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House of Commons Hansard #126 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was animal.

Topics

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, it was discovered after the whole application was looked at that to get value for the $84,000 we had to add other components, including evaluation.

The auditor general made a number of recommendations. I am here to say that Health Canada has already accepted and acted on every single one of them. We are going to make sure that we meet the highest standards of accountability at Health Canada as we serve the needs of Canadians.

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Canadian Alliance Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister may defend his actions on Health Canada but health care continues to suffer.

Let us take a look at another couple of examples from the auditor's report.

Six large national projects were approved. They were not eligible for the funding under the branch's own program guidelines.

Another one is that projects were eligible for one year of funding but were approved for five years of funding. We are not talking small change. We are talking $1.2 billion a year.

When will the waste stop in this minister's department?

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, one of the projects referred to by the member was a cancer research project. There is excellent work being done at the Vancouver centre of excellence in cancer research.

The auditor general decided that instead of being filed in one filing cabinet, the papers should have been filed in another cabinet. There is no question about the quality of the research; it is a centre of excellence to help save lives.

We are going to move the papers from one filing cabinet to the other and it will still be an excellent use of taxpayers' dollars.

Port FacilitiesOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, in 1995, the federal Minister of Transport announced that he wanted to transfer the majority of regional ports in Canada.

Ever since the Government of Quebec announced that it was prepared to accept the transfer of nine ports, the federal government has seemed in no hurry to negotiate.

Will the Minister of Transport confirm to us that transferring these port facilities is still a priority for his department and that he will invest the necessary money, over $100 million, so that Quebec can create a strategic and effective ports system?

Port FacilitiesOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, we have established a competition policy in the airline industry and we will support any measure to encourage competition, such as the introduction of amendments to the Competition Act this week.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow in Ottawa there will be a meeting between the federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for aboriginal affairs and the national aboriginal leaders. I understand that aboriginal youth is one of the items on the agenda.

Could the Secretary of State for Children and Youth please tell the House what are some of the key issues facing aboriginal youth and how the ministers and leaders are responding to them?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Western Arctic Northwest Territories

Liberal

Ethel Blondin-Andrew LiberalSecretary of State (Children and Youth)

Mr. Speaker, aboriginal youth are facing some very daunting challenges, be they teenage pregnancy, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse or limited access to employment opportunities. These are the challenges they are facing. Therefore, we are engaging our federal, provincial, territorial and aboriginal colleagues and governments and organizations to find solutions to these challenges.

In October we met with 150 aboriginal youth from across Canada to get their views on a national aboriginal youth strategy. We are today furthering these discussions with those leaders who are gathering together to face those challenges and to help aboriginal youth have a brighter future.

AgricultureOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Progressive Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, Statistics Canada reported yesterday that field crop production was down in western Canada for all major crops. In fact, the growing conditions were the worst since the 1988 drought.

The minister of agriculture last week said that improvements could be made to the safety net program.

My question is for the minister of agriculture. We know there is a need. We know that the minister of agriculture would like to satisfy that need. Has the minister of agriculture had enough influence at the cabinet table to have this reflected in next week's budget?

AgricultureOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, the payments in this calendar year for our various safety net programs, federally and provincially, will total very close to $4 billion, much of that related to crop insurance to deal with the drought.

The minister of agriculture is engaged in an ongoing discussion with his provincial and territorial counterparts as well as colleagues within the Government of Canada. They are working on the strengthening of safety nets for the future.

I am confident that as the next days and weeks go by the messages will be very strong in terms of the support provided by all governments in Canada for agriculture--

AgricultureOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Windsor--St. Clair.

International TradeOral Question Period

3 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, both before and after September 11 we tried to get the U.S. to increase the flow of commercial traffic from Canada into the U.S. It is very important for the auto industry. In fact, it is an absolute priority.

Could the Deputy Prime Minister tell the House and the Windsor community whether we have any indication that the U.S. is willing to put in place new programs that would facilitate the flow of cargo from Canada to the U.S., as we have done for the U.S. from the U.S. to Canada?

International TradeOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I think the agreement announced as a result of the visit of Attorney General Ashcroft earlier this week is a very good indication of the interest of the Americans in responding to Canadian initiatives. We will continue to press them for action. This is important to us in the Windsor area, but it is important for all Canadians.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

December 6th, 2001 / 3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, it being Thursday, I will ask the Thursday question. What will be the business for the rest of today and next week?

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, we will continue this afternoon with Bill C-24, the organized crime legislation, which is currently before the House, and at least consider the Senate's amendments to Bill C-24.

This will be followed by Bill C-15B, the criminal code amendments, as I announced yesterday to the House leaders of the other parties.

Then, if there is any time remaining today, we will continue with Bill C-27, the nuclear safety bill.

Tomorrow, we hope to pass Bill C-46, the ignition interlock device bill sponsored by the Minister of Justice, at all stages. I thank the leaders of all parties for having consented to move this through all stages before the holidays.

We will then call report stage and second reading of Bill C-23, the competition legislation. If there is any time left tomorrow, we will turn to report stage and third reading of Bill C-43, the technical amendments bill.

On Monday, we will return to the bills I have listed, and those that have not been completed, that is unfinished business from today and tomorrow.

I would remind hon. members that the budget will be presented at 4 p.m. on Monday, of course, and the budget debate, that is the debate on the amendment to the amendment—in the improbable event of some hon. members wishing to propose an amendment to the amendment—would take place on Tuesday and Wednesday, with division at the end of the day, on Wednesday.

The business scheduled for Thursday and Friday of next week, if the House is sitting, would be Bill C-42.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Jacques Saada Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Discussions have taken place between all parties and the member for Saint-Lambert concerning the taking of the division on Bill S-10 scheduled for later today at the conclusion of private members' business. I believe you would find consent for the following motion:

I move:

That at the conclusion of today's debate on Bill S-10, all questions necessary to dispose of the motion be deemed put, a recorded division deemed requested and deferred to Tuesday, December 11, 2001, at 3 p.m.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there unanimous consent of the House for the hon. member to move this motion?

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

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

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion in relation to the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-24, an act to amend the Criminal Code (organized crime and law enforcement) and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the two amendments passed by the other place would maintain the essential strong elements of Bill C-24. I will summarize these. First, the bill would provide an enhanced definition of criminal organization and create a new offence to target involvement with criminal organizations.

Second, it would improve measures to protect people from intimidation who play a role in the justice system. This would include members of the news media investigating organized crime.

Third, it would create an accountable process to protect law enforcement officers from criminal liability for certain otherwise illegal acts committed in the course of an investigation. This element of the bill is the subject of the two amendments from the other place.

Fourth, the bill would broaden powers to forfeit and seize proceeds of crime and property used in a crime.

The two amendments which I urge members of the House to support wholeheartedly deal with greater accountability in the lawful justification sections of the bill.

First, they would provide that when the minister designates officers to be under this protection he does so on an individual rather than a group basis as had been provided for in the bill passed by the House.

Second, they urge that the designation only take place in a jurisdiction of Canada where there is civilian oversight of police activities and a body to investigate public complaints concerning them.

The two amendments are immensely important. They would maintain and enhance the elements of the bill as passed in the House. I urge all members of the House to vote in favour of them.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, as indicated by the parliamentary secretary, the import of the amendments is to increase clarity and independent review with respect to the designations of public officers.

The amendments are timely. They are born of the rapid succession of bills brought forward by the government to deal with public security matters. There is a growing unease among Canadians that the government is not concerned about debating the principles or details of bills it brings forward. The unease has increased as a result of the Liberals' imposition of closure with respect to Bill C-36.

While the position of my party vis-à-vis the Senate, the other place, is clearly in favour of democratic reform and accountability, it is ironic that non-elected members of that house have more freedom to take steps to safeguard the security and traditional liberties of Canadians.

This is because of the shameful conduct of the Prime Minister. It is shameful that the House is no longer permitted to vote in accordance with the values of Canadians. The Prime Minister and the government consistently use the dispensation of political favour or the withholding of political favour to ensure government members vote in accordance with the Prime Minister's personal wishes.

