An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act

Sponsor

Status

Considering amendments (Senate), as of Feb. 21, 2019

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-57.

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Federal Sustainable Development Act to make decision making related to sustainable development more transparent and subject to accountability to Parliament.

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

Jan. 29, 2019 Passed Motion respecting Senate amendments to Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act
June 4, 2018 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act
May 31, 2018 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act
May 31, 2018 Failed Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act (report stage amendment)
May 29, 2018 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act
Oct. 19, 2017 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2019 / 5:45 p.m.
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Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in the Senate amendments to Bill C-57.

The House resumed consideration from January 28 of the motion in relation to the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

January 28th, 2019 / 6:15 p.m.
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NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have been following this debate and the level of hypocrisy is over the top. I recall all those trade deals that the Conservatives signed. What did they erase? All of the environmental provisions. I worked for the original environment commission in Montreal. I will note that in the new trade deal with the U.S., the Liberals undermined the environment in that deal too. There is a lot of hypocrisy here about genuinely acting on the words.

I would actually like to speak to Bill C-57. I know it might come as a surprise, as everybody is doing his or her electioneering here. What is important is that it is one thing to bring forward a bill and it is another thing to enact it. However, it is another thing to actually deliver the mandate and responsibilities under that bill.

The previous Liberal government and the previous Conservative government, as well as the present Liberal government, have all abjectly failed to deliver on the responsibilities of sustainable development. It is not me saying this. It is the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, who is appointed and retained in that position by the current Liberal government to review how well the government is delivering on its responsibilities.

It is also important to point out that in addition to the Sustainable Development Act, there is a second law. I would remind this place that a cabinet directive is binding law. We proved that with the Friends of the Oldman decision which involved a directive by cabinet on environmental assessment before we had the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. We proved in the Supreme Court that cabinet directives were legally binding.

There has been a cabinet directive in place on environmental assessment of policy, plan and programs for decades. However, successive Conservative and Liberal governments have abjectly failed to deliver on that as well. That comes in the reports from the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.

The Liberals, of course, signed on, yet again. They love to go to these international meetings. They signed on to the sustainable development agenda 2030, with 17 goals. They signed onto that in September 2015. Maybe it was the Conservatives who did that. They committed to 169 targets and 230 indicators.

There were a lot of goals in that international agreement. We need to note here that despite an amendment that I tabled at committee, the government refused to incorporate any reference to the UN commitment in the bill we are discussing today, the sustainable development 2030 agenda. So much for the commitment.

I had wanted to raise this with a number of the speakers who stood, the Conservatives criticizing the Liberals, the Liberals criticizing the Conservatives. Since 2015, and I am only starting at 2015, the commissioner has delivered failing grades in her audits of government commitments to actually deliver on the responsibilities, both under the Sustainable Development Act and the cabinet directive.

In the fall of 2015, she found abject failure by four departments audited to even apply the cabinet directive, zero assessments delivered for 488 proposals to the fisheries minister and only one out of over a 1,000 proposals to the minister of agriculture. In 2016, she found only 23% of proposals audited had submitted the required strategic environmental assessment. In 2017, she found a mere 20% compliance by federal departments.

Last year, in 2018, the commissioner's latest report found that the Government of Canada, the Liberal government, had failed to even develop a formal approach to implementing the 2030 agenda and the goals, including a very narrow interpretation of sustainable development. We heard that today in the debate, a pretty narrow discussion of what was actually in there. There is no federal government structure, and we are not going to see it in the bill either.

Interestingly, the bill continues to give responsibility to the Minister of Environment and yet it is another minister who goes off to the UN to speak to the bill as if it is his responsibility. There is a lot of confusion out there among Canadians about who in the government is actually responsible for delivering on the responsibilities for sustainable development.

The commissioner found there was very limited national consultation and engagement, no national implementation plan, few national targets and no system in place to measure, monitor or report on national targets for sustainable development.

We have heard a lot of blathering in here today from the Liberals about how important the environment and the economy are. However, where is the commitment to actually deliver on those responsibilities?

Eventually we are going to have a debate on the bill. Interestingly, a good number of the amendments that are coming forward from the Senate to this place are exactly the same amendments that I put forward, which the Liberals rejected. So much for “we're all in this together” in committee.

I would note one amendment that is most interesting. The Senate presented to this place a series of three amendments, two of which were accepted. The third one the Green Party and I actually tabled as an amendment to the bill because the government, in its wisdom, talks about being environmentally thoughtful in its spending, in procurement, but it would remove the requirement that is in law right now that the government actually consider sustainable development when it is procuring.

Let us think about that. It was almost $5 billion to buy a pipeline. We might think that the government thought about whether it was a wise investment economically and environmentally. Where is the strategic environmental assessment for that purchase? How about the many infrastructure banks the government is setting up for private enterprise here and in other countries? Did it do a strategic environmental assessment as per the cabinet directive? No.

The question here is this: Where is the real commitment by the government of the day to generally deliver on these big promises it made to Canadians and the big promises it makes when going to UN meetings?

