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House of Commons Hansard #38 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was million.

Topics

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from the Bloc raises a very good point. If the banks do have an interest in this operation a lot can be gained by allowing a whole lot of things to happen in the background, a whole lot of possibly not so safe things to happen to ensure that their investment continues. We all know that the banks hold a lot of power over the government, which I think is a reason to be greatly concerned.

I asked my colleague from the Alliance what would happen with the waste. It is not all right to say that we will think about it tomorrow and that we will come up with something.

I saw a situation where first nations in this country have been held to literally begging for dollars for numerous programs. They were being coerced into possibly taking waste from other communities. I was greatly concerned that they would be pressured into taking not just the rubbish kinds of waste from cities but other kinds of waste as well. I do not want to see that happen either.

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-De- Beaupré—Île-D'Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Even though it is only 5:42 p.m., I would ask you to check if there is unanimous consent to see the clock as 5:45 p.m.

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is there unanimous consent to see the clock as 5:45 p.m.?

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I have received notice from the hon. member for Regina--Qu'Appelle that he is unable to move his motion during private members' hour on Thursday, December 5. It has not been possible to arrange an exchange of positions in the order of precedence. Accordingly I am directing the table officers to drop that item of business to the bottom of the order of precedence. Private members' hour will thus be cancelled and the House will continue with the business before it prior to private members' hour.

It being 5:45 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Val Meredith Canadian Alliance South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

moved that Bill C-280, an act to amend the Criminal Code (selling wildlife), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to once again speak to a bill to protect wildlife, Bill C-280.

This bill has had quite a ride. It was first introduced on April 30, 1996 but was only drawn earlier this year. It was debated but the vote was deferred until the first sitting in September. Then the House was prorogued and a new Speech from the Throne was delivered. Now we are starting the process all over again. It does give me a chance to speak once again to Canadians about why this private member's bill is on the table.

Like many Canadians, I am concerned about what happens to wildlife in the international community. Once they were very abundant but all of a sudden they have become endangered or few in number.

It was brought to my attention in my own riding how individuals will kill animals for profit. I was concerned with the way that issue was dealt with. I thought there had to be a better way to deal with people who deliberately killed animals, not for their meat and not because they were trying to feed their families or that they were hungry themselves, but simply because they could make money by killing our wildlife.

The purpose of Bill C-280 is to protect animals from that type of poaching. In 1995, 25% of the bears killed in Canada were illegally poached. That translates into about 1,300 bears a year. That includes 90 grizzly bears, which some claim are diminishing in numbers to a point where we should be seriously concerned. It is not just black bears, of which we seem to have lots and sometimes they can be a bit of a pest, but grizzly bears are also victims.

It is not just bears, although that is the instance that brought it to my attention; it is all wildlife. In Jasper National Park and Banff bighorn sheep are being poached for their horns. This is in total disregard for the provincial regulations that control the hunting of these species.

In my riding a couple of Surrey residents were fined $7,000 and given 17 days in jail for illegally selling 18 bear gallbladders. It does not sound like much of a deal, 18 gallbladders, but they cost $800 each. That is quite an incentive for people to continue this kind of activity.

Bill C-280 brings to the attention of Canadians that this is not about something that is happening with elephants over in Africa or in Asia, it is something that is happening right here in our own backyard.

There was an article in the Ottawa Citizen just last week. It said that wildlife agencies and enforcement officers had crushed a Quebec centred crime ring of more than 100 hunters, trappers, taxidermists, furriers and smugglers who killed bears for the gallbladders and shipped the organs illegally to markets in Asia.

Let me explain what has happened to the market in Asia. Asia's bear population has been almost completely wiped out in order to supply the medicinal trade.

In the early 1990s with the collapse of law enforcement in the Soviet Union, bear gallbladder traders were given a ripe new hunting ground in Russia's far eastern region of Kamchatka. By the mid-1990s these bears too had become rare and a search for a new source of bear bile and bear gallbladders brought Asian dealers to Canada. Now we have a developed market for these parts.

The bill tries to give provinces greater ability to deal with these most serious poaching incidents. Provinces now are quite limited when they are dealing with this problem.

In Quebec where more than 200 bear gallbladders were seized, the people were only able to be given a penalty of $1,825. If over 200 bear gallbladders were seized, that is not the amount that had already been marketed. At $800 each, it shows that $1,825 is a very small price to pay to do business. With that kind of return on one's investment, that fine does not mean a whole lot. The Quebec provincial officials were talking about trying to find a way that those people would not do it again.

That is where this bill comes into play. We are trying to toughen the legislation and to bring it under the Criminal Code. If it is a minor issue that a province is not concerned about, it can handle it under provincial jurisdiction and merely fine someone. That may be appropriate in some instances. However, in a case like the one in Quebec last week, where people in an organized ring are slaughtering bears illegally for profit to line their own pockets, there has to be some dramatic way of saying that this will not be tolerated. There has to be more than an $1,825 fine. This legislation tries to do that.

In the debate that we had in the past, the Liberals said that there already is legislation in place. I would argue that it only covers a very small portion of the problem. The Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act, WAPPRIITA, is only relevant if the wildlife or the wildlife part crosses provincial or international boundaries. In order for the act to be enforced, that action has to be proved. The gallbladders are put in jars of jam or they are dried and made into powder. It is difficult to know that they are being exported. It is very difficult for the Crown to prove that they are crossing international or provincial boundaries. WAPPRIITA has similar penalties to what my Bill C-280 proposes.

My private member's bill tries to accommodate the limitations that the provinces now have to deal with in these serious poaching issues. It allows them to have a choice either to proceed under the provincial legislation and the provincial fine structure or to proceed under the Criminal Code.

With this bill, as with WAPPRIITA, it is a substantial fine. It is a $150,000 fine with up to five years imprisonment. It deals with it in a harsh enough manner that there is a deterrent for people who poach bears or other wildlife.

Eliminating the need for the prosecutors to prove that the bear part, elk horn or sheep horn crossed provincial or international boundaries would make it much easier for enforcement purposes.

I want to reiterate that the bill does not force the provinces to use the Criminal Code. It does not encroach on the provinces' right and the provinces' ability to use their own legislation if they so desire. I stress very strongly, particularly to my Bloc colleagues, that this does not encroach on provincial jurisdiction.

The bill does not create any new rules or regulations. There is nothing new that the provinces have to deal with. Anybody with a valid licence, permit or an exemption order issued by either level of government, for instance, aboriginals with their exemptions, would not be committing an offence. That is clearly outlined in order that there is no confusion.

In order not to encroach on provincial jurisdiction, in order to give the provinces choices, we decided to handle this like we handle driving charges. Driving regulations are a provincial jurisdiction, but serious driving offences, such as impaired driving causing bodily harm, impaired driving or driving under the influence, can all be handled under the Criminal Code. The choice is there for prosecutors to select either the provincial statutes or the Criminal Code on which to proceed.

