Or Bill C-35.
An Act to amend the National Defence Act (remuneration of military judges)
This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in November 2003.
This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in November 2003.
John McCallum Liberal
Not active, as of Sept. 18, 2003
(This bill did not become law.)
Criminal CodeGovernment Orders
September 15th, 2003 / 6:15 p.m.
Joe Peschisolido LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
Mr. Speaker, let me begin by saying that Bill C-45 should be supported as it will make a great contribution to promoting safety in the workplace. As was stated earlier on, the hearings of the standing committee had their origins ultimately in the Westray tragedy, and I believe all members wish to do what they can as legislators at the federal level to eliminate as much as we possibly can, deaths and injuries on the job.
The Criminal Code is not the primary way of promoting safety. Strong laws governing the workplace, like those which this government introduced into the Canada Labour Code, vigorous inspection of farm factories, mines and other high risk work sites and training workers and supervisors in the best safety practices are the first line of defence. However the Criminal Code does represent the judgment of Parliament as to what conduct is so harmful that it must be treated with the utmost severity.
Within the code there are distinctions in the severity of the sentence possible, ranging from the most minor offences punishable only on summary conviction to the most serious punishable by life imprisonment. Causing death by criminal negligence is among those offences that are punishable by life and causing bodily harm is punishable by 10 years of imprisonment. Despite the fact that these provisions have been in the code for many years, prosecutions of corporations for death and injury in the workplace have been rare. These changes in Bill C-45 should lead to more accountability for the most serious cases of endangering workers.
Members of the House may be interested to know that outside experts in the field have come to the same conclusion. Cheryl A. Edwards, a lawyer in private practice in Toronto, wrote an article in the August 22 edition of the Lawyers Weekly . The opening paragraph of the article states:
On June 12, 2003, the prospect of both regulatory and Criminal Code prosecutions emanating from a serious workplace accident became much more real. The federal government introduced anticipated amendments to the Criminal Code in Bill C-45, which, if passed, will create positive occupational health and safety-related duties for corporations, individuals, and other parties defined as “organizations”. Bill C-45 will make it easier to convict those parties of criminal negligence for workplace safety violations.
Let us then deal with Bill C-45 as others have, but I would like to also elaborate on this point. What are the elements of Bill C-45 that will enhance the effectiveness of the Criminal Code in holding corporations accountable for safety?
First, there will be the positive duty imposed on those who undertake or have the authority to direct how another person does work to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to any person arising from that work. Application of existing criminal negligence provisions would mean that those parties that fail in this duty and show wanton and reckless disregard for safety in doing so could be found criminally negligent.
Similar duties already exist in statutes and regulations governing the conduct of various businesses and even in the common law. Placing the duty, however, in the Criminal Code is an important signal that Parliament intends that everyone take their responsibility for worker safety very seriously.
The criminal negligence sections of the code already impose a legal duty on parents and spouses to provide the necessities of life and on anyone who undertakes to administer surgical or medical treatment to another to use reasonable knowledge, skill and care. It is right that the duty to protect workers and the public from foreseeable harm be placed in the Criminal Code and so treated in the same way as these other duties.
The mere fact that the legal duty is in the code may also serve to simplify some prosecutions. It can also serve as a wake-up call to those who direct work. Reckless disregard of the duty of care can lead to imprisonment for a very long time.
With respect to corporations that are charged with criminal negligence, the rules for attribution of liability set out in the proposed new section 22.2 of the Criminal Code will make it somewhat easier to establish liability of the corporation than is the case under existing common law rules.
Those rules establish a two step procedure. First, the crown would have to show that the actions of a single corporate representative or group of representatives demonstrated a lack of care that constituted a breach of the new legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm. Then the crown would have to show that a senior officer either acted or failed to act in a way which was in a marked departure from that which could be expected of a senior officer in the circumstances.
Both representative and senior officer are defined. Corporations will be liable for the physical acts and the omissions of the director, partner, employee, member, agent or contractor of the corporation. An important innovation of the proposed reform is that the courts will not have to seek a single person who both committed the negligent act or omission and was a directing mind of the corporation. Bill C-45 provides that conduct by two or more representatives can be added together to constitute the negligent conduct.
For instance, if we consider a death or injury in a mine, there may have been a series of errors by employees and supervisors that all contributed to the accident. If a single employee turned off three separate safety systems and miners were killed as a result of an accident that the safety systems would have prevented, the employee would probably be prosecuted for causing death by criminal negligence but the mine operator might not depending on the particular facts. Did the employee act in defiance of direct orders or did the employee act in accordance with company policy and practices?
On the other hand, if three employees each turned off one of the safety systems, none of the employees would likely be subject to criminal prosecution because each one thought there would still be two systems in place to protect the workers. Under existing rules for attributing liability, the mine operator could very well also escape prosecution because no single person was negligent. However under the proposed rules, the fact that the individual employees might escape prosecution would not be a bar to the prosecution of the corporation. After all, the corporation through its three employees turned off the three systems.
Not only is proving the act of negligence going to be easier under the reforms but finding the wanton and reckless disregard for safety that is necessary for a conviction of the corporation is also going to be easier. The fault of the corporation is found through the actions and omissions of a senior officer, which is defined to include persons who play an important role in establishing the organization's policies, and persons responsible for important aspects of an organization's activities, and in the case of a corporation includes directors, the CEO and CFO.
The existing test developed by the courts is, as people have alluded to, quite restrictive. In the leading case, the Supreme Court referred to the person having so much authority in the corporation that the person could be considered the directing mind, alter ego or soul of the corporation. While the Supreme Court recognized that a corporation could delegate enough authority to managers that the corporation would have more than one directing mind, it is clear that the court is looking for persons on the very highest rungs of the corporate ladder.
Again, in the words of Ms. Edwards in the Lawyers Weekly :
The proposals do not eliminate the “directing mind” doctrine, as it would still be necessary to prove culpability of a senior official. However, the doctrine would be altered to eliminate the requirement to show [their] direct involvement, and it would be altered to allow the actions of lesser corporate representatives to make the organization party to the offence of criminal negligence.
This clearly signals an expectation that senior management take a proactive role in health and safety matters. The conduct of senior management could very well come under unprecedented scrutiny from investigators.
It is not only Ms. Edwards who expects Bill C-45 to have a major impact. In an article in Worksite News, Norman Keith, another lawyer from Toronto specializing in occupational health and safety issues wrote:
Bill C-45 extends legal duties to a new level that will likely include foremen, lead hands, and even co-workers. The requirement “to prevent bodily harm to that person, or any other person, arising from that work or task” goes farther than any current OHS legislation in Canada. Nova Scotia requires employers to be responsible for members of the public at or near the workplace, however, Bill C-45 casts the net farther to include all persons that may be affected by the work or task.
It is certainly my hope and expectation that Ms. Edwards' prediction of “unprecedented scrutiny” and Mr. Keith's prediction of “a higher level of accountability” will come true.
In passing Bill C-35, Parliament will be responding positively to the Westray tragedy. The new rules and the positive duty combined should ensure that the Criminal Code serves to attribute liability in a way that is fair to workers and their employers when there has been death or injury at work.
National Defence ActGovernment Orders
June 13th, 2003 / 10:50 a.m.
Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. We are very close to 11 o'clock and I know that on Bill C-35, one member was to have spoken and the bill did carry. I want to take the opportunity to thank members for doing that.
Perhaps if some members are ready, and I know many members wanted to make statements under Standing Order 31, the House could consider moving to statements by members for those members who are already in the Chamber and ready with their statements.
I know that at this time of year members want to make statements before they go home for the summer. Perhaps Mr. Speaker, you may want to check that out.
Business of the HouseOral Question Period
June 12th, 2003 / 3 p.m.
Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, I usually answer about the legislative program in the House and that is what I will do now.
This afternoon we will continue with the business of supply, with votes scheduled for 8 p.m., pursuant to the arrangement made earlier.
The business that the government will put forward before the House tomorrow, pursuant to another agreement which I will be submitting to the House a little later this afternoon, will be Bill C-42, the Antarctic agreement, Bill C-44, respecting compensation for certain military personnel, and then Bill C-35, the military judges bill. If there is any time left, we will then consider Bill C-34.
