Tackling Violent Crime Act

An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in September 2008.


Rob Nicholson  Conservative


This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.


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

This enactment amends the Criminal Code by

(a) creating two new firearm offences and providing escalating mandatory sentences of imprisonment for serious firearm offences;

(b) strengthening the bail provisions for those accused of serious offences involving firearms and other regulated weapons;

(c) providing for more effective sentencing and monitoring of dangerous and high-risk offenders;

(d) introducing a new regime for the detection and investigation of drug impaired driving and strengthening the penalties for impaired driving; and

(e) raising the age of consent for sexual activity from 14 to 16 years.


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.


Nov. 26, 2007 Passed That Bill C-2, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be concurred in at report stage.
Nov. 26, 2007 Failed That Bill C-2 be amended by deleting Clause 42.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

April 16th, 2021 / 1:30 p.m.
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John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

moved that Bill C-219, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sexual exploitation), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, it is indeed an honour to represent the good people of Perth—Wellington in this place.

It is an honour to rise in the House this afternoon to begin second reading debate of my private member's bill, known in this Parliament as Bill C-219, an act to amend the Criminal Code (sexual exploitation).

As I stated when I introduced the bill at first reading, it is a direct result of the advocacy, comments and concerns of the people of Perth—Wellington.

In early 2018, an incident occurred in which a person employed to work with persons with disabilities, who was also a children's entertainer, was convicted of a serious sexual crime against a person living with disabilities. My constituents were outraged by the lenient sentence of a monetary fine and probation, and called for a resolution to the flaw in the Criminal Code.

In a perfect world, I would have liked to have done so much more through the bill to better support Canadians living with disabilities. Far too often I hear from constituents who live with disabilities that they have fallen through the cracks: those who experience challenges in accessing government programs; those who face challenges with housing; and those who encounter barriers in employment. However, as hon. members know, with the limitations of Private Members' Business, it would not be possible to achieve all these goals through legislation without a royal recommendation.

In his 1913 autobiography, Theodore Roosevelt includes this quotation, “Do what you can, with what you've got, where you are ”. I am here today in the House doing what I can with the legislative resources available to me to try in this way to better protect Canadians living with disabilities.

I originally introduced the legislation in the previous Parliament, in January 2019, as Bill C-424. However, as members know, the Standing Orders on Private Members' Business were a barrier to moving the bill forward at the time and it died on the Order Paper when the 42nd Parliament was dissolved.

During the 2019 election, the proposals contained in my bill were included as part of the Conservative Party's election platform, and I personally made the commitment to my constituents that if I were to be re-elected, I would bring back this legislation to the House. Today, I am fulfilling that commitment to the constituents of Perth—Wellington.

Shortly after I tabled the bill for the second time in February 2020, another case involving sexual exploitation reached the news. This case involved a young person. The former chief of police of Bridgewater, Nova Scotia was sentenced to a 15-month imprisonment following an October 2019 conviction for sexually exploiting a 17-year-old girl. In this instance, the offender was also convicted of sexual assault, however, this caused a legal issue as it was questioned as to whether the court could convict a guilty person of two criminal offences for the same incident. In this case, the conviction of sexual exploitation was entered and the conviction of sexual assault was stayed.

As a sexual exploitation charge is often accompanied by a sexual assault charge, Bill C-219 would provide the additional benefit of ensuring only fair sentences are available when such controversies occur. Furthermore, Bill C-219 proposes to provide courts with the ability to impose harsher sentences in instances when only a charge of sexual exploitation is made. One example of the convictions of sexual exploitation but not sexual assault occurred last year, also in Nova Scotia, in which a religious leader was convicted of sexually exploiting a 17-year-old young person.

The second proposal contained within Bill C-219 was also inspired by the incident that occurred in my riding. If passed, the bill will require courts to consider the fact that a victim is a person living physical or mental disability as an aggravating circumstance when sentencing a person convicted under section 286.1(1) or 286.1(2) of the Criminal Code. This would fill an unfortunate void currently existing in the Criminal Code.

Persons living with disabilities are more vulnerable to this kind of exploitation due to a number of factors, including the capacity to give consent. What is more, in many cases, the offender is known to the victim and is often someone the victim must rely upon for care or other personal or financial support. This addition to the Criminal Code would ensure courts always take into account this vulnerability.

It is a sad truth, but as legislators we must be willing to admit that sexual exploitation is a problem in our country and we must strengthen our laws to better protect the most vulnerable in our communities.

Research and statistics have time and time again shown us that young people and persons living with disabilities are more often than not the victims of sexual and other types of crime.

According to Statistics Canada's report “Victims of Police-reported violent crime in Canada, 2016”, “When controlling for population, the rate of victimization was highest among youth aged 16 to 17 and young adults aged 18 to 24.” The report further explains, “Overall, 8% of police-reported victims were victims of sexual offences. However, these offences were much more prevalent among child and youth victims that came to the attention of police.” The report goes on to state that 34%, more than one-third of female victims of sexual offences, were aged only 12 to 17 years old.

According to Statistics Canada’s Report Violent Victimization of Women with Disabilities, “according to both self-reported and police-reported data, the large majority of victims are women...This trend is also evident when looking at the population with a disability” who are victims of self-reported sexual assault “as nearly nine in ten (88%) victims...were women.” The report also states that Canadians with a disability, 30% of incidents, were more likely to be victimized in their own home compared to victims who did not have disability. This serves to highlight the sad reality that even in their home, people with a disability are at an increased vulnerability.

According to the Department of Justice Research and Statistics Division, “Sexual assault is a gendered crime; women are victimized at a higher rate…than men... As with other violent victimization…young people aged 15-24 years have the highest rate of sexual assault (71 incidents per 1,000 population).”

Sexual exploitation is a disturbing crime because it involves an imbalance and an abuse of power. Often it involves some sort of authority figure in a position of trust. That is why for years the Criminal Code includes the following description in its section on sexual exploitation “Every person...who is in a position of trust or authority towards a young person” or “who is a person with whom the young person is in a relationship of dependency. ” Furthermore, in the sexual exploitation of someone with a person with a disability, it reads similarly, “Every person who is in a position of trust or authority towards a person with a mental or physical disability or who is a person with whom a person with a mental or physical disability is in a relationship of dependency.”

This makes the specific crime of sexual exploitation all the more concerning. It requires a person in a position of power to take advantage of that power for their own appalling purposes. There is no excuse and there is no justification for these kinds of acts. These crimes occur when a person actively choses to use their position to harm an innocent victim.

Last month I had the honour to meet virtually with representatives of Boost Child & Youth Advocacy Centre, an organization that provides services to victims of these types of crimes from Toronto to Barrie to Peterborough. They talk about how difficult it is for victims of vulnerable populations in the justice system.

We need to ensure they are respected and supported. We need to ensure when victims come forward, they feel they are taken seriously. We need to ensure victims of these types of crimes have faith in the system and believe the devastating acts committed against them will not go unpunished.

I recognize that introducing legislation that proposes to increase sentences may not be consistent with the direction of the current government, which has often taken the position that some mandatory minimums are not appropriate. I would like to address that issue.

Charter challenges on mandatory minimum sentences are determinations if the sentence is “grossly disproportionate”. This is not the case with this bill. Given the abuse of power and the long-term impacts on victims, it should be clear to all of us that a one-year minimum sentence for sexual exploitation of a person under 18 years of age or a person with a disability is proportionate to the serious crime.

Sex crimes are different from other crimes. This has been recognized by successive governments for decades, including by the current Liberal government. The current mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days for sexual exploitation of a young person has been in place since the current Liberal government came to office and they have chosen to keep that in place. In fact, when the government introduced Bill C-22, their own backgrounder explicitly stated they were not proposing to remove mandatory minimum sentences for sexual offences and listed them among other serious violent offences in which strict sentences remain in place.

Furthermore, when the justice minister spoke in the House, he clearly stated that sexual offences committed against children were committed by serious criminals and should be treated seriously. The same should be true of sexual offences committed against persons living with disabilities.

It would be beneficial for Parliament, the elected branch of government, to explicitly include in the Criminal Code a higher sentence for these crimes for the purpose of protecting vulnerable Canadians. Criminal laws serve to protect vulnerable people and serve a valid purpose. They are a legitimate part of fostering a safe society and they serve the public good.

