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House of Commons Hansard #152 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-19.

Topics

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

And offensive, as my colleague has just said.

There is no provision for regional representation. There is no provision that the minister must even consult to make his appointments.

There is also the question of “double harmony”. How can we have the great diversity among first nations culturally, geographically and politically when, according to clause 27, a key purpose of the commission is to harmonize the tax system for first nations in Canada by promoting “a common approach”? How can we have diversity when in fact the overall goal is homogeneity and the levelling of all of these communities into one cookie cutter approach?

Not only must first nations local tax laws generally be the same, but those taxation laws must be integrated into the broader municipal and provincial tax framework. There is also the requirement that the needs of the first nation members must be reconciled with the interests of taxpayers. This is a most unusual requirement, which basically says, “You can do anything you want, but only if you do it our way”.

There is the further prescription that first nations must take into consideration what the taxpayers want the tax money to be used for, rather than giving priority to the needs, interests and wishes of the first nations members. This is still another reason why first nations oppose Bill C-19. There seems to be a more significant role for the ratepayers than there is for the members of the first nations.

I could go on all day with reasons given by first nations as to why they oppose this bill. Let me conclude with this one. Bill C-19 would give the financial management board the authority to assume third party management of the first nation in order to force it to remedy any situation it feels should be remedied. The manager sent in would have the power to amend or make taxation laws and to “assume control of service delivery of programs and services”.

There is no right of appeal, no time limit as to how long the imposed manager can stay, and no requirement to consult with the people of the first nation. Can anyone in this chamber imagine this? What Canadian would accept this kind of regime?

I join the vast majority of first nations people in opposing Bill C-19 and so do my colleagues in the New Democratic Party. I respectfully urge my colleagues in all parties in the House to do the same.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

Rick Laliberte Liberal Churchill River, SK

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to speak to this very critical issue at this time in our history as a country and at this time in our relationship with the aboriginal nations of this land.

First I would like to state that in its intentions Bill C-19, from my perspective, is inappropriate at this time because the relationship between the Crown and our government and the aboriginal nations is not set. We are approaching the end of the indigenous decade. It is coming to a close next year. Ten years were set aside by the United Nations to review indigenous issues throughout the world. Within that 10 years, our country has experienced a lot of reflection. A big part of that reflection was the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Within that reflection, I want to focus on that definition of first nations.

Bill C-19 proposes in the definition that in Canada “first nation” has the same meaning as “band” in the Indian Act. I would like to tell Canadians and this Parliament that the first nations of Canada are not band councils. The first nations of Canada are the original nations of Canada. There is terminology in the Cree language.

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Cree]

What I said in Cree was that if I speak in Cree and define myself as nehiyaw , I know who I am in my language. I belong to a group of people who come from the nehiyaw nation. That is the Cree nation as it is defined in the French language. The Dene Nation is another nation besides the Cree. The Mohawks are another nation. The Oneida, the Tuscarora, the Seneca, the Tlingit, the Haida and the Inuit are all nations. The Métis are a nation.

These nations are recognized in our Constitution and they are also recognized under the purview of our treaties, the treaties of this country engaged with these nations, and these nations have to play a role in this present day context.

Let us talk about these institutions that are being created. If our government is willing to recognize and create four commissions and these four commissions make up a total of 51 seats, 51 members will be assigned to have certain powers and responsibilities in dealing with the tax commission, the financial management board, the finance authority and the statistical institute.

I would beg members to consider this. There are up to 52 and maybe even more aboriginal nations in this country. Why can we not represent and recognize each nation and each nation's representative? Why can we not have a Cree chief, a Dene chief, a Mohawk chief, all of the councils of nations, to help govern this country? Why take our squabbles to the Supreme Court for every wrong that has been done?

Parliament was created to debate and chart a course for all Canadians to journey into the future. That vision was embodied in one of the original treaties called a Two-Row Wampum, where in the original vessel of the original nations, they can keep their languages, they can keep their spiritual beliefs and they can keep their self-governance. If financial institutions are to be created, that is in the vessel, not to be created somewhere else.

We are embarking on this with this decade of indigenous review coming to a close next year. I call on my aboriginal brothers and sisters throughout this country to gather as nations.

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Cree]

The aboriginal nations have welcomed all the other nations and peoples of the world to live among us on this land in harmony. Let us chart that relationship so it lasts for another 1,000 years and another 1,000 years after that so our children can be proud of Canada. We are a river of nations. We all flow here but we must flow as one.

