aware of the problems it is struggling with, or he should be. But I hope things are working out nonetheless.

In the last five years, 38 out of 86 microbreweries have gone under. Why did the government refuse to talk about this problem in the context of the excise legislation? It was a golden opportunity to do so. In the last five years, people have been working hard to find a solution. The government said it needed some data to determine whether the taxation should be reduced.

The Brewers Association of Canada mentioned, in a letter to the chair of the Standing Committee on Finance, that it supported a tax reduction, but that this reduction should not be included in the bill.

How can the member for Beauharnois--Salaberry that his government should behave in this way? This is a fine mess. Last week, in my riding of Châteauguay, this same member declared that the Bloc Quebecois was against Bill C-47, while he was talking about highway 30. Imagine how well he knows this issue. Today is the day we are debating Bill C-47.

The member actually wanted to explain why we voted against Bill C-49. He made the headlines, saying that the Bloc Quebecois is opposed to highway 30 and to the Canadian strategic infrastructure fund. How demagogic can one get? The member did not even refer to the right bill, and then he wondered why the Bloc Quebecois voted against Bill C-49, not Bill C-47.

Many reasons justified our position. It was not only the establishment of the fund. There was also the whole issue of the employment insurance fund, all the money not available or not transferred for health. There were also airfares in the regions. So, there were many reasons for the Bloc Quebecois' opposition to Bill C-49.

However, the member would rather keep saying that the Bloc Quebecois is against legislation. I would like him to count the number of times when I, as member for Châteauguay, and the Bloc Quebecois have talked about highway 30, have asked that the project be made a reality and that the necessary amounts be invested in the Canadian strategic infrastructure fund. Then I would like him to count the number of times when he, the member for Beauharnois--Salaberry, dared to ask the House to invest those funds. The result of those calculations will indicate who wants highway 30 the most, the member for Châteauguay or the member for Beauharnois--Salaberry. The answer is obvious.

Once again, I am calling on the member to stand up, but this time I am talking about Bill C-47. The newspapers are talking today about Bill C-47, not Bill C-49. I hope the member will meet the management of the microbrewery in his riding and ask those people “Is it true there are taxation problems?”

I hope he will get some information and find out that, currently, in Quebec and in Canada, microbreweries have to pay a 28 ¢ tax on each litre of beer whereas their foreign competitors, the microbreweries of Europe and the United States, pay a 9 ¢ tax.

Worse still, large Canadian breweries have dared to sign distribution contracts with foreign microbreweries, which therefore compete with our overtaxed microbreweries. Moreover, large breweries are making money by doing this. We can imagine why the government wants to protect these large breweries.

We must not forget where a large brewery such as Labatt is located. It is in the finance minister's riding. In 1997, microbreweries had a 5.5% share of the market. Now, five years later, their share has dropped to 4%.

We see very well what large breweries are up to in delaying a tax reduction for microbreweries. When microbreweries lose 1% of the market , do members know how much more money goes into the pockets of the large breweries' shareholders? An amount of $17 million, for a 1% drop in the share of the market. It means a net increased revenues of $17 million in the pockets of the large breweries' shareholders, those who will donate money to the Liberal Party's coffers. This is the truth of the matter.

We saw what happened in committee. We saw why the Liberals voted against Motion No. 2 that changed the powers of this government and gave greater powers to committee chairs. The chair used these powers. I will not go back to the issue, I talked about it for 20 minutes. The chair's husband, Mr. Barnes, was sitting on the taxation committee of the Brewers Association of Canada. Incidentally the chair did not have the honesty to tell members sitting on the committee: “In these circumstances may I withdraw to allow a discussion on the amendment put forward by my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot?” She did not do so. I do not want to revisit the issue. I have talked enough about it earlier.

I go back instead to the case of the hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry. He is an hon. member from Quebec. Quebec microbreweries are not the only ones experiencing losses because of the current situation. In Ontario, 13 microbreweries have closed. In Quebec, we have lost 11. There were also seven in British Columbia, one in Manitoba and another one in Nova Scotia that had to close.

When will the Liberals represent their constituents, people who work in small businesses, instead of once again defending their own interests in order to crush the little people, the small businesses and fill their party's coffers? This is incredible.

I hope the hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry will meet the people who work in the microbrewery in his region and ask them if the numbers given today are correct. Is it true that microbreweries are part of the new association, the Canadian Council of Regional Breweries? I would like to know if the people in his riding belong to this association. Why? Because the regional council has asked my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot to put these amendments forward. The government refused to consider this possibility. The Bloc Quebecois was not the only one asking for this. The request came from businesses, people who need to have the tax on their microbrewery reduced to be able to survive. This is incredible.

When I was saying that I was making the link between the member and these microbreweries, it is because he mixed things up in the media. It is today that we are talking about Bill C-47 and it would be time for him to really deal with Bill C-47.

He would realize then why he should be working with us to defend our people, our businesses. I am being told that I do not have much time left, so I will conclude by stressing the fact that the Bloc Quebecois truly disagrees with how Bill C-47 was handled by the Standing Committee on Finance.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

April 18th, 2002 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

Wascana Saskatchewan


Ralph Goodale LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, as the House knows, for four days this week the House could have had thoughtful and fulsome debate on the report stage of Bill C-5 about species at risk. Unfortunately, the official opposition did not appear particularly interested in that.

Nevertheless, I will continue to consult with opposition House leaders to try to reach agreement on how to complete the debate on that very important legislation and I hope that there will be more interest shown than we have seen so far.

In the meantime, the House will proceed this afternoon with consideration of the Senate amendments to Bill C-15A, amending the criminal code. Tomorrow we will debate Bill S-34, respecting royal assent, followed by Bill S-40, respecting financial clearing houses.

On Monday we will return to any unfinished business from this week and, if there is time, we will turn to Bill C-15B, which of course is another criminal code amendment.

Later next week, if Bill C-50, the bill dealing with the WTO, and Bill C-49, dealing with excise, are in fact reported back to the House from committee in time, we will deal with their final stages as well as concluding any business left over from Monday.

As the House already knows, Tuesday, April 23 and Thursday, April 25 will be allotted days.

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

April 12th, 2002 / 10 a.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Carol Skelton Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of Bill C-43 is to make minor technical amendments and corrections to various statutes and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support Act.

The enactment would make technical corrections to the Access to Information Act, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Act, the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, the Public Service Staff Relations Act, the Yukon First Nations Self-Government Act, and a number of acts that come under the jurisdiction of the Departments of Canadian Heritage and Finance.

The government announced in December 1994 that it would streamline government agencies, boards and advisory bodies. Much of the so-called streamlining simply removed appointments from parliamentary scrutiny by what had been order-in-council appointments. Following the December 1994 announcement the board ceased operations on March 31, 1995.

