House of Commons Hansard #99 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was competition.


The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-17, An Act to amend certain Acts of Canada, and to enact measures for implementing the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, in order to enhance public safety, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. There are six motions in amendment standing on the Notice Paper for the report stage of Bill C-17.

Motions Nos. 3 and 4 will not be selected by the Chair because they could have been presented in committee.

Motions Nos. 1, 2 and 5 will not be selected by the Chair because they were lost in committee.

The remaining motion has been examined and the Chair is satisfied that it meets the guidelines expressed in the note to Standing Order 76.1(5) regarding the selection of motions in amendment at the report stage.

Motion No. 6 will be debated and voted upon.

I will now put Motion No. 6 to the House.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Vaughan—King—Aurora Ontario


Maurizio Bevilacqua Liberalfor the Minister of Transport


Motion No. 6

That Bill C-17, in Clause 112, be amended by replacing line 29 on page 103 with the following:

“and 109 to 111.1, and the provisions of any Act”

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Canadian Alliance Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise to address this bill. Before I get into the main part of my speech I want to congratulate the government and the special legislative committee on Bill C-17 for passing 25 amendments that deleted the expression “inexplosive ammunition component” from part 7 of Bill C-17. We worked very hard in trying to get rid of these particular parts of the bill. It was just absurd that they were being put into legislation. It would have created another mess, probably similar to the firearms fiasco.

In particular I would like to thank the office of the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam for working with my office to identify, draft and submit the amendments for consideration by the committee. I must also recognize the member for Churchill, as her office also submitted identical amendments.

The committee owes a debt of gratitude to James M. Hinter, national president, and David A. Tomlinson, legal chairman, of the National Firearms Association, as well as Tony Bernardo, the executive director of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association, for appearing before us and encouraging us to stop short of “criminalizing brass and lead”, in Mr. Hinter's words, and, in the words of Tony Bernardo, “regulating little bits of margarine containers, little pieces of cotton fabric and fishing sinkers”.

The committee must also thank those members of Canada's film and television community who wrote to committee members to inform us of the negative impact, especially on the production of action movies, of including the term “inexplosive ammunition component” in part 7 of Bill C-17.

The words “inexplosive ammunition component” first appeared in part V of Bill C-42. That was the first predecessor of Bill C-17 which we are debating today. They appeared on November 22, 2001. That bill was so flawed that the government withdrew it four months later, but in the interim, a Library of Parliament research paper prepared on January 18, 2002, by Gérald Lafrenière, pointed out the potential problems of regulating inexplosive ammunition components. Naturally, when the Liberals brought back Bill C-42 as Bill C-55 on April 29, 2002, I hoped that they had read the Library of Parliament report. They had not and on May 9, 2002, exactly a year ago today, I told the House the following:

The trouble with the [inexplosive ammunition component] sections is that they will most likely hit the wrong target by potentially criminalizing tens of thousands of law-abiding citizens who load their own ammunition for legal pastimes and sports.

Consequently, law-abiding citizens who manufacture their own ammunition would end up being charged with the new offences proposed in the amendments, offences that call for fines up to $500,000 and imprisonment of up to five years in jail.

Offences that are targeting law-abiding Canadians in this act include: acquiring, possessing, selling, offering for sale, transporting or delivering any illicit inexplosive ammunition component and making or manufacturing any explosive from an illicitly trafficked inexplosive ammunition component. The government has not told us how it thinks anyone can make an explosive from an inexplosive ammunition component. The definition in the act states “inexplosive ammunition component” means any cartridge case or bullet, or any projectile that is used in a firearm as defined in section 2 of the criminal code.

Even the government's own definition clearly demonstrates that no one could possibly make an explosive out of inexplosive ammunition components. I would like to propose at the appropriate time that an amendment be made to remove all references to inexplosive ammunition components from the proposed amendments to the explosives act.

That was exactly a year ago today.

Bill C-55 died on the Order Paper on September 16, 2002, and was brought back in slightly modified form as Bill C-17 on October 21. Again the Liberals missed the opportunity to delete the term “inexplosive ammunition component” from the bill. On Monday, November 18, 2002, I spoke on Bill C-17 at second reading and once again called for removal of all references to “inexplosive ammunition components” from the bill.

I am glad to note that some of the members of other parties were listening. I believe that the hard work of members of the firearms community, the film and television community and various members of the committee, including the members for Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam and Churchill, as well as some of the Liberal members, helped to convince a majority of Liberal members of the committee that this particular change was essential to making Bill C-17 more acceptable to Canadians, and I thank them.

