An Act to change the names of certain electoral districts

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in May 2004.


Jacques Saada  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.

Message from the SenateThe Royal Assent

May 14th, 2004 / 10:05 a.m.
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The Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

Rideau Hall


May 13, 2004

Mr. Speaker:

I have the honour to inform you that the Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 13th day of May, 2004 at 6:56 p.m.

Yours sincerely,

Barbara Uteck,

Secretary to the Governor General

The schedule indicates that royal assent was given to Bill C-24, an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act--Chapter No. 18; Bill C-20, an act to change the names of certain electoral districts--Chapter 19; Bill C-28, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act--Chapter 20; Bill C-15, an act to implement treaties and administrative arrangements on the international transfer of persons found guilty of criminal offences--Chapter 21; Bill C-30, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 23, 2004--Chapter 22; and Bill C-9, an act to amend the Patent Act and the Food and Drugs (The Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa)--Chapter 23.

I also have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

Rideau Hall


May 13, 2004

Mr. Speaker,

I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bill listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 13th day of May, 2004 at 9:10 p.m.

Yours sincerely,

Barbara Uteck

The schedule indicates the bill assented to was Bill C-3, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act--Chapter 24.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

March 9th, 2004 / 4:40 p.m.
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Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate. I am tempted to say here we go again on what used to be known as Bill C-20 and now is known as Bill C-12.

The bill proposes to amend the Criminal Code to help safeguard children and other vulnerable persons from sexual exploitation, abuse and neglect and also to enhance the protection of victims and witnesses in criminal justice proceedings.

The bill was introduced and read the first time in December 2002. It was debated at second reading in January and February last year before heading off to the justice committee from whence it has now returned.

The bill has five major components that I would like to review. First, it proposes to strengthen the child pornography provisions by expanding the scope of some existing sentences; the maximum available penalty would be increased from 5 to 10 years imprisonment.

Second, it proposes to increase the protection of young people against sexual exploitation.

Third, it proposes the creation of new offences relating to voyeurism and the viewing or recording of others in situations where there is reasonable expectation of privacy against electronic peeping Toms who resort to tiny cameras and other high tech tools for their and others' sordid gratification.

Fourth, it proposes to increase penalties following conviction for offences committed against children under the age of 16 years, as well as abuse and neglect, which includes failing to respond to the necessities of life and abandonment. I am pleased to see that the maximum penalty has been increased from two to five years.

Fifth, it proposes to facilitate testimony by child victims as witnesses and other vulnerable persons and would ensure that the child witnesses are indeed competent.

Let me say loudly and clearly that I support fully the sections that I have just referred to that deal with sexual exploitation of our young people. It is crucial, as others have noted in this debate, that our society has proper mechanisms to protect children from sexual exploitation, especially by those in positions of trust.

The stronger penalties, for example, against voyeurism, are important because the Criminal Code will be updated to nab these electronic peeping Toms and prosecute them to the full extent of the law.

The New Democratic Party supports the sections that help children to be witnesses. This section makes it easier and less traumatic for children to testify at criminal trials, and I strongly support doubling the sentences for offences against children.

I believe to the core of my being that it is the role of Parliament and our criminal justice system to protect all children from all forms of sexual exploitation.

Like my colleague, the MP for Dartmouth, who is so well respected on all sides of the House and who has taken the lead on this bill, I have two children and I would see any form of sexual assault against either of them to be horrific as are all cases of sexual abuse and exploitation against all minors.

However the member of Parliament for Dartmouth, besides being a first rate mother and a first rate parliamentarian, is also a first rate playwright. She has stated, and I concur, that a growing number of Canadians and other organizations have a real concern with the exclusion of part 7 of the proposed bill because it drops the artistic merit defence as well as deleting the defence of an educational, scientific or medical purpose.

By doing so, it leaves only the defence of the public good. At face value, some people may think, and we have heard it in the House this afternoon, that defence of the public good would also include the two deleted defences. The public good is defined in the bill as something that is necessary or advantageous to the administration of justice or the pursuit of science, medicine, education or art. A story or drawing that passes muster under that public good definition is, however, still not home free because the court must then decide whether the harm to society outweighs the benefits.

This, as the Globe and Mail pointed out in an editorial last month, is treacherous territory. Any work of fiction involving the portrayal of a child in illegal sexual activity could be deemed pornographic.

These concerns were all raised when the bill was at committee, but the government is obviously not prepared to budge. The concern that I and other members of our caucus have is that the government has caved into the politics of fear.

Let me be absolutely clear, and I say this directly to the justice critic for the Conservative Party. I support, fully and completely, longer sentences for anyone in this country who creates sado-masochistic pornography that depicts children as sexual objects. Individuals who are involved in these criminal activities will, as a result of these changes, now go to prison for longer periods of time. I approve and applaud wholeheartedly these stiffer sentences.

The difficulty for me and others is that under this proposed revision, any work of fiction involving the portrayal of a child in illegal sexual activity could well be deemed to be pornographic. For example, The Tin Drum , a highly moral work by Gunter Grass, might run afoul of this new legislation, as could Vladimir Nabokov Lolita , a classic literary work, be in danger.

In the past, the Supreme Court has included artistic merit as a plausible defence but the fear is that the law, as it is presently drafted without the artistic merit clause, could criminalize the imagination and I have difficulty with that.

This is not some esoteric argument by the member for Dartmouth or myself. Besides the Globe and Mail , it has elicited the attention of the Ottawa Citizen, civil liberty groups, writers and the artistic community.

Yesterday in Toronto the Canadian Conference of the Arts and the Writers' Union of Canada held a public forum on their concerns about Bill C-12. They did not stand alone. Joining them were: Canadian Museums' Association; Canadian Artists' Representation; Union des écrivaines et des écrivains québécois; Canadian Civil Liberties Association; B.C. Civil Liberties Association; Union des artistes; PEN Canada; Canadian Library Association; Literary Translators' Association of Canada; Corporation des bibliothécaires professionnels du Québec; Association des auteures et auteurs de l'Ontario français; Ligue des droits et libertés; Regroupement des artistes en arts visuels du Québec; Société Civile des Auteurs Multimédia; Société des Auteurs de Radio, Télévision et Cinéma; Conseil des livres et des périodiques; and Société des auteurs et compositeurs dramatiques.

The following were their specific concerns on this bill. First, artists from all disciplines who create works with themes involving persons under 18 and sexuality, risk having their expressions criminalized.

Second, artists whose work contains such themes would be deemed to be guilty until they can prove themselves innocent of the charge; in other words, reverse onus.

Third, the concept of public good would replace artistic merit. This is a subjective concept that, according to the Supreme Court, has not been clearly defined.

Fourth, under the proposed new law, artists would have to prove objectively in court that (a) they produce their work for the purpose of public good, and (b) their work does not exceed the limit of what constitutes public good.

Fifth and final, an expansive interpretation of sexual purpose and voyeurism will infringe on new and existing artistic works, including literature, visual and media art film and theatre.

The CCA concluded that the bill was poorly crafted and proposed reframing the legislation to protect children while allowing bona fide artists the freedom to create. It argues that retaining the defence of artistic merit in the Criminal Code will serve all the people of Canada, both youth and elders.

It is saying that the elimination of the artistic merit defence will not have any effect on the government's purpose of eradicating sexual abuse of minors, nor will it prevent child pornography. It will serve only to create confusion and punish artists whose work, created in good faith, could be deemed in contravention of the new legislation.

Nor does the CCA believe the term “public good” used in the legislation has been defined adequately and therefore it believes the defence under the public good is an unacceptable substitute for the defence of artistic merit.

Let me come back to the reverse onus clause. This will require an artist to prove that his or her work is not pornographic instead of requiring the Crown to prove otherwise. Clearly this is totally contrary to our judicial system that holds every citizen as presumed innocent until proven guilty. Under this legislation, under the reverse onus clause, someone who is innocent would have to prove it first.

The House needs to be reminded that we are debating this legislation largely because of one individual, John Robin Sharpe. In the court decision regarding Mr. Sharpe, he was convicted of possession of photographs of boys engaged in sexual acts and poses, but he was acquitted on possession of child pornography stories that he had written because two out of three literary experts concluded that his stories had artistic merit.

What does Mr. Sharpe think of the proposed legislation? Just like the writers, artists, editorial writers and New Democrats, he says that the bill is poorly crafted, but he goes on to say that it is so poorly crafted, he could probably use it to his advantage in court. He said:

I am fairly confident that given good legal counsel, and a conservative, by-the-book judge who bases his decisions on the wording of the law...that I and my stories would again be acquitted under the proposed measures.

Legal experts tend to agree with Robin Sharpe, saying that the public good defence is too vague to survive court challenges. The Supreme Court upheld the federal legislation in the Sharpe case, but stressed there had to be generous leeway for artistic merit, and he was acquitted on some counts, not merely because of artistic merit but because the court concluded that his stories did not advocate or counsel pedophilia. In short, the court ruled on the side of free expression.