I sit here as an aboriginal person. I am Metis Cree. The first words that came out of my mouth were

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Cree].

That is the way I see the world. I cannot apologize for that. I was born here and that is who I am.

I bring the House a message. This House came from Britain. Under the British North American Act, the Crown looked at a governing structure for this country and negotiated the territory. There is no country without a territory because without a territory there is no country.

This nation was negotiated on peace and friendship with the original nations to create a country. We must respect the very foundation of that peace and friendship which is the very foundation of this country.

The preamble of Bill C-19 states:

Whereas the Government of Canada has adopted a policy...

No. The Government of Canada adopted that the Crown enter into a treaty to create a country. The preamble has to say treaty first. We just have to ask aboriginals who feel a relationship with this country and they will tell us that it is a treaty relationship. They are proud to have the blood of a nation flowing through them but we must create the country together.

We are one country. We cannot push our aboriginal nations out. We must respect the peace and friendship that is embodied in those treaties. The world is hard-pressed to find peace right now. If we drop the gift of peace that we have right now, we may be ruining it for the rest of the world. That gift of peace is a sacred gift that was given to our first nations. We must nurture it.

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Cree]

I call upon my people, the aboriginal nations of this land, to look at this country and to be proud of their nations.

Over the last 10 years I have mentioned a royal commission. That royal commission has given me a little ray of hope. It recommended that a third house of Parliament be created. We presently have the House of Commons and the Senate which is the upper chamber. There should be a third house.

That third house physically exists right next door and it is called the parliamentary library. It is a circular building, shaped like a teepee, much like the teepees at Fort Carleton where treaties were negotiated. The teepees were set outside and the British commissioners and the Crown sat inside the fort, which was square. As members will notice, the rooms in these buildings are square. If we look at the library we see it is round. We can create a circle and a symbol of unity with the circle.

This room is an adversarial room where we are designed to fight. A circle is a place of unity and consensus. The government must adopt the original symbols of governance that existed on this land.

The House of Commons originated in Britain as a vessel of Britain. It is time we matured as a country and looked at adopting two governing structures, the original governing structure that existed here many years ago and a new structure for the future that would create a country that would show the rest of the world how to live in peace. A colonial country with a colonial past can have a gift that is true and powerful, a gift called peace.

If we give these powers to financial institutions and take them away from first nations, then we are recognizing the power of money over the power of nations and the power of people.

I caution the people who are looking seriously at adopting Bill C-19 that this legislation will cause major problems at the outset for our first nations communities. They can purchase an abundance of riches but there is a long term commitment in the bill. The powers in Bill C-19 would allow a financial management board to invade the powers of first nations' councils and change their bylaws.

I do not want to see banks having powers to change bylaws of first nations and band councils without the government having a thorough relationship with the original nations based on peace and friendship, as defined in our treaties.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to tell the hon. member who just spoke that I appreciated very much his remarks. We could tell that he was speaking from his heart and that he was deeply affected. I commend him for taking this position in the House.

Before addressing Bill C-19, I wish to formally thank in this House Chief John Martin of Gesgapegiag, as well as all the aboriginal nations of the Gaspé, Chaleur Bay and New Brunswick, for their support in a fight for the environment that is vital to our region, the fight against an incinerator in Belledune.

I had the opportunity to meet Chief John Martin on a few occasions. He is a man for whom I have a great appreciation. My wish is that this government finally recognize that the aboriginal nations exist, and not only virtually. I hope it will recognize that they exist in reality, that they have rights and these rights must be respected.

As my hon. colleague mentioned, what we see today with this government is a paternalistic tendency and a paternalistic system being maintained. In that system, there is no room for trust or for the self-determination of aboriginal people.

Where does this attitude come from? Where does this system come from? From the conquest in 1760. This system was imposed on aboriginal nations over the years. First, by the British government in 1760, and then by the federal government, starting in 1867. It has imposed a comprehensive paternalistic system on aboriginal nations.

At the time of the conquest and even before, the British wanted to wipe the aboriginal nations off the face of the earth. They tried to do the same thing with the Acadians, in New Brunswick. If we, Quebeckers, who were known as French Canadians from Quebec at the time, had not been as many as we were, they would probably have tried the same thing with us. Unfortunately for them, there were problems in their 13 colonies, and they were not able to try to do to us what they tried to do to the aboriginal nations.

What we are asking for the aboriginal nations is very simple: the right to govern themselves, to decide their future for themselves, to decide what kind of services they will provide for themselves and so on, as well as, and this is very important, the right to live, in dignity, in accordance with their customs and their needs.