I attended the consultation at the UN, the big summit last summer. The government sent a big delegation. At the last second, it invited youth but there was only a handful who could afford to come. Therefore, we had a call for better consultation and engagement across Canada so that everybody can participate in this discussion. However, when we look at the goals, we are not just talking about the economy or the environment. When we look at those 17 goals, they cover everything. They cover indigenous rights, women's rights, agriculture and water. I am not hearing any debate in the House about the breadth of what we have committed to in the 2030 goals. The Liberals refused to reference those in the bill before us.

There is a second matter the Liberals refused to reference, despite the amendments I tabled at committee. They have refused to incorporate into the bill the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is one of the goals under the 2030 sustainable development goals. They abjectly refused to specifically reference that international commitment, despite the fact that the former justice minister and attorney general actually committed before the Assembly of First Nations that, going forward, her Liberal government would ensure that the United Nations declaration would be incorporated into every federal law. Therefore, they have broken that promise too.

It is all very nice that we have some amendments coming from the Senate, but they are basically pro forma. They are simply saying that we need to update the bill so that it is the same as the current Auditor General Act. However, when it comes to substantive measures, like being required to actually consider sustainable development when we are making major procurement decisions and when making major recommendations to cabinet, then no, they are abjectly failing. I would have liked to hear anybody in the government of the day stand up and say that, going forward, they were going to finally deliver on their responsibilities. However, I did not hear that once today.

To conclude, it was my honour to speak to the bill again. I remain committed to actually having a government in Canada that is sincere about delivering on its international commitments.

The House resumed consideration of the motion in relation to the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

January 28th, 2019 / 5:10 p.m.
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Sean Fraser Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.

Madam Speaker, to begin, I would question the relevance of the member's entire submission on this point, given that we are debating the Senate amendments to Bill C-57, which she did not touch on.

In any event, she spent a good portion of her time on waste water. I would like to point out some of the inaccuracies throughout her speech. She indicated that the Conservatives took a regulatory approach. What they did not have was an infrastructure plan to allow municipalities to deal with their waste water problems, which we are doing right now.

She suggested that this whole side of the House is somehow opposed to the energy industry. Nothing could be further from the truth. I personally spent about five years working in the city of Calgary, the same city the member represents. I can tell her that this side of the House does have supporters of the sector who are working hard to ensure that we develop our resources in a responsible way.

When it comes to our plan to put a price on pollution, we have to start by saying that climate change is a problem. The Conservatives have yet to pitch a single idea for what they are going to do to address the threat posed by climate change.

On this side of the House, we do not think pollution should be free. We have sought the advice of the world's leading climate economists. They have all come back to the same point, which is that the most effective thing we can do to combat climate change is to put a price on pollution and return revenues to citizens. That is what we are doing.

My question to the member opposite is this. Why are she and the Leader of the Opposition committed to taking Doug Ford's approach to climate change and taking money from their constituents to make pollution free again?

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

January 28th, 2019 / 4:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Linda Lapointe Liberal Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Madam Speaker, hon. colleagues, I am delighted to be back in the House of Commons. I am especially pleased to have the privilege of speaking in this new chamber.

I rise today to speak to the Senate's amendments to Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. I want to thank the hon. senators for their time and efforts in reviewing this bill.

I would like to take this opportunity to provide a brief overview of how this bill aligns with the government’s commitments around delivering real results, pursuing goals with a renewed sense of collaboration, and setting a higher bar for transparency. I will continue with a discussion of the amendments adopted by the Senate.

This bill is a reflection of the Government of Canada’s commitment to sustainable development and safeguarding the interests of future generations. We all want a sustainable future for Canada, for our children and for our grandchildren. This bill clearly shows that sustainable development and the environment are at the forefront of government decision making.

This bill ensures that federal organizations bound by the act contribute to the development of federal sustainable development strategies and progress reports. In developing sustainable development strategies, federal organizations are to consider a number of principles, including the principle of intergenerational equity.

The bill indicates that targets must be measurable and include a time frame. That and the inclusion of the principle of results and delivery will help MPs, senators and the general public to keep track of the government's progress in meeting the goals and targets set out in each strategy every three years. This would incorporate the government’s strong focus on results into legislation.

The federal sustainable development strategy and its progress reports are a collaborative effort involving many departments and agencies. Bill C-57 would contribute to an integrated, whole-of-government view of activities supporting environmental sustainability. One way in which this would be achieved is by extending the Federal Sustainable Development Act’s coverage to over 90 federal organizations and enable further expansion of coverage over time.

The sustainable development strategies developed by these federal organizations will support the Federal Sustainable Development Act’s commitment to make environmental decision-making more transparent and accountable to Parliament.

Going forward, parliamentarians and relevant standing committees in both houses would have a greater ability to hold the government accountable for these sustainable development goals and targets. This would give committees a comprehensive view of what government organizations are doing with respect to sustainable development and the results achieved.

This bill received strong support from all parties of the House of Commons, where it was unanimously passed, and I hope that it will continue to be fully supported in the message we will send to the Senate.

I would now like to talk about the Senate's amendments.

First, the Senate agreed to some consequential amendments to bring the Auditor General Act in line with the changes made to the Federal Sustainable Development Act in Bill C-57. This reaffirms the commissioner's role under the Federal Sustainable Development Act and is supported by the government.

