An Act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act and the Oceans Act

This bill was last introduced in the 38th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in November 2005.

Sponsor

Jean Lapierre  Liberal

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment transfers powers, duties and functions from the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to the Minister of Transport.

Elsewhere

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.

Extension of Sitting PeriodRoyal Assent

June 23rd, 2005 / 5:05 p.m.
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

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

Rideau Hall

Ottawa

June 23, 2005

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 bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 23rd day of June, 2005, at 4:10 p.m.

Yours sincerely,

Curtis Barlow

Deputy Secretary, Policy, Program and Protocol

The schedule indicates the bills assented to were Bill C-9, an act to establish the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec—Chapter 26; Bill C-56, an act to give effect to the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement and the Labrador Inuit Tax Treatment Agreement—Chapter 27; Bill C-58, an act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2006—Chapter 28; and Bill C-3, an act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act and the Oceans Act —Chapter 29.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2005 / 10:45 a.m.
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NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, may I first begin by complimenting you on the judicious way you are bringing great credibility to the chair in your performance today. Having said that, I hope you will give me great latitude in the comments I am about to make regarding Bill C-3.

I begin my remarks on behalf of the NDP by paying tribute to the contribution that our critic, the member for Churchill, has made in her tireless efforts to improve Bill C-3 at the committee stage. I also want to recognize the contribution that the NDP member for Sackville—Eastern Shore has made in the context of the Coast Guard and of maritime issues generally and certainly even more pointedly, in the context of shipbuilding which I may come around to within my comments.

I am looking forward to explaining perhaps in a roundabout way the position of the NDP on the bill. We should note the unique nature of the bill. It reverses the choices made in 1994 by the Liberal government when it reversed the changes made to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Transport Canada. This puts me in mind of a number of changes made in the way the country was run during that era.

It was a very prolific era in terms of reform. In the fullness of time and having had the time to look back and review things, most choices made during that period have been catastrophic. They warrant being reversed by this bill, or perhaps some omnibus piece of legislation could be brought in to mop up after the Liberals because of that era.

In the context of debating Bill C-3, it would be negligent not to point out other things that were happening in that same period of time. For instance, that is when the superportfolio was created at Human Resources Development Canada which lumped together an almost impossible shopping basket of portfolios, programs and areas of jurisdiction such as the Canada pension plan, EI, and training. All of those things were lumped into a superportfolio which we learned later was an unmanageable portfolio. Half of the budget of Canada fell under that portfolio because of the breadth and extent of the jurisdiction. We have learned that was a bad idea. It was bad management.

At the same time there was a scheme to unite the OAS and the GIS. It triggered a blue rinse revolution across the country, much like when Brian Mulroney when he was prime minister tried to deindex the pension. Senior citizens across the country rose up and told the government to put the brakes on that one and the government had to reverse it. There were devastating EI cuts during that period of time which we are still reeling from today. We are incrementally putting that program back together after it was systematically dismantled by the Liberal government.

It has taken us a decade of fighting back to finally repair the effect of those early years of the Liberal mandate. In speaking to Bill C-3 we have to be cognizant of the other failed initiatives of that era.

The bill will have real implications on the ground for environmental protection and enforcement. It has given great cause and concern to members of our caucus for that reason. It deals specifically with pleasure craft. We could support the moving of the management of pleasure craft and its environmental enforcement into the ministry of transport on the assurance that the provinces would be properly consulted and properly compensated if enforcement responsibilities flow with this with added costs and expenses.

I raise this because I personally have had negative experiences with the cross-jurisdictional nature of administration of laws dealing with small craft, pleasure craft and small working boats. I will give one graphic illustration to point out some of the pitfalls of what we are going into today with Bill C-3.

Not too long ago there was a very tragic case on Lake Winnipeg. A 19-year-old man was killed at work on a small fishing vessel. It was the young man's first day at work and he was killed on the job. It should be a routine matter that some agency would get involved in a situation like this to investigate what was a workplace accident, to do a proper inquest, to make recommendations so it could never happen again. It would have helped the family bring some closure by having an investigation into this death, other than the police's cursory investigation to make sure there was no foul play and that it was an accident.

Complications arise when dealing with small vessels inland on the freshwater fishery. With the crossover of jurisdiction, nobody has a clue whose job it is to investigate these things. I personally tried to work with workplace safety and health with the province first of all, but I was told it was a federal transportation issue. I went to the federal jurisdiction under the Canada Labour Code, but was told it was not that jurisdiction either. It was not the Coast Guard's jurisdiction. People at the Department of Transport said they could not help.

The family in this case was reeling with shock because nobody wanted to take any responsibility for what was a tragic event of a young 19-year-old boy killed on his first day of work. It was a workplace industrial accident on a fishing boat, which is a workplace; I do not care if the boat is 16 feet long or 60 feet long, it is a workplace. Nobody knew whose jurisdiction it was.

I am drawing this as a parallel because we now contemplate transferring the jurisdiction for all pleasure crafts under this bill. I am pointing out the very real concerns we have about the question of jurisdiction, the complication of jurisdiction, and sometimes the competing interests of jurisdictions. It should be noted that DFO and Transport Canada have completely different priorities, completely different mandates, completely different and sometimes competing agendas.

The room for complication, crossover, lack of clarity and lack of certainty is going to be compounded by what we seek to do here today. With all of these things I am simply saying that any possible conflict between the management of these areas of jurisdiction and the enforcement by the Coast Guard need to be explored thoroughly.

I began by pointing out our general observations about how this is a reversal of work done in 1994. In light of these complications I am addressing today, I can say simply that the bill would have been welcomed in a far more enthusiastic way by the NDP if we had raised the Coast Guard in the context of recognizing the very real need for growing our Coast Guard, for giving our Coast Guard the tools it needs to do an increasingly difficult job and to meet the increasing expectations that we have for our Coast Guard.

Like most of the opposition members present, I expected far more in the federal budget for the Coast Guard than $275 million over five years. This is a paltry recognition of the need. I come from Winnipeg where maritime issues are not always top of mind, but as a Canadian I am well aware that we have the largest coastline of any country in the world. We have a Coast Guard fleet that is not capable of offering any of the services that we expect as a maritime nation. The modernization of the fleet should have been a topic of debate for today if we were serious about reform.

We clearly do not have the ships to meet the needs and the demands of the Coast Guard. Yet, the expectations of our Coast Guard continue to grow.

By way of background, in our involvement and position on the bill, I would like to point out that back in December 12, 2003, the Prime Minister announced that the responsibility for policy on marine security and safety would be centralized under the Ministry of Transport.

To that end, when some parts of marine safety and security were transferred from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to the Department of Transport, these policy responsibilities gave some consternation to anyone involved. It was at that time I first heard the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore sound the alarm that something was brewing.