It is difficult, and it ought to be difficult, to criminalize expression. Of course Parliament has a duty. Children have to be protected, and that we are very clear about. However, at the same time we cannot be seen to be encroaching on freedom of speech or the right to know with some precision what is allowable and what is forbidden.

The Ottawa Citizen , in a recent editorial entitled “Making matters worse”, stated that Bill C-12 would violate both of these principles. It went on to say that no matter how well intentioned the law was, it should not pass. The editorial stated:

The government has not produced solid, empirical evidence that viewing or reading works of the imagination prompts pedophiles to molest real children. Without that evidence, there's no reason to believe this law will make children any safer.

Paul Rapoport from the School of Arts at McMaster University writes that when it comes to visual media especially, “all nudity is sex, all sex is porn, and if minors are involved, find somebody to lock up and throw away the key”.

That description certainly encompasses some members of the Conservative Party who have spoken on this bill in debate in spite of the fact that the most common child in art, according to Mr. Rapoport, is named Jesus.

I was in debate on the artistic merit defence last year, and in responding to another MP, I said this:

--if it has not specifically hurt a minor in the production of it, if it is created by people's visual imaginations and if the main purpose of it is not simply about pornography and sexual exploitation, then under the laws people do have a right to their own imaginations and thoughts, however perverse the member and I might think they are.

This quote made it into a lot of Canadian Alliance householders. We killed a lot of trees over this one, as I guess they tried to portray me as being soft on child pornography. I am not soft on child pornography. However, I must say that I am also encouraged by the editorial boards of major newspapers, civil libertarian groups, writers and artists who have expressed similar concerns about where we are headed with this bill. Specifically, hear the conclusion of the Ottawa Citizen editorial:

The only solution is a law that criminalizes pornography involving real children, but excludes all works of the imagination. This would protect children just as well as the law now before Parliament. But it would also respect free speech and provide a bright, clear line between what is illegal and what is not.

Of course there is a circular argument in all of this that deserves to be named as well. We have the Conservative Party, and especially its justice critic, railing constantly against judicial activism. However, by arguing for a narrower and narrower interpretation of child pornography and one that excludes both artistic merit and defence of the public good, the courts and judges will have no choice but to say that it is so narrow that it violates the Charter of Rights.

The judges and courts will strike this down and the justice critic for the Conservative Party will mount his pet hobby horse about judicial activism. In fact I am convinced that the other place, when it looks at this bill, will find it a deficient piece of legislation and demand that changes be made here before it passes.

The list of people and organizations who see flaws in the bill is long and it is getting longer. As I indicated, it legitimate artists, writers, the Canadian Conference of the Arts, some police, civil libertarians, the Canadian Bar Association and major newspapers.

Sergeant Gillespie of the Toronto police said:

Police would simply appreciate laws that are very clear and that will allow us to make better informed decisions at the time we are required to make them.

The Canadian Bar Association said, “While we appreciate the intent”, referring to the defence of public good, “the amendment may not achieve its goal”.

Alan Borovoy of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association recommends that the law be narrowed so that it applies only to material, the making of which is held out to involve the lawful abuse of a real child; not an imaginary child, a real child.

Strengthening the provisions of child pornography, doubling penalties and increasing protections of youth against sexual predators and sexual exploitation is important, and I support it fully. This must be done while protecting free speech and imagination.

I was raised in a time when the words to a pop song of the day went, “Brother, you can't go to jail for what you're thinking”. These words should be as true today and tomorrow as they were yesterday. Without reinstating the artistic merit in this bill, I will reluctantly and sadly find myself voting against Bill C-12.

JusticeOral Question Period

February 27th, 2004 / 11:45 a.m.
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London West Ontario


Sue Barnes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to reply to this because this has nothing to do with what the opposite member is putting on the floor here. In fact, we have allowed, through our Bill C-12, the former Bill C-20, to go and add more power to the defence and the prosecution of these very damaging assaults on children through exploitation.

I hope the members opposite join the government in adding to the protection so cases like this can be properly judged in our courtrooms to protect children.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

February 23rd, 2004 / 5:25 p.m.
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Progressive Conservative

John Herron Progressive Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Madam Speaker, I would like to make a few remarks pertaining to this piece of legislation. I was unable to do it in its previous incarnation as Bill C-20. I am here to speak to different aspects of the legislation but one aspect in particular.

Shortly after being elected for the first time in 1997 a constituent of mine came to my office. She told me a story about her daughter and an incident which took place on Labour Day weekend in 1994. The woman on whose behalf I am speaking today is Julia Buote.

On Labour Day weekend in 1994 Mrs. Buote's daughter was taking a bath when she discovered a video camera hidden in a hole in the wall underneath the faucet. It was determined later on that the video camera had been put in place by the young woman's then stepfather, to spy on her in the bathtub, in a state of undress. After she noticed the camera, the RCMP was approached but the Crown could not press charges because secretly videotaping someone in a state of undress is not a crime in Canada.

Mrs. Buote has been on a crusade, not only on behalf of the injustice that occurred with respect to her own daughter, but to ensure that this invasion of privacy in a very personal way would never happen again.

Mrs. Buote was recently quoted in the Telegraph-Journal . She asked me where Bill C-20 was and where the issue of voyeurism was and what was happening with the law in Canada.

I wrote a letter to the newly minted Minister of Justice and said that regardless of whether there were flaws in the particular act, there was clearly some good. I encouraged the minister at that time to bring the bill back as early as possible.

I will share with members some of Mrs. Buote's comments. She said, “If it had happened to one of their family members,” meaning members of Parliament, “it would have been in place long ago. I am hoping that this will make them aware that this is something they have to act on and put through. If there was a way I could sue the government right now, I would, because I feel 10 years is too long for them to be dragging their heels on this. There have to be others; my daughter was not the only one”.

She went on to say that she knows that the law in fact would not be retroactive. However, she did say, “It would change the fact that it is acknowledged as being a crime, and that it is not something that was okay to happen. Right now, it is something that is acceptable, as far as the law is concerned. So it would just give the feeling that well, okay, this is something that is against the law. My daughter did the right thing coming to me, and I did do the right thing, and finally, there is hope there for other people it happens to”.

The remarks I am making with respect to the legislation, the cornerstone of the bill, most of the remarks that I heard throughout the debate, have been that we needed to tighten the artistic merit component that evolved from the Robin Sharpe case. For me, if child pornography exists, by its very nature it means that a child has been abused. Some individuals may challenge the artistic merit aspect of it to want to have exceptions in that regard. I applaud the government for using the common good approach with respect to trying to tighten the legislation to ensure that more children are not susceptible to harm.

I am the proud father of a three and a half year old and an 18 month old, and I am looking after my own children here as well. In speaking here today, I hope I am ponying up for all young children wherever they reside in this great nation.

I accept the consensus that has been expressed by most members of Parliament that this legislation does tighten up the heinous loophole that existed in the Sharpe case. The bill is an improvement in the toolkit that we have right now.

I acknowledge the efforts by the members of the Conservative Party who want to push this envelope. They may even have a difference of opinion, but that is the role of the opposition as well. It is to send the signal that we need the strongest piece of legislation possible in order to remedy this type of issue.

I am speaking on behalf of Julia Buote and her daughter. This piece of legislation must pass. To be quite frank, it is almost inconceivable that an incident such as that which occurred to Mrs. Buote's daughter was seen as just that, an incident. It was not seen as a crime.

We need this type of legislation even more so today than we did 10 years ago when Mrs. Buote started her crusade to protect young men and women. Because of the advances in technology, and that actually sounds counterintuitive, but in terms of the existing technologies in wiring and cameras, this type of voyeurism is ubiquitous. It is omnipresent. It is our duty to ensure that our legislation is modernized to keep up with those advances because sometimes those advances are used in a heinous and draconian way which harm individuals.

I will be supporting this revised piece of legislation, Bill C-12. I will acknowledge that some individuals say that this legislation needs to be stronger and I will share their concerns about the artistic merit aspect of it as well. However, I believe the consensus approach that the government has taken right now is an improvement to at least squeeze that loophole even more with respect to the Sharpe case. Perhaps more can be done, but we cannot kill this legislation. We cannot allow individuals to be subjected to the same types of crimes, such as that experienced by Mrs. Buote's daughter, that were called mere incidents.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment ActRoutine Proceedings

February 23rd, 2004 / 3:15 p.m.
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Brossard—La Prairie Québec


Jacques Saada LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister responsible for Democratic Reform

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-20, an act to change the names of certain electoral districts.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

February 23rd, 2004 / 11:50 a.m.
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Ahuntsic Québec


Eleni Bakopanos LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development (Social Economy)

Madam Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to take part in the debate on private member's Bill C-471 introduced by my colleague, the hon. member for Crowfoot. As has been previously mentioned, the purpose of this bill is to protect children from repeat sex offenders. This protection is to be enhanced by amending the sentencing provisions in the Criminal Code.

Obviously, our government is just as concerned as the Canadian public about protecting our children from sexual predators. But as for the arguments that the courts of this country are too soft on these offenders, that their current sentences are not severe enough, that sex offenders ought to have their basic rights withdrawn, that these predators get released without any concerns about children's safety, I have been hearing them for years from the other side of this House. They may get great press coverage, but they do nothing for public safety, as I have already said.

