I have an amendment here for the preamble. I want to do this because it's very important. It was testimony from Mr. Smith. It was testimony from Munir Sheikh. The testimony we received was that Canada's international reputation was damaged under the previous census, and it has the opportunity to restore that. One of the things is the United Nations preamble. This would set Canada as a leader.
It's interesting to note that in the many pieces of legislation that I've been a part of here in the House of Commons, often you come with amendments and motions, but mostly amendments. You compete with the government of the day to get those amendments accomplished. Very rarely is there a piece of legislation that passes here that did not require some type of change from its original provision, which was prior to hearing the testimony of witnesses in front of committee.
In a sense, that's the whole purpose and foundation of parliamentary committees' oversight and review—for committees to be the agents of making legislation better. Even if you disagreed with the legislation at the end of the day, you were the responsible bodies to make sure it would live up, through the court of law, and actually achieve the goals that the government talked about. In fact, I have many amendments that were passed under both the Liberals and Conservatives, some even under the NDP banner depending upon the committee, on legislation, which sometimes ended up with different voting in the House of Commons and sometimes didn't.
It's rather unfortunate in this committee, because we've become a know-it-all committee. We've had two pieces of legislation here. We've had countless witnesses. We've chosen to ignore them, time and time again, because we know better. It is ironic for a new government, with many new members, that prior to even stepping in here, they could not learn a single thing from either of the chief statisticians, who are internationally respected.
That in itself is remarkable, given the fact that we had a chief statistician who resigned his position to basically become a whistle-blower on personal privacy and scientific information gathering that was necessary for the disbursement of Canadian taxpayer funds in terms of economic and social policy—namely, the census.
We gave up basically any type of value that we chose to have from those individuals who decided to put their careers at risk, to their detriment, and who followed it up by coming back to this committee. They didn't even have to come back here, but as true Canadians they decided to come back before this committee and go on the record again, after extensive public scrutiny of themselves personally and professionally. They're people who put their scientific careers on hold to come and be public servants. They came back here and gave testimony, despite all the criticism, all the hacking on them, having to prove the value of the census to the Canadian public. But we couldn't find a single word of worth from Munir Sheikh or Mr. Smith. We couldn't find a single word, anything at all, that they could contribute as the former chief statisticians to this process. The value was zero, non-existent, because we know better. The minister, all his staff, his current chief statistician, and all the members of the Liberal Party, all of them, know entirely and utterly better about all things related to that than those individuals and the other witnesses who gave up time, energy, and their own personal lives to come and sit in front of us.
Who will want to come before this committee in the future, as they know it is now a completely empty vessel for ideas that will be passed on to the House of Commons? If we don't do it here, we have to rely on amendments in the Senate—the Senate that is constantly navel-gazing at its own internal problems, including personal and private scandals, that affect the work there. That doesn't take away from the mere fact that they're appointed, in one form or the other, be it by a prime minister or by a cabal of appointments, in a dark process. The Senate is now the stopgap for Canadian legislation, as opposed to a House of Commons committee.
That is the end result of what's taking place today here for this bill. We have to rely upon the Senate and all its distractions. It's extremely serious, to get anything changed in this bill. That's a congratulatory exclamation mark on the minister and the way he runs and operates, and the way this Prime Minister has inclusion for Canada. They know better—not the witnesses, not the expert testimony, and not any other member from their own side of Parliament. God knows why they even came here. They can't even offer a single suggestion on the bill.
One of the key elements about this bill is the fact that it is an international stamp on Canada's scientific community. It is measured in terms of a democracy and its relationship of data gathering, accountability of that data, and the use of that data for the determination of social and economic policy. That is what is measured with regard to your proper census coming out. It's one of the reasons I fought so hard, nearly a decade ago, to stop Lockheed Martin from having access to Canada's personal privacies, unabated by the Patriot Act, under the previous census outsourcing—something that Canadians had a lot to say about, got involved in, and were able to stop from taking place.