It was a rather veiled announcement that the Prime Minister made at that time. It was difficult to determine to what extent the Prime Minister would be going. Was this going to involve navigation services, pollution prevention, or other issues like safety and awareness programs? The scope of what was being proposed was not certain until October 8, when the government introduced Bill C-3, an act to amend the Canada Shipping Act.

At that time our member for Churchill, also fully engaged in this issue, sought amendments at committee regarding environmental enforcement. One of our real concerns was, with this shift of enforcement duties, would environmental safety be first and foremost? Would it get primacy, if you will, in our application of these regulations? We were very concerned it was not.

We believe that pollution properly belongs with the Minister of the Environment. The Ministry of the Environment has the tools and the mandate to protect our environment. The Department of Transportation again may be at cross interests, and now, with a new task and a new obligation to enforce environmental integrity, how does that conflict with other aspects of the Ministry of Transportation? These are some of the obvious contradictions that come to mind when we look at what, on paper, looks like a simple administrative transfer of duties and regulations. It is not that simple.

In the field where it matters and on our waterways it is not that simple. We are not sure who we look to. Ship source environmental pollution is a sore point with the government. We know that. The largest environmental fines ever given out in this country were to do with ship source pollution. It was a ship owned by Canada Steamship Lines in Halifax Harbour. This is why I know it is an irritant and the Liberal government would rather downplay it and not make reference to it.

It is a huge problem. With pleasure craft, commercial craft and even military craft from other countries, we find ship source pollution to be a significant worldwide issue that is not satisfactorily addressed. It properly belongs under the environment ministry because it is the Ministry of the Environment that can levy those heavy penalties for ship source pollution.

I am only pointing out some of the reservations made by our critic, the member for Churchill, who at committee valiantly made the case against significant opposition for keeping the environmental aspects for marine pollution protection and prevention with the Ministry of the Environment. Those amendments were ruled out of order.

That is an illustration of the difference between a minority government and a majority government, because at that time in October 2004 there was a majority Liberal government which would not accept common sense amendments. Getting an amendment through at committee six or eight months ago was a very novel thing because of the attitude that the majority will rule in spite of reason and logic.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2005 / 10:20 a.m.
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Bloc

Raynald Blais Bloc Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak on Bill C-3 at third reading.

I cannot begin my speech without referring to some of the comments just made. With regard to the 1995 mistake—transferring responsibility from the Department of Transport to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans—I get the feeling that, 10 years later, they are going to correct the first mistake by making another one.

Here is the second mistake. Upon consideration, Bill C-3, obviously, is only an administrative change. The Canadian Coast Guard's problem is not administrative in nature, but rather due to a lack of consistency and funding. This is a major problem—I will have the opportunity to talk about this in detail during my speech—given its numerous responsibilities.

I do not get the feeling today that the government is behaving responsibly by introducing this purely superficial and administrative change. There is no attempt to get to the bottom of things and I will talk about this for the next few minutes.

I just want to remind the House why we think that this bill at third reading, in the end, presents no new solutions instead of doing what needs to be done. We have looked at documents published by the Library of Parliament, which simply say that the administrative bill clarifies the December 2003 transfer of powers for marine safety from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to the Department of Transport. It consolidates policy responsibility for all aspects of marine safety in Transport Canada. It improves the responsiveness, coherence and consistency of the marine regulatory framework in Canada. It enhances service delivery on marine matters for all stakeholders. It ensures that the roles and responsibilities of the government remain the same in whatever department they are found. It preserves the authorities of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to carry out the operational role assigned to it. It ensures that the powers, duties and functions transferred from DFO to Transport Canada are unambiguous, in order to prevent disputes and it preserves the logic and coherence of the affected statutes.

Examining each of these elements or parameters, I can see, on the face of them, that we cannot support the bill as presented. It is purely and simply an administrative change that will do nothing to correct the situation.

The situation is as follows. In September 2000, the Canadian Shipowners Association wrote the following about the Coast Guard:

The Canadian Coast Guard provides a series of services which impact on the commercial fleet. The maintenance of aids to navigation, icebreaking services and dredging are all services utilized to some extent by CSA members. Faced with budget reductions, the Coast Guard has begun to introduce new charges for the delivery of all these services.

This has been going on for the past several years. The government has been irresponsible and has done absolutely nothing about the problem of charges to the shipping industry.

The Coast Guard began introducing new charges. The passage continues:

These new costs taken together amount to substantial new operating costs at a time when other transportation services have been able to drastically reduce costs through regulatory reforms and closure of facilities.

This refers to a situation that arose in 2000. As you will see, the situation persists, unfortunately.

New Coast Guard service fees are a national issue effecting users across the country. Together with western and Atlantic marine transportation industry representatives, the CSA participated in the National Marine and Industrial Coalition to provide a common approach to negotiations with the government.

The report continues:

In 1998, consultations were held on the Coast Guard's plans for icebreaking fees. A report of the Marine Advisory Board (MAB) recommended a uniform transit fee with a cap on the maximum number of chargeable transits—. The Coalition responded with a modified proposal. Following a series of meetings with Minister David Anderson and his officials, the Minister agreed to reduce the Coast Guard's target revenue for icebreaking by half. In addition, the Minister agreed to freeze charges at this level fort hree years—

The three-year freeze on fees also applies to charges for aids to navigation. CSA members have argued that the industry no longer requires all the services being offered by the Coast Guard, that efforts to reduce operation costs must increase and that these new costs will negatively impact industry competitiveness.

The Coast Guard re-introduced the dredging services fee in 1998 for one year. Originallyintroduced as a “interim fee” —

This is the Liberal government's usual tactic: interim fees, interim measures. We have heard more than enough of them in connection with employment insurance.

— for commercial ships in the St. Lawrence river in 1997, the fee was extended to September 1, 1999. The government also established an Advisory Committee to review this matter.

One might well call this a ghost committee. This was written back in 2000.

Now I will read an excerpt from Maritime Magazine , a shipping magazine. In its winter 2005 issue, editor Pierre Terrien updates the situation. This is in fact the heart of the problem and where Bill C-3 is needed. The bill number is of no importance, but what is important is some real responsibility with respect to the Coast Guard.

According to Mr. Terrien, the debate on Coast Guard cost recovery, already underway a number of years ago, has used up a lot of newspaper ink and a lot of energy. Even the Commissioner of the Coast Guard is opposed to this accursed federal policy—not my words, they are used in the article—but the only good thing about it is that it will bring together the various bodies concerned with defending and promoting shipping. It has also led to the creation of several coalitions that have brought together around the same table stakeholders from the industrial and manufacturing sectors as well as the usual spokespersons for the shipping sector.