The Criminal Code states that the fundamental purpose of sentencing is “to contribute to respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society”. The objectives of sentencing in the Criminal Code include denouncing unlawful conduct, deterring those who would commit offences and promoting a sense of responsibility in offenders in acknowledging the harm they have done to victims and to the community. The most vulnerable victims in our society are our children, as has already been said.

Canada is totally opposed to the use of draconian measures like the death penalty or the various forms of “three strikes and you're out” legislation, which would call for life sentences with no chance for parole. Our legal system has always respected the discretionary power of judges to adapt their sentences to the severity of the offence, the offender's behaviour, and the risk that offender poses to society.

A judge who has taken into consideration all the facts and all the testimony on the circumstances of the offence and the situation of the offender is in a better position than the members of the opposition to bring down a sentence that is appropriate to each case.

The recent Speech from the Throne confirmed that the protection of children continues to be a key priority for the Government of Canada. As a part of this renewed commitment to protect children from sexual predators, the government has reinstated the former Bill C-20, now Bill C-12, regarding the protection of children and other vulnerable persons.

This legislation proposes criminal law reforms that would provide increased protection to be given to children against abuse, neglect and sexual exploitation. It would strengthen the child pornography provisions by broadening the definition of written child pornography and narrowing the existing defences to one defence of public good.

Bill C-12 would also create a new prohibited category of sexual exploitation of young persons resulting from the existence of such factors as the age of the young person, the difference in age and the degree of control or influence exerted over the young person.

Bill C-12 would increase the maximum penalties for offences against children and would make the commission of an offence against any child an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes. It would also facilitate testimony by a child and other vulnerable victims and witnesses.

These changes would build upon amendments that have been in force since July 2002 for protecting children from sexual exploitation through the use of new technologies. These amendments addressed the communication of child pornography through the Internet and created a new offence of luring that made it illegal to communicate with a child on the Internet for the purpose of facilitating the commission of a sexual offence against the child. The changes also simplified the procedure to prosecute Canadians who sexually exploit children in other countries.

Another example of our focus on the protection of Canadians from sexual predators is the reinstatement in the House of Commons of former Bill C-23, now Bill C-16, the sexual offender information registration act, as was mentioned by my hon. colleague who first presented it in the House. That proposal seeks to establish a national sex offender registry requiring sexual predators to report to police agencies on an annual basis, which will allow rapid police investigation through an address searchable database. Under the proposal, failure to register would be a Criminal Code offence with serious penal consequences.

The February 2 Speech from the Throne also indicated a new commitment by the government to do more to ensure the safety of children through a strategy to counter sexual exploitation of children on the Internet. Under the lead of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, we are working with our federal, provincial and territorial, private sector and international partners in the development of a strategy to coordinate and enhance our efforts to counter child sexual exploitation on the Internet.

Certainly I would be remiss if I did not point out that in 1997, when I was the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, the dangerous offender provisions of the Criminal Code were amended to toughen up the provisions against the most violent sexual predators.

The private member's bill before us today seeks to amend these provisions to go after repeat sexual offenders against children. Really, that is exactly what the 1997 amendments did. Individuals who are declared dangerous offenders by the courts are now subject to a mandatory indeterminate sentence. The 1997 amendments also included a provision that permits judges to impose a long term offender designation resulting in up to 10 years of community supervision after serving a penitentiary term.

Moreover, in 1997, we also toughened up the conditions for recognizance under section 810, particularly by adding section 810.2, a new category dealing with serious personal injury offences. Section 810 has been very useful to the police in protecting vulnerable persons—even when there was no conviction, or even charges against a potential sexual predator likely to attack children.

I would also like to say a word about the 1993 Criminal Code amendments that created a potentially life-long order of prohibition, prohibiting convicted sexual offenders from frequenting daycare centres, schoolyards, playgrounds, public parks and swimming places where children are likely to be seen.

The order also prohibits these offenders from seeking or continuing any employment, whether remunerated or volunteer, in a capacity that involves being in a position of trust or authority. Another provision was added to permit an individual to obtain a peace bond—a protective order lasting up to a year—if he or she fears that another person will commit a sexual offence against a child.

In closing, I want to insist that all efforts have been made in order to protect Canada's children.

While recognizing the validity of the concerns of the hon. member for Crowfoot with respect to sexual predators on children, I simply do not believe that his proposal would improve the existing provisions.

Moreover, the latest reforms now before Parliament will translate into changes in our laws to give our children even better protection.

We also are doing everything we can for the safety of Canada's children. It is for the sake of our children that we have to stop scaring them with the worst, most heinous crimes cited in the House. In fact, sexual predators are not the majority of criminals but the minority, and thank God that is the case.

Resumption Of Debate On Address In ReplySpeech From The Throne

February 16th, 2004 / 1:45 p.m.
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Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas is asking, through the Chair, a question that is almost a subtle one. He is asking what the hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques think of this.

First, I believe this House will want to pay tribute to the hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, who is such a hard worker. He is a social democrat who believes in the redistribution of wealth.

I agree, however, with the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas that there must be debate within political parties. It is normal and I understand that. I remember the NDP's debate on Bill C-20. Perhaps the member for Burnaby—Douglas will want to speak to us about that, as he was the only one to vote in favour of the rights of Quebec in that file.

So debate within political parties is normal. I would point out that debate within our party is vigorous. We understand that the best way to counteract one idea, in a democracy, is to come up with a better one. I have great hopes that the proposals I made to the Standing Committee on Health may one day be received with enthusiasm by all members of this House.

The question of drug costs is extremely important, and the Bloc Quebecois will continue to address it very specifically.

I would like to address the matter of parental leave. It will represent a test of the truth for the Quebec Liberal caucus. On the one hand, since 1997 and even before, the previous government, the Parti Quebecois government—one of the best to have ever sat on the government side—was prepared to improve the parental leave program so that working parents could be away from their job for one year at 70% of salary.

The federal government refused to make the necessary funds available from the EI fund. Now the appeal court is supporting this, by finding that the amendments proposed to the Employment Insurance Act in 1942 did not allow it to be amended to include parental leave.

I hope that the member for Beauharnois—Salaberry will join with the Bloc Quebecois in recognizing in this House that funds must be transferred to Quebec in order to set up an improved parental leave program. It is a matter of justice and social progress. This has dragged on and on. A good thing that the Bloc Quebecois has been here to defend the interests of Quebec.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

February 12th, 2004 / 4 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to respond to the Speech from the Throne.

Among the kinder words that I could use to describe the speech to open the third session of the 37th Parliament of Canada are uninspiring, directionless, and indistinguishable from the Liberal throne speeches of the last 10 years.

The Prime Minister's throne speech was nothing but a list of recycled promises and empty rhetoric. It was full of cliches and a few vague promises regarding the environment, cultural programs and post-secondary education. Its most striking quality is the fact that it simply ignored many key issues.

In fact, the speech contained almost no references to the most crucial issues for most ordinary Canadian families: tax fairness, health care and safer communities. There was zero mention of the failed billion dollar gun registry boondoggle, only a vague reference to protecting children, and no strategy to reform our failing criminal justice system.

As justice critic for the official opposition, I hoped to hear at least a few words on these matters, but the Prime Minister avoided any mention of them.

The throne speech indicated the government would reinstate the child protection legislation from last year. This legislation, Bill C-20 now reintroduced, came before the House of Commons after years of calls for stronger legislation to protect our children from sexual predators. It is an entirely inadequate response to a growing problem.

When Bill C-20 was in committee, key witnesses advised members that there was little or no improvement to the current law. It did not raise the age of sexual consent for adult-child sexual contact. It did not eliminate the controversial defence of artistic merit.

What we heard was that children would not be protected any better under this bill than they were before. In fact, lawyers spoke in front of the committee. A lawyer of eminence, David Matas, said in fact that the defence of artistic merit opens up further loopholes in the law.

Child advocates criticized the bill. They included representatives from: Project Guardian, the Office for Victims of Crime, Beyond Borders, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, the Canada Family Action Coalition and the Toronto Police Service. These advocates were asking that the age of consent be raised from 14 years of age, one of the lowest ages of consent in the western world.

They said that the bill's vague promises to protect children from so-called exploitive relationships would be too difficult to prosecute. They were asking that all defences for the criminal possession of child pornography be eliminated to fully protect children. However, the bill does not do that.

Despite the mounds of evidence to indicate the Liberal proposal would not be effective, there have been no signs from the government that the necessary steps would be taken. Police continue to be handcuffed by archaic legal procedures and a lack of financial resources and manpower.

This is not the only front on which the Liberal government has failed Canada's justice system. Since 1996, child predators, killers, rapists and impaired drivers who kill have had the opportunity to serve their sentences in a fictional prison. In fact, they serve it at home.