The program for next week would be Bill C-7, first nations governance, Bill C-17, public safety, and Bill C-13 respecting reproductive technologies, as well as other legislation which has returned from committee, for instance, legislation such as the sex offender registry and bills like that.
Business of the HouseOral Question Period
June 5th, 2003 / 3 p.m.
Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, that is a very powerful question. Yes, I have checked my agenda as to what work remains to be done. We all know that there is lots of work to do.
That is why, this afternoon, the House will return to its consideration of Bill C-15, the lobbyist legislation, followed by Bill S-13, respecting census records. We will then return to Bill C-17, the public safety bill.
I am sorry that this morning we were unable to complete our consideration of Bill C-7. Tomorrow, we will begin considering the Senate's amendments to Bill C-10B, the cruelty to animals legislation, and Bill C-35, the military judges bill. If we have any time remaining, I still hope we can finish with Bill C-7, of course.
Next week, starting on Monday, the House will consider Bill C-24, the elections finance bill, at the report stage, and any items from this week that have not been completed.
I wish to confirm to the House that Thursday, June 12 shall be an allotted day.
Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings
June 4th, 2003 / 3:40 p.m.
David Pratt Liberal Nepean—Carleton, ON
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs.
In accordance with its order of reference of Monday, May 5, 2003, your committee has considered and held hearings on Bill C-35, an act to amend the National Defence Act (Remuneration of Military Judges) and agreed on Monday, June 2, 2003, to report it without amendment.
Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders
May 9th, 2003 / 12:45 p.m.
Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC
Madam Speaker, unlike some previous speakers, it is with a lot a frustration that I rise on Bill C-17.
This is the third time that the government has introduced a public safety bill. We first had Bill C-42, which contained a whole series of safety measures that were clearly excessive in terms of rights and freedoms. Then, marginal corrections were made with Bill C-55. And now, the government has introduced Bill C-17, which is essentially identical to Bill C-42 and Bill C-55.
Clearly, the government did not learn from its mistakes. As with Bill C-35—which was passed—as with the airport security tax, the government has adopted or is proposing a whole series of measures, in the aftermath of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, which ultimately do not seem to be of any use in the fight against terrorism. I remind the House that Bill C-35, which was passed despite the Bloc Quebecois' opposition, contains all kinds of threats and injuries to rights and freedoms and has not been of any use whatsoever in the fight against terrorism in Canada since it was passed.
I would now like to talk about the air security charge; the government has been unable to demonstrate that this tax contributes in any way to paying for the equipment and technologies necessary to ensure airport security. While the airline industry, both in Canada and in the United States, is going through a catastrophic crisis, an additional tax does not help matters. There was so much government improvisation on this issue that, in the last budget in February, the Finance Minister had to reduce the tax significantly; yet, he kept it, which akes no sense whatsoever.
As I said, the government has been unable to demonstrate that this tax was needed.
On several occasions I have wanted to make this point in the House. Bill C-17 now gives me that opportunity. We have been led to believe, in Canada and in the United States, that a person taking a taxi, a bus or a train is considered as a customer, but the Canadian and U.S. governments consider airport or airline customers as potential criminals or terrorists. No wonder people are staying away from the airlines and airports: they are being treated as potential terrorists and criminals.
Bill C-17 is very much a part of all this. I think this act is of no use whatsoever in the fight against terrorism. Members will recall that this was the purpose. The government should have realized, since the tragic events of September 11, that it should have found another way to fight terrorism. As months passed by, one would have expected the government to understand that such measures dare of no use in the fight against terrorism, and it should have dropped the idea after Bill C-55 died on the Order Paper. Yet, the government introduced a new bill, Bill C-17, which, except for one element as I said, goes along the exact same lines as Bills C-42 and C-55.
This was raised by the hon. member for Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, and I think that it must be stressed. Bill C-17 dropped the excessive idea of controlled access military zones, or military security zones as they were called in Bill C-42. In large part, this is a Bloc Quebecois victory. We will recall that these zones could be of unlimited size, without any control being exercised, that the RCMP could declare them without providing any justification, without having to check with or be accountable to anyone, and that this could be done without the consent of the affected provinces.
Think, for example, of the Quebec City summit. The federal government could have unilaterally decided to declare a controlled access military zone for the whole of Quebec City, the national capital of Quebeckers. The purpose would have been to prevent the potential arrival of terrorists, and particularly to prevent citizens concerned with the current negotiations on the free trade zone of the Americas from coming to express their concern to the leaders and heads of state of the 34 countries that are parties to these negotiations.
As I said, this idea of this kind of controlled access military zone was dropped. Still, the new proposal to establish zones through orders is cause for concern to us. Nowhere does it say that the consent of the affected provinces will be required for these military security zones to be created.
The Bloc Quebecois would have liked for all of this to just disappear, but we will remain extremely vigilant, even though, as I said earlier, the fact that the initial idea of controlled access military zones was dropped must be regarded as a Bloc Quebecois victory.
There were two other elements that worried us and that still worry us: everything related to the interim orders as well as everything related to sharing information on airline passengers, who are now viewed by the Canadian government as potential terrorists, as I was saying earlier, regardless of whom they may be. These are concerns that also have to do with the protection of privacy.
I would like to say more about both of these matters, the interim orders and the exchange of information, particularly between the RCMP and CSIS. I know what I am talking about with regard to CSIS because when I was the president of the Conseil central de Montréal of the CSN, we realized that we had been infiltrated by CSIS. This occurred even though everyone knows that the CSN and all unions in Quebec are institutions that are not only recognized, but extremely democratic and transparent. So, I may have more apprehensions than others when it comes to giving special powers to the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
With regard to interim orders, the new bill stipulates—or it will if, unfortunately, it is passed—that, “The Minister may make an interimorder that contains any provision that may becontained in a regulation made under this Actif the Minister believes that immediate actionis required to deal with a significant risk,direct or indirect, to health, safety or theenvironment”.
In subsection 4, we read the following, “An interim order is exempt from the application of sections 3, 5 and 11 of the Statutory Instruments Act and published in the Canada Gazette within twenty-three days after it is made.
So, under the new section 30.1 and subsection 4, proposed interim orders will not be required to comply with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights. It is quite significant and worrisome that a minister could decide to issue an interim order without first having to ensure it complies with instruments that are supposed to protect the rights and freedoms of Canadians and Quebeckers.
These provisions are extremely dangerous. Unfortunately, I have just one minute left, and I have addressed only the matter of interim orders. We believe that these interim orders must be required to pass the test of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In conclusion, I want to say that the privacy commissioner is extremely concerned by the possibility that the RCMP and CSIS could exchange information on airline passengers, and we believe that the legislation should be much more restrictive than this.
For all these reasons, I am not only somewhat frustrated, but I will be voting against Bill C-17.
National Defence ActGovernment Orders
May 5th, 2003 / 4:30 p.m.
Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC
But there is no political will, as my colleague mentions. Despite umpteen numbers of studies, specific solutions are required for our fine men and women who work very hard to do a job but we do not see the political response.
It is really at the level of the Prime Minister's Office where we are not seeing that response. What a tragedy for our country when the Prime Minister's Office does not see that its lack of support for our military is eroding our ability to negotiate from a foreign policy standpoint. We suffer economically, not only in our north-south relations but also our east-west relations. This is not a fait accompli.
The other issue I want to talk about, and the government could have done this through Bill C-35, deals with a very important issue of quality of life of our men and women in uniform and their families. On one hand, the government gives our soldiers a wage. However it does not announce as colourfully to the public that it takes that money away with more in cuts to their PLD, which is their cost of living allowance, and it also raises their private married quarters rents. That, coupled with other cuts, makes our men and women in uniform worse off today than they were last year in terms of economics.
What kind of government sends troops abroad to fight for our country, to lay their lives on the line and then, while they set off abroad in their ships or planes, it guts the economic ability of soldiers to provide for themselves and their families at home? I have received many letters from families living in my constituency who wonder why the government is sending their husbands, fathers, wives and mothers abroad while it is taking money away from them. What kind of disingenuous government would on one hand give money to our soldiers, then take money away with both hands, leaving them all the poorer for it? The public does not understand that. What is more, what does that do to the morale of our armed forces? That cannot continue.
