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Evidence of meeting #70 for Finance in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site.) The winning word was clauses.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Gordon Boissonneault  Senior Advisor, Economic Analysis and Forecasting Division, Demand and Labour Analysis, Economic and Fiscal Policy Branch, Department of Finance
Sue Foster  Acting Director General, Policy, Appeals and Quality, Service Canada
Margaret Strysio  Director, Strategic Planning and Reporting, Parks Canada Agency
Stephen Bolton  Director, Border Law Enforcement Strategies Division, Public Safety Canada
Michael Zigayer  Senior Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Department of Justice
Garry Jay  Chief Superintendent, Acting Director General, HR Workforce Programs and Services, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Jeff Hutcheson  Director, HQ Programs and Financial Advisory Services, Coporate Management and Comptrollership, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Darryl Hirsch  Senior Policy Analyst, Intelligence Policy and Coordination, Department of Public Safety
Ian Wright  Executive Advisor, Financial Markets Division, Financial Sector Policy Branch, Department of Finance
Nigel Harrison  Manager, Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
David Lee  Director, Office of Legislative and Regulatory Modernization, Policy, Planning and International Affairs Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Department of Health
Anthony Giles  Director General, Strategic Policy, Analysis and Workplace Information Directorate, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development
Bruno Rodrigue  Chief, Income Security, Federal-Provincial Relations and Social Policy Branch, Department of Finance
Gerard Peets  Senior Director, Strategy and Planning Directorate, Department of Industry
Suzanne Brisebois  Director General, Policy and Operations, Parole Board of Canada, Public Safety Canada
Louise Laflamme  Chief, Marine Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Department of Transport
Judith Buchanan  Acting Senior Manager, Labour Standards Operations, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
Mark Hodgson  Senior Policy Analyst, Labour Markets, Employment and Learning, Department of Finance
Stephen Johnson  Director General, Evaluation Directorate, Strategic Policy and Research Branch, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development
James McNamee  Deputy Director, Horizontal Immigration Policy Division, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Graham Barr  Director General, Transition Planning and Coordination, Shared Services Canada

8 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you.

(Clauses 484 to 486 agreed to on division)

Is that unanimous? Okay.

We'll move to division 32, the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act, clauses—

8 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

The last vote wasn't unanimous. It was on division.

8 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

I thought it was on division, but....

8 p.m.

An hon. member

It was on division.

8 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

It was on division.

I'm now on division 32, and I have clauses 487 to 489.

Ms. Nash.

8 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

It's just that we don't really know what the implications are here of allowing the Minister of Finance to decide who the acting chairperson would be on the operations and the autonomy of the tribunal, so we're concerned that there are many measures in this bill that increase concentration of power in the hands of ministers, in the hands of cabinet. We're not sure of what the implications here, so we won't be supporting this.

8 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you.

Is there any further discussion? No? Okay.

(Clauses 487 to 489 agreed to on division)

Thank you.

We'll go to division 33, clauses 490 to 505. This is the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development Act.

Monsieur Caron.

8 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Thank you very much.

This is a subject that greatly interests me. I asked the witnesses who made presentations a number of questions about it. I was also very interested in what was happening at Rights and Democracy and the saga that was going on there for a number of months, if not more than a year. The organization had earned its spurs, had established its credibility on the international scene in the geopolitical reality of 1988. That geopolitical reality has evolved, of course, but the organization has always managed to adapt.

There were a number of people in charge. I know that, in the House today, Ms. Laverdière mentioned Jean-Louis Roy, who was one of the organization's CEOs. I had the opportunity to meet him and have discussions with him. He confirmed that the organization continued to have a very good reputation until the arrival of a new board of directors, made up of people parachuted in by the federal government. That is when the problems started.

One of the witnesses, the chair of the board, said that the organization was badly run. When I asked him about that allegation, I reminded him that board members had asked Deloitte & Touche to do a management audit of the organization from 2005 to 2009. That was the period during which the management provided by Mr. Beauregard and the staff of Rights and Democracy was alleged to have been bad. I told him that the report cost a little under $1 million, as I understand it, an amount that represented the entirety of the consultations that the board of directors undertook.

