House of Commons Hansard #114 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was impaired.


The House resumed from May 12 consideration of the motion.

Natural GasPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Earlier this motion was moved by one hon. member in the name of another hon. member. I think the author of the motion should have a chance to pronounce himself in the House. I think it is only fair that I give the hon. member for Churchill River 10 minutes to speak on his own motion.

Natural GasPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.


Rick Laliberte NDP Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate today in the third and final hour of debate on Motion No. 298. To clarify the meaning of the motion, I will read it. It says:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should provide initiatives to deliver natural gas to unserviced regions and address environmental concerns and high energy costs.

As parliamentarians, it is our duty and our responsibility to act in the best interests of our specific constituencies and for the betterment of Canada. It is our elected duty to represent the best interests of all Canadians. It is our actions in this House and in the everyday legislative process that will affect this and future generations. What we debate and decide impacts on the country as a whole, whether it is a bill, an act or, as in this case with Motion No. 298, a motion to provide guidance to this House in its vision and understanding of Canada's best interests.

The intent of this motion is not to interfere with free market enterprises. The motion's purpose is not, and I repeat not, for the federal government to build pipelines to every corner of this vast and great country. The purpose of this motion is to provide recognition of the economic disparity that some regions face without access to clean and efficient energy sources.

While citizens in most cities can enjoy the benefits of natural gas energy, there are entire regions of this country that do not. There are entire unserviced regions that are being limited in their opportunities for sustainable development. There are regions in this country that are not only enjoying access to clean fuels but are reaping billions of dollars of revenues, royalties and profits.

At a time when the Prime Minister states to the country that one of our core values is the principle of sharing our wealth and opportunities, neglect and short-sightedness are hampering our efforts as parliamentarians to utilize this 36th session of parliament to improve the lives of Canadians.

We are not here to ensure the multinational corporations have the first and exclusive access to the very raw resources that are shared and owned by all Canadians. We are not here as parliamentarians to ensure that disparity between regions continues. We are not here as parliamentarians to ensure that our natural resources are plundered by outside nations and our citizens forced to repurchase our birthrights at inflated rates of foreign currency exchange.

Canadians are sick and tired of watching our natural resources flow south with little in return for ourselves except for federal royalties. Canadians are sick and tired of listening to governments state that there is nothing unfair or obscene with fluctuating energy prices and overflowing corporate coffers. Canadians are sick of dirty air and polluted water.

The motion that we are debating today is about a vision of where we want our country to be in a year, in a decade, several decades, as every tonne of carbon saved and cleaner energy helps in our successful Kyoto protocol challenge.

The current federal policy in relation to natural gas is to assist big pipelines with incentives and write-offs to ship our natural gas, Canada's natural gas south for foreign markets.

Natural GasPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Order, please. I am sorry to have to interrupt the hon. member, but even sitting close to the hon. member who has the floor I can barely hear him. I would therefore request a bit more quiet and co-operation from hon. members.

Natural GasPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.


Rick Laliberte NDP Churchill River, SK

Madam Speaker, that is part of the free market economy. The NDP are not anti-business or anti-trade. As long as it is fair business on a level playing field that will benefit Canadians, the NDP will support.

Thousands of jobs are tied to the natural gas resource sector. This is good. We believe that thousands of more jobs could be created by increasing access to unserviced areas.

The intent of this motion is to contribute to value-added enterprises in the forestry sector, in the agricultural sector and all sectors of industry across this country. As harvesting moves further and further north in mining and forestry, there are opportunities for kilns and processing centres scattered across the Boreal forest. It is wasteful energy to expend energy to have access to raw matériel only. Let us make sure that this energy is used for value-added products.

Increased jobs come with access to natural gas. Following the principles of sustainability, it ensures long term and constant profitability.

The intent of this motion is a better future rather than today's cap and ship policy, a policy that dates to the past century and encouraged by unfettered free trade markets where domestic concerns and issues are secondary to invisible shareholders, the Bay or Wall Streets speculative markets, or the whole term of colonization.

We should avoid speculation, and the facts are too real. Forced to go head to head at outlandish inequities of foreign exchange rates, many opportunities for Canadian enterprises are lost even before they begin.

The motion does not state to turn off the taps or put a definitive domestic cap on natural gas. It asks that we as parliamentarians recognize the disparities and provide initiatives to level the playing field for Canada and its citizens. It is our gas. Why endorse policies to strip our children and future generations from their birthright? Indeed, the future is now.

Forced to go head to head with American rates of consumption, our natural gas rates for heating Canadian homes in the winter are expected to rise by 50% to 100%. Chicago is being placed before Selkirk, Burlington or Wascana. In the north, including in my own riding, the gas flows right under our feet and away to southern regions but not into our homes.

The north is about to enter into unrivalled natural gas exploration and development and exports in the several decades to come. What message will parliament send on our vision of the future?

We understand that the government is now moving forward on energy efficiency initiatives partly because of Canada's international responsibilities with Kyoto. The main reason to go forward into a cleaner century is not the limitations but the basic fact that clean energy and efficiency means profits for our country. Monetary gain and precious savings from cleaner air and reduced costs will be a lot less of a burden on our health care system. Cleaner lungs for our children and the next generation will reduce the impact on our health care system.

On this premise of efficiency the current federal policy, lies. We recognize that efficiency savings over time create benefits for action. Not all communities can proceed on this premise.

An example is the often repeated concern in the Churchill River constituency where excellent community efforts are bringing natural gas across the distances to provide economic opportunity in regions that did not have it before.

I call special attention to the Anglin Lake natural gas committee led by its outstanding member, Alice Tatryn. It has achieved success, but national initiatives would have accelerated this promise years ago.

I call attention to the outstanding efforts of my constituency assistant Judy Bridle. Day in and day out she listens to the concerns of constituents who want natural gas. Residents know and trust her judgment. They know very well that the resources are under their feet but not in their homes. A disheartening fact and reality is that many Canadians who want natural gas extensions are forced to go without access to clean energy because of minor percentage points in access to capital and related endeavours. This portrait is repeated across Canada in unserviced areas.

Canadians would like to do their part for energy efficiency in their homes and workplace. In Labrador and New Brunswick, Nunavut or the Yukon these advantages do not exist.