It seems that, in this country, the right to be different does not exist. Look at Canada's fine principles, one by one, from the moment they were implemented. Among them is the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Considering what is happening with first nations, this principle does not apply. It remains simply a principle. There is nothing in practice to suggest that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is truly being complied with, that Canadian legislation that would allow the first nations to lead a better life is truly being implemented.

In fact, the opposite is true. Simply look at the first nations and all the problems they have. Earlier we were talking about the suicide rate among young aboriginals. Simply look at the dropout rate and the opportunities young aboriginals have to lead a normal, decent life.

I do not think Canada will provide them, at this time, with a system that will help them reach the objectives that would allow their people to lead a decent life. On the contrary, we are perpetuating a paternalistic tradition, a tradition of oppression, and a tradition of wiping out the first nations.

Simply look at what happened recently in the House, when we were talking about recognizing Quebec as a nation, and Quebeckers as a people. Look at the attitude of the government and the MPs opposite. Look at the attitude of the 35 MPs from Quebec, who said no to the Quebec nation and to the existence of a Quebec people.

Is this government going to make us believe that it intends to respect the first nations? Is this government going to make us believe that it will provide services to the first nations? Is this government going to tell us that we are going to improve their lot in life?

The conquest was 230 years ago. Obviously, since 1867, less time has passed. Since 1867, the aboriginals have been waiting to develop. Since 1867, they have been waiting for the right to live. Since 1867, aboriginal youth have been waiting for the right to exist, to live the way they want, to get an education, to integrate into their own society and maintain their language and culture.

One of the first things the federal government did was crush the Métis in western Canada. The first Prime Minister of Canada, John A. Macdonald, sent in the army to crush them and tell them that they did not have the right to exist. This mentality still exists today. Today, we no longer send in the army to crush the first nations, but we continue to send public servants who want to control them, manage them, tell them what to do and, ultimately, take away all their rights.

When they do obtain a right, it is intangible. Once again, that right is controlled. They are told, “You are incapable of managing your own affairs, of managing or providing services, so we, the white men from the federal government, will tell you what to do and we will control you and manage your affairs and tell you how you must live”.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Rhodesians.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Rhodesians, you are right. My colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot is quite right, the government has a Rhodesian mentality when it comes to Canada's first nations. The federal government must grant them real recognition. Real recognition is fundamental; they have the right to be different and to exist.

My colleague is talking about all first nations, since each nation is distinct and these differences must be respected, just as they alldeserve to be respected in a sound country.

We could also talk about the way aboriginal women are treated. I know my colleague from Terrebonne—Blainville, the critic for the status of women, is particularly concerned about this problem. Let us look at how aboriginal women and children are treated. As my colleague from Drummond has said, if people live within a system where they have been told for 200 years that they are incapable of doing things properly, of developing their potential, then eventually they develop—

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Bloc

Sébastien Gagnon Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean—Saguenay, QC

A complex.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

As my colleague for Champlain says, they develop a real complex. Eventually, after 200 years, people start to wonder if they really are incapable. In the end they are diminished. When the English arrived here after the Conquest, the aboriginal nations had a good life. They developed as they should, fed and cared for their children as they should, treated their women in accordance with their customs. Women received the treatment they expected in their culture; they were not mistreated.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

An hon. member

It was a matriarchy.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

My colleague is right, a matriarchy. So aboriginal women had a place. Then a system was set up that took everything away from these nations. They were told their way of living was unacceptable.

They were told, “We the British, the conquerors, cannot accept the way you are living. So we must change it”.

Obviously, the Bloc Quebecois will be opposing the bill before us. Once again, it is paternalistic, treats the first nations like children and is unacceptable.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Bloc

Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, I also rise to speak to Bill C-19. You are aware that a few hours ago, about 3:30 p.m. or 3:45 p.m., we paid tribute to the Prime Minister. The hon. member for Calgary Centre pointed out that the Prime Minister had been very sensitive to the aboriginal issue.

Permit me to say that, if being sensitive to the aboriginal situation results in Bills C-6, C-7 and C-19, even though the Prime Minister has been here for 40 years, he has never understood the situation of the native peoples. He kept them in ignorance. He did not allow them to flourish. Once again, today, with his legacy, Bills C-6, C-7 and C-19, he is putting them firmly in a box. He is telling them what to do and preventing their development.

