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.

February 25th, 2014 / 8:45 a.m.
See context

Anne Legars Vice-President, Shipping Federation of Canada

Mr. Chair, and committee members, thank you for having invited the Shipping Federation of Canada to testify before you this morning about part 4 of Bill C-3, the safeguarding Canada's seas and skies act.

The federation, incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1903, is the representative in Canada of the owners, operators, and agents of ocean ships trading at ports across Canada from the Atlantic to the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes to the west coast. The ships operated by our members carry Canada's imports and exports throughout the world. These ships are part of the world ocean fleet that sails around the clock, 365 days a year, from one country to another to deliver world trade.

These fleets are governed by a web of international conventions that cover the ship, its building and equipment, manning requirements, and operations, etc. These conventions are incorporated into Canadian law through the provisions and regulations flowing from the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. This world ocean fleet is also governed by a set of liability conventions. These liability conventions are incorporated into Canadian law through the Marine Liabilities Act, which will be amended by part 4 of Bill C-3, which we are here today to support.

These amendments to the Marine Liabilities Act do not come as a surprise to us as they are a step in a long process that started many years ago with the 1996 HNS convention, which did not gain much traction due to a number of implementation issues. Canada subsequently stepped in and provided leadership in the development of a protocol that solved these issues. The upgraded 2010 HNS convention therefore benefits from Canada's input.

The federation, along with industry and other stakeholders, has participated in the government's consultation and Canada's ratification of this upgraded 2010 HNS convention, and has expressed strong support for such ratification. We are not alone in that respect. The 2010 HNS convention has been targeted by the Comité Maritime International, which is the international association of maritime law national associations, and various international industry associations, as one of the priority conventions for worldwide ratification.

We support this international liability regime introduced by part 4 of Bill C-3 because we believe it is the most efficient way to offer efficient liability coverage for ship-source chemical spills. We believe so because for mobile assets that trade across the world on a continual basis, as ocean ships do, an international regime avoids the high transactional costs that would be attached to a fragmentation of national liability regimes, each of which would have its own rules, liability limits, paperwork, and so on. For us, the first element of an efficient regime is that it is an international regime.

Maybe of more interest to your side, the international regime contained in the 2010 HNS convention pools the risk and its financing among a large number of players, which minimizes the marginal cost of covering the risk for each of them. The international regime grants access to an international fund funded by HNS receivers at a higher limit of indemnification than shipowners alone could provide. Also, this regime is modelled on the ship-source oil pollution liability regime that has been in place and is functioning well.

For all these reasons, we respectfully submit to this committee that Parliament should pass the amendments to the Marine Liabilities Act that are contained in part 4 of Bill C-3, and it's why our organization sent a letter on January 23 to this committee to support the passing of this part of the bill.

Thank you.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

October 17th, 2005 / 1:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Raymond Simard Liberal Saint Boniface, MB

Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague makes a very good point. Most of the discussion this afternoon and morning did not focus on the bill at hand. What the minister indicated earlier on today was the importance of us following through on a commitment and not allowing the period to elapse, ending up with a very untenable situation. I believe everybody here is very much on board in terms of whether we should discuss Bill C-3 and Bill C-24. We should review them at the same time. I think everybody agrees with that. I do not think there is a dispute there at all. It only makes a lot of sense.

My feeling is that if we had kept to the discussion at hand, we would be talking about a government that is prudent, that ensures that we do the right thing in a minority situation.

When it comes to electoral reform or democratic reform, my colleague makes a very good point. One thing I would like to talk about, which I have not heard here, is free votes in the House of Commons. On this side of the House, we have had the most free votes in a long period of time. I am very proud to talk positively about that. I am not sure I can say the same thing about the other side of the House, but my colleagues will confirm that.

Again, with respect to private members' business, we have been very aggressive in ensuring that private members get their say and get to discuss their bills in the House.

In terms of democratic reform, we have absolutely nothing of which to be ashamed.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

October 17th, 2005 / 1:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Madam Speaker, my response to the question about the uncertainty of when an election would occur is to go through the various scenarios. Let me start with the one that the Prime Minister has said will take place.

The Prime Minister said that 30 days after the final report of the Gomery commission he would call an election. That would take about a month. Therefore, sixty days after the final Gomery report we would have an election. That means an election would be held some time around May of next year, just when this bill will expire.

If an election were to occur then, one of two things would happen. First, we would either have dealt with the review of Bill C-3, a review which I do not think would be that difficult or complicated, and we would have passed whatever changes or amendments needed to be made. It could go through the House very easily and be in place before that election. That is one alternative.

Alternatively, the hearings would have taken place and the evidence would have been collected. If we go into an election after May 16 but before the bill has been passed, Bill C-3 would remain in place because of the provision within its sunset clause stating that it is possible for the bill to be extended a further 90 days in the event the House is not sitting. The dangers of an election occurring without a new bill having been passed or with no legislation in place at the time of the next election are very slight if we follow the Prime Minister's guidelines.

If the election happens anytime earlier than that, then presumably it is very straightforward. Bill C-3 would remain in place. There is no danger if an election is called as a result of a non-confidence vote prior to the date proposed to us by the Prime Minister.

The only other possibility would be if the Prime Minister were to break his promise to call an election 30 days after the final Gomery report, which is likely to happen if the polls are not in favour of his winning an election. That is a real danger. Surely we can have the replacement for Bill C-3 put forward before he invents his excuse for delaying the election yet further.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

October 17th, 2005 / 1:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Madam Speaker, the bill before the House today, Bill C-63, would make permanent an earlier law, Bill C-3, which came into force in May 2004 on the understanding that it would be a temporary law. Because it was meant only to be temporary, Bill C-3 contained a sunset provision that would cause it to lapse on May 16, 2006, two years after the day on which it had received royal assent. Bill C-63, which is the bill we are debating today, would remove that sunset clause.

The earlier law, Bill C-3, was enacted in response to the 2003 Supreme Court decision in the Figueroa case, which struck down certain provisions of the Canada Elections Act as being in contravention of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Specifically, the provisions were seen by the Supreme Court, quite correctly, as an unconstitutional attempt to limit free speech by placing unreasonable restrictions on the ability of new political parties to compete on an equal footing with the existing major parties.

The Supreme Court stated in its ruling that the offending provisions of the Elections Act would be allowed to remain in place for six months, until June 2004, in order to allow Parliament the necessary time to design amendments that would ensure the smooth functioning of a new charter compliant election law.

Bill C-3 was hurriedly drafted in the spring of 2004 when it became clear that the Prime Minister's rush to call an early election would not leave the House with sufficient time to hold the hearings necessary to meet the looming June deadline set by the Supreme Court and still, within that deadline, properly design a new law.

Thus, when he introduced the bill to the House of Commons, the then minister for democratic renewal, the predecessor of the current minister, made it clear that Bill C-3 was an imperfect stopgap intended solely for the purpose of getting us through the impending election. After the election, a more considered and thoughtful law would be enacted.

I would like to read what the minister, the predecessor of the current minister, said in the House in 2004:

Bill C-3 represents the government's proposed response to the immediate consequences of the Figueroa ruling. This bill does not, however, necessarily constitute a permanent solution. The Figueroa ruling is highly complex, and a more thorough study of its impact is required.

This is why I have written to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to encourage a broader examination of the Canada Elections Act. I have asked the committee, moreover, to present all of its recommendations in the form of a draft bill, within a year's time

Then he added as an editorial:

This is a concrete example of application of our democratic reform.

In order to buy itself a year's grace in which to design a proper law, the government added a sunset clause to Bill C-3, which causes the law to lapse after two years from the date at which it was enacted, which will be May 16, 2006, eight months minus one day from today.

After the election a new minister for democratic reform was appointed. Then he was supplemented by a second minister for democratic renewal, whatever that might be, and they in turn were supplemented by not one, not two, but three parliamentary secretaries for democratic reform and democratic renewal, the hon. members for Beauséjour, Peterborough and Bramalea—Gore—Malton.

I am not sure what the Prime Minister's point was in inventing so many new posts for so many new ministers and secretaries. A surplus of ministers will not solve the democratic deficit. It will create organizational chaos, the same chaos that has caused the government to so completely lose its grip over the electoral reform file, arguably the most important aspect of democratic renewal or democratic reform to face the House of Commons in the 38th Parliament, and that both ministers claim that it is me, not the other minister, who is responsible for this key aspect of the democracy agenda.

In fact, when it comes to electoral reform, the two ministers are so confused as to who is in charge that they have proved incapable of acting on the recommendations of the procedure and House affairs committee, which last June unanimously recommended that the minister, or one of them anyway, set up a consultation process by October 1. That was 17 days ago. Then, having missed the deadlines, the ministers told us they would be ready to have a response for the House by October 20, according to the minister for democratic reform, or else by October 14, according to the minister for democratic renewal.

In the end they wound up proposing a response and bringing it to the House on the Friday before the break. I think they were so embarrassed by it that they did not bring it to the Table. I was in the House that day. I only learned that they had submitted a response when I got a call from a reporter about it. They had submitted the response through what is called the back door. They had taken it directly to the Clerk's office. This is a highly irregular process and one which I think was designed to ensure that there would be no attention to their report, or their non-report, in which they made a serious of outrageous claims about being unable to meet the deadlines set by the committee. This is a committee that negotiated its terms with the full cooperation of the Liberal members of the committee, including one of the three parliamentary secretaries responsible for this.

The confusion was so bad that in late September I had to propose a motion at the procedure and House affairs committee to require the two ministers to appear side by side before the committee to explain who was actually in charge. As to the three parliamentary secretaries, let us look at the grandiose mandate that they were given according to the Prime Minister's action plan for democratic reform in February 2004. It stated:

Parliamentary Secretaries will now play a more active role in ensuring meaningful relations between Ministers and Parliamentarians. In Committees, they will support productive dialogue by sharing departmental information and acting as the Minister's representative to address political issues--

The procedure and House affairs committee held its first meeting of the 38th Parliament over a year ago. One might think that with three parliamentary secretaries charged with responsibility for ensuring meaningful relations and sharing departmental information, the government would have been able to find the time to initiate permanent legislation and make its proposal to the committee, as the former minister for democratic reform had promised before the election. He was, after all, the minister for the same Prime Minister who is in office today.

But as the months that had been purchased with the passage of Bill C-3 last May dribbled away, not a word was breathed on the issue, at least not until early October, when Bill C-63 was introduced by the minister for democratic reform in the House of Commons.

This bill does not propose the necessary improvements or changes anticipated by Bill C-3. Instead, it eliminates the sunset clause, thereby making this inadequate and temporary stopgap law permanent. It proposes and I quote from the text of the projected law:

Within two years after the coming into force of this section, the committee of the House of Commons that normally considers electoral matters--

In other words, the procedure and House affairs committee:

--shall undertake a comprehensive review of the amendments made by this Act and submit a report to Parliament containing its recommendations concerning those amendments.

This means that the six month grace period granted by the Supreme Court in 2003, which had already been extended by two years in 2004 because the Liberal government had frittered away the allocated time, preparing for an early election, when it thought it could capture the polls, without launching a review process to produce adequate legislation, will now be extended for a further two years to provide room for further dithering. This time there is no sunset clause.

If the government does not initiate the review within the next two years, that it has failed to initiate in the past two years, no consequences will ensue. Bill C-3, which was enacted as a legislative band-aid, will become the permanent law of the land.

The small army of ministers and parliamentary secretaries responsible for this portfolio will no doubt protest that this law contains a legal binding requirement for committee review of the provisions contained in the old law. I would have to take off my shoes and socks to count on my fingers and toes all the legally mandated legislative reviews that this government has failed to meet.

On some occasions, mandatory legislative reviews have been dealt with by means of pro forma discussions that are so brief as to be an insult to the legislative process. I will take one example, the Referendum Act contained a provision requiring a mandatory review by the procedure and House affairs committee to take place within three years. The review that took place took less than one minute.

Even if the Liberals permit a review to take place, what guarantee do we have that these two ministers and three parliamentary secretaries or their successors will not treat the recommendation of the procedure and House affairs committee with the same disregard they have just treated the most recent recommendations of this very same committee regarding electoral reform?

Today the government is caught in a bind of its own making. It really will have to conduct the legislative review made necessary two years ago by the Supreme Court's Figueroa decision or else the provisions of Bill C-3 will expire next May, not replaced by any new statute.

