Appropriation Act No. 1, 2009-2010

An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2010

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in December 2009.

Sponsor

Vic Toews  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

March 24, 2009 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
March 24, 2009 Passed That the Bill be concurred in at report stage.
March 24, 2009 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to a Committee of the Whole.

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century ActGovernment Orders

October 27th, 2009 / 3:55 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak again on this matter.

Before I came to this House, I was a member of the Durham Regional Police Services Board. When I was there, I had the opportunity obviously on a regular basis to talk with officers around the changing technologies and the fact that our laws simply had not kept pace. People were committing fraud online or hiding behind anonymity on Internet service providers and performing serious crimes, and the police simply could not follow them.

I was first elected in 2004 and when I came to Parliament, I was pleased to support the work of the then Liberal government to create what was the modernization of investigative techniques act. That bill which was introduced in 2005 is ostensibly what is before the House today in both bills, Bill C-46 and Bill C-47, which is now being debated. Unfortunately, in 2005 the Conservatives precipitated an election and that killed the bill.

The member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine then reintroduced that as a private member's bill in the next session and again that bill was killed when the Prime Minister walked to the Governor General's office and then killed that legislation.

In this session of Parliament that same Liberal member of Parliament introduced that Liberal legislation yet again. We had to wait until the end of the last session before the Conservatives finally introduced it.

As I said, just before we began question period, it is a little rich to me that the Conservatives would be going on about the imperative need to pass the bill and how much it is needed for police and how critical it is when they in fact have had four years to introduce it and are the ones responsible for killing it in various stages at various moments in time.

When they finally did introduce it, they introduced it in the last week the House was sitting before summer when there was no opportunity to debate it, there was no opportunity to move it forward. Now, it has been left until the end of October before we are finally dealing with the bill.

It shows that the Conservatives' commitment to the bill is fragile at best. In fact, we have seen what they do on criminal justice matters. They introduce bills and let them languish on the order paper. Then they wait for a scandal or a problem to hit and then they seek refuge in those same crime bills, suddenly bringing them back with great urgency saying they need to be dealt with immediately and any opposition party that dares to ask a question on them is somehow soft on crime.

The facts do not measure up. The facts are that they have allowed these things to languish for years and something that should have been dealt with, the Liberal legislation that was introduced so long ago, has meant that those people are committing online fraud and the police officers who need those additional investigative techniques and tools have been left without them as the government has completely failed them.

I think it is important to note as well that this is not the only area where we have seen this problem with the government. I spoke a great deal yesterday about the importance of these new investigative techniques for police. My intention is not today to repeat all of those comments but to make a comment more generally on the direction the Conservatives are heading on crime.

Today, in the public safety and national security committee we had a couple of different witnesses. One of the witnesses was Dr. Craig Jones who is the executive director of the John Howard Society of Canada. His insights into the direction in which the government is heading on crime I think is very telling. I will quote from his comments today. He said at the beginning of his statement:

My second audience is the future. I suffer no illusions that I will be able to alter the course of this government’s crime agenda--which legislative components contradict evidence, logic, effectiveness, justice and humanity. The government has repeatedly signalled that its crime agenda will not be influenced by evidence of what does and does not actually reduce crime and create safer communities.

What we heard as well from Mr. Stewart along with Michael Jackson, who wrote a report about the government's broken direction on corrections and crime, is that we are walking down the same road that the Americans embarked on in the early 1980s, when Republicans came forward and presented the same type of one-type solution for crime, which is incarceration, more incarceration and only incarceration.

If we did not have that example and the example that was in the United Kingdom, perhaps the Conservatives would be forgiven for thinking that would work. The reality of the United States is that this is a catastrophic disaster. In fact, the governor of California is now saying the state is being crushed under the weight of the mistake of these decisions, that the prisons are literally overflowing. The supreme court of California had to release thousands of offenders into the streets because the prisons simply had no room for them.

We also see that these prisons become crime factories. Minor criminals go in often for drug-related crimes, break and enters or smaller but still serious crimes, but instead of getting help for the addiction or mental health issues they face, they get sent into prison environments where they learn to be much worse criminals. We could make the analogy of putting in a butter knife and getting out a machine gun.

