Mr. Speaker, in connection with the bill he introduced the Minister of Transport most candidly admitted that it was a vast undertaking, amending 19 laws and creating one new one, all with a concern for the safety of Canadians and Quebecers. No new direction for the government is given with the exception of the few changes made to the Aeronautics Act. The minister also said that this bill has been in the works for several years.
It is difficult. They are again trying to launch a vast security operation, to tell the Canadians and Quebecers watching “See how your nice government has decided to pass a bill amending 19 pieces of legislation, one that is intended to guarantee more safety in Canada”, whereas no new standard has been adopted.
When it comes down to it, what this government is really trying to validate is the creation of interim orders, so most of the laws being modified give the minister concerned the power to adopt interim orders, thus conferring increased powers upon him and his departmental staff.
I will read the changes made to the Department of Health act. They read:
The Minister may make an interim order that contains any provision that may be contained in a regulation under section 11, if the Minister believes that immediate action is required to deal with a significant risk, direct or indirect, to health or safety.
An interim order has effect from the time that it is made but ceases to have effect on the earlier of: 90 days after it is made, unless it is approved by the Governor in Council, the day on which it is repealed, the day on which a regulation under section 21 that has the same effect as the interim order comes into force, and one year after the interim order is made, or any shorter period that may be specified in the interim order.
This seems to announce the orientations for the Department of Health. It will make it possible for the government to manage, on a day to day basis, an orientation that it lacks. It is quite simply a means of getting around House procedures. It is a means of enabling a minister to make interim orders, and since a number of different acts are involved, so are a number of ministers.
This is being done with the Aeronautics Act to give increased powers to the Minister of Transport. The Canadian Environmental Protection Act will be amended to give more powers to the Minister of the Environment. The Department of Health act will also be amended, as I just mentioned, and the Explosives Act, the Export and Import Permits Act, the Food and Drugs Act, the Hazardous Products Act, the Immigration Act, the National Defence Act, the National Energy Board Act, the Canadian Water Protection Act, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Act, the Pest Control Products Act, the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act, the Quarantine Act, the Radiation Emitting Devices Act and the Canada Shipping Act.
All these acts will be amended significantly to include interim orders and to give greater powers to the minister responsible and to his officials, so as to not have to submit to this House regulations, amendments or bills for each one of these departments.
Again, there is no government direction except for the fact that the minister is including in the Aeronautics Act, and I am grateful to him for doing so, a provision on air rage. We appreciate that initiative. There are also identification requirements for all those who are responsible for passengers in the airline system. These people will need to have an identification procedure and comply with government requirements.
All that is proposed are increased powers for each of the ministers, so that they will, through interim orders, decide alone to set new standards and give new powers to their respective officials. This will probably allow the Minister of Health to validate the decisions of his officials, who, in the Apotex and Bayer case, made the wrong decision. When the minister has made an interim order granting powers to his officials, he will be able to say “It is not my fault, it is my officials' fault”.
This is the harsh reality. There is no planning, no direction, except in the case of the Aeronautics Act and the National Defence Act, where very important amendments have been made, even to the definition of a state of emergency.
Until now, “emergency” has meant “war, invasion, riot or insurrection, real or apprehended”. Now the words “armed conflict” are being added. It will now be possible to use the army in another role, that of armed conflicts. This raises questions, but those responsible are somewhat evasive as to what directions should be taken.
One thing is clear: clause 88 changes how things are done. Obviously when it came to authorizing the intervention of armed forces this was something the attorneys general of each of the provinces could requisition. Now this requisition could come from each of the provincial attorneys general or from governors general in council, but the minister will have a say.
Subject to such directions as the minister considers appropriate, the chief of the defence staff will be able to intervene. The Minister of National Defence will now have more powers. He will have a say in the case of requests from the governor general in council or, ultimately, the attorneys general of each of the provinces.
There will therefore be more interventions, more powers for each of the ministers. This is the direction in which the government is headed, without any plan. There are no new procedures. The government is not saying what exactly will be done and the Canadian Alliance member is quite right that security measures in airports have not been stepped up. There is no heightened security, other than the requirement that all companies responsible for passengers provide identification. Apart from that, we will have to rely on interim orders which could be issued by the minister from time to time and which will give increased powers to officials, without the approval of the House.
That is the harsh reality. Once again the government has decided to simply ignore the members of this House and give powers to ministers and their officials, probably so that the Minister of Health will have an out when something like the Apotex and Bayer affair happens.