The board of directors sat on the report for more than five months. The witness tried to convince me, with no success, that the report was devastating for Mr. Beauregard's administration. If you read the report, you see that there was no evidence of poor administration in the organization. Anyone who has read the report, as I have, can see that clearly. Mr. Brown's arguments have done nothing to convince me of the opposite. I also recommend that the people watching us on television and who want to know more about this read the excellent series of articles that Paul Wells wrote for Maclean's magazine at the time. They provide a very good history and chronology of the situation.

It was after 2009, that is, after the appointment of the board members, that the problems really started and that Rights and Democracy began to skid out of control. Some staff members left and Mr. Beauregard worked passionately and energetically to defend the organization for which he worked. But, at the end of the day, Rights and Democracy, a credible, worthy organization that represented Canada well on the international scene, gradually became nothing more than an empty shell.

Division 33 of Bill C-38 does away with the organization. I do not have to tell you that I find this to be regrettable in the extreme. We will remember Rights and Democracy as an organization that, for a very long time, had succeeded in projecting a very respectable image of Canada as a country that makes attempts at conciliation on the world stage. That image is gradually fading away. As a consequence, we are going to make a final gesture in this committee by voting against the proposed changes to division 33 that will eliminate Rights and Democracy for ever.

8:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

We'll go to Ms. McLeod, and then Mr. Brison.

8:05 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I think first, and perhaps most important, certainly from the government's perspective, is that Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada and the Canadian International Development Agency are committed absolutely to freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law around the world each and every day, and that's from our ambassadors and embassy personnel around the world to our staff at the headquarters here in Ottawa.

Certainly for some time we've known about the challenges of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development. They've been very well publicized, and to tell you the truth, quite frankly, after the testimony we heard from Mr. Braun, I was even more alarmed. I think there is certainly no question that there were significant challenges.

As the department looked to find efficiencies and savings, this seemed like a very appropriate time to look at the restructuring and to where we focus our efforts.

Again, the government absolutely supports moving forward on this particular piece of division 33.

8:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you.

Mr. Brison.

8:10 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Chair, for 23 years Rights and Democracy was funded by Progressive Conservative and Liberal governments, and in the last several years by a Conservative government. During that time it did gain international respect for the work it did in institution-building in both rights and democratic development, but it did over the course of its history disagree with governments and did speak independently from time to time.

It is broadly felt that the defunding of this organization reflects this current government's desire to silence dissonant voices. This is troubling. It's consistent with the decision of the government to cut funding for KAIROS and other organizations that have received federal funding and support for a long time.

It is consistent with its attitude towards the Parliamentary Budget Officer and anyone internal to the government or in the NGO community, any group or organization that has the audacity to speak truth to power, or at least to express a different view.

I think it's important for any government to recognize that you don't simply fund the groups that agree with you. It's a responsibility of any responsible government.

8:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you, Mr. Brison.

Ms. Glover, please.

8:10 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Chair, in the interests of trying to get through this very complex bill and after all these hours, I want to pass over the things Mr. Brison has said, the false allegations made against this government that he has portrayed. But I find it important to stand up for not only the government but the caucus members who work very hard to support very credible organizations that do not have the types of challenges that were present, unfortunately, in this very case.

I too would like to put on the record that Mr. Brison's spiteful comments are not appreciated and not true. This government will continue to support efforts to maintain human rights and democratic development around the world.

Thank you.

8:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you.

I'll then move to the vote.

(Clauses 490 to 505 inclusive agreed to on division)

Thank you.

We'll go to division 34, the Health of Animals Act, clauses 506 to 515.

(Clauses 506 to 515 inclusive agreed to)

It is unanimous.

We'll move to division 35, the Canada School of Public Service Act.

(Clauses 516 to 524 inclusive agreed to on division)

Thank you.

We'll move to division 36, which deals with amendments to the Bank Act.

Go ahead, Monsieur Caron.

8:10 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

We don't have the amendment?

8:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

I don't have an amendment.

The next amendment I have is for division 39.