This means that if parliamentarians defeat Bill C-63, the government will have no choice but to allow the committee on procedure and House affairs to proceed with the review that the government promised in early 2004, but was too disorganized in 2005 to initiate. If we parliamentarians let the government off the hook by enacting Bill C-63, unless we put a sunset review clause into that bill, this much needed review will never take place.

There are still eight months left prior to the expiry of Bill C-3. That is two months more than the original six month grace period granted in 2003 by the Supreme Court for remedial legislation to be debated. That is plenty of time to bring witnesses, to suggest amendments to the Canada Elections Act and to complete the job that the government with its surfeit of quarrelling ministers seems incapable of initiating on its own. It should be possible for the procedure and House affairs committee to produce a bill and for both Houses of Parliament to pass a new and better act prior to that date. Even if an election intervenes and the House does not resume sitting until after May 16, the sunset provision of Bill C-3 allows an additional 90 days prior to the expiry of that law. If the 38th Parliament cannot complete all stages of the new law, there would still be time to reintroduce what is likely to be a non-confrontational bill.

Nobody disagrees with the basic premise of the bill which is to ensure that a party cannot masquerade as a political party, collect donations, get tax receipts for it and proceed to use them for other purposes. A non-confrontational bill could be dealt with quickly and move through all readings in the 39th Parliament and become the law of the land, assuming of course that we engage in that review process in this Parliament.

With these considerations in mind, I ask that all members of Parliament oppose this bill.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

October 17th, 2005 / 1:30 p.m.
See context

Saint Boniface Manitoba

Liberal

Raymond Simard LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Internal Trade

Madam Speaker, it is important for us to get back to the bill at hand which is Bill C-63. The minister spoke earlier about the fact that it was very important to link Bill C-3 and Bill C-24. Would my hon. colleague agree with that? It seems to me that it would be reasonable for the process to be done at the same time. When we are talking about the government not allowing the review to take place, the opposition has a majority on the committee and in fact control the outcome of the review. Maybe the member could respond to that.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

October 17th, 2005 / 1:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Madam Speaker, the hon. member's comments were not mostly about the bill at hand. They were mostly about electoral reform.

He is quite right to be frustrated and a good deal more over the way the government is not dealing with electoral reform. He is quite right in his assessment that we can kiss any prospect of electoral reform or any serious discussion of it in this Parliament goodbye as a result of the way the government has gone about frittering away the available time.

He is right also about the general lack of interest. I do not know whether it is insincerity or just a lack of interest in democracy on the part of the Liberals. Whatever it is, we can certainly see nothing happening.

Given these facts, I have to admit that I am a bit surprised that the member indicated that his party will be supporting the bill. I ask why it would be doing this for this reason.

There is a required legislative review of Bill C-3 that is currently in place. There is enough time over the next eight months to engage in this review and to hear the witnesses necessary to learn how other jurisdictions have dealt with this problem. We could have the chief electoral officers of other jurisdictions come before us. This is actually longer than the six month grace period that the Supreme Court originally gave for legislation to be drafted when it passed its Figueroa decision in November 2003. There is plenty of time to deal with this.

Moreover, if an election occurs, the sunset clause says that a further 90 days will be added. There is no prospect of an election occurring during which there would be an absence of law. We would either have Bill C-3 in place, the current provisions, or the new improved provisions that could be put forward if the proper review and sunset clause and therefore new legislation were to come forward as opposed to merely saying, as the Liberals are saying in Bill C-63, “Let us just not have the sunset clause and leave the review in place. We will get around to having a review whenever. Trust us, we will take care of this. Just remove anything that would make us comply with our word”.

Given the Liberals' history with that committee, the member and myself, why on earth would we trust them again? I am wondering if I misunderstood the hon. member when he indicated that his party would be supporting this bill, given the abominable record of the government in so many parallel cases.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

October 17th, 2005 / 12:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Madam Speaker, the minister earlier was constructing a narrative about why he had to put forward legislation that would remove the sunset clause in Bill C-3 rather than engaging in a review of Bill C-3, the legislation that deals with smaller parties and the potential for money to be given to organizations that masquerade as parties. That is the purpose of the bill.

Now his narrative goes like this. I use the word “narrative” because it has only a marginal connection to the truth. It is not a lie; it only has a marginal connection to the truth.

First, he said that the bill was passed days prior to the election of 2004 so there was no time for any review at that time.

Second, he said that the bill must be reviewed in connection with Bill C-24, the electoral finance law, which deals with among other things restriction of individual donations. He asked the committee in a letter he sent out in November 2004 for this to take place, and nobody objected. He got no response to the letter.

I have my researcher trying to find the letter, the existence of which I have to admit was a mystery to me. Perhaps I did not see that correspondence. The parliamentary secretary sits on the committee. One might have thought that at some point he would have said a response was needed to the letter. The minister could have done it. The minister crosses the floor to chat with me all the time. This was almost a year ago and I do not recall this. Anyway, nobody objected and therefore it must be done in conjunction with Bill C-24.

Finally, he said that the Chief Electoral Officer's report on Bill C-24 was delayed and it would not happen until later. Therefore, we could not review Bill C-24 so we could not review Bill C-3 either. This meant we would miss the legislative deadline, which meant it would be irresponsible to go ahead and not pass a law getting rid of the sunset clause, ensuring we could deal with Bill C-3 and its subject matter off at some distant time. I want to emphasize that this is nonsense, and I will ask my hon. colleague a question that relates to this.

However, first, with respect to the logical link to Bill C-24, one would expect to see this in the original letter that was sent to the procedure and House affairs committee. A letter was sent by the prior minister for the portfolio dated February 10, 2004. Members will note that this was not right before the election. It was long before an election. In it, he asks the committee to take a look at this. He makes no reference to any connection with Bill C-24. In the letter to the committee he says:

Let me be clear that I am not suggesting that the Bill is necessarily a permanent solution. The Supreme Court's ruling in Figueroa is complex and may well have broader implications, which the Committee should have a full opportunity to assess.

For this reason, I would invite the Committee, following its consideration and reporting of the Bill, [Bill C-3], to begin a more extensive study of the wider implications of the Figueroa ruling on the Canada Elections Act. I also welcome the Committee's views on other aspects of the electoral process that it believes warrant attention.

There is no necessary connection to Bill C-24.

The review could not begin until right before an election. However, the letter was sent out. That minister then became minister in June and proceeded never to bother following up. Where does the fault lie? Is it with all those incompetent members of the committee who just could not get around to it or is it with one minister who just could not remember to take care of his own portfolio until a year had gone by?

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

October 17th, 2005 / 12:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the member's comment and the respect he showed me by not rising on a point of order. Of course, what I was doing was citing many examples of why the opposition distrusts the government when it comes to a bill like this that is going to commit the House to a review to take place in two years.

As I pointed out through all my examples, when it comes to parliamentary and electoral reform the government has come up short time and time again. This is just the latest example. I am sure when my colleague speaks to the bill he will as well cite some examples of how the government consistently comes up short.

The issue at hand is the government's suggestion, followed by some suggestion from the committee, that somehow we should link the review of Bill C-3 with Bill C-24. As my colleague from Lanark—Carleton addressed during questions and comments to the minister, once the government knew it had the responsibility to conduct this review in a timely manner and understood that it would be unnecessarily delayed by linking it to Bill C-24, it certainly had the wherewithal, as I indicated, to come before the procedure and House affairs committee, on which it had members, and suggest, in the strongest possible terms, that if the House must adhere to the law then the committee should undertake the study right away.

As my colleague said, there is no reason that the committee could not be seized with this and do it between now and the deadline of May 16. We do not need this legislation to remove the deadline and establish instead this potential two year time period, which once again could be ignored. In fact, if Bill C-63 were to pass, it would not surprise me at all that in two years from now, if I am lucky enough to be re-elected by my constituents, I might still be standing here and the government will be bringing forward a new Bill C-63 to once again extend the deadline.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

October 17th, 2005 / 12:45 p.m.
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Saint Boniface Manitoba

Liberal

Raymond Simard LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Internal Trade

Madam Speaker, I would like to indicate to the hon. member that I was going to rise on a point of order to bring him back to the topic at hand. However, as I know he is the opposition House leader and should know better, out of respect for him I did not do that.

However we should come back to the bill at hand. It is very important that we focus on Bill C-63. I did not hear my colleague disagree with the minister in terms of the importance of interlinking, for instance, Bill C-3 and Bill C-24. We feel they are very closely related. I learned, however, that my hon. colleague watches too much TV and too many Monty Python movies.

The mandatory review would be done by the procedure and House affairs committee. In fact, the opposition has a majority on that committee. It seems to me that we should be sending this mandatory review to committee and allow it to do its work. Maybe he could comment on that, please.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

October 17th, 2005 / 12:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise today and add some comments on Bill C-63. As we have just heard from the minister responsible, the deputy House leader for the government, Bill C-63 is a response to Bill C-3, adopted in the third session of the 37th Parliament, which replaced the Elections Act requirement that a party field 50 candidates in one election in order to qualify for party status in the next election.

With much more relaxed criteria for the establishment of party status, Bill C-3 was a response to the Supreme Court's 2003 Figueroa decision which ruled that the 50 candidate requirement was indeed unconstitutional.

Bill C-3 was intended to be temporary and therefore included a sunset clause that will cause the law to cease to be in force on May 16, 2006, as we have just discussed. The purpose of Bill C-63 is to replace the sunset clause with a comprehensive review of Bill C-3, to take place within two years of the passage of the new law.

I have my doubts as to whether or not we can trust the government to ensure that this review takes place. On September 12, the Ottawa Citizen reported that under the stewardship of this Liberal government Parliament is breaking its own laws while shirking self-imposed obligations to watch over rights and freedoms of Canadians.

The article disclosed that Parliament sometimes fails to make a timely study of contentious and sensitive statutes, which the committees of the House of Commons or Senate are legally obliged to review within a set timeframe, usually within three to five years. A spokesman for the Canadian Bar Association was quoted in the article as saying, “If a review has not been undertaken as required by law, one must question the value of the oversight mechanism”.

At the same time, a House of Commons official was quoted as saying:

Everybody has got egg on their face. Even if (a mandatory Parliamentary review) is in a statute, it's virtually unenforceable. If you or I broke a statutory provision that is mandatory, the forces of law and order would come after us and probably inflict some penalty, but in fact with the Senate or the House no one can inflict any legal penalty.

The article pointed to a number of specific examples, including the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, whose five year review was supposed to begin in a committee of either chamber by last July. The mandatory five year review of the new Canada Customs and Revenue Agency's operations also began six months late.

The justice minister has yet to refer for legislative scrutiny the bill that gave police what is arguably the western world's most sweeping immunity from prosecution. Even the parliamentary secretary to the public safety minister made the following admission in the article in regard to a mandatory review of new powers given to the RCMP when he said:

I can't justify the unjustifiable. Clearly if the act, which is an Act of Parliament, says that it has to be reviewed within three years, we should be doing that.

Thus, while ministers are ignoring laws left, right and centre, the Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, in response to a question about the Chief Electoral Officer suggesting that he might violate the Canada Elections Act, preaches to the House that no one is above the law; maybe he meant to say no one who is not a Liberal cabinet minister.

There is another contrast. While the government pitches these mandatory reviews, the parliamentary secretary to the public safety minister told the Ottawa Citizen :

Frankly, and this would be my personal opinion, I think that sometimes it's a bit of a cop out to say we will review (a given law) in three years. If (a bill) is right, then it's right.

Then we have the NDP. That party supports the government and is responsible for its continuation in office, making a mockery of Parliament and the doctrine of responsible government. At the same time, the member for Ottawa Centre accused the Liberals of backing down on a promise to launch consultations this fall on electoral reform. On September 28 he stood in the House and asked:

Is this not another extraordinary example of the cynicism and empty rhetoric of the government that the people of Canada want removed...?

I think the member for Ottawa Centre should direct that question to his own leader.

The Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons has known for a year about his obligation to come before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, yet he has done nothing, nothing, I might add, other than revealing that he did write a letter almost a year ago. Either he has been knowingly in dereliction of his duty or he has just been unaware that he had to do this, which arguably is even worse since it betrays a lack of competence.

