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House of Commons Hansard #109 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-42.


Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

3:20 p.m.


Paul Zed Liberal Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his intervention. I have nothing further to add other than what I said in the business statement.

The House resumed consideration of the motion in relation to the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-42, an act to amend the Judges Act and to make consequential amendments to another act; and of the amendment.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

November 28th, 1996 / 3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleagues, when we broke just before question period, the hon. member for Medicine Hat had the floor. There were still a few minutes remaining, but I presume that he has chosen not to take up those minutes. I am going to go to the next speaker.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.


Shaughnessy Cohen Liberal Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address the House today on Bill C-42. Before getting to the core of the bill, I would like to say a few words in response to some of the things that were said earlier today by members of the Reform Party with respect to the justice agenda of the government.

It is amazing to me that it does not matter what we are talking about in the House, but the Reform Party always ends up going back to the issue of guns. Bill C-68 is one of our stronger law and order measures. I want to point out that 12 per cent of Canadians oppose that legislation, which is the exact percentage that support the Reform Party nationally, according to the latest polls.

The member for Medicine Hat spoke at length about his perception, or perhaps it was his exaggeration of the way people in Canada feel about law and order. He suggested that the present Minister of Justice has not done enough. Let us talk about his

record and about the Liberal record on law and order issues, on safe homes and safe streets.

Let us talk about the establishment of the National Crime Prevention Council which was announced in July 1994 by the Minister of Justice and the Solicitor General. It will work to unify crime prevention efforts across the country and to provide advice to both the Minister of Justice and the Solicitor General on issues of law and order, in particular on crime prevention. Crime prevention is something which in the words of the member for Burlington who is well versed on these issues will help us prevent there being further victims in our country.

Bill C-68 on gun control, Reform's favourite, strengthens our gun control legislation. It provides for stiff four-year mandatory minimum sentences for the use of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.

Really, that is what this is all about. It is about guns. With these boys, it is always about guns.

Bill C-37, the Young Offenders Act. Reform opposed this one too. It establishes tougher sentencing for violent young offenders while encouraging the rehabilitation of young offenders and discouraging the use of prison sentences for non-violent crimes, something Reformers talk about a lot but voted against.

Bill C-41, sentencing reform, is something that really gets them. This one includes principles and approaches to sentencing that consider public safety, the needs of the victims-where have we heard that before-for restitution, principles that serious offenders should be treated differently than minor first time offenders. Because it seeks to protect people that the Reform Party does not want to protect, because of the inclusion of those two little words "sexual orientation", Reformers voted against the whole thing.

Bill C-104 concerns forensic DNA analysis. This improves the investigative tools available to police by clarifying circumstances for which a judge may issue a warrant allowing police and peace officers to obtain bodily samples for forensic DNA analysis. This bill has already done good in terms of criminal investigations in our country.

Bill C-72 amends the Criminal Code so that people remain accountable for violent acts committed while they are intoxicated.

There is the self-defence review. On October 4, 1995 the Solicitor General and the Minister of Justice announced the appointment of Madam Justice Lynn Ratushny to lead a review of cases involving women convicted of killing their abusive partners, spouses or guardians.

Bill C-9 re-establishes the Law Reform Commission.

Bill C-16, the contraventions act, increases efficiency in the justice system.

Bill C-33 is the Canadian Human Rights Act amendment. Of course Reformers are opposed to that one too. One might ask this question of them: By giving rights to others, how could that possibly diminish any rights that they have? But they do not care because there are those words "sexual orientation" again and off they go.

Bill C-17 contains Criminal Code improvements and they are opposed to that. Every attorney general in this country wants Bill C-17. It modernizes the Criminal Code. They need it to help them in law enforcement, but the Reform Party thinks it is important for us not to take advice from attorneys general and instead to cram unworkable and ridiculous procedures down their throats.

Bill C-25, the regulations act, will be reported in the House tomorrow. It reforms and updates the regulatory process to make it more efficient.

Bill C-27 concerns child prostitution, child sex tourism, criminal harassment and female genital mutilation. It amends the code to make sure that those who commit certain violent acts against women and children face tougher penalties.

There are also Bill C-41, child support; Bill C-45, the judicial review of parole ineligibility; Bill C-46, production of records in sexual offence proceedings; and Bill C-55, the high risk offenders legislation.

If that is not enough, there were a few things that we did which were not even in the red book or that were not promised. We launched a national flagging system as part of the Canadian Police Information Centre to help crown attorneys deal more effectively with high risk offenders at the time of prosecution. We established an anti-smuggling strategy to combat illegal trade in tobacco, firearms and alcohol. We continue to implement the war crimes strategy announced in January 1995. We expanded efforts to fight organized crime by seizure and forfeiture of assets and provisions against money laundering, and on and on and on.

Never, I would venture to guess in the history of our country, has there been a more prolific Minister of Justice. Never has there been a government so closely aligned with concern for Canadians and for their safety.