8:10 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

I just want to speak to it.

8:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Okay.

8:10 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

This is something that concerns us a lot. We know that the Bank Act is federal jurisdiction, but some aspects of the act go into provincial jurisdiction in a complementary way. Consumer protection in banking, for example, is a provincial matter, complementary to the Bank Act. If we amend the preamble, as clause 525 in division 36 proposes, the spirit of the act would focus banking activities according to clear national standards, as Ms. Pearse confirmed when she appeared before us.

The Government of Quebec has come out strongly against this. I have in my possession a letter written to Mr. Flaherty, the Minister of Finance, by Jean-Marc Fournier, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Quebec in which, among other things, he expresses his concerns. The letter is dated April 19. Mr. Fournier questions one part of the bill that says that, in the national interest, it is desirable to provide for exclusive and national standards applicable to banking products and banking services. He is afraid that this might mean that all banking activity in the country would henceforth be regulated according to national standards. Mr. Fournier reminds Minister Flaherty that the two orders of government have complementary responsibilities in terms of regulating the activities of banks.

I know that the federal government previously ran into problems in its plans to regulate the financial sector and organizations like stock exchanges. So I see that there is a very clear danger of the federal government being challenged by Quebec over those provisions. At very least, before this change to the Bank Act is written, there should be consultations with the provinces in order to determine how they might react. No consultations of that kind have been held.

I see clearly that the government is going to come up against the same problems that it had in regulating financial institutions. That is why we are going to vote against that clause, in order to reflect the divided opinion and the lack of prior consultations that should have taken place.

8:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you.

I'll go to Mr. Jean, please.

8:15 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Conservative Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

It's a great news story. Our banks are doing great. This just introduces a little bit to make it a little bit better, so I'll be voting in favour of it, and I'm sure all of these people on this side of the table will be as well.

8:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you.

(Clause 525 agreed to on division)

Thank you.

We will go to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, which is division 37, clauses 526 to 530.

Monsieur Mai, please.

June 5th, 2012 / 8:15 p.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The bill actually eliminates the requirement for the Parole Board of Canada to hold a hearing in cases of suspension, termination or revocation of parole or statutory release.

First, we must ask why this measure was not included in Bill C-10 and why it is included in the budget. There are few places that this omnibus bill does not reach. This is clearly a justice matter.

Unfortunately, we did not have the time to hear from many witnesses. We only heard from one. However, he is very qualified. His name was Michael Jackson; he has been in practice for 40 years, including in the area of human rights, which he teaches at the University of British Columbia. He is an expert in the rights of prisoners and of Aboriginals. In his opinion, the clause is unconstitutional. Let me read a part of his testimony in English:

Section 7 of the charter provides that everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person, and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the fundamental principles of justice.

He specifies:

What the bill does is abrogate that right. Thereafter, these reviews will be done by a paper review. The board is now also contemplating moving to a single member conducting this review by changing the regulations. You'll have one member of the board reviewing the case without the presence of the offender and making a...decision potentially to revoke parole.

The clause is already clearly unconstitutional, but then, in addition…

he further says that this will disproportionately impact aboriginal offenders.

I have read his brief. We received it yesterday or today. It goes quite far. He goes right to the point by saying…

C-38, by abolishing post suspension hearings, would extinguish the possibility of an elder-assisted hearing in the post-suspension context. In doing so, Parliament will be aggravating, not alleviating, the systemic discrimination referred to by the [SCC in Gladue and Ipeelee].

A witness, who specializes in human rights, is saying that not only is this bill anticonstitutional, but it is also an attack on aboriginal people. Once again, we are wondering why this bill is being studied in the Standing Committee on Finance and not in the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. Why was this not included in previously introduced Bill C-10? I don't understand why the government wants to move forward. This further proves that the government prefers to send people to prison with its megaprison policy.

In addition, that approach does not help rehabilitate people. It has been shown that the Quebec system helps people rehabilitate so that they can be part of society. Yet this government is taking away those peoples' rights.

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you.

We'll go to Mr. Hoback, and then Mr. Brison.