We are suggesting that the same method could be used here. In a case where 100 individuals are massively killing off wildlife, they could be dealt with differently from the person who hunts out of season and kills a bear. We might want to cover that under a provincial statute.

We wanted to make sure that there was a way to deal with the most serious offences in a manner that would stop the behaviour.

Having debated this issue before, I hope that the New Democratic Party and the Conservative Party still will support this legislation. I know that the Bloc feels it cannot support it because of the provincial jurisdiction issue. I must say, though, that it confuses me when that party can pick an issue like this one, poaching wildlife parts, as a provincial intrusion, but is more than willing and will argue vociferously that the federal government should be interfering in provincial responsibility and jurisdiction with Kyoto. The Bloc argues that poaching is a provincial jurisdiction and should not be dealt with at a federal level and yet the energy policy that Kyoto will bring down is okay. I would like those members to explain to me why there is this inconsistency in their arguments.

The Liberals say that they support the concept or the intent of the legislation but they will not support this private member's bill. I have a letter from the environment minister that states there is an overlap with provincial legislation, but I would argue that there is an overlap with driving legislation as well. There is also Kyoto. There is plenty of legislation that overlaps provincial and federal jurisdictions.

The minister also stated that there are enforcement difficulties, but I would argue that my bill would be far easier to enforce than the existing WAPPRIITA because it has to be proven that the animal or the gallbladder or whatever went across provincial or international boundaries. I would argue that the argument from the minister should be in reverse: that this private member's bill would make it much easier to enforce.

In conclusion, let me say that the intent of Bill C-280 is to deal with a serious poaching issue in our country. We can either do something constructive about it now while there is still a species to deal with, or we can ignore the problem and worry about it when it is too late. I suggest that Canadians would like to see the House dealing with the problem now while there is still time to protect the wildlife that the bill zeroes in on, which is our bear population.

I feel that Bill C-280 deserves support from all members of the House. I look forward to seeing that when it comes to a vote.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Oxford Ontario

Liberal

John Finlay LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on Bill C-280, an act to amend the Criminal Code (selling wildlife). There are some admirable motivations behind this proposal and the member for South Surrey—White Rock—Langley has put them very well.

As a government, we fully support ensuring that wildlife is preserved and protected in the best possible way, and certainly that extends to species at risk. In fact, there are many years of conservation actions behind this in Canada and there are a number of statutes already on the books that accomplish this goal.

The proposed legislation would create three indictable offences under the Criminal Code for selling wildlife or wildlife parts, or for killing, capturing or possessing wildlife or wildlife parts for the purpose of selling them. Under this proposal there would be exemptions from prosecution for people who sell wildlife in accordance with a licence, permit or an exemption order. It also states that the sale of threatened or endangered species would mean high penalties and that all offences would be subject to the money laundering provisions of the Criminal Code.

As noted at the outset of my remarks, these are admirable objectives. However, we need to make sure that there is a good fit with other legislation already in place or pending. In this case, this is not so.

I would like to point out that in the Migratory Birds Convention Act of 1994 and the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act, known as WAPPRIITA, there are dual procedure offences. These are also found in the Canada Wildlife Act. Dual procedure offences mean that they can begin with a summary conviction or an indictment. The maximum prison terms set out for proceedings by indictment in most statutes do not exceed five years.

Let us also consider the government sponsored Bill C-5, the species at risk act. This bill is currently under review by the Senate Committee on Energy, Environment and Natural Resources. One of the offences created in Bill C-5 is the prohibition on the killing, harming, harassing, capturing or taking of a wildlife species that is listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened. Bill C-5 also includes a prohibition on the possessing, collecting, buying, selling or trading of a wildlife species listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened.

There is some overlap between this offence and the ones outlined in existing legislation, as well as the offences set out in Bill C-280.

Bill C-280 provides only indictable offences. The maximum prison terms vary from two to eight years, depending on whether it is a first or subsequent offence and whether the wildlife involved is an endangered species.

The question here is not that we need to do this. The question here is whether it is already being done or has been done, and in a better way.

Is Bill C-280 the best way to accomplish the goal? Are the provisions about prohibiting behaviour that is traditionally associated with Parliament's exercise of its criminal law power? Or perhaps we should say that Bill C-280 is describing a public welfare offence, traditionally associated with regulatory matters in a civil context. That is why we believe this approach is inconsistent with the classification of offences elsewhere in the Criminal Code.

The sale of wildlife, as I have demonstrated, is well covered in existing legislation. The bill is a duplication that is not necessary. I can also submit that in many cases we would be using the heavy hand of the Criminal Code for some sales that are quite minor, such as the sale of a few muskrat pelts. We do not need such a heavy approach.

Let me explain further. The offence of sexual assault is classified as a dual procedure offence, which means that the Crown may elect to proceed by summary conviction or by indictment. From a policy point of view, it would appear inconsistent to classify the selling of wildlife as an indictable offence when other offences considered more serious by society are classified as dual procedure offences.

There also would be a cost implication to the provinces and territories if straight indictable offences were created for the offences in Bill C-280. All persons charged with any of the offences under the act would have a choice of trial, including the possibility of a jury trial.

We need to remember that under the Canadian system provincial governments are those with the constitutional powers to regulate the use and protection of wildlife on provincial lands. We must also take note that these offences are well covered in Canadian statutes and will be reinforced with the passage of the proposed species at risk act.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in the debate suggested by my colleague from South Surrey—White Rock—Langley on Bill C-280 to amend the Criminal Code, particularly concerning the selling of wildlife.

My colleague from the Canadian Alliance had already tried to have this amendment made to the Criminal Code in the last legislature. At the time, my colleague from Châteauguay firmly opposed this legislative measure.

His reasoning and particularly the relevance of his argument still hold today, since there has been no amendment to the legislative measure.

Indeed, the bill re-introduced by the member for South Surrey—White Rock—Langley still contains the same irritants that justified the opposition of the Bloc Quebecois to Bill C-292 on May 9.

Let us remind the House that, despite what she said earlier in her speech, the bill before us is a typical example of the federal government intruding into provincial jurisdictions. This is a situation that we have seen too often in the past and that we are still seeing today with this bill.

While the sponsor of this bill still insists that the intent is not to replace provincial wildlife laws but rather to complement them, this does not change anything. It is surprising to see a member of the Canadian Alliance ask the federal government to get involved in an issue that concerns the provinces, when in their speeches, the members of her party are such articulate advocates of a decentralized Canadian federation.

