House of Commons Hansard #97 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was poetry.


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1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members


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1:15 p.m.

The Speaker

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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1:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Call in the members. The hon. government House leader is rising on a point of order. It might be an unusual time to hear one but we will.

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1:15 p.m.


Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I wonder if the Speaker would put the question again. There was a misunderstanding, unfortunately, and I take responsibility for it. Some people thought that we were actually considering an amendment at report stage, but there is no report stage amendment.

Would you, by unanimous consent, ask the House if you could put the question again for concurrence at report stage?

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1:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Canadian Alliance Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of clarification. On today's order paper under Bill C-15A there is a notice of motion. I am not aware that it was withdrawn. Was that withdrawn?

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1:20 p.m.

The Speaker

It was not moved. The Chair put the question to the House. It was a question for concurrence, because the Chair was instructed that no one was to move the motion that is on the notice paper. It was not moved and therefore was not before the House.

Is there unanimous consent to have the question put again to the House?

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1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members


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1:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members


(Motion agreed to)

When shall the bill be read the third time? Now?

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1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members


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1:20 p.m.


Anne McLellan Liberal Edmonton West, AB

moved that the bill be read a third time and passed.

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1:20 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.


Stephen Owen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour and privilege to rise today to introduce the debate at third reading of Bill C-15A, an act to amend the Criminal Code and to amend other acts.

Hon. members will recall that Bill C-15A contains the amendments introduced in the House as Bill C-15, the criminal law omnibus bill, minus the proposed amendments dealing with cruelty to animals and those in relation to the firearms registration program. It was the wisdom of the House that the cruelty to animals and firearms amendments be dealt with as a separate piece of legislation, Bill C-15B.

Bill C-15B is now being studied by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and will be reported back to the House in accordance with the will of the House on or before November 30. The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, under the able leadership of the hon. member for Fredericton, conducted a thorough examination of Bill C-15A and reported it back to the chamber on October 5.

Let me remind hon. members of the various components of the bill. They are: measures that provide additional protection to children from sexual exploitation, including sexual exploitation involving use of the Internet; proposed amendments to strengthen the law in the areas of criminal harassment, home invasions and disarming a police officer; amendments to review the process for allegations of miscarriage of justice; criminal procedure reform amendments; and finally, amendments to the National Capital Act and the National Defence Act.

Each and every part of Bill C-15A contains necessary amendments designed to improve the administration of criminal justice in the country. I do not propose to review details of the bill with the House; we reviewed the details during second reading and they have not changed. I would, however, like to refer to some of the matters that were dealt with during committee hearings.

Concerning the measures for the protection of children against sexual exploitation, I am pleased to note that there was a great deal of support expressed for these amendments during committee proceedings and we know that there is a great deal of support for these amendments on both sides of the House. The committee heard witnesses, and all those who spoke on these measures expressed support for them. These amendments create an offence of luring, to criminalize those who communicate with children in order to facilitate the commission of a child sexual exploitation offence against children. They create new offences of exporting, transmitting, making available and accessing child pornography in order to ensure that the child pornography is prohibited at all stages from production to consumption, whether or not a computer system is used in the commission of an offence.

Concerns were raised that these new offences could make Internet service providers, ISPs, criminally liable when acting as mere conduits for child pornography without knowledge of or control over the material. This is not the case. In order to commit any of the child pornography offences, Internet service providers, like anybody else, must know that they are dealing with child pornography.

Other provisions would also contribute to the protection of children. Judges would be given the authority to order the deletion of child pornography from the Internet after giving the person who posted the material an opportunity to be heard. Deletion could be ordered even in cases where the person who posted the material cannot be found or is outside the country. The provisions would allow forfeiture of instruments used in the commission of a child pornography offence that are owned by the person found guilty of the offence. Property rights of innocent third parties would be protected. All child pornography offences and offences of luring would be added to the list of offences for which a judge is authorized to make an order to keep a person away from children. Finally, the bill would facilitate the prosecution in Canada of Canadians who commit a sexual offence against children in a foreign country.

All these measures would contribute to the better protection of our children from sexual exploitation and I urge hon. members to support the government in the speedy passage of the legislation.

Bill C-15A also proposes to: increase the maximum penalty for criminal harassment; require judges to consider home invasions as an aggravating factor at the time of sentencing; and enact a new offence of disarming or attempting to disarm a peace officer.