This goes to show that there can be several sides—two and sometimes three—to an argument.

For the marine community, this pulling together of the forces in the field has proven to be the most appropriate change of the past decade, as it gave more consistency to its image and voice.

Nevertheless, this is an “accursed” policy. It is unfortunate to have to use such language, but we can clearly see that, as the years go by, this issue is definitely not progressing, far from it. It is not with the $276 million over five years recently announced by Fisheries and Oceans Canada that we can expect everything to be resolved.

Even Canadian Coast Guard Commissioner Adams acknowledged that an investment of $140 million per year would be required to properly upgrade the Coast Guard. We are not talking about luxuries here. We are not talking about ships that would look like luxury liners. We are talking about major investments, to the tune of $140 million per year, just to achieve at a decent level.

What was announced today for the Coast Guard is interesting. It may sound like a lot of money, but it is really $275 million over five years. Things being what they are, the dividing factor being a mathematical model that cannot be disproved, we realize that the amount being spent is very small in comparison with what is really needed. I think that, on this file, an administrative change will not successfully resolve the fundamental problem.

We are now at third reading. This bill amends four existing pieces of legislation, namely the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act and the Oceans Act. The enactment transfers powers, duties and functions from the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to the Minister of Transport.

I will remind the hon. members that history shows what may be, at the end of the day, the Liberal approach. In 1995, the reverse happened: the powers, duties and functions of the Department of Transport were transferred to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

And now the transfer is happening again. There may well be disputes. The government must make sure that the powers, duties and functions of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans being transferred to the Department of Transport are clear so as to prevent disputes. Is that the case? I am not sure.

They are taking one step forward, one step back. They can pedal all they like, they are in neutral. In other words, they are marking time. Meanwhile, problems are piling up. In terms of not only marine safety but safety generally, it appears they are missing the boat. Because, with respect to needs—I repeat, because it is important to emphasize this—they announce a mere $275 million over five years, when the needs estimated by the Commissioner of the Coast Guard, Mr. Adams—I am willing to accept him as an expert in the field and someone who knows what is going on when he talks about the needs of Coast Guard services—amount to some $140 million per year.

As far as democracy is concerned, they are denying the existence of the parliamentary standing committee which issued a unanimous report on the Coast Guard a few years ago, in 2003. In the report, the committee recommends, among other things, the creation of an independent civilian federal agency. There are other recommendations, and I will read them.

I would like to say more about this unanimous report by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, whose members, I remind the House, come from all political parties. In the end, in introducing Bill C-3, which is purely administrative and cosmetic, the government is completely ignoring this report.

The committee recommends among its 18 recommendations:

That funding to the Coast Guard be increased.

The report does not call for a cosmetic increase. The amount of $275 million over five years may look enormous, but five years goes by quickly, and this is clearly insufficient to meet the real needs.

The committee also recommended:

That the Government of Canada, through the Canadian Coast Guard, guarantee stable, long-term A-base funding for the Office of Boating Safety at a level fully sufficient for it to meet its responsibilities.

That the Canadian Coast Guard be governed by a new Canadian Coast Guard Act that would set out the roles and responsibilities of the Coast Guard.

That the government establish the Canadian Coast Guard as the lead federal agency among the several federal departments involved in marine pollution prevention.

That the Coast Guard be given all the necessary resources and powers to conduct surveillance and collect evidence necessary for the effective prosecution of contraventions.

That, prior to any decision to de-staff lightstations, affected communities and stakeholders be consulted.

That a renewed Coast Guard be established as an independent civilian agency; that the government make an immediate commitment—

This was in 2003.

—that the Canadian Coast Guard receive an injection of capital funding to pay for fleet renewal, upgraded and modernized shore-based infrastructure and the implementation of new technology.

To some extent, this is the context in which we now find ourselves, at third reading. It is the second time that I have risen in the House to address this issue. But for a few exceptions, my comments are essentially the same today. Indeed, the Coast Guard issue requires more than mere cosmetic or administrative changes. It requires significant improvements that are adequate, relevant and that meet existing needs.

It is important to meet those needs because, as members know, we are surrounded by three oceans. I am more familiar with one of these oceans. Since I come from the riding of Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine and represent it, I know the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of St. Lawrence well.

I can say that, for the past number of years, when people think about the Coast Guard, the question that comes to mind is: when will the next cut be made? This is more or less the context in which we find ourselves now.

With respect to marine services, specifically marine safety and people who might perhaps experience problems at sea and so forth, it does not appear that the Canadian Coast Guard can truly fulfill its mandate. I am not the only one saying so. The fishers, industry stakeholders and even the commissioner of the Coast Guard, the big boss, are saying so too.

There are not enough ships and the Coast Guard's real needs are not being met. That is why, in a last-ditch effort, we are asking the House to vote against this bill and ensure that the current Liberal minority government goes back and does its homework.

Turning its back on its responsibilities and completely ignoring the fact that the Coast Guard requires so much more makes no sense and would result in another scandal to add to the Liberal Party's collection. Ensuring that real resources are allocated and that there is a real consistency in terms of responsibilities is a matter of respect and dignity. This problem cannot truly be resolved by tossing it back and forth between Transport Canada and DFO.

In conclusion, I want to say that the people of Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, the people who rely on the services of the Canadian Coast Guard, truly need real changes, not a superficial and administrative bill, to ensure that they have a Coast Guard able to protect them and improve on its services. For this reason, neither the marine industry nor the people and the fishers should have to pay the price. I hope too that they will not have to pay with their lives.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2005 / 10:10 a.m.
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Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, as members know, Bill C-3 is an act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act and the Oceans Act.

Bill C-3 was one of the first bills introduced in this Parliament. It was of particular interest to me because at that time I had just been named my party's transportation critic. The previous critic for our party was the member for Port Moody--Westwood--Port Coquitlam. He has a veritable wealth of knowledge in the area of transport issues so I was very pleased to work with him. Quite frankly, I am also very pleased that he has now resumed the responsibility of being our transport critic.

Bill C-3 was tabled on the Friday before the break for Thanksgiving. It is interesting to note that it has now come back to Parliament on the Friday before another break for Parliament.

The parliamentary secretary indicated that the bill is of importance to the Prime Minister. He mentioned twice in his speech that the Prime Minister made the announcement of these changes on December 12, 2003, so it must be important if it happened on the day the Prime Minister was sworn into office. I am sure he was preoccupied by many things on that day, but it was the day on which he announced the changes to the Canada Shipping Act and related statutes that have now become Bill C-3.

I did not have any prior consultation concerning the bill before it was introduced into the House, but when I did have a look at it I was a little surprised at its content. I thought the subject matter of the bill was already within the purview of the Department of Transport.