A second amendment was made to broaden the mandate of the Sustainable Development Advisory Council and not limit its advice on sustainable development matters to issues referred to it by the Minister of the Environment. Prior to this amendment, the bill stated that council members were to advise the minister on any matter related to sustainable development that is referred to the council by the minister. It is standard practice for ministerial advisory councils to provide advice on issues referred to them by the minister in charge. Defining the mandate of the Sustainable Development Advisory Council within the bill was meant to set clear parameters of its work. Although this amendment goes beyond our original intent, the government can accept it.

The third amendment would reinsert a section of the act that was removed. The current wording of the act stipulates that performance-based contracts with the Government of Canada must include provisions for meeting the applicable goals and targets referred to in the federal sustainable development strategy and the departmental sustainable development strategies.

It is the government's view that this section pertains to procurement. The alignment of procurement to environmental objectives is already included in the Treasury Board’s policy on green procurement, and that is why the government decided to repeal that section.

Also, Bill C-57 introduces section 10.1, which states that the Treasury Board may establish policies or issue directives applicable to designated entities governed by the Federal Sustainable Development Act in relation to the sustainable development impact of their operations. This explicitly recognizes the Treasury Board's role with respect to the impact of government operations on sustainable development.

On top of the fact that it is not appropriate to reinsert this section as written, the amendment further specifies that performance-based contracts include employment contracts and that they should include provisions for meeting the applicable goals and targets referred to in the federal sustainable development strategy as well as any applicable strategy developed under section 11.

The government does not support this amendment as this bill is not the appropriate legislation to prescribe what should be in employment contracts. Employment contracts are not easily defined, given their broad and wide-ranging nature. Moreover, this change is beyond the policy intent of a bill whose purpose is to make decision-making related to sustainable development more transparent and subject to accountability to Parliament.

Given all the provisions in the bill that strengthen other accountability measures, including identifying a minister responsible for each target in the federal sustainable development strategy, and explicitly indicating that the Treasury Board Secretariat may establish policies or issue directives applicable to one or more departments in relation to the sustainable development impact of their operations, the government does not see the benefit of this amendment.

The additional transparency and oversight measures included in this bill will provide enhanced accountability measures for the results achieved. That is why I agree with the minister and I support sending a message to the Senate agreeing with two amendments and disagreeing with the change to clause 8.

Madam Speaker, I welcome the debate on this amendment and your decision.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

January 28th, 2019 / 4:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Celina Caesar-Chavannes Liberal Whitby, ON

Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to stand in our new chamber to speak to Bill C-57 and to continue to represent the people of Whitby, who have graciously allowed me to be here and who I know are very interested in the environment and issues that relate to the sustainable development goals.

I be splitting my time with the member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles.

The bill responds to a number of recommendations from the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. I would like to thank the committee members in this place and the other place for ensuring we have legislation that focuses on ensuring increased accountability by departments and agencies for setting and achieving a very ambitious sustainable development target, one that promotes close collaboration with all agencies through a whole-of-government approach. It sets a higher bar with respect to transparency, with improved reporting, oversight and continued conversations with indigenous peoples and individuals right across Canada to respect diversity and gender parity. It provides improvements through our robust and wholesome look at a federal sustainable development strategy, ensuring it incorporates the different views of Canadians across our country.

We have released the draft 2019-2022 federal sustainable development strategy. It is open for comment by Canadians until April 2. We want Canadians to help make the strategy stronger, so I would invite individuals to provide their commentary on that. The sustainable development goals data hub is on the Statistics Canada website.

I get a lot of questions from young people. Millennial kids, for example, email me and are seized with what we are doing as a government to ensure we keep on top of our commitments around sustainable development, particularly the environment, and to ensure we leave a world that is better for them, our children and grandchildren.

I happened to be part of the delegation that went to the UN last year with the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, at which Canada gave its voluntary national review on sustainable development. It was a great moment for Canada to be there to express its commitment to a whole-of-government approach to sustainable development.

Today we are talking about the amendments that came from the other place. We accepted amendments 1 and 3. I know that other colleagues have questioned why our government did not accept amendment 2 to have incorporated in some of the contracts the sustainable development goals and targets. We have not supported this amendment because it goes beyond the policy intent of the legislation, which purpose is to make decision-making related to sustainable development more transparent and subject to accountability to Parliament.

I want to reference the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and member of Parliament for Central Nova. Last year, he spoke to the legislation quite passionately. In his comments on amendment 2, he spoke to the 2018 report, a progress report that shows that we are on target to meet many of the targets set forth in the 2016-2019 development strategy. In particular, in December 2017, he spoke to the fact that almost 8% of coastal marine areas were being conserved or were on track to reach our target of 10% by 2020.

He also referenced reducing greenhouse gas emissions from federal government buildings and fleets. We have achieved a 28% reduction in GHG emissions relative to 2005, more than half way to our target of 40% by 2030. The progress report highlights that we are well on our way to achieving this target. When we talk about protecting terrestrial areas and inland waters, we are not moving fast enough. Through having a whole-of-government approach and legislation that focuses on ensuring we are measuring those targets, we are able to see where we are doing well.