Many of us have said that the government must stop cutting the economics of our men and women in uniform. We should give more to them than they give to us. Our soldiers have given more to us over the years than we have given to them. It is not only a matter of economics; it is a matter of plain respect. We cannot disrespect our soldiers in this way.
Some have wondered why we do not become merely a peacekeeping nation. At the end of the day our military is there, at its most sharpest edge, to wage war. Our military must have the capability of waging war. Everything else falls from that. Peacekeeping and peacemaking is war by another name. We have to give our troops the capabilities to do that.
I ask the government, where do we go from here? First, right now our troop strength is about 56,000. Two decades ago it was 125,000. We were able to put people in the theatre. We need to increase our manpower to at least 80,000 to 85,000.
Second, we need the heavy lift capabilities to move our troops into the theatre. Without that we will see in the future what we have seen in the past, where we have to wait in line for our allies to give us the transportation mechanisms to get our troops in the field. What kind of nonsense is that?
Third, we have some critical issues. Everyone knows about the helicopters, but we also have problems with our CF-18s and indeed some of our ships, along with many of the basic tools and equipment for our army which are completely burnt out not only in combat materials but also in terms of personnel.
Those and a whole list of solutions that have been put forth by learned people in the military must be adhered to for the sake of our military and allies, and our place in the world. Some would argue that we should not have a military that kills people. At the end of the day we must always have that capability because that is what an army is all about.
The other thing we need to do is to consider having a nimble and lethal armed forces that can rapidly move around, like a rapid reaction force. That is what will be required in the future. Most wars now are not wars between countries. They are intra-country wars. They are not inter-country wars that took place early in the last century, like World War I and World War II.
Today we are seeing that most of the conflicts are within a nation state, whether it is Afghanistan, or indeed what we saw in Iraq, Somalia, et cetera. We must have the capabilities that will enable us to put our troops into that theatre to engage and integrate with our allies.
One of the other deficits we have is our ability to communicate with our allies. We are losing that capability rapidly and in fact we are behind the eight ball. Unless we meet those commitments to engage and communicate with our allies then we will not be part of the team. We will not be able to function in the multilateral objectives that we will have in the future.
Our other objective is to be relevant sitting next to the world's hegemony. There are things that the Americans do well military, but there are things that we do well military that they cannot do. Our objective will not only be to meet our domestic requirements, but to determine some niche areas where we can play an important role in having a multipurpose combat capable force which would engage and play roles with our allies in dealing with the many threats that we will see.
The terrorist threat that we have today will not be dealt with at the end of a gun. Part of it has to be that way but by and large terrorist threats that we see today would only be dealt with ultimately through issues that deal with the political and economic emancipation of countries that are ruled by despots and individuals that milk their countries dry at the expense of the people.
We have seen that happen in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria and North Korea. Despots rule these countries and the resources of those countries go into the hands of the people at the top at the expense of the people at the bottom. That creates a toxic syndrome where the people see no hope and are subject to the prey of manipulative individuals who will use religion, for example, as a tool to manipulate the group to do their bidding.
That is how al-Qaeda works. It preys on the disaffected, dispossessed, and hopeless in an effort to sway them to do its violent bidding. It uses that to encourage people to be suicide bombers, to create instability, and to wage war against the west.
However, the war between al-Qaeda and western targets is not primarily a war against the west. It is a war against moderate Islam. Al-Qaeda's objective is not to fight the United States. Al-Qaeda's objective is to remove moderate influences in countries which are primarily Islamic and to move those moderates out of the way, get rid of western influence in those countries, and turn those countries into fundamentalist Islamic states. Osama bin Laden wants to turn Saudi Arabia into a fundamentalist state.
The danger that we are seeing now is that Iraq could swing that way unless there is the active engagement of a multilateral approach to ensure that democracy and the people of Iraq have the choice to decide who their leaders will be. Those choices will not come from outside. The United States and the west will not decide who will lead the people of Iraq. The people of Iraq will choose who will lead them.
Only by doing that and ensuring that the new leadership in Iraq will share the resources of that country with the people of Iraq will we see the political emancipation of the people of Iraq, and that in and of itself will act as a bulwark against fundamentalism.
The biggest challenge right now in the Middle East, though, is not Iraq at all. It is Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is ruled by a kingdom that was created as a result of political machinations that occurred between the origins of the Wahabi sect and the House of Al-Saud. Those two groups came together and developed a blood pact. That pact created a very unstable situation in a country that actually could be very rich. The creation of that pact has ultimately led to a group of 5,000 or so princelings and their hangers-on who are milking the country of the oil resources that it has. Where has the wealth gone? It has gone into the pockets of those 5,000 and their hangers-on. Have the people seen the results of that wealth? No, they have not.
What we see is the creation and the turmoil that is bubbling over from within. The lack of political and economic power by the people of Saudi Arabia will boil over into a cataclysmic event that will see the removal of the house of Al-Saud. What we will see is the potential introduction of a very fundamentalist leadership that could well pose a threat to the west.
Egypt is also another country that is boiling underneath the surface. We do not normally see that because we assume that wonderful Egypt, with its pyramids, is an island of stability in a very unstable area. The reality is not so pretty. Underneath that surface are a large number of people who are disaffected and without hope. Educated people who had hope but who are now without hope. What that creates in Egypt is a people who are ripe for the predations of groups like al-Qaeda that will stimulate them to engage in unstable actions that will affect us.
We have a role that the United States perhaps does not. We can work with other countries and deal with them politically and economically. The political and economic emancipation of countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt are critical to our own security as a country. As I said before, the threat of terrorism will not go away purely by the use of force. That threat will go underground and it will manifest itself in various ways, not the least of which is what we saw in 9/11.
We have seen something else that is very dangerous. I hope our government will deal with it because it is something that we fear. We fear weapons of mass destruction. But where is the greatest threat of weapons of mass destruction right now that has not been dealt with? Is it in North Korea? Iraq was a potential problem. Syria is a problem because it has weapons of mass destruction. But the biggest threat is actually in the loss of control of fissile materials in the former Soviet Union. That country had some 30,000 nukes. We know from the former Russian general Alexander Lebed that there were small suitcase nukes made. No one knows where they are. We know that there is an uncontrolled axis of evil that has been created due to the fissile materials. The ruthless Russian mafia and terrorist organizations want to get that fissile material.
Some believe that al-Qaeda already has them. The Russian mafia wants to get those fissile materials and sell them for huge profits. To their credit, the Russian police have blocked some of these efforts. More must be done. We must work with the United States, the Russian authorities, and with countries in the former USSR, including the CIS states, to deal with this problem and to actively hunt down, engage, and destroy the Russian mafia that is poisoning not only the former USSR but also countries in eastern European, including Bosnia where the Russian mafia is integrating itself and causing a huge problem.
I hope the government will listen to the constructive solutions that have come from members from all political parties and, for the sake of our military and country, employ them now.
National Defence ActGovernment Orders
May 5th, 2003 / 4:25 p.m.
Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to this important issue, particularly because the west coast Pacific command is situated in my riding of Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca.
Over the last 30-odd years we have seen a continual lack of support for our military. Bill C-35 bespeaks to a reform process that has to take place. The fact that the government put forth a bill to amend the National Defence Act, remuneration of military judges, which deals with that and another couple of minor issues, demonstrates the complete lack of support the government has for our military.
Why would the government spend its resources and its time and the public sector's time bringing a bill like this forward when we have massive problems in our military? We do not have the troops to do the job. The military does not have the equipment nor the support. We have a disconnected foreign policy and a defence policy. Having a congruent defence and foreign policy, having enough troops to do the job both domestically and internationally and giving them the support and tools to do the job are issues that the House should be debating. The fact that the government put forth this bill bespeaks to its complete neglect of our military over the 10 years it has been in power.
This is important on a broad range of issues because our ability to engage internationally, to fight for what we need as Canadians and to be the best that we can be economically is intimately entwined with our ability to engage with our partners in this globalized era. Our ability to engage with NATO and the United States and to do what we are supposed to do under the United Nations are all exceedingly important for the health, welfare and economic stability of Canada.