This morning the member for Medicine Hat went out of his way to reinforce what Reform hammers home and that is the scare tactics, the irresponsible creation out of the air of statistics that are not valid. Crime has not increased. Youth crime has not gone up.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.


Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask about the Reform scare tactics and what part of Bill C-42 does that fit into.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

The Speaker

That is not a point of order. The hon. member for Windsor-St. Clair.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.


Shaughnessy Cohen Liberal Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, the boys are restless today. In any event, let us get down to the nub of this. The nub of this is that we have responded to Canadian concerns. The 12 per cent solution is unable to respond to those concerns. What do they do? They stir it up and they let it go.

They do that in debate on a bill which is of very great importance. They say it is not important to ordinary Canadians. However, in my riding there are many ordinary Canadians who talk to me on the weekend when I am home and who call my office. They were concerned about what was going on in the former Yugoslavia. They were concerned about what is happening in Africa. They want Canada to participate. They want Canada to do something to make things better. One of the things we can do is contribute the time and the resources of a wonderful Canadian jurist to prosecute for the international war crimes tribunal.

There is a tradition and I am often able to find it linked directly to my home community of Windsor, Ontario. In the fifties, following the second world war, a gentleman by the name of Bruce J.F. Macdonald, who was then a crown attorney and who subsequently became a judge of the court of the County of Essex, as it was then, became one of Canada's prosecutors at Nuremberg. As a result, many Canadians who live in Windsor have a great interest in this. We hear about it from time to time.

One of my constituents has just completed scholarly work, a book, on the history of Canadian involvement in war crimes prosecutions.

The Hon. Madam Justice Louise Arbour of the Ontario Court of Appeal is not someone we have foisted upon the international court. She was chosen by the secretary general of the United Nations, Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, as a result of a recommendation from the outgoing prosecutor, Mr. Justice Richard Goldstone of South Africa. She was the first choice of the UN for the position of chief prosecutor.

This does not in any way take away from her ability to continue as a judge in our court of appeal in Ontario when she returns. In fact, I would dare say that the legal community of Ontario and the citizens of Ontario would be well served by having a woman on the bench who will be a heroic figure as a result of her work with the United Nations. She will be a heroic figure who will return to sit on the bench of the Ontario Court of Appeal.

The position that the Reform Party is taking on this bill diminishes her. It is a terrible shame. This woman is honourable. She is distinguished. She is learned in the law. We in Ontario should be and are very proud of her. The fact that she has been asked to assist the world community in a very difficult, high profile task with the international war crimes tribunal is a great honour to us.

For the Reform Party to take the position which is has is shortsighted and obstructionist.

This bill is a small part of the justice agenda of the government. However, it reaches beyond our borders. It is important for the Canadian people to understand and recognize our stature in the international community. It is particularly important that we be allowed to serve, as a country, our friends around the world.

World peace is a very important and precious commodity. This is one small way in which Canada can yet again contribute to a desirable end.

I would like to suggest that the comments of the hon. member for Medicine Hat, in view of the so-called fresh start that the Reform Party is proposing, were unfair to the Minister of Justice, in particular, but in general they were unfair to the government. Making and keeping our streets safe is a very important goal. It takes more than rhetoric to do that.

At a recent address in Toronto, the Minister of Justice said that it takes more than just statutes written in a book on a shelf somewhere in Ottawa. That is insightful. It takes a lot more than that. So while the Reform Party is busy criticizing the government for what it considers to be our inaction in matters of justice, perhaps its members should take a look at their own proposals.

Community safety has to do with the health of those communities and the health of those communities has to do with their levels of economic development and with the type of social safety net those communities have.

We are struggling hard in this government to deal with the deficit which we almost have licked. We are struggling hard to put the country's finances back in order. We are struggling hard to do all these things so that Canada will remain strong, so we will have economic development and jobs, so we will have a good social safety net and so we will have a safe place for our children to grow up in.

I do not believe that giving people a tax rebate that they do not want and that they are not asking for is the way to do that. Our government's approach is a much healthier, much better organized and much more insightful approach to the problems of Canadian society.

But we do not do anybody any good when we get up in the House of Commons and rant and rave about bars on windows, locks on doors and people cowering in their houses. That is not the normal state of being in our country. The Reform Party knows that and Canadians know that. We do not serve them well by suggesting that crime is out of control or beyond the control of our law enforcement agencies. We do not do our citizens any good by simply pandering to the basest fears of citizens who are being misinformed

by politicians who are simply exploiting their fears. We do not do any good when we do that.

As a government we have to do what the justice committee is doing with respect to youth justice, for example. We have to go out there and we have to find out what is going on. When we define the problem and we see what is going on and we see the state of things, then we have to look to those who are involved in the area, to parents, to children who are at risk and who are in trouble with the law, to teachers, to educators, to social workers, to crown attorneys, to police officers and others. We have to go to them and ask them what we have done that is not working. We have to ask them what we can do that will work and what we need to do more of.