I mentioned our marine and government approach to reducing GHGs and where we could improve. We saw that we were not moving fast enough to protect our terrestrial and inland waters. Therefore, in budget 2018, we invested $1.3 billion in biodiversity and conservation to help us bolster that target and ensure we keep on track.

I would like to outline some of our government's accomplishments. We have heard others in this place talk about what we have done on the environment and our environmental stewardship, as well as putting a price on pollution, our insistence that polluters pay for the damage they do to our country. However, more important, we cannot just look at climate change in a silo.

One of the principles of the legislation is to ensure there is a whole-of-government approach. We have taken initiatives to ensure that climate change does not negatively or disproportionately impact individuals in our society who may not have a lot of means. We introduced Canada's first-ever poverty reduction strategy. That is built upon previous investments from the Canada child benefit, our national housing strategy, our public transit investments and our investments in the Canada workers benefit. We know that individuals who are working to become part of the middle class tend to be more negatively impacted by climate change, so we have to put in buffers. We have to put in place the means to ensure those individuals are well protected.

We know women and children are often the first to feel the brunt of the impact of climate change. We have a strategy around gender equality, ensuring we are looking at the legislation that comes before us through a gender lens and ensuring that women are given the opportunities they need to thrive in Canada and do so successfully.

For our indigenous population, we are working toward ensuring long-term water advisories are lifted by March of 2021. We are well on our way to doing that.

A number of initiatives need to be put in place to ensure we are not looking at the impacts of climate change in a silo. We have taken leadership around ensuring our climate plan is secure. However, we have also put forward different initiatives to ensure all Canadians, no matter their means, no matter their diversity, are able to have a sustainable future in our country. While we look to protect our environment, we also need to have the capacity to grow our economy and have good, well-paying jobs not just now but in the future.

The House resumed consideration of the motion in relation to the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

January 28th, 2019 / 3:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, I have just been accused by the member for Winnipeg North of being verbose. That is truly incredible. It is almost like when the Prime Minister accuses other people of standing by the wealthy. This is a pattern of the Liberals that we see in so many areas. After being critical of the length of my remarks, he asked what the Conservative approach was to Bill C-57, as if he had not heard my remarks at all.

Let me just say, in summary of those remarks, that we believe in the importance of a sustainable approach across the board, an approach that involves thinking about the impacts the decisions we take today will have on the future. That is why we believe in a balanced budget. We know that the government's deficits will lead to further attempts by the government to increase taxes. If it gets a chance to do that after the next election, we can be sure that it will take every opportunity to raise taxes.

All of the failures of the Prime Minister when it comes to balancing the budget, when it comes to thinking ahead, will have concrete costs for Canadians.

On this side of the House, our approach to Bill C-57, our approach to sustainability, is to look for ways to ensure that Canadians can get ahead over the long term.

The House resumed consideration of the motion in relation to the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

January 28th, 2019 / 1:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, for the benefit of my friend from Winnipeg North, I am not sure if he has read Bill C-57 or is familiar with the details in it, but Bill C-57 deals with the framework for sustainability. The member heckled to say that it does not mention immigration, but it deals with an evaluation of sustainability across government. It deals with considerations of the sustainability of policy in all areas.

We are debating a message to the Senate. The government's message to the Senate is not to concur in one of the Senate amendments, which would effectively deal with the issue of building into performance contracts considerations about the sustainability goals of government.

I will not refer to whether the member was here in the beginning, because it would be unparliamentary to do so, but if he had been here he would know that I talked about how that section really raises big questions about the government's commitment to sustainability across the board. I talked in my remarks today about how the government's environmental policy is not sustainable, about how its economic policy is not sustainable and about how its approach to energy—the fiscal policy—is not sustainable. I have made some comments here about our immigration system and what the government is doing with respect to our immigration system. It does not have a plan. It is not being effective in terms of its handling of our immigration system.

We believe in an immigration system that is orderly, compassionate and legal. Canadians who see people walk across the border—people who want to come to Canada—want to see the process be fair and orderly. I said before that, when it comes to immigration, Canadians want us to use our heads and our hearts at the same time. They want us to be compassionate and strategic. They want us to think about how we can help as many people as possible and as many of the most vulnerable as possible. In fact, our immigration shadow minister, the member for Calgary Nose Hill, has called for the government to do more to facilitate private sponsorship of refugees.

What I hear when talking to different groups involved in the issue of private sponsorship of refugees is that they are very frustrated in dealing with the government. They see the government piling more red tape and creating more challenges for them when all they want to do is be able to sponsor the most vulnerable refugees and use their own money to do it. While the government has failed to properly respond to the issue of illegal border crossing, it is piling more red tape and challenges on those who are trying to privately sponsor our most vulnerable refugees. I think about members of my own family who were refugees and the benefits they had coming into communities of support. The value of a system of privately sponsored people who come into a system of support is that it works very well. We think that using that private channel and getting out of the way for these private sponsors can be very effective.