House arrest or conditional sentences were introduced into the Criminal Code in 1996 by the Liberal government, not for the purposes of rehabilitation or the safety of Canadians, but simply to lower the incarceration rates in Canada. Since that time, thousands of conditional sentences have been imposed for violent crimes, despite the promise that this is not what the law was intended for.

There was a recent house arrest in Winnipeg. A man by the name of Erron Hogg was sentenced to a two year period of house arrest. It is an appalling sentence to most Canadians and demonstrates a pressing need for law reform. Twenty-three year old Hogg beat a 25-year old university student, Michael Marasco, so violently with an object that he suffered brain damage and spent two months in hospital in August 2001. That individual's dreams of attending law school have been shattered.

There was no relationship between the accused and the victim. It was a cold blooded beating of an innocent Canadian citizen. What do we have? Justice John Scurfield said:

The level of violence was horrific...The results were tragic...This is clearly a case where a period of imprisonment is warranted.

He noted that there was an element of premeditation in this offence. Even Hogg's lawyer agreed that in the usual circumstances a prison term would be imposed.

However, defying logic and common sense, Justice Scurfield gave this individual a two year house arrest. He serves time at home.

The law setting out principles for judges to apply is vague and unclear. Essentially, judges have made their own law. In doing so, they have sent the wrong message to the community, namely that what Hogg and other offenders of his type did was not all that bad and that the consideration of victims comes second to the consideration of what should happen to an offender in these circumstances.

A Conservative government would ensure that conditional sentences are not applicable to serious violent offences, serious sexual offences and offences involving weapons. The laws in sentencing must be changed to ensure that conditional sentences are never available for these crimes.

Despite promises of democratic reform and listening to more ordinary Canadians, the Liberals remain committed to forcing their own MPs to support the greatest debacle of the Liberal regime in terms of the sheer volume of money spent, and that is the problem plagued gun registry. The Prime Minister has supported the registry from the very beginning. He wrote the cheques as the costs were escalating, as ministers stood up and said this was only going to cost $2 million.

In the background the present Prime Minister, the then finance minister, was busy writing the cheques. He knew the cheques were adding up beyond the $2 million. He said nothing. He remained silent and his Liberal friends stood up and said that everything was under control, that it would only cost $2 million. Well today that cost is $1 billion. That is where the auditor essentially ran out of the paper trail. We are spending approximately $200 million a year to implement the registry.

The Prime Minister voted to pour even more money into this black hole, even after the failures became evident to the public through the efforts of the Auditor General. And he has put the former justice minister, now the Deputy Prime Minister, back in charge of the registry, the person who poured the most amount of money into this and indeed told Canadians that this was only going to cost $2 million. She is back in charge with the Prime Minister's blessing.

I would also like to comment on the manner in which the marriage debate is being handled by the government. The recent announcement by the Liberal government to expand, and more important to postpone, the reference on same sex marriage is just another cynical, public, political tactic.

The Liberals' unprincipled approach to the issue of same sex marriage has permeated this debate. Delaying the case until after an election represents blatant manipulation of this issue regardless of whether one is in favour of same sex marriage or not. By bowing down to the courts instead of bringing this issue before Parliament, allowing Parliament to debate legislation that the Prime Minister has brought forward so that we can vote on it as elected representatives of the people, means that the government has clearly disregarded its duty to address the democratic deficit. In fact, it has shown total disregard for the democratic process.

The issue of the definition of marriage should be brought before Parliament and determined by Parliament in a bill before the next election to ensure that Canadians are heard on this important social policy issue.

I would like to comment as well on some of the issues that my constituents are very concerned about, which the Prime Minister and his government have failed to address.

Agriculture was mentioned only in passing during the throne speech. At a time when our farmers are in greatest need of assistance, the Liberal government refuses to commit any level of funding to ensure that the agricultural industry remains viable in Canada. This is not surprising considering that as finance minister, the Prime Minister slashed agricultural funding by half over the last decade. Under this Liberal government agricultural spending has decreased from 2.8% of the total budget in 1993 to 1.4% of the total spending in the last number of years.

At a time when our farm economy needs an immediate cash injection of anywhere from $1 billion to $2 billion so that farm families can survive, he provides nothing, not even the false comfort of another Liberal promise. He is simply continuing his shameful practice of shuffling farmers to the bottom of the pile. He does not even need to make promises. He is simply ignoring our farmers.

His broken promise on a dedicated fuel tax for infrastructure funding for municipalities will hurt many communities in my riding of Provencher and right across this country. When the Prime Minister was campaigning for leadership, among the $34 billion of promises that he made he promised to share gas tax money with the municipalities. Since he assumed the mantle of leadership, he has not even raised the issue in a substantive way.

In Winnipeg he said that half of that fuel tax should go to municipalities. Now he says, “Let us negotiate”. He was willing to give half of it. If he wants to negotiate the other half with the municipalities and the provinces to which those municipalities belong in a constitutional sense, he should now give that half and then deal with the other half later. He simply has no concrete plans to transfer gas taxes to the provinces and municipalities.

The GST rebate for municipalities is simply a drop in the bucket in terms of what is needed to sustain infrastructure. He takes in $7 billion in gas tax revenues every year and this year he plans to give back $580 million. That is like taking a dollar from a person's pocket and giving back eight cents. That is what it is all about.

The rebate to municipalities means that one of the largest municipalities in my riding, the city of Steinbach, may receive, depending on what it spends because this is a rebate, about $100,000 in the next year. If the past funding practices of the government are any guide, that $100,000 will be subtracted from the overall infrastructure programs in Manitoba, so that in the end, we will not even be getting the eight cents as new money, we will be getting absolutely nothing.

He takes a dollar away, gives back eight cents and then reduces the infrastructure programs accordingly. That is the name of the game. That is how municipalities in the province of Manitoba are being deprived of the ability to create the infrastructure that creates the wealth in this country. In the end, even the eight cent rebate, as I have stated, is lost.

Last, I would like to comment on recent developments of which we are all aware. The Prime Minister's throne speech statement said that he is marking “the start of a new government, a new agenda, a new way of thinking”. This again is a cynical attempt to rewrite history.

It reminds me of the technique used in the Soviet Union when history was regularly rewritten and former prominent government officials disappeared from the books and disappeared even from the photographs. It would be like a picture of all the distinguished speakers and deputy speakers and suddenly your picture, Mr. Speaker, would simply disappear. We would all walk around saying that you were never there. That is what is happening. As our Prime Minister is attempting to rewrite history, he is dissociating himself from the government of which he was a key individual over the last 10 years.

All of the lofty promises in the Prime Minister's throne speech ring hollow when measured against the weight of the corruption that has characterized the sponsorship scandal that has digested his old friend, former ambassador and former cabinet colleague, Alfonso Gagliano, and which is now consuming his government. “Alfonso Gagliano?” the Prime Minister says, “I do not know the man. I was not even giving advice in Quebec when I was the finance minister, when I was an MP from Quebec. When I was in the cabinet, nobody asked me about Quebec. It was all this conspiracy of the 14 individuals”.

It sounds a lot like the conspiracy of the 12 monkeys. One could never really find those 12 monkeys. Now we have a greater conspiracy. We have the 14 conspirators and they are the ones we should blame now. They are the ones we have to ferret out.

The Prime Minister claims that he knew nothing about the improper allocation of funds for the program. This stretches his credibility beyond what is palatable given that the Prime Minister himself has bragged about the amount of input he had into cabinet decisions over the past 10 years, given the fact that he was the vice-chair of the Treasury Board that reviewed the sponsorship program and given that he was the most powerful minister in a government and represented a riding in the province where the scandal arose.

I want to make one thing clear. This is not an issue about the people of Quebec. This is an issue about the corruption in the Liberal Party in Quebec. This has nothing to do with the people of Quebec. His government should be ashamed that his party has dragged that province into this scandal. He should be standing up and apologizing not only to the people of Canada but to the people of Quebec specifically.

In view of these facts, that he was the most powerful minister, that he bragged about his decisions and his influence, how can he say that he knew nothing? He says he knew nothing despite the fact that other caucus colleagues have publicly stated as late as yesterday that they raised concerns inside the Liberal caucus about the program as far back as 1999. The former heritage minister said he must have known, the inference being that everyone else did. Why did the then finance minister who is now the Prime Minister not know?

The truth is that the Prime Minister turned a blind eye while his Liberal friends stole tax dollars. Then Parliament was misled. How much was stolen we will never know. We know that $250 million was wasted in this program. How much was stolen? Let us assume it is the moderate amount, relatively speaking, of a quarter of a billion dollars, maybe $100 million, certainly much more than the couple of million dollars that the former prime minister thought might have been stolen and which was no big deal to him.

What does $100 million mean? That could have paid for eight years of salary for 222 police officers. It could have paid for the annual salaries of 2,500 nurses. It could have paid for almost 100 MRI machines to be installed across Canada.

The Prime Minister's platitudes on fixing the democratic deficit cannot be taken seriously by even the most detached observer. It is a sad time for Canadian democracy. Nothing the Prime Minister could say could change the course of a government that has developed and nurtured a culture of corruption for over a decade.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

February 12th, 2004 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

The Speaker

The Chair is satisfied that this bill is in the same form as Bill C-20 was at the time of prorogation of the second session of the 37th Parliament.