The standing committee heard the overwhelming support of the police community for the latter measure, the new offence of disarming a police officer, and the clear support of witnesses for the other measures as well.

We are confident that these reforms would strengthen the criminal justice system.

As I have already noted, Bill C-15A's proposed reforms that would provide children with increased protection from sexual exploitation have been very much welcomed by all members of the House. I do recognize, however, that some hon. members have said that these do not go far enough and that we need to do more to protect our children. In this regard concerns were expressed in committee about the current provisions concerning the age of consent.

Late in 1999 the Department of Justice launched a comprehensive review and consultation on the need for criminal law and policy reforms related to the definition of specific offences against children, the age of consent to sexual activity, children's testimony and sentencing. The minister is looking forward to receiving a final report on the results of this review and consultation by the end of this year and to the opportunity to discuss options for further reform with her federal, provincial and territorial counterparts thereafter.

Another area of the bill that had received attention in the committee hearings is the proposed amendments to the process for review of alleged wrongful convictions. Bill C-15A contains very important amendments to the conviction review process. These amendments would make the review of alleged wrongful conviction cases in Canada more efficient, open and accountable. These amendments would address the concerns of critics of the current section 690 conviction review process.

As we heard during the committee proceedings, some feel that Canada requires a formal independent body to review wrongful convictions, similar to the criminal cases review commission which was created in 1997 in Great Britain.

Prior to introducing these amendments the minister met with British officials and extensively studied the British system. The minister concluded that an independent body was inappropriate in the Canadian context. The Canadian experience with cases of wrongful conviction bears little resemblance to that of the United Kingdom. For example, the British criminal cases review commission, as it is called there, was established because of a perceived conflict of interest of the home secretary, who is responsible for policing and prisons as well as for the review of allegations of wrongful conviction. Many of these cases involved allegations of misconduct by police.

The Minister of Justice is not in the same perceived conflict of interest as the case of the home secretary in Great Britain. In Canada the Minister of Justice is not responsible for the police or the prison system. Furthermore, the provinces are largely responsible for prosecutions.

One of the key criticisms of the current conviction review process in Canada is how long it takes to review an application. However, as we have learned from the British example, the creation of an independent body will not necessarily lead to timely reviews.

After an extensive consultation process, the minister was convinced that the ultimate decision making in post-appellate conviction review should remain with the federal Minister of Justice. This recognizes and maintains the traditional jurisdiction of the courts while providing a fair and just remedy in those exceptional cases that have somehow fallen through the cracks of the conventional justice system. The minister is accountable to parliament and to the people of Canada.

I want to note that the reforms before us today in Bill C-15A propose a number of new features that would substantially improve the review process that exists today. Section 690 of the criminal code does not currently state when one is eligible to apply for a review. The proposed amendments clarify eligibility to apply for a review: the person must have exhausted all avenues of appeal. This amendment would make it clear that the conviction review process is not an alternative to the judicial system.

The power to review alleged wrongful convictions would be expanded to include the review of summary conviction cases. There is a need to set out the procedural requirements for conviction reviews as it is not clear under the present law how one applies for a review and what documents are required to file an application. The amendments would allow for the enactment of regulations setting out the form, information and documents needed to apply for a conviction review. This would make the process much more accessible.

Critics claim that the current process of conviction review is secretive, as applicants are unaware of the review process. The amendments provide that the stages of the review process would be set out in regulations. This would assist applicants by making the entire process of conviction review more open and understandable.

Section 690 does not currently provide powers of investigation. Under the proposed amendments, those investigating applications on behalf of the minister would have the appropriate investigating powers. This would enhance the thoroughness, effectiveness and timeliness of the review process.

As well, the factors that would be considered in determining when an applicant may be entitled to a remedy are clearly set out in the proposed amendment. Ministers of Justice will be held more accountable in that they will be required to provide an annual report to parliament with respect to applications for a conviction review. A special adviser will be appointed from outside the Department of Justice to oversee the review of alleged wrongful convictions and that person will report directly to the Minister of Justice, thereby adding a degree of independence from the department.

The government is confident that these amendments are the most efficient and effective way to improve the post-appellate, extrajudicial conviction review process at the present time and hence deserve the support of the House.

For all of these reasons I urge the House to move forward expeditiously with the important and worthwhile amendments contained in Bill C-15A.