In fact, in committee today the director of the John Howard Society quoted an individual who deals with aboriginal inmates and said that our prison systems are turning into “gladiator schools”. He stated:

So our federal prisons have become “gladiator schools” where we train young men in the art of extreme violence or where we warehouse mentally ill people. All of this was foreseeable by anyone who cared to examine the historical experience of alcohol prohibition, but since we refuse to learn from history we are condemned to repeat it.

Everyone can imagine that as we continually overpopulate these prisons and do not provide the services to rehabilitate people, it has to come out somewhere. Where it comes out is in a system that continually degenerates.

In California the rate of recidivism, the rate at which people reoffend, is now 70%. Imagine that, 7 out of every 10 criminals who go into that system come out and reoffend, and those offences are often more serious than the ones they went in for first. In other words, people are going into the system and then coming out much worse.

We have to remember that even when we increase sentences, over 90% of offenders will get out. We can extend the length of time they are staying in there, but at a certain time they are going to get out, and it is the concern of anybody who wants a safe country or community that when people come out of these facilities, they come out ready to be reintegrated, to contribute to society and not reoffend.

The other fundamental problem with the Conservative approach to crime is that it waits for victims. Conservatives think the only way to deal with crime is to wait until somebody has been victimized and a crime has occurred, and then to punish the person.

Of course, we believe in serious sentences. We have to have serious sentences for serious crimes, but that is not nearly enough. If it were enough, if simply having tough sentences were enough to stop crime, then places like Detroit, Houston and Los Angeles would be the safest cities in North America. We know that is certainly not the case.

What the Conservatives are doing is slashing crime prevention budgets. Actual spending in crime prevention has been slashed by more than 50% since the Conservatives came into power. They have cut programs.

I have gone to communities like Summerside and talked to the Boys and Girls Clubs or the Salvation Army in different communities. They said they have either lost funding for community projects to help youth at risk or, instead of being given the power to decide how to stop crime in their own communities, they are prescribed solutions from on high in Ottawa, which is disconnected and often does not work in those local communities.

The net result is that the community, which has the greatest capacity to stop crime, has its ability removed of stopping that crime from happening in the first place, which means even more people go to these prisons, continually feeding this factory of crime the Conservatives are marching forward with.

When we look at the costs of all of this, not only does it not provide a benefit, not only does it make our communities less safe, as has been proven in the United States, but there is a staggering cost to these policies. Pursuing a failed Republican agenda on crime that not even the Republicans would subscribe to any more in most states and most quarters in the United States comes with a staggering cost.

The Conservatives are refusing to release those figures. The minister has been refusing to tell us what exactly the price tag is for all of these measures they are putting on the table. That is why I have asked the Parliamentary Budget Officer to take a look at all of these measures and their approach on crime, and tell us just what the cost is.

That bears some important questions to be asked. Where are the Conservatives going to get the money to build these new super prisons that they are talking about? Where are they going to get the money to house all of these additional inmates? Presumably, they would provide programs and services to make these inmates better. Where is that money going to come from?

If the example in the United States is any evidence, or if the example of the Conservatives' own action in slashing crime prevention budgets is any example, then we know that they will cut from the very things that stop crime from happening in the first place. Imagine the irony of that. To pay for prisons, they are going to cut the very things that stop people from going to prison. It is a backward philosophy under any logic. Upon examination of more than a minute or two, one would recognize that it is a recipe for disaster.

If that were not bad enough, and I think that it speaks directly to this bill, the Conservatives have also betrayed police. I have talked with the Canadian Police Association about the government's commitment to put 2,500 new officers on the street. That association has called that broken promise a betrayal. However, we also know that, with respect to the RCMP, the Prime Minister went out to Vancouver where he made a solemn commitment to RCMP officers that they would get the same wage as other police officers and that they would receive parity with other police officers.

Right after making that promise and signing a contract, he ripped that contract up and broke the promise. Worse, as if that was not enough of an insult to the men and women who are our national police force, the government then challenged in court the right of RCMP officers to have the choice of whether or not they wanted to have collective bargaining. The government decided to challenge a right that is enjoyed by every other police force in the country.

At the same time, the government has ignored call after call by public inquiry after public inquiry for proper and adequate oversight. The reports and conclusions of Justice Iacobucci and Justice O'Connor made it clear that new oversight mechanisms were critical to ensure that public confidence remained in our national security institutions and our national police force, yet the government ignored it. In this example, it ignored for four years Liberal legislation that had been put forward to give officers the tools that they needed to do the job of keeping our communities safe.