On further investigation, I found that this was in fact the case up to 1995. Some changes were then made which removed that responsibility from the Department of Transport and placed it with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Eight years after that move was made, the government realized a mistake had been made. In fact, what is taking place here is a re-organization to correct what I think most people would agree was a mistake.

As transport critic, I recommended in the House that we should support Bill C-3. I think that is and should be the spirit of the 38th Parliament. This is a minority Parliament, and I think the responsible role for members of the opposition is to look at whatever is proposed in the House and, if it makes sense for Canada, if it is good for Canada, support it. After having looked at the bill, I have no hesitation in recommending to my colleagues that this is something we should support.

One of the objectives of Bill C-3 is to free up the Coast Guard to focus on its operational mission. I could not agree more with that. Quite frankly, I am of the opinion that the Coast Guard should be doing an awful lot more than it is doing at the present time. I have raised this matter in the House before.

The Government of Canada is not doing enough for border security, particularly along the waterways that separate Canada from the United States. I have made it very clear to the House that I have been upset over the years after realizing that the Niagara Regional Police Service has to take up much of the international security responsibilities in the waterways in the region of Niagara, including parts of Lake Ontario, the Niagara River and parts of Lake Erie.

In my previous incarnation as a regional councillor for the City of Niagara Falls, having looked at the Niagara regional police budget, I was shocked to see how much money it is paying to patrol the waterways. Good heavens above, I said, we do not have to be constitutional experts to figure out that this is the responsibility of the federal government. Whether it is the RCMP, the Coast Guard or other elements of Canadian security, the federal government should be responsible for this.

At the same time, I want to be very clear that the Niagara Regional Police Service has never complained about taking up this or any other responsibility. It is one of those police forces that steps to the front, assists the public and does what is right for whatever role it is given. Nonetheless, in my opinion this is not right.

Bill C-3 focuses on the Coast Guard and on allowing it to get back to its operational responsibilities. Let me tell members that I think its operational responsibilities should be far more extensive than they are. Far more resources should be going to this. The government was very quick after 9/11 to start imposing taxes for national security. Indeed, the Minister of Transport will tell the House about the hundreds of millions of dollars the government made off the security tax just at the airports. Hundreds of millions of dollars come into government coffers and Canadians would like to see some of those dollars get back to what they are supposed to be doing, which is protecting this nation. I will continue to raise this and push for that in the House.

With respect to the bill, it is a step in the right direction. It corrects a mistake that was made back in 1995. Indeed, as I have said before, I wish all the mistakes of the government could be so easily corrected. It is too bad that we could not have some kind of an omnibus bill to reverse all the mistakes that have been made by the Liberal Party in its eleven and half years in office, but we can perhaps save that for another day.

That would be an interesting piece of legislation, would it not? It would probably be a very big bill. That is why I say that to correct all the mistakes that have been made it would have to be an omnibus bill. Certainly this bill would correct one of them and the official opposition will support it.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2005 / 10:05 a.m.
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Scarborough—Agincourt Ontario

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to the third reading stage of Bill C-3, an act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act and the Oceans Act.

The bill reflects the Prime Minister's commitment announced on December 12, 2003, to rationalize responsibility for marine safety policy under the Minister of Transport.

Since 1995, responsibility for marine safety has been divided between the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. Those ministers and their departments have worked closely together regarding vessel safety on water and to protect marine environments.

In spite of this excellent collaboration, the division of responsibility has presented difficulties. The complete separate regimes for pleasure craft and for commercial vessels were particularly problematic. There were operational challenges to decide which departments personnel were responsible for a particular vessel and which rules applied.

More important, the split was not convenient for stakeholders, the marine industry and millions of Canadians who use our vast waterways for recreational purposes. It engendered unnecessary complexity and ambiguity, making it difficult for stakeholders to know which department they should be dealing with. The bill responds to stakeholder concerns and is welcomed by both commercial and recreational boating interests.

Policy responsibility for marine safety and protection of the marine environment has now been consolidated at Transport Canada. The policy responsibilities transferred from the Canadian Coast Guard, held since 1995, include the responsibility for regulations governing pleasure craft safety, marine navigation services, pollution prevention and response, and the protection of navigable waters.

As well, certain operational and program responsibilities, such as boating safety, promotion and awareness programs, have moved into the Transport Canada portfolio.

With these new responsibilities, the governor in council transferred certain parts of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to the Department of Transport. These changes make Transport Canada the single service window for Canadians for input on marine safety policy, standards and legislation. The changes also permit the Canadian Coast Guard to focus on its service delivery role, including navigation services and search and rescue.

The government's purpose in rationalizing marine safety responsibility is to improve efficiency in both aspects of safety regulation, policy and operations. For example, bringing together the safety requirements for pleasure vessels and commercial vessels will, as far as practicable, promote harmonization of the rules.

The amendments in Bill C-3 affecting oil pollution prevention and response will resolve much of the complexity in the responsibilities for responding to critical situations which threaten environmental degradation.

It needs to be emphasized that, while important functions and responsibilities have been transferred, the content of the functions and responsibilities remains the same. The rules governing marine safety have not changed. There are, therefore, no financial considerations, no environmental impacts and no considerations of international relations.

Bill C-3 is needed to reflect, in legislation, the changes in responsibility decided by the Prime Minister. The bill makes clear to government officials, industry and to the public where the duties and accountabilities lie.

Although this is a machinery of government bill with no new policy content, it is nonetheless important. It is important because it clarifies and improves the legislative and administrative framework for regulating marine activity in the interests of safety and the marine environment.

Transport safety and efficiency are vital to Canadian competitiveness and marine transportation has been a major part of the Canadian transportation network. Improved clarity and efficiency in the legislation contributes to the competitiveness of our transportation system and the productivity of our industry.

Maritime commerce is national and international and we must have an international vision in our regulations of that trade. The improvements made in the legislative framework by Bill C-3 facilitate our participation in international decision making about the content of conventions and treaties for the protection of marine safety and the marine environment, as well as our ability to implement international norms.

The bill would amend the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act and the Oceans Act.

The Canada Shipping Act conferred responsibilities on the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to oversee marine transportation and to implement marine safety, navigation services, pollution prevention and response, and other aspects of this vast, important industry.

The existing statute contains much that is out of date with revisions dating from the day of sailing ships with wooden hulls. It is to be replaced by the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, which was passed by the House in 2000 and to come into force in 2006.

Like its predecessors, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, confers functions and duties on the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Minister of Transport to manage the regulations of marine transportation and the shipping industry.

The Canada Shipping Act, 2001, was meticulously drafted to draw as clear a distinction as possible between the responsibilities of the two ministers as they were in dispute at the time. Accordingly, Bill C-3, although simple in conception, involves many small detailed amendments to carry out the desired changes without adversely affecting the logic of the statute.