I look at the six point plan of the Reform Party. Point number four has to do with making our streets safe again. How do Reformers want to do that? They want to eliminate the Young Offenders Act. There are certain linkages in society. It is very shortsighted to think there is a quick fix. In the Reform lexicon, first they tell people there is more crime and then they tell people that they will have capital punishment to deal with it.

There is a lot that goes between the commission of the crime and the final result. There is an awful lot that goes before the commission of the crime. That is what we have to deal with, crime prevention.

Instead of going on and on about Bill C-42, instead of trying to take up the House's time and the government's time with a bill that simply allows Canada to be honoured on the international stage by having one of our leading jurists go to Europe to prosecute war criminals, instead of worrying about that, why do we not talk a little about what we can do for our children who are at risk to offend, about what misery they are living in, what problems they are having that are putting them in harm's way? Why do we not work on trying to fix that? Why do we not work on trying to find more jobs for Canadians?

Why do we not stop worrying about tax cuts and worry about how we are going to get jobs for those parents so that their children can grow up in safe, economically healthy and emotionally healthy surroundings? These are the important issues that are troubling Canadians.

On the issue of ordinary Canadians, I would like to point out that the House of Commons, quite frankly, is full of wonderful and devoted people on all sides of the House who are ordinary Canadians who have been called to an extraordinary calling and most of whom do a very good job at it. We do represent the views of ordinary Canadians and we represent them very well. Ordinary Canadians put us and our policies here and asked us to follow our agenda.

When it comes to the justice agenda, we have done what we promised. We have delivered on our promises and in a reasonable and productive way which finds a balance between the rights of Canadians who are before the courts and the rights of Canadians who have suffered. We try to take care of our people because that is what we were elected to do. As good Liberals, I would suggest we are meeting those obligations and our promises to the people of Canada.

If along the way a wonderful circumstance arises for our country, a circumstance which allows us to take one of the most prominent jurists in our country and place her in a position of international importance and responsibility, who are we to stand in the way of that? Who are we to fuss over that wonderful prospect for our country?

Madam Justice Arbour is serving Canadians and the citizens of the world. We should be proud of her and help her do that.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.


Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of quick questions.

I assume the member is a lawyer, which is not too important, but if she is maybe should would understand the definition better than I would. It is my understanding that orders in council were brought into this House for the purpose of emergency decisions, things that come up that are really of emergent nature, like during wartime giving ministers the authority to do certain things that were required because of a very emergent type situation. It has been my understanding and it has been confirmed by other politicians from the past that orders in council were not to be used as they were in Bill C-42.

I think what is in question is that the orders in council were in direct violation of the Judges Act. Since it is in violation of the Judges Act should it not be debated and questioned? We certainly would not want orders in council to start being abused. We know that possibility exists and that is what we do not want to happen.

Second, could the member explain to me why the numbers in the victims' groups such as CAVEAT, CRY, MADD, FACT, et cetera are growing by the hundreds? They are demanding more and more each day that we do something about the problems. If things are so rosy, could the member explain to me why the membership in these victims' groups is growing steady and why we have millions of signatures on petitions that have been tabled in this House demanding that we do something about the crime in this country?

Judges ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.


Shaughnessy Cohen Liberal Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, I did not suggest that things were rosy or that the numbers were rosy. What I suggested was that the Reform Party speakers who have gone before me on this debate, one in particular, the member for Medicine Hat, have exaggerated the state of the Canadian psyche in terms of their fears. Quite frankly, politicians, journalists, commentators and others who do

that are pandering to fear and attempting to create in the minds of Canadians a false impression.

Victims groups have come to the government on many occasions and on many bills. In fact I have met with a great many victims organizations and not part of organizations, in my riding and in my capacity as a member of Parliament and a member of the justice committee.

What is important in dealing with these groups is that we have a full and frank discussion and that we then work toward helping them. What is equally important is to work to prevent crime so that there are fewer victims. On the issue of victims, the government has a good and a steady record of listening, of consulting and of dealing with their concerns.

On the issue of orders in council I am afraid I am not clear on what the hon. member was alluding to, but I would like to suggest it is important for us to get on with Bill C-42. It is important for us to let Madam Justice Arbour know that she has the support of Canadians in the very important work that she is doing.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.


John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the hon. member a couple of questions.

In her speech she said it was important to get on with this and to pass Bill C-42 because it is important to get on with fighting crime. There are all kinds of crime: white collar crime; violent crime; embezzlement; forgery, you name it. The Criminal Code is inches thick.

What concerns Reform is that on October 7, when the Minister of Justice was before a Senate committee he said, and I am paraphrasing: "There is no provision in the Judges Act for Madam Justice Louise Arbour to accept this appointment with the United Nations". Madam Justice Louise Arbour is already over in the Hague working in this new position. It conflicts with the Judges Act and it conflicts with the minister's actual words. Yet at the same time he puts through an order in council which states that the whole thing is legitimate. Hence, the Reform Party is asking these questions, I believe quite legitimately. I would like to hear the member's comments on that.