This is the third time the repeal of the Fisheries Prices Support Act has been before parliament. It was first introduced in June 1996 as Bill C-49 but did not get beyond second reading prior to the call of the election. The repeal was reintroduced as part of Bill C-44 in June 1998. Once again Bill C-44 did not get beyond second reading and was not reintroduced prior to the last election. The repeal of the act has had a low priority for the government as have all matters relating to the fishery.

The Fisheries Prices Support Act was passed in 1994 establishing the Fisheries Prices Support Board which was responsible for investigating sharp declines in fish prices and, where appropriate, recommending price support. The board was empowered to purchase fish products, to sell or otherwise dispose of these products, and to make deficiency payments to producers. The intent of the act was to protect fishermen against sharp declines in prices and consequent loss of income due to causes beyond the control of fishermen or the fishing industry.

The board has not undertaken any significant price support activities since 1982 except for the purchase of fish as food aid for distribution by CIDA.

Bill C-43 can be considered a hybrid of the Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act. Bill C-43 contains a number of provisions omitted from the draft of the Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, MSLA, Bill C-40. The miscellaneous statute law amendment program was initiated in 1975 to allow for minor, non-controversial amendments to federal statutes in an omnibus bill. A draft version of Bill C-40 was submitted to the standing committees on justice of the House and the Senate.

The MSLA process requires any item objected to by a Senate or House committee to be withdrawn from the bill. To be included, the proposed amendments must meet certain criteria. They must not be controversial, not involve the spending of public funds, not unfairly affect the rights of persons, not create a new offence, and not subject a new class of persons to any existing offence.

The procedure is designed to eliminate any potential controversial items ensuring quick passage of the bill. Bill C-43 contains items objected to in Bill C-40 and also contains new items regarding the repeal of the Fisheries Prices Support Act as well as items that did not make it into Bill C-40 on time.

While Bill C-43 contains minor technical changes similar to an MSLA bill it cannot be treated as an MSLA bill since a few of the amendments did not meet the criteria for an MSLA bill. Quick passage could not be granted and a committee hearing was deemed necessary.

Both the House and Senate committees objected to clauses in Bill C-40 that appear in Bill C-43 as clauses 2, 3 and 4 because they allowed the minister to enter into agreements with the government of any province or provinces in Atlantic Canada respecting the carrying out of any program or project of the agency. This is a change from cabinet authority to ministerial authority.

The Senate and House committees objected to a clause in Bill C-40 that appears as clause 21 in Bill C-43 because it would require royal recommendation. Clause 21 would repeal a section of the National Film Act that limits the National Film Board's ability to appoint staff with salaries of over $99,000 without seeking the approval of cabinet. The clause is viewed by the film board as an unnecessary administrative requirement. The original intent of the provision dates back to 1939. The change would not increase the film board's budget that is approved by parliament.

We in the official opposition support Bill C-43. However it is the first fisheries legislation the government has enacted since coming to office in 1993. It would repeal the defunct Fisheries Prices Support Act that has been little used since 1982 and whose board was shut down in 1995.

The Canadian Alliance would support a fisheries policy that protected the public fishery, fish stocks and fish habitat. We would support a policy that provided for a fishery with equal access for all, healthy sustainable stocks, and a habitat that ensured stocks for the future. The CA supports the strategic purchase of surplus fish products by CIDA for use as part of Canada's food aid programs. The continued existence of the Fisheries Prices Support Act with its defunct board has not contributed to nor has it been a necessary precondition for a healthy fishery.

Bill C-43 is a reminder that fishermen, fisheries legislation and fisheries policy have not been a priority for the government.

Message from the SenateThe Royal Assent

March 27th, 2002 / 11:40 a.m.
See context

The Deputy Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that when the House went up to the Senate chamber, the Deputy Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:

Bill C-51, an act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2002— Chapter No. 5.

Bill C-52, an act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2003— Chapter No. 6.

Bill C-39, an act to replace the Yukon Act in order to modernize it and to implement certain provisions of the Yukon Northern Affairs Program Devolution Transfer Agreement, and to repeal and make amendments to other acts—Chapter No. 7.

Bill C-30, an act to establish a body that provides administrative services to the Federal Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, the Court Martial Appeal Court and the Tax Court of Canada, to amend the Federal Court Act, the Tax Court of Canada Act and the Judges Act, and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts—Chapter No. 8.

Bill C-49, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on December 10, 2001—Chapter No. 9.

It being 11.50 a.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, April 8, 2002, at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Orders 28 and 24.

(The House adjourned at 11.50 a.m.)

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

March 22nd, 2002 / 1:30 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Paul Forseth Canadian Alliance New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

moved that Bill C-304, an act to amend the criminal code (prostitution), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am presenting Bill C-304, an act to amend the criminal code (prostitution). First reading was deemed to be March 19, 2001. In the summary of the bill it states:

Under this enactment, the offences related to prostitution that are provided for in section 213 of the Criminal Code from now on will be either indictable offences or summary conviction offences.

My private member's bill is deceptively simple. It is a minor technical point in the criminal code, but it is my belief that the clarity and improvement it makes can bring a significant positive result for communities to take back their streets, for local merchants to have their sidewalks back again and for parents to renew their confidence in the safety of local schoolyards.

However, the main reason I am bringing the bill forward again is that it addresses the main point of the ease of access for juveniles to get involved in the sex trade in the first place. My bill would mitigate against children getting involved in the beginning. It is about crime prevention.

Bill C-304 would amend section 213 of the criminal code to change the kind of process available against a person being investigated for talking in a public place about buying or selling sex. It would change the street prostitution section.

I propose making the existing offence a hybrid or electable offence so that an investigator can proceed either summarily or under the rules of the list of indictable offences. Critics wrongly get hung up on the theoretical higher penalty from the indictable route, which of course is never applied, rather than the process and identification tools which is what the bill is really all about.

In Canada it is a criminal code offence, a crime to buy and sell sex in a public place such as a street corner, a taxicab, a bar, a pub or a hotel lobby. That is the law. We have had a national conversation about whether that kind of activity should be controlled by criminal sanction and, consequently, it is a crime.

It is also a crime to live off the avails of prostitution, to be a helper or employer to benefit from the trade, or to keep a place of prostitution. Involving juveniles is a very serious crime. However, existing rules for the streets seems to approve in a backhanded way.

The private act of prostitution itself is not a crime. I do not know why it is not a crime, as the history of abuse, exploitation and degradation associated with those who tend to become sex trade workers appears to be condoned here in a double standard. However, that is a completely different debate and beyond the scope of what I am trying to do here today.

I am sure that I will hear from my critics a reference to that false argument to cover their own lack of courage to act, and their lack of understanding of street realities. I have observed that a helpful procedure is to respond more directly to the street trade in prostitution. Capacity creates its own demand. If there were no buyers there would be no sellers, and if there were no sellers there would be no buyers.