We acknowledge that the Bloc Quebecois and the Progressive Conservatives support this motion. They demonstrate the vision necessary to go beyond the shortsighted profiteering as reflected in the agreements between Quebec and New Brunswick to encourage regional natural gas access for better development opportunities for their citizens and future generations.

It is time that other parliamentarians recognized and contributed their support in a similar manner by voting for this motion.

Natural GasPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy Progressive Conservative South Shore, NS

Madam Speaker, I am happy to speak to the motion. I spoke to the issue earlier in parliament before the member for Churchill River had an opportunity to introduce his motion. It is a well thought out and timely motion as events are unfolding in the history of the country and how we deal with our future energy needs.

So everyone understands what we are debating here, Motion No. 298 put forward by the hon. member for Churchill River reads:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should provide initiatives to deliver natural gas to unserviced regions and address environmental concerns and high energy costs.

The motion speaks to more than just that. Many regions in Canada already have natural gas distribution. In much of Alberta, which was government assisted, there is natural gas distribution, as well as in much of Ontario and Saskatchewan. There is less in Manitoba; there certainly is some but most of it is close to the pipeline.

The motion speaks to a more comprehensive federal plan to assist that distribution of natural gas throughout the country. On the east coast of Canada at the present time, we are just beginning to understand and enjoy the benefits of natural gas usage. There is a pipeline now from Sable Island, on which I had the good fortune to work as a driller on the offshore from 1980 to 1988 on Sable Island, Newfoundland and the Gulf of Mexico.

That natural gas is being delivered into Goldboro going into the Maritimes & Northeast pipeline, throughout the riding represented by the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, throughout the riding represented by the member for Cumberland—Colchester, through New Brunswick into Maine and down into the northeastern United States.

It is important to understand that certainly those areas close to the pipeline will be fed automatically. There are many other areas including northern New Brunswick, the Beauséjour—Petitcodiac riding, and the South Shore riding which I represent, that will not benefit immediately from the natural gas in the pipeline, natural gas off our own shores.

We can look at what is going on in this country as far as energy requirements and the major gas and oil players in Canada. The Alliance pipeline, when it is built, will go from northern B.C. and northern Alberta to the Peace River district all the way to Chicago. It will feed the energy needs of the mid-central industrialized United States, but will not necessarily benefit the energy needs of northern Alberta and northern B.C.

We need a more holistic look at this. How do we deliver natural gas to the outlying and more remote areas of Canada? That is what the motion speaks to.

There are trillions and trillions of cubic metres of natural gas in the Canadian Arctic. There is drilling for natural gas in the Canadian Arctic today. There is drilling for natural gas in the Northwest Territories. We hold tremendous potential to fill Canada's energy requirements of Canada and much of the rest of North America, but while we are doing that, and it is certainly profit motivated, let us take a look at meeting our own energy requirements.

Take for example the branch line that will come off the Maritimes & Northeast pipeline. Sempra Gas has already won the bid to supply gas to Nova Scotia. I think it has a pretty solid plan and will be able to deliver on that plan. That branch line will go into the Musquodoboit area, feed into Halifax, Dartmouth, Sackville, the Burnside industrial park area. That is the main area it will be supplying.

We need another branch line that does not just go down the Annapolis Valley and feed that area all the way to Yarmouth, but two branch lines, one down the Annapolis Valley and the other one down the South Shore. The last time I spoke to this issue, I talked about the development of that branch line, the possibility of running it down the abandoned railroad lines that are being used for recreational purposes as walking, hiking and biking trails. That is a realistic opportunity for Sempra Gas to develop.

In the South Shore area there is a very real opportunity that we may get gas into Bridgewater. We may be able to run it down the abandoned rail line past East River and feed the hardboard plant in East River. We may get to Michelin Tires. We may get to Bowater Mersey in Liverpool. From there on we are going to have to squeeze government a lot harder in order to get that natural gas into the other areas of the province. There is the little community of New Ross which I come from, and communities like New Germany, Caledonia, Lockeport, Shelburne, Barrington and Gunning Cove.

Everyone in this room has heard of clear water lobster. I am sure it is no surprise to anyone. Only a handful of people in this room would understand that 60% to 70% of the lobster exported out of southwest Nova Scotia comes from Cape Sable Island. All the lobster is held in holding pens. A lot of it is refrigerated. Natural gas can be used to produce refrigeration.

There are hundreds of fish plants in South Shore and West Nova and the southwestern region of Nova Scotia. Natural gas could be a primary driver of those plants. It could be a primary driver of the refrigeration units that are required to run those operations.

The motion speaks not only to a requirement in rural Nova Scotia and other rural and remote areas in Canada, but to a requirement for cheap energy costs, a requirement to meet our Kyoto obligations, and a requirement to meet our acid rain obligations. If we feed natural gas into the United States, obviously it will have cleaner energy and there would be less acid rain coming up north.

The House has looked at endangered species legislation. I am astounded when I talk to members of parliament that they do not understand the threat to Atlantic salmon stocks. We had 1.2 million Atlantic salmon returning to the rivers in eastern Canada. Today, 80,000 Atlantic salmon return to the rivers in eastern Canada including Nova Scotia.

I live near the Gold River, a small river which runs into Mahone Bay. Twenty years ago 1,000 or 2,000 fish would come up that river but today we would be lucky if there were 70 or 80 and maybe fewer. Atlantic salmon is an endangered species. We talk about legislation but we are doing nothing to protect it.

The easiest way to bring back our salmon stocks is to get rid of acid rain in the northeastern United States. The easiest way to bring salmon stocks back in Europe, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Greenland is to get rid of acid rain coming out of industrialized Europe. One way is to feed the power generators with natural gas. It is clean, efficient and fairly cheap.

We have seen rising fuel costs straight across North America and not just at the gasoline pumps and not just for furnace oil.

I would like to congratulate the member for Churchill River for introducing the motion. It was timely and it was put forward in good faith. It is incumbent upon parliament to support this as much as we can. There is a real need and it is not just to supply natural gas to remote and rural areas of Canada, but to also meet the energy requirements under our Kyoto obligations and to meet the needs of our children in the future, to keep Atlantic salmon in eastern Canada and other species of fish, plants and wildlife in this country.