Second, she says the justice committee is working hard and doing its job well. We know full well that the hon. member for Wild Rose had to come into the House to get the chairman of the justice committee-the member in question-to do the job that she is supposed to do as chairman of the committee, which is to listen to the Reform members who want to make motions.

Mr. Speaker, you have ruled that the Reform Party's position was perfectly correct. We had the opportunity to make these motions which were ruled out of order by this particular member, who is the chairman of the justice committee. I do not feel that is doing the work in the justice committee.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.


Shaughnessy Cohen Liberal Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, on the first question let me quote precisely what the Minister of Justice said. He did not say what the hon. member for St. Albert has suggested. In fact, he said: "There is no provision in the Judges Act for a federally appointed judge such as Madam Justice Arbour to be granted a leave of absence without pay to work for an international organization such as the United Nations. Nor does the act permit the salary and expenses of a judge during a period of leave to be paid by any organization or entity other than the Government of Canada, or in the case of expenses by the government of a province".

His point was this. The amendments contained in Bill C-42 which have the full support of the chief justice of Canada and the judicial council would permit this type of arrangement to be entered into by Madam Justice Arbour.

The issue is not whether she can work, the issue is whether she can legally be paid by the United Nations to do so. It is a technicality to allow Canada once again, I repeat, to be honoured in the international forum by having one of our leading jurists conduct a very important function.

With respect to the other matter, unlike the Reform Party, as chair of the justice committee I am prepared to make a ruling, to stand by that ruling and to await the word of the Speaker. The Speaker has spoken on the motion, not exactly the way the hon. member has suggested. I was pleased to have his advice and I am pleased to abide by that ruling.

Judges ActThe Royal Assent

3:50 p.m.

The Speaker

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

Government House Ottawa

November 28, 1996

Mr. Speaker:

I have the honour to inform you that the Honourable John Major, Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, in his capacity as Deputy Governor General, will proceed to the Senate Chamber today, the 28th day of November, 1996, at 6 p.m., for the purpose of giving royal assent to certain bills.

Yours sincerely,

Anthony P. Smyth, Deputy Secretary, Policy Program and Protocol

The House resumed consideration of the motion in relation to the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-42, an act to amend the Judges Act and to make consequential amendments to another act; and of the amendment.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.


Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on Bill C-42.

The member for Windsor-St. Clair tried desperately in her speech to twist Reform's position with respect to this bill by implying that we were criticizing Madam Justice Louise Arbour. We are not. We are criticizing the process that is being used by the government to deal with this matter.

She also tried to take credit for a number of bills for which she read out the numbers, bills that achieved certain things in the justice area. Most of these bills would never have been presented if there had not been a Reform presence in this place. Most of those bills did not go even a fraction as far as the people of Canada would have liked them to go.

The one that was really outstanding and which she tried to take complete credit for from the Liberal perspective was Bill C-102, the DNA bill. The fact is it was the member for Wild Rose who initiated that bill. Everyone will remember that right here in the House during question period he manoeuvred the Minister of Justice into giving a commitment to deal with the bill within a 48-hour period. It is the member for Wild Rose who deserves congratulations for that. It was a fantastic bill.

The very first case which was solved using that bill was in my riding of North Vancouver. I am certainly one person, and my constituents are a whole group of people who are very grateful to the member for Wild Rose for having initiated that bill.

Another thing the member for Windsor-St. Clair said that really needs correction is that Reform would introduce capital punishment. How many times do we have to say this to get it through to these Liberal members who obviously have some hearing impairment? It is Reform's position that we would put the question of capital punishment to the people of Canada directly in the form of a binding referendum.

I suspect that the member for Windsor-St. Clair knows what the outcome would be. The fact is there is no Reform policy on capital punishment per se, but there is a Reform policy on giving the people of Canada the right to decide. If the outcome was that the people of Canada wanted the return of capital punishment, I am sure it would be terribly distressing to the member for Windsor-St. Clair who seems to think that she knows better than the people of Canada how to handle justice issues. I can understand why she would be upset at Reform policy, but I would not want anybody out there to get the wrong impression about what Reform policy is on capital punishment.

As the member for Wild Rose mentioned, the membership in victims groups is growing by leaps and bounds. It is just exploding because of the lack of action on things like the Young Offenders Act. The member could not possibly tell me with a straight face that she does not still receive lots of letters and phone calls complaining about the Young Offenders Act.

The fact is that the twiddling with the edges of it that occurred in this House, compliments of the justice minister, were ineffective. They just made it worse. They have not done anything to deal with the real problems in that act.

Finally, in dealing with items that were raised by the member in her speech, when she talked about prevention of crime, I gave a speech in this House a couple of months ago where I gave detailed statistics from the Institute of Justice, statistics which indicated quite clearly from the United States that states which had higher incarceration rates had lower rates of crime. The estimate was that over a 20-year period there were tens of thousands of rapes prevented by having repeat rapists locked in jail. Hundreds of thousands of burglaries and robberies were prevented by having known robbers and burglars kept in jail.