Bill C-3 has been drafted to implement the Prime Minister's decision on December 12, 2003, in order to set out clearly for all concerned the following: the responsibilities of each minister and department; establish overall policy responsibility for safety and environmental protection on the waterways at Transport Canada; enhance the efficiency, coherence and transparency of the marine regulatory framework for all Canadians; improve service to stakeholders and other Canadians on marine matters; ensure that the same duties and functions are being carried out by the government in whatever department they may reside; continue the role of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to carry out its operational role; ensure that the powers, duties and functions newly conferred upon the Minister of Transport are clear in order to prevent confusion and litigation; and ensure that the logic and coherence of the statutes are preserved.

The legislation promotes the government's vision of the best transportation system for Canadians, a transportation system that is safe, efficient and environmentally friendly in order to contribute to Canada's economic growth and social development while protecting the physical environment.

The bill has now been reviewed in the Standing Committee on Transport. I would now like to seek the support of the House for Bill C-3, an act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act and the Oceans Act.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

March 10th, 2005 / 3 p.m.
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Hamilton East—Stoney Creek Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am sure you and all Canadians know the reason the Conservative Party of Canada abstained from voting for the budget is that the budget was very popular with Canadians. In fact the Conservatives did not want to go knocking on doors given the fact that the budget was there. I say that just so we are clear with respect to the preamble.

This afternoon we will continue to debate the supply day motion. On Friday we will consider report stage and third reading of Bill C-3, the Coast Guard bill; Bill S-17, which ratifies a number of tax treaties; Bill C-23, the human resources bill; and Bill C-22, the social development bill.

When we return on March 21 we will resume debate on Bill C-38, the civil marriage bill. Tuesday, March 22 shall be an allotted day. On Wednesday, March 23 we will consider report stage and third reading of Bill C-30, the compensation bill. If we complete that, we will resume business from Friday. We will then return to the marriage bill on March 24.

With respect to the budget implementation bill, I expect to be introducing that bill in the House in the very short term. At that time the hon. member will see its exact contents.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

February 24th, 2005 / 3 p.m.
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Hamilton East—Stoney Creek Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, today we will continue with the budget debate. Tomorrow we will return to the third reading debate of Bill C-33. If this is completed, we will then turn to third reading of Bill C-8, which is the public service bill; the report stages and third readings of Bill C-3, the Coast Guard bill; and Bill S-17 respecting tax treaties.

Next week is a constituency week. On March 7, 8 and 9 we will continue the budget debate, and Thursday, March 10 shall be an allotted day.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

February 17th, 2005 / 3:05 p.m.
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Hamilton East—Stoney Creek Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that once again you have provided an outstanding judgment.

This afternoon we will continue with the NDP opposition motion.

Tomorrow we will begin with the motion standing in my name with regard to the Standing Orders. We will then proceed to report stage and third reading of Bill C-39, respecting the health accord. When this is complete, we will return to Bill C-38, which is the civil marriage bill. This will also be the business on Monday.

Tuesday will be an allotted day.

On Wednesday we will consider report stage and third reading of Bill C-33, the financial legislation; Bill C-8, the public service bill; Bill C-3, respecting the Coast Guard; and Bill S-17, respecting tax conventions.

At 4 p.m. on Wednesday the Minister of Finance will make his budget presentation. We shall take up the debate on the budget on Thursday.

As well, with respect to the hon. member's question, I would say to the hon. member that in the fullness of time we would have the Judges Act in the House. I will take every opportunity to ensure that House leaders are fully informed of when that legislation is to come to the House.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

February 10th, 2005 / 3 p.m.
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Hamilton East—Stoney Creek Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, today and tomorrow we will continue third reading of Bill C-29, the Patent Act. This will be followed by second reading of Bill C-31 and Bill C-32, respecting international trade and foreign affairs.

We will then proceed to second reading of Bill C-28, which amends the Food and Drugs Act; report stage of Bill C-8, the public service bill; report stage of Bill C-3, the Coast Guard bill; and report stage of Bill S-17, respecting tax treaties.

On Monday we will begin with report stage and third reading of Bill C-24, the equalization bill. If this is completed, we will then return to the previous list where we left off.

Tuesday and Thursday of next week shall be allotted days.

Next Wednesday we will commence second reading of Bill C-38, the civil marriage bill.

With respect to the question on the Judges Act, that will be forthcoming in due course.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

December 10th, 2004 / 12:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the second report of the Standing Committee on Transport, in both official languages.

Your committee studied Bill C-3, an act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act and the Oceans Act, which was referred to the committee on October 18, 2004, and is reporting the same back without amendment.

I take this opportunity to thank all the members of the committee from both sides of the House for their diligence. I would also like to thank the committee staff.

Bill C-36. On the Order: Government Orders:

December 10, 2004 —The Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister responsible for Democratic Reform—Second reading of Bill C-36, an act to change the boundaries of the Acadie—Bathurst and Miramichi electoral districts.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 2nd, 2004 / 10:15 a.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to participate in the debate on Bill C-13. The purpose of the legislation before us today is to broaden the provisions governing the national DNA data bank.

In 1998, Bill C-3, an act representing DNA identification, was enacted. This legislation created a new statute governing the establishment and administration of a national DNA data bank and amended the Criminal Code to permit a judge to make a post-conviction DNA data bank order. These orders authorized the taking of bodily substances from a person found guilty of designated Criminal Code offences in order to include the offender's DNA profile in the national DNA data bank.

The DNA data bank, which was officially opened on July 5, 2000 here in Ottawa, is maintained by the RCMP.

The party that I represented at the time Bill C-3 was enacted was firmly committed to restoring confidence in our justice system by providing law enforcement agencies with the latest technological tools to quickly detect and apprehend criminals. We did not support Bill C-3 because we believed that it blatantly denied police the full use of the technology that was available at the time.

In 1998, there were literally hundreds of unsolved rapes and murders outstanding in the country. However, because Bill C-3 did not allow for the retroactive taking of samples from incarcerated criminals, other than designated dangerous offenders, multiple sex offenders and multiple murderers, these cases remained unsolved.

Fortunately, Bill C-13, the bill before us today, does expand the retroactive provisions for DNA sample collection orders.

If enacted, Bill C-13 will allow judges to order that DNA be taken from anyone convicted of one murder and one sexual offence committed at different times before the DNA data bank legislation came into force.

To illustrate the importance of DNA technology, especially involving old murder cases, and to encourage the government to expand the list of designated offenders from which retroactive samples can be taken, I would like to read a portion of an article that appeared in the Ottawa Citizen on July 15, 2004. It states:

Sometime in the early hours of Aug. 27, 1991, Richard Mark Eastman broke into the Mississauga apartment of Muriel Holland...a 63-year-old former playright and model.