The member for Winnipeg North does not think this is a sustainability issue. However, I submit that it is, and Bill C-57 speaks precisely to the need for sustainable policy across government, for policy that can be indeed sustained in the long run, policy that can work and provide the best of the system going forward and also maintains and preserves public support for that system. When we hear criticisms of the immigration system, I think that the government immediately wants to polarize that discussion. However, from our perspective, there are things we can do to substantively improve our immigration system, to build greater public support for it and ensure that it works very well, and that is emphasizing compassion, order and legality in the context of our immigration system.

I will talk about another failure when it comes to sustainability from the government, which is to build a sustainable approach to Canada's voice in the world. If we are to sustain a strong voice in the world, it is important that Canada be principled and clear in its efforts to advance freedom, democracy, justice and human rights. However, we have not seen this from the government at all. We have seen at best a very inconsistent approach when it comes to the advancement of freedom, democracy, human rights, justice and the rule of law.

One area where this is really evident is the Liberals' approach to China. There has been note of this over the last few weeks. Part of it is not just the relationship between events in Canada and China, it is the changing political reality in China itself. We see more and more aggressive action by the Chinese government.

There are a few things to note. We see the terrible abuse of Uighur Muslims, the violent crackdown we have seen, something we hoped to never have to talk about again in the 21st century. Canadians are asking their government to speak out on the violent abuses being imposed in this context. I hope that Canada could play a role in building a broader consensus around the response to these events, working together with our partners across the world. Countries like Pakistan and Algeria could do much more to call out and respond to the abuse by China of its Muslim minority communities.

We also see a crackdown against Christians, ongoing abuse of Falun Gong practitioners, increasing abuses in Tibet, the breaking of the agreement over the status of Hong Kong, more aggression toward Taiwan and aggressive action in the South China Sea. We also have the very worrying situation of the detention of Canadians.

How do we ensure Canada, in a long-term way, can sustain a strong voice on the world stage in the midst of these events? One thing we should not do is discredit our engagement on these issues by having a vital post be used as a way to say goodbye to a cabinet minister. The government's approach to China has been very ineffective, in part because it has not responded to the situation with the seriousness it deserves. Liberals have not put the appropriate, competent person in that situation.

Also we see how the Prime Minister's admiration, his comments about China's basic dictatorship, have undermined the credibility of Canada's approach to this. My hope is that Canada would have a long-term strategy for saying how we build that voice on the world stage. Unfortunately, we have not seen that from the government.

I talked earlier about the issue of pipelines. It may be of interest to people to know that the government put hundreds of millions of dollars into the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is a Chinese-controlled investment bank that is building pipelines, not here in Canada but in Azerbaijan. A lot of people would ask why our government is spending money to build a pipeline in Azerbaijan as a tool for advancing Chinese foreign policy. How is that consistent with the values of sustainability? I would submit that it is not, but it is also a big mistake, a big failure by the Prime Minister, which is imposing costs on Canadians.

The government's argument for this, the reason it invested in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is so that Canadian companies could get those contracts. I have been to the bank's headquarters in Beijing and we were told that the bank has an open procurement policy and it will buy from Canadian companies and hire Canadians regardless of whether or not Canada is a member of the bank.

Therefore, the one argument the government had for supporting this multi-million dollar giveaway to a Chinese-controlled bank and entity of its foreign policy was to say that it was about opportunities for Canadian companies. That argument was blown out of the water in the first five minutes of a conversation with the folks at the bank's headquarters. If the government had actually done any kind of due diligence, it would have known that this was not the reality and that it was not achieving the objective that it said it was going to achieve.

As long as China is continuing this aggressive direction and is unresponsive to what we see as basic principles and values, why are we continuing to support this agent of its foreign policy? Why are we continuing to give money to this infrastructure bank? This is costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

If I were a Liberal MP, I would sure have a hard time explaining to people at home, who are struggling to get ahead, why they should have to pay for this particular failure of the government. Why should they have to pay for the failure of the government to do basic due diligence on an issue like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank? The failures of the government, in this respect and in so many others, are costing Canadians and we will see, as it continues to fail and tries at every turn to increase taxes, the real and growing costs of those failures on Canadians. A sustainable voice for Canada on the world stage should seek to advance our values, put those forward and do so in an effective way.

Bill C-57 seeks to introduce a sustainability framework for the government. It comes out of a report that was done at the environment committee and I think speaks in general to an important principle, the principle being that the decisions the government makes should be made with an eye to the future, that all the things government does should consider the impact on future generations, not just the impact on today, and that the way we approach every policy on immigration, foreign policy, the environment or the economy should not just be made with an eye to today but should be made with an eye to tomorrow. Why? Because if we fail to consider the impact of policies on tomorrow, then we will end up imposing additional costs and challenges for the future.

I am sorry to say this is exactly what we have seen from the government. Its lack of attention to the issue of long-term sustainability has led it to pursue policies that are imposing significant costs on Canadians and will continue to impose escalating costs on Canadians. Liberals are increasing taxes. Why? Because of their failure to take the steps necessary in all of these policy areas to strengthen our economy. This is imposing costs on Canadians.