A component of crime prevention is recognizing the people you are not going to rehabilitate and protecting society from those people. If we could get it through the heads on the other side of this House to start looking at that, we would not have these ridiculous, idiotic decisions coming out of immigration and refugee boards, coming from judges across this country that are just letting all sorts of criminals run free in our environment. Most Canadians are fed up to the hilt with it and they just wish we could get on with protecting society.

The motion which is being debated is an amendment to Bill C-42 introduced by the government through the other place. It removed the section dealing with a new public policy allowing judges to accept international assignments. The government replaced it with a specific exemption to the Judges Act to allow Madam Justice Louise Arbour to accept a position at the UN as a prosecutor for international war crimes at the Hague.

It is interesting that the Senate made this amendment and sent it back. I have been quite surprised at the amount of involvement of the other place in the activities of this House over the last couple of

years. They have modified and sent back items to this place a number of times.

It has been Reform policy for a long time that the other place needs an overhaul. It needs to be made elected, equal and effective. It is actually quite impressive that there has been some sober second thought. Some material has been sent back here. I am actually quite impressed in some ways.

There is an interesting little twist which has to do with that place which comes out of something that took place in this House on December 7 last year when the justice minister announced that B.C. would henceforth be considered as a fifth region in the country on a par with the prairies, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. A journalist in the Vancouver area, Barbara Yaffe, wrote a piece about this and it was quite interesting.

A problem has been created as a result of that and it really has not had much exposure in the House. The B.C. Liberal members have been fretting about it. I guess they were hoping that it would never come to public notice but it has. If B.C. is a fifth region, why does it not have an appropriate share of the Senators?

Historically each of Canada's four regions were accorded 24 Senators. As a result of being lumped in with the prairies in the previous four regions model, B.C. has only six Senators. As a fifth and separate region, surely its Senate numbers should be adjusted up to 24 or at the very least have the rest of the other place adjusted downward in numbers so that proportionately it is back in balance.

That is a very interesting idea. It could really have an effect on the type of actions that are taken by that other place in returning bills like this Bill C-42 with amendments and degrees of sober second thought for us to reconsider in this place. That would be a major improvement for the other place. I hope it has not been too embarrassing to have brought that up in the House today for consideration.

Returning to Bill C-42 specifically, we have been very distressed, as a number of members have mentioned, that time allocation has been moved on the bill. The number of times that time allocation has been moved over the past few months is very distressing. If memory serves me right, time allocation has been used by this government more often than by the Mulroney Tories. After all the hoopla in the red book about how democratic this place was going to be, it has actually turned out to be a complete disgrace.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.


Leon Benoit Reform Vegreville, AB


Judges ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.


Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Worse, as my colleague says. Much, much worse.

One of their own members has spoken out publicly about how bad it has become. On August 9, 1996 at a meeting of the Rotary Club of Toronto, the York South-Weston Liberal MP gave a speech which he titled: "Honesty, Ethics and Accountability: Does it exist in Canada's political system?" He spoke about all sorts of things, including closure. He talked about how MPs, in order to advance in the power structure of this place, usually have to sacrifice the public interest to their own ambitions.

We have a situation where members of the government will vote for closure or time allocation because they are afraid that if they do not, there will be some sort of punishment coming down the pipe. Yet they know in their hearts there should be more discussion on issues such as this one which has come back from the Senate.

The member for York South-Weston said in his speech: "The real power, the ability to influence, is concentrated in the office of the leader of each of the parties. It is most pronounced in the case of the government, where the power is in the Prime Minister's office, or the PMO as it is known. Surprising as this may sound, in fact, this country is run by half a dozen people, half of whom are unelected. This may not be something that Canadians realize, but it is something they should be extremely concerned about. These unelected officials have a tremendous influence over public policy and the careers of individual MPs. They determine who is rewarded and who is punished, and with that control they have the real influence, and with that influence they have the real power".

That says a lot about the types of processes that take place in the House which lead to closure on a very important issue like this one.

We are not criticizing the individual justice who has been honoured with a request that she go to the United Nations to work on a special tribunal. That really is not the point. The point is the way the government has handled this issue which could potentially place a judge in a conflict of interest position upon her return to Canada.

Time allocation and closure are not the only problems we have in this place. There are other problems which impinge upon the ability to properly function democratically and to discuss these issues in a fair and honest manner. One of those issues was brought up by my colleague, who mentioned that he had to go to you, Mr. Speaker, for a ruling as to whether he was free to speak in a committee of this House.

There are serious problems with the committee structure. In fact, the member for York South-Weston in his speech to the Rotary Club of Toronto, in talking about chairs of committees said: "Committee chairs should be elected by their peers as opposed to the present soviet style system. Elections for chairmen are currently a farce. The PMO selects a person and government MPs go through a phoney ritual to vote for the PMO choice".