Eastman, 48, raped and strangled Holland while her 95-year-old father slept in the next room. Although Peel Region police obtained a partial thumbprint and a DNA sample from the crime scene, their investigation into this brutal attack led nowhere for a decade.

The key break in this cold case would have to wait until after June 30, 2000. Then, after years of debate and false starts, parliament proclaimed a bill that would create a national DNA data bank.

The article went on to state:

Peel Region investigators didn't know it at the time, but the timing of the bill meant they were involved in what would become a landmark case. They sent a DNA sample from Holland's rapist to the new data bank on Nov. 28, 2000. The sample was stored in a database that indexes DNA evidence obtained, but not yet identified, at crime scenes.

Separately, the DNA data bank maintains profiles of serious criminal offenders. A sample from Eastman, who had been convicted in 1995 of sexual assault, was forwarded to the data bank on May 4, 2001. Within hours, data bank scientists matched Eastman's DNA profile to the Holland case.

Two days later, Peel Region police charged Eastman with murder--making this the first homicide case that emerged as a result of a cross-match between the two main databases in Canada's DNA data bank.

I would like to point out that there would have been many more matches if in 1998 the Liberals had seen the wisdom in expanding the retroactive provisions for the DNA collection orders as recommended by our party and as recommended by the Canadian Police Association.

The Canadian Police Association recommended the list of convicted offenders, from which retroactive samples could be taken, be greatly expanded.

The CPA, with our full support, also strongly advised that DNA samples be taken at the time of arrest as opposed to the time of conviction to prevent potentially dangerous offenders from fleeing before their court date.

The CPA also expressed concern about a provision within Bill C-3, which allowed judges to exempt offenders from having a DNA sample taken if the judge believed that it would impact an individual's privacy and security.

This unnecessary and dangerous exemption has not been removed under the new legislation, nor have the other issues raised by the police officers all across the country. Those issues similarly have not been addressed in the legislation.

I would therefore suggest that the concerns raised by the Canadian police in 1998 should be raised again. Their concerns I am sure will be nothing more than dismissed by the Liberal justice minister.

On a final matter, I have serious concerns that the legislation does not address the backlog within the RCMP evidence recovery units.

In August 2003, I received some information, which I relayed to the then solicitor general, regarding the closure of the RCMP recovery units in Regina and Edmonton at the end of 2004, as well as the closure of the Halifax unit in March 2005. I expressed my concerns about these closures because of the serious and detrimental effect these closures would have on the timely examination of criminal evidence, especially DNA. My concern was based on the evaluation of the auditor general regarding the large case backlog within the RCMP laboratory system.

Since 1997, the RCMP forensic laboratories have been undergoing changes with the introduction of the DNA technology. Limited funding, insufficient resources and an increased workload due to this new technology resulted in a backlog in 2001 of 900 cases requiring DNA examination being stalled. This backlog prompted the auditor general to recommend a reorganization in order to gain increased efficiencies.

Unfortunately, the Liberal government took this to mean the closure and centralization of evidence recovery units, which will, in my opinion, complicate the process not ease the backlog.

My concerns, although never properly addressed by the solicitor general, were confirmed by a news article in the National Post on October 9, 2003 which read:

Joe Buckle, the RCMP's assistant commissioner in charge of forensic laboratory services...acknowledged, however, that the RCMP's forensic labs have not received a funding increase in the past five years.

Moreover, he did not dispute that in the first eight months of this year, 74% of the RCMP's most serious DNA cases failed to meet the Mounties' own 15-day analysis deadline.

Scientists familiar with the RCMP's six forensic labs paint a much different picture. They say the lab system is in such disarray, and the DNA case backlogs so overwhelming, that serious criminal investigations involving homicide, sexual assault and threats to national security have been delayed for months at a time, potentially jeopardizing the chances of arrests and convictions.

In closing, I reiterate that we need proper funding. Without better funding and better resources for the RCMP, the forensic labs and police agencies, we are in dire straits. We also need to make sure that we have the ability to bring forward the proper amendments that Bill C-13 needs.

Canada has to restore confidence in our justice system. We have to be able to give the resources to the police agencies. We have to build confidence that we do have a justice system that works. Unless we can make some amendments to the bill, the confidence will not be restored.

When the bill does go to committee I encourage the government to look at some very serious, workable amendments that would make the bill a better bill.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 1st, 2004 / 5:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Gurmant Grewal Conservative Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, congratulations on your appointment. It is nice to see you in the chair.

I am very pleased to rise today on behalf of the constituents of Newton--North Delta to participate in the debate on Bill C-13, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the DNA Identification Act and the National Defence Act.

In 1998 Bill C-3 enacted a national DNA data bank. The data bank officially opened on July 5, 2000. Bill C-35 in May 2004 introduced minor amendments to the act and now Bill C-13 adds further amendments which still do not address the concerns that I and my colleagues have raised. I have raised them in many speeches in the past.

The bill seeks to strengthen the laws regarding DNA collection and storage. Specifically, it adds more Criminal Code offences, moving some offences from the secondary designated offences list to the primary list. It allows DNA collection from a mentally disordered criminal, expands retroactive provisions, compels an offender to provide a sample, allows an order for a DNA sample after sentencing, and of course, permits the destruction of a sample.

Looking into the background, DNA identification, if used to its full potential, could be the single most important development in fighting crime since the introduction of fingerprints. However, police and provincial attorneys general have long argued that the legislation as enacted denied law enforcement agencies the full use of this wonderful technology.

The DNA Identification Act came into force in June 2000 and established the national DNA data bank which is operated by the RCMP. It allows judges to order the collection of DNA samples from convicted offenders and have the resulting profile stored in a convicted offenders index.

The national DNA data bank also includes a crime scene index containing profiles of DNA samples collected from crime scenes. This allows samples from various crime scenes to be compared with the convicted offenders index.

The act created two types of offences: primary and secondary. Primary designated offences are those which are the most serious, such as sexual offences, murder and manslaughter. Secondary designated offences are less serious, such as an assault or arson. Of course they are serious too but it depends on how one judges them.

For primary offences a DNA sample can be ordered by the court, unless the offender can prove it is not needed. For secondary offences a sample can be ordered if the judge believes it is needed.

Law enforcement agencies are critical of this legislation because, among other reasons, it does not allow for the taking of DNA samples at the time of charge, as fingerprints are. Also it does not permit samples to be taken retroactively from incarcerated criminals other than designated dangerous offenders, multiple sex offenders and multiple murderers.

Unfortunately while Bill C-13 offers some improvements on the original legislation, it does not address many of the concerns raised by police, the provincial attorneys general and the official opposition.