Besides, the hon. member from the Canadian Alliance is talking about Kyoto. This is a different debate altogether. I will touch on the issue anyway. The implementation plan for Kyoto has yet to be released. We advocate a very ecological vision of society. That having been said, it seems to me that any attempt to draw a parallel between the debate on Kyoto and today's debate is lopsided and somewhat offensive.

The purpose of Bill C-280 is to make the selling of wildlife and wildlife parts an offence, unless carried out under a licence or permit issued by a competent authority.

Simply put, the purpose of this bill is to prohibit the trading of wildlife, dead or alive, to afford it some protection against unscrupulous individuals who abuse the credulity of people by painting an enticing picture of the aphrodisiac qualities of certain animal parts, raising certain species in inappropriate conditions or simply selling their meat clandestinely.

The basis for the legislative measure put forward by our hon. colleague is noble and reflects her commitment to the conservation of nature, and wildlife in particular. This is something I applaud.

However, we must recognize that the bill she is proposing is only filling a legal vacuum left by a number of provinces in Canada.

As the hon. members know, I am sure, Quebec already has very comprehensive, and also very effective, legislation in this regard. Under the act respecting the conservation and development of wildlife, anything that directly or indirectly concerns the purchase of wildlife is covered by chapter C-61.1. The Government of Quebec has already provided a legal framework for the protection of wildlife, and this initiative was recognized on many occasions in the past.

The Bloc Quebecois' position basically falls within the same ideological spectrum. Moreover, we are taking into consideration the constitutional distribution of jurisdictions between the provinces and the federal government.

The member from the Alliance wants federal legislation that can be implemented throughout Canada. This reasoning does not work.

First, she wants the federal government to intrude in an area outside its jurisdiction. She also wants the federal government to do the work that some provinces have neglected to do in their own legislative sphere.

I am sure no one will be surprised to learn that Quebec has once again taken the lead on this issue.

The penalties proposed by the member are almost the same as the ones stipulated in the Quebec legislation. In Quebec, we have fines ranging from $500 up to $16,400. We also have jail terms of up to one year. We even have administrative penalties causing the suspension of licences for up to six years.

Before I conclude, I repeat that the Bloc Quebecois is against Bill C-280. In fact, it reminds me of the heated debates led by our party against Bill C-5, the Liberal government's bill on endangered species.

I do not understand why the Canadian Alliance would want to give the federal government another opportunity to infringe upon an area of provincial jurisdiction. Not only does this boggle the mind, but it is the complete reverse of the general policies usually developed at their conventions.

Provinces that have not had the fortitude or determination to legislate in this area only have themselves to blame. Quebec took its responsibilities a long time ago. The other provinces should do the same.

Using tools such as the Criminal Code to make up for provincial legislative shortcomings is contrary to the spirit of the Criminal Code. Moreover, it somehow absolves the provinces of their responsibilities by allowing these pernicious intrusions by the federal government into areas of provincial jurisdiction.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the debate on this very important bill. I listened to the comments of my colleague, the Bloc Quebecois member. However, my position is quite different from his.

I understand completely what my hon. friend is saying about the jurisdictional aspects of this legislation. However I believe that the intent of the mover of the motion, my colleague from the Alliance Party, is truly about the protection of animals and to enhance the Criminal Code to send a deterrent message for those who continually flaunt the laws for their personal gain and for the financial gain which can result in many cases from the killing of these rare and beautiful animals. She spoke of many of those, the bighorn goats and sheep in the Rocky Mountains, the grizzly bears, many of them endangered species.

This is clearly a bill that is very much coming from the heart from this hon. member. I congratulate her for her persistence in continuing to bring this issue before Parliament.

It is very important to increase our country's awareness of this issue.

This issue is meant I am sure to work with and to enhance provincial legislation as alluded to by my colleague from Charlevoix. The issue is one in which all Canadians can agree, can rally around and can unify in the cause of protecting animals.

We have seen sadly few initiatives from the government side of this subject matter. We have seen few genuine efforts to enhance and to protect the very valuable wildlife of which we share this beautiful land.

I again want to express the support of the Progressive Conservative Party for this initiative. I believe the intention is to put in place a further deterrent to buttress in effect the current provisions of the Criminal Code. By buttress I mean send a message that there is a cost associated with the criminal justice system to contravening the laws as they pertain currently to animals and the protection of animals.

Wild animals, and I believe the mover of the motion would agree, are in a particularly unique position in this expansive, vast country of ours. Certainly there are areas where urban sprawl is impacting on the natural habitat of animals. Increasingly humans are coming in contact with wild animals in their natural habitat.

There is a need to remind Canadians of an obligation to interact and to not prey upon this species, our wildlife, and not to do so in a way that is meant clearly to bring forward financial gain. We know that there are many hunters and trappers in the country who do so extremely responsibly.

It hearkens back to another time when this was a more wild country and people relied on wildlife for subsistence. People relied on their ability, their skill and their prowess at hunting, trapping and fishing. Yet what we have seen sadly in some instances are individuals who engage in the activity of hunting and trapping for pure fiscal and financial gain and greed in may instances.

The delicate balance that has to exist between man and animal can often be upset because of this greed. It is certainly not particular to this country. We have seen many instances around the world where some of the most beautiful species are endangered. In fact some species have been lost.

Clearly the intent of the mover of the motion from British Columbia is to bring forward a genuine and very direct effort to enhance and protect that species, to allow for the criminal justice system to intervene with serious consequences when that occurs and to send the message that the Parliament of Canada is interested that the criminal justice system will respond and will response with serious consequences through our laws in Canada.

Again I extend my congratulations to the mover of the motion. I would similarly express the hope that all members of Parliament will support this very worthwhile motion.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I too compliment my colleague from South Surrey—White Rock—Langley for Bill C-280, an act to protect and prevent the trafficking of endangered species.

It is reprehensible and irresponsible for the government not to support the bill and I will get to the reasons why.

If Quebec wants to say that this infringes on provincial jurisdiction and that it will somehow harm its ability to protect and prevent the trafficking of endangered species, that too is irresponsible. It would not have a problem if it supported the bill.

The objective evidence of the problem in Quebec is the fact that 200 bear gallbladders were found and trafficking organizations were busted a month ago. Those organizations are there because the penalty is only $1,800 if one is caught, compared to the federal penalty of $150,000 and five years in jail. I ask the Bloc Quebecois and the Government of Quebec to join us in supporting this bill and in trying to convince the federal government to support it, for the reasons I will mention.

After drugs and weapons, trafficking of endangered species is the third largest illegal activity in the whole world. It amounts to anywhere between $6 billion and $11 billion a year. We do not have a handle on that and I think Canadians would be utterly shocked to know that we are one of the leading conduits in the trafficking of endangered species in the entire world. Not only are we putting at risk endangered species in our country such as peregrine falcons, Peary caribou, the Vancouver Island marmot, small amphibians and plants, but we are also endangering species throughout the world.