That was certainly borne out by my observation of the system. For example, in September not only did the Vancouver area Liberal MPs vote for the PMO choices for chairs, but they also voted for members of the Bloc to be the vice-chairs. They voted for separatists. We know they are controlled by the PMO. That is very clear.

As the member for York South-Weston said as he closed his speech that day: "Restoring real power to individual MPs will ease cynicism and restore confidence in our system of government because it will make every single voter more powerful. By reforming the parliamentary system, the current concentration of power will naturally break down and that will, in my opinion, be a large step in the right direction".

That is very telling. It is a shame to hear today that the Liberal government has intervened to disband the riding association of the member for York South-Weston, to impose its Liberal bagmen appointed riding association to remove from nomination a member who chose to represent his constituents. It is a disgrace that we have to bring that sort of thing to the notice of the public. It should not be happening. Individual MPs in this place should have a great deal more power.

It extends so far into everything we do. I had a complaint from the Canadian Plywood Association in my riding. A market access subsidy in plywood is provided to eastern based manufacturers but has been discontinued for western manufacturers. Where is the fairness in that? These things are mostly done for political reasons. It makes people very upset in the west that they are constantly left out of decisions or are treated very shoddily. Certainly the Canadian Plywood Association is very upset by that decision. I was asked to mention that in the House so I am pleased I was able to bring it into my speech today.

Bill C-42 in allowing the appointment of a judge to the UN to work on a tribunal on war crimes really relates to the whole area of justice. We have heard several Reform MPs talk about how the justice system has deteriorated here in Canada and what a disgrace it is. I certainly have had my share of problems with illegal refugee claimants in my riding who continually commit crimes so they can use the system to stay in Canada.

There is quite a dramatic case in my riding. I will quote from another local columnist who states:

If you are caught doing something naughty, like forging and selling passports, make sure you come up before B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm, who is full of the milk of human kindness.

The judge sentenced an Iranian passport expert to all of three months, to be served at home with an electronic beeper.

The maximum sentence for forging passports is 14 years. What does Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm do? He gives him three months at home with an electronic beeper. What an excellent opportunity for a home based business. The man was working from home in the first place, no taxes to pay, no business licence and no GST returns. It is a wonderful home based business facilitated by a decision of an associate chief justice. Is it any wonder that people are disturbed with the way our justice system has gone when they hear that sort of thing.

The considerate court went on to say that the offender, Mr. Ashrafinia, was just a spoke in the wheel of a larger passport forgery operation. Now I ask, does being a spoke in the wheel mean that there is no responsibility and he should only get three months for forging passports? This man was charging $1,200 and $1,500 per passport. It sounds like a pretty profitable enterprise, especially since there is no GST or taxes to pay. Anyway, we should probably bring out the violins because the lawyer complained. He said that jail time for his client would be a hardship because he does not hear very well. There it is.

I am also quoted in this article as saying that I hope that we never start electing our judges because elected judges would probably begin reflecting community values and that associate chief justice would then have to start handing out the sorts of prison terms we would expect for that sort of disgraceful conduct.

In fact, if this House would pass my private member's bill dealing with the Immigration Act, we could deport these people in lieu of a sentence. We could get rid of them right out of the country without having to worry about years and years of Immigration and Refugee Board appeals, all sorts of nonsense that just drags the system on and on and on.

The member who spoke before me said that the Reform Party uses scare tactics to get people upset. The fact is the newspapers are full of this stuff. I have here a folder which is full of pages and pages about the disgrace of our justice system. It goes on day after day after day.

In the Vancouver Sun of Friday, October 25: ``Deportation of Ontario drug dealer overturned as unfair''. It is unfair to deport a drug dealer. The article states:

A federal judge has overturned the deportation of a convicted drug dealer, dealing a blow to a controversial law allowing some people to be deported without a hearing.

Justice Barbara Reed, of Federal Court of Canada, ruled it was unfair to deport Jeffrey Hugh Williams because the law did not require he be told why he was considered a danger to the Canadian public.

Tell me, does a convicted drug dealer need to be told why he is a danger to the public? My goodness, to the Liberals opposite, obviously he does. So we are stuck with him and he is released out into the public again to do it all over again. Mr. Williams is a

34-year old who came to Canada from Jamaica when he was nine. He was sentenced to a four-year prison term in 1992 for possession of a narcotic for the purpose of trafficking.

I had another case in my riding. It took me five years working prior to my being an MP and as an MP to get rid of a convicted home invader and heroin trafficker in my riding. The Immigration and Refugee Board after he had been convicted of home invasion and imprisoned-home invasion is something that Canadians never even thought about 10 years ago and here we have home invasions going on.

Anybody who lives in the Vancouver area knows that home invasions have become something that we read about fairly regularly in the newspapers. If the member who spoke before me thinks there is not a problem, she should live in Vancouver for a little while.

This man was locked up for home invasion. The Immigration and Refugee Board listened to his appeal hearing on the deportation order and said: "He feels so remorseful about it, he is really not a bad person. We will give him another chance". Within three months he was on the streets again dealing drugs.