I support the motion and I congratulate the member for bringing it forward.

Natural GasPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.


Gurmant Grewal Reform Surrey Central, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise on behalf of the people of Surrey Central to participate in the debate on Motion No. 298. The motion calls for the government to provide initiatives to deliver natural gas to unserviced regions in Canada.

As always in private members' business, it is appropriate to commend the hon. member for raising a matter in the House that otherwise would not be raised. The matter the hon. member for Churchill River has raised shows clearly that his heart is in the right place. The availability of environmentally friendly clean fuel for the remote areas of Canada is important.

As a member from one of the largest metropolitan centres in Canada, one of the fastest growing in population, our hearts go out to the small towns and villages and very remote areas in our country.

There are many of us who can only imagine what it is like to not enjoy the conveniences and easy access to things that we frankly take for granted in our busy cities. These things include many types of infrastructure, such as roads, water, sewers, electricity, telephone and other things that become very precious when we talk about Canada's communities bordering on our hinterland. The member can be assured that the people of Surrey Central respect and acknowledge what this motion is trying to address.

We take for granted the natural gas that heats our homes and cooks our meals. It is not our fault. In our daily lives, with all of the hustle and bustle, we consider certain things as given, but Canada's northern climate creates unique heating needs, not only in homes but also in schools and workplaces.

As parliamentarians we would like to help provide areas unserviced by natural gas with initiatives to reduce heavy oil and diesel dependency. Where natural gas is available, a variety of energy efficiency opportunities are possible. Coal generation and mixed fuel power production are two examples.

Energy efficiency in Canada will be a contributing factor in our ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Natural gas is the cleanest burning and most acceptable carbon energy source. Canadian natural gas is distributed to more than four million customers in six provinces.

Natural gas provides 26% of Canada's energy needs, and this percentage is increasing each year. In addition, Canada's natural gas exports are experiencing exponential growth. Canada has plenty of natural gas. It is an economical source of energy and it is clean, but it is under provincial jurisdiction. The provision of natural gas is a matter for the provinces to deal with.

We have to be sure that justification exists for bringing in natural gas over a significant geographical hurdle. We need to ensure that there is considerable demand for the commodity. To fulfil what the motion is asking may require that a remote community have a special need, or at least more of a need than normal business activity and activity in the residential sector would ordinarily demand. This may mean that remote communities with a potential major consumer, for example a large business, would be seen to have a greater demand than another community. What is the solution?

There is room for governments to regulate rates so that averaging would make services and commodities more affordable and increase total demand by making them more attractive for more consumers. The provinces and the territories have a very important regulatory role to play in these activities. All of these things are already happening where they are needed, where demand is sufficient and where they are not a burden on the taxpayers. They are market sensitive and regionally sensitive and they properly allocate our energy resources.

The governments of Quebec and New Brunswick recognized the need for regional natural gas distribution. They signed an agreement in February for improved services and allocation.

There is opportunity in northern and other remote areas for natural gas exploration incentives that would place the source close to unserviced communities. This would create a whole new affordability index in terms of servicing remote communities. In these situations there is opportunity for provincial and territorial governments to put incentives in place to try to expand the servicing area of natural gas distribution.

However, this is an entirely different matter from what this private member's motion contemplates. This motion contemplates federal spending when the jurisdiction is almost exclusively provincial or territorial. In other words, the motion contemplates a massive intrusion of the federal government into provincial and territorial affairs.

As I have said, Canada is a major global natural gas producer and a major exporter to the United States. Canadian companies are at the forefront in developing natural gas alternatives to traditional engine fuels. Many people are aware of this, as much attention has been paid to the stock market and publicly traded companies.

The major environmental benefit is that this reduces vehicle pollutants. The economic benefits come from the reduced fuel cost, as well as reduced maintenance costs and increased engine life.

Natural gas is an excellent fuel source and Canada, as we know, is blessed with large reserves. It is important that we properly manage our wealth in this respect. We must do it right in terms of how we develop, distribute, market and creatively manage our legacy.

Earlier in the spring, the foreign affairs committee travelled to Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Armenia. There is a great deal of oil and gas in these parts of the world and there exists a well-knit pipeline in the region. There is a potential for the rest of the world, particularly Canadian companies, to explore those possibilities.

In Canada gas prices increase because we rely on Middle East countries for our supply, among other factors. Whenever the Middle East decides to jack-up its prices, it affects the prices at home. We now see the average Canadian paying more at the gas pumps because the prices are fluctuating significantly. We do not want to be susceptible to the gulf crisis of the early 1990s or other kinds of crises that occur in that region of the world which cause our energy costs to rise.

If the government takes on an initiative to help construct more natural gas pipelines to remote areas in Canada, we would hope that it would work with the provinces, the territories and the private sector. The private sector could take over the pipelines once they were up and running and allow market forces to prevail. That would be sustainable development. That would accomplish the intent of this motion.

Once again, I appreciate the intent of the motion and I appreciate the work done by the hon. member from the NDP on this issue.

Natural GasPrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Pursuant to order made earlier today, all questions necessary to dispose of Motion No. 298 are deemed put, a recorded division deemed demanded and deferred until Thursday, June 15, at the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Natural GasAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.


Derrek Konrad Reform Prince Albert, SK

Madam Speaker, about a month ago I raised a question in the House of Commons with the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development concerning a $10,000 grant to the Ottawa Tulip Festival. So far I have not had any answers that I like the sound of.

I asked how the general progress and welfare of poverty stricken people were promoted by making a $10,000 grant to the Ottawa Tulip Festival. The minister replied that every single department, including his, had an education component to make Canadians aware of what aboriginal culture is all about and that is what his department was doing.

First, I doubt that every department of the government is making grants to make Canadian people aware of aboriginal culture. If every department in government is making such grants, then of course that is completely out of line with any common sense.

The $10,000 grant story did not end there. Then there was a contract given to Poirier Communications for $3,538.60 to set up a tent and take it down.

We looked into the price of setting up tents and taking them down and we found that people we knew had two tents set up on the same day, a 40 foot by 70 foot and a 20 by 20, for $3,000. That is a little better price, but it is sort of in the ballpark. We do not know whether this tent was the size of this room or whether it was a pup tent, but it cost over $3,000 to have it set up and taken down.