We have a societal problem. Mitigating against exploitation is historically the Canadian way. We must provide the legal symbols which provide the appropriate social context for citizens to voluntarily do the right thing, while we defend the helpless and help them, rather than allow them to be exploited.

My proposed change is important for broad societal reasons. There is a national problem of street prostitution across the country that did not exist in such a pervasive way just a few years ago. Since the advent of the charter and the repeal of vagrancy laws the legal capacity has created its own demand. Whenever we create a loophole for the perverse the legal vacuum is soon filled.

Street prostitution goes far beyond just being a local nuisance. Wherever it takes a foothold the surrounding communities soon learn that the drug crowd follows, as does breaking and entering, theft from cars and an attraction of those with criminal histories. All these become entangled in the culture of the street. These trends develop wherever prostitution is openly traded. It is a money producing activity that supports organized crime, the drug trade and the foreign trade in people. It is a sad fact that our pathetic law gives an opening for international operatives to exploit.

Communities are victims too. Mothers do not appreciate walking their children to school over needles and condoms along the schoolyard fence. Merchants should not have to patrol their front sidewalk and doorways cleaning up after the night trade.

However, the fundamental point I observed as a probation officer before I came to this parliament attempting to bring social services to bear to individuals caught up in this sad cycle is that street prostitution itself is the wide open door for the young to become involved. That is my main point.

It is an issue of crime prevention. Runaway children can too easily stand on a street corner and get involved in prostitution as a way to support themselves. The wide open door and the legal and social tolerance of street prostitution is a major source of the national problem, how it is fed and kept going.

My experience in attempting to help young people in conflict with the law and those who were on the street made me acutely aware of how the summary conviction status of communication for prostitution was so much in conflict with all of our concerns and expenditures to help street kids preserve the peace and safety of our neighbourhoods.

Politicians on the Liberal government side have in the past been very sanctimonious about juveniles and prostitution. NDP members also talk about the awful violence against sex trade workers and claim to be concerned about children on the street. Yet historically they have resisted suggestions to mitigate against allowing kids to be on the street supporting themselves through the sex trade.

This is not a new problem. Today we in parliament after years of talk are still dithering about this matter. Past Liberal justice ministers have not responded to my requests. Moreover, previous Conservative governments were no better. There were reports and plenty of consultation but during their tenure the whole prostitution file was not effectively dealt with. Even worse the NDP appeared to support prostitution itself through the advocacy of what it affectionately called sex trade workers. I believe the NDP would like to unionize them and give them police protection right on the street as well as employment insurance.

I come from a different perspective, one that is rather pragmatic. We may not like prostitution in society. We also may not like the overwhelming violation of rights it might take to eliminate most of it. Nevertheless, as parliamentarians we also do not need to pave a golden street for the sex trade to flourish. Therefore, as an interim measure we need to pass my bill so we can get on with the more important comprehensive measures that the government claims it is considering and that the justice department has been studying for years.

Prostitution is exploitive and a lot of other crime and degradation seems to go with it, especially the drug trade and drug abuse. All these tragedies are tied together so there are practical reasons to have the public communications section of the code made as flexible as possible in its application.

The police are also using sections of the code to sometimes issue what is called a no go order for repetitious, obnoxious and aggressive prostitutes who are leading the trade and shepherding others into the trade to be subject to geographic prohibitions of not entering into common strolls. If the recognizance is breached it becomes an offence and is easier to enforce than gathering new evidence under section 213 every time. These restrictions are time limited and tied to the process of other charges, hence, of limited value.

Although section 213 is gender neutral, gathering evidence against buyers is somewhat difficult. Police are unlikely to assign much of its precious police time resources to respond to a problem if the offence is only a summary one and after the expenditure of thousands of dollars in enforcement routines only results in an occasional charge and nets the perpetrator a $100 fine which becomes just another cost of that kind of nuisance.

Flexibility rather than a heavy-handed approach is what I am promoting. The change would allow, if needed, to fingerprint and photograph if cases were proceeded with through the optional indictment process. It would be used as needed and would form part of a broader tool kit of resources that would support crime prevention objectives. It would greatly enhance breaking the cycle of lifestyle for some youths and more effectively get them into community remedial programs. My change would support social programs that focus on deeper causes.

We must have the political courage to intervene so that the inherent discretion that lies throughout the justice system can flexibly respond to the individual need.

In the 1995 interim report of the federal-provincial-territorial working group on prostitution the results of national consultations indicated several recommendations to combat prostitution, one of them being the change to section 213. The deputy minister of justice of the day established the working group in 1992 from the federal, provincial and territorial governments. The most important factor for change was not to punish prostitutes but rather for identification purposes. In many cases prostitutes use false identification. Many in Vancouver and Toronto are not Canadians and are not in the country legally. It is a serious immigration problem which my bill would address.

The Identification of Criminals Act states that fingerprints and photographs cannot be taken when a person is charged summarily. With fingerprints and photographs police would be able to track down runaways and to clear the backlog of outstanding arrest warrants of prostitutes who have used false identities. It would solve some serious crimes. It would send a most necessary and needed message to the community, to both customers and sellers, that such acts are not to be taken lightly and that they are not in society's interest. We would not likely have some 50 dead street workers in Vancouver if my provision had been in place over the last few years.

The response from the working group on this matter stated that the identification of prostitutes, along with the use of false identities, was considered a serious problem by law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, one which might have been solved with such amendments. The ability to fingerprint and photograph would make it easier to identify and prosecute repeat offenders.

Something most people are not aware of is that many street prostitutes are runaways living under false names and identities. They become involved and perhaps trapped in a dangerous subculture. Parents of these children desperately want to find a way of tracing their children's whereabouts but because of false identities little can be done. They desperately want to find a way to bring their children home.

The research that has been done on street prostitution suggests that decisions to enter into the prostitution trade are decided in the time of youth. In 1984 the Badgely committee on sexual offences against children and youth found that of all the prostitutes interviewed 93% of females and 97% of males had run away from home.

In another report, a 1990 journal of Canada's Mental Health , authors Earls and David found that the average age of female prostitutes leaving home was 13.7 years.

People who support the sex trade say it is really not a big problem and that politicians are blowing it out of proportion. I have three comments from those affected by street prostitution. The first is from a Vancouver resident:

When prostitutes operate openly in a neighbourhood, all women in the area become targets for cruising johns in cars or on foot. Soon every female from 8 to 60, from your daughter to your mother, will have been on the receiving end of some sort of disgusting advance from a stranger while walking to the store or playing in the park.

The second is from a Toronto resident:

My apartment has become a refuge from streets which become enemy territory every night, streets where I am approached by drug traffickers, accosted by cruising johns and insulted by hookers; streets where menacing groups of young people take over the corners to haggle over drug prices and yell out to people in passing cars.