The IRB is so naive it should be disbanded right away. All of this relates right back to the whole way that this government approaches things. It brings closure on very important justice bills and forces us into having to deal with all these issues in just a matter of hours.

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4:10 p.m.


Paul Forseth Reform New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Madam Speaker, the member for Windsor-St. Clair, who I can say is probably the worst chairperson of a justice committee that I have ever seen, was really self-serving and over the top in the defence of the Liberal justice agenda. She went on to talk about the Reform Party opposing merely for the sake of opposing.

We say three things about our role in this House. First we have a duty as an opposition party to hold the government to account and test the veracity and merit of what it brings forward in legislation and how it delivers its governance. Second, we desire to compliment the government when it goes in the right direction. Third, if we heavily criticize, we must be prepared to present thorough and realistic alternatives on the table for all to examine.

We are doing this specifically with Bill C-42. I have in my hand the Order Paper which contains the specific amendments we have brought in which would make this bill acceptable to our party. I would like the member to talk about the unacceptable approach the government has taken and also to highlight the solutions we have brought to this House to be voted on that would find Bill C-42 acceptable to us.

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4:10 p.m.


Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Madam Speaker, that was a great comment about the committee process that was raised by the

member and also questions on what we would do in bills like this one. I would like to treat that in a general sense because I have experienced similar sorts of problems. He talks about the justice committee and how bad that chairperson was.

I was on a subcommittee dealing with Bill C-25. We had a whole day of hearings supposedly set aside and what happens? The Liberal majority passed a whole bunch of clauses in that bill. I think it was clauses 26 to 109 or 119 in one batch. Just one lump sum. The whole thing.

How can you deal with a very complicated technical bill or very complex justice bills by passing 70, 80, 90 clauses in one batch? The only reason it happens is because in that committee we were told absolutely, distinctly they would not tolerate any substantive amendments.

That is the sort of abusive process that goes on behind the scenes in this place. It is this kind of abusive process that raises the sort of comment that was just mentioned by my colleague for New Westminster-Burnaby, the whole issue of chairmanship of committees, what happens there and our inability to introduce meaningful amendments.

For example, we had a number of amendments to Bill C-42. The hon. member for Crowfoot, seconded by the hon. member for St. Albert, put forward an amendment:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word "that" and substituting the following: "a Message be sent to the Senate to acquaint their Honours that this House disagrees with the amendment 1 made by the Senate to Bill C-42, an act to amend the Judges Act and to make consequential amendments to another act, and that this House agrees with the principle set out in amendment 2, but would propose the following amendments:

(a) insert the words "for a period not to exceed three years" after the words "judicial duties" in section 56.1(1);

(b) strike out all the lines in section 56.1(2) and substitute the following:

"If Madam Justice Arbour elects to take leave pursuant to section 56.1(1) she may receive moving or transportation expenses and reasonable travel and other expenses, in connection with her services as Prosecutor, from the United Nations".

(c) add the following words to section 56.1(3):

"notwithstanding any prohibition against accepting any salary fee, remuneration or other emolument described in section 57";

(d) add the following words to section 56.1(5):

"and that benefits payable under these sections will be paid or will commence to be paid at the expiration of the leave of absence without pay"."

Even if people were not able to follow that closely because they did not have the bill before them, I think that everyone would be able to tell that a lot of thought went into the wording of that amendment. It is substantive. There is a lot of meat to discuss and we really should have extensive discussion of that in the House. Instead of that we get these things rammed through. We get

closure, we get committees shutting us down and it really is unacceptable.

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4:15 p.m.


Leon Benoit Reform Vegreville, AB

Madam Speaker, I would like to have the hon. member comment on something that I talked about in the House earlier today. It is a conversation I overheard between my 17-year-old sons. They were talking one night while doing their social studies homework. They study Canadian government. They were discussing some things about the Canadian government which clearly are not democratic.

One of my sons in commenting to the other said: "Really, what it seems to me we have in this country is a Prime Minister who is pretty much fairly elected". I could not have put it better myself. I was so proud of them, their teacher and their fellow students for having come to that conclusion. I believe that really reflects the system that we have in this country.

We have seen closure used so many times routinely. Orders in council are used instead of bringing issues before the House. We have heard of the Prime Minister threatening Liberal MPs that if they do not toe the party line they will not be running as Liberals again. This was done publicly as I am sure it is done privately.

Could this member comment on my son's evaluation of government in Canada?

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4:20 p.m.


Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Madam Speaker, I can best handle my total agreement by reading a short quote from the speech given by the Liberal member for York South-Weston to the Rotary Club of Toronto on August 9: "The whip's role is to tell people when and how to vote." It is a sad reflection on our system of government when people, presumably intelligent people, have to be whipped into voting a certain way. It is also contrary to the public interest and it feeds the cynicism and almost contempt that Canadians have for their elected representatives. "The notion of disciplining reasonably intelligent adults who were given the trust of their constituents is a practice that Canadians reject. If the leader cannot count on the majority of members of his own team to support a particular policy based on its merits, obviously there is something wrong with it.