Time after time and time and after umpteen studies we have heard that Canada has been living off the coattails of our partners, be it the U.S. or our other partners in NATO. The Canadian public does not necessarily know this because our government has given it the flawed methodology that we are a great peacekeeping country and that we are contributing to our international commitments.
The reality is we are 19th in the world in peacekeeping if we look at the 22 most developed countries. We used to be number one. Back in the era of Prime Minister Pearson, our troops could be put in the theatre. They could be moved in short order to where they were required by the teams of which we were a part. We can no longer do that. We saw that in Afghanistan. We cannot even maintain 800 troops in the theatre for a period of six months. That is below our requirements.
The government has admitted that not only can we not meet our international requirements, but more sadly, we cannot meet our domestic requirements. If we had a domestic catastrophe, if we had a large terrorist attack, if we had an act of God as we have had in the past with floods and the ice storm, could we engage enough troops to meet those domestic problems? The answer is a tragic no.
Professor Andrew Cohen of the School of Journalism at Carleton University has just written a very eloquent book on what has happened to our relationship with the U.S. and the international community. He puts at the heart of this one major issue. He says that our underfunding and lack of response to our military needs has greatly undermined our ability to be a player at the international table. Our government continues to tell Canadians that we are a great middle power, that we have strong moral authority. At one time that was true, but since 1969 we have seen a gradual and inexorable decline in our ability to influence and a decline in our ability to advocate for Canada at the international table.
About two or three years ago, the head of NATO admonished Canada in Toronto for a lack of response. He said at that time that as Canadians we had to support our military here at home and play our role internationally. If we would not pay the piper, then we would be sitting around at the table as a second rate country and we would have to pick up the pieces after all was said and done.
Indeed, the Deputy Prime Minister acknowledged that in previous speeches. He himself has acknowledged the need, as has our current defence minister. Why the lack of response? Documents have been put together by the Canadian Alliance. My colleague has put together a superb document on the deficits and needs in our defence forces, an eloquent specific plan of action, a call to arms, on exactly how we can fix the problems in our defence forces.
National Defence ActGovernment Orders
May 5th, 2003 / 4:15 p.m.
Rex Barnes Progressive Conservative Gander—Grand Falls, NL
Mr. Speaker, it is indeed an honour and a privilege to rise today on an issue of such importance to the men and women of our armed forces.
The legislation we debate here today has as its pith and substance the modernization of military justice. It is an attempt to better harmonize the rules of legal procedure that guide the administration of justice for the Canadian armed forces with the laws of Canada in their civilian application.
Perhaps the House will permit me this opportunity to pay tribute to the men and women of the office of the Judge Advocate General, the guardians of justice in uniform. The JAG officers are a vital component of our armed forces and an important part of our military community. They are soldiers on the front lines of the law and in a field of practice that is often as hazardous as any endured by the infantry, the artillery and the armoured corps.
The men and women of the JAG office frequently are deployed to the most dangerous places on the globe, tasked with the mission of ensuring that justice is done. Bill C-35, hopefully, would help the JAG and military judges in all their important work.
The legislation has two distinct components, both of equal importance. On the one hand, the legislation seeks to better regulate the rate of pay for military judges. On the other hand, it clarifies the procedural and evidentiary rules regarding the taking of bodily samples. While these might seem to be areas of limited administrative importance, they are in fact issues of great constitutional importance.
Speaking to the first area of the legislation, that of regulating the rate of pay for military judges, the Supreme Court of Canada has indicated repeatedly that the remuneration of judges is a key component in preserving judicial independence.
The guiding principles of our Constitution require that we establish impartial courts for the proper administration of justice. This historic requirement has been given new life under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Indeed, it is section 11(d) of the charter that guarantees that any person charged with any offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to the law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal.
In light of this important constitutional principle, the courts have indicated repeatedly that to be truly independent of the executive and legislative branches of government, the judiciary should not appear to be dependent on them for proper pay and remuneration. To be certain, there must not even be the appearance that their decisions could be affected by changes to their rate of pay.
Given this explicit and important link between the remuneration of judges and the constitutional right to an independent judiciary, we in the House have a very serious and clear obligation to monitor any legislation that would seek to affect the rate of pay of judges. Given that this protection has been extended to all citizens, let it be especially so for the most courageous citizens in our country, the men and women of the Canadian armed forces.
That Bill C-35 seeks to ensure that changes to the Treasury Board guidelines have retroactive effect is therefore an important amendment. That the pay of judges, in this case military judges, is a matter of a formula and not the product of negotiations between branches of government is of clear and undeniable importance.
The bulk of the legislation, however, relates to an area of equal importance, and that is the proper legal authority for a peace officer to take samples of bodily substances
I know that I do not need to convince my colleagues here today of the importance of forensic science in the administration of justice in the 21st century. The vast potential of science has been an invaluable partner in the area of criminal investigation for more than a century but it is the constant advancements in the area of DNA analysis that has been the biggest boon to criminal investigation since the discovery of the fingerprint.
As in all areas, the evolution of science must walk side by side with the continued stability of our rights and freedoms. Given the tremendous weight given to DNA evidence in criminal procedures, it is vital that there is administrative fairness in both its collection and analysis.
Both sections 7 and 8 of the charter offer protections relevant to this discussion.
Clause 7 protects life, liberty and the security of the person. It ensures that any intrusion into the right of the person with respect to their body, a fact that includes bodily samples, is minimal and only in accordance with a proper legal authority.
Clause 8 protects against unreasonable search and seizure requiring that only a properly executed and lawful warrant can compel an accused to submit to a search or have his or her property seized.
Bill C-35 seeks to give greater clarity to the issue surrounding the taking of body samples. I believe that given the greater constitutional importance attached to it, we have an increased burden to put the bill under a legislative microscope. I have great confidence that the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs will do so clause by clause, analyzing all the legislation.
I have spoken at length this afternoon about the important considerations that have been outlined by the courts of the country with respect to the proper application of the Charter. I know I do so at a time when some in our country, indeed many in the chamber, are concerned about the role of the judiciary in the development of the law. The debate is one of great importance and significance to all of Canada.
I believe that both sides and all parties in the House will agree that we have a special duty as lawmakers to ensure that the legislation we pass is not only lawful but also good law. We have here an important obligation to not only improve laws but to improve lives.
When we debate an amendment to existing legislation, we have a duty to ensure that we consider whether the lives of those affected will be improved as a result of our action. To that end, I hope we would all agree that our duty extends to ensure that we consider the potential legal ramifications of our actions in relation to decisions we have seen passed by the courts of this country.
I am the first to recognize that the administration of military justice is different than that of the administration of civilian justice. Those differences speak to the unparalleled importance of our military and its function in the world. They are a reflection of the commitment of our men and women in uniform who have made Canada.
If it can be said that they have a sworn duty to protect us, surely then we must say to them that we have a sworn duty to protect them.
Although the bill in the consideration of the House speaks to military justice, not military funding, it would be remiss of me today in my duties if I did not mention and declare a continuing need for better funding of our military.
Between the 1993-94 fiscal year and the 1998-99 fiscal year our military budget fell 22%, from $12 billion to $9.4 billion. In the same period the operational tempo of our armed forces, this is to say that the ratio of time spent on deployed missions, rose from 6% to 23%, an increase of almost 400%.
The funding gap has hurt our military. Members of the military are required to use equipment that is 30 to 40 years old. They are restricted in the amount of training they can received. They are limited in their potential, not by their courage, not by their compassion or not by the commitment of the personnel, but by the scarce resources at their disposal. We have let them down. The government has let them down.
We speak today about improving military justice but we should be talking about doing our military justice by ensuring that the members of the military have the tools and equipment necessary to do their jobs.
Some of the Liberals on the government benches, perhaps most noticeably those either currently or formerly part of the cabinet, have recently begun to call for better treatment of our military. The former finance minister has even called for an increase in military funding, notwithstanding that he was the one with the hand on the knife when the government made vicious cuts to the DND budget. Better treatment of our military should be a firm commitment, not a campaign promise.