The last number of months, under the challenges of COVID-19, many Canadians have been distressed to hear increasing reports of sexual crimes.

On July 13, 2020, a CBC news headline stated, “Child sex exploitation is on the rise in Canada during the pandemic.” The article states, “Cybertip.ca said...saw an 81 per cent spike over April, May and June in reports from youth who had been sexually exploited, and reports of people trying to sexually abuse children.”

A Global News report last month stated that a man from outside of Edmonton was arrested and charged with multiple counts of exploitation, among other charges.

A March 20, CBC news headlined stated, “Reports of sexual violations against children double in P.E.I.”

I encourage all members of all parties to come together to support this bill. In fact, there is precedence for all-party co-operation regarding changes to these sections of the Criminal Code.

Prior to 2005, the maximum sentence for sexual exploitation of a young person as an indictable offence was only five years, and no minimum sentence was provided. This changed in the 38th Parliament, when the then Liberal minority government passed Bill C-2, an act to amend the Criminal Code, protection of children and other vulnerable persons, and the Canada Evidence Act, which was sponsored by then justice minister Irwin Cotler. That bill increased the maximum sentence for sexual exploitation of a young person to 10 years, and introduced a minimum sentence of 14 days.

The bill also added to the Criminal Code a list of factors regarding the nature and circumstances of the relations to be established to determine how the relationship is exploitative. As Minister Cotler told the justice committee at the time, the purposes of the bill were ”to provide greater protection to youth against sexual exploitation from persons who would prey on their vulnerability.”

This bill was not only supported by all parties, but its passage was accelerated by all-party agreement and the use of a unanimous consent motion.

Then, on May 1, 2008, the Criminal Code was amended again, through another bill also named Bill C-2, this time to change the definition of a young person and to provide additional protections. This bill, the Tackling Violent Crime Act, was sponsored by the then justice minister Rob Nicholson and passed quickly through the House of Commons with all-party support and co-operation.

I would note the support of that bill included the current Minister of Transport, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, the government House leader, the chief government whip, and the Liberals members for Ottawa South, Halifax West, Humber River—Black Creek, Lac-Saint-Louis and Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame.

Young people and persons living with disabilities need to be protected. It is incumbent on us to pass this bill, because it is a targeted bill to correct two specific flaws in the Criminal Code. As parliamentarians, we have a duty to ensure the Criminal Code provides appropriate sentences for disturbing crimes so vulnerable Canadians are not at risk. There is no excuse for these crimes.

I urge all my fellow members to support this important bill.

October 17th, 2018 / 6:10 p.m.
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John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

On a point of order, Chair, I ask that you rule amendment LIB-55 out of order for offending the so-called “parent act rule”. Page 771 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, Bosc and Gagnon, states:

In the case of a bill referred to a committee after second reading, an amendment is inadmissible if it proposes to amend a statute that is not before the committee or a section of the parent Act, unless the latter is specifically amended by a clause of the bill.

The latter point traces back to citation 698(8)(b) of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, sixth edition, the editor of which, Mr. John Holtby, is perhaps well known to many of us around this place.

Bosc and Gagnon offer, among several precedents, the November 20, 2007, meeting of the legislative committee on Bill C-2, a meeting at which I understand you, Mr. Chair, were in attendance, where the committee chair ruled several amendments out of order for offending this very rule.

In the present case, amendment LIB-55 proposes to add a new clause 344.1 for the purpose of making an amendment to section 498 of the Canada Elections Act.

Bill C-76 as introduced would amend both sections 497.5 and 499 of the Canada Elections Act, the two sections that bookend 498, but not section 498 itself. Therefore, Chair, I think the government's amendment is quite clearly out of order.

September 25th, 2017 / 4:25 p.m.
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Bill Blair Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

Chief Bates, in 2008, when the government of the day passed Bill C-2 in the second session of the 39th Parliament, it introduced a legislative amendment that allowed for the testimony of drug recognition experts and gave the authority for the standardized field sobriety testing. At that time, or actually about two months after that was passed and enacted, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police indicated that they needed to train 27,000 officers in standardized field sobriety testing and some 2,600 officers as drug recognition experts.

The CACP, in their resolution, said they wanted to ensure there was adequate funding for that training to take place. The government of the day authorized $2 million for that training to take place, and my understanding from your testimony and from earlier testimony from the CACP is that we still do not have, at this point in time, adequate numbers of drug recognition or standardized field sobriety officers trained.

With the introduction of the government's allocation of $161 million for that training to take place now, do you believe we are in a better position to produce the desirable outcome of having adequate people trained to keep our roadways safe?

September 19th, 2017 / 6:15 p.m.
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Member, Criminal Law Committee, Barreau du Québec

Benoît Gariépy

Perhaps I can answer that question.

I do not think the Quebec Bar is here today to examine the constitutionality of the bill. Trial judges and later on the justices of the Supreme Court of Canada will certainly have the opportunity to do that.

The eminent Professor Hogg gave his opinion yesterday. Once again, who am I to contradict what a constitutional expert told this committee? I am not saying that the entire bill is completely unconstitutional, but I think some of its clauses might be considered excessive in their scope.

You will remember Bill C-2 which, once it was passed, became the subject of constitutional challenges for four and a half years. Bill C-46 is Bill C-2 to the power of 22 and will also be the subject of challenges. They will not necessarily come from the Quebec Bar, but I know criminal lawyers who are aware of Bill C-46 and who are already sharpening their tools. If the bill is passed in its current form, there will be constitutional challenges.

Extension of Sitting HoursGovernment Orders

May 21st, 2013 / 12:05 p.m.
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Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I apologize for interrupting my colleague just at the beginning of his speech on the justification for the motion that he has just presented to the House, but we have a point of order that we need to raise because I think it establishes a couple of important things for you, as Speaker, to determine before we get into the context and the particulars of this motion.

Specifically, I will be citing Standing Order 13, which says:

Whenever the Speaker is of the opinion that a motion offered to the House is contrary to the rules and privileges of Parliament, the Speaker shall apprise the House thereof immediately, before putting the question thereon, and quote the Standing Order or authority applicable to the case.

This is the standing order that we cite, because we have looked at the motion the government has presented here today with some notice given last week.

This motion goes against the Standing Orders and certainly the spirit of Parliament. The government is not allowed to break the rules of Parliament that protect the rights of the minority, the opposition and all members of the House of Commons who have to do their jobs for the people they represent. This motion is very clearly contrary to the existing Standing Orders.

I have some good examples to illustrate this. In my opinion, there is no urgency that would justify the government's heavy-handed tactics to prevent members from holding a reasonable debate on its agenda. I say “agenda”, but for a long time now it has been difficult to pin down what this government's agenda is exactly. This is nothing new.

The motion comes to us today at a difficult time, but just because the government held a brief caucus meeting and is facing numerous problems and a few scandals, it is not justified in violating the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. No one would accept those excuses. There is no historical basis for the government to use the Standing Orders in this way. That does not work.

There are a few important things we need to point out. One is that it behooves us to have some explanation of what this motion actually does. For those of us who do not intimately follow the rules and history of Parliament, it can be quite confusing not in terms of the intention of what the government has read but certainly in the implications. It needs some translation, not French to English or English to French, but translation as to what it actually means for the House of Commons. That is why we believe a point of order exists for this motion.

The motion essentially would immediately begin something that would ordinarily begin in a couple of weeks, which is for the House to sit until midnight to review legislation. This is somewhat ironic from a government that has a bad history with respect to moving legislation correctly through the process and allowing us to do our work, which is what we are here to do on behalf of Canadians.

I am not alone in seeing that the government has shown the intention of having some urgency with respect to 23 bills, 14 of which have not even been introduced since the last election. Suddenly there is great urgency, when in fact it is the government that has set the agenda. The urgency is so great that it has to fundamentally change the rules of how we conduct ourselves in this place in response to an urgency that did not exist until this moment.

One has to question the need. Why the panic? Why now, and why over these pieces of legislation? Are they crucial to Canada's economic well-being? Is it to restore the social safety net that the government has brutalized over the last number of years? What is the panic and what is the urgency?