In all of this, the government's response is to skew the Liberal record and be dishonest about what exactly Liberals have done on crime. Here is an inconvenient fact that it does not like to talk about. For every year the Liberal government was in power, crime rates went down. Every single year that we were in power, Canada became a safer place. The communities were safer and that is because we took a balanced approach to crime.

However, the government also says that we have blocked its crime bills. That is incredibly disingenuous. Here is the reality. Maybe I will go over a couple of bills just from this session. These are bills that the Liberal Patry not only supported but moved to accelerate and tried to find a way to get passed as expediently as possible in the House.

The government caused an election, so it killed all of its own bill. When it brought back Bill C-2, it included Bill C-10, Bill C-32, Bill C-35, Bill C-27 and Bill C-22, all of which we supported. We supported and looked to accelerate Bill C-14, Bill C-15, Bill C-25 and C-26.

That is the record of Liberals in this session of Parliament on crime, not to mention the Liberal record of reducing crime every year that we were in office previously.

Today I was doing an Atlantic radio talk show with a Conservative member of Parliament who ascribed the motive to the Liberal Party that we did not care about crime, that we are soft on criminals, and that we like to let people get away with things. I will say one thing about the Conservatives. I think that they believe what they say. I think that they honestly believe that these policies will work, even though they have failed. Even though Republicans have tried them and they have been utter disasters, I do believe that the Conservatives think they will work.

However, to ascribe motive to this side of the House and to say that we somehow care less about the safety of our communities is disingenuous. To say that I care less about the safety of my children, family or community is unacceptable. This debate needs to be about who has the best approach to crime.

I would suggest that we have the best approach to stop crime before it happens, to build safe communities, to ensure we strike the right balance between being tough on those who commit serious crimes, but, most important, working with every ounce of our bodies to ensure those who begin to turn down dark paths have people who step in and intervene to ensure they do not commit those crimes in the first place. That is the type of approach we advocate on crime and it is one that I am proud of.

Investigative Powers for the 21st Century ActGovernment Orders

October 26th, 2009 / 4:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Madam Speaker, I find that comment by the member opposite very curious. I will start my comments by saying that I think he has forgotten who caused the last election. It was in fact the Prime Minister who walked over to the Governor General's residence and precipitated the last election, therefore killing every bill on the order paper, including a bill dealing with this very matter which was introduced by the Liberal member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine. I find the member's comment curious that he is blaming the frequency of elections, every single one of which the Conservatives precipitated in the last two instances, and using that as an excuse for why this was not adopted.

A point that bears mentioning is that in 2005 the Liberal Party introduced the modernization of investigative techniques act, which is essentially the same bill that we are working with here today. With very minor modifications, it is essentially the same legislation, so why would it take four years essentially to deal with the same bill that we had written so many years ago?

The member talked about things like voice over Internet protocol in terms of changes to Internet service provisions. All of those things were present four years ago when that work was done, yet the government refused to introduce it. Even recently, when this was brought back, the decision that was made by the government was to bring it in at the end of the last session. It was in the last week immediately leading up to the summer recess when suddenly this was a priority put on the order paper. It languished there for months and months and now the government is bringing it back. And the Conservatives have the audacity to try to talk about us delaying bills. The Conservatives themselves have had their crime bills sitting on the order paper, not only for months but in some instances for years, only to bring them back when they are a hit politically.

What they do is when there is a scandal, the most recent one being the cheque scandal, they decide to resurrect their crime bills that they have been ignoring for months on end. Suddenly it is an imperative national priority to deal with whatever particular crime bill they put on the table at that particular moment, when we all know that the real objective is to change the political channel away from whatever political troubles they are having. In this particular instance, it is the cheque fiasco. As this bill has been ignored and ignored and left to languish and we have been calling again and again for it to be dealt with, we can know that is essentially what their strategy is.

Now they have come to this bill and said that it is important to deal with it but only after we have been pushing for it for four years. I hope something does not distract them and we do not find this bill suddenly being lost yet again.

It is important to mention that the bill we have been advocating for the last four years is badly needed by police. Technology has changed and evolved in many different ways. While criminals have evolved with it, our legislation simply has not. For the last number of years while the Conservatives have been sitting on this, whether the criminals are involved in cyber fraud or are using technology like BlackBerries in the commission of crimes, to which the police cannot get access, the criminals have had a huge advantage against the law enforcement agencies.