In closing, if I had my way, we would spend a portion of each day debating how we can improve the conditions of our military and its personnel.
While Bill C-35 addresses important issues, it does not address all the important issues facing the Canadian armed forces. We have much work to do here before we rise and I hope that the rumours about leaving early are false, especially at a time when we are prepared to send so many of our men and women to serve in a dangerous and unstable part of the world. That of course is the height of hypocrisy.
National Defence ActGovernment Orders
May 5th, 2003 / 1:55 p.m.
Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB
Mr. Speaker, very quickly because I had no idea that my colleagues from the Bloc and the Alliance were going to go on at such great length about matters having nothing to do with Bill C-35 and I would certainly urge the Chair in the future to perhaps pay more attention to the rules of relevance that are buried somewhere in the standing orders. I do not have time to critique the entire Canadian Alliance white paper on defence that was read into the record on something having to do with military judges, or many of the other things that were said, but I want to complain first of all about the process.
This bill was introduced on Thursday last week and here we are debating it on Monday. I do not think this is appropriate. Parties have not even had time to caucus. It is not that this is a particularly controversial bill, but it has happened a couple of times now where things have been introduced at the end of a week and we have debated them on the following Monday or Tuesday. I do not think that is appropriate. There is certainly no sense of urgency with respect to this particular bill. I do not understand why the government wants to operate in this particular way.
At the level of appearances, it would appear that this is a housekeeping bill. It embodies a principle having to do with remuneration of military judges. It goes some way toward encouraging judicial independence. These are all things of which we are in favour, so I did not rise to speak against the bill. Certainly we want to see it get to committee and probably have a very quick look at it.
The process is the thing I really want to complain about here. I certainly could have used this particular time to make a speech about why we are opposed to the national missile defence system and about various other things that are happening on the other side having to do with defence. We are getting mixed messages from the Liberal front bench not just about nuclear missile defence but about a whole number of other things.
Perhaps the reason this bill was brought forward so quickly is that this is the only thing on which the Liberals can agree when it comes to something having to do with defence. This is the one thing on which they could agree so they thought they would put this down so that they could actually get up and create some kind of facade of unity when it comes to these kinds of issues.
I wish, for instance, we could see this kind of expeditiousness and efficiency when it comes to replacing the Sea Kings. What the Liberals can do in three days when it comes to remunerating judges they cannot do in 10 years when it comes to replacing helicopters. What is more important?
National Defence ActGovernment Orders
May 5th, 2003 / 1:30 p.m.
Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak on Bill C-35. Like my hon. friend from the Canadian Alliance, I am rather surprised that, with so many serious issues at stake in National Defence, we are discussing a bill dealing with the remuneration of military judges.
This affects exactly three judges. I feel that the time of the House of Commons is often limited, and that we should have been spending much more time on doing something other than taking the time to try to explain and justify pay raises for three military judges.
For months now, we in the Bloc Quebecois have been asking for a new National Defence policy. Under this new policy, changing judicial salaries would certainly take much less time than it does now.
And that, perhaps, is the failing of the current government. In fact, they are so taken with the 1994 National Defence policy that they do not want to update it, so they just give us the legislation piece by piece. For example, at some time they will try to amend another part of the National Defence Act, and it is a big act; it has many sections.
Instead of working on the basic problems and saying, “Where do we go from here?”, the government is going about it piecemeal, saying, “Since we do not want to deal with the central issue, what we are going to do is simply to say we are introducing bills that amend one or two or three little sections of the National Defence Act”.
As I was saying, in a report by the national defence committee, the Bloc suggested that, before injecting new money, before saying that we will proceed with the purchase of such-and-such equipment or will be increasing the size of Canada's armed forces, we must review the National Defence policy that dates from 1994. The policy was not created just yesterday. Most of the actions now being taken are based on this policy.
God knows that we are living in a different world today than in 1994. The attack on the twin towers in New York completely changed all dynamics. I remember having made a speech a few days after that event, in a take-note debate, and I said that it had just changed the face of military doctrine.
For tens and thousands of years, soldiers have met on the battlefield, face to face, each with their own uniform and equipment. The day after the attack on the twin towers, the world was facing an invisible adversary that eluded capture; we did not even know where this adversary was. This requires a new vision of military doctrine and, of necessity, a new vision of national defence policy.
Clearly, national defence policy is intimately connected to foreign affairs policy. Today, each nation adopts a national defence policy in keeping with its foreign affairs policy. National defence policy is a major instrument for foreign affairs policy; these policies are intimately linked.
What have we learned recently? We have learned that the Minister of Foreign Affairs is currently reviewing his policy, which is also outdated, and that National Defence is lagging way behind. This leads to inconsistencies and problems as we are seeing here today.
This bill affects three individuals responsible for military justice. What is being done? My hon. colleague was talking earlier about submarines. Some $800 million has just been spent buying old submarines from the British army. When questioned, the general in charge of the navy admitted that these submarines are incapable of going under the polar ice cap, to ensure our sovereignty in the great Canadian north. This would cost up to $400 million per submarine. So we settle for spending $800 million, but if an additional $400 million per submarine is invested, the bill will inflate to $1.6 billion. Taxpayers have not been consulted. This is one example.
There are also plans to modernize the F-18. At the same time, Canada is participating in the new American joint strike fighter, to the tune of $250 million to $500 million.
We are participating in this program, and are now at the third of five stages. This may give us the opportunity, when the F-18s are at the end of their active life, to purchase these new fighter jets at a reduced cost, given that we have taken part in the program.
This will also provide revenues for Canada. Countries that were not involved in the Joint Strike Fighter program will purchase the jets and pay a fee to the American government, which will in turn give us a share because we took part in it.
Who in Canada is advocating for this right now? Who decides that this is how it is going to happen? We do not even have a national defence policy to turn to. It is senior officials and senior military staff who decide. They say, “We will take part in this because one day we may need it”.
If taxpayers had their say, I am not convinced they would want us to commit to the purchase of a stealth fighter at a cost of $30 million apiece. They may prefer investing in reconnaissance aircraft, which could monitor the whole Canadian coastline and ensure that Canadian sovereignty is respected. Could it be that this is what Canadian taxpayers want?
It is the same thing with the troops. Right now there is no national defence policy. The army is called on to carry out all of the different roles: combat, stabilization missions and peace missions. Everything is offloaded onto the army, in terms of the different mandates it can fulfill.
This means that if the government decides—obviously—the army can carry out attacks, as the PPCLI did in Afghanistan. They can also be asked to deploy on stabilization missions, as is the case right now in Bosnia. At other times, they are asked to do peace missions.
So, the question today is what kind of mission should Canada's army specialize in? There is hardly anyone who is asking this question. Polls shed some light on this. People in Quebec are big pacifists. I think that Quebeckers would be ready to accept the army taking part in peace missions. However, they would probably say no to aggressive missions.
Would it be possible for example for Canada to announce that it would settle for stabilization missions, now that the aggressive mission is over? In addition to these, there could be peacekeeping missions. That is our tradition. Moreover, the great Lester B. Pearson won the Nobel Peace Prize with peacekeeping missions of this type and Canadians and Quebeckers might be in favour of such an approach.
What is happening at the present time? A bit of all these things. Troops are being trained to be all-purpose. That is obviously the government's decision, to continue to favour all types of interventions by the Canadian Army. Yet it might cost us less in future, and be more in keeping with our tradition, if we were to say that from now on we no longer wish to engage in any more aggressive missions.
Then there is the whole issue around foreign affairs: must we take part in coalitions outside the UN umbrella? This is very important. I know the Canadians may go to Afghanistan, in a stabilization effort. There is talk of a mission involving 1,500 to 2,000 troops. But they say this will be under NATO command. There is nothing about this in the 1994 national defence policy.
Usually our operations come under the UN. We decided not to take part in the war in Vietnam because it was not under the auspices of the UN. We decided not to take part in Iraq, although we had some soldiers in the American and British combat units.
None of this is complicated; it is because we lack a national defence policy. What we have is obsolete, nearly 10 years old. The government does more or less anything it wants.