Context sets everything in politics, and the context that the government exists under right now is quite telling. Every time I have had to stand in this place raising points of order and countering the closure and time allocation motions that the government uses, I am often stating and citing that this is a new low standard for Parliament. I have thought at times that there was not much more it could do to this place to further erode the confidence of Canadians or further erode the opportunity for members of Parliament to speak, yet it has again invented something new, and here we are today debating that motion.

That is why we believe that Standing Order 13 needs to be called. It is because it is very clear that when a motion is moved that is contrary to the rules and privileges of Parliament—which is what I would underline, as it is the important part—the Speaker must involve himself or herself in the debate and ask that the debate no longer proceed.

The privileges of members of Parliament are not the privileges that are being talked about by our friends down the hall to falsely claim money that did not exist or privileges of limo rides and trips around the world. The privileges of Parliament that speak constitutionally to the need for Parliament are that members of Parliament have the opportunity to scrutinized and debate government bills.

Just before the riding week, we saw the government introduce another time allocation on a bill that had received exactly 60 minutes of debate. Somehow the Conservatives felt that had exhausted the conversation on a bill they had sat on for years, and suddenly the panic was on. We are seeing this pattern again and again with a government that is facing more scandal.

I was looking through the news today. Every morning I start my day with the news and we consider what we should ask the government in question period. There are some days when the focus can be difficult and one may not be sure what the most important issue of the day is. However, the challenge for us today as the official opposition is that, as there are so many scandals on so many fronts, how do we address them all within the short time we have during question period or in debate on bills.

I listened to my friend for Langley, who has been somewhat in the news of late on his attempt to speak on issues he felt were important to his constituents. We saw him move a new private member's bill today. He withdrew the former bill, and now he is moving one again. The New Democrats will support the bill going to committee for study because we think there are some options and availability for us to look at the legislation and do our job.

Whether it is muzzling of their own MPs and the Conservatives' attempt to muzzle all MPs in the House of Commons, or using private members' bills to avoid the scrutiny that is applied to government legislation, and one important piece of that scrutiny is the charter defence of the legislation and so, in a sense, the Conservatives are using the back door to get government legislation through and move their agenda in another way, or the omnibus legislation, which has received so much controversy in Canada as the government has increasingly abused the use of omnibus legislation, or the F-35 fiasco, or the recent Auditor General's report, or the former parliamentary budget officer who was under much abuse and the new Parliamentary Budget Officer who has asked for the same things he did, or infamously, prorogation, time and time again the pattern is the same. The government has complete disdain for the House.

Whether it be the scandals in the Senate, or the China FIPA accord, or the recent problems with the Prime Minister's former chief of staff, or the employment insurance scandals, or the $3 billion missing, or the 300,000 jobs that have not been replaced, the government keeps trying to avoid proper scrutiny out of embarrassment. However, the House of Commons exists for one thing and one thing alone, which is to hold the government to account.

The government will make some claims that the urgency right now is because there has not been enough progress on legislation. Therefore, the Conservatives have to hit the panic button and would have the House sit until midnight, which has consequences beyond just being a late night, and I will get into those consequences in a moment because they support our notion that it infringes upon the entitlements of members of Parliament to debate legislation properly.

The Conservatives' record shows, and this is not speculation or conspiracy, that when they ram legislation through, they more often than not get it wrong. That is not just expensive for the process of law making, but it is expensive for Canadians. These things often end up in court costing millions and millions of dollars and with victims of their own making. The scandal that exists in the Senate is absolutely one of their own making. The Prime Minister can point the finger where he likes, but he appointed those senators.

Specific to the point of order I am raising, this motion would lower the amount of scrutiny paid to legislation. It would allow the government extended sittings, which are coming in the second week of June anyway, as the Standing Orders currently exist, to allow the government to do that, but the Conservatives want to move the clock up and have more legislation rammed through the House.

Also, as you would know, Mr. Speaker, the order of our day includes concurrence reports from committee, which allow the House to debate something that happened in committee which can sometimes be very critical, and many are moved from all sides. However, they would not get started until midnight under the Conservatives' new rules. Therefore, we would study and give scrutiny on what happened at committee from midnight until two or three o'clock in the morning.

As well, emergency debates would not start until midnight. Just recently we had a debate, Mr. Speaker, that your office agreed to allow happen, which was quite important to those implicated. We were talking about peace and war and Canada's role in the world. It was a critical emergency debate that certainly went into the night. However, the idea is that we would take emergency debates that the Speaker's office and members of Parliament felt were important and start them at midnight and somehow they would be of the same quality as those started at seven o'clock in the evening.

The scrutiny of legislation has become much less important than the government moving its agenda through, which is an infringement on our privilege as members of Parliament. The Conservative's so-called urgency, their panic, is not a justification for overriding the privileges that members of Parliament hold dear.

As for progress, just recently we moved the nuclear terrorism bill through, Bill S-9.

We also had much debate but an improvement on Bill C-15, the military justice bill, to better serve our men and women in the Forces. The original drafting was bad. The Conservatives wanted to force it forward and we resisted. My friend from St. John's worked hard and got an amendment through that would help those in the military who found themselves in front of a tribunal.

We have the divorce in civil marriages act, which has been sitting and sitting. It would allow people in same-sex marriages to file for and seek divorce. All we have offered to the government is one vote and one speaker each. The government refuses to bring the bill forward and I suspect it is because it would require a vote. It is a shame when a government resists the idea that a vote would be a good thing for members of Parliament to declare their intentions on, certainly something as important as civil liberties and rights for gay men and women.

I mentioned earlier why, in the infringement of this privilege, it causes great harm and distress not just to Parliament but to the country.

I asked my team to pull up the list of bills that were so badly written that they had to be either withdrawn or completely rewritten at committee and even in the Senate which, God knows, is a terrible strategy for any legislation.

There was the infamous or famous Bill C-30, the Internet snooping bill, which the Minister of Public Safety said something to the effect that either people were with the government or they were with child pornographers, which may be an example of the worst framing in Canadian political history. There has probably been worse, but that was pretty bad. The Conservatives had to kill the bill.

We have also seen Bill C-10, Bill C-31, Bill C-38 and Bill C-42, all of these bills were so badly written that oftentimes the government had to amend them after having voted for them. After saying they were perfect and ramming them through, invoking closure and shutting down debate, the Conservatives got to committee and heard from people who actually understood the issue and realized the law they had written would be illegal and would not work or fix the problem that was identified, and so they had to rewrite it. That is the point of Parliament. That is the point of the work we do.

We have also seen bills that have been challenged at great expense before the courts. Former Bill C-2, the tackling violent crime act, with huge sections of the government's main anti-crime agenda, was challenged and defeated in court.

Bill C-38, arbitrarily eliminating backlog for skilled workers, was challenged and defeated.

Bill C-7, Senate term limits, was after years just now deferred to the Supreme Court. It is called “kicking it down the road”.

Also, there are Bill C-6, Bill C-33 and others, and there are those that are being crafted and debated right now that are going to have serious problems.

The essential thrust of our intention is in identifying the rules that govern us, and specifically Standing Order 13. The government has time and again talked about accountability before the Canadian people and talked about doing things better than its predecessors in the Liberal Party, the government that became so arrogant and so unaccountable to Canadians that the Conservatives threw it out of office. History repeats itself if one does not learn true lessons from history.

As I mentioned, Standing Order 27(1) already exists, and it allows the government to do exactly what we are talking about, but not starting until the last 10 sitting days. The Conservatives have said that there is so much on their so-called agenda that they have to do this early, allowing for less scrutiny, allowing for emergency debates to start at midnight, allowing for concurrence debates that come from committees to start at midnight and go until two, three or four o'clock in the morning.

This is contrary to the work of parliamentarians. If the Conservatives are in such a rush, why do they not negotiate? Why do they not actually come to the table and do what parliamentarians have done throughout time, which is offer the to and fro of any proper negotiation between reasonable people?

We have moved legislation forward. My friend across the way was moving an important motion commemorating war heroes. We worked with that member and other members to ensure the bill, which came from the Senate, made it through speedy passage.

Parliament can work if the Conservatives let it work, but it cannot work if they keep abusing it. Canadians continue to lose faith and trust in the vigour of our work and the ability to hold government to account. We see it time and again, and I am sure, Mr. Speaker, you have as well, in talking to constituents who say that they are not sure what goes on here anymore, that it just seems like government will not answer questions, that everyday they ask sincere and thoughtful questions and the Conservatives do not answer. Bills get shut down with motions of closure.