All of a sudden the cost jumped to $13,000. That was in 1998.

The previous year there was no grant that I am aware of, but there was a $25,000 contract for reservations for a booth at the tulip festival from May 8 to May 18. That is $2,500 a day. I do not know if that is a reasonable price to make a reservation or not, but the reservation for a booth at the tulip festival is a maximum of $650. We are wondering what became of the other $24,350. I wonder if I could get an answer to that.

On top of that, we were wondering, would this not be better spent by Heritage Canada, if it has to be spent at all? Why is the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, whose mandate it is to see to the general progress and welfare of Indians, promoted by the use of this money? Surely Heritage Canada is the agency that should be making these kinds of expenditures.

These are some things for the minister to think about.

I had put another question to the minister concerning the situation on Canada's reserves. According to RCAP, 23% lack water, 65% of on reserve housing falls below standards, and the health of many, many people on reserve is not good. I asked the minister what the people who have to carry water to their rundown houses would think of this grant approval. His answer was that these people are the ones who applied for the grant.

The main question I would like to have answered is: Can the minister table in the House any documentation that will prove to me and to members of the House that it was poor people who live in rundown housing who approved the grant?

Natural GasAdjournment Proceedings

June 14th, 2000 / 6:40 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba


David Iftody LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the hon. member for Prince Albert on behalf of the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development concerning the department's $10,000 grant to the 1998 National Tulip Festival.

Under the theme “A Celebration of Canada's Provinces and Territories”, the 1998 National Tulip Festival was intended to mark and commemorate the wide range of cultural diversity in Canada.

Canada's north, especially the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, was a significant highlight of this particular celebration, particularly in the context of the creation of the new territory, which occurred, as members know, on April 1, 1999. Members of the House and most Canadians will recall the large and vast celebrations which occurred at that time in the northern region.

In addition to his responsibility for the department, the minister also has responsibilities in relation to Canada's north. The grant was allocated by the minister under the northern affairs program budget to contribute to and support the activities of the 11 day presentation of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, especially Northwest Territories Day on May 14 and Nunavut Day on May 16.

The festival provided a significant opportunity to raise the awareness of the public and the media of the upcoming creation of this territory, as well to heighten the understanding about the unique and diverse cultures of northerners, especially aboriginal people.

It also served to broaden knowledge about the north, the potential visitors and tourism, in this sense an investment. The funds allocated to this project were entirely consistent with the mandate and authorities of the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and supported national objectives for the territories.

Natural GasAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.


Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière, QC

Madam Speaker, on behalf of my party, I take this opportunity to ask a question concerning transfer payments.

The Minister of Finance has been questioned on this on numerous occasions in this House. He has always come out with a series of figures that are totally unsatisfactory to my party and to the Government of Quebec, and in particular to Pauline Marois, the Minister of Health.

When I asked my question of the Minister of Finance, I quoted an expert who had worked along with Lester B. Pearson in his day. According to this expert, the federal government's behaviour, and that of the Minister of Finance in particular, made it extremely difficult to understand the logic used in determining transfer payments.

Again today, I was amazed to hear the Minister of Health's announcement, made in Ontario with great fanfare, of initiatives aimed at rural Canadians. That means another $80 million that will be taken away, over the heads of existing structures, such as the Government of Quebec, its department of health, and all the health infrastructure in place in Quebec.

It would be much more simple to have the Minister of Finance tell us why he is refusing to reinstate the transfer payments at 1994 levels. This situation is causing major headaches to provincial health ministers. For example, in the case of Quebec, it involves a shortfall of $1.5 billion.

If this government really wants to show it still has a social conscience and is concerned about health care, it will release the funds needed to reinstate the transfer payments.

Once again, I insist. Perhaps with all the rumours going around at the moment, with the health summit approaching in September, we can expect the government to be more open.

If, however, we go with the current reaction of the Prime Minister on parental leave, I have my doubts about the Minister of Finance's willingness to reinstate transfer payments.

Will transfer payments be reinstated soon? There is an urgent need for them everywhere, especially in Quebec. This money does not belong to the federal government. It belongs to taxpayers who paid it. Taxes are higher than usual. The middle class is hit hard.

Why is the government refusing to reinstate transfer payments at their 1994 levels? Could the Minister of Finance, in accordance with the party line, take the word of the many experts who have criticized his action since he became Minister of Finance, especially his calculations? Already, major budget surpluses have been announced. With the minister there are often discrepancies between the forecasts and reality of between 50% and 60%.

When will transfer payments be reinstated? What new policies could the government announce to make things just a little fairer for Quebecers?

Natural GasAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Oakville Ontario


Bonnie Brown LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Madam Speaker, health care is a priority of the government. The federal government has restored social transfers to 1994-95 levels.

Total CHST, that is cash and tax points, will reach an all time high of close to $31 billion in the year 2000-01, and it will continue to grow. This is up $900 million from the previous peak in 1995-96 and up $1.8 billion since the government took office in 1993-94.

Canada's strong economy has also significantly increased the value of other major transfers to the provinces. Equalization payments to less prosperous provinces are estimated at $9.5 billion this year. Total transfers will reach an estimated $40.6 billion this year and will continue to grow over the next four years. This increase in total transfers means that provincial governments can strengthen social programs that are important to Canadians, programs such as health care.

What does all this mean for Quebec? In 2000-01 transfers to Quebec will exceed $11.5 billion. They will account for about 25% of Quebec's estimated revenues. They are expected to total about $1,566 per person, which is about 18% above the national average. Over the next five years Quebec will receive about $58.9 billion in federal transfers.

Natural GasAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.


Rose-Marie Ur Liberal Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Madam Speaker, on March 23 I raised the matter of the new farm safety net agreement announced earlier this year. My riding of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, the true heart of agriculture in Ontario with Lambton county alone producing more than the entire province of New Brunswick, the safety net agreement came as welcome news to those confronting historically low commodity prices and mother nature.