Appearing before a parliamentary committee in 1989 the former mayor of Toronto and current Minister of National Defence stated:

I support these changes to Bill C-49 as well as other recommendations our police are putting forward to help us once again regain control of our streets, namely that this offence be changed from a summary offence to a hybrid offence requiring that those arrested be fingerprinted and photographed, which is important in dealing with runaways who can change their identities and their names, and others who are trying to avoid prosecution, and that it remains, in addition to that, within the absolute jurisdiction of a provincial court judge.

The Minister of National Defence clearly stated that such a small change to the criminal code could make a huge difference in the fight against street prostitution. I hope he will be a man of principle and lean on his cabinet colleagues to help me so that we can all do the right thing.

In 1995 the justice minister introduced an omnibus bill that touched on the criminal code changes to prostitution. Unfortunately section 213 was not changed. Today communication offences are still mere fines or slaps on the wrist. Street prostitutes are not afraid of being caught nor are they deterred in any way to give up this dark and sad way of living. Their controllers are also allowed to continue their exploitation.

I advocate the passage of my bill for several broad reasons. There are symbolic sociological and national policy reasons why we should do this.

In addition, the local communities most affected are aghast at the lack of action to preserve the safety of their neighbourhoods. We can do it for them. We can do it for our children. It is important that we act on behalf of victims, whether those trapped in the lifestyle or those in the community.

Administratively we need to provide more flexible tools for police officers so they may exercise discretion in dealing with local variances and emerging problems. Moreover, we need to narrow the door which permits kids to get involved in prostitution in the first place and provide other legal ways to get them into social services.

In closing, I ask members of the House not to obfuscate and confuse what I am talking about. I ask them not to get off track by talking about the generalities of prostitution in society, violence against women, developing legalized brothels or any of the related topics not appropriate to the narrow proposal I have brought forward to the House.

My bill is a small technical amendment which could help victims and bring safety to our neighbourhoods. I hope it will receive non-partisan support in that light. It is time we had the political courage to act. Our communities which have sent us here expect no less.

Highway InfrastructureOral Question Period

March 19th, 2002 / 2:50 p.m.
See context


Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I challenge the Minister of Transport to tell us whether Bill C-49 contained any reference to the highways I mentioned earlier.

March 31 is 12 days away. Not only did the government make all sorts of election promises with respect to Quebec's highway system, but it promised $2 billion in its budget for infrastructure.

What does it intend to do between now and March 31? Will it use these 12 days to hand over this money in order to keep its promises, which everyone, including the government of Quebec, is waiting for it to do?

Budget Implementation Act, 2001Government Orders

March 18th, 2002 / 6:25 p.m.
See context

The Deputy Speaker

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading stage of Bill C-49.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Budget Implementation Act, 2001Government Orders

March 15th, 2002 / 1:05 p.m.
See context


Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, I have only a few minutes remaining in this debate but there is enough time for me to give you a number of reasons you can share with the government as to why it should step back and reconsider its new air travel tax.

I listened with interest to the previous speeches made by the government members and I think it is far too easy to rely on the events of September 11 to justify this decision. The government says that it was forced after September 11 to hurry up and implement security measures. It is too easy to refer to a tragic event such as this to justify the quasi-insane government policy of levying a new tax in an industry that, even prior to the events of September 11, was already experiencing a downturn.

Years ago it was clear that there was an obvious lack of competitiveness. To demonstrate this, since the mid-1980s until last year the cost of air travel in Canada has increased by approximately 10%. Some might say that over 15 years, this is not so bad. Yet while the cost of air travel in Canada jumped 10%, over the same period in the United States it dropped by 43%.

Already, due to this country's geography, population density and the populations requiring service in remote areas, the airline industry in Canada does not have the levels of profitability and operating costs that would allow it to be extremely profitable.

A tax such as this one would only adds to this situation. The government is saying to the industry “You are having problems being competitive, you are already experiencing problems maintaining service to remote areas, in particular, well, now we are going to saddle you with a new tax”.

Earlier, members were saying that it was not that much, that is was not a heavy tax. Yes, but it is enough to jeopardize the profit margins of a number of airlines, especially small and mid-size air carriers. It is also enough of a tax to put an end to air service in remote areas. It will no longer be profitable. It is also enough to lead to several economic development projects being dropped.

This government slaps on taxes willy-nilly, without even carrying out impact assessment studies. The general director of the Tax Policy Branch, in Ottawa, was candid in admitting to us that there were no studies carried out on the levying of such a tax. These people would do well to visit remote areas.

It is all very fine and well to ask small communities to take charge of their own lives, to develop tourist attractions using what is available to them and what they have but without an air link, which is often the most effective link and the only link in certain areas, their development is threatened.

They can be told to take charge of their lives, to work together, to invest, but, without an air link which is maintained, or which in many cases could be improved upon, in terms of the lack of frequency of flights, these communities are not being given a chance.

It cannot be that all the people who were with the opposition parties yesterday, the people representing all aspects of the airline industry, are wrong.

Yesterday, at the initiative of the Bloc Quebecois, the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, the Canadian Air Line Pilots Association, the Air Transport Association of Canada, and the Association of Canadian Travel Agents, joined forces here in Ottawa. All these people stood behind the opposition parties, and behind the Bloc Quebecois' initiative calling on the government to cancel this new tax in Bill C-49. All were unanimous that this tax made absolutely no sense and that it would not encourage economic development or put the economy back on track.

It is rather outrageous to have a government that is juggling with surpluses, even during an economic slowdown. In a few days, the government will be announcing a net surplus of over $9 billion. While it is already squeezing out of the taxpayers' pockets more money than necessary, it has the nerve to introduce this new tax, which will not bring in $2.2 billion over a five year period, as the government claims, but $1 billion more than that. This tax will bring in more than $3 billion to the government, which is already juggling with surpluses.

As we are launching the debate on tax imbalance, the government is creating additional pressure regarding surpluses, by accumulating hundreds of millions of dollars more annually, under the pretence of improving security. Let us face it: this is outrageous.

What we are asking the federal government—and the coalition made it clear yesterday—is to use its surpluses to invest in security. It has enough money to do so. The Minister of Finance is juggling with surpluses. It is incredible. But the government is adding yet another tax.

In conclusion, the government must come to its senses and give up this idea of imposing a new tax. It is not true that this tax will be reviewed in six months. It may be reviewed in six months, but Canada's tax history tells us that when a new tax is introduced, it is very hard to get rid of afterwards. Once it is in effect, forget it. The personal income tax collected by Ottawa was supposed to be a temporary measure. It was meant to finance the war effort. We have been waiting 60 years to see it abolished. Obviously, once a tax is in place, it cannot be removed.

I am seeking the unanimous consent of the House to immediately withdraw this bill.

Budget Implementation Act, 2001Government Orders

March 15th, 2002 / 12:40 p.m.
See context


Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to speak to the legislation as part of the overall government budget and overall government agenda.