I am prepared to recommend support for the amendments, perhaps as a result of the troubling conduct of the government over the past few months. The amendments are more necessary now than they were a few months ago.

Bill C-24 still has serious shortcomings. It is procedurally cumbersome. It would do nothing to streamline prosecutions. It would require substantial expenditures on the part of provincial and local police authorities. At the same time the federal government demonstrates increasing reluctance to fund the operations and prosecutions flowing from the legislation it passes.

Law enforcement in the country is being crippled by cumbersome legislation and inadequate resources. It is ironic that the member opposite stands and talks about improved definitions. We have seen this type of legislation add detail to the process without an appreciable increase in security.

I am prepared to recommend the amendments born of the concerns raised in the Senate. I urge the government to review this type of legislation and re-examine the principles underlying many of the bills it is passing. They are not effective. Nor do they do anything to enhance civil liberties in the country.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address Bill C-24, but I will be very brief.

I will briefly discuss the background of Bill C-24, which seeks to fight organized crime. The Bloc Quebecois repeatedly asked the government to take measures. We will not go so far as to say that we are the sponsors of this bill, but we pressured the government regarding several clauses in this bill. Indeed, we were relentless in asking the government to provide Canada with proper tools to fight gangs, including criminal biker gangs.

We worked very hard to propose some changes. We also made gains. When I say we, I mean Quebec, since Quebec was among those asking for major legislative changes.

So, the House passed Bill C-24, which was then sent to the other place. Senators examined it and felt the need to propose amendments. I took a close look at these amendments—we are not against them—but I sincerely think that the bill would have been very acceptable without these changes.

It is true, as the Canadian Alliance member said, that it is a bit funny that the other, unelected, chamber seems to have more power than duly elected representatives of the people, those who were actually chosen in a very democratic ballot.

But that is how the system is. As people know, the Bloc Quebecois would like out of this system. But, for now, we are still part of Canada. We therefore live with the rules dealt us. The Senate has put forward amendments. Do we have a major objection in this regard? No. Should this bill be passed quickly? Yes. Are we already late passing it? Yes again.

I will conclude with this. Before even studying Bill C-24, before even studying the bill which is intended to do something about the problem of criminal biker gangs, the Senate preferred to start out in September by looking at Bill C-7, which is intended to something about the problem of young offenders, instead of assuming its responsibilities and doing something about organized crime, so that Canada will have the legislation it needs.

We are past the point of worrying about commas, dropping periods and fussing over wording. We have reached the point where we must pass this bill. We must do so quickly so that the public knows that we have taken action, so that people feel safe as well, but especially so that the police and the system will have the legislative tools they need to combat organized crime for once and for all.

The government has taken so long reacting that even before Bill C-24 becomes law, organized crime has already examined the legislation and is getting ready to challenge it. That is how very slow the system is, with its two chambers, among other things. The bill has therefore come back here and we will have to pass it again, and then it must receive royal assent. Some of Bill C-24's provisions probably already no longer apply.

We will still be very vigilant. Yes, it is a step in the right direction. Yes, we must pass Bill C-24 quickly. Yes, the Bloc Quebecois will continue to be vigilant and push the government to take appropriate action if ever any provisions of this bill are no longer adequate to deal with the present organized crime and biker gang situation. It is no to violence, no to intimidation and yes to Bill C-24. We must act quickly.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I agree with my colleague from the Bloc Quebecois on the role of the Senate in this debate and on the amendments to Bill C-24.

It is odd indeed that the very things we tried to achieve in committee, which could not be achieved because of a docile Liberal majority on the committee, can now be achieved because presumably we have a less docile Liberal majority in the Senate. These things have come back to us to address concerns that needed to be addressed, and which were raised in the House of Commons, the elected Chamber, but were not dealt with because of the excessive ego of the government when it came to its legislation and the excessive docility of government members.

Very briefly, we welcome these amendments. They address concerns we had about Bill C-24. We hope that from here on in this bill, even though there are problems with it, can proceed expeditiously and we can find out the extent to which this legislation will or will not be effective against organized crime in the country.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, like my colleagues from other parties, I will be keeping my remarks on these amendments quite brief. I rise on behalf of the coalition to add some thoughts on this issue.