In his annual report to the House of Commons, the Chief Electoral Officer endorsed the idea of a new bill to put off the expiry of Bill C-3. However, his report states that it is only because there has been no action that a rush bill to cancel the expiry of Bill C-3 is necessary.

The minister may suggest that it is the obligation of the committee to initiate new legislation, which I suppose would free him from taking responsibility for having failed to act for a year; however, the minister's parliamentary secretary sits on the committee, so why, for a full year, has the parliamentary secretary failed to point out to the minister that nothing is happening at the committee, at least nothing on this issue, or to remind the committee that the minister would like something to happen?

The fact of the matter is that this government has a terrible track record on following through with meaningful democratic reform, whether it be electoral or parliamentary reform. Even more disturbing is the fact that the Liberal leadership cannot even respect the rules that are currently in place and is making a mockery of Parliament on a daily basis.

Let us remember what took place in the spring session, when the government House leader held back scheduling opposition days because he was afraid we might hold his government to account. We suspected that they would try to break from past practice of generally scheduling one opposition day per week, so I presented a motion on April 18 that essentially scheduled one opposition day per week. When the government House leader got wind of my intentions, he immediately rushed into the chamber, cancelled the day and refused to schedule another opposition day for something in the order of five weeks.

It then became clear: there was enough evidence that the government might not enjoy the confidence of the House and, as a result, the matter of confidence had to be settled. We made several attempts, in committee and later through the adoption of committee reports in the House, to try to place a motion of non-confidence before the House. Through procedural tactics, the government avoided a vote until May 10.

The May 10 confidence vote took the form of an amendment to a motion to concur in a committee report. It carried by a vote of 153 to 150. It was similar to an amendment moved in 1926 against the government of Mackenzie King. The Mackenzie King situation was considered a matter of confidence. Even the Speaker ruled that our May 10 amendment and the 1926 amendment were not significantly different.

Notwithstanding that fact, the government ignored the outcome of the vote. It was absurd, and if it were not so serious, it would have made a wonderful comedy skit.

Come to think of it, I believe that skit has already been done. Did it not remind members of the dead parrot routine from Monty Python? When the government was defeated, its House leader tried to pull the wool over everyone's eyes by saying, “No, no, the government is not dead. It is just resting”.

The public and constitutional experts then said, “Look, we know a dead government when we see one and we are looking at one right now”.

“No, it is not dead; it is resting. There. See? It moved,” said the minister.

“Now look here,” we said, “we have definitely had enough of this. This government is definitely deceased. We discovered that the only reason it has been sitting on its perch in the first place is that it has been nailed down”.

“Of course it was nailed down”, said the government House leader. “If I had not nailed the government down, it could have exposed its members to an election”.

In the Monty Python skit, the humour was in the audacity of the salesman thinking he could get away with selling a dead parrot. The government House leader expressed the same boldness in pretending that his government was not defeated, but Canadians know better.

The government House leader finally got the message and the drama ended on May 19, when the government promised that it would respect the outcome of confidence votes on two budget bills. Of course by that time a certain member was enticed to cross the floor to sit as a Liberal cabinet minister, and the NDP was bought off with billions of Canadian tax dollars.

What was alarming about the whole affair was that the government acted illegally for nine days, from May 10 to May 19, and used that time and Canadians' money to secure enough votes to win the second vote.

The scenario of ignoring the outcome of a vote and waiting for another opportunity is discussed in Eugene Forsey's “The Question of Confidence and Responsible Government”, where he states, “to allow such a principle is to make a mockery of the doctrine of confidence”.

The government House leader is once again making a mockery of Parliament this fall. He is using the same tactics he used in the spring. The only thing new this time around is his excuse. He said that the Prime Minister had fixed a date for the election, which he promised would be called 30 days after the final report of the Gomery commission expected in February. Obviously the minister does not understand the parliamentary system of government. Even if we had fixed election dates in this country, in a parliamentary system there is always the potential to trigger an election outside of a fixed date due to the government losing the confidence of the House. Furthermore, the government House leader has an obligation to provide the Leader of the Opposition with the opportunity to put that to a test.

The 22nd edition of Erskine May states:

From time to time the Opposition put down a motion on the paper expressing lack of confidence in the Government--a 'vote of censure' as it is called. By established convention the Government always accedes to the demand from the Leader of the Opposition to allot a day for the discussion of such a motion. In allotting a day for this purpose the Government is entitled to have regard to the exigencies of its own business, but a reasonably early day is invariably found. This convention is founded on the recognized position of the Opposition as a potential Government, which guarantees the legitimacy of such an interruption of the normal course of business. For its part, the Government has everything to gain by meeting such a direct challenge to its authority at the earliest possible moment.

While it is the government's prerogative to schedule the business of the House, it would be unethical and against convention to suggest that the government could abuse its authority in order to avoid a confidence vote and govern illegally. If the Leader of the Opposition feels that the government has lost the confidence of the House, the government is obliged to schedule a day to settle the matter. We cannot have another situation like we had in the spring. It was a sham and should never be repeated.

When the government responded to the 43rd report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs called “Democratic Renewal”, it indicated that the committee's recommended timeframe was unrealistic. The government then suggested a timeframe that will not allow this special committee to finish its work. The Liberals forgot that they have a minority and that this Parliament is not long for this life. In fact, it already technically died once.

The response also attempts to establish some government achievements that have been made in strengthening the role of Parliament, including the creation of an independent ethics commissioner reporting to Parliament. The Prime Minister sat on that promise for over 10 years. He even voted against an opposition motion that called on his government to implement that very promise which came straight from the Liberal red book. The Liberals had to be embarrassed into implementing that change and only after being pressured by the opposition for over 10 years.

The government also crows about its commitment to democratic renewal that was set out in the October 5, 2005 Speech from the Throne where it pledged “to examine the need and options for reform of our democratic institutions, including electoral reform”. What about the commitment in the Speech from the Throne that promised to allow members an opportunity to consider all public information pertaining to the missile defence agreement and to vote prior to a government decision? The government completely ignored that commitment.

The response also stated:

In February 2004, as the Prime Minister's first order of business, the Government tabled its Action Plan for Democratic Reform. The initiatives outlined in the Action Plan were developed to ensure that Members of Parliament play a significantly larger role in the decision-making process.

Those are nice words, but as Benjamin Franklin once said, “Well done is better than well said”. How does ignoring the wishes of the majority of members help the government play a significantly larger role in the decision making process in this place?

We all remember when the Prime Minister was running in a leadership contest and portrayed himself as the man who would slay the democratic deficit. He was successful at creating and popularizing the phrase “the democratic deficit” but that was his only success. He created words and expectations. That was it. He had no intention of slaying the democratic deficit, nor did he have any plans to respect this House and its members.

If actions speak louder than words, let us review some more of his actions. On November 30, 2004, the House supported a motion sponsored by the Leader of the Opposition that called on the government to take the appropriate measures to sell the 11,000 acres of arable land back to families and farmers whose land was expropriated to build the Mirabel airport. The Prime Minister refused to comply with the wishes of the House.

This affront to Parliament was repeated on February 8 regarding a motion to farmers.

I could go on and on listing other motions. Indeed, I have questions on the Order Paper now dealing with the inaction of the government in respecting the wishes of Parliament as expressed by the majority of members when they voted on these motions.

I want to get back to Bill C-3. The need for such a bill is a mystery since there is plenty of time, as my colleague from Lanark—Carleton pointed out, for the committee to draft replacement legislation between now and when Bill C-3 expires on May 16, 2006. Moreover, an election in the intervening period would not throw off this process, as my colleague just pointed out. The sunset clause in Bill C-3 states that in the event that Parliament is not in session when the bill expires, the bill will continue to function for an additional 90 days after the first sitting of the new Parliament. Thus, a new Conservative government could easily deal with this legislation if an election were to take place prior to May 2006.

There is no reason that we cannot provide Canadians with a Parliament and an electoral system they can be proud of. It has so much potential and so much to offer. Unlike the Liberals, the Conservative Party has clearly shown that it respects and recognizes this potential. It demonstrated that it is prepared to diligently and aggressively create more opportunities for democracy within the parliamentary structure. No party has pursued democratic reform in Parliament more than the Conservative Party in the last 10 years.

We have been successful at making improvements to private members' business, accountability in getting questions answered by the government, secret ballot elections at committee and democratic selection of senior officers of Parliament, such as the Privacy Commissioner, the Access to Information Commissioner and the Clerk of the House of Commons. Thanks to the initiatives brought in by the three opposition parties at the beginning of this Parliament, recommendations that flow from committee reports will no longer be shelved by the government but instead will be taken up by the House. We now have more opposition members chairing standing committees. The nomination of the Deputy Speaker is no longer selected by the Prime Minister but is now the prerogative of the Speaker himself. We now have question and comments that follow every speech, including speeches by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.

Many of these successes did not come easy. When the Liberals had their majority it took 10 years of persistence to change the process for private members' business. First, the Liberals ignored our suggestions, then they ridiculed them, and then their own backbench began to embrace them. Then the fight was on with the front bench. They were eventually outmanoeuvred and proposals were reluctantly adopted.

The issue of secret ballot elections at committee followed a similar path but did not take quite as long. We managed to get support of some Liberal backbenchers after we reminded them that in the 19th century, prior to secret ballot voting in general elections, all kinds of methods of coercion were used to influence voters. Parties often hired bullies who moved from riding to riding in fact.

The government then realized that was exactly what the government whip did each September during the chairmen elections at committees. The chief whip, his or her deputies and staff, moved from committee to committee to ensure their members voted the right way. The tactics used by the government whip during the election of chairmen and vice-chairmen of committees were not that different than those tactics used to influence elections in the 19th century.

Who in their right mind would not want to change that? Against all rational thinking and common sense, the front bench of the Liberal caucus fought tooth and nail against any such change.

The then government House leader, after we had introduced a motion that would have allowed for secret ballot elections at committee, performed procedural aerobatics and employed shameless bullying tactics, much like what is taking place today with the current House leader. Once again their motives are to hold on to power at the expense of democracy.

Nothing positive has changed under the Prime Minister and the leadership of the House leader and deputy House leader. If anything, the situation has grown worse. The democratic deficit is greater today than it was under Jean Chrétien.

On the inevitable day when the Prime Minister must let go of the reins of power, he will wake up in a cold sweat and plead, “Don't let it end like this. Tell them I did something”. However it will be too late.

In summary, Bill C-63 is an affront to the House and its members. It is a perfect example of how not to legislate and is indicative of the way Liberals manage the business of Parliament. They give themselves a deadline, ignore the deadline, wait until the last minute and then declare an emergency. That is no way to legislate or to govern.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

October 17th, 2005 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, if Parliament is sitting next May and this has not been addressed, then there will be a vacuum. That is a situation which should not be left to happen. Therefore, we are proposing an amendment to the Canada Elections Act which would give two years and oblige a committee to do the review that has not now been done, for the reasons I have explained.

There is absolutely nothing nefarious here. Everybody agrees that Bill C-24, political financing, and Bill C-3, political registration, are intimately linked and that the revision of both perhaps should be done at the same time. No one on the committee has disagreed with that and this is why we are now in this situation. There is absolutely nothing nefarious about keeping a window open for two years in order for a committee of Parliament and Parliament to reconsider the rules concerning registration of political parties.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

October 17th, 2005 / 12:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, people watching in TV-land may be misled by what the minister has just said. He made a factually incorrect statement. He said that we could be in a situation next May where we would go into an election and there would be no rules governing the conduct of smaller parties because this legislation would have run out. That is actually not so.

There is a well constructed sunset clause and what it says is that the legislation will run out on May 16 of next year. As I have mentioned, May 16 is seven months from now, which gives us plenty of time to deal with the matter at hand, with passing new legislation and having witnesses and so on. But in the event that Parliament is not sitting when the expiration occurs, the legislation is automatically extended for a further 90 days, meaning that in fact there would be legislation in place at that time. The danger the minister is describing is a non-existent danger. The fact is that this legislation will not put us in any danger.