When the Minister of Finance presented his budget to the House it focused on two elements: the economic security of Canadians and the personal security of Canadians. They are the themes of the budget because they reflected the priorities of Canadians. When Canadians were asked to define the two most important issues concerning them, they outlined the questions of economic security and personal security.

I do not want to spend too much time talking about the economic front because today we are dealing mainly with the part of Bill C-49 that concerns the security component of the budget.

The government predicted economic growth in 2001-02 in the vicinity of 1.1% to 1.3%. If we look at the international and North American climates our forecasts are very objective and very well balanced. From all economic indicators we have seen so far we are not doing that bad at all. In fact we are doing a lot better than we forecasted.

It is important to note that after 28 years of deficit year after year and government after government missing their forecasts, this government was able to end the deficit. We were able to post close to $17 billion in surplus in the year 2001-02.

As well we were able to pay in excess of $36 billion on the national debt. We balanced our books. We were able to free in excess of $2.5 billion to $2.6 billion on an annual basis, money which otherwise would have gone to pay interest on the debt.

In addition, the government was able to do a tremendously positive thing with regard to interest rates and inflation. Canada has the lowest interest rate and the lowest inflation rate in close to 40 years.

All this came about without hurting the government's commitment to our social programs. On top of what I have mentioned the government has committed in excess of $100 billion in tax reductions. Canadians can see the benefits of good, sound government policies.

Canadians have told us they are exceptionally concerned about their personal security. That is why one component of the budget dealt with this issue very directly. The government has committed close to $7.7 billion over the next five years toward enhancing security for Canadians. Another $6.5 billion has been dedicated to securities and to the Canadian military. More than $1.2 billion were for initiatives designed to make Canada's borders more secure and efficient.

Let us look at some of the specific things the government has clearly stated. The approach of last year's budget was to ensure that security is paramount for Canadians and to ensure that the government has put more emphasis on increasing intelligence in policing, enhancing screening of arrivals at Canada's airports and border points, and to ensure that our people, both civilians and military, are better prepared for cases of emergencies.

On the intelligence and policing side the government has committed in excess of $1.6 billion over the next five years. Some of that money will go toward equipping and deploying more intelligence officers and frontline investigative personnel. This funding will go to federal departments and agencies including the RCMP and CSIS. The government has also provided resources to improve co-ordination among different law enforcement agencies in different parts of the country including the territories and to ensure that there is more sharing of intelligence between national and local security agencies.

The government is ensuring that we have more resources for marine security through greater funding for coastal surveillance and to strengthen the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada so we can deal with some of the offshore terrorist financing.

On the other front, that of the screening of entrants to Canada, the government has invested close to $1 billion to ensure better and more accurate screening of people who arrive on our shores. We will have more resources for detention and removal of those who arrive illegally, a quicker determination of refugee claimants and a system that is fraud resistant when it comes to people wanting to obtain visas or those who arrive in Canada with fake visas.

The third front is emergency preparedness and support for our military. The government has invested, as I said before, close to $1.6 billion. Some of that money will go to doubling the capacity of joint task force 2 which is doing a marvellous job right now in Afghanistan. Part of that money will go toward military funding, including support for participating in the international war on terrorism.

We have put more emphasis on enhancing the different networks to improve on the types of equipment and infrastructure systems our security agencies use. We have put more emphasis on protecting critical national infrastructure such as highway and airport facilities for water treatment, hydro systems and other infrastructure systems across the country.

One of the things that the government came forward with in budget 2001 was a new approach to air security. That is where Bill C-41 comes into the picture. The government has committed to allocate close to $2.2 billion over the next five years to make air travel more secure and to ensure security for Canadians who travel.

Some of the money will go to new air security measures such as armed undercover police officers on Canadian aircraft. The other day members of the opposition asked questions specifically to find out how many armed personnel would be on aircraft. The minister rightly said he would not tell them because those operations were supposed to be undercover and would continue to be undercover in many situations.

Some of the money will go toward training personnel at airports, screening passengers and carry-on luggage, state of the art explosives detection systems at Canadian airports, enhancing policing in airports, replacing aircraft cockpit doors to make them more secure, and enhancing security zones at the aircraft handling facilities on the tarmac.

These measures will be funded by a new air travel security charge to be paid by air travellers effective April 1, 2002, for travel in Canada. The cost of that is $12. That is what this whole debate seems to be about today. It seems to be focusing on the issue of $12, not on the issue of the importance of having a system that responds to the needs of Canadians.

If Canadians were asked whether or not as travellers they would mind paying the additional $12 for peace of mind that they would arrive at their destination safely, the answer from the vast majority of Canadians would be an unequivocal yes.

The bill would provide key air transport security services that are consistent and wholly integrated across the country. As well, it would provide an enhanced security performance standard in services across the country. Bill C-49 sets out a comprehensive strategy that responds to the needs of Canadians.

Bill C-49 would also see the establishment of an authority. That authority would first be responsible for the effective and efficient screening of people and their belongings that access aircraft or restricted areas through designated screening points at aerodromes and regulations.

One responsibility of the authority would be to ensure a highly visible role to reassure all Canadians of the Government of Canada's commitment to security in the air transportation system. It would also be responsible for screening duties which would be carried out by a stable workforce of people with the right skills and equipment. Another part of its responsibility would be to ensure consistency and the seamless delivery of screening across Canada. It would also be responsible for carrying out other security functions as the Minister of Transport may assign on behalf of Canadians.

I do not really understand the fuss being made by my colleagues. Is it the $12 issue or other issues that are bothersome to them? Having heard what I had to say on this issue, it is my hope we will see unanimity in the House in order to pass this legislation as efficiently as possible so that it can go to the other house and become law. Then Canadians would have the peace of mind they have asked for and we would respond to the priorities they have identified not only over the past few months but over the past year or so.

Let us make no mistake about it. September 11 was a tragic event of great proportion. Through this legislation the government is merely responding to what Canadians have asked it to do. I am pleased to have added my voice to the voices of wisdom of my colleagues on both sides of the House and to support and congratulate the Minister of Transport on this wonderful initiative. It is my hope that it will be passed through the House as quickly as possible and become law.

Budget Implementation Act, 2001Government Orders

March 15th, 2002 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise I suppose on the bill. I am displeased that the bill represents the 75th time that the government has invoked closure or time allocation since it came to power in 1993, abusing that very significant power to limit and shut down debate in this place more than any other government in Canadian history.

This is parliament. Parliament is derived from the French word “parler” which means to speak. It is the place where the representatives of the common people speak to issues that affect the common good.

For the government to, for the 75th time, prohibit members from speaking on behalf of their constituents and to the national interest on matters of grave concern, such as the budget implementation bill, is yet more unfortunate evidence of the government's growing arrogance and contempt for our conventions of parliamentary democracy.

Bill C-49 seeks to implement the provisions announced in the budget of last fall. First, I will direct my comments to that budget, then to the bill and then specifically address the air transportation tax which I raised in question period moments ago.