It is quite clear that the committee state version of Bill C-17 is a definite improvement over Bill C-42 as first presented 17 months ago, but more changes, particularly in the area of increased parliamentary scrutiny, are required.

If Canadians were prepared to sacrifice their liberties for the promise of increased security in the aftermath of September 11, that feeling has faded in the intervening year and a half. For this reason, the government would be wise to carefully consider increased parliamentary scrutiny on the same level as the Emergencies Act if it wants opposition parties to support Bill C-17.

The report stage of Bill C-17, an act to amend certain Acts of Canada, and to enact measures for implementing the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, in order to enhance public safety, otherwise known as the Public Safety Act, will be the subject of the rest of my speech.

I would like to divide my remarks in the remaining time I have into three general categories: general comments on the bill, continuing concerns about the bill's broad use of interim orders, and our reaction to what the committee did. I have already done the third part.

I would like to trace a little of the history of the bill because those watching and reading the Hansard record will of course probably forget how this all began. There are many parts of it that go to trying to make Canadians feel safe in a post-September 11 world, but that is part of the bill's problem. It was first drafted in reaction to the terrible terrorist attack on the United States on September 11, 2001.

As I end my remarks today, I would like to make this point. If the true measure of a man is what he does rather than what he says, then the measure of a country must be in part its reaction to times of trial and stress. In the United States 10 days after the September 11 attack, Senator Fritz Hollings was on his feet to introduce America's reaction, S.1447, “a bill to improve aviation security, and for other purposes”. With lightning speed, and despite an anthrax scare on Capitol Hill, both the House of Representatives and the Senate quickly passed the legislation and President Bush signed it on November 19, 2001. That is right: from the time the first airplane hit the first tower to the moment President Bush signed his approval of the new bill, barely 10 weeks passed.

During the same 10 weeks this Liberal government slept. In fact it was a full three days after President Bush signed the U.S. law that this Liberal government tabled the first version of the public safety act, then called Bill C-42, on November 22. That bill lived for five months, never went to any committee and was withdrawn on April 24, 2002.

Five days later, the Liberal government introduced Bill C-42's replacement, Bill C-55. It was so complex that a special committee was struck on May 9 solely for the purpose of studying it, but that committee never met. Bill C-55 died on the Order Paper on September 16, 2002, when Parliament prorogued.

I think we can get the drift. Inaction is what marked this government. In fact, the current legislation, Bill C-17, was not tabled in the House until October 31, 2002, fully 13 months after the September 11 attack and nearly 11 months after President Bush signed America's aviation and transportation security act into legislation as public law 107-71.

It is now May 9, 2003, and this bill is just coming back to us from a special legislative committee. There will be debate and hopefully further amendments, and then votes. Then the bill will presumably be referred to the Senate for deliberation. It is unlikely that Bill C-17 will be ready to receive royal assent before October.

September 11 happened and the U.S. had a law signed by the President and in place on November 18, roughly two months later. Canada will not have its law in place until nearly two years have passed. That is simply unacceptable. If it takes a Liberal dominated Parliament two years to react to a major crisis, that is a strong argument for a change in government.

I want to conclude by making people aware that the government should be judged by what it does, not by what it says, and that this bill is a clear indication of the inaction of the government in the face of a crisis.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Mississauga West Ontario


Steve Mahoney LiberalSecretary of State (Selected Crown Corporations)

Mr. Speaker, before I was given the opportunity to work on my current responsibilities for crown corporations, I was parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Transport and assigned the task of trying to shepherd this bill through committee. I have been away from it for a little while, but I am pleased to have an opportunity to comment on some of the issues that people are concerned about.

Members opposite, particularly the Canadian Alliance, tend to want to hold up the United States as the way to do things. The previous speaker said that President Bush did this and he did that following September 11. One of the things that is interesting about the U.S. system is that when a crisis occurs, the American people, the congress, the senate, and everybody in Washington tends to get behind the president regardless of his political stripe. They tend to rally around the flag.

One of the differences in our situation, for better or for worse, is that no such thing ever happens. In fact, I find that the opposition use every opportunity it can to somehow blame the government for everything from the weather to whatever we can imagine. It is an interesting approach. We give the member what he wants.