One of the areas in which they have had a great advantage is in their anonymity. People are able to do things on line and police are not able to uncover who exactly they are, even if they know they are committing acts of a criminal nature. Police have been calling on us for years to change that and only now are the Conservatives bringing something forward to do something about it.

I have had many conversations with police, not just about things that were mentioned by the hon. member, but about other things, such as child pornography. Obviously child pornography is a deep concern and we want to root that out and give police every tool to be able to go after those individuals. I have also spoken with the police about instances where a criminal is known to have a particular phone and his whereabouts cannot be ascertained. The police want to be able to use the GPS tracking device in that device in order to figure out where the individual is. The current laws do not allow the police to do that.

I was talking to the chief of police in Calgary who was expressing deep frustration at the number of dial-a-dope operations. Individuals are using cell phones almost like a pizza service to deliver drugs to people's doors. When the police find these cell phones they are unable to access them because of the encryption software. The maker of the device is under no obligation to help open it up to reveal all of the phone numbers and the client base. It is a crime that is almost impossible to catch someone doing because it is locked behind that wall of encryption. That has been going on for years and the Conservatives have been refusing to give the police the tools they need to deal with it, even though solutions are present.

At the same time, it is important to mention that one of the things we are going to have to look at and study in committee is to ensure that there is balance. A number of people have expressed concerns that a law of this nature could be misused to allow access into people's searching history and people's personal messages or could be used maliciously by somebody to gain access to people's Internet search records and history. We have to ensure that balance exists. We have to protect individual rights to protect people's freedom to do what they want without somebody being able to go through willy-nilly, without warrant, their information. At the same time, we have to provide police with the opportunities to chase those individuals who we have reasonable grounds to believe have committed a crime.

It is worth mentioning as we talk about this bill, that the Conservative approach to crime is, I think, in general, disingenuous. We listened all day today to speeches by members about how the Liberal Party had held up a variety of bills. Of course, factually, that is entirely incorrect.

If we were to talk about the Liberal Party record in this session of Parliament in terms of bills that we have supported and helped to accelerate, I can list the following: Bill C-2, which was an omnibus bill which included provisions from Bill C-10, Bill C-32, Bill C-35, Bill C-27, and Bill C-22; Bill C-14; Bill C-15; Bill C-25; and Bill C-26. It is important to mention that in every instance we tried to get those bills accelerated and pushed forward.

That does not stop the Conservatives from talking about other parties holding up their crime bills. The problem is the facts do not match their rhetoric. In this specific instance and many others, the reality is the exact opposite of what they have said. In many instances, the Conservative crime bills have been languishing on the order paper, forgotten. They are sitting there waiting to be implemented. The Conservatives are not waiting for the right time for the public interest, not waiting for the right time to ensure there is adequate information to get the bills passed, but they are waiting for the right political moment to put the bills forward to try to turn the political channel.

If that were not bad enough, the other reality is that they are fundamentally letting down the Canadian public by only offering one solution to crime, and that solution invariably is to lock up people.

I do not have any problem with the notion of tough sentences. We have to have harsh, stiff sentences for people who commit serious crimes. However, if tough sentences were the only answer, then places like Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Detroit would be some of the safest cities in North America. In fact, we know the opposite to be true.

The reality is that places with the stiffest sentences are more often than not some of the most dangerous cities in North America. Why? The Americans are being crushed under the weight of their own correctional system. They are literally in a position where there are so many people pouring into the prisons that they cannot possibly keep up with the costs of building all of the prisons, let alone the programs and services to ensure that people do not repeat offend. In fact, in California the situation has become so bad that its rate of recidivism is now 70%. They are creating crime factories. People go in for a minor crime and come out as a major criminal. It is like putting in a butter knife and getting out a machine gun.

That is the strategy the Conservatives are trying to bring here: a failed Republican strategy in dealing with crime that we know as a fact does not work. They are trying to apply it here to change the channel, to use it as a political game changer. If they are in trouble with the cheque fiasco, they talk about locking up people longer. If they are in trouble because a minister is caught in a fiscal indiscretion, they talk about locking people up longer. That is what they do.