The real point here is that going into the next election we should have a proper replacement for Bill C-3, something that takes care of the underlying problem of moneys potentially being collected and used for groups that are not really parties. This could be done by the next election if we pass the legislation that I am proposing we pass instead of simply having the sunset clause eliminated.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

October 17th, 2005 / 12:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, as my colleague opposite said, I wrote to the committee in November 2004 suggesting that it made sense to deal with the review of Bill C-3 at the same time that we were dealing with Bill C-24. None of the members of the committee, government members or opposition members, disagreed with that.

Only in August of this year did we find out that the Chief Electoral Officer's report vis-à-vis Bill C-24 would be tabled in the House later on, perhaps in December. Given that, we did the responsible thing and we suggested a course of action. If the committee wishes to act otherwise, it has the entire discretion to do so.

This course of action now is taking us into a situation whereby we could end up in May of next year with a vacuum in terms of rules for registration of political parties, which is an untenable situation, so the government is acting responsibly by presenting Bill C-63, which would add two years and oblige the committee to do a review of Bill C-3.

No one on the committee, government members or opposition members, disagreed with the notion that Bill C-3 and Bill C-24 are tied and interrelated and that the revision of both together would be a good thing to do.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

October 17th, 2005 / 12:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister said he wanted to engage in a review of Bill C-3 and Bill C-24 together. That is peachy. However, the fact is that there is no legislative requirement. Bill C-24 is not about to expire. Bill C-3 will expire May 16, 2006.

There was over a year during which, with this minister as the minister for this portfolio, a review could have taken place. In fact, virtually that entire time, with the exception of the first month of that two year period, he was the minister. During all this time, this review could have taken place. There is almost exactly an additional seven months before May 16, 2006 when this bill will expire.

The question I am working up to is twofold. First, why did he wait an entire year, as minister, indeed why did he wait an entire 16 months now before bringing this matter before the committee or before the House, when he had this large amount of time set aside to deal with the bill?

Second, we still have seven months before the expiration of Bill C-3 and the provisions it contains. That is plenty of time to bring witnesses before the committee and to hear from witnesses who could be chief electoral officers, for example, of other jurisdictions or other provinces to take a look at what they do.

Why the rush to simply replace the sunset clause, which forces his government to deal with this, with something that means that a review is not necessary when his record clearly indicates that the government is not going to respect the kinds of reviews that are put into legislation, that it is not going to follow through? Why would we want to replace a mandatory review which now forces the government to take action with a non-mandatory review which means it can dither around for another year or never get around to dealing with the bill?

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

October 17th, 2005 / 12:05 p.m.
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Ottawa—Vanier Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger LiberalMinister for Internal Trade

moved that BillC-63, An Act to amend An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to begin the debate at second reading of Bill C-63, which is entitled an act to amend An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act.

We are referring here to a change to the act providing new rules for the registration of political parties, passed by this House in 2004 under the name Bill C-3. I will provide an overview today of the context in which the new rules were adopted in 2004 and will speak to the need to act quickly in order to preserve the system for registering political parties.

Bill C-63 proposes to do this by abrogating the sunset clause included in Bill C-3. It would be replaced by a provision requiring mandatory review of the new registration rules by a committee of this House.

The party registration rules adopted in 1970 required a party to endorse 50 candidates at a general election. It was believed that this would ensure that opportunistic groups masquerading as political parties did not gain access to the public funding that flowed from being a registered party.

The adoption of new rules was made necessary after the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the 50 candidate threshold in the Figueroa decision. The threshold was found to be contrary to the right to vote and to be a candidate as guaranteed by section 3 of the charter. The Supreme Court suspended its decision for one year to provide an opportunity for Parliament to amend the Canada Elections Act and it was in this context that Parliament considered Bill C-3.

Bill C-3 was introduced on February 10, 2004 to lower the threshold to just one candidate and make other changes to prevent abuse of the public funding of political parties.

In particular, there is a new definition of “political party”. It states that one of the fundamental purposes of a party must be to participate in public affairs by endorsing one or more candidates in an election. To determine the eligibility of a party that applies, the Chief Electoral Officer will require a valid declaration from the party leader that his or her party meets this definition and he or she must be satisfied that it does.

During the various steps in the study of this bill, many people raised concerns about the new rules under consideration. Some wondered whether setting the threshold at a single candidate would not allow opportunistic groups to get public funding. Others were concerned that as a result of the one-year suspension of the Supreme Court decision, no complete examination had been made of the Canada Elections Act to identify other provisions that might be challenged like Figueroa. Finally, the Chief Electoral Officer was opposed to this new job of evaluating whether applicants meet the definition of a political party.

In view of all these concerns, all parties agreed to add a two-year sunset provision to Bill C-3.

Since the former Bill C-3 came into force on May 15, 2004, the two year sunset will operate on May 15 of next year, if it is not repealed beforehand. The sunset of the former Bill C-3 would mean that there would no longer be rules for the registration and deregistration of federal political parties. Such a closed system would be contrary to the charter and would be contrary to the democratic standards of Canada.

Some may question why a review of the new rules was not carried out previously within the period of time of two years provided in the sunset clause.

In response, it is important to remember that the adoption of Bill C-3 was closely followed by the dissolution of Parliament nine days later. The minority Parliament that resulted from this election was opened on October 5, 2004.

Soon after, and at the request of the chair of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, I wrote to the committee to suggest that the government's preference would be to review the new registration rules at the same time as the statutorily mandated review of the political financing regime adopted in 2003 with Bill C-24. Indeed, since these issues are intricately linked, such a joint process still makes sense.

The review of the new political financing rules will be carried out by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs once the Chief Electoral Officer issues his recommendations on political financing.

When I wrote to the chair of the standing committee in November 2004, the Chief Electoral Officer's report was expected in the spring of 2005. However, due to the need for his office to focus resources on election preparedness, because of the minority Parliament, the Chief Electoral Officer has since indicated that his report would only be submitted this fall, in two volumes.

In the first volume submitted in September, a few days after the opening of this session of Parliament, dealing with non-financial matters, the Chief Electoral Officer recommended that the sunset clause in Bill C-3 be removed. His second volume of recommendations, dealing with political financing, will be submitted later this session and a joint review of Bill C-3 and Bill C-24 would then be possible.

Given the need for a comprehensive review, and the government's commitment to hold an election 30 days after the issue of the final Gomery report, the government's proposal in the bill is prudent and responsible. Bill C-63 would provide a two year period during which this review is to take place to account for all contingencies, including election scenarios.

I want to close by saying that the registration and financing rules for political parties are closely linked. Registration gives parties access to public funds, which allows them to take part in the elections and maintain their registration. Bill C-63 will lead to a full examination of these fundamental aspects of the Canada Elections Act.

For all these reasons, I am calling on the hon. members to support Bill C-63 and to refer it to a committee for consideration so that we can pass it as quickly as possible.

Thank you.

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.
See context

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.
See context

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.
See context

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.
See context

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.

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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.

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October 18th, 2004 / 12:10 p.m.
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Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, since this is the first time in this Parliament that I rise officially to make a speech, I would like of course to salute the people of my riding of Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, who put their confidence in me for the third time. I want to thank them and to reiterate my commitment to defend their issues and the cause of Quebeckers, which is Quebec's sovereignty, in case some may have forgotten.

I also want to reiterate my commitment to the people of Boucherville. My riding has changed; it now includes half of the City of Boucherville and half of the City of Longueuil. These two halves now form the vast riding of Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher. I salute them and I thank them for putting their confidence in me.

I am pleased to address Bill C-3, which was introduced by the Minister of Transport. The only purpose of this bill is to transfer certain responsibilities from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which is responsible for the Canadian Coast Guard, to the Department of Transport.

At first glance, one might think that this bill does not really have any impact and that it merely clarifies the act and formalizes a December 2003 order in council transferring certain operational responsibilities from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to the Department of Transport.

First, I want to reiterate the Bloc Québécois' position, which was very well presented earlier by my colleague, to the effect that we are opposed to the principle of this bill, for the simple reason that our goal is to truly improve, in the long term, the chronic underfunding problems of the Canadian Coast Guard, and to dissipate the confusion that prevails regarding the sharing of responsibilities in the area of water safety and marine pollution prevention. These are extremely important issues, both in terms of public safety and environmental protection.

I really wonder why this government would not opt for a long term vision, instead of a game of musical chairs that will have no effect at all on the fundamental problems of the Coast Guard. I really wonder about this decision, particularly in light of the unanimous report tabled in March 2004 by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, which highlighted a series of problems affecting that organization. The committee concluded that the problems experienced by the Coast Guard could not be solved through cosmetic changes to the organization. Incidentally, the hon. member for Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, who sat on the committee, spoke extensively on this issue. He told us about the work of the committee that led to these conclusions.

This report proposed a series of recommendations that could be implemented, namely those stipulating that the Canadian Coast Guard should be an independent agency and, especially, that it should have adequate funding and a sufficient independent budget for its current roles, its new mandate and the additional responsibilities recommended in this report.

What worries me, as a parliamentarian, is knowing what this government is doing with this unanimous report. What does the government do with any report tabled in committee? I will tell you. When a report suits the government, then there is no problem. However, when the unanimity of a committee bothers the government, it shelves the report and moves on to something else. This is unacceptable. It is an insult to democracy and committee work.

The unanimous report on employment insurance, tabled in May 2001, is still fresh in our memory. What did the government do with that report? It shelved it. The Bloc Québécois is still working hard today to have that report implemented. What did the government do with the report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans? It shelved that report as well. This government has to stop being so arrogant and start recognizing the work of the committees and parliamentary democracy within the committees.

We do not know what the future holds. Maybe one day it will be this government's turn—the Liberals' turn—to be shelved by the public. Despite the Prime Minister's fine speeches on the democratic deficit, nothing changes. If the Minister of Transport, the Prime Minister's lieutenant, truly wants to make his mark, then he should propose viable long-term alternatives, not just cosmetic ones. He should implement the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans—measures that address the true basic problems.

I expect a little more from the Minister of Transport. I hope he will at least read this important report that offers a sustainable and serious solution to the challenges faced by the Canadian Coast Guard. For these reasons, the Bloc Québécois will vote against Bill C-3.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2004 / noon
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Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have listened with keen interest to the speeches made about Bill C-3. It is of great interest to me, as I live very close to the St. Lawrence river and, from time to time, I have encounters with the Coast Guard, or what is left of it. People have to realize how difficult it is for it to fulfill the mandate it has been entrusted with.

The member argues that now is not the time to talk about that, because the only thing the government is currently doing is transferring the Canadian Coast Guard to another department. However, at the same time, it says it is following what the committee recommended.

In my view, that is not altogether accurate. The committee took the time to study the serious problem that the Coast Guard currently faces. Various stakeholders and a number of specialists, as well as representatives of all parties in the House, were heard. That led to a unanimous report to the effect that things within the Coast Guard had to be done differently. It was not a matter of just changing departments. Therefore, I do not understand the deputy saying that now is not the time to talk about it. I would like to know where and when we will be allowed to take the time to talk about these things. When, in his opinion, will it be important enough for us to act as soon as possible?

His colleague has also mentioned that we will be able to consult with the department of Transport twice a year. There was a study by a parliamentary committee in which all stakeholders were invited. Do we need further consultations to act? What's the member's view?

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October 18th, 2004 / 11:55 a.m.
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Yukon Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to rise and speak to the House about the importance 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, as introduced by my colleague the Minister of Transport.

As we know, the transportation industry as a whole is a vital component of our economy. When looking at the marine sector of this industry, we must keep in mind that it operates in the context of not only a domestic environment but also an international one.

In recent years a substantial amount of work has been done in an effort to modernize our national transportation system and prepare this sector to meet the needs of the coming century and the demands of the global marketplace.

To meet these goals, the government has undertaken a number of initiatives with regard to all modes of operation, focusing primarily on simplifying acts and regulations. These initiatives are consistent with the overall federal transportation framework, which emphasizes a national vision with regard to security, safety, efficiency and environmental accountability.

On December 12, 2003, the Prime Minister announced that responsibility for policy on marine security and safety would be centralized under the Minister of Transport. To that end, some parts of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans were transferred to the Department of Transport.

As a result of all these changes, all policy responsibilities and certain operational responsibilities relating to pleasure craft safety, navigation services, pollution prevention and response, and navigable waters protection now lie with Transport Canada.

These are very important changes for the marine industry and its stakeholders. Canadians will now have a single point of contact for these policy issues associated with marine safety and security. This consolidation of responsibilities is expected to improve efficiency in both marine policy and operations.