He said at the beginning of his remarks that he was pleased that the government had eliminated certain issues. Some witnesses who appeared before the committee, and I was there for many meetings until this recent appointment, expressed their strong concerns about the effect of the inclusion of inexplosive ammunition components in part 7 of the bill. This is an issue that this member, in his zest to fight anything to do with ammunition or gun control, was very adamant about.

It was not the government's intention to burden lawful shooting activities within part 7, and the witnesses from Natural Resources Canada indicated that in their testimony before the committee. The government listened closely to the concerns that were expressed by the stakeholders and decided to introduce motions to remove all references to inexplosive ammunition components from Bill C-17.

It is like people here cannot take yes for an answer. We listened, we heard, and we removed the references. While the member did say at the beginning of his remarks that he appreciated it, he then went on with other areas that I would suggest are not related to this.

How did the government react? Let me tell members that the current Minister of Transport, who was the minister on September 11, reacted by immediately closing down the skies. There were 5,000 aircraft flying around the skies over North America. Members should remember what happened in Gander. We should give credit to the people of Gander, and rightly so, for opening their hearts and their homes, their churches and their community halls to help these stranded people. However, do we think that all those planes were diverted to Gander miraculously and landed without incident?

We all saw the pictures in the news of the planes on the tarmac, lined up one after another. When they finally had to leave, just the management of the air traffic control aspect of that was incredible. Is there any thought how some 5,000 aircraft, which were diverted and many of which landed in various airports in Canada, including Gander, were managed? Did the pilots just talk it over among themselves and say, “let us go to Gander, I think it is safe there”?

Let us be fair and give credit where credit is due. The government gave the direction. It is not up to the government to actually physically do it. We have professionals in place in NAV Canada and Transport Canada. But it is up to the government, in this case the Minister of Transport, to set the tone, to give the direction, and to give the order.

I recall that this minister was on a cell phone in a car, driving from Montreal back to Ottawa, when this crisis occurred. Within minutes he took action that I would say could have saved lives; we will never know. But the fact that it was handled so professionally and so smoothly, members should at least be fair and say that it was an issue that happened on the watch of the government.

We do not need to stand and crow that we did it all because that is not true. We relied on the professionals in our employ and on the people of Canada to respond in such a positive way. But what do we hear? We hear members in the House saying we need to change the government because it did not act quickly enough. It is just such nonsense.

There may be reasons that members opposite think we need to change the government. There may be reasons why Canadians think we need to change the government. Who knows? They might change the government. That is why we have such a great democratic country because that option is there. However that is the wrong issue. We should be getting behind the government on this critical bill.

There was much debate in committee about whether or not we were going too far. Concerns were expressed by the Privacy Commissioner. The bar associations that were before us were saying that if we found information on a person travelling from Vancouver to Toronto and the indication was that person was a terrorist, their position was that we should not be able to go further in terms of reviewing the passenger list. However, if we did that and discovered that there was someone else onboard that aircraft who had an outstanding warrant for a crime that had been specified in this bill, a crime that would result in a sentence in excess of five years--and in this country that is a crime such as murder, kidnapping and that kind of thing, the most serious of crimes that one can imagine--we would not have the right to arrest that person when he or she got off the aircraft according to the bar associations.

I remember asking the lawyers who were there representing the bar associations to help me understand this. They were suggesting that I tell my constituents that even though, as a result of our work against terrorism and as a result of our work in following up on information provided by CSIS and the RCMP, we discovered a third party on an aircraft with an outstanding warrant for having murdered someone that we had to let them walk off the plane. Their answer was, yes, that is what they were saying, in the aid of privacy rights.

I believe the official opposition was onside with our position in that particular area. But we have members standing in the House objecting to criminals being given the right to vote and all of these issues. Yet, we are supposed to allow people to walk free when we have an outstanding warrant for their arrest for murder or for kidnapping or for some other vile crime. It just makes no sense at all.

This bill has taken time. Let us review the process. The government responded very quickly after we took the initial action on this bill. The initial action was to provide safe haven for tens of thousands of people. We did that, we did it well, and our officials acted responsibly. Our next step was to bring in a bill that would deal with some of the concerns around Bill C-17. Bill C-42 was introduced and there was a big furor over the bill. A lot of concern was expressed about that bill.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

10:25 a.m.


Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again we are debating Bill C-17, the half-brother of the short-lived twins, Bill C-42 and Bill C-55.

Since September 11, 2001, many say that nothing is the same, that the world is changing, as evidenced by the recent events in Iraq. Obviously, although the world often changes for the better, we must recognize that, in this case, it is changing for the worse.