In Vancouver, British Columbia, the port authorities have found horns from black rhinos, Sumatran rhinos, Javanese rhinos, Bengal tiger bones and a whole swath of international species that currently are at serious risk of disappearing from the face of the world.

The trafficking of endangered species is intimately entwined with organized crime. That is why the Bloc Quebecois should support this. Organized crime gangs combine drugs with endangered species products. It has been found that 40% to 50% of all drugs also have endangered species products attached to them. Organized crime gangs are profiteering from this trafficking and we, as well as many other countries, have been unable to deal with this plague because of the huge profits.

The reasons why we have been unable to deal with it are many. People can make up to an 800% profit in trafficking an endangered species product. It is too difficult to catch. The chances of being caught are low because our monitoring is very marginal and sporadic at best. Our port authorities do not have the tools to go after organized crime gangs and penalties are too low. It is exceedingly important that the House adopt this bill as soon as possible.

People may get between $100 to $800 for a bear gallbladder. However in places like Japan they will receive several thousand dollars for that same gallbladder.

In the trafficking of live animals, only one in ten arrives alive; 90% die en route. Some are laden with cocaine and other drugs. In fact in a drug bust in Colombia snakes had been force-fed condoms filled with cocaine.

The impact internationally has been massive. Let us look at some species that we know. Up to five years ago, the Congo used to have 10,000-plus eastern lowland gorilla. Now there are fewer than 100. There is a massive poaching operation taking place in West Africa. The forest elephants, forest gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and many others are slaughtered for their babies and for body parts. The chances of getting caught are minimal. The profits again are huge.

What must we do to deal with the trafficking? First, we must increase patrols. Second, we need more powerful and stronger penalties including jail time and heavier fines. We must decrease consumption, because the trafficking in these endangered species is driven by consumption in affluent developed countries.

On the issue of CITES, the convention on international trade in endangered species, our viewers would be shocked to know that although we are a big proponent of CITES we do not live up to our commitments. I have a private member's bill that will enable us to meet those commitments. It will be before the House in February 2003. Unfortunately the government would not make it votable, which is too bad because the bill would enable us to meet our CITES commitments.

On the issue of the importing and exporting of live animals, we must have a system of permits, both import and export. Safety norms must be established under which animals can be transported back and forth. If people were to violate those norms and not treat the animals properly, they would be subjected to a fine. I also have a bill on that.

On the commodification of wildlife, hon. members would be shocked to know that there is a massive trade in putting together species that do not belong: ligers, a combination of lions and tigers; zedonks, a combination of zebras and donkeys; and fainting goats. They are all produced for markets in North America. This is a plague and a national situation of producing species which are not normal and in fact pose a threat not only to people, but also to natural species.

On the issue of protecting endangered species, habitat protection is the most important thing that we can do. Although we have a Species at Risk Act, it has loopholes that need to be plugged.

The following three things must be done. First, the identification of endangered species must be done under objective scientific evidence and COSEWIC is the organization that should do that. That would remove politics right out of the system. Second, COSEWIC should be tasked with the identification of critical habitat. Third, there must be an obligation on the part of the federal government, the provinces and individual private owners to come together to protect critical habitat. There must be an obligation for compensation at fair market value of lost private land in the protection of habitat.

All this would require money in the end, so where should it come from? If we look at the example of a place called KwaZulu Natal in southern Africa, it managed to do this. It combined conservation and development.

There has been a singular failure in conservation. Conservationists have ignored developers and developers have ignored conservationists at their mutual peril. We must have a system where conservation sites can generate funds which can be poured back into our conservation sites and also help the people in developing countries. In Canada our conservation sites must be used to generate funds through ecotourism, but also through limited hunting of excess species.

We can generate an awful lot of money if we cull a sustainable amount of certain species, but the cull is given to hunters who are prepared to spend a lot of money to hunt those species. I am not a hunter, other than with a camera, but I can tell hon. members that those kinds of hunts generate moneys that, if poured back into the reserve, could go a long way to giving our conservation patrols and employees and our conservation sites the tools to protect those sites. Right now conservationists and Canada Parks are having a huge problem getting the funds to protect our parks. That is why our parks are having a serious problem.

The bill is critically important. The trafficking of endangered species is an international problem. Canada is not doing a good job. We must increase the penalties and increase the patrols. We must adopt racketeering, influence, and corruption charges so that they can be applied to organized crime gangs which are responsible for more than half of the trafficking of these products. This has become a $6 billion a year industry. If we were to fail, the species that we have come to know and love would be wiped off the face of the earth and we would only have ourselves to blame. In the future our children would ask us what we did to protect tigers, elephants, lions and spotted cats.

There is a multitude of species in Canada including blackbirds, grizzly bears, peregrine falcons and whooping cranes that are important to our country, our history, and indeed that of the world.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Northumberland Ontario

Liberal

Paul MacKlin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity today to speak to the provisions of Bill C-280, an act to amend the Criminal Code regarding the selling of wildlife.

If passed, the bill would create a new part XI.1 in the Criminal Code and would create three new offences relating to the selling of wildlife. These offences would apply despite the provisions of other federal acts of Parliament. However, the bill expressly states that the section setting out offences would not alter the application of any existing aboriginal or treaty rights.

The offences proposed in Bill C-280 would address three activities: the selling of wildlife or wildlife parts, the killing or capturing of wildlife for the purpose of selling wildlife or wildlife parts and, finally, possessing wildlife for the purpose of selling wildlife or wildlife parts.

The government does not support the bill for a number of reasons. The overarching reason is that the Criminal Code is not the appropriate statute to deal with the subject matter addressed by the bill. The measures in the bill are best addressed as regulatory law and not as criminal law.

Provincial governments generally have constitutional authority to regulate the conservation and sale of wildlife and wildlife parts. Provincial governments do in fact regulate such activities. There are important division of powers questions in relation to the measures in the bill which the member did allude to.

In view of the constitutional competence of the provincial governments to regulate the use of wildlife on provincial lands, I would urge those jurisdictions which are experiencing problems with the sale of wildlife or wildlife parts to work with their respective governments to address the problem in a regulatory context.

To the extent that the federal government does have the power to legislate to protect wildlife, it does so by the use of its regulatory power, not the Criminal Code. In fact, there are several federal statutes that cover the kind of conduct this bill seeks to address, including the Canada Wildlife Act, the Migratory Birds Convention Act, the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act, and the species at risk bill, Bill C-5, currently before the Senate.

The federal government has a series of regulatory regimes in place designed to protect and conserve wildlife, and to punish related misconduct. These measures are not in the Criminal Code. The reason for this is because the government understands and appreciates that these matters are most appropriately dealt with in a dedicated regulatory regime.