The government seems to have no limit in its ability to pat itself on the back for its alleged self-proclaimed success in fiscal policy. However, as we see from even yesterday's contentious remarks of the Deputy Prime Minister, Canada's economy and our standard of living has not in fact made progress under the government in the past 18 months, nor indeed in the past nine years. Canada's productivity and standard of living, its tax rates and its public debt have all taken a turn for the worse. Taxes are up and productivity is down; debt is higher and our competitiveness is down; unemployment is twice the rate here as it is in the United Kingdom; labour productivity grows here at half the rate as it does in the United States.

Over the past 15 years we have lost 20% of our standard of living and the average Canadian family now has a standard of living one-third lower than that of an average American family. We are becoming poorer as a nation as a result.

This ultimately is reflected in the devaluation of our currency which has lost 25% of its value since the government took power in 1993, going from nearly 79¢ in 1992 to the current trading level of around 63¢.

What does the government do? Does it take responsibility? Does it provide us with an action plan for reducing taxes and reducing debt to increase incentives for capital infusion and productivity? Does it do those things? No. What it does do is blame the private sector, the very engine of economic growth in this mixed economy. It blames the private sector for not investing enough.

In the words of the Deputy Prime Minister, “It is up to them, it is up to the private sector, it is up to companies to increase Canadian productivity”. He said “They must make the investments”.

There is a reason Canadian companies are not making adequate investments to include productivity in areas of research and development. It is because we have created an entire economic structure that mitigates against those kinds of investments. We have some of the highest corporate income taxes in the developed world. We have the highest marginal income tax rates among the seven largest economies of the world, the highest income tax to GDP ratio in the G-7. We have the second highest level of public indebtedness in the G-7, federal and provincial debt, at about 80% of gross domestic product, and the third highest in the OECD.

All of these things mean that it is harder to raise capital, which ultimately is the fuel that drives a free market economy, in Canada than it is in our major economic competitor, the United States and many other emerging economies, like the United Kingdom, Ireland and New Zealand, countries that used to be far down the list in terms of productivity and standard of living but which have in the past decade leapfrogged Canada.

I do not really think this is a partisan point because some of the senior members of the government opposite have admitted that there is a problem. The Deputy Prime Minister has been quite outspoken about this and even the Minister of Industry, in his recent innovation paper, has admitted there is a problem, but they do not seem to have a grasp on the solution. The clearest evidence of that was the budget, which the bill before us today would implement.

Remarkably, the government framed the budget at a time of economic and security crisis, post-September 11, a time of recession and drag in the economy. Instead of making the difficult decision to get its priorities straight and re-allocate resources from wasteful and low and falling priority areas to the urgently high priority areas of national security, defence and economic growth, the government did not do that. It failed when it came to getting its priorities straight. In fact it increased overall program spending in that budget by 10%, the largest program spending increase we have seen in the federal budget since the disastrous years of the mid-1970s, a government in which the Prime Minister was a senior minister.

We believe the government missed an enormous opportunity in that budget. It provided no plan for debt reduction over the next five years and eliminated the modest $3 billion to $5 billion contingency and prudence reserves it had originally established for debt reduction. It made minimal investments in national security, such that CSIS and the RCMP will not even be back up to their 1993 funding levels in real inflation adjusted terms after taking into account the cuts imposed on them in 1995. The defence department of course is left out in the cold while Canada will continue to have the second lowest defence expenditure as a percentage of national income in NATO, second only to the tiny duchy of Luxembourg.

Every organization, from the Conference of Defence Associations all the way to the NDP and the Auditor General of Canada in between, have called for an immediate injection of at least $2 billion as an increase in the base budget of the Department of National Defence to bring our military up to a minimal level of operational effectiveness. The government failed the test in its budget to provide for that in the new security environment and, unfortunately, missed the ball completely on tax reduction.

The government implemented some modest tax cuts 18 months ago but this year Canadians will be paying higher taxes than they did last year, particularly in payroll taxes because of the massive 12% increase in CPP premiums which far outstrip the measly 5% reduction in employment insurance premiums.

The decade of economic drift will continue because the government failed to get its priorities straight.

I will turn now to some of the specific provisions of Bill C-49 but I will come back later to the air transportation tax and the air transportation authority.

As I have said before, the official opposition supports the provisions of the bill that deal with extending employment insurance benefits to parents of ill children. We commend the government and the finance committee for having adopted our long standing recommendation to change the provision surrounding the gifting of stock shares to registered charities, and we support that.

However, we have very serious concerns about the Canada strategic infrastructure fund, a $2 billion potential pork barrel slush fund. We have seen in the past how the government has misadministered programs of this nature, how it has provided grants for bocce courts, canoe museums and luxury boxes in hockey stadiums that do not represent real, hard, meaningful infrastructure to improve our economy but rather represent pork barrel projects.

The infrastructure fund is a potential boondoggle of pork. We are very concerned. The finance minister had originally proposed a fund that would be arm's length from politicians but the Prime Minister's Office did not like it. It grabbed it back and now the strategic infrastructure fund will be operating under the direct influence of the government in the person of the Deputy Prime Minister. We have learned from the past that we should avoid politicizing funds of this nature.

On the Africa fund, there is very little in terms of scrutiny or accountability. While we support in principle effective foreign aid, we do not support programs that are not properly accountable to parliament, which cannot be scrutinized by the auditor general and which do not fall under the aegis of the Access to Information Act. We are very concerned about some of the enormous waste that has actually fuelled corruption in developing countries in Africa in the past.

I will now turn my attention to the most contentious element of the bill, the $24 return trip tax on air travel. Immediately following September 11, we in the official opposition called for additional airport security measures, in addition to a whole suite of national security policies. We applaud the government for adopting our recommendation for air marshals. Originally it was not going to do that, stating that it was not the Canadian way, but it listened to public opinion, and we appreciate that. We also understand there will be additional air security measures and costs associated to that.

However, the question is, what would be the most efficient way of paying for those costs? This is very serious. It is quite clear to us and anybody who has looked at this, including the Air Transport Association of Canada, the Canadian Air Line Pilots Association, the travel agencies of Canada , the airlines themselves and the regional airport authorities, that this policy was designed on the fly without regard for the impact it will have on the airline industry.

Shockingly, at the finance committee, government officials actually admitted that they had not done an economic impact analysis of the consequences of the $24 tax. Imagine, a massive new tax on a specific industry already ailing, an industry without competition and an industry that has lost six airlines in the past seven years, is being assessed a new $24 tax which, according to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Air Transport Association of Canada, could result in a reduction of air passenger loads by as much as 6%, and the government has not engaged in an economic impact analysis.

This is flagrant irresponsibility. The government does not know how negative the effect will be. It does not know whether or not short haul, low cost airlines, like WestJet, Canada's only profitable airline and its principal hope for long term competition in that industry, will survive this discriminatory prejudicial tax.