Everybody agrees that logic is essential to the drafting of any bill, and the government must listen to that logic. However, it seems that the government is hard of hearing, and I am very sorry about that.

We are certainly happy that controlled access military zones have been removed from the bill before us, but does this mean that we should stop being vigilant? Absolutely not. We must see that the decisions being made today respect the balance between the three branches in our society, namely the executive, legislative and judiciary branches. In its current form, Bill C-17 poses a threat to the balance between the executive and the legislative branches, since it includes specific provisions allowing ministers and officials to make interim orders.

Interim orders are exempt from the application of section 3 of the Statutory Instruments Act. An order is considered to be a statutory instrument; therefore, it should undergo a preliminary check by the Clerk of the Privy Council. His role is precisely to ensure that the proposed regulation does not, and I quote:

—trespass unduly on existing rights and freedoms and is not, in any case, inconsistent with the purposes and provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights.

So we should ask ourselves the following question: if the purpose is not to trespass unduly on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, why are we exempting the interim orders from the proper examination that would prove they are in compliance with the charter? By chance, would the government have the secret intention of transgressing the most basic rules of our free and democratic society by infringing on the fundamental rights of those individuals who form that society?

We do not question the importance of preventing all possible terrorist acts, and we do not question the necessity of equipping ourselves with all the tools we need to expose those who would threaten the security of citizens.

But there is one inescapable fact and that is that in order to fight against terrorism, we must fight against its main cause, and that is the extreme poverty of hundreds of millions of people.

If we all agree that it is important to eliminate the conditions that breed terrorism, we also agree that we must fight against those who would come to our borders with the intent of committing terrorist acts. Once again, however, this cannot be done at any cost.

One price we must refuse to pay is waiving the right to privacy. In the past, we made choices. We made the choice to live in a constitutional state instead of a police state. We must be careful not to open the door to this style of governance where police are everywhere, always checking what everyone is doing.

Would any of us blindly agree to have personal information relating to us processed and used for purposes other than those related to the fight against terrorism? Should the simple fact of taking a plane warrant the RCMP and CSIS having a record on a person? No. That has been made abundantly clear in the debates on Bill C-55.

It is interesting to know what the Privacy Commissioner thinks of Bill C-17. First, it would appear that his concerns about the defunct Bill C-55 were and are still being completely ignored. The ministers and top government officials have failed, so far, to provide him with an appropriate response. I believe he is still waiting. This is why he is now calling on Parliament to ensure his concerns finally receive the attention they deserve.

I shall quote his words:

But my concern is that the RCMP would also be expressly empowered to use this information to seek out persons wanted on warrants for Criminal Code offences that have nothing to do with terrorism, transportation security or national security.

What we must guard against is the risk of creating a precedent that would eventually open the door to increased police control over various areas of our daily lives. For example, if we allowed special powers intended primarily to protect national security and to counter terrorism to be made available to the RCMP with respect to air passengers, who is to say that this special situation will not be extended to rail, bus or metro passengers?

If, for example, a suicide bomber were to blow himself up on a crowded train, would we go so far as to flag train travellers and use this same opportunity to look for people with outstanding warrants? There is always a tendency to be overzealous. There is always a point of no return when it comes to overzealousness, a point beyond which we must not go for fear of destroying the fragile balance required to maintain a free and democratic society.

The commissioner also raises another point that we must not lose sight of. The right to anonymity with regard to the state is a crucial privacy right. With Bill C-17, that right to anonymity will be set aside the moment we are unwise enough to set foot aboard a plane. If it were set out in the act that personal information can be used only in the case of persons representing a true threat to national security, we could feel a bit reassured, but that is not the case. Obviously, the right to privacy will be meaningless as soon as Bill C-17 comes into force, if the government maintains its position. We have confidence, Mr. Speaker, that you will not have to reserve passage on a ship in order to visit your girlfriend overseas. It is likely that your name would end up on a file somewhere.

The members of the Bloc Quebecois are here to serve the interests of the public, and so they will fight energetically to see that the right to privacy is respected. We share the Privacy Commissioner's view that there are some major changes needed in Bill C-17. What we have before us today could not be called major changes.

Privacy is one of our basic rights. We are entitled to expect information on us to be used sparingly, at the very least. For the government to confer upon itself the right to collect information on air travellers is one thing, but the right to exchange and distribute that information is quite another.

In fact, Bill C-17 gives the minister the right to disclose the information to the whole world. Not only that, but it allows the minister to disclose and release the information but does not provide a detailed framework for such activities. That is what I call increasing ministerial authority without proper monitoring.