The measures in the bill are best dealt with as regulatory law. They do not belong in the Criminal Code. I do not wish by these comments to suggest that the objectives of the bill lack merit. I think most members of the House would agree that the goal of discouraging the selling of wildlife and wildlife parts, particularly wildlife which is threatened or an endangered species, is a laudable one. However, the question is whether or not this particular bill is the best way to achieve this goal. In the government's view, it is not.

Let me outline some features of the bill that are traditionally associated with the creation of offences in the regulatory context, rather than within Criminal Code offences.

One important feature of the bill is that it does not apply equally to all Canadians. It would expressly exempt from application any person who is authorized pursuant to a federal or provincial permit or licence to commit the acts which otherwise would qualify as an offence as long as the wildlife involved is not a threatened or endangered species. Exemptions of this nature are extremely rare in the context of the Criminal Code. Indeed, the criminal law is a law of general application that normally applies to all Canadians in the same way.

Bill C-280 would permit the Minister of the Environment to exempt from application of the act “any person or class of persons” in respect of a threatened or endangered species where in the opinion of the minister the exemption is “necessary or in the public interest”. Giving a power to the Minister of the Environment to exempt people from the law again signals a regulatory law and not a criminal law.

There is another problem with this provision. The criterion for an exemption is so subjective and general that it would not provide any real limits on the behaviour to be exempted. This provision would face serious constitutional attack on that basis.

Another feature of the bill, which is not normally found in the Criminal Code, is that the Minister of the Environment would given the power to designate by regulation an animal as “wildlife” for the purposes of the provisions.

Another provision would permit the Minister of the Environment to designate a species of wildlife as either an endangered species or as a threatened species provided that the minister had consulted with the committee on the status of endangered wildlife in Canada.

Again, these provisions are more consistent with legislation aimed at the protection and regulation of wildlife than they are with provisions found in the Criminal Code. As noted by constitutional law expert Professor Peter Hogg:

A criminal law ordinarily consists of a prohibition which is to be self-applied by the persons to whom it is addressed. There is not normally any intervention by an administrative agency or official prior to the application ofthe law.

I think the interests of justice are served by a consistent and coordinated approach to subject areas within the legislative competence of the federal government. I have already referred to the numerous federal statutes that pertain to wildlife and wildlife protection. Some of the provisions of Bill C-280 overlap with those in the current wildlife legislation and also with the provisions of Bill C-5, the species at risk bill, currently before the Senate.

Bill C-280 would ignore this already existing body of laws or contemplated laws. Bill C-280 would create offences that in large part overlap the offences provided in these other federal statutes. Instead of seeking to amend these other statutes which deal directly with the matters at hand and are administered by the Minister of the Environment, who figures so prominently in Bill C-280, the bill before us seeks to create a whole new and independent regime that would have to be reconciled with the regulation that already exists.

This would add confusion to the regime that already exists. The offences proposed in Bill C-280 are inconsistent with similar offences in other federal statutes in that they are indictable offences only. This is inconsistent with provisions found in the Canada Wildlife Act, the Migratory Birds Convention Act, the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act, and Bill C-5. Offences in these other statutes are dual procedure offences. There is no logical reason for this inconsistency.

The government cannot support the bill because, quite simply, it seeks to amend the wrong piece of legislation. The Criminal Code is not the right vehicle for prohibiting the sale of wildlife.

Even if one were to accept that such measures fit appropriately in the Criminal Code, which they clearly do not, the provisions of the bill are inconsistent in a variety of ways with the Criminal Code and normal criminal law procedures and penalties.

There is no precedent in the Criminal Code for this kind of penalty regime. The sentencing provisions in the Criminal Code follow a pattern for maximum consistency and rationality. Offences in the code generally have maximum penalties of 2, 5, 10, 14 years and life imprisonment. There is no precedent for the way in which this particular bill has been structured with respect to its sentencing.

In conclusion, the provisions of Bill C-280 cannot be supported for several reasons. They are not matters for the Criminal Code, they are inconsistent with other provisions of the Criminal Code, and they overlap and potentially conflict with other federal legislation that already governs this area.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

December 4th, 2002 / 6:35 p.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Liberal Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of things to say with regard to the hon. member's bill. I also want to clarify a couple of things that were said by one of her colleagues, the member for Saanich--Gulf Islands.

It is important for all Canadians to realize that it is not the government that chooses what is votable. It is actually a committee of this Parliament that chooses what is and is not votable.

While he exalted the conservation activities in other countries, which are very deserving of great credit, I think he forgot about some of the important conservation activities taking place here in Canada through organizations like Ducks Unlimited where there is some public and private partnership.

However I was encouraged by some of the things that he mentioned on the endangered species and cruelty to animal legislation that is working its way through the House and through the Senate. I encourage him, given his support, to encourage the senators to pass that bill because there are important issues to be addressed there.

With regard to Bill C-280, I think most members of the House would agree that the goal of discouraging the selling of wildlife and wildlife parts, particularly wildlife that is threatened or endangered, is a laudable one, but the question is, how do we best do that.

The member opposite has raised some very important issues. This should be something discussed through one of the joint ministers' meetings at the federal and provincial level because some of the issues are provincial and some of the issues are federal. Let us figure out what the best tools are. She has raised an issue of great importance to Canadians and to the future of our wildlife.

The member for Northumberland has already identified a number of difficulties with making this a Criminal Code provision, and that perhaps regulatory legislation is more appropriate. There are a number of federal statutes that try to address some of the conduct that is being sought in Bill C-280, such as the Canada Wildlife Act, the Migratory Birds Convention, the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act, which the member herself recognized, and the species at risk act, Bill C-5, which is currently before the Senate. Some of the things that are being covered will be addressed through that.

The member for Northumberland talked about the difference between criminal law and regulatory provisions. The Supreme Court of Canada has expressly recognized that:

--the common law has long acknowledged a distinction between truly criminal conduct and conduct, otherwise lawful, which is prohibited in the public interest.

There could be some challenges here.

According to Justice Cory:

Regulatory legislation involves a shift of emphasis from the protection of individual interests and deterrence and punishment of acts involving moral fault, to the protection of public and societal interests. While criminal offences are usually designed to condemn and punish past, inherently wrongful conduct, regulatory measures are generally directed to the prevention of future harm through the enforcement of minimum standards of conduct and care.

I think this is where the member is trying to punish acts and also to prevent future acts, and we need to get the right measures in place.

The member for Northumberland has already identified that there is a problem because of the exceptions that would be covered in this act and that the criminal law does not really have exemptions. It is extremely rare for the Criminal Code to specify exemptions for criminal liability in respect of particular offences.

