Tackling Contraband Tobacco Act

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in contraband tobacco)

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2013.

Status

In committee (House), as of June 13, 2013
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to create a new offence of trafficking in contraband tobacco and to provide for minimum penalties of imprisonment for repeat offenders.

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

June 13, 2013 Passed That, in relation to Bill S-16, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in contraband tobacco), not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and that, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Bill S-16--Time Allocation MotionTackling Contraband Tobacco ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2013 / 10:45 a.m.
See context

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That, in relation to Bill S-16, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in contraband tobacco), not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and

that, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Bill S-16--Time Allocation MotionTackling Contraband Tobacco ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2013 / 10:45 a.m.
See context

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Here we are again, Mr. Speaker. It is incredible. I am amazed by the fact that the government House leader has to actually read these orders. He has said them so many times that certainly, they must be put to memory by now.

We are just checking with the Table, but we think this is the 48th time the government has invoked time allocation, which is a way of shutting down debate. It does not really matter whether the official opposition agrees with a bill or whether we have negotiated a timely and orderly fashion for the bill to pass through the House, it is irrelevant. The facts do not interfere with the government's ideology when it comes to Parliament and debating legislation.

This is an important piece of legislation. We had a grand total of 15 minutes of debate last night on this one. Fifteen minutes seems to be sufficient time for the government to understand that something so controversial as this issue is enough for the House to make its decision and pass it on to committee.

This is the way that mistakes are made. When legislation is rammed through Parliament, particularly legislation that would seriously impact Canadians and the communities we represent, big mistakes are made. We know that the Conservative government is not open to amendments, but we go through the process and we hear from witnesses.

I have a simple question for the minister. This is the very tail end of the session. If this were some sort of priority, if this were somehow important for the government, certainly it would have moved something a little sooner than this. Certainly if it were important, the government would also think that the debate on making it better was also important. Why the rush? Why push the panic button? Why is the government shutting down debate for the 48th time over something as critical as this?

Bill S-16--Time Allocation MotionTackling Contraband Tobacco ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2013 / 10:45 a.m.
See context

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, in answer to the last part of the member's question about why we are doing this now for this legislation, the House knows we have a very extensive justice agenda, and all of these bills are very important. People might ask why we addressed elder abuse, or why we cracked down on the sexual exploitation of children. They might ask why we are doing these things. All of these things are very important.

Certainly this bill is important. This bill would crack down on contraband tobacco.

That being said, the hon. member made comments about the debate. My understanding is that there were discussions with members. The bill is straightforward. It would get the job done. It is focused on what it is we are supposed to do. A couple of members of the Liberal Party and a couple of members of the Conservative Party were to talk to the bill. The NDP was offered 10 spots but apparently that was not satisfactory. When I was asked if I was surprised that 10 speakers for the NDP were not enough, I said that when it comes to justice legislation for those members 100 or 1,000 speeches would not be enough.

I am pleased that we are moving forward on this legislation, and I think most Canadians would agree with me.

Bill S-16--Time Allocation MotionTackling Contraband Tobacco ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2013 / 10:50 a.m.
See context

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, why do we go through elections? Why do we have a Parliament, and why is it that the Conservatives decide how many members will speak on a bill? Why is it that the Conservatives get to decide that 10 is enough?

We belong to a party. The citizens know which party we belong to. They have sent us here to be able to debate and vote on bills.

Well, for the NDP, 10 is not enough. I am sorry, but it is none of his business. It is the business of the member who is elected by the citizens to speak here on their behalf. Who are they to take away my right to speak on a bill? That is the problem. They have used time allocation 48 times to take our democratic rights away to get up in the House and argue on a bill that we want and that we have been elected to speak on.

That is the problem with the Conservative government. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Bill S-16--Time Allocation MotionTackling Contraband Tobacco ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2013 / 10:50 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has misunderstood what I was saying. Again, when there were discussions as to how many speeches there would be from each party, I was the one who said—and my colleagues will attest to this—that I was not surprised that 10 speakers would be unacceptable to the NDP. I believe that 100 or 1,000 speakers would be completely unacceptable to the NDP. It would want to delay all justice bills and all the bills that stand up for victims and law-abiding Canadians. The New Democrats would want to talk about it forever.

I stood up for the NDP, in that sense. I said that I am not surprised at all. They would want to go on for years and debate all our justice legislation.

Why do we have elections? It is because Canadians have the opportunity to say very clearly that they want us to get tough on crime. They want us to stand up for victims. That is why I am pleased. In each of the last four elections, more and more Canadians have made that point. They want exactly what it is that were are doing in Parliament, and I am very proud to be associated with that.