As the content of this bill is considered to be policy neutral, these changes can only be looked upon as neutral and positive ones by the marine industry, and the consultations have definitely shown that.

The intent of Bill C-3 is very clear to us today. Most important, it clarifies each department's responsibilities as a result of the transfer on December 12, 2003. It consolidates all aspects of policy responsibility for marine safety into one federal department. 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 by orders in council. It ensures that the powers, duties and functions transferred from the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to the Minister of Transport are unambiguous, in order to prevent litigation or any contentious issues. It preserves the logic and the coherence of the affected statutes.

The changes introduced in this bill are changes that marine stakeholders have been suggesting for some time. In addition, these changes are welcomed by both the Department of Transport and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The enactment of this bill is a vital step in effecting the Prime Minister's announcement of December 12, 2003.

At this time, I would like to reaffirm my support of Bill C-3, as tabled by my colleague.

I want to emphasize the point that this is just a small bill putting into legislation administrative changes. It just confirms administrative changes. It does not make all the other changes that people would like to have made to the Coast Guard and to environmental regulations and safety. That is for another time and for other bills. This is just an administrative bill that the industry wanted. It just solidifies these cases.

Some people have used the opportunity to talk off topic about other things on the Coast Guard and reports and everything. Of course I have my own wish list that I could talk about, such as expanding the Coast Guard in the north as part of the northern sovereignty agenda, which was in the throne speech. Those debates will come in time, but this bill is just an administrative function. It has nothing to do with those who were waxing eloquent on the democratic deficit.

If they want to use this opportunity to talk about that, I would just like to congratulate the Prime Minister, as I have numerous times in this House, for the incredible change he has made in the democratic deficit. On the day he came into power, suddenly a huge number of votes became free votes for the members on this side. It was demonstrated right away with people voting their conscience on a number of items.

As members will see in committees, there is more freedom. It has been a great change to Parliament. I think that has been a great addition. If people want to talk about that, I think it is one of the great pillars of the Prime Minister's agenda for Parliament and it has been very successful to date in a very short time.

This is just an administrative bill to transfer some responsibilities that it makes more sense to have in the Department of Transport. That is what people have asked for and that is what this bill does.

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October 18th, 2004 / 11:50 a.m.
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Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Exploits, NL

Yes. In response to the other issues, I will go back to the bill itself, which is of course something for the respected employees we have. In many cases, when they would look for the answers they would have to go here or go there. What the bill does is answer the concerns, not just for our bureaucrats but also for the respected people in the industry itself. When it comes to pleasure boats and when it comes to environmental measures, we have responded in this case. Changes were made and were implemented back last December. What we have done now is that we have caught up with that in the bill. We have certainly responded to the concerns.

The issues the member brings up will be addressed in the future. I do not think the comments brought up earlier really stand up to that, because what we have right here is that as part of the Canada Shipping Act we are taking care of the concerns on small vessel regulations, boating restriction regulations, competency of operators of pleasure craft regulations, and marine navigation services. All of these concerns are being addressed in the bill. That is why I wholeheartedly support Bill C-3.

The Canadian Coast Guard, under DFO's purview, continues to manage the aerial surveillance, which gives respect to what it does best. By having DFO keep the aerial surveillance, fisheries and security, we are listening to the concerns of our bureaucracy and we are listening to the concerns of our people. We are listening to the concerns of all Canadians.

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October 18th, 2004 / 11:50 a.m.
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Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Exploits, NL

Mr. Speaker, I too share a great amount of interest given my riding, but certainly in this situation these are the ongoing concerns that we no doubt will address at present and in the future.

What is important about Bill C-3 is that it does answer many of the concerns of the stakeholders in this situation. For instance, the government is transferring from the fisheries department to the transport department policy responsibilities and certain operational responsibilities for pleasure craft.

With regard to the environmental aspect, a lot of it will be transferred. This is what was asked for by the stakeholders in this situation. What we have done is that the government has responded to the initiatives taken by the people. In turn, we are now following up on that, with the implementation being done back in December 2003.

I would also note that many of the aerial surveillance programs will also be transferred to the transport department. This is of course in response to what the Department of Transport has asked for and, more important, it is also what the stakeholders have asked for. They have made the request and we have responded in kind.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2004 / 11:40 a.m.
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Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Exploits, NL

Mr. Speaker, I am sharing my time with the hon. member for Yukon.

Before I start to speak to the bill, I am very honoured and pleased to be representing the constituents of Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor. They have bestowed upon me the greatest honour that I could ever receive, and that is to represent them in this honoured House as their member of Parliament. I would also like to thank the people closest to me who got me in this position.

I am pleased to rise to speak in support 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 that has been tabled by my colleague, the Minister of Transport.

Marine transportation has a special significance for Canadians. Our waterways were the original routes for travel and commerce. That commerce has grown as the country has grown. The bill gives the House an opportunity to promote a more transparent and predictable regulatory system for marine transportation, and I join my colleagues in emphasizing the importance of shipping in the Canadian and global economies. For instance, waterborne transportation carries three-quarters of the world's international trade, and it is economical. On a single litre of fuel, for instance, one tonne of freight can travel 240 kilometres by ship.

Stakeholders in the marine community welcome the change as it makes it much easier to know which minister and which department is responsible for what. The division of policy and enforcement responsibilities between Transport Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has been difficult to understand and to implement in the past. That is why we react this way. Having one minister responsible for pleasure craft and another responsible for non-pleasure vessels, in particular, was a constant irritant for the stakeholders. It is their concerns that bring us to this point.

The bill supports improved service delivery in both policy and operational function. Specifically, all Canadian coast guard policy, responsibilities and operational responsibilities relating to pleasure craft safety, marine navigation services, pollution prevention and response and navigable waters protection are transferred now to Transport Canada. Those policy responsibilities include the development and management of legislation, regulations, standards and the guidelines.

The bill will help the Department of Transport to do its job of protecting safety and also protecting the environment, a sincere commitment the government has made in the past and we do it again here today. The bill responds directly to stakeholder concerns. Stakeholders have had their concerns about the complexity of having two departments of government sharing policy responsibility in just one single field. The government has listened to the stakeholders and the bill brought forward today reflects that.

The changes reflected in the bill will make it easier for stakeholders to make themselves heard in the future. Recreational boaters and industry alike will welcome the Minister of Transport's open consultation forums the Canadian marine advisory councils. Any Canadian who takes an interest in marine safety and the protection of the marine environment can take part in these meetings which take place twice a year across the country and are open to all members of the public. There, stakeholders from coast to coast to coast can meet in person with officials of the department and participate in the initiatives that affect them.

The content of the statutes affected by Bill C-3 remain otherwise unchanged. The rules remain the same. Therefore, there is no adverse impact on the environment or international relations. The implementation of the transfer of responsibility has no significant cost; it is being done inside of existing resources. Delivery of service to stakeholders and other Canadians goes on without interruption.

I am pleased to promote the government's stated objectives of “a transparent and predictable regulatory system that accomplishes public policy objectives efficiently, while eliminating unintended impacts” and “providing an up to date legislative framework for business concerns”. That is why, in this honoured hall, I support Bill C-3 for my colleague.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2004 / 11:35 a.m.
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Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague, who is an expert in fisheries, what he thinks, as a parliamentarian, about the fact that the present Prime Minister, who prides himself on fighting against the democratic deficit, presents, as one of his first bills, Bill C-3, legislation that does not take into account unanimous recommendations made by a parliamentary committee. This committee toured across Canada, met dozens of experts and people who know this issue.

As a parliamentarian, what does he think about this insult to the House, to the members of Parliament, to him as a member of this committee, and also to all the Liberal members who signed a unanimous report?

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2004 / 11:35 a.m.
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Conservative

Loyola Hearn Conservative St. John's South, NL

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary just mentioned that Bill C-3 is a government neutral bill. I wonder if my colleague from the Bloc thinks the parliamentary secretary has read the report recently tabled by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, which deals with the Coast Guard.

Over the last number of years since the Coast Guard was taken from Transport Canada and moved to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, it has seen a tremendous number of cutbacks, to the point where it can no longer operate. The Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans tabled a report stressing that the Coast Guard has to be beefed up. As for some of the frills which we see in Bill C-3 about moving to Transport Canada, I think it is just a deflective move by the government thereby allowing it to say, “Oh, we are making changes to the Coast Guard”.

I ask my colleague, are these the types of changes we should be making to the Coast Guard? Or should we deal with the substantive issue that the Coast Guard has to be beefed up to do the job that the Canadian Coast Guard is supposed to do?

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2004 / 11:30 a.m.
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Scarborough—Agincourt Ontario

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague across the way with great interest. Certainly he raised some points that need to be discussed as well as debated, but I cannot help but note that Bill C-3 is a government neutral bill. It shifts responsibility from one department to another department.

Let me read some notes for my good friend. On December 12, 2003, the Government of Canada transferred from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to Transport Canada “all Canadian Coast Guard policy responsibilities and certain operational responsibilities relating to pleasure craft safety, marine navigation services, pollution prevention and response, and navigable waters protection”.

I was interested to hear my good friend talk about Coast Guard equipment and the increasing pressure on the Coast Guard. I wonder if my colleague as well as all his Bloc colleagues are trying to hijack the idea of transferring responsibilities and being revenue neutral, let us say, by saying that we need more priorities and more equipment in the Coast Guard, that we need to invest in priorities. I am sure that is a discussion we can have at a different date and in a different place, including in here, but this is not the idea or the gist or the substance of the bill.

I understand that members from time to time do take the opportunity to increase a bit of substance, but certainly Bill C-3 is a mechanics bill passing from one department to another department and has absolutely nothing to do with equipment for the Coast Guard. However, that is a discussion we could have on another day.

I would ask my colleague across the way if he agrees that this is mechanics and mechanics only and that those members are just gesturing on the fact about equipment.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2004 / 11:10 a.m.
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Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the bill we have before us, Bill C-3.

The sole purpose of this bill is to transfer certain responsibilities from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, particularly responsibility for the Canadian Coast Guard, to the Department of Transport.

The bill does not propose any really major changes. As the government has said, there are no new costs involved in the transfer of responsibilities.

Hon. members need perhaps to be reminded that these responsibilities have been with Transport in the past. If I am not mistaken, these responsibilities, including that of the Canadian Coast Guard, were transferred to Fisheries and Oceans in the early 1990s. So this is a kind of backward step. It is a kind of return to the previous situation, after the realization that the transfer to Fisheries and Oceans was not really working.

In December 2003, the government transferred the responsibilities we are discussing today to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans by order in council. These responsibilities needed, of course, to be in the legislation, which is why the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act and the Oceans Act will be amended.

This does not, unfortunately, really solve the problem of the Canadian Coast Guard. This body has numerous responsibilities. The Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans studied the role of the Canadian Coast Guard on two occasions, and in March 2004 tabled a unanimous report containing 18 recommendations on the Coast Guard, its role and its importance.

The government ought perhaps to have taken its cue from that report and introduced a bill making the Canadian Coast Guard an independent agency. That was the gist of the main recommendation. As an agency, it could fulfill responsibilities serving both the Department of Transport and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, in fact even all departments concerned. This was a very important recommendation that should have compelled the government to make the Coast Guard an independent agency as soon as possible.

The other problem affecting the Coast Guard in particular is underfunding. I think everyone from industry people, to the Coast Guard itself, to parliamentarians agrees. The Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, among others, found that the Canadian Coast Guard is completely underfunded. In the current state of its fleet and with its lack of adequate human resources, it could never meet expectations.

I would simply remind hon. members that the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans reported that the Canadian Coast Guard is rusting out and the fleet is clearly undercapitalized. That is the position of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.

The average age of Canadian Coast Guard vessels is 20.2 years and the median age is 19 years; for the larger vessels the average age is 24.8 years with a median age of 22 years. Almost 80% of the fleet has reached or passed its half-life, and nearly 50% of the vessels have five years or less of useful life left. The picture is bleaker when considering large vessels, for which the respective numbers are 95% and 39%.

As reported by the Auditor General, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans estimated in 1999 the replacement cost of all of the large vessels was at $2.2 billion. That seems like a lot of money, but if it had been invested at the time, in the early 1990s, to replace the fleet, the figure would have been a lot less, and all the vessels and equipment of the Canadian Coast Guard could gradually have been replaced.