Accordingly, pursuant to order made Tuesday, February 10, the bill is deemed read the second time, considered by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and reported.

(Bill read the second time, considered in committee and reported)

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

February 12th, 2004 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Mount Royal Québec


Irwin Cotler LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-12, an act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act.

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to special order made earlier, I wish to inform you that this bill is in the same form as Bill C-20 at the time of prorogation of the previous session.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

February 10th, 2004 / 4:55 p.m.
See context


Paul MacKlin Liberal Northumberland, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to have the opportunity to rise in the House today and address the motion to reinstate government bills.

I know there is a tendency to wander when we have the opportunity to address matters of this nature, especially when it is not in the interests, in particular, of the opposition to do so, and today is no exception.

Clearly, though, I think the Canadian public expects us to take seriously the matter before the House because a lot of time, effort and energy has been invested in the bills that the government wishes to reinstate in the House.

I think each and every one of us, if we were to look back at the history of the reinstatement process, would see that this process goes back some 30-plus years and, in fact, has precedent in this process where we have received unanimous consent in the previous times for reinstating bills that were advanced in the House in pre-prorogation periods.

The United Kingdom also carries on with a similar process. This process is quite normal and it should be respected in the House at this time.

We have come here with an obligation to serve the country and advance the cause and interests of this just society. I think that as we do so we need to take the time to properly address issues of this nature and go forward.

In this particular case it is clear that there are a number of bills that the government would like to bring forward. In particular, I would refer at this time to Bill C-20. I know that bill, which was brought forward in the House before, is part of a reform package to improve the protection of our children and other vulnerable persons. It responds to the commitments that were made in the 2002 Speech from the Throne. Quite frankly, I think these commitments continue today in the interest of advancing those protections.

We want to protect our children from exploitation in all of its forms. We want to reform the Criminal Code to increase penalties for abuse and neglect, and to provide more sensitive treatment for children who take part in justice proceedings as victims or as witnesses.

Bill C-20, as introduced in the previous session, is very important. These proposals build on some of the recent measures, that is measures that we had brought in before, in the interest of increasing the protection for children from sexual exploitation.

The previous reforms that we brought in included some criminal law reforms that created new offences to target criminals who use the Internet to lure and exploit children, or who transmit, make available, export or intentionally access child pornography.

The government has been consistent in its desire to better protect children. With the advent of new technologies, this has been a constant challenge for the law to stay up to and maintain the protection that we believe our children need.

Since the new technologies, including the Internet, are increasingly making the sexual exploitation of children a borderless crime, the government is also working closely with the international community in developing a strategy to include measures that will improve international co-operation, information sharing and techniques that will advance the prevention, health and public awareness, cooperation with the private sector and outreach to other countries with respect to issues of this nature.

We need to advance stronger child pornography provisions and Bill C-20, I submit, would certainly do that. The fact that the opposition is stalling today in order to stop the process of bringing forward this bill is somewhat distressing to those of us who seriously believe there is an opportunity to advance the protection of our children.

The existing defences for child pornography would, under this new bill, be reduced to a single defence of public good. A person would be found guilty of a child pornography offence when the material or act in question does not serve that public good, or where the risk of harm outweighs any public good that it would otherwise serve.

The proposed reforms would also expand the existing definition of written child pornography to include material that is created for a sexual purpose and predominantly describes prohibited sexual activity with children. The current definition of child pornography only applies to material that advocates or counsels prohibited sexual activity with children. This is something that is important. It is meaningful and it should be advanced as quickly as possible in the House.

One other area in Bill C-20, which could be brought forward through the process of this motion, deals with the new category of sexual exploitation. The provision would provide new protection to young persons between 14 and 18 years of age. Under this proposed reform, courts would have to consider whether a relationship is exploitive, based upon its nature and circumstances, including any difference of age, the evolution of the relationship and the degree of control or influence exercised over the young person.

This new category focuses the court's determination on the conduct or behaviour of the accused rather than on the consent of the young person to sexual activity, again a very important advance that we believe ought to be brought forward as quickly as possible.

When we look at sentencing within the bill, we see that it proposes tougher sentencing provisions. Under the government's reform proposals, the penalties for offences that harm children would be increased. The maximum penalty for sexual exploitation, for example, would double from five years to ten. The maximum penalty for abandonment of a child or failure to provide the necessities of life to a child would more than double from two to five years. The abuse of a child in the commission of any Criminal Code offence would also have to be considered as an aggravating factor by the court and could result in a tougher sentence.

Clearly, members can see that these are very important points that need to be advanced for the protection of our children and other vulnerable persons. It is very important that we continue to bring forward these ideas, which I believe are important for the future of our children in this country.

There are other things that would also be met by allowing the reintroduction of Bill C-20. For example, when we talk about children and other vulnerable persons as witnesses within our courts, several reforms contained within the bill would help ensure that when they are participating in the criminal justice system, it would be less traumatic for them than it would otherwise be. First of all, it is very traumatic for someone to have gone through an experience of this nature, and it is even worse when they have to relive it in a courtroom setting. It is very important that we make provisions so that it is as easy and as least intimidating as possible. I think that although every time one enters a courtroom there is an element of intimidation, we should certainly try to minimize that for those who would be witnesses.

The current Criminal Code provisions would be expanded to allow all witnesses under age 18 to benefit from testimonial aids in any criminal proceeding, not just those involving sexual or other specified offences. These aids would include providing testimony from behind a screen or by closed circuit television, or having a support person accompany the young witness.

Current provisions generally require the Crown to establish the need for a testimonial aid. Given the potential trauma of the courtroom experience for young witnesses, the proposed reforms in Bill C-20 acknowledge the need for the aid. For all testimonial aids, the judge retains the discretion to deny the aid or protection where its use would interfere with the proper administration of justice. In addition, the facilities to permit the use of a screen or closed circuit TV must be available in the courtroom before the judge can permit their use.

Fundamental rights for the accused are fully respected under the proposed amendments. For example, the reforms would also allow children under 14 to give their evidence when they are able to understand and respond to questions. A competency hearing, which is currently mandatory, would no longer be required.

These are very important advances that would be very helpful in the administration of justice and are being held up by the failure of the House to approve the motion for reinstatement.

There are other areas, too, where in fact we talk about voyeurism. I think most of us are aware that with electronic advances today, voyeurism is becoming more and more of a problem. The latest evolution seems to be in the cellphone camera. It seems to be the latest intervention that is causing additional concern about voyeurism. I see that now notices are actually being posted at various establishments like the YMCA, for example, to the effect that one no longer can take a cellphone into a dressing room because of that particular characteristic of these more modern phones.

So it is something that is extremely important, this concept of voyeurism and making it an offence, and we have to deal with it. Bill C-20 is a bill that attempts to do this, and I believe it would do so in an appropriate manner. The rapid technological changes and developments of these years of course have brought many benefits to our society, but they raise all sorts of implications for such basic matters as our privacy. Web cameras, for example, which can transmit live images over the Internet, have raised concerns about their potential abuse, notably, of course, the secret viewing or recording of people for sexual purposes or where the viewing of a recording involves a serious breach of privacy.

The proposed offences listed in Bill C-20 would make it a crime in three specific cases to deliberately and secretly observe or record another person in circumstances where a reasonable expectation of privacy exists: first, when the observation or recording is done for a sexual purpose; second, when the person observed or recorded is in a place where one is reasonably expected to be in a state of nudity or engaged in sexual activity; and third, when the person observed is in a state of nudity or engaged in sexual activity and the purpose is to observe or record a person in such state of activity.

Distributing material knowing that it was produced through an offence of voyeurism would also be a crime. The maximum penalty for all voyeurism offences would be five years in prison. The copies for sale or distribution of a recording obtained through the commission of a voyeurism offence would be subject to seizure and forfeiture. The courts could also order the deletion of voyeuristic material from a computer system.

As members can see, these reforms clearly are quite important. The steps that we have taken so far to bring forward Bill C-20 in the previous pre-prorogation session, in fact, were very important and I think they were very positive steps in this regard. I think Canadians are concerned. They want solutions to these issues. That we are bringing forward solutions is extremely important. The fact that these solutions are being slowed up by this process of failure to cooperate and to work with the government in terms of bringing forward the existing bills that the government would like to reintroduce on this motion quite frankly is very troubling to me.

The time has come for the House to engage in the business that we were sent here to engage in and that is to advance the cause of the protection of our citizens. In this particular case, by reinstating Bill C-20 we would be advancing the cause of children and other vulnerable persons. It is extraordinarily important. I find that this process of delay for no reasoned purpose is very ineffective. Quite frankly, I think the Canadian people can see through this masquerade and they want us to proceed.

Accordingly, I would ask that the House support the reinstatement motion, bring it forward as soon as possible and have it pass in the House.

Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

February 10th, 2004 / 3:45 p.m.
See context


Dennis Mills Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by saying through you to the member for Rimouski--Neigette-et-la Mitis that as long as she is present in the House of Commons, Quebec's voice will never be diluted. As I reflect back over the last 16 years I have served in this chamber, one of my special joys has been meeting members from different parties for whom I feel great admiration for the work they do. The member is one of the special contributors to helping this place be a better place.

On the point of the motion, I humbly disagree with my colleague from the Bloc Québécois. It is important that we let Canadians know what we are trying to achieve. It is an easy thing to pick and choose the bills that we are trying to reintroduce to the House in this motion.

I heard one of the members from the new Conservative Party this morning put a big focus on Bill C-38, the marijuana bill. This is not about reintroducing just the marijuana bill. There are a number of bills on this motion that we are trying to reintroduce.

We should tell Canadians the reason we are trying to reintroduce these bills that lapsed in the last session is we want to pick up where we left off, especially with those bills on which we probably have a consensus, such as: Bill C-10B, cruelty to animals, which I will come back to in a minute; Bill C-17, public safety; Bill C-18, an act respecting Canadian citizenship; Bill C-20, protection of children; Bill C-26, the railway safety act; Bill C-33, international transfer of persons found guilty of criminal offences; Bill C-43, the Fisheries Act; Bill C-52, the Radiocommunication Act; and Bill C-56, an act to amend the Patent Act and the Food and Drugs Act. There are many more like these bills.

If we are going to be candid with the Canadian public who are listening to this debate today, we have to let them know that it has been a convention for hundreds of years that in a new session the government has up to 30 days to introduce bills that died on the Order Paper when the previous session ended. This is a convention that has long been practised. It does not mean that when these bills come back we will vote on them all at once. Members will have a chance to say yea or nay on each individual bill.

The idea of delaying this has an adverse effect on citizens in every riding of the country. Some of those bills touch every riding in the country. A case could be made on the electoral boundaries. We all know what that is about. That is an attempt to delay the election. I personally would not have any problem if we delayed the election for a while, but the reality is that we will have a chance to vote yea or nay on all of these bills when they come back. I do not think this delay tactic serves the opposition party well.

I want to talk about a very specific bill on the Order Paper that has concern in my riding and has had national attention in the last couple of weeks. It is Bill C-10B, cruelty to animals.

As hon. members may know, Withrow Park is in my riding. It is a fairly large park. It certainly would not be large by the standards of the member for Rimouski, but in my little community in downtown Toronto, Withrow Park is a major park and is probably about 10 to 15 acres big. About two weeks ago someone put poison in the park where people walk their dogs and from time to time let the dogs off the leash. The one that hit national media was T-Bone, a King Charles spaniel. He was quite well known.

In my constituency there are over 10,000 pet owners. Those pets are sources of comfort and have special relationships with many of the seniors and families in my riding. The attachment, the love and the affection for these animals is in many respects similar to that of parents with children. The notion that someone would drop poison is overwhelming. In fact the poison is not even available in Canada; it can only be obtained by licence in the United States.

It is that kind of insensitivity with which a bill like Bill C-10 deals. The notion that this House would work at delaying reintroducing a bill like that is not in my mind a constructive way to go.

I am hoping that through the motion that is on the floor today we can create some new consensus so that we can move forward on getting these bills back on track.

A lot of people would feel pretty anxious if an election was upon us and we let a lot of these bills die before the election. When we came back, I believe we would have to go through the entire process again. What is that process? Probably a lot of Canadians do not realize that hours and hours go into getting a bill to this stage. Witnesses come to the various committees of the House of Commons and give members of Parliament from all parties expert advice on designing the bills.

In the manufacture, preparation and formulation of a piece of legislation in the House, we do not just snap our fingers and a bill is put together by the legislative branch. Bills are built after receiving hundreds of hours of input from citizens across Canada. Some of them use their own money to come here to give expert testimony. The House of Commons committee system funds some of them to come here. The notion that we would just scrap all of that work is most disrespectful to the work of all of those witnesses we have heard with respect to the 40 or 50 bills that we are trying to put back on the Order Paper.

I would appeal to the leadership of the Conservative Party and the leadership of the NDP. The NDP should take a strong stand on this because I know there are bills here on which the NDP has had a strong influence. Those members should stand and say they support the government in moving these bills forward.

There are bills that affect every region of our country, such as the administration and accountability of Indian bands. Look at all the great work that went into putting that bill together. Look at all the travel time from every region of the country, especially the long distances from the north. Look at the ethics bill. How could the opposition not want us to proceed on the ethics bill? There is also the whole area of the Food and Drugs Act.

These are bills that affect the health of the citizens of every riding in the country. The notion that there would be opposition to bringing these bills back and passing them is counterproductive. It is part of the reason that people lose trust in this place, because stalling just for the sake of stalling I do not think serves anyone very well.

Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

February 9th, 2004 / 5:55 p.m.
See context


Roy Cullen Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, the motion seeks to reinstate bills that died on the Order Paper when the previous session of Parliament ended.

As all of us know, the goal of the motion is a simple one: to spare members the burden of having to repeat work on bills that got as far as the committee stage in the last session.

This is especially commendable given the numerous pressures MPs are under and the limited resources available to us.

What features are contained in the motion? Simply put, under the motion a minister would be able to request during 30 sitting days after the motion's adoption the reinstatement of a bill that had reached at least the committee stage when the last session ended. Should the Speaker be satisfied that the bill is the same as in the previous session, the bill would be reinstated at the same stage as before.

Thus during this session we can skip all the stages of debate that have been completed so far. The work of the committees that are considering the bills would consequently be preserved. In short, this is a very appealing option.

Parliament relies heavily upon precedents which means we are constantly looking over our shoulder to ensure new measures are consistent with past practices. Is this motion in keeping with the longstanding practices of the House? It is in fact a practice we have had for over three decades.

On a number of occasions reinstatement motions have been adopted by consent and without debate. It is clear that today's motion is well within the bounds of accepted parliamentary practice. This is supported by Marleau and Montpetit's authoritative guide to parliamentary procedure which discusses this issue in some detail. While they recognize that as a general principle prorogation of a session means that all bills that have not yet received royal assent die on the Order Paper and must be reintroduced in the new session, they also recognize that “bills have been reinstated by motion at the start of a new session at the same stage they had reached at the end of the previous session; committee work has similarly been revived”.

One point that needs clarification is that this motion allows the government the flexibility to reintroduce certain bills. It does not require the government to reintroduce all bills that were on the Order Paper at a certain stage when Parliament prorogued. Let me give an example of some bills which the government would have the flexibility to reinstate if it so chose.

One is Bill C-7 on the administration and accountability of Indian bands. The new government has indicated it would like to revisit that whole question of governance but nonetheless, this motion would give the government the flexibility to reintroduce that bill should it so choose.

Another one is Bill C-10B on cruelty to animals which has received a lot of attention in my riding. Bill C-13, assisted human reproduction, as an example had passed third reading and had been sent to the Senate and a great deal of the work that had been done here in the House of Commons would have to be redone. Bill C-17 on public safety was another bill that had passed third reading and had been sent to the Senate.

Bill C-18, an act respecting Canadian citizenship, is another bill that the government if this motion passes will be able to reintroduce if it so chooses. Bill C-19, first nations fiscal management, was at report stage. Bill C-20, protection of children, was at report stage. Bill C-22, the Divorce Act, was in committee. Bill C-23, registration of information relating to sex offenders, had passed third reading and had been sent to the Senate. Bill C-26, the Railway Safety Act, was in committee. Bill C-27 on airport authorities was at second reading when the House prorogued.

Bill C-32, Criminal Code amendments, had passed third reading and had been sent to the Senate. Bill C-33, international transfer of persons found guilty of criminal offences, was at report stage when we prorogued. Bill C-34, ethics, had passed third reading and had been sent to the Senate where it had been amended.

These are bills that have gone through a lengthy debate and process within the House of Commons and some already within the Senate.

Bill C-35, remuneration of military judges, had passed third reading and had been sent to the Senate. Bill C-36, Archives of Canada, had passed third reading and had been sent to the Senate. Bill C-38, the marijuana bill, was at report stage and second reading. Bill C-40, Corrections and Conditional Release Act, was at first reading when the House prorogued. Bill C-43, the fisheries act, was at first reading when the House prorogued.

Bill C-46, the capital markets fraud bill, had passed third reading and had been sent to the Senate. This is a bill that will help the government deal with the kind of corporate fraud that we have seen with Enron and many other examples. We want to make sure that our government has the ability to deal with these types of issues so that investors are protected from the fraudulent activities of the management of various companies and their directors.

Bill C-49, the electoral boundaries act had passed third reading and was in the Senate.

Bill C-51, the Canada Elections Act, and Bill C-52, the Radiocommunication Act, were at second reading when the House prorogued. Bill C-53, the riding name changes, had passed third reading and was sent to the Senate. Bill C-54, the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act was in committee as was Bill C-56, the Food and Drugs Act, when the House prorogued. Bill C-57, the westbank first nation self-government act was also in committee.

There was a lot of work involved in getting these bills to this stage. The government is not necessarily committing to reintroducing all these bills, but we want the flexibility to reintroduce those bills which we support and not have to reinvent the wheel.