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1:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, I will keep my remarks brief today as I think we all want to see the bill move forward without unnecessary delay. I would once again like to thank the minister for consenting to split the bill, a move which has enabled the House to adopt quickly the relatively noncontentious provisions of the bill while allowing the more contentious provisions now found in Bill C-15B to be debated at greater length. Most important, now that the bill has been split we can get down to the business of protecting children from sexual predators on the Internet, something that members of the Canadian Alliance have been supporting strongly from the beginning.

Although all opposition parties have agreed to pass Bill C-15A as quickly as possible, I would like to mention again a few of the concerns I have regarding the bill so that perhaps at some time in the future we can revisit these provisions and make further amendments.

One of the matters that causes the greatest concern for me is related to the creation of the offences relative to the sexual exploitation of children. With the current age of sexual consent at 14, this long needed legislation to protect children from Internet predators will be provided only to children under 14 years of age. I believe that is too low and that the age should be raised to 16, not just for these offences but for all offences relating to the sexual exploitation of children by adults. I need not recount to the House the devastating effects that sexual predators can have on 14 year old and 15 year old children. I have commended this suggestion that the age be raised to the minister's staff for consideration.

In respect of increasing the maximum penalty for criminal harassment, I have concerns about the lack of minimum penalties. It seems it is often futile to increase maximum penalties, in this case from 5 years to 10 years, when the courts do not reflect that increase in their sentencing. In light of the reluctance of the courts to reflect these kinds of changes and our lenient parole laws, these changes the minister is introducing may not prove to be effective.

In respect of home invasions, the provisions in the bill are a step in the right direction, however, my position is that it should be a separate offence, not simply an aggravating factor in sentencing. Parliament needs to send a clear message to the court of the seriousness of these types of offences.

In respect to the new offence of disarming or attempting to disarm a peace officer, the Canadian Alliance and I myself have been very supportive of this and believe it is long overdue. We need to provide our law enforcement officials with the support that the new offence would provide to them.

The last comment I want to make is with respect to the preliminary inquiries. Preliminary inquiries, particularly in light of charter guarantees and the court cases arising out of these charter guarantees, could be eliminated entirely. In fact, many judges I hear from consider them to be very ineffective. Even years ago when I was a prosecutor doing preliminary hearings it was suggested by many provincial court judges that the time could have been spent doing substantive work rather than preliminary inquiries. Preliminary inquiries simply slow down procedure and create backlog without a substantive contribution to the administration of justice in Canada.

Understandably defence lawyers are very concerned about the entire loss of the preliminary hearing, however, I think we need to revisit the issue and ensure that while we have safeguarded the rights of the accused, preliminary inquiries have done nothing to protect the rights of the accused and certainly have contributed to problems in the efficient and fair administration of justice. There has been abuse of preliminary inquiries in the past and I think the legislation is a recognition of that. All the attorneys general of the provinces support this step and indeed I believe they would like to see it go further.

I want to put on the record in the House the comments from the justice minister at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights with respect to a question I asked her on October 3. I think it is important that this is on the record in the House.

She stated and I quote:

Regarding preliminary inquiries, this is an instalment. I think the provinces and territories would like us to look at more radical reform as it relates to preliminary inquiries. You rightly identified that there is grave concern from the criminal defence bar, and that is something we will continue to work on. What we're doing here is streamlining the use of the preliminary inquiry.

She continued on with respect to the age of consent, the other issue I spoke to. She said:

With regard to age of consent--from 14 to 16--we have our child as victim consultation paper. We discussed that at our federal-provincial justice ministers' meeting in September in Nova Scotia. Those consultations will be concluded and reported on by December 31 of this year, and I think we will see that a consensus is emerging that with certain safeguards we should probably be moving on the age of consent from 14 to 16. But as with some of these things, they look simple on the surface, but they're not quite so simple. It requires a fair number of changes to the code; we're going to have to review all those sections where age is found. But it's certainly an issue very much on our agenda.

Although I want to see the bill passed into law quickly and without further delay, I hope the minister will take my concerns into account and honour the commitments she made in committee, and that we will review the legislation at some time in the future for possible improvements.

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October 18th, 2001 / 1:35 p.m.


Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be brief, but I wanted to comment on this bill.

In its first form, in May or June of this year, we supported most of the provisions of Bill C-15. We asked that the bill be split to speed things up. It took some time, but we were successful in the end and the bill was split.

There is nothing wrong with the part that we are considering today. There is agreement; many groups have asked for certain changes over the years, including those that are to be found in this part, and we agree with them.