Since September 2001, the Canadian Coast Guard has faced a nearly catastrophic situation, with new mandates. Emergency investments have had to be made and funding is still completely inadequate.

We are talking about a cost of $2.2 billion, but simply to replace the large vessels over 30 years old, it would cost $750 million. Obviously the main challenge will be to replace the Coast Guards ships and other equipment. As Commander John Adams, Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard, said, “—based on a renewal rate of only 4% for the asset base, the coast guardshould be investing between $140 and $150 million in capital funding into our infrastructure each year”. That is what should have been done in the past, of course. If there had been an annual investment of $140 to $150 million, or even $100 million, for 10 or 15 years, the problem would not exist today. We would now have a Canadian coast guard much better equipped to fulfil its mandates and meet the needs.

As the Coast Guard Commissioner said, “Our budget over the last ten years has been in the order of $30 million to $40 million”. This represents a shortfall of about $100 million per year for the Coast Guard, just for replacing certain equipment. Now we find ourselves in a situation that could be called practically impossible. The Canadian Coast Guard's fleet needs to be replaced or modernized, and large amounts of money must be invested to achieve the desired results, the results the public, the Coast Guard and the industry all want to see.

This is what has happened over the years. Since the infrastructure was not replaced, it is aging and deteriorating. Moreover, there has been another problem. The Coast Guard is clearly understaffed. Today, in my opinion, the Canadian Coast Guard is unable to respond to all calls for its services.

The bill before us transfers the responsibilities of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to the Department of Transport. However, in the end, no money is allocated. Who will assume these responsibilities? Who will meet the needs expressed? It is very difficult to tell. The bill is not at all clear on this. Do we want to create another structure within the Department of Transport to meet the needs that are transferred to that department, or will we use, among others, the Canadian Coast Guard? If we rely on the Coast Guard, it goes without saying that we will have to invest more in its equipment and also in its personnel.

The Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans noticed something else during its review of the Canadian Coast Guard. I am referring to the difficulty that Coast Guard personnel is currently experiencing in fulfilling its mandate. We are talking about people who cannot take training courses, because there is not enough personnel to replace them. This means that they cannot take development courses. That includes the whole management framework, since managers themselves are not replaced because there are not enough of them. The result is that the Coast Guard personnel is asked to do too much. After a while, these people get tired. So, the Canadian Coast Guard is subjected to totally unwarranted pressure.

Let us not forget that the Coast Guard must fulfill all kinds of duties, including research and rescue operations. This is very important for recreational boaters and fishermen, among others, particularly in my region, but also on the west coast. Indeed, fishermen must travel further at sea to find the resources, thus putting their lives at greater risk.

This is another reason why the Canadian Coast Guard is subjected to greater pressure now than in the past. It is not necessarily equipped to meet the needs or to be able to properly carry out its mandate with respect to search and rescue. We have seen some pretty tragic cases recently. The same is true of emergency environmental response.

At present, with the growing maritime traffic—which is not likely to diminish, given the import and export activities of both Quebec and Canada—pollution is indeed one of the biggest problems, because of the ships either sailing or docking in our waters.

Naturally, the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans reports that, currently, the source of the majority of discharges of substances such as oil at sea is unknown or, if known, impossible to be acted on to resolve the problem.

Also, the Canadian Coast Guard does have a role to play within the Department of Fisheries and Oceans with respect to the protection of fisheries resources , in terms of search, among others. Here again, we can say that the Coast Guard is unable to meet the needs.

The Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans therefore made 18 recommendations. As I indicated earlier, the main one is for a renewed Canadian Coast Guard to be established as anindependent civilian agency. That is the committee's wish, and I think that the government should have taken heed.

Another recommendation of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans was that the Canadian Coast Guard be under Transport Canada but, before, that it become a stand-alone agency, that is, an independent civilian agency. We can see that some responsibilities are being transferred to Transport Canada, and we know that the Canadian Coast Guard used to come under that department. Perhaps all this could have taken place before the government introduced the bill before us.

Why transfer some responsibilities to Transport Canada? Because that is the lead department for maritime security. And, following the events of September 11, this role was of course expanded. Transport Canada is working with all security agencies, and the Canadian Coast Guard should also be involved.

The Department of Transport is also responsible for shipping traffic in general, and a major part of the Coast Guard responsibilities involve shipping traffic safety. Right now, we get many complaints from people who live on the shores of the St. Lawrence River about shipping traffic, and especially about bank erosion. Ships travelling at high speed in the channel generate powerful waves, which damage part of the banks of the St. Lawrence River.

One important role of the government would be to regulate the traffic in order to limit the speed of large ships. The Coast Guard would manage this traffic, which, for currently does not seem to be controlled. We do know that the speed of ships in the St. Lawrence River channel is regulated only by implicit agreement between ship owners and the pilots. Shipping generates erosion and other problems.

There is another crucial element in connection with traffic on the St. Lawrence River and towards the Great Lakes, and it has been examined by the fisheries and oceans standing committee. I am talking about the invasion of our waterways by exotic species that are harmful to our resources. This problem will only get bigger. The Department of Transport and the Coast Guard have a role to play to prevent this kind of problem.

The Department of Transport and the Coast Guard could play a very important role, that of inspecting and cleaning vessels entering our waters so that no more invasive species will be brought in.

Another recommendation was that the Canadian Coast Guard be given full operational funding. I have underscored right from the start that the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans found the Coast Guard to be seriously under funded. The March 2004 report recommended to the government that it be properly funded. We know that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is one of the least well funded of departments. I would say it has had the smallest budget increase since 1993, along with the biggest cuts. Even though some have said that it is precisely because the Coast Guard is connected to Fisheries and Oceans that it is underfunded, I am only partially in agreement with that. Whether the Canadian Coast Guard is transferred to the Department of Transport in whole or in part, whether it is made into an agency or not, if it gets no more funding that when it reported to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the situation will not be corrected. It will remain unchanged.

The Government of Canada must gradually invest in the Canadian Coast Guard. This must be done regularly, annually, so as to renew all infrastructures. Compared with other coast guards around the world, the Canadian Coast Guard is among the poorest and least well organized. Looking at the United States, we can see that their coast guard reports to the armed forces; it is very well equipped and can fulfil the mandates assigned to it.

One of the recommendations of the March 2004 report entitled “Safe, Secure, Sovereign: Reinventing the Canadian Coast Guard” reads:

That the Canadian Coast Guard be given the explicit authority to act on behalf of other agencies—

That is what I was just saying. If we create an independent agency, it should have, and I quote

“the explicit authority to act on behalf of other agencies, including Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment Canada, Transport Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency, the Canada Revenue Agency, and Citizenship and Immigration Canada in situations where there is reasonable cause to believe that Canadian laws are being broken.”

At present, I think there has been some weakening of these mandates through a number of agencies and departments. That means we are now going through a similar process to what happened in the United States. That country created an agency and gave it selected powers taken from other departments. I think that is what should be done here. We should create an agency whose role will be to coordinate and fulfil mandates. It is a role that could be given to the Canadian Coast Guard, if the government is willing to establish it as an independent agency.

We do not completely support this bill. We agree with certain things, but disagree with others. We feel this bill, as it stands, will not improve anything about the way the government fulfils its mandates or the way the Coast Guard can fulfil its mandate in the future.

In conclusion, the important thing is to make investing in the Canadian Coast Guard a priority. It must become a real agency and it must have the means to fulfil its mandate.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2004 / 2:25 p.m.
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Bloc

Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

I am pleased to conclude here, because I get the feeling that many in this House are anxious to see this week come to an end, myself included. Not that I want to see the end of my speech, because there is plenty more I could say on this bill.

I will just state that we are opposed to Bill C-3 and that we, the 54 members of the Bloc Quebecois, will keep watch steadfastly, day in and day out, over the interests of Quebec.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2004 / 2:20 p.m.
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Bloc

Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

There are only incredible risks to the fauna, the environment and the St. Lawrence River.

Experts are addressing increasingly the very important question of the beauty of the St. Lawrence River. We know that the St. Lawrence is the pride of Quebec and is associated with Quebec. It is an incredible gem, a place where business is conducted. It is a shipping channel. Nonetheless, with everything we hear about the intentions of the Liberal government, and in particular to dredge the St. Lawrence Seaway, and everything being presented in Bill C-3 today, I understand why the residents of the municipalities I mentioned earlier are worried. I am sure that the residents of both sides of the St. Lawrence, from the Gaspé to Montreal, including the regions of Montérégie, Centre-du-Québec, Quebec City and Îles-de-la-Madeleine, have the same concerns as the people I represent. Like all my colleagues from the Bloc Quebecois, I oppose the principle of Bill C-3.

Let me come back to the long title. Note the great expectations they have with a title like: act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act and the Oceans Act. It is a long title. One would expect major changes with such a title, but they are empty words.

The purpose of this bill is to amend four acts. First, it mentions the Canada Shipping Act. Do we have a Canada Shipping Act? We have the semblance of an act. Look at what happened with the shipyards. There was a shipyard in Sorel and one in Lévis, but we know what happened. Now, they would have me believe that with Bill C-3 we are going to change the Canada Shipping Act? What act? If it exists, is it solid? I do not think so.

There is also the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. As with the former act, are they trying to convince us that they are going to change an act from 2001 that did not satisfy anyone in this House?

Of course, let us not forget shipowners and the Martin family. These people are very influential when the time comes to make decisions. Here is a good one: I do not know if this is always the case but, apparently, the Martin children must go through the ethics counsellor to speak to their father, who is the Prime Minister. This is how the government would have us believe that the Prime Minister has no say whatsoever in the administrative decisions made by his children. Come on, give me a break on this Friday afternoon. Who is going to believe this? Who finds Howard Wilson credible? What credibility was there in Jean Chrétien meeting with Mr. Wilson to indicate to him, whenever there was a problem, what to say, or else be fired? This is how they tried to sell us the idea that the government was acting objectively and ethically.

The more things change in this Parliament—and we have only been here since October 4—the more they stay the same. The Prime Minister has changed, as have a number of ministers, but nothing has really changed. We do not see any improvement, and this is particularly true with Bill C-3.

The Liberals have a thing about respecting, or rather not respecting, unanimous reports. Think about the one on employment insurance, which was also not respected. Here we are dealing with the recommendations of another unanimous report tabled in March 2004. Either this government has trouble remembering things, or it has trouble reading the documents available to it.

If a different party were in power, someone other than the Liberals, we could understand some little hitches as files were transferred. But no, it is the same gang, still the Liberals. When it comes time for action, they have big gaps in their memories. I would say they have a selective memory, which tends to favour those who support the Liberal Party and to ignore the interests of Quebec. Selective memory is what it is.

Could you indicate how much time I have left, Mr. Speaker? You will understand that I want to respect your authority.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2004 / 2:15 p.m.
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Bloc

Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for at last giving me the chance to speak. I know you are still getting used to the position and I know you are making quite an effort to understand our language. I congratulate you on that. You can probably understand that some of us on this side of the House also sometimes have a bit of trouble pronouncing the names of certain western ridings, so we are even on that score.

Like my colleagues from Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine and Alfred-Pellan, I am concerned about this most vital question of Bill C-3. It is even more vital to Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière than to most ridings. I do not want to launch into a travelogue here, but there are five lovely villages along the shores of the St. Lawrence: Saint-Nicolas, Saint-Antoine-de-Tilly, Sainte-Croix, Saint-Louis-de-Lotbinière and Leclercville.

Those five parishes represent the roots of French colonization.They have been in place for two or three hundred years. Generations of their inhabitants have taken pride in living on the shores of the majestic St. Lawrence. I shudder at the thought of Fisheries and Oceans' responsibilities being handed over to Transport Canada. It is scary to think about what will happen when the Department of Transport steps in to slow down the huge ships that ply the St. Lawrence, particularly the Martin family ships.

We have had such a hard time figuring out all the red tape that ensued from the federal government's cuts to Fisheries and Oceans Canada. We eventually managed to cut through it all to get information, to find out who in the department has which responsibility and who will give us straight answers. Now, in order to improve the system, those responsibilities are going to be transferred to Transport.