In addition, I am the public accounts critic and I respond to the Auditor General. Not a year goes by without a report that denounces and decries the way the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development is behaving toward the native peoples.

I can talk about some of these headings: overuse of medication, inadequate housing, the tons of forms that have to be filled in—

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

There are 138 every year.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Bloc

Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—L'Érable, QC

There are 138 forms every year, and many of them are out of date. Furthermore, rumour has it that there are consultants helping them, good friends of the Liberals, who are familiar with the forms, but who keep the aboriginals in the dark.

The Auditor General has reported these facts. In the past five years, there have been at least ten reports condemning the federal government's administration with respect to the aboriginals.

Today, the House is considering Bills C-6, C-7 and C-19, and this is supposed to be the Prime Minister's legacy? I do not think so.

Once again, the Bloc Quebecois and Quebeckers are taking a stand. Aboriginals mean a great deal to us. Whenever there is a project that threatens the environment, who is our primary partner? The first nations. Who speaks out, often, against the Americans or multinationals threatening our environment? The first nations.

Just now, my colleague talked about the current problem in Belledune, on Chaleur Bay. Another project of great concern to everyone living along the St. Lawrence River was the proposal to ship plutonium, which is extremely radioactive. Once again, the aboriginals got involved, and they blocked these initiatives.

The aboriginal people have given us an incredible legacy. My father followed all the signs he learned from an old Indian. Excuse that expression, but that is how we called them at the time. I learned to read all the weather signs. They made a valuable contribution.

We could learn something new every day from talking to aboriginal people. Unfortunately, all we have done for them is to park them on reserves. Then we set up little displays of little aboriginal knick-knacks. We keep them on the reserve and we sell their handicrafts as gifts just about everywhere in Canada. That is the way we behave toward them.

And it is unacceptable.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

They have become tourist attractions.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Bloc

Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—L'Érable, QC

Yes, tourist attractions. What is the first thing a foreign visitor sees on arrival? How do we show them what is unique about Canada?

I remember when Canada put in its bid to host the Olympics. The first thing they did was to showcase aboriginal dancers. Canada pays attention to its aboriginal nations when the time comes to trot them out for political or sports purposes. But when the time comes to address their problems, the federal government avoids taking responsibility.

We have a lot to learn from the aboriginal people. In Quebec, considerable strides have been made. I issue an invitation to all those listening to us in Quebec, who have unfortunately been exposed to certain media coverage that may have created prejudices against them.

These were isolated cases involving the defence of certain interests. But they involved a minority. The aboriginal people are not as they have been portrayed by the media in recent years. They are people with a heritage. They protect us, and share their traditions with us. What is more, they are our best allies when it comes to environmental causes. Despite all this, the government wants to impose Bills C-6, C-7 and C-19 upon them. As my colleague for Champlain said, “Enough is enough”.

We would have hoped that, after 40 years with the member for Saint-Maurice and present Prime Minister, the aboriginal people could have finally felt that at last one man had understood them. But no, they will be saying that unfortunately no one has understood them.

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

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Madam Speaker, I have come back for the adjournment debate simply because I would like to have a real answer to my question.

Last Friday, I asked the Treasury Board president what she intended to do and what measures she would take to help victims of psychological harassment in the federal public service.

A victim is someone who suffers damages as a result of harmful actions committed by others. Everyone knows there is a policy against psychological harassment in the federal public service. This policy supposedly has mechanisms to help employees that have been harassed.

Last Friday, the minister was honest enough to tell us, and I quote:

In terms of enforcing this policy, there are some difficulties at the moment. We are discovering that there are still cases of harassment.

So, what does the minister intend to do to help the employees who relied on being heard and assisted through the policy, and used all the mechanisms it provides? These employees followed all the proper steps. What is the minister going to do for employees who have been harassed?

The existence of harassment has been ackowledged in many reports, by the CSST in Quebec and by professionals hired by departments where there is a problem. What will the minister do to help those employees who are not getting any support either from their employer or from their union and who have exhausted their sick leave and have lost or are about to lose their jobs? What will she do for those employees whose health and family life have been threatened because the government, their employer, did not act?

I have seen many such situations. They can be found at Correctional Service Canada, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Health Canada, Environment Canada, Canada Customs and Revenue and in crown corporation.

I would like to know what the minister, who is familiar with the situation, is going to do? Will she intervene personally? Will she let the situation deteriorate further or will she demand that justice be done?

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Niagara Centre Ontario

Liberal

Tony Tirabassi LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to respond to the question raised by the hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville.