After meeting with the local federations of agriculture in Lambton, Kent and Middlesex, and hearing from many farmers, whether it was in a grocery store on a Saturday morning or calls to my three constituency offices, they were unanimous on one point. Farmers in my riding, indeed across the country, were looking for a solid, national, effective and equitable long term safety net program.

Whether it was the corn, wheat or soybean growers, or the cattle, hog or lamb producers, they told me that fairness must be the end result. No one province or no one region of the country should be treated differently than any other with regard to the farm programs. I heard that loud and clear from my constituents in the farm belt.

I am therefore pleased that our agriculture minister, with his provincial counterparts, established the new three year agreement that will be proportionately based on the size of the industry in each province. That is eminently fair and supportable by all concerned. Farmers need useful, long term safety nets.

The $3.3 billion agreement reached in March is a fine example of federal and provincial co-operation and is a step in the right direction, but we must keep up the fight on behalf of farmers in Ontario and across the country who are hit with the double effect of chronically low commodity prices and huge U.S. subsidies.

The announcement builds on the work of the standing committee on agriculture. We released our report in February entitled “Making the Farm Income Safety Net Stronger and More Responsive to the Farmers' Needs”. We heard from farmers and their organizations in every province. The input was from those most affected and the most knowledgeable about exactly what is happening on the farm today.

After two years of intense negotiations our federal minister of agriculture has shown great leadership by compelling all ministers to pull together and overcome the challenges of Canadian agriculture and the challenges of the federal-provincial discussions.

Reaching consensus with the provinces that represent such a diverse group of farmers is no easy task at any time. I am pleased that the agreement is designed to prove the maximum degree of farm income stabilization possible. By working together, the provinces, the federal government, members of parliament, farmers and their organizations can shape a truly national vision for agriculture in the 21st century.

Natural GasAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

Egmont P.E.I.


Joe McGuire LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Lambton—Kent—Middlesex who, if nothing else, is a persistent supporter of agriculture in this country, especially agriculture in her riding. It gives me great pleasure to expand on my answer of March 23 to the question she posed on that date.

The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food has worked very hard with his provincial counterparts and the industry. He has announced a tentative agreement with all 10 provinces on a long term safety net plan. This will provide producers across Canada with the stability they need to thrive. The work before all governments now is to iron out the details of the agreement including the details of a disaster program.

The Government of Canada is pleased that an agreement has been achieved that provides for a three year farm income framework. We are confident that the plan will be ratified by each of the provinces as soon as possible. They have each committed to seek the authorities they need from their respective cabinets and provincial legislatures.

The tentative agreement provides annual federal funding of $665 million for basic safety net programs and access to $435 million in income disaster assistance in each of the next three years. When the agreement is finalized the federal commitment to safety net funding will be more than $3.3 billion for the next three years.

Natural GasAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the adjournment debate on this next to last day of the session, which was marked by the scandal at Human Resources Development Canada.

As we know, the federal government lost control over $1 billion in grants. We found very serious problems, administrative management flaws and a total lack of control by the ministers responsible, both the former one, now the Minister for International Trade, and the current Minister of Human Resources Development.

Worse, the government shamelessly used public funds for partisan purposes during the last election campaign. As we know, the RCMP is currently conducting 12 investigations.

Worse yet is the fact that the effectiveness of the job creation program was questioned. Today, newspaper headlines are to the effect that the Liberals are considering eliminating these programs. All this because of the mismanagement of public funds.

We must make a clear distinction between the relevancy of the job creation programs and the way they are managed. But this government will certainly be held responsible.

What sort of solution did the government propose? With respect to the issue of administrative management: dismantling the department. I would be in favour of that, and in fact I was the one who suggested it to the committee. But there has been no proposal from the Prime Minister or from the government for a department that is truly accountable.

Why was the present minister not asked to resign so that another minister could be appointed to oversee the dismantling of the department? This minister's mandate could be for a specific period of time. At the end of the road, there would be a new and clear situation. The problem would not be carried over to future new departments.

As for the use of money for partisan purposes, that is very serious on the eve of a federal election. We have the same situation we had four years ago. If it wants to, the government will be able to use public money to try to win the election.

We will see the same scenario all over again. Money became available, particularly in the ridings of Bloc Quebecois members who were here in the 1997 election: 63% of the money spent under the transitional job fund over three years was spent during the election campaign, which is utterly shocking. The government has put no measures in place to correct this situation.

Why is it that the government does not have the political will to do something about this? Are there secret groups behind this? Is it because this was how the election was won in Saint-Maurice that the government does not want to sort this out for the future? Why did the government refuse to conduct an independent, public inquiry, as the opposition parties unanimously called for it to do?

Natural GasAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

Oakville Ontario


Bonnie Brown LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, grants and contributions is an important part of Canadian social programs and the government takes their administration very seriously.

First, I want to clear the air that we did not lose $1 billion. We did not lose control of $1 billion. An internal audit identified administrative problems and that is why HRDC has taken steps outlined in an action plan to correct the problems.

As the hon. member knows perfectly well, this issue has been examined in great detail over the past months and continues to be looked at in great detail.

The Standing Committee on Human Resources Development, on which that member sits, tabled its final report on June 1. If one reads the report it is clear that it fully addresses the fundamental issues at hand, namely, the need to restore public confidence and the need to improve the management and administration of those programs.

The government is committed to reviewing the committee's recommendations in detail and to respond fully, as it does with any other committee report.

The auditor general, an independent officer of this House, is already auditing HRDC's grants and contributions and will report in the fall.

The Minister of Human Resources Development has received the best outside advice possible to assist her in correcting the situation, from private sector experts, from the auditor general himself and from the treasury board. Progress on correcting the situation will be reported on publicly.

We believe these steps will ensure that we correct the situation in an open manner so that Canadians can be assured that their tax dollars are properly accounted for.

Natural GasAdjournment Proceedings

7 p.m.


Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, on this next to last day of sitting, I welcome the opportunity to go back to a question I asked in this House back in April. I said:

Mr. Speaker, on Thursday, 300 people gathered on the Acadian peninsula to ask the federal and provincial governments to assume their responsibility in the matter of the black hole created by the changes to unemployment insurance in 1996 by this government.

This black hole, or gapper as it is called, is the time between the end of the EI benefit period in January and May, when fishing resumes, when forestry workers can start working again and when construction employees can find work.