The amendment put forward by the member for Yorkton--Melville indicates that there are a number of bills that, given the government's flexibility, he would not like to have reinstated. That includes Bill C-7, the bill dealing with the administration and accountability of Indian bands. Our government may want to revisit that bill.

The member for Yorkton--Melville has said that Bill C-13, the assisted human reproduction bill, should be left alone as well. He names a number of other bills such as Bill C-19, Bill C-20, Bill C-22, Bill C-26, Bill C-34, Bill C-35, Bill C-36, Bill C-38.

I should point out that a number of these bills, Bill C-13 for example, passed third reading and was in the Senate.The member for Yorkton--Melville wants us to start all over with that bill.

He said that Bill C-34, the ethics legislation, should not be reinstated, yet that bill had passed third reading and was sent to the Senate where it had been amended. We all know about that bill.

He said that we should start all over again with regard to Bill C-35, remuneration for military judges legislation. That bill had passed third reading and was in the Senate,.

I do not know what is so contentious with regard to Bill C-36, the archives of Canada legislation, but the member for Yorkton--Melville wants us to start all over again with that bill. Bill C-38, the marijuana bill, was at report stage.

A lot of work has already been done in this chamber and in the other place on bills that, without the passage of this motion, would have to be started all over again. There is a long list of precedents for reinstating government bills and reviving committee work.

For example, in 1970, 1972, 1974 and 1986, the members of this House gave their unanimous consent to a motion to reinstate bills from a previous session.

In 1977 and 1982 members amended the Standing Orders to allow Parliament to carry over legislation to the next session. All of which testifies to the longstanding practice of the House of allowing the reinstatement of bills at the same stage as was the case in the previous session, which is precisely what the motion calls for.

It is interesting to note, and I have some personal interaction with this particular idea, that the procedure proposed in the motion is similar, in fact it is identical, to that which exists in the Standing Orders for private members' bills which the House adopted in 1998.

I have a private member's bill, Bill C-212, an act respecting user fees, that unanimously passed all stages in the House, was in the Senate, had passed first reading in the Senate and had been referred to the Senate Standing Committee on National Finance. Then we prorogued. Without this particular feature, I would have had to start all over again in the House of Commons after two to three years of work and a bill that had passed unanimously at all stages in the House of Commons.

With this particular Standing Order, the bill is already on the floor of the Senate. We did not have to reinvent the wheel here in the House of Commons. I am hopeful that it will be passed to the Standing Committee on National Finance shortly and then onwards from there.

We say that those rules are good for private member's bills, in fact they have the support of the House because they are now part of the Standing Orders. We say, on the one hand for private members' business, it is all right to reinstate these bills, but for the government's business it is not, this is a whole new thing.

The member opposite said that if we have a new government then why do we not have new ideas. I can assure the member that if he read the throne speech, and if he looked at the new democratic deficit paper, this is just the start. He will see that the government will be operated very differently.

However, having said that, there is no problem in my judgment to reintroduce those bills that make sense. There has been a lot of work done already. With this motion, the government would have the flexibility to deal with these bills that have been passed, where there is consent of the House, and send them to the Senate.

It is interesting to note that in 1977, a private member's bill was reinstated after Parliament was dissolved.

All of which inevitably leads us to the conclusion, as I said earlier, that if it is reasonable to reinstate private members' bills at the same stage, surely we have the common sense in this chamber to say that it is reasonable to follow the same procedure with respect to government bills.

What would be different about government bills? If we have adopted the procedure in the House for private members' business, why would we want different rules for government business, unless we are out to score political points or be partisan in our debate?

I should point out that this practice of reinstating bills is also practised in other mature democracies that have ruled in favour of bringing legislation forward from one session to another.

I think of the parliament in the United Kingdom from which many of our own parliamentary practices originally came. It has reinstatement motions to allow government bills to carry over from one session to the next.

The official opposition has told the media that it would oppose the motion for the sole purpose of delaying bills from the last session. This is patently unfair and contrary to House practices. The attitude shows it has little regard for the work of the House and for Canadian taxpayers. Opposition members will ask members of the House, at great cost to the public treasury, to come back and re-debate bills that have already passed this chamber and are in the Senate in many cases.

The bills that will be reinstated would include the legislation to accelerate the coming into force of the new electoral boundaries which was passed by the House of Commons and sent to the Senate.

We talk about dealing with western alienation. This particular legislation would allow more seats for British Columbia and Alberta. This is the way to proceed. Why would we want to delay that bill? Why would we want to have the debate all over again on something that is patently obvious.

We take the census and figure it all out, and draw the boundaries. This is not rocket science. This is done by Elections Canada. It redefines the boundaries. It recognizes that Canada is a growing country, that different areas are growing more quickly than others, and it redefines the boundaries.

If we have that bill when the next election is called, Alberta and British Columbia will have a bigger voice. I think Ontario would receive more seats as well. I am sure that there could be an amendment that could be put forward to deal with Nova Scotia perhaps.

There is the legislation to create an independent ethics commissioner and a Senate ethics officer, something that the members opposite have argued for vociferously for months, perhaps years. This bill could be reinstated very simply by agreeing and adopting this motion. We could have an independent ethics commissioner for the House and a Senate ethics officer.

The motion should have the support of the House. It is the practice in most mature democratic countries.

In conclusion, we need to be clear that adoption of the motion does not mean that all the bills that were on the Order Paper when we prorogued would automatically come back. It means that the government would have the flexibility to pick those bills that, in its wisdom and judgment, it sees fit to bring back. That would allow us not to have to reinvent the wheel and re-debate those bills that have the support of the chamber. Many of them also have the support of the Senate, at least at first reading stage.

The motion before us today does not represent a break with our parliamentary traditions. In fact, it is very much a part of our parliamentary traditions and it is entirely consistent with the practice of the House dating back to 1970.

Moreover, the measures described in the motion would greatly contribute to freeing up the members so that they can focus on the important task of developing new initiatives for promoting the well-being of Canadians.

With this in mind, I certainly intend to support this motion. I would urge other members to support it so we can get on with the business of the House, the important business and legislation that can be brought forward and reinstated and not have to be re-debated.

Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

February 6th, 2004 / 12:15 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Canadian Alliance Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by taking one of the points that was just made at the end of House leader's remarks in introducing this.

He said that this motion serves the interests of the House. There are bills that the government is bringing back that serve the interests of only the Liberal Party.

One of the bills he talked about had to do with the amendments to the Canada Elections Act and he said how important it was for Alberta, B.C. and Ontario to get these extra seats. However that bill contains a very undemocratic provision that does not serve the interests of Canadians, nor does it serve the interests of many members in the House of Commons. The provision is to have all the amendments apply on an earlier date. Rather than comply with the law of Canada and have these amendments take place on August 18, they are trying to bring it back and have the amendment apply on April 1. They want to ram this bill through the House and through the Senate in order to call an early election.

The primary purpose of that bill is to undermine and try to derail any ability to organize properly for a federal election; for our political party to get its policy convention and all of its statements in place. That is why they are trying to do what they are doing today. That is a very undemocratic measure and we in this place should strongly object to what the government is doing.

The Prime Minister claims to have formed a new government, yet with this motion he is claiming the privileges of being the former government of Jean Chrétien. He is bringing in everything that the former prime minister failed to get through here. Procedurally speaking, the Prime Minister wants to be seen, as most Canadians see his government, as the old Chrétien government, and that is exactly what he is doing by his actions today.

While we in opposition would agree with that definition, that they are an old government, we will argue that they should come up with their own legislation and portray themselves as new and show Canadians clearly what they stand for. This will not happen before April 1 because we will be debating old legislation. We will not be debating new ideas that the Prime Minister brings in. That should be abundantly obvious by what is happening here today.

I accept that there is a well-established practice for government to re-introduce a reinstatement motion in a new session, however it has not been established that a so-called new government in a new session can reinstate bills from the previous government. If this government claims to be new, what it is doing would definitely disprove that.

I have examined all the precedents and I could not find one example of a new government reinstating bills from a previous session. From Journals of October 21, 1970, at page 46, it was recorded that the House adopted a reinstatement motion. The prime minister was Pierre Trudeau and the motion reinstated bills of Mr. Trudeau's government from the previous session.

On May 9, 1972, at page 281 of Journals , we have another motion adopted and, once again, Pierre Trudeau being the prime minister in that session and the previous session.

On March 8, 1974, pages 25 and 26, there was a reinstatement motion that was adopted. It was the same circumstances as May 9, 1972.

On October 3, 1986, at pages 47 and 48, Mr. Mulroney's government introduced a reinstatement motion reinstating bills of the Mulroney government from the previous session. However it was the same government.

On March 4, 1996, at pages 34 and 35, and 39 to 41 of the Journals , Jean Chrétien's government reinstated government bills of the Chrétien government from the previous session.

Then we had November 12, 2003 and the government of Jean Chrétien once again successfully reinstating bills from a previous session, although he ran into a bit of a problem with his attempt to reinstate other business resulting in a Speaker's ruling that divided the motion into three parts.