"Allowing free votes on every issue would show true leadership in this country, whether it is the leader of the government or of any of the opposition parties".

That answers perfectly the comments that were made by the member's sons when they recognized, without even having to be here, that it is basically a five-year dictatorship.

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4:20 p.m.


George Baker Liberal Gander—Grand Falls, NL

Madam Speaker, I have been sitting here listening to the Reform Party talk about everything under the sun: the meetings in York South-Weston, the colour of grain, the Prime Minister, the red book. Reformers have been talking about things that happened years ago. One wonders what the opposition parties are up to.

A very simple piece of legislation is before the Chamber today. It is a wonderful piece of legislation. The bill has only seven clauses. A moment ago the hon. member talked about 80 and 90 clauses in a bill. I do not know what bill he was talking about. This bill has seven or eight clauses.

He just talked about amendments to the bill that had to do with remuneration of judges while the judges were away. The bill clearly spells out that the judges will not receive remuneration from the Government of Canada while they are in those capacities in the international arena.

So it is again that there is something wrong, especially with the Reform Party members. We could say they are frustrated. They are frustrated with the lack of support they have from the Canadian people and they are frustrated with the amount of support the government has from the Canadian people. Therefore they direct their attacks in very selective areas.

As the opposition points out, this debate is on amendments from the Senate, which the Reform Party does not like. They say they do not like anything from the Senate. What was the last bill with amendments from the Senate that the Reformers absolutely loved? Which bill was it? There were amendments from the Senate which indicated the direction of the Senate.

The Reform Party members and the Bloc members stood up and they loved it. They fell over one another. They were so happy, overjoyed. They fell over one another they were so happy. They were overjoyed. They were just heating up. They loved it. The Senate could not have done better. The Senate should have gone even further. "We love the Senate. Come on Senate, bring us more".

What was that? Does the House recall? It was not very long ago. Yes, I can see that you remember, Madam Speaker. It was the gigantic tax breaks that the Senate wanted to give to the rich. Remember that?

That was an international bill as well. This bill deals with international activities of our judges. That bill dealt with international activities of money that was made in Canada and invested in foreign nations. They loved that international bill.

What did they particularly love about the bill? They loved the portion of the bill that said the huge foreign companies operating in Canada would get a 50 per cent tax cut. They loved it. Of course, the Government of Canada would not allow the Senate to go as far as these political parties wanted it to go. Those dividends, those profits from the subsidiaries, would have gone back to the parent

companies in another international setting in that other international bill. They loved it.

As well, they loved the reduction in the taxes on royalties and trademarks. That is the money that goes to international firms that have their head offices in other parts of the world. The Reform Party just loved it. Reformers loved it so much that they did not even want to speak on it. The Senate brought in the amendments and they were tripping over one another telling each other: "Do not speak on this". They selected only one member to speak on it.

The other section that these Reform Party people loved was the interest that was made on investments in Canada by international banking institutions. That is the 30 per cent tax cut that they wanted to see.

There were other things which are too numerous to mention. However, we can tell that Reformers are very selective in what they like about the Senate. When the Senate follows their party philosophy of giving more to the rich, of supporting the banks, of supporting the international profits made in Canada and cutting taxes, they love it.

It did not stop there, as we will recall. The Bloc loved the last bill which the Senate sent to us. That bill said that people who have property in the United States and other nations worth over $600,000 should receive a tax credit in Canada for it. They just loved that provision which was sent from the Senate.

The opposition is very selective in whether it likes or dislikes from the Senate.

They do not particularly like Canada's reputation on the international scene. Our reputation in the rest of the world has dramatically changed in the past three years. The Government of Canada, under the administration of the hon. member for Saint-Maurice, has been in power for three years. The Reform Party and the Bloc should be standing up every day and praising the Government of Canada for its international reputation.

I suppose the reason the opposition parties are so frustrated is because their policies, the things they said in their policy materials before the last federal election, were about the international scene. Reformers talked about Canada's reputation. Their policies were about Canada's deficit in relation to the GDP, but compared to whom? It has to be compared with somebody. The leader of the Reform Party kept comparing Canada to the United States, Japan, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and even Italy in some of his speeches. What has happened?

In the last three years-

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4:30 p.m.

An hon. member

It's best you don't talk about the G-7.

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4:30 p.m.


George Baker Liberal Gander—Grand Falls, NL

The hon. member talks about the G-7. Today there is the OECD in Paris with economists from 28 nations. When they

looked at Canada, what did they say about the G-7? Who did they name as being the most progressive, the nation with the lowest deficit/GDP of the G-7, the one with the most economic growth this year and next year and the year after, the one that was placed on the best financial footing of all?

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4:30 p.m.


Gordon Kirkby Liberal Prince Albert—Churchill River, SK

Who was that?

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4:30 p.m.


George Baker Liberal Gander—Grand Falls, NL

Which country was it? Was it Italy?