We're left today, after a series of mishaps in the House of Commons, where the Liberals pounded away at different times from the high ground, arguing incessantly over the census being basically a non-starter for Canadians to the Conservatives at that time, and here at committee we have not a single one who can provide any type of value-added input.
One of the key elements...and I am going to conclude, Mr. Chair. This is not going to last much longer in terms of what I have to add, other than an official submission that has been garnered from the efforts of others and suggestions in this House of Commons. At least it will be on the record that somebody gave a damn, somebody cared, and somebody believed that Canada needs to step up. This relates to our international reputation.
I'm proposing that:
The Statistics Act is amended by adding the following before the enacting clause:
Whereas resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly and Economic and Social Council have highlighted the fundamental importance of official statistics for the national and global development agenda;
Whereas the Government of Canada is mindful of the critical role of high-qualified official statistical information in analysis and informed policy decision-making in support of sustainable development, peace and security, created from reliable data regarding the range of social and economic factors that citizens require to understand Canadian society in an increasingly connected world that demands openness and transparency;
Whereas the Government of Canada understands that the essential trust of the public in the integrity of official statistical systems and the public's confidence in statistics depend to a large extent on respect for the fundamental values and principles that are the basis of any society seeking to understand itself and to respect the rights of its members and, in this context, that the professional independence and accountability of statistical agencies are crucial;
Whereas the Government of Canada seeks to emphasize that, in order to be effective, the fundamental values and principles that govern statistical work have to be guaranteed by legal and institutional frameworks and respected at all political levels and by all stakeholders in Canada's national statistical systems;
Whereas the Government of Canada endorses the fundamental principles of the official statistics set out below, which are largely consistent with the United Nations Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics adopted by the United Nations Statistical Commission in 1994 and reaffirmed in 2013, and endorsed by resolution of the General Assembly in 2014;
Whereas the first of the endorsed fundamental principles is that official statistics provide an indispensable element in the information system of a democratic society, serving the government, the economy and the public with data about the economic, demographic, social and environmental situation, and that, to this end, official statistics that meet the test of practical utility are to be compiled and made available of an impartial basis by official statistical agencies to honour Canadians' entitlement to public information;
Whereas the second of the endorsed fundamental principles is that, in order to retain trust in official statistics, Statistics Canada needs to decide according to strictly professional considerations, including scientific principles and professional ethics, on the methods and procedures for the collection, processing, storage and presentation of statistical data;
Whereas the third of the endorsed fundamental principles is that, in order to facilitate a correct interpretation of the data, Statistics Canada must present information according to scientific standards on the sources, methods and procedures of the statistics;
Whereas the fourth of the endorsed fundamental principles is that Statistics Canada is entitled to comment on erroneous interpretation and misuse of statistics;
Whereas the fifth of the endorsed fundamental principles is that data for all statistical purposes may be drawn from all types of sources, including statistical surveys or administrative records, and that Statistics Canada must choose the source with regard to quality, timeliness, costs and the burden on respondents;
Whereas the sixth of the endorsed fundamental principles is that individual data collected by Statistics Canada for statistical compilation, whether they refer to natural or legal persons, must be strictly confidential and used exclusively for statistical purposes;
Whereas the seventh of the endorsed fundamental principles is that the laws, regulations and measures under which the statistical system operates must be made public;
Whereas the eighth of the endorsed fundamental principles is that Statistics Canada should coordinate with statistical agencies from other countries, recognizing that this coordination is essential to achieve consistency and efficiency among statistical systems;
Whereas the ninth of the endorsed fundamental principles is that the use by Statistics Canada of international concepts, classifications and methods promotes the consistency and efficiency of statistical systems at all official levels;
And whereas the tenth of the endorsed fundamental principles is that bilateral and multilateral cooperation in statistics contributes to the improvement of systems of official statistics in all countries;
1.1 Section 2 of the Act is amended by
And that's it.