The other challenge, which I am not sure he had a chance to discuss, was the issue of relative proportionality in terms of sentencing. Clearly, there is a need to make sure that sentences are proportionate with the seriousness of other offences that may carry the same or lesser penalties. It is not an exact science but I would argue that it has evolved over time as Canadians have placed greater emphasis or expressed their desire to stop certain offences or their abhorrence of certain offences. We have increased penalties in certain areas. We have sent a strong message to those who would choose to conduct them. However it would be disproportionate that a second offence under Bill C-280, in relation to a threatened or endangered species, would carry a maximum penalty of eight years when the maximum penalty right now for assault on indictment is five years.

Currently the maximum penalty for cruelty to animals is six months and that is why Bill C-10B, which is currently before the Senate, would raise that maximum to five years. Cruelty to animals would have a five year maximum sentence and that is for someone who is torturing an animal, which I think all of us in the House and in Canadian society would agree is absolutely abhorrent. We need to see how that would relate to what is being proposed in the member's bill, which is a maximum of eight years.

I mentioned that there are a variety of statutes that regulate the kind of behaviour that is dealt with in Bill C-280. I think the member has raised a very important issue. It is something we need to discuss at the federal-provincial level to see if the provinces should be doing more in terms of their regulatory authority. We should work through and develop the issue a little more before necessarily making a change to the Criminal Code.

I definitely support the protection of animals. The member's colleague mentioned organized crime rings. We need to make sure that those laws are in place to stop that kind of activity and to punish it very severely should it occur. I think there are a number of ways we could beef up things through the current bills and acts that are in place. We do not want to inadvertently create even more confusion out there so that people do not do their utmost to protect our species and wildlife in Canada.

At this point I will not be supporting the bill but I commend the member opposite on her excellent work.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Liberal Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very glad to take part in this because I have great sympathy for the member's bill. I think we should use the Criminal Code to sock it to the people who trade in the body parts of animals.

This is an issue that goes back to the very soul of western Canadian history. We will recall that the buffalo were hunted first for their meat, then they were hunted for their hides, then they were hunted for their tongues and finally they were hunted merely for their bones, which were to be dried on the prairie and used as fertilizer. So more than 100 years ago we will recall that this ghastly thing of destroying a species, which was common at the time, merely for one part of that animal, basically destroyed the buffalo of the prairie and the way of life of the aboriginals of the prairie.

In spirit I really do support the member's bill. I think she was very right to have brought it before the House because this is a practice that has occurred in other parts of the world that has led to the extirpation of animals that were common.

I only slightly disagree with some of the other speakers. This is not an issue of endangered species. This is an issue of common species that face destruction.

However I do have problems with the bill. I have to be absolutely candid with the member who has moved the legislation. I have two fundamental problems. I cannot say that I have gone into the legislation in such great depth that I can be seen as any great authority on it, but I did find, in examining the bill, that the concept of body parts of animals is not very well defined. I would be fearful, as the bill is currently framed, that it might reach too far and might indeed reach out to animal pelts, muskrat pelts and those types of things that are collected. I am sure that could be repaired. It could go to committee where I am sure it could be fixed up if it is genuinely a problem in the legislation.

However, oddly enough, the thing that I find most difficult with the legislation is the section that reads:

For greater certainty, nothing in this section shall be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from any existing aboriginal or treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

I would be fearful that that particular section would be an invitation to some Canadians to abuse their right to collect the animals. What we would be doing is giving to one group of Canadians an opportunity to carry out the very abuses that the member is trying to prevent.

I think it is a great effort and I wish I could support it but, unfortunately, I do not think I can.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The hour provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

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

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, in October, I informed the new Solicitor General of Canada that a negative climate caused by various forms of power abuse was rampant in the institutions of Correctional Service Canada.

Last year, his colleague, the President of the Treasury Board, made public the results of an internal investigation showing that 20% of correctional services employees, both male and female, are being harassed in some way.

There is a policy to be used for dealing with harassment in the workplace; it was even reviewed last July. Unfortunately, it is not being enforced, is badly enforced or, in many cases, is being circumvented. I am concerned with this problem, because this situation exists, among other places, in my riding, at the Archambault institution.

Psychological harassment takes the form of organizational acts of violence where the balance of power is unequal and is always unfavourable to the victim, whatever the outcome. Intimidation, threats, balance of power, economic sanctions, the loss of reputation have the effect of undermining the confidence and credibility of the victim and discourage all the witnesses or other employees from complaining.

When an employee does complain, his or her superiors deny the situation and prefer to see it as a staff relations problem. Victims must prove the abuse. Moreover, they are urged to take part in a mediation process where they have to face their aggressor, which is doubly difficult for them.

The mediation process that is strongly recommended in the policy thus becomes a weapon used by the aggressor because it makes the situation drag on, which causes more health problems, loss of self-esteem and significant financial losses.

Sometimes the trauma is so severe that it is very unlikely that the victim will be able to go back to work in the short or medium term, especially when the aggressor succeeded in isolating the victim and undermining his or her credibility and his or her rights.

In most cases, victims are seen as responsible for the violence that is inflicted upon them. When, finally, after a lot of effort and numerous investigation reports, harassment is proven, aggressors are not at all inconvenienced, whereas victims find themselves in dire financial straits and are invited to ask for a transfer to another institution, as if they had not been penalized enough. That solution is totally unacceptable.

The government cannot sit idly by while this is happening and hide behind a policy that is well-intentioned but difficult to apply. It is unacceptable that managers in positions of authority who work for the government can act this way, receive promotions and refuse to acknowledge the situation and rectify it.

Since the Solicitor General has stated that he would show leadership in this matter, I want to ask him, and this is my question, if he will take action to do justice to the numerous victims at Archambault and other penitentiaries, and show that the government's claims with regard to the protection of its public service are true.

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Waterloo—Wellington Ontario

Liberal

Lynn Myers LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak on this point raised in the House on October 24 by the hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville.

My hon. colleague raised a point regarding harassment in the workplace. She also made reference to an in-house survey commissioned by Treasury Board which revealed that 20% of employees experience some kind of harassment without anything being done to remedy the situation.

Let me start by saying that I commend the staff of CSC for the professionalism shown in doing their daily work. They do a great service for all Canadians. As we know, working in the field of corrections is a difficult job and can be at times both dangerous and unpredictable. Like all government departments, CSC does not condone harassment in the workplace and takes the results of the 1999 survey, as well as official complaints, very, very seriously.

While 20% of all federal employees reported experiencing some kind of harassment in the workplace, it is important to note that the question posed did not ask responders to identify the source of harassment, whether it came from an offender, a co-worker or, for that matter, a supervisor.

In May 2001, CSC adopted Treasury Board's policy on the prevention and resolution of harassment in the workplace. I am pleased to say that all six unions support this policy. As a result, CSC follows the internal complaint resolution process established by this policy.