As we have said before, maintaining a balance is crucial to a healthy society and the risks of a faux pas are too high.

With the new powers that the bill would give the minister, he could be authorized to disclose to U.S. authorities information on applications for refugee status made in Canada. Do we have the right to authorize the release of personal information like this? One thing is clear, as soon as information is shared with another party, we lose control of it.

It is naive, idealistic and even rash to believe that we could control a situation when we have not established sufficient limits.

In conclusion, the government cannot always defend the indefensible. The same goes for the protection of privacy.

Let me quote a short sentence from Khalil Gibran, and I dedicate it particularly to my colleagues in the government. This is my gift for today. He said, and I quote:

Strange that we all defend our wrongs with more vigor than we do our rights.

This sentence is food for thought. I hope that it will lead to conclusions that are worthy of the Canadian society, which is, as everyone knows, the best in the world.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

10:35 a.m.


Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to speak at report stage of Bill C-17, the public safety act. I listened with interest to the government representative, the Secretary of State for Selected Crown Corporations. I would like to congratulate him on his new appointment and I look forward to debating him and pushing him a little on the question of the need for affordable housing in this country.

In listening to his comments on Bill C-17, he was maybe a little defensive but he was also very aggressive in his defence of the government's position on this bill. He took us back to those tragic events on September 11 and put forward a picture that this bill was essential and necessary because of the horrific events that took place. In fact he asked the opposition members in the House why they would blame the government for everything, even the weather.

Let us be clear. Maybe the government would like to take blame for the weather but in this instance we are holding the government to account on this legislation because there are very significant concerns about the impacts and the long term consequences of the so-called public safety act.

I would like to begin my remarks by quoting from one of the organizations that presented at the committee, the Coalition of Muslim Organizations. In their presentation, just to give this some context, they said:

The Anti-terrorism Act was introduced and enacted in the dark shadow of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. In many ways, the looming, ubiquitous spectre of terror and fear gave rise to legislation that struck the wrong balance between security and civil rights. The predecessors to the Act, Bills C-42 and C-55, were also conceived in that environment of heated reaction. However, the distance of time allows us to reflect on the important issues of public safety and civil rights from a more sober vantage point.

While I was not on the committee that went through this bill in detail, I know my colleague, the member for Churchill, very much focused on these comments and the need to have some sort of reflection and avoid the impetus to rush into yet another piece of security legislation that would have incredible long term impacts and consequences for Canadians and for our society in the values we hold of democracy, civil liberties and the right to privacy.

In looking at the bill, the NDP has been firmly opposed to it because we are very concerned that the very broad powers contained within the bill to collect information on passengers who travel by air, internationally and domestically, information to be amassed and controlled by CSIS and the RCMP, is very serious. I would bet that most Canadians have no idea that this kind of procedure and data gathering is about to take place.

The brief from the Coalition of Muslim Organizations clearly raises the importance to have a reflection about where we are in balancing the need for security, about which everybody is concerned. We are all concerned about the security of our country, the security of our individual families and communities, but clearly that has to be balanced with the rights we have to privacy and our rights to civil liberties.

I read through some of the transcripts of the committee and noted the comments of Mr. Radwanski, the privacy commissioner of Canada. I have always appreciated his reflection on a number of the bills that have come before the House. In connection to this bill, commenting on the provisions that would allow this collection of information about individual passengers to be stored, collected and used, he said:

--in Canada we are not required to identify ourselves to the police as we go about our normal, law-abiding business. Unless we are being either arrested or carrying out a licensed activity such as driving, we are not even required to carry ID, let alone identify ourselves to the police.

He went on to say:

Even on a domestic flight of course you're required to provide your name and show photo ID.

When that information is made available to the police, as it will be under Bill C-17 to the RCMP under proposed section 4.82, the effect is exactly the same as if we were required to notify the police every time we travelled so it could check whether we were wanted for any number of Criminal Code offences or an outstanding warrant.

I find these very sober thoughts coming from the privacy commissioner of Canada. With the passage of the bill, we will be setting up a whole series of steps, a whole apparatus that will allow the collection of information. When used in concert with other bills, which regrettably have been approved by the House, they will transfer enormous powers to policing authorities, such as the RCMP, CSIS and the intelligence service. This information collected about Canadians can be used in any variety of ways.