Specifically Bill C-13 does not address the requirement for a judicial order to make a data bank authorization for any offence committed before the law came into force in June 2000.

Police have also asked for the ability to collect a DNA sample at the time of charge, as is done with fingerprints, instead of upon conviction. There is no evidence or jurisprudence suggesting that such provisions would be in violation of the Constitution.

Another major flaw in the bill is that it does not provide for DNA collection upon conviction for all indictable offences, again as in the case of fingerprints.

An additional concern is the ability of a convicted offender to appeal to the court in order to prevent the collection of DNA. The DNA collection should flow automatically upon conviction. This is simply one more unnecessary impediment to effective law enforcement.

Furthermore, the DNA testing system is so backlogged that until sufficient resources are provided, any legislative changes made will not be meaningful. This legislation still does not address the issue of timely production of DNA results to bring dangerous offenders to justice and to ensure the safety of our communities. We need better tools.

For more than a decade the government has failed to provide law enforcement agencies with the tools and resources they need to effectively fight crime. In my riding of Newton—North Delta, marijuana grow ops, organized crime and gang violence are flourishing. Many murders have been committed in the vicinity and remain unsolved.

Past cuts to the RCMP by the government have only served to exacerbate matters. The Canadian Police Association says that the RCMP needs an immediate $250 million cash infusion, but news stories indicate the Liberal government is now considering another $100 million cut. It is shameful. This is just another demonstration of Liberal misplaced priorities.

What does it mean in real terms? Consider as an example Project Snowball. This massive RCMP probe into Canada's largest child pornography investigation tracked more than 2,000 Canadians, including 406 in British Columbia, among them 23 in my constituency in Surrey, suspected of possessing and distributing sexually explicit pictures of children. Remarkably, in over two years we have arrested less than 5% of those suspects. Many police forces in Canada still could not take any action, despite getting a list of suspects in January 2001. They simply do not have the resources nor the officers who are trained to do the job.

Project Snowball also underscored the lack of cooperation between the federal, provincial and municipal police forces in such major investigations. Police say that national cooperation is a nightmare, blaming a lack of resources, a lack of a coordinated national strategy, and laws that exact too light a sentence on pedophiles.

Police also need more help from the courts. They are fed up with the revolving door judicial system. Police work is frequently frustrated when officers are rearresting over and over the same criminals while they are on parole, house arrest and other largely ineffective court sanctions. That is shameful. There must be stiffer penalties for criminals, especially those with lengthy records or those who have committed violent crimes. While some criminals can be rehabilitated, others simply need to be taken off our streets. They should be behind bars.

Canadian police have a daunting task when battling child pornography. It is estimated that more than 100,000 child porn websites are on the worldwide web. This is a serious issue. I have lots of data I could share, but time is short.

Clifford Olson confessed to murdering 11 children. Around 55 women were murdered in British Columbia. All may have been saved if the DNA data bank had been established long ago and the police had more and better resources.

In conclusion, law enforcement must become a higher priority for the federal government. It is our collective responsibility as elected representatives in Parliament to make laws that have teeth. The onus is on the Liberal government to introduce meaningful legislation and accept important, meaningful amendments. So what if they come from the official opposition?

Bill C-13 does not go far enough in addressing the concerns my colleagues and I have raised. Ineffective legislation is good for nothing. This legislation must be strengthened and must be able to provide a powerful tool to fight crime in our communities.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 1st, 2004 / 5:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Madam Speaker, I look forward to putting a few remarks on the record concerning Bill C-13, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the DNA Identification Act and the National Defence Act.

With all due respect, a lot of good things are happening with the bill. We now have the technology and science to identify criminals and to protect wrongfully charged people. We have the capacity now in the technology and science to put the record straight.

However, I want to talk about something that has not been mentioned a great deal in the debate this afternoon. We have a modus operandi out there in the justice field that talks about the rights of criminals. With all due respect, I believe everyone has the right to be heard, everyone has a right of free speech and all the rest of it. There is a problem when victims do not have the rights that they need.

In Bill C-13 we have to be very cognizant of the rights of the victim of horrendous crimes. I have seen many young women and, as a former teacher, I have counselled many young women who have been assaulted and who are afraid to come forward. They thought that no matter what they said, their perpetrator would not come to justice.

As the mother of a police officer, I have seen and felt the despondency in the police force when they knew something had happened, they knew that a crime had been committed and yet the criminal was let off the hook.

We have the best of both worlds here. Within these halls, we have the wisdom to bring forth a bill that has some teeth. We can bring forth a bill that will not only protect the victim and ensure that people who are wrongfully charged are free, but also get the people who over and over again commit the same crimes.

I talk specifically about in the province of Manitoba. Recently in the Winnipeg Free Press , the president of the Winnipeg police association talked about the morale of the police force. Now, being the mother of a police officer, I have privy to many conversations that go on at my kitchen table and in the police association. As the former critic for justice in the province of Manitoba, I was privy to many conversations with police officers who were feeling a lot of stress. Their stress came from the fact that their hands were tied when criminals reoffended and got off the hook.

Here we have a DNA bank that if properly utilized could bring these perpetrators to justice in a very common sense, realistic way. Yet it would ensure that the victims of those crimes could be reassured that coming forward, speaking out and testifying would be something they could do without feeling they were at their wits end because they did not know what would happen at the end.

I also want to read something from the Winnipeg Sun that came to my attention. This is from the Winnipeg police association president, Loren Schinkel. He said:

I think that the morale and the stressors are at a peak, certainly when it comes to what's happening right now.

[The police officers are] certainly stretched very thin. Everybody's managing because you pull together. You just hope the violence stops and that everybody can catch their breath.

We have a relatively new crime out there. It was not really widely advertised or widely talked about, and it has to do with child pornography on the Internet. We have relatively new awareness of this crime. It is a heinous crime forced on innocent victims.

The child pornography Internet situation has to be stopped. Our child protection registry is a step forward, but it is still not strong enough. We need to ensure that we do not have inadequate laws and bills. We have to ensure that we have bills that are strong and that have the real teeth to get the job done.

It is widely understood by the front line police officers that we need to have a retroactive DNA data bank. We need to have one that allows for DNA sampling at the time of being charged of the crime so the courts can move forward in a very fast, swift way, especially for the families and the victims themselves.

When we talk about rights, we have to talk about victims' rights. We have to talk about the rights of families like ours who go to work every day, who want to educate their children and who want to live in a safe and free community. This is an extremely important bill, but it is too soft. There are too many loopholes.

I have a lot of problems when people who have been charged can appeal to the courts so they do not have to give a DNA sample. If people are innocent, my question would be, why would they worry about giving a DNA sample? A DNA sample should be something they give gladly.