As well, a joint CSC management and union committee was created in January of this year. This committee serves to discuss ways of improving CSC's anti-harassment and dispute resolution program. This committee developed a guiding principles document, which provides guidance and clarification specific to CSC's own mandate.

Through various partnerships, CSC is currently developing anti-harassment training in addition to the formal training currently available. Furthermore, monitoring of the Treasury Board policy is being applied in CSC by regional anti-harassment coordinators.

As we can see, CSC has undertaken a number of initiatives to address harassment encountered in the workplace. However, I should note in closing that it is important to say that CSC can investigate only complaints filed in accordance with Treasury Board policy, but we continue to remain vigilant on this very important matter and we will continue to do.

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate the response I received. However, I wanted to know if the Solicitor General could say “Yes, I am aware of complaints, namely from Archambault, and also from Donnacona and Port-Cartier”. I wanted to know if the government was prepared to help these people.

At present, the law is being circumvented within Correctional Services. The hon. member is well aware of this. The President of the Treasury Board has a nice little committee working on fixing this problem. This committee could say that, in fact, Correctional Services does not presently acknowledge cases of harassment. The law is being circumvented. A manager has the authority to decide if a complaint falls into the category of harassment or labour relations. A manager and boss is going to tell an employee, “You know, your complaint is not about harassment”.

Tonight's answer is shocking. The office of the Solicitor General of Canada knows this is a problem, and we are going to keep the heat on. I am asking that something be done to crack down on the aggressors doing the harassing.

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Liberal

Lynn Myers Liberal Waterloo—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I said at the outset, CSC certainly does not condone harassment in the workplace. We will continue to ensure that we take those matters very seriously and ensure that procedures are in fact in place to reduce any of these problems and make sure that the workplace is free of harassment.

We take the results of the 1999 survey very seriously. We have taken a number of initiatives and we will continue to do so, CSC and others, to address this problem as it is encountered in the workplace. I want to repeat, because it is an important point, that CSC can investigate and process only official complaints filed in accordance with Treasury Board policy.

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Pankiw Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Treasury Board minister's defence of enforced bilingualism is full of the same self-serving rationale and selective omissions that have become the hallmark of the government's reckless language policy. Her intention to impose even stricter bilingual requirements on the civil service will result in an expansion of the discriminatory obstacle to federal employment for unilingual Canadians in general, but anglophones in particular.

Indeed, Treasury Board numbers reveal that francophones hold 78% of all federal jobs designated bilingual throughout Canada. Last year they received 68% of promotions and 71% of all bilingual positions. Since 1978 in the national capital region, where systemic language discrimination is most pronounced, the number of federal civil service jobs designated bilingual imperative has increased by 12%, while the participation rate of anglophones has decreased by a nearly corresponding amount of 10%.

Those figures should act as a reality check on the government agenda to expand mandatory bilingual hiring requirements. Clearly, bilingualism is a divisive affirmative action program for francophones but discriminates against anglophones and has served to undermine the principles of merit and the quality of opportunity in federal hiring and promotion.

This fact is reinforced in a study conducted by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, which found that the overwhelming and vast majority of respondents who indicated that bilingualism negatively impacted their careers were English.

A similar sentiment was expressed by the director of the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers, when he was quoted as saying that the minister's Fresh Start proposals “go too far”.

According to the Public Service Commission, an entire generation of English speaking Canadians will be denied career opportunities in the federal civil service.

The minister is intentionally ignoring the widely though quietly held view that enforced bilingualism is an abysmal failure and serves to perpetuate the myth of linguistic duality instead of its discriminatory consequence and divisive reality.

Indeed, the most offensive premise of the minister's proposal is the laughable assertion that the government's pursuit of bilingualism somehow engenders respect and tolerance, an obviously errant notion given the plight of anglophones seeking federal employment or, for that matter, anglophones living in Quebec. In that province, anglophones comprise 13% of the population, excluding the national capital region, but hold only 7% of federal civil service jobs.

Furthermore, given the federal government's fixation with making Ottawa officially bilingual, it is worth noting that in Quebec the threshold for providing bilingual municipal or provincial services to anglophones is 50%, a far cry from the 5% to 10% “where numbers warrant” formula used to justify bilingual service at the federal level.

The government's double standard on bilingualism, an enforced bilingualism across Canada while condoning and fostering a unilingual Quebec, was and remains a federal initiative to appease francophones and Quebec separatists. In spite of conclusive evidence establishing the inherent injustice of enforced bilingualism and despite objections from advocates of fairness, the government is doggedly pursuing its implementation and expansion.

This blind persistence is best illustrated by its predisposition to attack the messenger instead of debating the issue when challenged with facts about bilingual discrimination. The discriminatory effect of enforced bilingualism with respect to federal hiring and promotion is costly to the vast majority of unilingual Canadians who do not speak French.

In addition to the substantial financial burden to taxpayers and private industry, there is an incalculable social cost of lost opportunity borne by a majority of English speaking civil servants and the public they serve. In view of this, the most pertinent question the government should answer but intentionally evades is this: What about the rights of anglophones?

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

Durham Ontario

Liberal

Alex Shepherd LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to answer the question of the hon. member for Saskatoon—Humboldt which he asked on November 7.

The federal government wants the public service to reflect the Canadian population and to express its values to the fullest extent possible. These values are based on respect for others, tolerance and open-mindedness. These principles are the cornerstones of the government's official languages policy.

Our diversity and linguistic duality are important to us as Canadians and indeed define us as Canadians. Since linguistic duality in the federal public service is one of the core values that make up the Canadian identity, the government is working hard to highlight this Canadian value as a source of our country's vitality.

Under the Official Languages Act the Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that English speaking Canadians and French speaking Canadians, without regard to their ethnic origin or first language learned, have equal opportunities to obtain employment and advancement in federal institutions and that the federal public service is representative of the Canadian population.

The government must ensure that the workforce of government institutions tends to reflect the overall representation of the two official language communities. To achieve this the government must therefore take into account such additional factors as characteristics of individual institutions, including their mandates, the public they serve and their location. No positions are reserved for one language group in preference to the other.

Moreover the government is strictly forbidden to use quotas or numerical targets as tools for enhancing the participation rates of the two official language communities. The government is committed to respecting the principle of non-discrimination in all of its staffing activities. Government staffing practices are based on this principle as well as on the merit principle.

In that connection the Public Service Employment Act provides that the Public Service Commission shall appoint qualified persons to positions in the federal public service. The commission is also required to select candidates who meet its language requirements which are part and parcel of the requirements of the positions to be filled.

In the case of non-imperative employment, the term means an appointment for an indeterminate period to a bilingual position that does not require the immediate knowledge of both official languages. The public service official languages exclusion approval order states that persons appointed to positions by non-imperative staffing have two years within which to satisfy the language requirements of their position, that is, to learn the other language.