One concern we have about the bill specifically is that the information collected by the RCMP and CSIS can be moved down the line and provided to local authorities. It could be used to make decisions about outstanding warrants. This is precisely the point the privacy commissioner is getting at.

We all agree that laws should be enforced. However in Canada I hope we still have the right to go about our business without having to self-identify, to check in and to produce mandatory ID that can then be used to determine various situations. If passed, Bill C-17 will fundamentally change that. It will have created an environment, along with the other bills which have been passed, to allow that kind of information to now be gathered and used against people.

I know from the organizations I have spoken to, particularly in my riding of Vancouver East where we do have a very diverse multicultural community, there are many people who are very fearful about how the bill will impact on their ability to freely travel, even though they have no connection with any terrorism or with anything that could be suspected in terms of a security risk.

In fact one of the amendments that was sought in committee, which was unfortunately rejected, was the need to have independent oversight, likely the privacy commissioner, to ensure that there were annual reports from the minister responsible, from the RCMP, from CSIS, which would have to go to the privacy commissioner. We want somebody to look at what is going on in terms of the data being collected and the files that are being established based on information drawn from passenger lists.

Suppose we end up with a situation where we knew that 2% of the passengers flying in Canada, or maybe 1%, were Canadian Arabs or from a Moslem background. If we had information which showed us that 20% of the files were being kept based on this legislation, would that be cause for concern?

I know I and my colleagues have brought forward examples in question period about how racial profiling and how targeting is beginning to take place at border crossings and airports. I have even debated the question of a national identity card and how that too is now part of this very fundamentally changed environment, where having a national identity card can actually be used in a very negative way to pull people over and to target people because of how they look or because of their racial background.

I want to say most strongly that we in the NDP have been following the bill, as have other opposition parties and members. While we recognize the need for public security, the words of wisdom from the Coalition of Muslim Organizations calling upon us to have reflection post-September 11 are things we need to heed.

I urge members to reject the amendment that is before us, to reject the bill and to send it back because this bill on public safety will undermine the democratic civil liberties and values that we hold so dear.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to say a few words to Bill C-17. Like my colleague who just spoke, I also have concerns about whether we should push through a bill such as this after such a prolonged period of time.

When September 11 hit everybody with the awareness of how ill-prepared we were to deal with acts of terrorism, everyone, not only across the country but around the world, reacted immediately. Within days we were told massive legislation would be brought forth to address the problem so that nothing like that would ever happen again. We needed to be much more aware of what was going on in our own country and around the world. We also needed to become aware that this would have some effect on our own personal freedoms.

At that time most people said that they would have no problem with infringements on their freedom if it benefited the security and safety of their country. However quite a lot of time has elapsed since that occurrence and perhaps it is time to assess our response to such an act.

In situations like that quite often people overreact out of concern and when they are all hyped up and think they could be next. Now that we have had time for sobre second thought, perhaps it is time to go through the bill and ask ourselves how much of it is relevant now and how much of it is really necessary now. In retrospect, I think we would find many clauses in the bill which go above and beyond what is required now to deal with the issue of security.

Let me take a different tact because to talk about each clause in the bill, its effect, the transfer of power and the loss of personal freedoms would take possibly months. I would like to talk about security from a different aspect.

We will all remember that fateful day of September 11. I am sure there are two or three events in all our lives for which we remember what happened, where we were at the time and who we were with when it happened. In my own case I remember the day President Kennedy was shot, the day Henderson scored the great goal for Canada in 1972, and of course September 11. There may be other significant days with some personal impact, but general widespread events such as these are enshrined in our memory never to be forgotten.

However, on Septemeber 11, when we watched the second plane hit one of the towers in New York, we began to realize that something was drastically wrong. We also found out that a couple of other planes were involved and heaven's knows how many more were prevented from getting into the air because of the quick action that was taken.

Unfortunately, I was not in Newfoundland on that day because, like many members, my party was having a caucus meeting in western Canada. Having to wait for taxis and being on waiting lists, it took us a few days to get home, but we finally managed to get back home. However I was told that the people In Newfoundland who had not turned on the television or the radio that morning to hear about what had happened were amazed at the number of jets flying overhead.

When we get nice clear blue skies, as we always do in Newfoundland, the white streaks are quite visible, and on that day they were very visible. People were wondering what was happening. What was happening was that many of the trans-Atlantic flights were being diverted to airports in Newfoundland. Places like Gander, St. John's, Stephenville and Goose Bay were crowded, particularly Gander, with flights arriving from all over the place. Even though many of them had been closer to larger areas, such as Toronto and Montreal, they were diverted to Newfoundland for whatever reason. I guess we can argue with the fact.