Many arguments have been made against the practice whereby a prime minister reinstates his government bills from a previous session. It goes against the practice, consequences and reasons for a government to prorogue. It contradicts the notion of beginning a session with fresh ideas and a new direction. It contradicts the idea that a new government should have new legislation and bring in new ideas that we can debate.

Does the Prime Minister not do what a new government should do because he does not want Canadians to know what he stands for? Does he want to keep us guessing, making one statement one day and a different statement another day, backtracking on all kinds of things, and not introducing some meaningful legislation for us to debate that would indicate the direction his government is going to go? Is that the reason we do not have new legislation introduced?

What we are talking about here today is far worse than what I have been saying, I would argue procedurally unacceptable. The current Prime Minister is attempting to reinstate bills of another prime minister from a previous session and has the audacity to call this a new government.

When the Prime Minister promised democratic reform and made a commitment to do things differently, we thought he meant to improve how Parliament functions. So far the Prime Minister has behaved less democratically than his predecessors, something most of us thought would be impossible but it is happening before our eyes.

You know very well, Mr. Speaker, that I have been dealing with the Firearms Act for nigh on 10 years. Back in 1994 I began tracking a piece of legislation that I thought would long since be gone. However, now this Prime Minister is using a tactic that the previous prime minister used in keeping that legislation in place. He has stated quite clearly that this is not going to be a free vote in Parliament. He has stated quite clearly that this vote on the gun registry funding will be a vote on confidence in his government.

How can a new Prime Minister, who says that all his legislation and all his programs will pass seven tests before they will be continued, reintroduce a whole bunch of bills? How can he continue with a Firearms Act that breaks all seven of those tests that he has put forward? They are good tests. Do not get me wrong. I agree with him. I believe all legislation should be put that way. However, why bring in the tests if at the first opportunity they have to test them and put something before them, say “except for the Firearms Act”, but it will apply to all other legislation and programs before the House? Obviously democracy is not operating the way we have been given the impression it should operate.

On May 12 and May 16, 2003, a former government House leader raised the issue of parliamentary privilege, exempting members from being called as witnesses in any court. I raised this earlier with you, Mr. Speaker. The issue raised in that case was whether the prime minister could claim parliamentary privilege to provide legal protection, and I went through a whole bunch of arguments. Let me read at this point the ruling from the Canadian Court of Appeal. It stated:

--the parliamentary privilege of a Member of Parliament not to attend as a witness in a civil action applies throughout a session of Parliament, and extends 40 days after the prorogation or dissolution of Parliament and 40 days before the commencement of a new session.

That clearly is just being disregarded in this case.

I would just like to go through some of the bills that we would like to exclude from this reinstatement, for example, Bill C-7, an act respecting leadership selection, administration and accountability of Indian bands and to make related amendments to other acts. We would like to see that bill not included.

As well, we would like to see Bill C-19, an act respecting leadership selection, administration and accountability of Indian bands and to make related amendments to other acts, excluded.

We would like to see Bill C-20, an act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act, excluded from this list.

Bill C-22, an act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcements Act, the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and the Judges Act and to amend other acts in consequence, we do not want included.

Then we have Bill C-26, an act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and the Railway Safety Act, to enact the VIA Rail Canada Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts. We would like that excluded.

Bill C-38, an act to amend the contraventions Act and the controlled drugs and substances act, should be excluded.

Then we have in the Senate Bill C-13, the human reproductive technologies act. Canadians have huge concerns with that. That is something that should not be reinstated clearly.

Bill C-34 is an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act. That provides for an ethics commissioner, a Senate ethics officer and other acts in consequence. This Prime Minister has made a lot of to-do about that bill. He talks about the need for an ethics commissioner and then the previous government brings forth legislation that applies to only backbench MPs and does not apply to the cabinet. The problems that we have observed here in Ottawa do not pertain to backbench MPs. They pertain to those who have the responsibility in the cabinet.

We have Bill C-35, an act to amend the National Defence Act (remuneration of military judges). It should not be brought back.

Bill C-36 is an act to establish the Library and Archives of Canada, to amend the Copyright Act and to amend certain other acts in consequence. We have huge concerns with all of these.

With regard to these, I would like to propose an amendment. I move:

That the motion be amended by adding:

“excluding the following bills:

I have listed them, but I will read them again for the purposes of this amendment:

C-7, An Act respecting the leadership selection, administration and accountability of Indian bands, and to make related amendments to other Acts.

I made an error in my first listing and I will correct that now.

C-19, An Act to provide for real property taxation powers of first nations, to create a First Nations Tax Commission, First Nations Financial Management Board, First Nations Financial Authority and First Nations Statistical Institute and to make consequential amendments to other Acts;

C-20, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act;

C-22, An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcements Act, the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and the Judges Act and to amend other Acts in consequence;

C-26, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and the Railway Safety Act, to enact the VIA Rail Canada Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts;

C-38, An Act to amend the contraventions act and the controlled drugs and substances act;

Again for that one, Canadians have a lot of concerns.

C-13, An Act respecting assisted human reproduction;

C-34, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (Ethics Commissioner and Senate Ethics Officer) and other Acts in consequence;

C-35, an act to amend the National Defence Act (remuneration of military judges);

C-36, An Act to establish the Library and Archives of Canada, to amend the Copyright Act and to amend certain Acts in consequence.”

Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

February 6th, 2004 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

Brossard—La Prairie Québec


Jacques Saada LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister responsible for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased today to introduce Motion No. 2, which proposes, and I quote:

That, during the first thirty sitting days of the present session of Parliament, whenever a minister of the Crown, when proposing a motion for first reading of a public bill, states that the said bill is in the same form as a government bill in the previous session, if the Speaker is satisfied that the said bill is in the same form as the House of Commons had agreed to at prorogation, notwithstanding Standing Order 71, the said bill shall be deemed in the current session to have been considered and approved at all stages completed at the time of the prorogation of the previous session.

There are ample precedents for the House of Commons deeming government bills from previous sessions to have been advanced in new sessions to the stages at which they expired at prorogation.

This approach has been applied for over 30 years in order to avoid wasting parliament's time and resources. In 1970, 1972 and 1986, the House gave unanimous consent to such motions to reinstate bills. In 1991, 1996, 1999 and as recently as 2002, the House passed a motion similar to that which we are proposing today. Furthermore, it is consistent with practice in the United Kingdom House of Commons.

If our motion is adopted, witnesses will not have to come back to committees to present their views and briefs all over again. The committees in turn will not have to hear them all over again.

Before this procedure was accepted by the House, reintroducing bills that had died on the Order Paper wasted valuable parliamentary resources and tax dollars since the same debate and the same committee hearings had to be repeated for each bill which needed to be reintroduced.

Given the financial constraints under which we are operating and for which we should be aware, we feel it is wiser to devote these resources to priority needs in areas such as health care, for instance.

Furthermore, this method allowing bills to be reinstated is already part of the House rules governing private members' business. The House Standing Orders stipulate that private members' bills be automatically reinstated after prorogation of the session.

The motion we have put before the House does not deal with any one specific bill. It may well be that some ministers have reasons for not reinstating proceedings on their bills that were terminated by prorogation. The motion will apply solely to bills that have been introduced and at least referred to committee, either before or after second reading.

As for bills that had only been introduced, but not yet studied in committee during the previous session, they can be reintroduced during the present session. In that case, it could not be said that reintroducing these bills would constitute needless duplication of work and, naturally, a waste of parliamentary resources.

The procedure will work as follows. During the first 30 sitting days of the new session, any minister who introduces a bill identical to a bill in the old session, and which at least had been referred to a committee, will have the right to request that the new bill be reinstated to the stage at which it had progressed at the time of prorogation.

The procedure does not oblige a minister to reintroduce a bill. It merely gives them a new right to do so during a limited period at the beginning of the session.

There are important bills from the last session that respond to the needs and interests of Canadians. For example, there is a need to reinstate Bill C-49, which provides for the electoral boundaries readjustment based on the 2001 national census, to take effect April 1, 2004.

Given their growing population, British Columbia and Alberta are each entitled to two additional seats and Ontario to an additional three seats.

As part of the action plan on democratic Reform, which I have the honour of leading in this House, the government has promised to reinstate Bill C-34, the legislation to create the office of an Independent Ethics Commissioner and a Senate Ethics Officer, who will report to the House and Senate respectively. We hope that, with the support of our fellow parliamentarians, we can bring this bill into force.

The government will reinstate other bills, including Bill C-17, the Public Safety Act, 2002; Bill C-20, an act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act; Bill C-23, the Sex Offender Information Registration Act; and Bill C-57, Westbank First Nation Self-Government Act.

As this list shows, the motion serves the interests of the House. It also serves the interests expressed by the opposition in a number of cases. For these reasons I do ask for the support of all members. Perhaps if we can come to a consensus we can adopt this motion today.

Let us support this measure, which has been supported many times by all parties of the House. I sincerely hope we can concentrate our efforts and resources on the real issues facing Canadians.