We know that if they are successful in the next election, their plan is to impose higher taxes, to impose new costs. In the area of the carbon tax, for example, we see how they have imposed a carbon tax that is hurting Canadians who are struggling to get ahead and they will increase that carbon tax significantly. They will use every excuse they can to increase the carbon tax.

They are failing to pursue sustainable policy in so many areas, and that is why, in this message to the Senate, Liberals propose to reject the second amendment that was put forward. The second amendment proposes:

Performance-based contracts with the Government of Canada, including employment contracts, shall, where applicable, include provisions for meeting the applicable goals and targets referred to in the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy and any applicable strategy developed under section 11.

The amendment goes on to clarify the exact mechanism by which that would take place. It speaks precisely to how things would proceed in the context of employment contracts building sustainability there. The Senate, I think, wisely understands that if we are going to take an approach to sustainability—

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

January 28th, 2019 / 1:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I know and I can appreciate that the member, on many occasions in standing committees, would attempt to get into filibusters and at times would become somewhat irrelevant.

I have been very patient in listening to the member talk about a wide variety of issues, virtually anything but Bill C-57, on a number of occasions. Trust me, I have been patient in the last hour and a half. When the Government of Canada gave tax breaks, that party voted against them, and yet the member spends 15 minutes on—

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

January 28th, 2019 / 12:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be back in Ottawa and in this new chamber. As a Conservative, I am dispositionally inclined to prefer old things to new things. However, this is a beautiful chamber. The architects have done a phenomenal job. It will be an honour to be here prospectively for 10 years, or shorter if my constituents feel that way, or much longer if things go the way projects in government sometimes go.

I know it has been an eventful break for some members. We had the resignation and then un-resignation of a number of Liberals. We are certainly hoping John McCallum does not un-resign as well. We also hope the Prime Minister does not see this important post as an opportunity to have a soft landing for yet another failing minister. In any event, there would be so many to choose from.

I hope the Prime Minister did not take any illegal vacations over the break. I suppose he would prefer if I called them “irregular” vacations. I hope the finance minister enjoyed his time away, as well. Perhaps he passed some truly unforgettable time at his villa in France.

I had the opportunity to meet many of my constituents over the break. Many of them are finding the government's approach hard to swallow, so I suggested they try plant-based alternatives instead.

If members did not notice, 2019 is an election year, which means I am sure we will get a lot of great non-partisan work done together. I know the ambulance chasers and un-Canadian Neanderthals on this side of the House sure appreciate the Prime Minister's commitment to positive politics.

However, none of us take the insults personally. We wish the Prime Minister very well with his upcoming transition to the private sector. I suspect that the response of voters to his policies will demonstrate exactly why the Prime Minister liked the idea of a basic dictatorship.

Before I get to the substance of my remarks, on a couple more serious notes, I had the opportunity to visit Taiwan over the break, which was a real pleasure. We have seen the increasing aggressiveness of the PRC government toward Taiwan. All members should understand the importance of standing in solidarity with our democratic partners in Taiwan.

There are many news stories that we see from time to time in Canada and around the world that jump out at us, and probably did during the break. However, I want to draw the attention of members to one in particular that jumped out at me. Prior to Coptic Christian Christmas celebrations in Egypt, a terrorist tried to plant a bomb targeting worshippers. In this case, disaster was averted because of police action. An officer, Mustafa Abid, gave his life as he sought to defuse a bomb.

Christians face challenges in Egypt and in many countries in the region. However, there are also many from the Muslim community who believe in their rights and work hard to keep them safe. I am sure all of us would join me in saluting the courage and sacrifice of people like Mustafa Abid, who set an example of sacrificial love and service to his country and to its minority communities.

I have the opportunity today to share a few brief remarks on Bill C-57 and proposed Senate amendments.

Bill C-57 sets out a legal framework for developing and implementing a federal sustainable development strategy and it seeks to make the process of decision-making accountable to Parliament. The act requires that all government decision-making is done with the view to the impact on future generations. In principle, I think we would all agree that decisions made by government should not be made merely in terms of present considerations, but we should think about the impacts down the road, not only on ourselves but on those who come after us. It is our responsibility to try to position our country in every policy domain for success over the long term to ensure that, as much as possible, the country we pass on to our children and grandchildren is even better than the one we received from our parents and grandparents.

Bill C-57 invites us to explore the mechanism by which that happens and the reporting mechanism by which Parliament is kept up to date on the particulars of plans by government that are aimed at advancing sustainability.

This bill was passed by the House, it went to the Senate and amendments were made in the Senate. Now it is up to the House to consider the particulars of the amendments and to reply to the message from the Senate that speaks to that. The amendments consider, in particular, the strength of the mechanisms by which the government can actually enforce its commitments, allegedly what it intends to do, with respect to sustainability.

The Senate saw it, as part of its amendments, to ensure performance-based contracts provided by the government to contractors and employees incorporated sustainability objectives. This is a laudable goal and one that seems quite naturally associated with the objectives of the bill. That is the second of the amendments we are looking at as part of the message we are considering sending back to Senate with respect to Bill C-57.