However that event showed clearly the need to have specific landing sites, specific bases as such, in such areas in the country. During the war, in the late 1930s and early 1940s, Newfoundland was still an independent country. Perhaps a lot of people are saying today that we should have stayed that way. However during that time we had large, strong, efficient naval and air force bases in places such as Gander, Goose Bay, Stephenville and St. John's. They provided a place of security for all our allies, for Canadians, Americans and the British. We still have countries from all over the world doing some minimal training at some of our sites, particularly in Goose Bay.

However, the present government, once Canada joined us in 1949, allowed the stature of these bases to diminish and in fact closed most of them. The recent confrontation in Iraq illustrated to us quite clearly that we never know when confrontations can happen around the world. We strategically should have secure areas, our own bases, well-equipped to respond to any kind of a situation, whether it be our involvement in some confrontation or whether it be fallout from the involvement or fallout from something completely disassociated with our own country, such as the events that happened in New York. We were there to help out, luckily, because we had some of the infrastructure that was necessary.

We have a government that over the last 15 to 20 years has allowed infrastructure in the country to fall completely apart. I am sure that what is true in Newfoundland is true in other parts of the country. If we are going to talk about security let us make sure we play our part in making sure the country is secure.

It is nice to bring in a bill half an inch thick and talk about taking away personal freedoms and the hypothetical ideas of what might happen down the road, but in reality let us start putting some concrete plans in place to strengthen our country and to make sure we are strategically positioned to handle ourselves, whether it be in peacekeeping times or in times of confrontation.

We have the infrastructure throughout the country. Newfoundland and Labrador is strategically located, with the basic infrastructure already there, but we need to revive and strengthen the infrastructure, not only for the good of the province involved but for the good of the country.

The bill, undoubtedly, after being on the table for practically a year and a half now, needs to be revised. In light of that perhaps we could do something worthwhile for the country.

Reserve ForceStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Robert Bertrand Liberal Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to salute the civilian employers who will be honoured this weekend for supporting the reserve force.

There are approximately 23,000 primary reservists in Canada. To train, take courses or serve in operations, these reservists need their employers' support.

In return, these employers benefit from the solid work ethic, leadership training and special abilities that reservists bring to their civilian jobs.

I want to congratulate Canadian Pacific Limited of Calgary, for being named Canada's most supportive employer. I also want to thank all the employers who have won an employer support award in their respective province, or the support to Canadian Forces operations award.

Reservists devote part of their free time to serving this remarkable country. I therefore invite hon. members to join me in saluting these cooperative employers and the dedicated reserve force personnel of Canada.

ZimbabweStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Canadian Alliance Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, as part of its ongoing crackdown on dissenting voices in Zimbabwe, the regime of Robert Mugabe has unconstitutionally trampled on the rights of Zimbabweans to freedom of assembly, free property ownership and freedom of speech.

To bring attention to the plight of opposition MPs who are frequently in danger of arbitrary arrest or of personal injury at the hands of Mr. Mugabe's thugs, Amnesty International has twinned a number of Canadian and Zimbabwean MPs.

For the past year I have been twinned with David Mpala, who is the member of parliament for the riding of Lupane and a member of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

On March 31 several MPs, including Mr. Mpala, were arrested without legitimate cause. Their condition is uncertain.

Canada cannot stand idly by as Mr. Mugabe transforms Zimbabwe from a multi-racial democracy into a Stalinist terror state. If Canada refuses to take leadership within the Commonwealth to oppose Mr. Mugabe, then courageous men, like David Mpala, will have risked their lives and their liberty for nothing.

MarijuanaStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the issue of decriminalization of marijuana has spawned yet another debate as to whether Canada should change its laws.

Twenty-three years ago, as a candidate in the 1980 federal general election , I was faced with the same debate. It is interesting to note that the arguments made then are still the same arguments today. They include: marijuana is widely used in Canada; there is no victim; we cannot keep up with the court cases; it ruins people's lives to have a criminal record; the police are not enforcing the laws; et cetera.

What has changed is that marijuana today is 1,500 times more potent than it was in 1973 and yet we continue to discuss penalties based on weight rather than the potency or THC content of the drug.

Marijuana is a gateway drug which usually leads to the use of other stronger more dangerous drugs and it sends the wrong message to our youth and all Canadians about drug use and smoking.