These include the whole issue of sexual exploitation involving the use of the Internet. The criminal code was not responding to today's reality. These sections of the code needed updating and modernizing, and the bill does this. There is no problem adopting these amendments.

The other amendment found in this bill increases the maximum penalty for criminal harassment. If we look at the case law, if we look at what is being done in this field, it becomes clear that we needed to act on adjusting the maximum penalty in this precise case.

Then, they made home invasions an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes. That was what the Canadian Police Association and the Fédération des policiers et policières du Québec asked for. There were private members' bills introduced to amend the criminal code in this regard, but they were not passed at all stages. It is understandable that the Bloc Quebecois today supports such an amendment. This is a request by the police, justified by what is happening in home invasions.

Another change is making the disarming or attempted disarming of a police officer a specific offence. Clearly the police argued in favour of this provision. They expressed their point of view. We also heard experts on this question in committee. Although I was not too hot about this idea at the start, I was convinced in committee. It is necessary. Working hard in committee and listening to the witnesses who come forward means we hear interesting points of view that convince us and support our position to support a given bill or clause or not to.

In this case, the witnesses I heard convinced me that we could amend the criminal code and add this offence to it.

The other amendment, which we have already spoken of, is the codification and clarification of applications for review by the Minister of Justice of miscarriages of justice.

I would have liked the minister to be somewhat more attentive to our remarks. We wanted a process different from the one in C-15A, like what they have in Great Britain, on which the government seems to have drawn for its amendments to the criminal code. I would have preferred a much more independent tribunal instead of having the decision come from the Minister of Justice. I am sure that, at some point, the Minister of Justice will be judge and jury in some matter. At that point, the minister would be in an awkward position, and would she make the right decision to correct a miscarriage of justice?

I know that the minister is of good faith and so is everyone else here, but I would have liked something surer for those who have been victims of a miscarriage of justice, so that they could have all the tools to ensure that justice is truly done.

In law, not only must justice be done, it must be seen to be done. I am not sure, given how the minister and the Liberal government opposite drafted these provisions, that the accused will come to the conclusion that justice was done and seen to have been done, particularly when the miscarriage of justice may result from the work of the Department of Justice and it is the Minister of Justice who is called upon to decide whether or not there was indeed a miscarriage of justice.

However, we did support this bill so as to not block it and ensure that it would be passed rather quickly, since the other provisions are not controversial.

It is from that perspective that we are letting this go, but we will take a close look at what will happen and we will be prepared to present amendments later on if we deem appropriate to do so.

The bill also includes a series of reforms and seeks to modernize criminal proceedings regarding the disclosure of evidence and certain rules relating to electronic documents. These things did not exist 20 years ago, but they are now part of our lives. The bill also deals with remote appearances, a plea comprehension inquiry scheme, private prosecutions, the selection of alternate jurors and a restriction on the use of agents. All this is part of a modernizing effort to update and clarify the criminal code. There is no problem and this is why we give our support.

I will conclude by raising a question that came to mind when I was listening to some witnesses. The Canadian Alliance member referred to it earlier. It has to do with the issue of consent regarding sexual relations. The hon. member wants the age of consent to be raised from 14 to 16 years. The argument used by the Canadian Alliance member and by groups such as the Canadian Police Association is that a 14 year old is not mature enough to give his or her consent to a sexual relation with an older person.

Members of the Canadian Alliance and others who want to change the age of consent think that 14 year olds are not sufficiently responsible and mature and are unable to take a decision of this magnitude, i.e. to have sexual relations with an older person, which will have an impact on them for the rest of their life.

But, when it comes to the Young Offenders Act, these same people want the age to be lowered from 18 to 16 or from 16 to 14. They would even like to lower the age of criminality, if possible.

I fail to see how these young people are not sufficiently mature at 14 to make an informed decision about whether or not to consent to sexual relations with an older person, but would be mature enough at the age of 16, or 14 in a criminal case, where they would receive an adult sentence. According to them, at that age adolescents are responsible, they are supposed to know what they are doing and they are old enough to commit a criminal offence and so forth.

Let us have a bit of logic. The position being defended by these groups is not logical when it comes to the age at which adolescents can consent to sexual relations versus the age at which they can be considered young offenders.

This bothered me a bit in committee. I explained how I saw it and I asked witnesses what they thought. They had no answer, because there is none. It is not logical.