I think most of them, I would hope most of them, realize that it is a disastrous strategy, that it leads to less safe communities, that it leads to billions of dollars in additional costs, and that it is exactly following down the road that even Republican governors say was a huge mistake to walk down. If anyone doubts that, I will point quickly to what has happened specifically with incarceration in the United States compared with Canada.

In 1981, before the United States began a similar agenda on which the Conservatives are now embarking, locking people up longer and longer, the gap between the rate of incarceration in Canada and the U.S. was much narrower. In Canada, 91 per 100,000 people were incarcerated, while the figure in the United States was 243 for every 100,000 people.

By 2001, Canada's rate had grown only slightly in terms of the number of people who were incarcerated, to 101 incarcerated for every 100,000 people, while in the United States that rate had soared to 689 for every 100,000, a rate almost 700% higher than that in Canada. In that same period of time, Canada and the U.S. had the same decline in their overall rate of crime. Imagine that.

The United States' rate of incarceration went up 500% over ours, and yet over that same period of time we had the identical reduction in the amount of crime. The only difference was that 500% more individuals were being incarcerated per 100,000 people, and it cost billions of dollars more.

In fact, if we continue to follow this model suggested by the Conservatives and we extrapolate to the same path that the Republicans took the United States, where they put them right to the brink, we are talking about roughly $9 billion a year in additional costs to have the same rate of incarceration.

As for the difference for public safety, well, unfortunately, I wish I could say it just kept it the same, that the only impact of that was the loss of $9 billion a year, but we all know that that $9 billion a year has to come from somewhere. We have already seen where the Conservatives' priorities are on crime. Let us take a look at the crime prevention budget.

Since 2005 the crime prevention budget has been slashed by more than 50%. That is actual spending. At the same time as they are increasing sentences and chasing after a failed Republican model, the Conservatives are slashing the money that is given to crime prevention. It is crazy. Anybody who would look at it objectively would say that this is a path to disaster, and yet that is exactly the road they have decided to head down.

There are opportunities here to be smarter on crime, to listen to police, to talk to them about what the real solutions are, to invest in prevention, to invest in making sure people turn down the right path instead of the wrong one. I had the opportunity to go around with the former chief of police in Regina and see a neighbourhood which is designated as one of the most dangerous in Canada. He was able to show me a home that had no septic system, no heat and where the child in that home was going to school hungry. That same child predictably, just scant years later, could be committing his or her first crime by starting to get involved in drugs.

For more than 60% of our inmates, addiction is the root cause of the problem and yet they do not get help. They get thrown into prison and forgotten about, and they come out worse because the core problem was never addressed. In this case it would be an addiction problem that sent them there. They go in for a minor crime, usually break and enter, and they have an addiction. They go into a system that is not providing them any rehabilitation services, and they come out and commit worse crimes. So goes the cycle. It is a constant cycle of things getting continually ever worse.

When we look at our prison system and we ask where these criminals come from, not often enough do we take a hard look at that. Imagine. Sixty per cent of those in prison face addiction issues. Over 10% face serious mental health issues. Not only are our prisons turning into crime factories, but the Conservatives are trying to use them as hospitals, by sending people with serious mental health issues into prisons. The prisons are so ill-equipped to deal with them that they are putting them in solitary confinement. They are often released directly from solitary confinement into the general population, only to reoffend again. Whether it is the facilities in St. John's, Grandview or different facilities across the country, we see this time and time again.

The reality here is we have a bill that has been called for by police for years. The government is only now finally bringing it forward, after its having been on the table since 2005. It is trying to use crime as a political game changer, misrepresenting what crime is really about and how to stop it, and at the same time it is taking us down a path that has been tried and failed before in the United States.

We need to do better than this. We need to be honest on crime and offer real solutions.

Royal AssentPrivate Members' Business

March 26th, 2009 / 5:50 p.m.
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Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

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

Rideau Hall

Ottawa

March 26th, 2009

Mr. Speaker,

I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 26th day of March, 2009, at 17:05.

Yours sincerely,

Sheila-Marie Cook

Secretary to the Governor General

The schedule indicates the bills assented to were Bill C-21, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2009; and Bill C-22, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2010.

Interim SupplyGovernment Orders

March 24th, 2009 / 6:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

Interim SupplyGovernment Orders

March 24th, 2009 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2008-09Government Orders

March 24th, 2009 / 5:55 p.m.
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Conservative

The Chair Conservative Andrew Scheer

The House is now in committee of the whole on Bill C-22.