Bill S-16--Time Allocation MotionTackling Contraband Tobacco ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2013 / 10:50 a.m.
See context

NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister and his government colleagues clearly do not understand the message the official opposition is trying to get across.

The minister is targeting the symptoms of something he considers to be a problem: thoroughly debating important bills. We are not denying that Bill S-16 is an important bill.

However, instead of trying to understand why we are hesitant and why we want to have thorough, comprehensive debates in which a large number of MPs can speak, the government is systematically refusing to listen to recommendations from the opposition. That is a very serious problem.

We will therefore not stop putting pressure on the government. As long as it keeps refusing to listen to our recommendations and our amendments in committee, we will keep up the pressure. As soon as the government is open to our suggestions, as the Prime Minister claimed he would be in previous years, it might see less heated debates or, at the very least, debates could come to a natural end because of a lack of speakers.

Why does the minister refuse to consider the real reason behind our resistance?

Bill S-16--Time Allocation MotionTackling Contraband Tobacco ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2013 / 10:55 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I disagree with the member. I thoroughly understand the NDP, and I know exactly where it is coming from. When we bring forward pieces of legislation to crack down on crime in this country, to better represent the interests of victims, they are against it. I understand that, and I completely disagree with it. If that is what he is saying, I do disagree with the positions that the NDP take, but I certainly understand where they are coming from.

The member for Selkirk—Interlake brought a bill here to increase the sentences for those individuals involved in kidnapping, sexual assault and murder. The NDP sat on its hands. It did not want that bill to go forward. It did not want to get on its feet to support the member for Selkirk—Interlake.

I completely disagree with the New Democrats, but I want to have it on the record that I thoroughly understand where they are coming from. Again, I completely disagree with them.

Bill S-16--Time Allocation MotionTackling Contraband Tobacco ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2013 / 10:55 a.m.
See context

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, all we ever see from the Minister of Justice are bills with minimum sentences. If he is in such a rush, why did he not introduce a more complete bill? The Bloc Québécois, the industry in general and police officers have been calling for stricter measures for a long time. In particular, we have been calling for police officers to have the ability to seize smugglers' vehicles.That is not included in this bill.

Why did the minister not include this type of offence in Bill S-16 to enable police officers to be more aggressive and do their job better?

In addition, there is no increase in the cost of factory permits for tobacco manufacturers. It only costs $5,000 for a permit to manufacture cigarettes, which, in many cases, go directly to smugglers. Why not increase that amount to $5 million?

Those are only a few examples, and here is one more. Why is the government making cuts to border services when it claims to want to put an end to contraband tobacco?

In my own riding, I have worked with the Association des marchands dépanneurs et épiciers du Québec. That is what people want to see and that is not in this bill. I would like the minister to explain why.

Bill S-16--Time Allocation MotionTackling Contraband Tobacco ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2013 / 10:55 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member says the Minister of Justice always wants the same thing. Yes, we want to better represent victims in this country and we want to crack down on crime. That is exactly what my colleagues and I want. We have been very consistent in that regard.

If the hon. member wants to have a look at some of the details and accompanying announcements, my colleague, the Minister of Public Safety, made it clear that there is going to be a 50-person unit within the RCMP devoted to cracking down on contraband tobacco. Again, this is a step in the right direction. There are now more border guards. More resources have been directed toward that since this government took office. As well, we have updated the laws.

The member talked about car thefts. Again, with no help from opposition parties, we have brought in separate laws with respect to automobile theft and the gangs and organized crime that get involved with chop shops. This is by no means the only bill we have put forward that tackles this area, and I would ask him to look at our overall record. I hope he will finally come onside and start supporting these important efforts.

Bill S-16--Time Allocation MotionTackling Contraband Tobacco ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2013 / 10:55 a.m.
See context

NDP

Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again, we are being muzzled. This is not surprising, coming from a government that was found to be in contempt of Parliament, which was a first in Canadian history. This shows the extent of the government's contempt—not just lack of understanding—for what we call democracy here in Canada. We are talking about a 48th gag order. The government is shutting down debate on a bill that is important to us.

The minister said that if the NDP had the choice, it would talk about the bill forever, but this is because this bill affects so many ridings and so many people. We have questions, and it is only natural we would want to discuss them, for our constituents. I remember that when I ran in 2008, people came to talk to me about contraband tobacco. This issue is very important, not only in terms of public safety, of course, but also in terms of health.

Democracy implies consultation. We know that the minister did not hold consultations, particularly with first nations. I would like to know why not.