The government has a policy to prevent harassment in the Public Service of Canada. Our goal is to eliminate harassment from the workplace.

The Public Service of Canada has been successful in reducing sexual harassment significantly. The elimination of other forms harassment is a priority. This problem has the government's attention and it is addressing it from various angles.

Harassment situations are often very complex and not easily identified and resolved. The government's intent is not only to help employees who experience harassment, but is also to create conditions that foster a healthy workplace for all. This summer, focus groups for public servants were held across Canada to examine thoroughly the causes of harassment and ways of reducing it.

The government has focused on prevention and early resolution and has taken steps to increase awareness of harassment dynamics. In conjunction with the unions, the Treasury Board Secretariat is currently holding workshops to build awareness throughout the public service. Also, the Treasury Board Secretariat recently released a practical online course on the prevention and resolution of harassment. This online course is accessible and free to all public servants.

The government is aware of the critical role that managers and leaders play in development harassment-free workplaces. The Treasury Board Secretariat is currently exploring ways to better support managers, at all levels, to address problems before they escalate into harassment situations. It intends to better equip managers with people management skills, such as conflict resolution, negotiation and coaching skills.

Eliminating harassment requires the commitment and collaboration of everyone in the workplace. We want employees to feel free to raise issues in their organizations in order to resolve them, without fear of harassment. This is also in line with the professional and democratic values set out in the code.

However, the government knows that employees will be less reluctant to come forward with problems if they are protected from retribution.

A working group to review protection for employees who raise ethical issues in their organizations was recently formed by the government. The working group will examine the existing disclosure regime and propose ways to improve protection of employees who come forward and disclose wrongdoings.

The government is proud of the quality of service that federal employees provide to Canadians. The federal public service is a dynamic organization that is continually renewing itself to maintain high standards of service. We should never take our achievements for granted.

In this broader context, a greater emphasis will be placed on accountability. Officials of the Treasury Board Secretariat are in discussions right now with senior management of federal departments on the basis of our new management accountability framework, which is designed to enhance general management performance, including reduction of harassment in the workplace.

The government's commitment to values and ethics in support of respectful workplaces has been shaping our overall approach. Departments are also reviewing their harassment prevention and resolution processes to improve rigour and credibility. The government is confident that it is making progress and that it will keep improving in the future.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Madam Speaker, there are people who are following the debate on television this evening. They have been warned. Many are going hungry right now because of the harassment taking place in the federal public service. There is a real life story in a book to be published on Monday entitled Le harcèlement psychologique: un crime d'État .

The minister is responsible for these employees. What will she do in cases of proven harassment, which she was aware of since I had personally made sure she was? I do not want to hear that the employees involved will be receiving training.

Moreover, while I have proof that there is harassment at Correctional Service Canada, I received yesterday a beautiful letter, saying, “There is no harassment taking place at Correctional Service Canada, Ms. Bourgeois”.

Wake up. What are we doing about these people going hungry because of those in authority, managers who have harassed their employees?

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

I would like to remind the hon. member to address her remarks to the Chair.

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Liberal

Tony Tirabassi Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I can tell that the member is quite passionate about this and would really like a specific answer.

The question of harassment in the workplace is complex and has many dynamics. Treasury Board has been finding ways how to best manage this problem. Many of the large departments have already introduced values and ethics programs, and others are in the process of doing so.

I wish to inform the member that the Public Service Modernization Act, Bill C-25, which was passed in the Senate on Tuesday requires that informal conflict resolution systems be established and applied in each department.

I would hope that she is in agreement that this is a positive development that will lead to a common goal that we all share, which is a harassment free workplace.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Canadian Alliance Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Madam Speaker, last week I asked the Minister of Justice a question regarding the decriminalization of marijuana bill, Bill C-38. Why the rush in putting the bill through and also who was to be the winner in this marijuana decriminalization matter?

Health Canada says that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that in order to protect our young people they should not be using marijuana.

The whole decriminalization process has been poorly thought out. It is inconsistent in terms of the intent of the bill. I do not know if the intent of the bill is to let the recreational users of marijuana, or pot, get away from being tagged with a criminal record so that they can go across the border and maybe go shopping in the United States. Is the intent to prevent our youth from smoking more pot, or to help the criminal element raise more pot? In other words, it is very unclear.

All the witnesses who came before the committee said there was no advantage to the bill, that it was poorly crafted, and that it was sending mixed messages to our youth.