Unfortunately, the government has rejected this proposed amendment from the Senate. In the message, it states:

...because the amendment seeks to legislate employment matters which are beyond the policy intent of the bill, whose purpose is to make decision-making related to sustainable development more transparent and accountable to Parliament.

It seems to me to be a very strange basis for rejecting the amendment, since the intent of the bill is surely to improve the quality of decision-making with respect to sustainable development. Improving transparency is part of that, but it is not the only part of it. Also, the very idea of greater accountability should involve building sustainability into the metrics used in performance-based contracts. That is the nature of the amendment from the Senate that the government still proposes to reject.

The proposed rejection of this amendment raises many questions about how serious the government is with respect to its commitment to sustainability. Given the second rejection of this second amendment, we might consider how serious the government is about pursuing sustainability in general. Indeed, if we look at the actions of the government across a wide variety of different domains, we see its lack of engagement with this area of sustainability in particular. We have a government which is not at all interested in the substantive principles of sustainability. It might like to use it and see it as a buzzword, but it is a substantive idea in which we believe on this side of the House. I do not think the government across the way does at all.

What is sustainability all about? What is this principle that is lacking in the approach taken by the government?

Again, sustainability is about a belief that the decisions we make today should consider the impact on future generations. We should try this in every domain of policy. This word is typically invoked in the area of environmental policy and is an important concept in that context. However, across the board, the decisions made by a government should be aimed at passing a better country and world onto the next generation. We should not be short-term in our thinking and capricious about the direction we go. Rather, we should think carefully if the steps we take today will leave our country in a better position into the future.

What are the characteristics of this policy? I have talked a little already about the idea of an intergenerational lens, thinking about our own children, if we have them, or nephews and nieces, whatever the case may be and the impact this policy will have on them. It also calls for the exercise of the virtue of prudence; that is, seeing the world, the challenges we face, in the face they are. I know my friend from Spadina—Fort York, having read the book I recommended to him, After Virtue by Alasdair MacIntyre, will be more familiar with this concept now that the House has resumed; prudence in seeing the world as it actually is and making decisions in a judicious way, not considering simply how we might like it to be.

Some members across the way might like it if the way the world worked was that we could just run deficits in perpetuity. However, the reality of the way the world works is that we just cannot do this. As one former British prime minister said, either Thatcher or Disraeli, and my friend from Calgary Shepard will correct me, “The facts of life are conservative.”

The House resumed from December 6 consideration of the motion in relation to the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 3:35 p.m.
See context

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to address the House, especially as we get closer to this beautiful building being shut down for many years to come.

First, I would make reference to the other place. The Senate contributes a great deal to the public debate. It goes through amendments and gives an assessment of what has been proposed by the House of Commons through legislation. I truly appreciate the work of many senators and the amount of time they put into trying to improve legislation before them.

However, from what I understand, a lot of discussion on the amendments proposed by the Senate took place in a standing committee of the House. I do not want to take away from the seriousness of the offence we are talking about, but I think a majority of Canadians see this legislation as positive and long overdue. It would go a long way in making our system that much better.

I will start with the purpose of the legislation, what we have debated over the last while and the time frame. I want to address many other aspects that were raised by the opposition, particularly around the area of timing, the number of legislation and so forth.

With respect to the purpose of the legislation, I will highlight four areas.

First, the bill would clarify and strengthen certain aspects of sexual assault law relating to consent, admissibility of evidence and the legal representation for the complainant during rape shield proceedings. One only needs to listen to some of the debates we have had at second reading and some of the discussions that took place during the standing committee to get a good sense of the nature of the problem and why that aspect is so critically important.

Second, the bill looks at repealing or amending a number of positions within the Criminal Code that have been found to be unconstitutional by appellant courts and other provisions that are similar to ones that are found as unconstitutional.

Third, the bill looks at repealing several obsolete or redundant criminal offences.

Fourth, which is a strong positive, the bill would require that a minister of justice table a charter statement in Parliament for every new government bill, setting out the bill's potential effects on the charter. A good number of members have raised concerns about this, but I see it as a welcomed addition.

I have indicated on numerous occasions that the Liberal Party founded our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We take it very seriously. I like to think that this is a good example of a very tangible action that clearly demonstrates we are a government that genuinely supports Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Therefore, to have a minister responsible to give his or her interpretation on how legislation could affect laws is a positive thing.

It is something that could complement future decisions. A court could take into consideration ideas, concepts, thoughts and expressions that might have been raised while the legislation was being debated in the House. I would argue that it gives a little more depth to the legislation itself. I see it as a very strong and positive thing.

Those are the four core points that I would highlight. However, I want to address some of the things I have heard during the debate earlier this morning and during questions and comments. Members across the way have asked why time allocation is important. I am often quoted by some members of the opposition, suggesting why I would support time allocation. I can remember sitting in the third party benches in the far corner over there, just a few years back. I recognized back then that time allocation is an effective and necessary tool at times in order for government to deliver on its commitments to Canadians. It is something we have taken very seriously.

Let me give an example. Last Thursday we brought forward another piece of legislation. I believe it was Bill C-57. When we brought that bill forward, the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan started the debate at about 3:30 p.m., and he continued to debate the bill for two and a half, maybe three hours. There is no doubt that it was somewhat enlightening. Some might argue that we are looking at a limited amount of time, and we need to acknowledge that there is a limited, finite amount of time for the House to deal with legislation.