The transport committee examined the issue at some considerable length and the government, in its typical arrogance, ignored the advice of those parliamentarians, including Liberal members, when they recommended that additional airport costs be paid for by all stakeholders.

Recommendation 14 of the December 7 report of the Standing Committee on Transport to the House stated:

All stakeholders--including airports, air carriers, airline passengers and/or residents of Canada--contribute to the cost of improved aviation security. In particular, the amounts currently spent by airports and air carriers should be continued, with appropriate adjustments for inflation. A ticket surtax could also be implemented, and any funding shortfalls could be financed out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

The transport committee looked at this and said that the only way the additional security costs could be financed would be through a blended approach with the airport authorities, the airlines, the passengers themselves and the government's general revenues because airline security was not just an issue for the passengers on those flights. As my colleague for Port Moody--Coquitlam--Port Coquitlam pointed out, most of the people who died tragically on September 11 were not aboard aircraft.

We are implementing these additional measures precisely because airplanes can be used as weapons of mass destruction against civil society. We have a collective responsibility to increase security. We should finance it collectively.

Every witness who appeared before the finance committee regarding Bill C-49 opposed vigorously its provision for a $24 air tax. Neil Raynor, director of the Canadian Airports Council, said the council believes the “current fee structure will create disproportionate price increases on short haul and regional flights, unfairly penalizing smaller carriers who provide these services.” Raynor maintained that “acts of terrorism were acts against the state and government bears a major responsibility to fund the essential costs of policing and security.”

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce said:

The one-way cost of the Air Travellers Security Charge of $12, represents almost six per cent of the average price of a one-way domestic ticket sold in Canada in 1999...If a one per cent increase in ticket prices represents a one per cent decrease in passenger travel then the average air traveller security charge of six per cent will have a significant effect in terms of the number of air passengers.

The Canadian Air Line Pilots Association said:

The proposed legislation does little but create an expensive bureaucracy that will be unresponsive to the insights and interests of the people on the front lines of aviation security...it will be particularly crippling to short-haul domestic carriers such as Air Canada Regional and WestJet. We find it ironic, to say the least, that legislation intending to improve security of air travel in Canada could assist its very demise--

The Tourism Industry Association of Canada said:

This tax will hurt an industry still recovering from the September 11 terrorist activities and the economic slowdown...The traveling public does not support this tax. Combine this with the major administrative and logistical difficulties this tax will create for the air industry, travel agents...it is clear that a user-pay system to offset costs for security and policing is inefficient and a terrible precedent.

The Air Transport Association of Canada said:

The implementation of this new tax or charge...is frankly extremely complex. We've spent hundreds of hours trying to figure out how to do this. It's not going to be easy.

Mark Hill, the vice-president of WestJet, said it would be prejudicial to his airline. He said:

Once the tax is implemented, we believe the traffic will evaporate off the short-haul routes. Once the traffic goes, we'll have to back out of some of our short-haul flying, and once that begins, the genie is out of the bottle, and it's very hard to stuff the genie back into the bottle once that happens.

The Canadian Automobile Association said the current fee of $12 on a one way ticket appeared high when compared to the U.S. fee of $5.

Even the Liberal member from Prince Edward Island said he was not in favour of the $24 fee. He said he invited the Department of Finance on two occasions to come forward with a detailed analysis justifying the fee and that on both occasions it failed to do so.

The $24 tax would be prejudicial. It would not be sensitive to price. If one flew from Vancouver to Halifax on a $4,800 business class ticket the $24 fee would amount to a .5% tax. If one flew on a $100 ticket from Edmonton to Calgary on, say, WestJet one would pay a total tax burden of 86% after all airlines taxes were factored in.

I urge my hon. colleagues opposite to listen to the facts, listen to the testimony and hear the concerns expressed by their own members about Bill C-49. It could be the death knell for airline competition in Canada.

I ask the government to reconsider the bill. It should look at the constructive amendments we have brought forward to amortize the costs of new infrastructure. It should bring in a pro rata fee to blend the costs the transport committee has proposed. These are not partisan recommendations.

Before the government implements the tax I hope it will seriously consider the fact that even the junior finance minister was not properly briefed about elements of the bill which would be prejudicial.

Budget Implementation Act, 2001Government Orders

March 15th, 2002 / 10:35 a.m.
See context

Oak Ridges Ontario


Bryon Wilfert LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I think some of the flowers they picked were obviously dead. In any event, it is my pleasure to speak to Bill C-49, the budget implementation bill.

The bill would implement several measures of the 2001 budget. As hon. members will recall, the 2001 budget was introduced after the aftermath of the tragic events of September 11 in the United States.

While the budget builds on the government's long term plan for a stronger economy and a more secure society, it also addresses the immediate economic and security concerns of Canadians as a result of those events.

The government initially responded, and swiftly I might add, to the events of September 11 with legislation that takes aim at terrorism and enhances Canada's ability to identify, prosecute and punish terrorists, and measures to cut off sources of financing for terrorists.

The 2001 budget builds on these initiatives through a comprehensive set of security measures designed to keep Canadians safe, terrorists out and our borders open. It provides $7.7 billion over the next five years to enhance security for Canadians and make Canadian borders more secure, open and efficient.

Included in this amount is $2.2 billion in funding for air security and the creation of the Canadian air transport security authority which will deliver enhanced security services at airports and on board flights according to rigorous new national standards set up by Transport Canada.

Established under Bill C-49, the new authority is to be responsible for the certification of screening personnel and for providing pre-board screening of passengers and baggage, armed police on board aircraft and the acquisition and operation of screening equipment, including that used in searching for explosives.

An air travellers security charge that comes into effect April 1, 2002, will fund these new security expenditures. The charge will be paid by air travellers, the primary beneficiaries of these enhanced security measures, and will be collected by air carriers or their agents when airline tickets are purchased.

For travel in Canada, the charge will apply to flights connecting airports where the air transport security authority will be responsible for passenger screening. The charge on domestic travel will be $12 for a one way trip and $24 for a round trip.

The charge on a ticket to the continental U.S. will also be $12 and $24 for travel outside Canada in the continental U.S.

All proceeds from the charge will be used to fund the enhanced air travel security system and, if revenues exceed costs over time, the charge will be reduced. The government, as the minister has indicated repeatedly in the House, will review the charge in the fall.

This enhanced security system will assure air travellers that Canada's air transportation system remains one of the safest and most secure in the world.

Along with addressing the immediate security concerns of Canadians, the 2001 budget also addresses immediate needs through targeted investments designed to boost the confidence in the economy in a fiscally affordable way.

By investing in strategic infrastructure, skills, learning, research, health, aboriginal children, the environment and international assistance, the 2001 budget reflects the government's long term plan while providing important support now for the economy

One way in which the budget achieves this is through the Canada strategic infrastructure fund which would be implemented through Bill C-49.