My colleague has also referred to the Sea Kings. Once again, the 1994 defence policy is obsolete. We have ships, destroyers carrying helicopters, but these helicopters have outlived their usefulness. Imagine, for every one hour of Sea King flight, 30 hours of maintenance are required. The cost is outrageous.
The national defence policy, which is virtually non-existent, dating back 10 years, has nothing to say on this. What did this mean for the government? In 1993 this government simply cancelled the contract for the EH-101 helicopters, which had been awarded under the previous government.
TIme went on and year after year the comment was made, “It makes no sense to keep 40-year-old Sea Kings. New helicopters must be purchased”.
Having promised to cancel the EH-101 contract if he got elected, the Prime Minister could not, two years after cancelling the contract and paying nearly a billion dollars in penalties for cancelling it, come out and say Canada would be purchasing the EH-101 after all.
What happened is that the contract was divided into two contracts: one for what is called the platform, that is, all the integrated weapons systems and so on, and another one for the infrastructure. After a five or six year wait, when they were told that the contract was being divided into two, people started to say it made no sense. It is like buying a Chrysler body and putting a Ford system in it. They said it would cost too much money.
A few months ago, in December, the government dropped a bombshell. It was now going ahead with a proposal that included everything. A single consortium would build both the platform and the infrastructure, that is, the body and the integrated system inside. It took the government nearly 10 years to decide to start over, precisely because the issue was far too political.
Do we need helicopters? Yes, there may be a need for rescue helicopters. Canada just purchased Cormorants for instance. But do we also need Sea Kings? What type of mission do we want to assign to the Canadian navy when it sets out with its Sea Kings or the new aircraft with which it will equipped?
Once again, taxpayers did not have a say. The Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs did not have a say in the matter. Everything goes to cabinet, and to the governor in council, as we can read in bills, and that is were decisions are made.
Last year, missions required that money be taken out of the capital envelope. If bases needed repairs and so on, they would have to wait because the money had to go to the mission in Afghanistan. There is a lot of improvisation in all this. The governor in council, on recommendation of the Minister of Defence, is the one making things happen and ensuring that what we call squandering takes place.
Of course, $1 billion more went to national defence, but where will this $1 billion be spent? People are certainly saying to us, “We have so many needs at National Defence”. With such a vague mission, where anything can be done, I understand that it is difficult to see where this money will go. It may go anywhere. It is a bottomless pit.
Some people are even saying that we should incresase the National Defence budget, which is now at $12 billion, to $24 billion. They say that we should add $2 billion in new recurring money each year for the next 10 years. Of course, people can say what they want. There is no point of reference.
We also talked about the size of reserve forces. Must we have a team, that is land, sea and air forces with 50,000 or 60,000 professional military people? There must be a debate on this. There are armies where these numbers are lower because they decide they will take on many more reservists. This is also a possibility. These are decisions that may be made, but we are not given the opportunity to make them. It is once again the governor in council that is going to make these decisions and decide that we will invest less money and use more reservists.
God knows that reservists are important in an army. I was among them when I went to Bosnia with the Royal 22nd Regiment. This certainly has an impact. They are not professionals. These are people who work and, at some point, ask their employer to release them so that they can train and be sent on missions, such as in Bosnia, to work within a stabilization force. So there must be a fundamental debate on the size of reserve forces.
There is also the whole issue of how people will be treated on the medical side. There is a problem in this respect in the Canadian military. It is having trouble recruiting physicians. There is talk of a possible mission in Iraq by DART, a disaster assistance response team that gets involved when something terrible happens in a country. Last time, they were deployed in Columbia, I believe, after a hurricane. These people are highly specialized.
Again, we realize that on the medical side, we may not always have enough personnel. We need to have a debate on this kind of intervention, which is perfectly appropriate within the context of peacekeeping missions, whenever a country dealing with a natural disaster needs international help. We can have this kind of debate, but again we are not allowed to do so.
Then there is the whole issue of post-traumatic syndrome affecting people back from very difficult missions, such as the one in Bosnia-Herzegovina. We do not know how to deal with it. Recently, we saw the PPCLI parading around ridiculing people suffering from that syndrome. However, even generals have fallen prey to it; General Dallaire is a case in point. Today, he is an advocate for people with post-traumatic syndrome, because he lived through what a lot of soldiers are experiencing, namely witnessing terrible massacres and other such things on a daily basis. When these people come back, they are confused and lost. We tend to say that it is all in their heads, and it is not that serious.
There is even a place in Valcartier to treat people with post-traumatic syndrome. However, this is not taken seriously enough yet. Those affected are reluctant to go there, because it is on the base. Suppose I am an officer and I am suffering from the syndrome. I am having trouble dealing with reality, because I have been traumatized by what I saw. Now, I leave my barracks or my home on the base to go to the post-traumatic treatment centre in front of everybody. People seeing me will say, “Ha, he has a problem”.
Even the National Defence ombudsman said that it might be appropriate to locate these services outside of bases. This issue can be provided for in a national defence policy. Unfortunately, it is not being discussed adequately.
There are new developments and you will probably see that today, in the missile defence shield policy that the Americans want to reactivate. Canada should take position on this issue.
Once again, who decides? It is certainly not the members of the opposition, neither my colleagues in the governing party, nor the backbenchers. It is either the governor in council or the cabinet that makes such decisions. Thus, large amounts of money will probably be spent, for a coalition or for a group of countries to participate in the development of a missile defence shield that might reignite the nuclear arms race and cost the Canadian taxpayers a great deal. We are not only talking about the price of this shield as such, because it will also create the need for other types of weapons to respect the missile defence shield contract.
Therefore, we are faced with major problems. On the one hand, the whole issue is so fuzzy and, on the other, members of the House of Commons have so little say that the government can get away with just about anything.
I will conclude on that, because I know that my time is up and that we have almost reached the period set aside for members' statements. However, in closing I want to briefly comment about the bill that is before us and which applies to three military judges, namely Colonel Kim Carter, Lieutenant-Colonel Mario Dutil and Commander Jim Price
We are talking about and dedicating a significant amount of time to these three individuals. In the past few months, they have seen their salary go from $106,000 to $136,000. Now, we will create mechanisms to ensure that it is not necessary to come back to this House to increase judges' salaries.
So, some worthwhile initiatives were taken. Before I go on, I would like to stress that justice is important in a society. Everybody knows there are three branches of power. Some even say that there is a fourth power given the strength and influence of the media nowadays. I almost agree with this idea of a fourth power. However, officially, there are three: the executive, the famous governor in council or cabinet, which decides, on a day to day basis, how society will be administered; then there are members of Parliament like us who make up the legislative branch. The executive proposes legislation; we discuss, analyze and study bills, we propose amendments and we bring the bills to their conclusion. Then there is the judiciary. Everyone knows that this branch provides another point of view on legislation. We often say that there are grey areas in a legislation. When that is the case, some people take advantage of these grey areas and the judges have to decide whether a new approach is appropriate or not. However, we must remember that, generally speaking, there are grey areas in the legislative power.
For example, there are aspects of our society which the House has not studied yet and which will be left to the construction of the Supreme Court or the Federal Court.
Often, they even recommend that the legislators be asked to look at things again, to determine whether or not there is a grey zone. They say it is up to us, meaning the legislators, and not up to the courts, to decide what we want.
The immense power that the government has over the people is also very unfortunate. We could spend a couple of minutes on this subject. When someone is told by a department, “If your are not happy with that, sue us”, that means we have a problem. I think we get that kind of answer a little too easily nowadays.
There are two buildings full of crown attorneys who are prepared to keep us in court for years. Who can do that now? It is something we have to think about. Judicial power is very important, but then again, some things need to be corrected and it is often the legislators' responsibility to do it.
As far as the military judges' remuneration is concerned, a review committee was created in 1999. The Bloc thinks it is a good idea, because it shelters the whole judicial process from political influence. For instance, it would not be appropriate for the Minister of National Defence to establish the remuneration of military judges.
So, what we are doing today is legislating their approval within a framework determined by this famous review committee. Obviously, the government must say yes or no. As to establishing a review committee to act as a buffer between the government and the military judges, we fully agree. I think that this protects them from interference by the political authority.