If the opposition chooses to prevent legislation from passing, it does not take very much. The member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan is very capable of articulating at great length. He could stand in his place and talk for two or three hours. If I was provided the opportunity to talk about a budget and all the wonderful things we do, I would like to think I could probably talk for a few days because there are so many good things this government has done for Canada's middle class. It would be a wonderful thing to be able to share that information with my colleagues across the way. However, the reality is that if the opposition were to allow me to do that, I suspect it would be somewhat hurtful for the government, given the limited amount of time we have inside the chamber.

I use this as an example because a number of members across the way have been somewhat critical of two things. One is why we found it necessary to bring in time allocation on this legislation. The other is related to the overall approach by this government on justice.

On the time allocation issue, both the Conservatives and the NDP often like to get together on a united front, and if they were determined to prevent legislation from passing, they could put government in a very difficult position where it would need to try to push the legislation through. That is in fact a responsibility of government.

Many pieces of legislation that we brought forward, including this bill, are because we made a commitment to Canadians in 2015. This legislation is another commitment fulfilled by this government.

If we were to give all the time asked for by the opposition, we would not have been able to pass a couple dozen bills. Canadians, rightfully so, expect the government to have a full legislative agenda. That is, in essence, what we have.

A New Democratic member criticized the government by saying that we have legislation here and there, and why is this bill not passing, and why is this other bill still in the Senate, and why are we still debating it here. There are two reasons. One, there is a process that does have to be followed. Two, at times individuals or political entities have an interest, for whatever purpose, to not allow legislation to go through. That means there is legislation that is at different points of discussion and debate. We have legislation still with the Senate. We have some getting ready for committee stage, some at second reading and some at third reading.

Let there be no doubt that when it comes to the issue of justice, we do very much take a holistic approach at delivering on that issue. I think it is safe to say that as a government, we want to ensure that legislation we bring forward is all about protecting Canadians.

This is one piece of the whole pie that is having that desired impact. We want to show compassion to victims. The Conservatives often say we are not sensitive to victims, yet we have legislation that enshrines victims rights in certain situations. We as a government recognize the importance of not only showing compassion to victims, but also bring in legislation where we can and other measures through budgets, to demonstrate that compassion to victims.

It is also important that we hold offenders accountable. Again, this government takes this very seriously. In the past, when I have addressed that particular issue, there has been a comparison made between the Conservatives and the Liberals. There is a big difference between the two parties on the issue of offenders. Within this legislation we talk about offenders. However, there is a significant difference. Many of the Conservatives like to take a hard line on crime, as if that rhetoric will make our society a better, safer place to live. We, on the other hand, have a different approach to it, which is seen in this legislation as I get back into some of the details of it.

We recognize that incarcerated individuals at some point in time will be released back into society. There is a responsibility for us to ensure that we prevent victims in the future by ensuring that the majority of those individuals who are released become more productive citizens of our country.

We also recognize the importance of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I made reference to that at the beginning when I talked about the scope of the legislation. I made reference to the fact that we are the party that brought in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We understand it and this legislation would ensure there is a stronger place in recognizing the importance of the charter.

I would like to cite something specific that was provided to me in recognizing the importance of charter statements:

Respect for the Charter is a critical aspect of governing and legislating in Canada.

That is something we would argue and one of the reasons we are asking members to support this legislation. It then states:

Requiring the introduction of a Charter Statement for every new Government bill represents a new, more open and more transparent way of demonstrating respect for the Charter.

The Minister of Justice has already tabled nine different charter statements in Parliament for her own bills. She has demonstrated leadership on that aspect. The proposed legislation would make the minister's existing practice a legal duty. The duty would extend to all government legislation.

Obviously, there has been a great deal of discussion on clarity in regard to consent. That was very well discussed. There was a great deal of discussion at the committee stage, where from my understanding the committee members believed it was okay to proceed to third reading with what had come out of the committee stage. I cannot recall anything coming from the official opposition regarding the need to reopen the area of an additional definition of consent, and I am sure I will be corrected if I am wrong during questions and comments. That is a very important aspect of the legislation.

I have heard a couple of members talk about a clause that dealt with religious freedom, something which was taken into consideration at the committee stage. I want to raise that because someone, in posing a question earlier today, reflected on how the government backed down on a clause in the form of an amendment. It is important to recognize that the minister and the department did a wonderful job in the work prior to the introduction of the bill in the House, in meeting with the different stakeholders and working with other jurisdictions to present the legislation. It comes through the department after that consultation.

A clause came up which was looked at concerning something to be taken out of the Criminal Code and it was deemed that we did not want that to happen. That was at the committee stage. To me, that speaks well of our standing committee process. Within the standing committee, the members identified an issue that ultimately was amended and there was a change in the legislation. It is not the only change that occurred.

I raise that point because from the very beginning of the original consultations and the work done by the department, we have been working with stakeholders to ensure that we have good legislation that I believe will ultimately serve Canadians well.