The Official Languages Act emphasizes that the language requirements of a position must be established in the spirit of objectivity. All federal government staffing policies with language implications are rooted in the Official Languages Act. Their intent is to allow the government to fill its linguistic obligations as regards communication with the public, provision of services and language of work.

According to the 1996 census, the population of Canada was 73.8% anglophone and 24.6% francophone.

The annual report on official languages that the President of the Treasury Board tabled in Parliament in 2001 shows that as of March 31, 2001 anglophones occupied 69%, that is, 102,417 jobs. In other words quite frankly the member's statistics seem to be out of whack with reality. Francophones held 31%. In the national capital region 59% are anglophones and 41% are francophones--

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

7 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Order. The hon. member for Saskatoon--Humboldt has one minute to respond.

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

7 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Pankiw Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, in fact my statistics are bang on. I am talking about jobs that are designated bilingual imperative. Seventy per cent of those positions are held by francophones. Last year alone francophones received 68% of promotions and 71% of all bilingual positions. Those are the statistics. Those are the facts.

The hon. member in his response to my question twice used the word “reflect”. Once he said “reflect the Canadian population” and another time he said “reflect the representation of language communities”. Those statistics of 78% of all federal jobs designated bilingual held by francophones do not at all reflect the Canadian population or the representation of those language communities.

The parliamentary secretary misrepresented the statistics. Furthermore he did not even address and completely ignored the victims of the language discrimination laws. The anti-English sentiment and agenda of the government is offensive and it must stop.

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

7 p.m.

Liberal

Alex Shepherd Liberal Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I can say that what is offensive is the member himself.

Let us turn to promotions. Incidentally, the member does not actually quote his sources but I will quote sources.

The Public Service Commission annual report for 2000-01 shows that in general, anglophones obtained 66% of all promotions while francophones got 34%. Here too we see that the federal public servants indeed are obtaining promotions at the rate that reflects the relative presence of their populations in the general population.

The reality is that Canada is a bilingual country. The objective of our policy is to reflect that bilingualism within our hiring practices. That is what we do. We encourage people to learn the second language. There is nothing wrong with anglophones learning French, and indeed francophones learning English. That is what we want to promote and I think we have been very successful at doing that.

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

7:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, November 22 I asked the Minister of Health a question that is of importance to Canadians. I said:

Mr. Speaker, first we had tainted blood imported from U.S. prisons. Now we are importing semen from U.S. prisons to produce Canadian children. The catastrophic fallout from disease spread by tainted blood has created thousands of victims and 20 years later continues to occupy the House and destroy the lives of the victims.

I went on to ask:

With recent deaths from organ transplants that contained the West Nile virus and untold pathogens yet to be identified, why is the Minister of Health establishing agencies to facilitate the international trade in human embryos, human cells and human body components?

The minister's response began:

I am not exactly sure what the hon. member is referring to.

I would like to clarify for Canadians tonight what we are talking about. It is the import and export of human tissue, human cells and human gametes, for example, sperm. I wonder how many Canadians realize that the industry to help people with fertility problems is importing sperm from U.S. prisons to help with reproductive technology. It raises some concerns.

I make reference to the tainted blood scandal. Have we learned anything from importing blood? The tainted blood affair has been considered to be one of the worst public health disasters in Canadian history. About 1,100 Canadians became infected with blood-borne HIV. Between 10,000 and 20,000 others contracted hepatitis C after receiving tainted blood products. The federal government's compensation plan now amounts to something like $1.4 billion in reparations and assistance.

Since 1995 about 3,000 Canadian women every year are inseminated with donor semen. Because of anonymity and the way the department handles this, there is no requirement other than what the department describes as minimum safety requirements respecting donor selection, cell, tissue and organ collection, processing, packaging, testing, labelling, storage, recall of cells, tissues and organs, record keeping and adverse event reporting.

This is a very delicate subject. We are talking about creating a human being and there is no social identity attached to the sperm donation.

The question to raise is, what are we importing when we import human cells? There are viruses. Who knows what other pathogens may be associated with these cells? We have enough trouble containing things within our border.

When asked at committee, Mr. Ouimette, who represented Health Canada, said that we have the ability to check beyond our borders but we have no authority to look beyond our borders. How could we possibly inspect facilities beyond our borders?

In this sensitive area do we not have enough resources among Canadians, the 33 million of us, to provide the biological sources needed within our own borders to have some sense of controlling it? That is the question.

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

7:05 p.m.

Madawaska—Restigouche New Brunswick

Liberal

Jeannot Castonguay LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, first I want to thank my colleague, with whom I have been working for nearly two years already in the Standing Committee on Health. I think that the questions that he raises are of interest to all Canadians. I will try to better respond to his concerns to clear up this issue once and for all.

He mentioned that sperm is imported from prisons. I checked with Health Canada. To the department's knowledge, no sperm from prisoners is imported, contrary to the information that was given to the member in committee when he asked the question. In reading the transcript of the committee proceedings, it is obvious that the public official who answered the question did not understand that the member was talking about prisoners. That is why his answer was affirmative.

In Canada, donor semen intended for use in assisted conception is regulated under the Food and Drugs Act and the Processing and Distribution of Semen for Assisted Conception Regulations, better known as the Semen Regulations.

These regulations set out stringent requirements which are aimed at ensuring the safety of donor semen used in assisted conception in Canada.

These requirements apply to all donor semen distributed in this country; this includes semen processed in Canada and abroad.

Specifically, it is prohibited to distribute donor semen in Canada that does not meet the mandatory exclusion criteria and testing requirements of the Semen Regulations.

These requirements, which, I emphasize, are applicable to all donors, are designed to exclude semen from donors at high risk for infection with various infectious agents, such as HIV and hepatitis B and C.

Under the Semen Regulations, it is prohibited to import donor semen that does not meet Canadian regulatory requirements. Canadian importers are responsible for ensuring the safety of all imported donor semen.

Importers, indeed all Canadian establishments involved in the processing or distribution of donor semen, are subject to mandatory inspections as part of Health Canada's compliance and enforcement programme.

I have explained how the Semen Regulations serve to protect the health and safety of people using donor semen. Currently, there is no legislation to regulate the importation of ova for reproductive purposes or embryos for any purpose.

To address this and similar issues, Bill C-13 will create the Assisted Human Reproduction Agency of Canada to oversee all health and safety issues that could impact people through the processing, importation, distribution or use of embryos for any purpose as well as gametes for reproductive purposes.

In summary, the current and proposed regulatory frameworks for cells, tissues and organs, including reproductive material, are part of Health Canada's ongoing efforts to standardize safety practices and to provide the ability to address emerging issues such as new pathogens in a timely manner.

I hope this will ease the concerns of my hon. colleague.