In my question, I also said this:

Yesterday, the Premier of New Brunswick told a group of 200 people that New Brunswick was not responsible for the black hole. What is the Minister of Human Resources Development going to do to resolve the problem of the black hole once and for all?

The minister's reply was:

Mr. Speaker, we are very sensitive to the plight of seasonal workers.

How can the Liberals be sensitive to the plight of seasonal workers, when they are the ones who, in 1996, put them in that black hole? It is the federal Liberal government which put workers and seasonal workers in a black hole, and the minister says:

Mr. Speaker, we are very sensitive to the plight of seasonal workers.

Yet it was the Liberals who put seasonal workers in the black hole.

This is disgusting. That is the word I will use. I had a private member's motion, which was introduced in the House of Commons and passed by 100% of those present. The Liberals voted in favour of my motion, indicating that they were going to review unemployment insurance. But they have not yet had the gumption to do so.

In March, at the Liberal Convention that was held here in Ottawa, the Prime Minister said “We lost the Atlantic provinces because of the changes to employment insurance. The law has to be changed if we are to win their support back”.

I can say to the Liberals across the way, however, that the people of the Atlantic provinces cannot be bought. The Liberals' changes to employment insurance are not going to buy them votes.

What they need to do, in all honesty, is to make changes to employment insurance. They are supposedly not happy with the changes that have been made, and upset about the situation of the seasonal workers. I would therefore ask them to do the honourable thing, and make real changes in employment insurance for the seasonal workers, whether in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, Northern Ontario—in Timmins, Kapuskasing or Hearst—or in Windsor, in Edmonton, Alberta, or anywhere else.

As the chief government whip has told us, Cornwall got $500,000 from the transitional jobs fund in order for Wal-Mart to create jobs and so on. I thin that he believes in the cause. Yet we know that even the Liberal Party whip had voted in favour of changes to employment insurance. All the Liberals did.

Now, before the House adjourns, I would like to see the parliamentary secretary rise in this House and tell us “Yes, the Liberals are going to make changes to employment insurance, not to buy votes, but because the situation we have put seasonal workers in back in 1996 saddens us and we want to remedy the situation, and because it is unacceptable, from the humane point of view”.

Natural GasAdjournment Proceedings

7:05 p.m.

Oakville Ontario


Bonnie Brown LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, this government is very sensitive to the plight of seasonal workers. That is exactly why we modernized the EI system so that it can help get people back to work as quickly as possible. We also negotiated labour market agreements with the provinces to ensure that our job programs better meet the local needs.

This year's monitoring and assessment report of those changes shows that frequent claimants, such as seasonal workers, benefit from the new EI system. These claimants now have an average entitlement period of 32.8 weeks, which is three weeks longer than it was before the changes. Frequent claimants also continue to receive 42.9% of all benefits paid. Their share of benefits paid has actually increased.

It is important to remember that EI benefits are just one solution available for seasonal workers. Our priority is to work with our partners to improve job opportunities and economic development for individuals and communities that rely on seasonal work. It is the end result that really counts.

Since 1993, two million more Canadians are working and the unemployment rate has dropped to 6.6%, the lowest in 24 years. Even in New Brunswick the unemployment rate has dropped nearly three percentage points since October 1993 and 32,000 more people are working today in that member's province.

Natural GasAdjournment Proceedings

7:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Just before we go on to the next bit of business, I understand my little grandchildren are watching. I want to say hello to Danielle and Colton.

Natural GasAdjournment Proceedings

7:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Natural GasAdjournment Proceedings

7:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Pursuant to order made earlier today, the motion to adjourn the House is deemed withdrawn.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.

Victoria B.C.


David Anderson Liberalfor the Minister of Justice

moved that Bill C-18, an act to amend the Criminal Code (impaired driving causing death and other matters), be read the third time and passed.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.

Erie—Lincoln Ontario


John Maloney LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise this evening to speak to this legislation.

With Bill C-82 of the previous session and Bill C-18 of this session, the government will have implemented every recommendation for a specific criminal code change that the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights made in its report toward eliminating impaired driving.

It was a distinct pleasure to observe the non-partisan approach taken by all parties during the committee's review of the impaired driving provisions. I believe the collegial atmosphere in committee was an extension of the unanimous support given by the House to the motion of the official opposition in October 1998 which initiated the committee's review.

I am certain that all members agree that impaired driving is a totally unnecessary behaviour. The consequences of impaired driving are tragic precisely because, in hindsight, other actions so shocking in their simplicity could have avoided the heart-rending results.

While we can easily agree on the pernicious problem, we are not always agreed on the solutions. I accept that we will not always fully agree on the appropriate solutions. Most importantly, I would not want to diminish our unity concerning the unacceptability of driving while impaired because that bedrock message needs to go out from this House. That message is best supported when we show respect for views on impaired driving solutions that differ from our own but which are just as sincerely held. I say this because there are some differing opinions on one particular clause in Bill C-18.

The Bloc Quebecois is concerned that raising the maximum penalty for impaired driving causing death from 14 years imprisonment to life imprisonment, as proposed in Bill C-18, is too harsh. I respect the Bloc's view. However, I believe that this amendment would enhance deterrence and denunciation of impaired driving causing death. The amendment would harmonize the maximum penalty for impaired driving causing death with the maximum penalty for manslaughter and for criminal negligence causing death.

The proposed amendment in Bill C-18 addresses only the maximum penalty that may be imposed. I again remind all members that a maximum penalty is reserved for the worst offender and the worst offence circumstances.

Governments, private and public organizations, families and individuals play key roles in the struggle against impaired driving. I want to acknowledge the successes that such combined efforts have achieved. I am happy to note that there has been significant improvement over the past dozen years.

Fatally injured drivers whose blood alcohol concentration was over the criminal law limit comprised 43% of all fatally injured drivers in 1987. By 1997 this dropped to 32%. This occurred at the same time that the number of road deaths from all causes was decreasing. Therefore, the lowered statistic of fatally injured drivers who were over the legal limit, as a percentage of all fatally injured drivers, is very significant.