The importance of the judiciary's independence is well known. Obviously, judges must be reserved. I did not know this. When I was first elected, I thought the judges of the Superior Court of Quebec were avoiding me when I entered a restaurant. I later learned that their duty to be reserved meant that they could not even eat at the same restaurant as a member or a minister. This is understandable.
The judiciary's independence is important, and the proposed approach deserves consideration. An independent committee will consider the issue of remuneration and even establish retroactivity. No later than September 2003, the committee will consider the remuneration of judges for the next few years, and its will then make its recommendations.
What the bill contains, even if the title mentions the remuneration of judges—it should read of the three judges—is other specifics. Among them, there is the whole issue of body samples and the issue of DNA. There are also other provisions that are relatively minor.
In short, the Bloc Quebecois supports this bill. We simply deplore the fact that a great deal of time has been spent discussing the salary of three military judges when there are much more important things to be done, such as discussing national defence policy.
Canadian and Quebec taxpayers should be consulted and asked what they want for an army and what kinds of missions this army ought to undertake. Afterwards, in accordance with their recommendations and once we have a clear national defence policy, we will be able to say that the money will be spent accordingly. We will do it this way.
In conclusion, we support Bill C-35.
National Defence ActGovernment Orders
May 5th, 2003 / 1:10 p.m.
Rick Casson Canadian Alliance Lethbridge, AB
Mr. Speaker, it is good to speak to the bill today. Of all the issues facing the military and the Department of National Defence, this is probably not the top priority of most Canadians. There are many things that need to be addressed.
The bill was introduced in the House last Thursday, May 1. The House leader indicated on Friday that the government would be bringing it back today. The way in which the bill has been brought forward and the way in which it has been handled is quite unusual.
As I said, a lot of issues need to be addressed when it comes to the Department of National Defence and I am not sure Canadians would have picked this as their top priority.
Last week the official opposition, the Canadian Alliance, brought forward a paper dealing with the many concerns Canadians have with our military today. A number of the recommendations in it would have had far more importance for the government to have brought forward in legislation, one being some changes to the way DND is run, but instead it brought this forward.
Over a number of years successive Liberal and Progressive Conservative governments have undermined Canada's military heritage. What has happened in the last number of years to our military is nothing short of criminal. Because of the cuts that have taken place, the hardworking men and women in the armed forces are having to get by with less and less. In recent times our forces have been unable to respond to situations because of a lack of equipment and a lack of many things but certainly not courage and dedication. It has been the lack of support by the Liberal government that has put our people into situations they should not be put into.
When our military has had such a proud history it has been unfortunate to see it deteriorate over the past number of years strictly due to the lack of support by the governments of the day.
We need an effective, multi-purpose military capable of meeting situations that arise. As we know, the world has changed since that fateful day on September 11. We are now in a war on terrorism. We have the war to change the regime in Iraq, which we did not actively support. We did not support the movement against a government that was brutalizing its own people. We did not have what it would have taken to contribute in a realistic fashion. Even if we had said that we would support it, although it would have been in a limited way, at least the offer would have been made, but it was not.
We reject entirely the idea of soft world power. The situation over the last two years indicates that type of approach will not work.
The world is realigning, which is happening right now as we speak, the situation with the United Nations, with NATO and even Norad, and the relationship Canada has with the United States, those organizations will change.
As all these things happen and the war on terrorism continues, we as Canadians should be preparing our military in a vigorous fashion to meet those challenges of the coming years. We are not seeing that being done.
The bill that was introduced last week, to which the minister spoke a few minutes ago, in no way addresses any of the issues that Canadians have top of mind when it comes to protecting our sovereignty as a nation. We need to do that but we have not done that properly over the past number of years. A number of things need to be done.
The members of the official opposition, the members for Lakeland, Calgary West, Edmonton North, Calgary Northeast and our leader, the member for Calgary Southwest, worked hard to put together some recommendations they and our party felt met the needs that Canadians felt our military needed at the present time.
I believe all or any of the recommendations put forward by our party more poignantly addressed the problems that exist within our military and addressed some of the things the minister should have brought forward. Instead he chose to bring forward a bill dealing with retroactive pay for military judges, important as that might be. We are not disputing that fact. However it is an issue of priority. What do we see as a priority for our government to be working on in issues facing the military?
Going through some of the recommendations that we made, we think Canada should support maintaining Norad as a viable defence organization to counter threats to North America, including those emanating from rogue states possibly equipped with ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction. Norad should be given the command responsibility for the envisaged system for defending against ballistic missiles. That speaks for itself and where our party believes we should go as far as the protection of the North American continent and some of the issues that are coming forward in terms of missile defence systems.
We now get into spending and parliamentary oversight. Increases in the defence budget should be accelerated to provide an additional $1.2 billion per year over and above the increases in the 2003 federal budget, bringing the immediate increase to $2 billion per year. This money should be added to the DND budget base and directed at the most urgent operational equipment priorities.
As recommended by the House of Commons and Senate defence committees, over the long term the Canadian defence budget should be progressively increased to bring it into line with the NATO average as a percentage of GDP devoted to defence.
Further on, government, closely supervised by Parliament, should initiate a comprehensive reform of the budgetary management process within DND which would aim to do the following: allow the department greater flexibility to purchase or lease equipment “off the shelf” to meet urgent operations requirements; give the Minister of National Defence and departmental managers more authority over procurement decisions in order to simplify urgent equipment acquisitions.
As we see the replacement programs for the Sea King helicopters drag on and on year after year, certainly it would make sense to streamline some of these issues.
The next aims would be to de-politicize the procurement process and remove unnecessary bureaucratic impediments to speedy and effective procurement, and to give DND access to funds raised by the sale of departmental assets or infrastructure.
Further on, an independent commission of military experts should be established to review: the activities of all agencies, divisions and sections within DND; and the operational necessity of all national defence bases and facilities. The commission's recommendations would be submitted to government for a final decision. These are common sense types of things.
Parliament must be permitted to debate and ratify overseas deployment of Canadian troops to combat missions, something for which we have asked time and time again in the House and have been turned down by the government.
As part of a comprehensive reform of Parliament, the House of Commons standing committee must be empowered to review the following: the annual spending estimates of DND in a comprehensive fashion with the power to increase and decrease funding for specific programs within the boundaries of the overall defence spending envelope determined by the government; all major crown projects valued at more than $100 million proposed by DND, as recommended by the House of Commons defence committee procurement study of June 2000; the appointment of the chief of defence staff should have a legislative mandate to appear before the defence committee on a regular basis.
The Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs must be provided with the resources and staff to carry out these activities effectively. Members of Parliament assigned to the defence committee and all other House committees should serve on that committee for the life of Parliament.
Recommendation No. 8: A Canadian national intelligence agency to coordinate existing intelligence from all sources should be established to provide the prime minister, senior ministers and officials with national intelligence information and assessments. A committee of senior government and official opposition MPs, sworn to secrecy as needed, should be established to scrutinize and oversee the activities of the national intelligence agency, utilizing confidential and in camera sessions as required. The head of the national intelligence agency should be confirmed by Parliament and should appear before the committee as required.
We have heard a lot about defence capability requirements in the last little while. The expansion of Canada's special operations capability should be a priority in the war on terrorism. Measures should be put in place to ensure that the prime minister is directly engaged in command and control decisions concerning the activities of the JTF2.
The Canadian army should restore the airborne regiment and establish it as a core of an elite, air transportable rapid reaction force that could deploy anywhere in Canada or overseas on short notice. Such a formation should have enhanced helicopter assets, including attack and heavy lift helicopters.
The Canadian army should be capable of deploying and sustaining a combat effective brigade group in medium to high intensity operations overseas. This is something that did not happen during the Afghan war. The army should employ a realistic procurement plan that replaces obsolescent equipment as soon as practical. Where necessary and feasible, some equipment acquisition could proceed by buying or leasing effective equipment “off the shelf” from allies. That option should be available to the armed forces but not everything should have its own build specifications. We should be able to buy “off the shelf” equipment.