As others have said, there is more than just a touch of irony that the unelected other place was successful in getting these two substantive amendments to Bill C-24, despite the best efforts of opposition members, especially at the justice committee, to get similar amendments through in the House of Commons. Unfortunately that speaks volumes to the attitude of the government in its approach to legislation, specifically its approach to the consideration of amendments to its legislation.

Unfortunately something very similar transpired with Bill C-36 more recently, despite assurances from the government, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice that adequate consideration, and a common sense approach, would be given to representations from individuals, groups, opposition MPs and its own backbenchers. Once again we saw a flawed process brought to a very speedy close with the use of time allocation.

I would like to congratulate the Senate for bringing forward these two amendments to Bill C-24, the organized crime legislation. I refer specifically to the one increasing independent review or civilian oversight. That is especially appropriate, but not only for this legislation.

Similar concerns were put forward not only by opposition members of parliament, but by groups concerned about the rights and privileges of individual Canadians and the risk of abuse by police forces in how they would implement the new powers contained in Bill C-36. Very serious efforts were put forward by a number of organizations, including the PC/DR, to have an independent oversight agency or individual hold the police and law enforcement agencies that would have the new powers, such as CSIS, accountable rather than individuals going to court to hold the government and law enforcement agencies accountable, if they felt their powers were being abused.

That is an important amendment to Bill C-24 made by the other place. Hopefully, something similar will be included in Bill C-36. The same concerns are being expressed about Bill C-42, which we are just now beginning to debate.

The fact that the system had to ultimately rely upon the Senate to bring forward amendments successfully points to a serious flaw, as other members from other parties have said, at the committee level and in the House of Commons. We do not have a system of free votes. I would argue very strenuously that if we had that, much better legislation would be passed in this place. That legislation would then go to the Senate and it might not be required to make amendments that should have made here originally.

Hopefully it is something the government will consider in the future. It is hoped the government will free up its members to vote more independently, especially when dealing with something as common sense as amendments being put forward to legislation at the committee stage. It could ultimately have the effect of parliament being more democratic and also of the House of Commons operating much more efficiently and effectively.

Legislation would come back from committee properly amended. I suspect there would be fewer amendments put forward at report stage on the floor of the Chamber. In many cases that is one of the few tools the opposition members have to draw public attention through the television cameras to what they feel is flawed legislation. They bring their amendments forward at report stage in the Chamber.

Obviously the legislation, as has been said before, is targeted at organized crime, specifically at some of the horrific activities of biker gangs, especially in the province of Quebec. We are all aware of those activities. We do not need to rehash those ongoing issues. We want to ensure that our law enforcement agencies have the necessary resources, powers and the tools to combat organized crime wherever it occurs.

On that one specific issue, concern has been expressed by the coalition and by other parties about the financial resources available to our law enforcement agencies. In the eight year history of my involvement as a member of parliament I have spoken many times about the need to ensure adequate resources for the RCMP.

As the previous speaker for the Canadian Alliance alluded to, the legislation once it goes into effect can easily involve substantial expenditures by our police forces. That obviously would be at the local or city police level, provincial police forces or the RCMP, or presumably even an agency such as CSIS, in combating organized crime. It is much similar to the need for all those same agencies to wage the successful war against terrorism.

We want to ensure that we provide the tools that these agencies and law enforcement organizations require to do the job, to go head to head with organized crime and terrorists. We want to ensure that they have the adequate financial resources as well.

It is little help to them if we only say that we will make the necessary legislative changes to ensure that they have the power to do their jobs effectively and hold those individuals to account, whether those individuals are in organized crime, or undertake terrorist activities, or encourage others to undertake terrorist activities. It is simply not enough to give them the necessary legislative tools without giving them the financial resources.

Obviously all of us in this place and all Canadians will be watching with great interest the presentation of the finance minister's budget on Monday. We will be watching to see what financial resources will go hand in hand with the legislative tools to ensure that our law enforcement agencies have the resources and funds necessary to take on organized crime and terrorists wherever they may be lurking and hiding and conducting their filthy business in our country.