Bill S-16--Time Allocation MotionTackling Contraband Tobacco ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2013 / 11 a.m.
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Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, he asked about how democracy works, and he said he spoke with individuals in his own constituency about the problems with respect to contraband tobacco. We heard the same thing. I would put it back to him. What is he going to say to the people after he tells them that when the government brought in legislation directed at cracking down on contraband tobacco and dedicating greater resources to it that the NDP did not want to move forward and wanted to delay it?

I think he is going to have some challenges when speaking with those people. We have heard from those individuals. I have heard from individuals who have described what a problem this is. We want to help everyone across this country crack down on this issue. This is exactly what this country needs. These are specific provisions that would deal with contraband. This is how democracy works. When he goes back to tell his constituents what the government is doing, they are going to applaud and say this is exactly what needs to be done in this country. That is what democracy is all about.

Bill S-16--Time Allocation MotionTackling Contraband Tobacco ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2013 / 11 a.m.
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Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister speaking on these very important matters. I must be frank. I am a little disappointed, particularly with the members of Parliament from Quebec. When it came to our megatrials legislation, they quickly came on board because they saw that the government was taking comprehensive action on dealing with organized crime.

This bill also cracks down on organized crime. In fact, law enforcement officials tell us that this has been a long-standing problem that creates a threat to public safety. I want to see this legislation brought to committee so we can start discussing it and bring in experts to have a full vetting on this.

Could the Minister of Justice again explain why this is not only in our economic interests but also in the interests of having safer streets, and why this needs to go forward to committee?

Bill S-16--Time Allocation MotionTackling Contraband Tobacco ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2013 / 11 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for his continued interest in all our efforts to better protect Canadians. It is a public safety issue. It is an issue that is related to criminal activity. As we know, tobacco use continues to be the most preventable cause of premature death in this country. Cracking down on tobacco in this country is a health issue as well.

I think the bill addresses all those areas. We do not want contraband tobacco being distributed or brought into this country. We want to get the message out that this is a preventable form of death for many individuals.

We want to make sure the message about tobacco and its use gets out to people. This is exactly what we need. We have expanded the provisions, and not just from the Excise Act. By putting it directly in the Criminal Code, it now sends a message to organized crime about the seriousness with which this government takes this matter. I want to say again how much I appreciate the member's support on this, and indeed all the measures we have brought forward in the justice field.

Bill S-16--Time Allocation MotionTackling Contraband Tobacco ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2013 / 11 a.m.
See context

NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, given that we live in a glass house, I will not be throwing stones at anyone. However, I would like the Minister of Justice to realize that we need a law to fight organized crime and contraband cigarettes. We want the law to be effective. Therein lies the problem.

All too often, this Parliament has passed laws that had good intentions, but were not used by prosecutors because they felt that the burden of proof imposed by the laws in question was too onerous and they were not more effective than the old laws. The prosecutors preferred to continue using the old provisions of the Criminal Code rather than the new ones because they got better results.

Attorneys do not like to have laws that will be deemed ultra vires by all judges because they cannot be enforced. That is a major problem.

When we want to fight organized crime, it is not enough to say that we want to fight it. We have to actually do it. Unfortunately, all too often, the Conservatives listen to no one, not even us or the experts. What is more, their laws are not used.

For example, they want to play hardball when someone is convicted of kidnapping and murder. However, the Criminal Code already provides for a life sentence without eligibility for parole for 25 years. They cannot impose a longer sentence. Nevertheless, they talk tough and put out propaganda. That has to stop.

In closing, I will say that we want a law to fight organized crime, not just an advertising flyer.

Bill S-16--Time Allocation MotionTackling Contraband Tobacco ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2013 / 11:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is typical of the NDP members. They say they want to do something in the area of crime, but then they oppose all the measures that do exactly that. It is like a trade deal. They say they do not have a problem with trade deals, but they have opposed all the trade deals over the last 40 or 50 years because they are all wrong. This is the problem with the NDP.

What we are doing is actually implementing legislation and moving forward. The member asks whether people can be prosecuted under the old law. Guess what? I have some wonderful news on this piece of legislation. He will notice when it gets before the committee that we are keeping the provisions of the Excise Tax Act. If there is a decision to proceed under the act, all those provisions are right there. That is the way it is in Canada. In addition, we have also now put it in the Criminal Code, to have this alternate avenue by which these offences can be prosecuted. If the member likes the old law, then he will be very happy and pleased when it gets to the committee. In order to crack down on organized crime we need new provisions, and that is exactly why we have put it in the Criminal Code.