Should the age of consent to sexual relations be raised from 14 to 16? I have no firm opinion on this. But I do know that someone under the age of 18 cannot be judged like an adult because he does not have an adult's sense of responsibility.

These are children, adolescents, I realize, not as developed as adults and needing to be treated accordingly. What I am asking the Canadian Alliance and the government as well, as they also seem to be interested in this approach, is to look at the situation very seriously and logically.

The fact that the bill has been divided has made it possible for us to address the problematical parts--as we are doing--that is everything that relates to firearms and cruelty to animals. If we had listened to the government over there, probably the whole thing would have been passed now, and in a rush. Fortunately, they were told to take the time to examine the issue in this House.

The exact same thing is happening with the anti-terrorism bill. Yes, legislation is required, but let us take the time to consider all the ins and outs of the bill properly.

The same things goes for Bill C-15A. I thank the government for having understood, after this was called for repeatedly by the Bloc Quebecois and other opposition parties, that the bill had to be split. They have done so. Today, Bill C-15A will be passed; so much the better. Then we can focus on Bill C-15B and hope that, for that part as well, the Minister of Justice will listen to the opposition and make appropriate amendments.

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1:50 p.m.


Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have some brief remarks as we enter the final stages of this piece of legislation. After much deliberation and travail, the government saw the wisdom of listening to the opposition and splitting the bill. The legislation we now have before us is not controversial and not opposed by the opposition. It will proceed through the House at an expeditious pace.

The legislation will not be held back by the fact that it was originally tied to other pieces of legislation which were controversial in some parts of the House. Those pieces of legislation are now being dealt with separately. We notice that sometimes after much persistence the opposition does get its way. I am glad the government listened in this case. We applaud that fact.

Even though there was merit in rushing the legislation through, one of the downsides was that we could have heard from more witnesses than we did on some of the more technologically and legally complex issues having to do with the Internet, et cetera. We heard from some witnesses on that, but had we been able to do it at a leisurely pace we could have learned more. I regret we were not able to do so.

We know that the justice committee is not only seized with Bill C-15A and Bill C-15B but it is also seized with Bill C-36, the anti-terrorist legislation. We cannot always give a piece of legislation the kind of attention we might otherwise want to give it in a different context.

The issue of luring on the Internet, with which the government and all of us will have to deal at some point, was raised. Other members may have already referenced the whole question of age of consent. We have this glaring loophole in the law that would permit 40 year olds to exploit people who are 14 or over on the Internet because we do not have a law which is adequate to the circumstances that can now be created on the Internet.

We have to do it sensitively because we do not want to criminalize certain behaviours between people, particularly teenagers who are close in age. There must be a way to look at this issue with sensitivity in mind, but nevertheless laws must be created that would prevent or at least punish that kind of activity.

There is one caveat I would enter and one concern I would register, presumably along with other members. Provincial ministers of justice, the justice committee and the government should look at recommendations regarding the age of consent. I hope that some day we will deal with the issue of age of consent in the House.

What we have before us is good legislation. Some of the legislation is long overdue, but nevertheless better late than never. Let us get it into law and see how it works, and we can fix it after that if it needs further attention.

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1:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to contribute to the debate on Bill C-15A. As the House will know, the legislation was somewhat controversial in that we had an opportunity to pass the bill last June at the close of the session. There was much willingness on the part of the opposition to divide the bill and take away its more controversial elements that dealt with cruelty to animals and firearms legislation.

To her credit the minister, after much kicking and screaming, finally agreed to do just that and as a result we have a piece of legislation that is much more workable. The co-operative effort on the part of all members of the justice committee has been admirable in that regard.

As I mentioned, the bill deals with more or less contentious elements of the criminal code and can generally be seen as a positive bill. It goes beyond mere housekeeping. It would create new offences aimed specifically to protect children from stalking and the perpetration of pornographic material on the Internet.

Bill C-15A is a an attempt at modernization. With new and expanding forms of communication over the Internet this type of legislation is necessary. It is an update of old sections that were aimed at the same nefarious activity: the spreading of pornographic material that exploits children.

What on earth could be more important to us in the Chamber? In a time of heightened awareness of families and the need to protect people, it is exactly the type of legislation we should be charged with.

As has been mentioned by previous speakers, the sections of the bill that define age of consent are cause for concern for me and members of the coalition. There is an anomaly in Bill C-15A whereby a person under the age of 14 could be victimized. We should consider raising the age of consent to 16. This would make it more consistent with other elements of the criminal code. I believe in fairness that the minister and her department are open to doing that. To that end we hope to see more legislation forthcoming in the days and weeks to come.