The DNA identification, if used to its full potential, is the single most important development in fighting crime since the introduction of fingerprints. When the introduction of fingerprinting came about, there was a whole revolution on the side of justice for the victims of crime.

Police and provincial attorneys have argued that the legislation, as enacted, Bill C-3 introduced in 1998, denied law enforcement the full use of this technology. When we are at a point where we have the technology and science to identify criminals and to bring them to justice, it behooves us as government officials in our great nation to ensure that this happens. One thing we are obligated to do is ensure that our communities are safe and to use, as I said earlier, the wisdom and the knowledge for the benefit of citizens across our great nation.

Bill C-3 did not allow for the taking of DNA samples at the time of charge, as are fingerprints. It did not permit samples to be taken retroactively from incarcerated criminals other than designated dangerous offenders, multiple sex offenders and multiple murders. One murder is one murder too many. One sex offence is one sex offence too many.

We have to support our front line police officers. We have to support the citizens who live in our communities. We have to support our victims of crime. We have to ensure that Bill C-13 has amendments that make it representative of a bill that will be effective and that brings justice to criminals who perpetrate the crimes on innocent victims.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 1st, 2004 / 4:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to address Bill C-13, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the DNA Identification Act and the National Defence Act. The purpose of this bill is to broaden the provisions governing the national DNA data bank.

However, I must say at the onset that this bill falls short of what the official opposition, the Conservative Party of Canada, feels is necessary to effectively combat crime. We are joined in those concerns by members of the police right across this country.

I just heard the speech of the parliamentary secretary, indeed nothing more than wishful thinking. Unfortunately, his government is not prepared to take the steps that are necessary to take full advantage of this very important crime fighting tool.

The original legislation, Bill C-3, that created our national data bank was enacted in 1998 and officially opened July 5, 2000, and is maintained by the RCMP. This DNA identification, if used to its full potential, could be the single most important development in fighting crime since the introduction of fingerprints.

For example, DNA played a major role in solving the Holly Jones case last year which resulted in a first degree murder conviction in June. However police, attorneys general and crown attorneys have long argued that the legislation, as enacted, denied law enforcement the full use of this technology.

Bill C-3 did not allow for the taking of DNA samples at the time of charge, as fingerprints are, and it did not permit samples to be taken retroactively from incarcerated criminals other than designated dangerous offenders, multiple sex offenders, and multiple murderers. Bill C-3 did however provide potentially dangerous exemptions authorizing judges not to make orders even in situations where there have been convictions.

Although some amendments contained in Bill C-13 are improvements on the status quo, they do not raise in any substantial way and answer the concerns that have been raised by the police and the attorneys general.

Amendments contained in Bill C-13 would add several offences to the list of designated offences for which a national DNA data bank order can be made. This of course is a positive step, but it begs the question, why can this DNA data bank not include all indictable offences as is the case for fingerprints?

Such is essentially the case in Great Britain, where in England and Wales, for example, police have the power to take and retain biological samples from those charged with or informed that they will be charged with any recordable offence, which is essentially any offence which might carry a prison term. They can in fact order the taking of DNA where a police inspector has reasonable grounds to suspect the involvement of the individual in a recordable offence. The DNA sample will tend to confirm or disprove the person's involvement in a particular offence.

Police have asked for the ability to collect a DNA sample at the time of charge, as is done with fingerprints, instead of upon conviction. There is no evidence or jurisprudence suggesting that such provisions would be in violation of the Constitution.

In the United Kingdom there is legislation pending that would allow police to automatically take a biological sample from anyone arrested for a reportable offence. This would eliminate the requirement for an inspector's assessment and approval. Such approval would then be necessary only in a case where a suspect had not yet been arrested. In Britain, DNA is not only used to convict the guilty but in fact to eliminate suspects and to prove innocence.

This bill also fails to sufficiently broaden police powers to take samples from those convicted of designated offences before the DNA data bank came into force. We can have this discussion, whether DNA should be taken upon the time of charge or upon conviction; however, there is not even an automatic taking of DNA where there has been a conviction, where a person's guilt has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Currently this is permitted only in specific circumstances such as with dangerous offenders, multiple sex offenders and multiple murders.

The case of James Doherty illustrates why these powers need to be broadened. In 1992 Mr. Doherty murdered two women in Courtenay, British Columbia. In 2003 the crown attorney requested that a DNA sample be collected and a judge complied, but Doherty appealed on the grounds that the murders had taken place at the same time. He was saying that because these two murders occurred as part of the same event, the current law would exclude the jurisdiction of a judge to order that.

It would seem that multiple murders must take place in different events. In effect, this is the same old Liberal theory that someone should have at least one free murder or one free sexual assault.

Our party believes that we do not get a free murder or a free sexual assault if there is evidence that could either convict or eliminate an individual as a suspect, then that DNA evidence should be taken.

An additional concern is the ability for a convicted offender to appeal to the court in order to prevent the collection of DNA. Even convicted murderers and repeat sex offenders can now request a hearing after conviction that DNA should not be taken.

The Liberals are trying to jam up the court system so that it discourages crown attorneys from actually proceeding on these kind of hearings. With respect to secondary offences, the onus is on the Crown to prove that it would not be contrary to the interests of justice to have a convicted offender give DNA. This is in the case of convicted offenders. Even when they are convicted of primary offences, murders, serious sexual assaults, there is still an ability to have a judicial hearing after conviction.

We know what is going to happen. This will clog up the justice system. This is a deliberate attempt to ensure that DNA is not used as effectively as it should be. This does not deal with any charter argument. This is simply a feeling by Liberals that convicted criminals still have these rights in order to avoid responsibility for other crimes for which they may be responsible. This is one more impediment to effective law enforcement.

A 1998 study predicted that the data bank would receive samples from an estimated 19,000 individuals a year convicted of primary offences. It also said we will get about 10% of those convicted of secondary offences. Instead it is not even meeting those goals. It is getting half of that number.

In contrast, England's database contains more than two million DNA profiles and each week 1,700 hits link suspects to crime scenes. Why do we not do that? I will tell members why. Our government is simply not interested in effective law enforcement.

The other point that I want to raise is the issue of resources. The Liberals will not resource the RCMP. For example, today the Minister of Justice announced a new drug driving law. In fact, the minister knows that RCMP officers are being taken off the highway. For example, in Manitoba, 35 of the 65 highway patrolmen are being moved out of highway patrol. It does not matter about the laws. There are no resources.

This minister knows that. Not only is the government putting forward bad laws, it is not prepared to put the resources in to support our police whether it is DNA, whether it is impaired driving, whether it is murders or whether it is rapes. It is unfortunate that the government would rather let the victims suffer than ensure that a guilty murderer or multiple sex offender is brought to justice.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2004 / 3:20 p.m.
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The Speaker

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-3.