If the bill were to come into being, it would change the enforcement from a criminal act to one of a parking ticket infraction. That is how the government of the day and the police will be treating people caught with X amount of marijuana. People would no longer be tagged as criminals. They would be fined and written up, like a parking ticket.

Regarding parking tickets, one of the questions that was raised was, how are youth going to pay for these parking tickets? We know the problems municipal governments have relative to the whole issue of collecting parking ticket fines. These fines are not like parking ticket fines in that most parking tickets are $5 and $10. These marijuana tickets will be more.

Youth will get a break. I cannot understand why the government would discriminate against adults and side with youth. For example, in the schedule attached in the act, an adult would pay a fine of $300 whereas a youth would pay a fine of $200.

The whole thing does not make any sense because we do not know who is going to gain or win from the decriminalization of marijuana bill. Even though the government calls it decriminalization, the use or possession of marijuana would still be an illegal act under the Criminal Code.

Let me conclude by saying that the bill sends the wrong message and the government should forget about the bill totally.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Beauséjour—Petitcodiac New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Madam Speaker, the hon. member has expressed concern, and I have heard that in committee as well, about the alleged mixed messages being given to young people by the so-called decriminalization of marijuana possession.

Naturally, when the government made its cannabis reforms public in Bill C-38, decriminalization was used by the media to describe the effect of the bill, but in fact the bill maintains possession as a criminal offence.

As members know, Bill C-38 substitutes an alternative measure, ticketing under the Contraventions Act, as the procedure for enforcing the ban on possession in all cases where the amount involved is not more than 15 grams and as an alternative to a criminal charge when the amount involved is between 15 and 30 grams.

As the legislative summary of Bill C-38 points out, “depenalization” is probably the term that best describes what Bill C-38 proposes since it removes a custodial sentence as a means of enforcing the law.

Bill C-38 provides for a fine of $100 for youth where the amount involved is 15 grams or less and where there are aggravating circumstances, including possession in or near a school, a young person will get a fine of $250. The fine is $200 when the amount is between 15 and 30 grams but a police officer also has the discretion to lay a criminal charge in that case.

Witness after witness at the special committee's original hearings, and I was a member of that committee, and at the hearings into Bill C-38 agreed that the present regime was not working.

Marijuana use, particularly by young people, has been increasing steadily. Very often the police do not even bother laying a charge. The cost and the time involved in laying a charge and bringing the matter to court are all out of proportion to a penalty that is likely to be imposed by the court. We believe the new ticketing scheme will lead to more enforcement of the law.

We recognize the communications challenges to make young people understand that there are serious consequences to using marijuana; serious health consequences and serious legal consequences. However, the government has provided $245 million for the renewal of the national drug strategy. A key component of the strategy will be tailoring a message to young people on the dangers of substance abuse, including the use of marijuana.

The member has asked whether the intent of Bill C-38 is to help criminal organizations increase their market share. The special committee was concerned that the potential $5,000 fine and even imprisonment for cultivation of one to three plants could lead to small producers deciding not to take the risk and instead buying on the black market.

That concern was addressed in the amendments made to the bill by the committee last night. It is now proposed that the cultivation of up to three plants would be a ticketed offence with a fine of $500 for adults and $250 for youth. Again, we are maintaining the core message that cultivation of marijuana is illegal while allowing an alternative to the criminal process when the amount involved is relatively minor.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Canadian Alliance Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Madam Speaker, two clear messages are being sent by Bill C-38. One is to our youth that it is okay to smoke marijuana because they will just get slapped with a parking ticket fine. The other one is to the criminal world. There will be a demand for marijuana because the youth will smoke even more marijuana.

The irony is, we spend a billion dollars annually on our drug control program. Supposedly the program's target is to suppress drug supply. Why are we doing all this when on the one hand we are promoting its use and on the other hand we are throwing away a billion dollars and tying up the resources of the police departments across the country?

The police associations across the country do not support the bill. They know it does not work. It is not about drug free; it is about promoting drug use. The government is headed down the wrong path when it comes to the decriminalization of marijuana.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NB

Madam Speaker, I respectfully disagree with the member's assertion that the government is somehow encouraging the use of marijuana. We have been very clear, both in the legislation and in comments made by various ministers, that the use of marijuana, the possession of marijuana, remains illegal.

We believe a law that is currently not enforced in many areas by police forces because it is thought to place too high a burden on young people is better replaced by a law that will be enforced and will send a clear message that possession and use of marijuana is dangerous and is illegal in Canada.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:48 p.m.)