Section 8 of the bill would create the offence of luring on the Internet whereby any person commits an offence who communicates by means of a computer with individuals under the age of 18. There is an attempt to make the legislation more in line and consistent.

One area that causes me concern, Mr. Speaker, is the area that pertains to section 690 of the criminal code, a section with which you would be familiar from your previous incarnation as a lawyer. Miscarriages of justice can result in terrible atrocities. In Canada there have been such atrocities in the cases of Mr. Morin, Mr. Milgaard and others who are still out there.

One that comes immediately to mind is the saga of Steven Truscott. There is a recent book about the issue by Julian Sher called Until You Are Dead: Steven Truscott's Long Ride into History . I believe there will be a section 690 application forthcoming to the minister to deal with this case. Section 690 would not be amended in any great way by the current legislation. It would still permit the minister to have final say in these matters.

We are about to begin question period. I hope to have an opportunity to continue my remarks at the close of question period.

Citizenship WeekStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Roy Cullen Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I rise in the House to remind my colleagues that this week is Canada's Citizenship Week. Canada's Citizenship Week is a time to reflect on what it means to be Canadian and celebrate the values that draw us together; values like equality, tolerance and respect for law and order.

However citizenship also involves responsibilities. As Canadians we are all responsible for ensuring our children continue to live in a nation that is both environmentally responsible and economically viable. Moreover, we must remind ourselves of the importance of working together and helping one another in times of need.

In my riding of Etobicoke North I am constantly reminded of how important and valuable our citizenship is. These reminders come both from new Canadians and those who have lived in the riding for generations. For some new Canadians citizenship means the fulfillment of a dream and the beginning of a new life.

Canada is acknowledged as one of the best countries in the world in which to live. It is therefore with pride that I reiterate this week's theme: Canada: We all belong.

Softwood LumberStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Canadian Alliance Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister has created a vacuum in the softwood lumber talks in B.C. The so-called talks are drifting into proposals, demands and offers. I call this negotiation.

One B.C. industry participant is quoted as calling for a flat tax on lumber exports. The B.C. minister is left to deny that this is the direction. The so-called flat tax is a spin. It is essentially a shutdown tax. The expectation is that with low lumber prices Canadian producers would essentially shut down to keep inefficient U.S. producers in business. It is not even flat. A volume based tax with cyclical prices is the same as a variable percentage tax on value.

Unhappily we have been here before in 1985 and 1995. Will the minister bring order to chaos and call a national softwood lumber stakeholders meeting? It is overdue.

Fondation Paul Gérin-LajoieStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Serge Marcil Liberal Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, extraordinary things happen in the world every day, which are eclipsed by the tragic events of September 11.

There are men and women in organizations working day in and day out for peace, and their work should be recognized.

UNESCO has just recognized the work of the Fondation Paul Gérin-Lajoie in Haiti by awarding it the King Sejong Literacy Prize.

Through the work of such people as Marie-Michèle Fournier, in charge of the Alfatibonit project, has helped make over 5,000 people literate in Haiti over the past three years.

The foundation's work in Haiti is funded by the Government of Canada through CIDA programs. In Senegal, I had the privilege of witnessing the foundation's work with the men and women of the country to help them strengthen their capacity to take charge of their destiny and take an active role in the operations of the country. Without CIDA, NGOs could not do as much as they do, but without the NGOs, aid from Canada and CIDA would be ineffective.

I pay tribute to the foundation, its president and all those involved, like Marie-Michèle Fournier, in Haiti, as well as the Tandias and the Lys of this world.

MulticulturalismStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Sophia Leung Liberal Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I recently attended the 15th anniversary of the German Canadian Heritage Plaza in my riding of Vancouver Kingsway. German Canadians have played an important role in the development of our country. I was proud to attend the event to mark this important milestone for the German Canadian community in Vancouver.

I am proud of Canada’s multicultural unity. It is through the sharing of our individual cultures and traditions that Canada has emerged as a fine example to the world of how people from different backgrounds can come together to build a country that is strong and united and in which its people live in peace and harmony through celebrating their cultural diversity.

Chrysotile AsbestosStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Gérard Binet Liberal Frontenac—Mégantic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to note that, in Brazil, the federal supreme court and a committee of the chamber of deputies have decided in favour of the continued, controlled use of chrysotile asbestos.