Consideration should be given to modernizing all of Canada's existing CF-18s and Aurora aircraft in order to meet domestic and international commitments. Flying hours, particularly for the Aurora aircraft, should be increased to ensure adequate protection of Canadian sovereignty.
DND should examine options for enhancing its ability to monitor Canadian territory and protect against unauthorized incursions. Satellite surveillance, over the horizon radar, unmanned surveillance aircraft and radar warning aircraft should all be considered for this purpose.
Canada should upgrade its participation in the multinational F-35 joint strike fighter project to that of a full partner as soon as possible in order to ensure timely replacement of the existing CF-18 fleet.
The air force should maintain adequate stocks of modern precision guided munitions, air to air and anti-ship missiles, to be able to respond to possible overseas deployment requirements, and do it quickly.
Canada should immediately initiate a project to replace its older C-130 transport aircraft. Such a project must include the acquisition of at least some heavy lift transport aircraft to meet both domestic and international requirements.
I had the pleasure to fly up to Alert and Thule, Greenland a year or two ago on a C-130. The crew were exceptional. They were flying an aircraft that had 40,000 hours on it. It had been rewinged and re-engined. Thank goodness for the engineer on that plane because if a light bulb had not been working he would not have let the plane fly. He became a pretty good friend of mine because I had put all my faith in him. Just think that a crew has to do that on a weekly basis on one of those ancient aircraft Their lives are at risk as they fly, as are certainly the people who they are delivering the goods to and the replacement people who are going in. It is an incredibly important function that our air force has and it is doing it with outdated and antiquated equipment.
Consideration should be given to converting all five A310 airbus aircraft to the strategic tanker role in order to facilitate the deployment of Canada's CF-18s, both within the country and abroad.
In order to meet all naval commitments and ease the strain on ships' crews, naval personnel levels, as well as funding for training operations, should be increased so as to maintain all 16 existing warships at full readiness.
The Canadian navy should examine options for acquiring under ice capable submarines to help protect Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic. The used submarines that we bought from Great Britain have turned out to be less than desirable. Millions and millions of dollars will have to be spent on them to make them worthy. It is completely unacceptable and is turning into a real farce as we progress. Day after day they find more things wrong with the equipment. The Arctic is ours and we need to patrol it. If under ice patrols are the way to do that, we should have that capability.
The Canadian submarine fleet should be expanded to allow for the deployment of at least three submarines on each coast. At the present time we are unable to do that.
The government should immediately initiate a program to acquire four new operational support ships to allow two to operate from each coast. This would ensure adequate underway support for operations in national waters and overseas.
A project should be immediately initiated to replace, on a one for one basis, the navy's four existing Iroquois class destroyers with a new class of destroyers capable of exercising command and control, as well as air defence functions.
A program to replace our existing Sea King helicopters, on a one for one basis, must be initiated immediately. This is long overdue.
The government should initiate a littoral, ship to shore, warfare project with a view to acquiring: at least one dedicated helicopter-light carrier for the Canadian Navy; sufficient amphibious shipping to transport as well land troops in trying conditions which, if judged feasible, would coincide with the acquisition of new operational support ships discussed in recommendation 22; and heavier naval guns and land attack missiles for the navy, which would most logistically occur as part of the acquisition of a new destroyer to replace the Iroquois class discussed in recommendation 23 and through the projected modernization of the Halifax class frigates.
The strength of the regular force should be progressively increased to at least 80,000 personnel to implement the force capability goals proposed.
The strength of the reserves should be gradually increased to about 60,000 personnel, of which about 45,000 would be army reserves or militia. The militia would be given primary responsibility for most internal defence tasks but would, to the greatest extent possible, be trained to regular force standards and properly equipped. Measures should be taken to protect the jobs of reserve members when serving on either a voluntary or compulsory basis on active duty.
Recommendation 27 of the paper deals with esprit de corps and morale. The size of the officer corps in the Canadian Forces should be reviewed for efficiency and appropriateness on a regular basis.
The personnel evaluation report system of promotion must be simplified, evaluating candidates on merit, valour and operational effectiveness considerations alone.
The rank structure of the Canadian Forces should be reviewed. Enlisted ranks above the rank of private ordinary seaman should be designated as leadership positions, promotion to which would be based on merit, valour and leadership considerations alone.
Recruitment and promotion of the Canadian Forces should be based on merit and operational effectiveness considerations. All persons recruited to serve in any capacity in combat or combat support units should be expected to meet and constantly maintain the highest possible training standards. Parliament should use all necessary means to ensure that Canadian Forces is not affected by potential judicial or quasi-judicial rulings which compromise this position.
The civilian and military components of national defence headquarters should be separated with the chief of defence staff responsible for military and operational matters in the Canadian Forces.
The distinct identities of the Canadian army, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Canadian Navy should be restored, but functional integration under a single command structure headed by the chief of the defence staff retained. This will require the passage of appropriate legislation.
Finally, an office of inspector general should be created to uncover waste, duplication and abuse of power within DND and the Canadian Forces. The office of military ombudsman would be part of this branch and would be responsible for investigating complaints made by military personnel.
I believe the issues I just mentioned are far more important to Canadians than the issues addressed in Bill C-35.
National Defence ActGovernment Orders
May 5th, 2003 / 1:05 p.m.
John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence
moved that Bill C-35, An Act to amend the National Defence Act (remuneration of military judges), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak in favour of the amendments to the National Defence Act that are being submitted to the House today.
The most substantial amendment will provide clear authority in the National Defence Act for retroactive pay raises for military judges. In doing so, it will allow for the continuing financial security of military judges.
I certainly do not have to remind members of this House of how important it is for the remuneration of military judges to be legislated and free of any influence on the part of the executive branch of government.
Only an independent, unbiased and efficient mechanism can depoliticize the process of establishing the remuneration of military judges. That is why the Military Judges Compensation Committee was created in 1999.
Every four years the military judges compensation committee conducts inquiries into the pay of military judges and makes recommendations to the Minister of National Defence as to what the appropriate levels of pay should be. The next review is scheduled to begin on September 1, 2003. The committee's report and recommendations on the adequacy of military judges' pay are expected by the end of May 2004.
Needless to say, failure to implement the recommendations that are accepted by the government could jeopardize the overall effectiveness of the entire compensation committee process. The amendment before us today will therefore allow the Treasury Board, upon recommendation by the Minister of National Defence, to implement compensation committee recommendations that may be made retroactive to the beginning of the review period, in other words, September 1, 2003.
As for retroactive pay increases, they are nothing new. Such adjustments are routinely implemented for civilian judges, employees of the public service and other members of the Canadian Forces. The proposed amendment to the National Defence Act will merely ensure that there is clear authority in the act for making pay amendments for military judges retroactive.
Several additional amendments to the National Defence Act not related to the military judges' remuneration were also proposed. These technical amendments deal with DNA testing in forensic science and with other issues meant to improve the effectiveness of the legislation. Their purpose, essentially, is to ensure consistency between the English and the French versions of the act.
In summary, the proposed amendments to the National Defence Act that are being submitted today will help ensure the financial security of military judges and the proper functioning of the military justice system. For these reasons, I hope the House will support the proposed amendments.
Business of the HouseOral Question Period
May 1st, 2003 / 3:05 p.m.
Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to note the lobby just put before us by the hon. member for Bill C-10A to be debated next week.
This afternoon, we will continue the debate on the opposition motion. Tomorrow, we will commence with Bill C-34, the long-awaited bill to amend the Parliament of Canada Act.
I have informed the House leaders of the other parties of my intention to propose, pursuant to Standing Order 73(1), that this bill be referred to committee before second reading. If this debate is completed by the end of the day, we will return to third reading of Bill C-9, which deals with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act; then we will go to Bill C-13, the reproductive technologies bill, but I would be surprised if we got that far tomorrow.
On Monday and Wednesday, we will return to the two bills that I just mentioned and we will add to that Bill C-35, regarding military judges, which I think was introduced this morning. Then we will complete, I hope, Bill C-33, dealing with the transfer of offenders.
On Tuesday, and again I am responding to the request made by my colleagues opposite, we will continue consideration of the Senate amendments to Bill C-10, respecting the Criminal Code.
Next Thursday will be an allotted day.