Who at Transport will provide answers on important issues, like Fisheries and Oceans did? We know what reorganizing the work means. Will Transport employees be equipped to provide the same service that the Fisheries and Oceans people did? These are questions that need to be asked.

I have some experience and I have seen many departmental reorganizations on the other side of the House; so, we shall see.

Still, usually when the ministers are shuffled, and often when a new prime minister comes in, the names are all changed, and then we MPs must explain to the public how it works.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada looks after fauna, protects against pollution, and also is responsible for ice breaking on the St. Lawrence River. The department's experts have done their best, even though they have been faced with savage cuts since 1993 by the former finance minister, who is now the Prime Minister of Canada.

How are we to understand the logic behind this transfer? How are we to understand this government, which prides itself on being pro-environment and yet does such things as this?

When these responsibilities are transferred to the Department of Transport—and I hope they never are—will that department give as much attention as Fisheries and Oceans did to the issues, jurisdictions, and decisions that DFO officials had to make respecting an area as important as fisheries and oceans?

I will not be giving a course in semantics this afternoon, but in order for the people to understand, usually the department bears the name of the resource to which it is attached. For everyone, it was simple: Fisheries and Oceans meant that they looked after fisheries and oceans. Now we will have to convince the public that the Department of Transport is looking after fisheries and oceans, although the Department of Transport is identified with aviation, highways, and everything to do with roads. Now, with Bill C-3, we will attempt to convince the public that the Department of Transport can do this work. It is impossible.

Moreover, in proposing this game of musical chairs, if the Liberal government had said that such and such a responsibility was being assumed, that it was being moved to a particular sector, if improvements had been proposed, such as enhancing the services provided by Fisheries and Oceans, if it had added more money and resources to enhance the security of people who deal with the DFO, perhaps I might have accepted Bill C-3.

But only responsibilities are being transferred. There are no improvements, no additional funds, no additional resources.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2004 / 2:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Ken Boshcoff Liberal Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Again, Mr. Speaker, my congratulations to you.

I am pleased to rise today to speak to the House about the importance 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, which has been introduced by the Minister of Transport.

As members know, the transportation industry as a whole is a vital component of our economy. When looking at the marine sector of this industry, we must keep in mind that it operates both domestically and internationally.

In recent years, a substantial amount of work has been done in an effort to modernize our national transportation system and prepare this sector to meet the needs of the coming century and the demands of the global marketplace.

To achieve these objectives, the government has taken a number of initiatives in all operational modes, and its efforts have mainly focused on simplifying acts and regulations. These initiatives are still within the overall federal framework relating to transportation, which promotes a national vision on security, safety, efficiency and environmental responsibility.

On December 12, 2003, the Prime Minister announced that the responsibility for marine safety and security would be consolidated under the Minister of Transport.

To effect this centralization, some parts of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans have been transferred to the Department of Transport. Following these changes, Transport Canada now has all policy responsibilities and some operational responsibilities for pleasure craft security, marine navigation service, pollution prevention, environmental intervention and waterway protection. These are very important changes for the marine transportation industry and its stakeholders.

Canadians will now have a single point of contact for policy issues associated with marine safety and security. This consolidation of responsibilities is expected to improve efficiency in both marine policy and operations. As the content of this bill is considered to be policy neutral, these changes can only be looked upon as positive by the marine industry.

The intent of Bill C-3 is very clear to us today. Most important, it clarifies each department's responsibility as a result of the transfer of December 12, 2003. It consolidates policy responsibility for all aspects of marine safety in one federal department. 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 by the orders in council. It ensures that the powers, duties and functions transferred from the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans to the Ministry of Transport are unambiguous, in order to prevent litigation or any contentious issues. It preserves the logic and coherence of the affected statutes.

The changes introduced in the bill are changes that marine stakeholders have been suggesting for quite some time. In addition, these changes are welcomed by both the Department of Transport and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

The enactment of this bill is a vital step to effecting the Prime Minister's announcement on December 12, 2003. At this time, I would like to reaffirm my support of Bill C-3 as tabled by my colleague today.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2004 / 1:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Marc Godbout Liberal Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, I shall be splitting my time with the hon. member for Etobicoke Centre. Please allow me, as well, to congratulate you on your appointment as Deputy Speaker.

It is with great pleasure that I rise today to support 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, that has been introduced by my colleague the Minister of Transport.

The bill clearly outlines the changing responsibilities mainly affecting the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans as brought about by the Prime Minister's decision last December and reflected in the related orders in council.

It is a positive move, not only for the government but also for those who are governed in the marine world by a variety of legislation which can be confusing and difficult to find who is responsible and for what.

This change is encouraging as it would provide Transport Canada the responsibility for policy relating to pleasure craft, marine navigation services, pollution response and navigable waters protection. It would provide a single focal point for the majority of ship, vessel or pleasure craft safety matters as well as protection of the marine environment from vessel spills.

Many stakeholders will see this as a move in the right direction. I am aware how difficult it has been to identify, within the Canada Shipping Act, areas of responsibility covered by Transport Canada and those of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

I too realize that the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 was drafted to clarify the division of responsibilities. It is an improvement but in fact, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 does not offer one-stop service in matters of security.

For example, in an accident involving a pleasure craft and a commercial vessel, there will certainly be representatives of Transport Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on the scene. Obviously, this could lead to confusion for those involved, and be seen as a duplication of services. We must correct this situation at all costs.

The bill will correct and clarify who will be responsible under those acts. It is reassuring to know that the same department will be responsible for the safety regimes for all vessels. This can only lead to further harmonization in the development and application of regulations and standards.

I also understand that the bill does not contain any changes in policy, and the changes reflecting the new and more appropriate responsibilities of the Minister of Transport will not create any new resource burden for the government. It just makes sense.

In conclusion, I would like to restate my support for this bill. It is appropriate and it clarifies responsibilities. It provides Canadians with one-stop service in terms of marine safety and does so without unwanted financial impact.

In plain words, it makes sense. The throne speech said we would streamline legislation and regulations to enable government to work better and smarter. Bill C-3 does just that.

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October 15th, 2004 / 1:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate you on your appointment.

I am pleased to rise today to address the House about the importance 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, that has been tabled by my colleague, the Minister of Transport.

The bill reflects the government's initiative to reform the ways of promoting safety on the waterways and protection of the marine environment. In the past, responsibility for policy relating to marine safety and the protection of the marine environment has been divided between the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Minister of Transport.

The government has now consolidated the rule making responsibility under a single department to furnish stakeholders with a single point of contact for policy issues related to marine safety. This will make the marine regulatory framework more responsive, coherent and consistent. It will also free the Canadian Coast Guard to focus on its operational mission, including search and rescue.

This machinery of government bill is nonetheless an important piece of legislation because of its benefits for the shipping industry and marine activities as well as marine transport.

I would like to provide some statistics. Canada is home to the largest inland waterway open to ocean shipping. Every year over 40 million passengers and 17 million vehicles travel by ship in Canada representing over 15% of worldwide ferry traffic. Marine is the dominant mode of overseas trade with annual shipments in excess of $100 billion. Over 75,000 small commercial vessels ply our waters. The Canadian marine transportation sector directly employs more than 25,000 people. The number of Canadians who take advantage of our waterways for recreational purposes is estimated at around 8 million and they do so in 2.5 million pleasure vessels.

This large scale economic and recreational activity is generally conducted in a way that is safe, efficient and environmentally friendly. Shipping uses less fuel per tonne of cargo than does any other mode of transportation. Hence the great importance in the marine sector of a transparent and predictable regulatory system that accomplishes public policy objectives efficiently while eliminating unintended impacts, to use the language of the Speech from the Throne. A regulatory system must be securely founded on clear laws.

To quote again from the Speech from the Throne, “Smart government also includes providing an up-to-date legislative framework for business”. Although technical in form the bill would improve the way government does business. Rule making would be better coordinated and more accessible to Canadians meaning better protection for seafarers, the public and the marine environment, as well as clear rules and processes to promote a competitive marine transportation sector.

I would like to reaffirm my support for Bill C-3 as tabled by my colleague today.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2004 / 1 p.m.
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NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity today to speak briefly to Bill C-3. I want to indicate at the outset that the NDP is prepared to support the bill in principle. In our view it is the proper thing for us to be referring it to committee where it is extremely important that it be given careful consideration.

It is not a bill that contains a lot of new initiatives. It appears on the fold, by and large, to be a reorganizational effort of government, one that, on the face of it, seems to be quite supportable. We believe it is important for it to be carefully analysed at committee, and my colleague, the NDP transport critic, the hard-working member for Churchill, will no doubt be her usual detailed self in applying careful scrutiny to the bill at the committee level.

We are essentially dealing with an omnibus bill, one that effectively reverses most of the changes that were made to the Departments of Fisheries and Oceans and Transport in by the Liberals in 1994. I think we are all attempting to look forward and not waste a lot of time in the House by beating up on the government for its sins and omissions in the last 10 years.

I do not disagree for a moment with the comments made by other members that one of the true fiascos in the mandate of the government over the last decade was the mishandling of the coast guard. There clearly have been serious concerns created by the erosion of the capacity of the coast guard and by the problems created around where the coast guard's mandate kicks in and where Fisheries leaves off. As a result, there have been problems with overlap and with severe gaps. Generally, the role of the coast guard has not been possible to discharge even by the hard-working men and women who are employed to carry out the coast guard's responsibilities.

It is welcomed. We see the government facing up to some of the problems that have been created. However, it remains to be seen whether in the reorganization we will see the kind of effective enforcement around marine safety, environmental protection, pollution control and so on, which is extremely important. It will be very important to ensure that these functions are discharged in a competent and effective way.

I want to go directly to what is actually the smallest part of the bill. I want to do so for a couple of reasons. I refer specifically to the reference to Sable Island. I will quickly refer to the bill itself, a tiny element in the bill, subsection 136(2) which reads:

The Governor in Council may, on the recommendation of the Minister, make regulations

(a) respecting the administration and control of Sable Island;

(b) specifying classes of persons, or appointing persons, to ensure compliance with regulations made under paragraph (a) and specifying their powers and duties; and

(c) respecting maritime search and rescue.

I take the opportunity this afternoon to hone in on that aspect of the bill for a couple of reasons. One is that it is a little known fact, but I have the privilege of representing Sable Island as part of the Halifax constituency. It does not seem particularly logical on the face of it. When we look at the map, it is not exactly immediately adjacent to Halifax.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2004 / 12:55 p.m.
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Bloc

Robert Carrier Bloc Alfred-Pellan, QC

Thus, Mr. Speaker, the lines of accountability will be clearer and the Coast Guard's programs cannot be trumped by some other agency's priorities.

The committee also pointed out that the organization is understaffed, and I quote:

Its officers are overworked, stressed and demoralized. The Coast Guard requires the human and physical resources, ships, manpower, modern technology, and funding to do the job. The probability that the Coast Guard will get these resources within DFO, which has its own financial pressures and a different set of priorities, is, in our view, minuscule.

Finally, the Coast Guard does not play an important role in security. The Committee believes that, in addition to its traditional responsibilities, the Coast Guard should have its mandate expanded to include coastal security.The committee therefore concluded that the Canadian Coast Guard should be a stand-alone federal agency reporting directly to the minister responsible.

We think the recommendations in the unanimous report dated March 2004 should be implemented. The Bloc Quebecois wants therefore to see a renewed Coast Guard established as an independent civilian federal agency.

We also recommend that the Canadian Coast Guard be governed by a new Canadian Coast Guard Act, which would set out the roles and responsibilities of the Coast Guard. These would include: search and rescue; emergency environmental response; a lead role among the several federal departments involved in marine pollution prevention.

We believe that the Canadian Coast Guard be given full operational funding sufficient to carry out its existing roles as well as the expanded mandate and additional responsibilities recommended in the report of the standing committee.

We also call on the federal government to make an immediate commitment to provide the Canadian Coast Guard with an injection of capital funding to pay for fleet renewal, upgraded and modernized shore-based infrastructure and the implementation of new technology.

For all these reasons, the Bloc Quebecois cannot support Bill C-3. We believe that the only solution here is the establishment of an independent agency as recommended in the unanimous report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2004 / 12:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on behalf of my party with respect to Bill C-3. The bill makes a number of changes. It transfers some responsibility from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to the Minister of Transport.

