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.


Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

December 4th, 2002 / 6:25 p.m.



Paul MacKlin Parliamentary 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 Code
Private Members' Business

6:35 p.m.


Paddy Torsney 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 Code
Private Members' Business

6:40 p.m.


John Bryden 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 Code
Private 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 Code
Adjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.


Diane Bourgeois 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 Code
Adjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.



Lynn Myers Parliamentary 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 Code
Adjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.


Diane Bourgeois 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 Code
Adjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.


Lynn Myers 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 Code
Adjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Pankiw 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 Code
Adjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.



Alex Shepherd Parliamentary 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 Code
Adjournment Proceedings

7 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

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

Criminal Code
Adjournment Proceedings

7 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Pankiw 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 Code
Adjournment Proceedings

7 p.m.


Alex Shepherd 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 Code
Adjournment Proceedings

7:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney 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 Code
Adjournment Proceedings

7:05 p.m.

New Brunswick


Jeannot Castonguay Parliamentary 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.