The modern economy of the 21st century requires a backbone of sound fiscal infrastructure to sustain the nation's growth and our quality of life.

Previous budgets allocated funding to improve provincial and municipal infrastructure. The 2000 budget, for example, introduced both the infrastructure Canada program and the strategic highway infrastructure program.

The government recognizes the need for additional support for large strategic infrastructure projects which can bring lasting economic and social benefits while providing both stimulus and long term productivity benefits. To address this need and to implement other federal infrastructure initiatives, the government is creating the Canada strategic infrastructure fund with a minimum federal contribution of $2 billion in funding.

Working with provincial and municipal governments and the private sector, the fund will provide assistance for large infrastructure projects in areas like highways and rail, local transportation, tourism, urban development, and water and sewage treatment.

A moment ago I mentioned international assistance as one of the strategic investments in the 2001 budget. Canadians have not lost sight of their obligations to help less fortunate peoples of the world. At the G-8 summit in Genoa last July, African leaders presented their proposal for a new partnership for Africa's development and the G-8 leaders pledged to support this initiative.

Since then the Prime Minister has restated his commitment that the development in Africa will be one of the main themes in the G-8 summit that Canada will host in June in Kananaskis. In recognition of this commitment, the 2001 budget announced $500 million over three years for African development to help implement these objectives.

The new Canada fund for Africa, which would be created through Bill C-49, will establish a government program to provide funding for activities that will help reduce poverty, provide primary education and set Africa on a sustainable path to a brighter future.

The government is committed to providing every opportunity for Canadians to upgrade their skills. Whether through the education system, through on job training or through universities and other centres of advanced research, the government has long recognized the value of investing in people.

That is why we introduced the Canadian opportunities strategy in the 1998 budget. The 2001 budget further encourages the acquisition of skills and learning by Canadians.

For example, Bill C-49 provides tax assistance to help apprentice vehicle mechanics registered in a provincial program cope with extraordinary tool costs. Beginning in 2002, they would be able to deduct for income tax purposes the cost of buying new tools to the extent that these costs in a year exceed the greater of $1,000 and 5% of their apprenticeship income.

Another measure provides tax relief for adult students who receive government assistance for basic education at the primary or secondary school level. Bill C-49 exempts from income tax any tuition assistance for adult basic education provided under certain government programs, including employment insurance.

The bill also helps more students undertake lifelong learning by extending the education tax credit for people who receive taxable assistance for post-secondary education under certain government programs, including EI.

As hon. members know, the quality of life of Canadians is closely tied to preserving and improving our natural environment. The 2001 budget includes new spending and tax measures intended to ensure continued progress toward a cleaner and healthier environment.

One of these measures is included in Bill C-49 and concerns commercial woodlot owners who can currently be subject to income tax when transferring woodlots to their children. As a result, woodlots may have to be harvested prematurely to generate the revenues required to pay the tax on the transfer, which can be detrimental to the sound management of this resource.

Bill C-49 extends the existing intergenerational tax deferred rollover for farm property to intergenerational transfers of woodlot operations that are farming businesses managed in accordance with the prescribed forest management plan.

I should mention too that the budget initiatives with respect to renewable energy and energy efficiency are being implemented through the amendments to the income tax regulations which have already been released in draft form.

The 2001 budget also contained a number of other tax measures, all of which are designed to improve fairness in the tax system. The bill makes permanent the 1997 budget measure that provides special tax assistance for donations of certain securities to public charities, and the 2000 budget measure that reduces the tax on employment benefits for donations of eligible securities acquired through stock option plans.

Another measure improves the system for providing GST credits. Beginning in July 2002, GST credit entitlements for a quarter will be based on the individual's family circumstances at the end of the preceding quarter not at the end of the previous calendar year.

To provide a cash flow benefit for small businesses the federal corporate tax installment payments for January, February and March, 2002 would be deferred for at least six months without penalty. To make it easier for foreign investors to use limited partnerships in structuring venture capital investments, Bill C-49 would ensure their non-resident partners were not considered to be carrying on business in Canada solely because investment management or administrative services were provided by Canadian residents. The final tax measure would allow full deductibility for the cost of meals provided to employees at construction work camps where the employees could be expected to return home each day.

A remaining measure relates to improved parental benefits under the Employment Insurance program. The current 50 week cap on the combined amount of sickness, maternity and parental benefits an individual can receive under EI means women who become ill may not have full access to extended benefits. To enable a mother to receive her full entitlement to special benefits, effective March 3, 2002 the cap would increase by one week for each week of sickness benefits she took while pregnant or while receiving parental benefits. A second EI measure would improve on the parental benefits that could be claimed following the birth or adoption of a child. It would provide parents a window of up to two years within which they could claim.

I have given members a brief overview of some of the key measures of Bill C-49. I remind the House that the events of September 11 have not changed the government's fiscal resolve.

As I mentioned at the beginning of my remarks, the 2001 budget builds on the government's long term plan for a stronger economy and more secure society. It also responds to the short term concerns of Canadians. We will continue to invest in people, cut taxes, reduce debt and build a stronger economy. Above all, we will continue to pursue our long term plan to invest in the future without going back into deficit.

I will conclude by paraphrasing the Minister of Finance who said the 2001 budget was about dealing with the present so we could seize the future. The measures of Bill C-49 would help us achieve that. I urge hon. members to pass Bill C-49.

Budget Implementation Act, 2001Government Orders

March 15th, 2002 / 10:20 a.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, probably my colleague and I share the concern about the effectiveness of the committee on Bill C-49. I would like to have the member state his position on this issue.

The committee at some expense had a number of witnesses come before it, both in the prebudget consultations and also on Bill C-49 specifically.

During the prebudget consultations there were numerous witnesses who said that the donations to private charities should receive the same tax treatment as those to public charities. The witnesses were unanimous in their statements on that. The committee recommended it to the finance minister, but it is nowhere to be seen in the budget implementation act.

During the discussion on Bill C-49 witnesses unanimously said that the structure of the security tax would be devastating to the small carriers. Again, the committee in this case chose to ignore it with highhandedness from the Prime Minister's Office. Other coercive tactics were used as well.

I would like the hon. member to comment on that. I hope he is as angry about that as I am.

Business of the HouseThe Royal Assent

March 14th, 2002 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

Wascana Saskatchewan


Ralph Goodale LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, we will conclude the third reading stage of Bill C-49, the Budget Implementation Act, 2001.

Monday and Tuesday shall be allotted days.

Next Wednesday we will consider report stage of Bill C-15, certain amendments to the criminal code. On Thursday, March 21, I expect to return to report stage of Bill C-5, the species at risk legislation or perhaps other unfinished business. On Friday, March 23, we will again consider Bill C-50 respecting the WTO followed by Bill C-47, the excise tax amendments.

With respect to the specific legislation that the House leader for the official opposition has referred to I will pursue that matter with the solicitor general to determine what plans he may have.