Although we have seen progress in reducing alcohol involved road fatalities, we should not forget that impaired driving behaviour remains a very great challenge. A Traffic Injury Research Foundation survey published in 1999 suggested that in Canada there are some 12.5 million impaired driving trips taken each year. Some 2.6% of drivers account for 84% of impaired driving trips. In British Columbia in 1998 more than 80% of alcohol involved road fatalities were persons in or on the alcohol involved driver's vehicle, including the alcohol involved driver. In 1997 it is estimated that there were 1,350 alcohol involved impaired driving deaths nationally.

Impaired driving has shown itself to be a persistent problem. Parliament first introduced a driving while intoxicated offence in 1921. In 1925 it introduced the first intoxicated driving offence related to a drug. Prior to 1969 there were several significant changes to the impaired driving provisions, including the creation of an offence for driving while impaired by alcohol or a drug. In 1969 the offence of driving with a blood alcohol concentration exceeding 80 milligrams per cent was added.

There were significant changes in 1985 that created the offences of impaired driving causing bodily harm or death. Since 1985 parliament amended the impaired driving provisions on at least a half dozen occasions. These changes address interpretations in the case law and drafting difficulties. The need for Bill C-82 and Bill C-18 remind us just how persistent a problem impaired driving is.

We should also bear in mind that every five years we have a new cohort of young people aged 16 to 21 who are entering the driving population. It is estimated that by 2010 the percentage of Canadians aged 16 to 24 will return to levels not seen since the early 1980s. Even if we could eliminate all impaired driving today there would be much work to be done for new drivers of the future. It is important to reach out continually to new drivers.

As we enter into this happy period of graduations and school proms, I urge our students not to drink and drive. Students are loved and cherished by their families and friends and should not, under any circumstances, become tragic statistics. Those who must drink should respect the designated driver tradition. All Canadians will be glad for that, especially the moms and dads.

The criminal law is an important measure amongst a combination of measures that can be brought to bear upon the problem of impaired driving. However, while criminal legislation must do its part, criminal legislation by itself cannot be expected to eliminate impaired driving. The conviction rate for criminal charges of impaired driving, at 77% in 1997, is amongst the highest, if not the highest, for any criminal code offence.

Yet the persons who are apprehended and charged with impaired driving offences represent a small percentage of the actual number of impaired driving trips taken. This is a very alarming and a disturbing thought.

It is the combination of efforts aimed against impaired driving that our hope for further progress is nourished. Bill C-18 is one part of the needed combination of measures.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

7:15 p.m.


Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to lend my support to this very important bill.

I think we can get lost in statistics and they can become very impersonal. However, I will never forget the day that one of my colleagues at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, where I worked, phoned to say that he would not be coming to work that day because his sister had just been killed. It turned out that she had been killed by a drunken driver. I believe she was 18 years old at the time.

When something like that happens, we realize that this is something that is very serious and something that we must take great action to stop. As the parliamentary secretary just said, we probably cannot pass laws that will eliminate this totally. What we need is a massive overhaul of public attitude toward this.

It should be an automatic given that if a person is impaired, or anywhere near impaired, that they decline to drive. There is always another way of getting from point A to point B if they are not able to drive.

I remember one day—and this person probably does not remember who did it to him—I was driving behind a driver who literally was bouncing off the curbs where there were three lanes in the road. He was going from one side to another. I was heading out into the country where my family lives, and he was going onto a two lane country road. Fortunately, the very last light before he left the town that I was in was red. I pulled up behind him, threw on my four-way flashers, jumped out of my car, ran up, opened the door and took his keys away. He was very surprised. In a way, I guess, I made a citizen's arrest. Maybe I could get charged for doing something illegal now.

However, I always think that perhaps what I did that day was not only to save him the anguish of knowing that he had injured or killed someone, but that I had also saved the life of some person who could have been his victim. I knew that I had to do that.

As parliamentarians, today we have the opportunity to strengthen the law with respect to impaired driving. This is a bill which I believe is long overdue. It is a very important bill. We must send a crystal clear message to people who contemplate driving when they are impaired that it is something they just do not do because the risks are too high.

I just thought of an example, Mr. Speaker. You just mentioned that your grandchildren were watching on television. The government whip just said that it was his twin grandkids' birthday today. I have four grandchildren. None of us would have a place, say a catwalk in a store, where we would take away some of the railing that prevents kids from falling down and hurting themselves. If that railing was broken, we would block that place off and not allow anyone to go there until the risk was removed.

Here we have an opportunity to remove the risk or at least reduce it, thereby saving lives and saving the anguish of those people who go through life knowing that they have taken someone else's life.

This bill is long overdue. As I have said, I would like to give a little credit to our colleague from Prince George—Bulkley Valley, who has headed up the campaign to improve the law in the area of impaired driving. I would like to give him accolades for having done that.

We have a responsibility to the victims of impaired driving to legislate this very important amendment to the criminal code. This is an amendment that will give judges the means of imposing a life sentence for impaired driving causing death, a very serious crime.

I support this bill and I am fairly certain that all of my colleagues in the Alliance support it as well. We call on all parliamentarians to support the legislation. We urge the government and the Senate to pass it quickly. Let us not have the same thing with this bill as we had with the consecutive sentencing bill.

Because this bill has been such a long time coming and Canadians can wait for it no longer, I would, therefore, like to move:

That the question be now put.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

7:20 p.m.


Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will also speak on Bill C-18, an act to amend the Criminal Code (impaired driving causing death and other matters).

Bill C-18 amends the criminal code by increasing the maximum penalty for impaired driving causing death, which is presently of 14 years of imprisonment, to life imprisonment.

This bill will allow a justice to issue a warrant authorizing the taking of a blood sample in order to establish the presence of drugs in the blood of an individual involved in an accident causing bodily harm to himself or to another person or the death of the latter. Formerly, blood analysis was only authorized to determine the presence of alcohol in the blood.

The Bloc Quebecois strenuously objects to increasing the maximum penalty for impaired driving from 14 years to life imprisonment. The Bloc Quebecois believes that this bill would deny the characteristics of this offense and create a serious imbalance in our criminal justice system.

I will now explain the reasons for our opposition to this bill.

The courts, which are presently the most competent to analyze the characteristics of each offender, have not exhausted the resources of the criminal code, which presently sets at 14 years the maximum penalty for impaired driving causing death.