When I first heard the content of the bill, my initial impression was that these matters already were within the purview of the Minister of Transport. On further investigation I had been led to believe that at one point these matters were part of the responsibility of the Minister of Transport. There were a number of decisions made over the years, and I believe that in 1995 some changes were made.

We heard the parliamentary secretary indicate that in 2001 there were a number of changes that gave responsibilities to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Now the bill changes them back to the Minister of Transport where it should have been in the first place.

We are acknowledging that a mistake was made in transferring these areas of responsibility and the bill corrects the mistakes that were made in the last few years by the Liberal government.

I wish all the mistakes that the government has made could be so easily corrected and with so few consequences. There probably would be unanimous support if we could have a bill that would nullify the sponsorship program for instance. Think of the hundreds of millions of dollars that we could have saved Canadians if that mistake could be corrected. However we are not able to do that at this point.

The bill allows the Canadian Coast Guard to focus on its operational mission. Anything that allows it to get on with that mission is certainly something I would support. Our discussion could be that a minor mistake was made in transferring this responsibility to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, but the mistake has been corrected.

I bet there are many in the Canadian Coast Guard who would agree with me that a much more grievous mistake was the decision to cancel the replacement for the Sea King helicopters. That was a huge mistake. We can only surmise how much better off all of us would be today, including those who protect the country's coastlines and are involved in the security of the country if that mistake had not been perpetrated on our armed forces and the Canadian public.

In any case, we look forward to the bill moving on to committee. There are some good aspects in it. The briefing notes put out by the Department of Transport said that if we did this, the Canadian Coast Guard would be able to focus on its operational mission. We would certainly welcome that.

Certain parts of the Canadian coastline, which could be referred to as the south coast of Canada, are in my riding of Niagara Falls. We welcome any enhancement of Coast Guard activities for search and rescue and security. All of these things would be very welcome.

I am particularly pleased to see some improvement in the ability of the Coast Guard to get back to its operational mission because I believe that while we may consider this a minor mistake, there are other mistakes that have been made with respect to the Canadian Coast Guard.

I will relate to the House a discussion which took place in my former capacity as a regional councillor for the region of Niagara. As all levels of government must do, we were going through a budgetary process.

One of the interesting items in that budgetary process was the amount of money being spent by the Niagara regional police. Border security and surveillance were a considerable part of the budget of the Niagara regional police. As soon as I saw it I said that one does not have to be a constitutional expert to know that these matters of international importance and security and securing our border are the responsibility of the federal government. That is very clear.

It was a legitimate question for me to ask even though the Niagara regional police were not complaining about it. They do an excellent job in everything they do, but I had to ask the question. I said that there were federal government agencies that were supposed to do this. The bottom line was, and it did not come from the Niagara regional police because they were too diplomatic, the money was not being spent by the federal government. Despite security taxes and all the difficulties the world has seen over the last few years, the money is not being spent.

Therefore, when I see a bill like this one, I am happy that some consideration is being given to the Coast Guard to free it up to get on with its operational mission. We welcome that. However, I have to go back again and ask why the government has not done that. There is a long tradition of the Niagara regional police taking it upon themselves, picking up the slack and worrying about national security.

Earlier today there were a number of references to the important Privy Council decision that was initiated by five Canadian women that was such a landmark for Canadian women. As I was gathering my thoughts about speaking to this bill, I thought of a Canadian heroine from the Niagara area, Laura Secord.

Laura Secord was a resident of the village of Queenston. She was not a part of the military; she was a civilian. She was like many people in Niagara and so many Canadians. It came to her attention on an afternoon when the Americans had taken over her home that there would be an imminent attack on the British forces. She walked 18 miles from Queenston to Beaver Dams to warn the British that an attack was imminent. I thought, this is a part of our long tradition.

The Niagara regional police in having to worry about and spend money on international security and do the job of the federal government is just part of a long tradition that we have had in that area. It goes back to people like Laura Secord. It goes back to Butler's Rangers who were located in my riding.

Part of my riding now includes the town of Fort Erie. There is a great incident in Canadian history, just before Confederation. Several hundred misguided fools under the name of the Fenians crossed the border from Buffalo into Fort Erie. The first people to meet them were not British regular forces. There were not the Canadian militia. They were a group of farmers from the Niagara area who first met them at Ridgeway. That became the battle of Ridgeway. They stepped into the breach to make sure that our country was protected.

I cannot leave the subject without mentioning the great work of the Lincoln and Welland Regiment and all that it has done to secure our country.

When I look at what is going on with the Coast Guard, the federal government has made a great move here. It has helped the Canadian Coast Guard by taking away some responsibilities and admitting that a mistake was made in the last decade. The government needs to do something more for the Canadian Coast Guard. Give it the tools it needs. It should not be depending on the property taxpayers of the Niagara region for jobs in the area of security and search and rescue that are more properly under the purview of the federal government.

I am pleased to have made these few comments. I welcome this bill. I welcome the government's admission to its mistakes. We are very interested in consensus. It can bring in bills. We will probably be very busy this session if the government brings in bills to correct the mistakes that have been made in the last 10 years. The government can bring them forward and it will find that all parties will welcome correcting that which has been done in the past.

I certainly look forward to the bill going to the transport committee. I and other members of that committee can decide on the witnesses we would like to have. I look forward to the bill proceeding through parliament.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2004 / 12:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the consultation that took place we reached out to all stakeholders. We continue to do so through the transport committee. We are looking forward to working not only with the marine stakeholders but with all members of this House and all people concerned in order to make sure that we have a seamless opportunity for Bill C-3 to go forward.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2004 / 12:25 p.m.
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Scarborough—Agincourt Ontario

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to present the House with 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.

Under the auspices of securing Canada's public health and safety, the Prime Minister announced on December 12, 2003, that the government would be:

rationalizing responsibility for marine safety and security policy under the Minister of Transport to consolidate responsibility for security in all transportation sectors and creating the Coast Guard as a special operating agency in the Fisheries and Oceans department.

On the same day, the governor in council transferred certain parts of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to the Department of Transport. Specifically, all Canadian Coast Guard policy responsibilities and certain operational responsibilities relating to pleasure craft safety, marine navigation services, pollution prevention and response, and navigable waters protection were transferred to Transport Canada. This step was taken to provide Canadians with a single point of contact for policy issues associated with marine safety and security.

The policy responsibilities transferred to Transport Canada include the development and management of legislation, regulations, standards and guidelines. Certain operational and program responsibilities associated with these policy responsibilities have been transferred to Transport Canada, including, among others, boating safety promotion and awareness programs.

On March 29, 2004, an additional order in council clarified the original transfer of authorities on December 12, 2003.

In response to this announcement, Bill C-3 is a “machinery of government bill” that is essential to carry out the cabinet's decision as it relates to marine safety and security policy.

In order to add greater certainty to this transfer of authorities, amendments to certain provisions of the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act and the Oceans Act are being proposed in Bill C-3.

The amendments in this bill only transfer to the Minister of Transport roles and responsibilities that would otherwise have been with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. The content of the statutes affected by Bill C-3 remains otherwise unchanged and, as such, this bill is considered to be policy neutral. Therefore, there should be no considerations of significance for stakeholders, the environment or international relations.

As previously mentioned, the bill contains proposed amendments to the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act and the Oceans Act relating to ministerial roles and responsibilities.

At the present time, the Canada Shipping Act confers responsibilities on the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

The Canada Shipping Act, 2001, also confers responsibilities on the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. The CSA 2001 will replace the Canada Shipping Act when it enters into force, which is expected to be in late 2006.

The Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act confers responsibilities on the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

The Oceans Act confers responsibilities on the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. In the past, responsibility for policy relating to marine safety and the protection of the marine environment has been divided between the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Minister of Transport. The transfer of responsibilities on December 12, 2003, makes Transport Canada responsible for marine policy and allows the Coast Guard to focus on marine operations.

It is important to note that the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, was drafted to draw as clear a distinction as possible between the responsibilities of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Minister of Transport in each part of the act, as the separation of responsibilities has consistently been problematic for both government and stakeholders.

The transfer of authorities in Bill C-3 centralizes the administration of marine safety with Transport Canada and provides the department with the opportunity to become the one-stop shop for marine safety policy and regulations. This consolidation of responsibilities is expected to improve efficiency in both marine policy and operations.

For example, uniting pleasure and commercial vessel safety requirements will promote the harmonization of such requirements. In the area of oil pollution prevention and response, these amendments will reduce the complexity of responsibilities for prevention and response for both shore facilities and vessels.

As previously mentioned, the logic of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, as drafted, contemplated implementation by two different departments. It conferred different competencies on the respective ministries and departments and enacted different implementation procedures. Transport Canada will now have implementation authority relating to both recreational and commercial vessels.

In conclusion, Bill C-3 has been drafted in response to the announcement on December 12, 2003, so as to: clarify each department's responsibilities resulting from the transfer; consolidate policy responsibility for all aspects of marine safety in one federal organization; improve the responsiveness, coherence and consistency of the marine regulatory framework for Canadians; enhance service delivery in these matters for all stakeholders; ensure that roles and responsibilities of the government remain the same, in whatever department they may be found; preserve the authority of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to carry out the operational role assigned to it by the orders in council; ensure that the powers, duties and functions transferred from the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to the Minister of Transport are unambiguous in order to prevent litigation or any contentious issues; and preserve the logic and coherence of the relevant statutes.

Transport Canada's legislative initiatives remain consistent with the overall federal transportation framework, which emphasizes a national vision of safety, security, efficiency and environmental responsibility. The changes introduced in Bill C-3 are changes that marine stakeholders have requested and that are welcomed by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Department of Transport.

In order to effect the transfer of authorities on December 12, 2003, from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to the Department of Transport, certain provisions of the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act and the Oceans Act require amendments.

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, contains the necessary amendments to the statutes. I welcome support for this bill.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2004 / 12:25 p.m.
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Papineau Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Liberalfor the Minister of Transport

moved that 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, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness ActGovernment Orders

October 14th, 2004 / 5:15 p.m.
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Scarborough—Agincourt Ontario

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to engage my colleague on this important issue.

He brought forth some points that we as a government have recognized and are working very fast to ensure that the black holes, the potholes that need to be fixed are fixed. That is why the Prime Minister, in his mandate in the past 10 months, has been working very hard with all parties, with due concern, to ensure we will fulfill the needs of Canadians. However, he touched on a couple of points on the transport issue such as the Coast Guard going back to transport, which is Bill C-3. When we discuss and debate the bill tomorrow, I welcome the opportunity for him to be here to make his comments because he has a lot to add.

However, I want to go back to what he said about us mirroring the homeland security in the United States. Homeland security in the United States has encompassed immigration, or INS. Right now the border security guards, or the old immigration INS, are a part of another department, homeland security. In Canada we have not done that. We have left immigration on its own.

I think my colleague across the way will agree with me that we have taken an important step to ensure that the fabric of Canada, our multicultural diversity or tapestry, is still welcomed and protected and that we are not encouraging people, as it is under the homeland security in the United States, to become a melting pot. Citizenship and immigration should remain where it is.

I remember back in 1993 when the then Conservative Party, under the then prime minister, Kim Campbell, came up with the idea of a national security or homeland security. At that time they put immigration under the RCMP, the Solicitor General and the whole nine yards.

Would my colleague across the way agree with me that we should leave immigration and citizenship where it is, or does he foresee us moving it into homeland security as the Americans have done?

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

October 14th, 2004 / 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 am sure that the minister will table the document at the first available opportunity.

With respect to the business going forward, this afternoon, tomorrow and Monday, we will continue with second reading of Bill C-5, which is on learning bonds, followed by second reading of Bill C-6, which is establishing the department of public safety; second reading of Bill C-3 which is the Coast Guard bill; second reading of Bill C-7 respecting national parks; second reading of Bill C-8 creating the public service human resources agency; and second reading of Bill C-4, which is the international air protocol bill.

There will, as the House knows, be divisions at 3 p.m. on Monday.

Tuesday and Wednesday will be the last two days of debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, and Thursday will be an allotted day.

Canada Shipping ActRoutine Proceedings

October 8th, 2004 / 12:05 p.m.
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Outremont Québec

Liberal

Jean Lapierre LiberalMinister of Transport

moved for leave to introduce 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.

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