Let us look at the current government's record.

Thirty-three times, the Conservatives have moved allocation on legislation, an all-time high for any government in Canadian history. Through war and peace, through good and bad, no government has shut down debate in Parliaments more than the current one.

Ninety-nine point three per cent of all amendments moved by the opposition have been rejected by the government. Let us take a look at that stat for a moment. That suggests that virtually 100% of the time, the government has been perfectly right on the legislation it moves. All the testimony from witnesses and experts, comments from average Canadians, when moving amendments to the legislation before us, 99.3% of the time the government rejects it out of hand. It ends up in court. It ends up not doing what it was meant to do.

Ten Conservative MPs have never spoken to legislation at all. I will note one in particular. The Minister of Finance, who has not bothered to speak to his own bills, including the omnibus legislation, Bill C-38 and Bill C-45, which caused so much controversy. He did not bother to stand and justify his actions. I find it deplorable and it is not just me, Canadians as well, increasingly so.

This is my final argument. We cannot allow this abuse to continue. This pattern has consequences, not just for what happens here today or tomorrow, but in the days, weeks, months and years to come and the Parliaments to come. If we keep allowing for and not standing up in opposition to bad ideas and draconian measures, we in a sense condone them.

We say that Parliament should become less irrelevant. We think that is wrong. We think what the government is doing is fundamentally wrong. It is not right and left; it is right and wrong. When the government is wrong in its treatment and abuse of Canada's Parliament, that affects all Canadians, whatever their political persuasion. We built this place out of bricks and mortar to do one thing: to allow the voice of Canadians to be represented, to speak on behalf of those who did not have a voice and to hold the government of the day to account. Lord knows the government needs that more than anything. It needs a little adult supervision from time to time to take some of those suggestions and put a little, as we say, water in its wine.

It has the majority. This is the irony of what the government is doing. In moving more time allocation than any government in history and shutting down debate more than any government in history and using what it is today, it speaks to weakness not strength. The Conservatives have the numbers to move legislation through if they saw fit, but they do not. They move legislation, they say it is an agenda and they hold up a raft of bills.

January 31st, 2012 / 11:45 a.m.
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Joseph Jordan Senior Consultant, The Capital Hill Group

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I want to thank the committee for the invitation to participate as a witness in your five-year statutory review of the Lobbying Act, as is mandated by section 14.1 of the legislation.

By way of introduction, I am a former member of Parliament. I served as parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister. I served as parliamentary secretary to the President of the Treasury Board. I was the director of parliamentary affairs in a minister's office. I am currently a member of the Queen's Privy Council and am currently a senior consultant with The Capital Hill Group, a government relations firm here in Ottawa. I also teach government relations in the MBA program at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. In other words, to use the vernacular of the bill, in recent history I have been a designated public office holder and I am now a registered lobbyist. Apart from the fact that I apparently have trouble holding down steady employment, I hope I can draw on some of my experiences while we discuss this legislation.

At the outset, I want to put on the record that I did appear before the Senate committee when Bill C-2 went through the legislative process. At the time I expressed some concerns about the bureaucracy's ability to enforce this bill logistically, because what it involved was a shift from a system that was essentially lobby registration to lobby regulation, and I had in my mind all the complexities that would involve. I must say that I think they have performed admirably. On a logistical side, the office is functioning at a very high level. Any contact I've had with it has been extremely positive; I think the registration system itself, the computer system, is working well, so I have to eat a bit of crow, because I predicted doom on that front and it certainly hasn't materialized.

On a personal note, I also want to state very clearly that I fully support the objectives of this bill. Anything that we can do or anything that you can do as parliamentarians and legislators to increase transparency on the political decision-making will help reduce some of the cynicism that I think is driving down voter participation rates and infecting people's views of government and government's role in their lives.

To that end, I'd like to review a couple of areas of the legislation that I think the committee should consider examining during your review.

The first item is essentially structural. The application of the regulatory framework in this act, which is extensive and far-reaching, is entirely based on a person realizing that they are engaged in activities that require a registration. Although subsections 5(1) and 7(1) list a number of activities that would be considered registerable activities, I think it may make sense to actually put a definition of lobbying into section 2 of the legislation. For a suggestion, I think a solid definition would be "communication with decision-makers to affect outcomes". I think that a clear and concise definition of the activity that is being regulated provides a stronger foundation to then define the related activities.

The committee testimony to date has reflected a concern about individuals who are "flying under the radar", as I think was the term used, meaning people who are engaged in lobbying activities but who, for one reason or another, are not registering and reporting those actions. Setting aside people who are knowingly and deliberately choosing to ignore the law, I think there are a couple of factors that contribute to this situation. The inclusion of an arbitrary time trigger, the so-called “20% rule”, involves an individual or organization performing some calculation of aggregate resources expended in lobbying activities. At best, it's confusing; I think that at worst, it's unconstitutional.

I'll give you an example. The August 11, 2009, interpretation bulletin on how to calculate the 20% rule states:

One way is to estimate the time spent preparing for communicating (researching, drafting, planning, compiling, travelling, etc.) and actually communicating with public office holders. For instance, a one-hour meeting may require seven hours of preparation and two hours of travel time. In this case, the time related to lobbying with a public office holder would be a total of 10 hours.

That would be the time used to calculate whether you trigger the 20%.

Therefore, what you have is a case in which identical organizations engaged in identical activities could have separate reporting requirements if one is based in Ottawa and one is based in Vancouver. I'm not a lawyer, and that's not an apology, but I'd take this one to the Supreme Court. I don't think we can have legislation that is going to discriminate against Canadians based on where they live. Quite clearly, in my reading this interpretation bulletin does exactly that.

I think that may be one thing you want to look at and, at the very least, take travel out of the calculation, because I think there's an inherent bias in that to people who live closer to Ottawa. Again, that's something we are probably trying to have less of in our legislation.

It might also be useful to revisit the original rationale for the 20% rule. It was not the intention of legislation—this is what the rationale was at the time—to catch individuals or organizations that are engaged in occasional lobbying. I think you need to take a look at that and reconcile it with the objectives of the legislation.

It might be simply that you are catching people who are bad at lobbying, because the good lobbyists can get it done under 20%. This isn't necessarily a criticism aimed at any person, but as this bill evolves, as it reacts to situations, both policy and political, and as its reach is extended, I think you have to make sure that at the end of the day when you put the pieces back together, Humpty Dumpty makes an egg. I think in some cases we have gone a little sideways on what we're trying to do.

The second element is the requirement that a lobbyist be paid in order to be covered by these regulations. The Americans have a regime of lobby regulation and don't make that distinction.

In looking at the participating sectors of the argument industry, at the inputs that go into public policy making and the public policy making algorithm, I think the goal should be the highest level of transparency possible. So certainly the actions of paid consultant lobbyists should be transparent, but so should the actions of non-governmental organizations, think tanks, religious advocacy groups, professional organizations, and even academics.

The notion that only those who are directly paid to lobby have questionable motives and all the other participants in the debate are pursuing the public interest in its purest form strikes me as a little naive. I think that either eliminating the word “paid” or at least expanding the definition to include “indirect benefit” might be worth considering.

Again, to give you an example, I teach at the University of Toronto. The fact that I'm appearing before you here today is something that I will bring up the next time my salary is negotiated, so to somehow suggest that this particular undertaking may not have indirect benefit to me is again I think not realistic.

I think the legislation is also coming into conflict with legitimate objectives of certain organizations. In terms of governance in organizations, we live in a post-Sarbanes-Oxley world, and organizational and corporate boards are struggling with these new realities.

For example, if an association is trying to attract top talent for its board of directors and decides to compensate them any amount over expenses, they are then considered paid, and the 20% rule doesn't apply, triggering the potential requirement for the entire board to individually register as consultant lobbyists if they have contact with public office holders. If you check the registry, I think you'll see that the Canadian Medical Association is one organization that has had each of its board members register as consultant lobbyists.

I think we should be supporting these groups in their goal of better governance. I'm not sure that this additional hurdle is helpful in their recruiting.