This measure arrives at an opportune time, following the most recent developments here, in Canada, in the matter of the safe use of asbestos.

In this regard, I think it is important to acknowledge the tireless work of stakeholders from the asbestos region and the support of my hon. colleagues, the ministers responsible for public works and government services, revenue and economic development, finance, treasury board and international trade.

It goes without saying that Brazil's decision encourages us to continue our efforts to change the negative light in which chrysotile asbestos is currently viewed around the world.

Joint Task Force 2Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, joint task force 2, or JTF2, is Canada's professional military response to domestic terrorism. As a well trained hostage unit JTF2’s role is in meeting the potential of terrorist threats where there is a significant Canadian presence here in the homeland and at our embassies abroad.

JTF2’s role as a specialized hostage rescue unit is not special forces. Hostage rescue troops and special forces are clearly two different things: different selection, training and intelligence needs, different leadership and tactics, and a very different mindset.

Have we learned nothing from the lessons of our history? The decision to use special services forces, the Canadian Airborne Regiment, as peacekeepers in Somalia doomed their mission to failure. The decision to use a hostage rescue unit as a special services force in Afghanistan is questionable at best.

The country needs to debate in an open and public fashion Canada's foreign policy regarding special operations before any other members of Canada’s military are committed to Afghanistan.

Israel SirotaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, in recognition of his outstanding contribution in assisting new residents from Russia to integrate into Canadian society, Rabbi Israel Sirota, a resident of my constituency of Mount Royal, has been awarded a 2001 citation for citizenship.

He is one of only twelve individuals across Canada and one of only two Quebecers who has received this prestigious award which will be presented at a ceremony in my riding this evening.

Shortly after his immigration to Canada, Rabbi Sirota, originally from Tashkent, Uzbekistan in the former U.S.S.R., founded the Jewish Russian Community Centre based in my riding. Its objective was to facilitate the integration of Russian Jews into Quebec and Canadian society by providing a range of spiritual, material, educational, professional and cultural services.

Rabbi Sirota's home is home to all Russian immigrants. In his garage he stores donated furniture. His fridge serves as a food bank from which volunteers personally deliver food to the needy. At his home new immigrants learn, experience and grow to love their heritage, and assemble to listen to political and community leaders on topics ranging from immigration to elections.

Rabbi Sirota is a role model for multicultural citizenship. His leadership by example has inspired Russian immigrants to give back to the community which nurtured them and to develop a heightened sense of the importance of participating in the building of Quebec and Canada. He has shown how one person can make a difference.

Status of WomenStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, we are celebrating Persons Day. On October 18, 1921, thanks to Emily Murphy, Canadian women were recognized as persons.

Because of their fight, women's equality has been recognized, and women who make an exceptional contribution are given a Governor General's award in commemoration.

Vera Danyluk, the chair of the Montreal Urban Community, who, through her involvement in politics and in community groups, has advanced the cause of women, will receive this honour.

Despite considerable progress, women are still fighting for equality: Bell Canada telephone operators, who have been calling for wage parity for the past 12 years; the Réseau des femmes en entreprise familiale, who pay EI premiums, but are not entitled to benefits; rural letter carriers, who do not receive the same benefits as other letter carriers; all these women who are entitled to decent parental leave, and the first nations women who are discriminated against.

The Bloc Quebecois is therefore calling on the government to actually do something to show that it truly considers these women persons.

National Co-Op WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Larry McCormick Liberal Hastings—Frontenac—Lennox And Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak in the House on behalf of National Co-Op Week. Since the mid-1800s the co-operative movement has grown to 10,000 co-operatives across Canada. The foundation of this successful movement has been people, people working hand in hand toward a common objective.

As the world celebrates the International Year of the Volunteer I find it a fitting occasion to recognize the 70,000 co-op volunteers who sit on boards and committees across Canada. These people volunteer their time, skills and energy to guide co-operatives in providing vital services to their communities.

The federal government recognizes the role co-operatives play in developing and serving their communities. I will cite two examples. First, through the Canadian adaptation and rural development fund we have researched how agriculture co-operatives can better serve the needs of members. Second, HRDC is testing a revolving loan fund for developing worker owned co-op businesses.

Across Canada we have worker, consumer and producer co-operatives. We have co-operatives for financial services, child care, housing, farm equipment and groceries.