As a matter of fact, so far the heaviest sentence handed down by a court for impaired driving causing death was 10 years of imprisonment. The percentage of individuals sentenced to imprisonment for impaired driving dropped from 22% in 1994-95 to 19% in and 1997-98. Prison sentences given in those cases were mainly less than two years.

Despite the rather serious nature of impaired driving causing death, it is false to claim that we are presently facing a rash of crimes of this type. In 1998, 103 persons were charged with impaired driving causing death, the lowest number of charges since 1989.

Canada has become a leader in incarceration. Its rates of incarceration are right behind those of the United States.

Canada imprisons twice as often as most European countries. In this regard, Justices Cory and Iacobucci of the Supreme Court of Canada recently criticized, in Gladue , the considerable ease with which the federal legislator has recourse to imprisonment in dealing with delinquency problems. Here is what they said:

Canada is a world leader in many fields, particularly in the areas of progressive social policy and human rights. Unfortunately, our country is also distinguished as being a world leader in putting people in prison.

Although the United States has by far the highest rate of incarceration among industrialized democracies, at over 600 inmates per 100,000 population, Canada's rate of approximately 130 inmates per 100,000 population places it second or third highest. Moreover, the rate at which Canadian courts have been imprisoning offenders has risen sharply in recent years, although there has been a slight decline of late.

A careful reading of the criminal code reveals the legislator's clear preference for imprisonment, because the sentences indicated for most offences are maximum sentences.

Representatives of the community have noted that imprisonment is not only extremely expensive but does not have the desired dissuasive and rehabilitative effects. The comments made by the Canadian Sentencing Commission are along that line. In a report entitled “Sentencing Reform in Canada: A Canadian Approach”, the commission says the following:

Canada does not imprison as high a portion of its population as does the United States. However, we do imprison more people than most other western democracies. The Criminal Code displays an apparent bias toward the use of incarceration, since for most offences the penalty indicated is expressed in terms of a maximum term of imprisonment.

A number of difficulties arise if imprisonment is perceived to be the preferred sanction for most offences. Perhaps most significant is that although we regularly impose this most onerous and expensive sanction, it accomplishes very little apart from separating offenders from society for a period of time.

In the past few decades, many groups and federally appointed committees and commissions given the responsibility of studying various aspects of the criminal justice system have argued that imprisonment should be used only as a last resort and(or) that it should be reserved for those convicted of only the most serious offences.

However, although much has been said, little has been done to move us in this direction.

Given these extremely convincing comments by qualified people, one wonders what the minister hopes to achieve by increasing the maximum penalty for impaired driving causing death from 14 years to life imprisonment. We think this government is trying to please voters it is afraid to lose to the Canadian Alliance.

In an article published on June 3, 1999 in La Presse , editorial writer Pierre Gravel clearly explained what is happening with the Liberals when it comes to criminal issues. Mr. Gravel wrote:

But when the government, as it is currently the case, faces an ultra-conservative and populist opposition such as the Reform Party, which always advocates harsher sentences to ensure law and order everywhere, there is inevitably the risk of having the most radical solutions, which do not always reflect the reality and whose greatest value is to calm down an exasperated population whose desire for retaliation is constantly exacerbated by demagogues.

When, in addition to that, the party in office feels the imperious need to become more popular with a group of citizens who applaud the uncompromising attitude of the opposition, we find ourselves with an unacceptable bill such as the one that triggered the out-and-out and, in this case, fully justified opposition of the Bloc Quebecois.

By introducing Bill C-18, the Minister of Justice is showing her inability to manage complex problems without resorting to dangerously repressive measures. There is no justification for this attitude, because crime has been on the decline in Canada for many years. Furthermore, there are no studies showing the effectiveness of such an approach.

The Bloc Quebecois views impaired driving causing death as a very serious offence. We believe that the gravity of this offence is correctly reflected in the maximum sentence possible, which right now is 14 years in prison.

The Bloc Quebecois feels that prison is the worst tool for raising people's awareness, and that is why we are opposed to Bill C-18, which unjustifiably increases the sentence for impaired driving.

As members know, penitentiary is seen as the ideal school for crime and a person who does not start out with the profile of a hardened criminal could show severe behavioural problems after a prolonged stay behind bars. Prison must be the last solution for dealing with the problem of crime.

With this legislation, a drunk driver, whose negligence is not in any doubt, could be given a heavier sentence than a hired killer who, having deliberately set out to assassinate someone, gets a reduced sentence for being an informer. Should someone who has gone overboard on New Year's Day be treated in the same way as a member of organized crime? Both individuals have admittedly committed very reprehensible deeds. However, their profiles are very different and Bill C-18 does not address this.

If Bill C-18 is passed, the penalty for dangerous driving causing death will not be as heavy as for impaired driving causing death. In the case of dangerous driving causing death, the criminal code provides for 14 years in prison and, since 1995, Canadian courts of appeal have handed out jail sentences averaging 19 months for this type of offence.

How can the minister justify a shorter sentence for someone who cold-bloodedly and in full possession of his faculties kills someone while driving recklessly than for someone driving under the influence of alcohol? Logic would call for a life sentence for the offence of dangerous driving causing death.

Let me give more examples of serious crimes committed by people who are fully aware of what they are doing, and who would be less severely punished than drunk drivers if Bill C-18 were passed.

Take murder, for example. Attempted murder would be less severely punished than impaired driving causing death, which, under section 463( a ) of the criminal code, carries a sentence of up to 14 years in prison.

My second example is that of an individual who is an accessory after the fact by helping a murderer escape. Our justice system would be more lenient with this individual than with one charged with impaired driving causing death, for which the criminal code provides a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.

Criminals involved in gang activities and organized crime are subject to a maximum sentence of 14 years in a penal institution. What utter nonsense. An individual who commits aggravated assault, by wounding, maiming, disfiguring or endangering the life of another person is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years, under section 268 of the criminal code.

For all these reasons, the Bloc Quebecois will staunchly oppose Bill C-18. It is jeopardizing our justice system through a more repressive attitude in sentencing. This is both useless and futile, and the Bloc Quebecois is against this.