Another element of the legislation that was predicted as problematic was the inclusion of designated public office holders identified as “senior”. Therefore, any registerable communication that was oral and pre-arranged with these individuals required separate filing of a monthly communication report. That was then posted to the public registry and available online. There was a hue and cry--all kinds of it--about how this was going to provide sensitive information to competitors. I don't think that has materialized, but there are some issues around it.

The original proposal in Bill C-2 before it was amended called for a higher level of detail regarding the actual communication information, and a dual filing process, whereby both sides at the meeting, the designated public office holder and the registered lobbyist, both reported their meetings individually and separately, and the lobbying registry office simply reconciled. If there was one half of a meeting reported, that was something they could then investigate. The problem we have now is that the lobbying commissioner's office has to respond to anonymous tips or whatever to figure out where to look for problems because they aren't going to surface naturally on their own.

We ended up with a system in which the responsibility rests solely with the lobbyist and the meeting details simply need to reflect the identified subject matter listed in the original registration. Again, the committee may want to examine the impact this element has had over the last five years and see if it's getting us where we want to be.

In addition, I think, on the inclusion of DPOH status, you could put this on the government electronic registry. One of the challenges we face is who is designated and who is not. It's a moving target in terms of the designations not being consistent across ministries as people move in and out of positions and are temporarily acting and these sorts of things.

The government has a very good electronic directory of employees. There may be some way of identifying on that directory if the person is or is not in fact a designated public office holder. I think it might simplify the process and reduce the number of false filings, wherein people file and don't need to because the person isn't designated, or where they don't file because they don't think the person is and that then triggers a separate course of action.

Staying with the DPOH theme, the original legislation gave the government the Governor in Council authorities to designate any class of DPOH, and they exercised this authority to extend designation to members of Parliament. I realize the political risks of anybody saying they want to do anything that would be seen to be reducing transparency and accountability, but I think designating individual MPs who aren't parliamentary secretaries or ministers as DPOHs is a bit of a knee-jerk reaction. It could have profound long-term effects on the rights and privileges of MPs and, in a sense, the relationship between the executive and legislative branch.

I'm not Chicken Little and I'm not saying the sky is falling, but I think we should all be concerned if as an MP there are certain regulations and restrictions around who you see and then actions you take subsequent to those meetings. Your responsibilities as to providing oversight as members of Parliament may take precedence over whatever objectives might be met under that exercise, although I do say again that it would be very difficult for somebody to walk outside this room and scrum on that issue, because it certainly would look like you're trying to make the system less transparent. I can say it; maybe you can't.

February 15th, 2011 / 12:10 p.m.
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Pierre Mallette National President, Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN)

Good afternoon. My name is Pierre Mallette. I am the national president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, which has over 7,000 members across the country.

Our union's role is well-known, but let's keep in mind that it has the safety, training and working conditions of its members at its heart. We thank you for giving us the opportunity to share with you our point of view on the impact that the freeze on budget envelopes has on correctional officers and on the prison system in general.

Frankly, we need to tell you that we have fears and doubts. Can we get away with a freeze under the circumstances? Does the government have enough money to face the challenges that it is imposing on us? The freeze on budget envelopes means that the Correctional Service of Canada will have to make do with the money available to cover salary increases, in particular. The planned salary increase for 2010-2011 is 1.5%. The money available must also be used to provide training and protect the safety of employees, and to handle the renewal of the collective agreement, which expired on May 31, 2010.

Furthermore, Bill C-2 and Bill C-25 impose new challenges because they will mean an additional 4,478 inmates by 2014 and an additional 4,419 positions, most of which will be CX positions, over the next three years. In short, it's a challenge for recruitment, training and the management of inmate programs and, therefore, there are more risks.

What are these risks? First, you have to put yourself in the correctional environment. Every day, we have to face incidents in that environment that are difficult to foresee. We are not safe from inmates who, one day, decide they've had enough and want to break everything.

The new bills that the government wants to adopt, such as Bill C-2 and Bill C-25, will end up increasing the prison population. Those inmates will need to be housed in institutions that will have to make space for them, and we will have a double bunking rate of up to 30%.

Double bunking means increased risks, better control of the prison population and a better assessment of the risks related to the population. On the inside, we have to manage the population. We must find a way to make several types of inmates live together. We have inmates from organized crime, street gangs, motorcycle gangs, Asian gangs and gangs from Russia. When it comes to managing a prison population, the larger the population becomes, the more you need to be equipped for the simple management of the population. Above all, it is important to avoid managing it to the detriment of the inmates, if programs can no longer be provided to help them rehabilitate.

We must never forget that the Correctional Service of Canada has two roles to play. Its primary role is to protect the safety of the public by limiting access and preventing high-risk offenders from escaping from the prisons. The main risk is in managing these populations, but its second mandate is that we must ensure that inmates are returned to the community and see to it that they are no longer a danger to society.

New announcements have been made in the context of Bill C-25. In fact, we hear that there will be new buildings and an increase in the number of correctional officers and employees. We hear that the number of inmates will increase and that we will have more space and more officers. But that doesn't mean that we will have more money for programs to control these populations and to handle uncontrollable day-to-day situations.

We know that Mr. Head came to make a presentation and that he proposed three ways to manage the freeze on envelopes.

The first solution that Mr. Head proposed is this: he believes that better control over work schedules and new deployment standards will help manage the budget allocated for overtime. It's true. We also believe that these two aspects will help to better control the financial aspect of overtime.

But people are being tight-lipped—both in the government announcements about the construction and within the Correctional Service of Canada—about population management and the programs we are going to offer.

It's true that part of the overtime envelope can be managed with schedules and deployment. We can have a better handle on that, but the level of risk is still difficult to calculate.

The warden of a penitentiary receives an overtime envelope that he must distribute over 12 months to ensure that overtime is monitored and that the mandates are fulfilled.

If some inmates decide to stab another inmate and one of them is hospitalized, there aren't necessarily resources set aside for the staffing. This creates a surplus in the budget envelope. If an inmate decides to attack some correctional officers, three correctional officers may be on leave because of an accident on the job. Then there are riots and major incidents. One fine summer evening, the inmates may decide to stay outside for three more hours. This type of incident is difficult to control and difficult to foresee. This is why we believe that the overtime budget envelope must be planned and better invested. It's difficult to say that we will be able to monitor the overtime envelope 100%. We can't claim that.

As you know, there has been a lot of talk about being "tough on crime". We feel that it is important to understand that there are two ways to be "tough on crime".

Of course, you have to be able to manage and strengthen legislation. But all of that does not simply mean catching a criminal, throwing him in prison, closing the door and forgetting about him for four or five years without giving him a chance to take any programs. This is what we're concerned about right now.

Bill C-10, which was passed in 2009, looked at the freeze on salary increases. A salary increase of 1.5% was approved. In addition, during bargaining talks, the government decided not to give money to the Treasury Board for bargaining. Instead, it was the department that would cover the increases.

The union and the correctional officers need to be able to sit down with the employer and say that it is now time to negotiate the salary increases. In its budget, it must find money to cover the salary increases. Is there a risk that the overtime envelope for being "tough on crime" and bargaining might mix? Yes. I would not want to be in the position of having to dump a working condition for a salary increase. It's unacceptable.

The purpose of our presentation today was to share our concerns with you. Also, we recently learned that there is a discrepancy of $4 billion. We are going to ask questions of the right people and get them to explain to us where this problem came from. Yes, we have concerns about how to monitor and manage our work environment.

Thank you.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

December 4th, 2009 / 1:45 p.m.
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Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-464 introduced by the member for Avalon.

The bill raises the important issue of the safety and protection of children from dangerous accused who are awaiting trial. More specifically, Bill C-464 proposes to amend paragraph 515.10(b) of the Criminal Code to remind courts to consider the safety and protection of minor children of the accused when determining whether pretrial detention is necessary.

After an offence is committed, the burden usually falls on the prosecutor to establish certain grounds for the judge or the justice to order the detention of the accused prior to trial. Under the primary ground for detention, bail can be denied to ensure the accused does not flee the jurisdiction. Under the secondary ground, bail can be denied when it is necessary for the protection or safety of the public. Last, bail can be denied under the tertiary ground when considered necessary to maintain confidence in the administration of justice.

Bill C-464 proposes to amend the secondary ground. I would like to indicate the government's support for the bill's laudable goal of protecting children from dangerous accused during the bail process. The purpose of the bill is consistent with this government's commitment to ensuring that the justice system operates in an effective manner to protect children, victims, witnesses and all Canadians.

In the last session of Parliament, Bill C-2, the Tackling Violent Crime Act, received royal assent. That legislation includes a number of Criminal Code amendments aimed at making Canadian communities safer. Among other things, it tackles serious gun crime by imposing higher minimum sentences of imprisonment. It places stricter conditions on dangerous and high risk offenders, and it creates a more effective sentencing regime. That same bill protects children from sexual predators by increasing the age of consent for sexual activity.

In the area of bail reform, Bill C-2 strengthens the bail regime by better protecting the public from offenders accused of committing serious firearm offences. Now there is an onus on those who allegedly commit such offences to demonstrate to the courts why they should be granted bail while awaiting their trial.

Bail reform is an ongoing priority for our government. Currently we are working together with the provinces and territories to develop comprehensive reforms to the bail regime at both the legislative and operational levels. The government is committed to finding ways to prevent the tragic loss of young, innocent lives, such as that of Zachary Turner, and ensuring that the bail regime adequately protects public safety.

If the bill is referred to committee, members would have a very important role to play in examining whether Bill C-464 is effective in ensuring the protection of children from accused persons and whether the bill can be improved. Among other things, committee members may want to examine the fact that the proposed amendment is specifically limited to children of the accused and whether the bill could be strengthened by removing this restriction. This would serve to remind courts to consider the safety and protection of all children and not just the children of the accused.

I look forward to hearing the committee's views on this and other issues involved in strengthening the protection of children at the bail stage.

It should be noted that Bill C-464 would build on the current bail regime which already affords protection to children. Under paragraph 515.10(b) the court considers “the protection or safety of the public, including any victim of or witness to the offence, having regard to all the circumstances” and is bound to consider the likelihood of the accused committing any offence pending trial. In addition, other sections of the Criminal Code outline specific orders that a judge or a justice must consider before releasing an accused charged with an offence involving violence against a person.

Thus, the proposed bill does not substantially change the grounds for detention. It does, however, expressly remind the courts to consider the safety of children when considering if an accused should be detained prior to trial.

The courts' task of accurately assessing the dangerousness or flight risk of an accused and ensuring public confidence in the administration of justice is not without challenges. The presumption of innocence and the right to not be denied bail without just cause are rights enshrined in our Constitution. Clearly, the courts must balance these rights, but must also be vigilant in their assessment of the risks associated with the release of accused persons. This bill appropriately signals the need for courts to assess the safety of children affected by the release of an accused prior to his or her trial.

The protection of children, be it from a dangerous accused or an abusive parent, requires all levels of government to work together. This government is committed to ensuring that appropriate consideration is given to the safety and protection of children during the bail process. More generally, we will continue to work with our provincial and territorial counterparts to improve the operation of the criminal justice system.

This bill complements other government initiatives that strive toward preventing harm by accused persons who threaten the safety of Canadian citizens. The government supports the purpose of this bill and suggests that it be referred to committee to allow for its full consideration as well as for potential amendments to make it even better.

April 30th, 2009 / 5:55 p.m.
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Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

I'm going to speak French.

Do you have the translation channel?

I would like to make a comment and ask two questions.

First, under the Criminal Code, since 1997, there are sections on mandatory minimum sentences with respect to firearms, which were revisited in 2008 through Bill C-2. Currently, there are minimum sentences. I personally do not believe that we are going to win the war against organized crime because the Criminal Code provides for minimum sentences. The proof lies in the fact that some minimum sentences have been in the Code for the last 10 years, and in my opinion, they are not the right solution. That is my first comment.

This morning, we had an exchange with Mr. Macintyre from the RCMP. I was very pleased when I tabled my motion with the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights calling for the committee to travel to Vancouver with a view to understanding what exactly is going on. I am a member from Montreal. In 1995, a 13-year-old boy in my riding was killed by a biker gang. Following that, anti-gang legislation was introduced.

I had the impression, seeing things from the outside, that Vancouver was experiencing what Montreal went through a decade ago. Things are different there, I understand the nuances, because the RCMP explained them to us, but there are similarities nonetheless. I want to understand what is going on. I believe that we need more police officers, prosecutors with expert knowledge of street gang issues and more resources to carry out investigations.

I would like to see the committee incorporate the following points into its report. To my mind, you need at least five years to win this battle. In Quebec, 156 people were arrested and 111 of them were members of the Hells Angels. The investigation lasted three and a half years. This has little to do with disclosure, and more to do with the specific nature of this type of inquiry. I would be inclined to think that this committee should recommend a federal government fund dedicated exclusively to Vancouver, and not all provinces. When I refer to Vancouver, I mean British Columbia, of course.

If the government were to ask you how much money is required in that fund, what would it be? I know that a mayor may tend to automatically overstate the amount, because the needs are great. Earlier, Madam Mayor told us that having only 68 police officers for all of British Columbia was insufficient.

If we were to recommend the creation of a fund that would allow you to hire more prosecutors, police officers, and refine your investigative tools and means over a period of five years, would you be in a position to table a supporting document, with the assistance of your police services, containing a recommended amount of money? Are we talking about $15 million or $20 million?

I believe that there should be a fund for a period of five years, and that it must be targeted. This is the first time we are talking about this. I don't know, when we reach the final report stage, if my colleagues will be in agreement with me, but this is what I intend to advocate. I'm not talking about a fund for all provinces. You are experiencing a very particular situation that is not as acute in other provinces.

Earlier, Mr. Macintyre told us that in 2009, there will probably be a higher number of deaths related to street gangs in Vancouver than in Toronto. This is an indicator of the magnitude of your unique challenge. You need to be supported financially, and not with minimum sentences. If you had been able to win the battle with minimum sentences, it would have already been won. Does anyone want to commit to endorsing this idea of a fund, and provide an order of magnitude? Perhaps the Vancouver mayor has some ideas on this.

March 31st, 2009 / 7:05 p.m.
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Saint Boniface Manitoba


Shelly Glover ConservativeParliamentary Secretary for Official Languages

Madam Speaker, Canada remains a world leader in this fight to end gender discrimination and we take this leadership role very seriously, both within our borders and internationally.

Our commitment to women's equality at home and abroad was recently demonstrated when our Minister of State led Canada's delegation to the UN. There she met with her counterparts from around the world to share best practices and to continue Canada's leadership role.

Last week, the Minister of State also met with Valerie Jarrett, head of the newly formed inter-agency White House Council on Women and Girls. During the meeting, they discussed best practices on advancing women's equality within their own countries. This meeting is yet another example of Canada demonstrating leadership on the global stage.

The Government of Canada is taking leadership to bring about equality for women because we want nothing less than women's full and equal participation in the economic, social and democratic life of the country.

Our commitment to women's equality is demonstrated by the Prime Minister's recent appointment of the highest percentage of women to cabinet in Canada's history.

As well, we increased status of women funding by 42%, bringing it to its highest level ever. This funding increase means that more women are receiving the skills and services they need to participate fully in Canadian life.

We are witnessing significant progress in a number of areas, including women's employment and labour force participation rates, which are approaching record highs. Women are increasingly represented in a wide range of professional fields as well as in careers and fields of study traditionally dominated by men.

Violence against women also remains an issue of grave concern. Having worked in the male-dominated field of policing for almost 19 years, I understand intimately the needs in terms of this violence issue, and that is why I am a Conservative. It is because we recognize that more work needs to be done to address this problem, which affects all communities in Canada.

We believe that those who commit such crimes against girls and women must be held accountable. That is why we passed the Tackling Violent Crime Act and made significant investments in policing, youth crime prevention, the renewal of federal corrections, combatting gun crime, and supporting victims of crime. We also put an end to conditional sentences, including house arrest for serious offences such as violent or sexual crimes.

This government is currently implementing many of the recommendations put forward by CEDAW, including working to end violence against women, providing women with the skills they need to take on leadership roles and participate equally in the economy, and protecting the human rights of aboriginal women.

We are responding to the issue of missing aboriginal women by funding the Sisters in Spirit initiative. Addressing violence against aboriginal women is a serious concern for this government, which is why we endorsed the federal-provincial-territorial Iqaluit declaration, which recognizes that sustained and coordinated action is required to reduce sexualized violence against aboriginal women. We have also co-sponsored the National Aboriginal Women's Summits, which focused on violence and other quality of life issues.

Our government has also demonstrated leadership on the issue of human trafficking. Under our leadership, we changed the rules regarding visas to victims of trafficking, and immigration officers are now able to grant temporary resident permits for up to 180 days to trafficking victims.

This government has, time and time again, demonstrated its commitment to addressing women's equality. We have made important strides, and I can assure the House that we will continue to work to create the conditions for success for all Canadian women.

February 2nd, 2009 / 3:45 p.m.
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Rob Moore Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Yes, I can certainly do that. We don't need to have a prolonged debate on it, unless someone else has a comment. I'll just make my comment.

For the members who were on the previous committee, on some of the government legislation that we had been discussing we sometimes saw a flurry of last-minute amendments. They could be amendments from government and they could be opposition amendments. I think it doesn't do justice to anyone to try to digest a very complicated Criminal Code amendment--for example, when we're dealing with Bill C-2, the Tackling Violent Crime Act-- if we have to try to piece this together on the spot and put our expert witnesses on the spot.

I will differentiate this committee a bit from some other committees. Some of the legislation we're dealing with is extremely technical in nature and everyone should have the opportunity to digest any amendments or motions that are coming forward.

That's why I put this forward. Maybe we can see what the will of the members is. I don't want to belabour it.

June 18th, 2008 / 6:30 p.m.
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Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Nepean—Carleton has it all wrong.

First and foremost, with regard to the usefulness of the Bloc, we are here to defend the interests of Quebec. We demonstrated this again a few minutes ago when this House adopted by a majority the motion of my Bloc colleague for Laurentides—Labelle, which recognizes Mont Tremblant airport as an airport of entry into Canada. This is a major victory for the Bloc Québécois

The Bloc Québécois won another battle for youth from the regions when my colleague had us vote on a bill that would reduce taxes for youth who return to the regions. The Bloc truly helps Quebeckers and they acknowledge this fact by voting for us time and again.

This member really has it all wrong. Last week, he had to apologize for comments that he admitted were not right. He still has it all wrong when he speaks of this government's transparency. Perhaps his government, in Bill C-2 on the accountability—

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

June 16th, 2008 / 12:55 p.m.
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Paul Crête Bloc Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-29, which seeks to close loopholes in campaign financing, is a good bill in and of itself, with the exception of the matter that was rejected by the government at report stage, with the support of the NDP, allowing a candidate to incur expenses without necessarily obtaining the party's authorization. The party would then be responsible for those expenses. That seems to be an aberration. However, we still believe that there are enough positive changes in the bill as a whole to support it.

We believe that the legislation should cover loans in order to close loopholes pertaining to financing limits. We would like to remind members that these limits were established as a result of a fight led by the Bloc Québécois in the past requiring that corporate contributions be prohibited and that individual contributions be limited, as has been the case in Quebec for 30 years.

I have been a member of this House for 15 years and I remember an epic debate that took place under the former Liberal government. As Mr. Chrétien's term of office was winding down, the situation was significantly improved by allowing only individuals to make contributions. With this bill, we have gone even further, and that is a very positive aspect of democracy.

Often, when people in other countries have governance difficulties, one of the sources of their problems is actually linked to electoral practices that do not measure up to the requirements of democracy. They deserve better support. So the actions taken today are part of a development we are familiar with, which deserves to be supported.

The Bloc Québécois and Quebec as a whole have really made an interesting contribution in this regard. In Quebec, the Election Act, which was amended during the time of René Lévesque in the 1970s, now serves somewhat as a rule at the federal level, and that is good. It makes for a healthier democracy. It also requires us to seek money from a multitude of people, and thus reduces the excessive impact some contributors have on political parties. In this regard, we are headed in the right direction.

This bill corrects another problem in the Federal Tort Claims Act. During consideration of Bill C-2, the Conservative government was more interested in getting its bill passed in a hurry than in dealing with problems of ethics. In the present context, we realized that some things needed to be added. At that time, the opposition parties, the media and Democracy Watch had raised the problem, and the government refused to act. In the current context, we are correcting some of these situations.

For example, the bill corrects the problem of loans that made it possible to get around the limits on political contributions. In this connection, there are some important points concerning the poor protection of whistleblowers and the lack of reform of the Access to Information Act. However, as far as the problem of loans is concerned, we realized in the past that these loans served as crutches to compensate for the fact that a candidate or a party had not raised enough money. This situation was particularly prevalent in leadership races. We realized that something the new Canada Elections Act did not permit was happening through the back door, that is, raising very large amounts of money from one or two individuals who were providing loans. The aim is to correct this situation.

When this bill was introduced, it was pointed out that during the last leadership race several Liberal candidates took out large loans in order to get around the financing limits in the way I have just described. While it is true that quite a few have acted in this way, it should not be forgotten that the Prime Minister himself did not reveal all his contributions during the leadership race in 2002. So the Conservative Party was not really in a position to lecture anyone. We have also seen it in the past seven years, given the scandals we now know about.

It is necessary to prevent the law from being circumvented by introducing new limits for political contributions. For example, an individual can contribute $1,100 annually to a registered party or to a candidate. The amount a union can contribute annually to a registered party has been reduced to $0. That shows a significant shift in terms of the respect owed to the people who give us our mandates—the voters. It is still possible to circumvent the limits by using personal loans. That will no longer be the case. The example was given of the candidates for the Liberal leadership.

We have corrected many other issues in Bill C-2 that were not adequately addressed in the Federal Accountability Act.

Other ethical problems persist. Even though Bill C-29 corrects the problem of loans that allow candidates to circumvent political contribution limits, there are still many ethical problems that were not fixed by Bill C-2.

For example, many Conservative campaign promises in terms of whistleblower protection did not make it into the Federal Accountability Act. Notably, the Conservatives said that they wanted to “ensure that whistleblowers have access to...legal counsel”. Yet the Conservative bill allows for only $1,500 in legal fees. They also wanted to “give the Public Service Integrity Commissioner the power to enforce compliance with the [whistleblower act]”. Finally, the Conservatives promised to “ensure that all Canadians who report government wrongdoing are protected, not just public servants”.

We understand that Bill C-29, as a whole, will improve the situation. We would have liked it to clarify the situation of candidates who incur expenses for their party, unbeknownst to the party, which would then be liable for them. However, because of the overall improvements it proposes, the Bloc Québécois believes that this bill should be supported.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2008 / 4:15 p.m.
See context


Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, this government is characterized by its culture of secrecy and entitlement.

Just as with Bills C-2 and C-54, it is clear that the government hopes to be able to get around the established rules and give itself an out with Bill C-29. We have a legislative process in place, and we must study Bill C-29. It was a golden opportunity to make these amendments. However, it is clear from the government's stubbornness that there is a lack of transparency on the other side of the House, and we think that is too bad. These amendments and changes should have been made in Bills C-2 and C-54. Bill C-29 gives us that opportunity, but unfortunately this government has missed the boat.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

June 9th, 2008 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

York—Simcoe Ontario


Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I would like at this time to move the standard motion that can be made only today. I move:

That, pursuant to Standing Order 27(1), commencing on Monday, June 9, 2008, and concluding on Thursday, June 19, 2008, the House shall continue to sit until 11:00 p.m.

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated last week in answer to the Thursday statement, this is we have work to do week. To kick off the week, we are introducing the customary motion to extend the daily sitting hours of the House for the final two weeks of the spring session. This is a motion which is so significant there is actually a specific Standing Order contemplating it, because it is the normal practice of this House, come this point in the parliamentary cycle, that we work additional hours and sit late to conduct business.

In fact, since 1982, when the House adopted a fixed calendar, such a motion has never been defeated. I underline that since a fixed calendar was adopted, such a motion has never been defeated. As a consequence, we know that today when we deal with this motion, we will discover whether the opposition parties are interested in doing the work that they have been sent here to do, or whether they are simply here to collect paycheques, take it easy and head off on a three month vacation.

On 11 of those occasions, sitting hours were extended using this motion. On six other occasions, the House used a different motion to extend the sitting hours in June. This includes the last three years of minority government.

This is not surprising. Canadians expect their members of Parliament to work hard to advance their priorities. They would not look kindly on any party that was too lazy to work a few extra hours to get as much done as possible before the three month summer break. There is a lot to get done.

In the October 2007 Speech from the Throne, we laid out our legislative agenda. It set out an agenda of clear goals focusing on five priorities to: rigorously defend Canada's sovereignty and place in the world; strengthen the federation and modernize our democratic institutions; provide effective, competitive economic leadership to maintain a competitive economy; tackle crime and strengthen the security of Canadians; and improve the environment and the health of Canadians. In the subsequent months, we made substantial progress on these priorities.

We passed the Speech from the Throne which laid out our legislative agenda including our environmental policy. Parliament passed Bill C-2, the Tackling Violent Crime Act, to make our streets and communities safer by tackling violent crime. Parliament passed Bill C-28, which implemented the 2007 economic statement. That bill reduced taxes for all Canadians, including reductions in personal income and business taxes, and the reduction of the GST to 5%.

I would like to point out that since coming into office, this government has reduced the overall tax burden for Canadians and businesses by about $190 billion, bringing taxes to their lowest level in 50 years.

We have moved forward on our food and consumer safety action plan by introducing a new Canada consumer product safety act and amendments to the Food and Drugs Act.

We have taken important steps to improve the living conditions of first nations. For example, first nations will hopefully soon have long overdue protection under the Canadian Human Rights Act, and Bill C-30 has been passed by the House to accelerate the resolution of specific land claims.

Parliament also passed the 2008 budget. This was a balanced, focused and prudent budget to strengthen Canada amid global economic uncertainty. Budget 2008 continues to reduce debt, focuses government spending and provides additional support for sectors of the economy that are struggling in this period of uncertainty.

As well, the House adopted a motion to endorse the extension of Canada's mission in Afghanistan, with a renewed focus on reconstruction and development to help the people of Afghanistan rebuild their country.

These are significant achievements and they illustrate a record of real results. All parliamentarians should be proud of the work we have accomplished so far in this session. However, there is a lot of work that still needs to be done.

As I have stated in previous weekly statements, our top priority is to secure passage of Bill C-50, the 2008 budget implementation bill.

This bill proposes a balanced budget, controlled spending, investments in priority areas and lower taxes, all without forcing Canadian families to pay a tax on carbon, gas and heating. Furthermore, the budget implementation bill proposes much-needed changes to the immigration system.

These measures will help keep our economy competitive.

Through the budget implementation bill, we are investing in the priorities of Canadians.

These priorities include: $500 million to help improve public transit, $400 million to help recruit front line police officers, nearly $250 million for carbon capture and storage projects in Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, and $100 million for the Mental Health Commission of Canada to help Canadians facing mental health and homelessness challenges.

These investments, however, could be threatened if the bill does not pass before the summer. That is why I am hopeful that the bill will be passed by the House later today.

The budget bill is not our only priority. Today the House completed debate at report stage on Bill C-29, which would create a modern, transparent, accountable process for the reporting of political loans. We will vote on this bill tomorrow and debate at third reading will begin shortly thereafter.

We also wish to pass Bill C-55, which implements our free trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association.

This free trade agreement, the first in six years, reflects our desire to find new markets for Canadian products and services.

Given that the international trade committee endorsed the agreement earlier this year, I am optimistic that the House will be able to pass this bill before we adjourn.

On Friday we introduced Bill C-60, which responds to recent decisions relating to courts martial. That is an important bill that must be passed on a time line. Quick passage is necessary to ensure the effectiveness of our military justice system.

Last week the aboriginal affairs committee reported Bill C-34, which implements the Tsawwassen First Nation final agreement. This bill has all-party support in the House. Passage of the bill this week would complement our other achievements for first nations, including the apology on Wednesday to the survivors of residential schools.

These are important bills that we think should be given an opportunity to pass. That is why we need to continue to work hard, as our rules contemplate.

The government would also like to take advantage of extended hours to advance important crime and security measures. Important justice measures are still before the House, such as: Bill S-3, the anti-terrorism act; Bill C-53, the auto theft bill; Bill C-45 to modernize the military justice system; and Bill C-60, which responds to recent court martial decisions.

There are a number of other bills that we would like to see advanced in order to improve the management of the economy. There are other economic bills we would like to advance.

These include Bill C-7, to modernize our aeronautics sector, Bill C-5, dealing with nuclear liability, Bill C-43, to modernize our customs rules, Bill C-39, to modernize the Canada Grain Act for farmers, Bill C-46, to give farmers more choice in marketing grain, Bill C-57, to modernize the election process for the Canadian Wheat Board, Bill C-14, to allow enterprises choice for communicating with customers, and Bill C-32, to modernize our fisheries sector.

If time permits, there are numerous other bills that we would like to advance.

These include Bill C-51, to ensure that food and products available in Canada are safe for consumers, Bill C-54, to ensure safety and security with respect to pathogens and toxins, Bill C-56, to ensure public protection with respect to the transportation of dangerous goods, Bill C-19, to limit the terms of senators to 8 years from a current maximum of 45, and Bill C-22, to provide fairness in representation in the House of Commons.

It is clear a lot of work remains before the House. Unfortunately, a number of bills have been delayed by the opposition through hoist amendments. Given these delays, it is only fair that the House extend its sitting hours to complete the bills on the order paper. As I have indicated, we still have to deal with a lot of bills.

We have seen a pattern in this Parliament where the opposition parties have decided to tie up committees to prevent the work of the people being done. They have done delay and obstruction as they did most dramatically on our crime agenda. They do not bother to come and vote one-third of time in the House of Commons. Their voting records has shown that. All of this is part of a pattern of people who are reluctant to work hard.

The government is prepared to work hard and the rules contemplate that it work hard. In fact, on every occasion, when permission has been sought at this point in the parliamentary calendar to sit extended hours, the House has granted permission, including in minority Parliaments.

If that does not happen, it will be clear to Canadians that the opposition parties do not want to work hard and are not interested in debating the important policy issues facing our country. Is it any wonder that we have had a question period dominated not by public policy questions, but dominated entirely by trivia and issues that do not matter to ordinary Canadians.

The government has been working hard to advance its agenda, to advance the agenda that we talked about with Canadians in the last election, to work on the priorities that matter to ordinary Canadians, and we are seeking the consent of the House to do this.

Before concluding, I point out, once again, that extending the daily sitting hours for the last two weeks of June is a common practice. Marleau and Montpetit, at page 346, state this is:

—a long-standing practice whereby, prior to the prorogation of the Parliament or the start of the summer recess, the House would arrange for longer hours of sitting in order to complete or advance its business.

As I stated earlier, it was first formalized in the Standing Orders in 1982 when the House adopted a fixed calendar. Before then, the House often met on the weekend or continued its sittings into July to complete its work. Since 1982, the House has agreed on 11 occasions to extend the hours of sitting in the last two weeks of June.

Therefore, the motion is a routine motion designed to facilitate the business of the House and I expect it will be supported by all members. We are sent here to engage in very important business for the people of Canada. Frankly, the members in the House are paid very generously to do that work. Canadians expect them to do that work and expect them to put in the time that the rules contemplate.

All member of the House, if they seek that privilege from Canadian voters, should be prepared to do the work the rules contemplate. They should be prepared to come here to vote, to come here to debate the issues, to come here for the hours that the rules contemplate. If they are not prepared to do that work, they should step aside and turnover their obligations to people who are willing to do that work.

There is important work to be done on the commitments we made in the Speech from the Throne. I am therefore seeking the support of all members to extend our sitting hours, so we can complete work on our priorities before we adjourn for the summer. This will allow members to demonstrate results to Canadians when we return to our constituencies in two weeks.

Not very many Canadians have the privilege of the time that we have at home in our ridings, away from our work. People do not begrudge us those privileges. They think it is important for us to connect with them. However, what they expect in return is for us to work hard. They expect us to put in the hours. They expect us to carry on business in a professional fashion. The motion is all about that. It is about doing what the rules have contemplated, what has always been authorized by the House any time it has been asked, since the rule was instituted in 1982. That is why I would ask the House to support the motion to extend the hours.