Decriminalization of marijuana is a confusing measure that will not solve the problems some see and certainly will open up other problems. All I can say is that decriminalization is not the solution to our problem.

Canadian Executive Service OrganizationStatements By Members

May 9th, 2003 / 11 a.m.


Gurbax Malhi Liberal Bramalea—Gore—Malton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate one of my constituents for his outstanding efforts on behalf of the Canadian Executive Service Organization.

Mr. McKaig went on assignment to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to train the staff of the biggest jewellery manufacturer on international jewellery trading.

Mr. McKaig developed a report that analyzed the domestic market which included pricing, distribution and export, with particular reference to the Canadian market. This company is interested in exporting its products to Canada and, thanks to the dedication and expertise supplied by Tom McKaig, they have become closer to that plan.

I call on the House to join with me in congratulating Mr. McKaig for his exemplary volunteer service and to thank him for his commitment to others in need around the world.

Hepatitis Awareness MonthStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Jeannot Castonguay Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, I want to inform the House that May has been declared Hepatitis Awareness Month by the Canadian Liver Foundation.

Hepatitis is the most common disease in Canada, and Canadians should know the consequences and take the necessary measures to protect themselves.

Despite the availability of vaccinations against hepatitis A and B, thousands of people contract these diseases each year because they are unaware of the risks associated with certain types of behaviour, for example, sexual activities, tattoos, body piercing and the injection of drugs. There is no vaccination against hepatitis C, but precautions can be taken.

The Canadian Liver Foundation is on the forefront of efforts to reduce the incidence and impact of hepatitis and all liver diseases. Each year, the foundation provides research subsidies to renowned Canadian doctors and scientists so they can find new treatments and cures for hepatitis and other liver diseases.

I ask the House to join me in saluting the Canadian Liver Foundation and its volunteers during Hepatitis Awareness Month.

Asian Heritage MonthStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, May is Asian Heritage Month and events are taking place in cities across Canada. This acknowledgement of the role Asians have played in shaping Canada recognizes a decade of community celebrations across the country in cities such as Halifax, Montreal, Vancouver, and my hometown of Edmonton. Since last year there has been great enthusiasm as more communities across the country have embraced this opportunity to celebrate the many contributions of Asians to both historic and contemporary Canada.

Last year Canada imported $53 billion worth of goods from Asia and we exported over $20 billion worth of goods there. Some 1.3 billion Asian tourists visit us every year and over 39,000 study here at universities and colleges. Three million Canadians are of Asian origin and that is 10% of our population.

I would encourage my colleagues in the House to participate in local events across this nation to celebrate Asian Heritage Month.

International Scientific AwardsStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Paul MacKlin Liberal Northumberland, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to congratulate the recipients of the International Scientific Awards.

At a ceremony this morning the Minister of National Defence presented 12 Canadian scientists from Defence Research and Development Canada, the National Research Council and the Department of National Defence with their awards.

These awards are presented under the technical cooperation program. This program promotes collaborative defence science research between Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

The work of these scientists is yet another example of Canada's commitment to collaborate with our allies in sharing knowledge and expertise. I ask the House to join me in congratulating the recipients of this prestigious award.

Father Fernand LindsayStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Sunday a great citizen of Lanaudière will be celebrating his 75th birthday. Father Fernand Lindsay, founder of the well-known Festival international de Lanaudière and still its artistic director, has just announced the program for the 26th season, which will comprise 25 performances starting June 27.

Father Lindsay was honoured with the Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts at the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards ceremonies this past November, for close to half a century of sharing his passion for classical music with a multitude of young, and not so young, residents of Lanaudière and other parts of Quebec.

Appointed director of the Jeunesses musicales de Joliette in 1957, and founder of the Festival-Concours de musique de Lanaudière in 1962, Father Lindsay also created the Camp musical de Joliette, before starting the Festival d'été.

Father Lindsay, you have enriched the musical and artistic scene of our region and of Quebec as a whole, and we hope you will continue to do so for many more years. Happy birthday.

Cultural ExchangeStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, on April 10 the Ottawa Centre Renegades peewee hockey team flew to Iqaluit on a cultural exchange visit. Team members and families thoroughly enjoyed their visit to Iqaluit and the opportunity to see the north, the people, the culture and to learn more about the rest of this great country.

This exchange was made possible by great sponsors such as: the Canada sports friendship exchange program funded by the Government of Canada; First Air; Zellers; the Ottawa Senators Foundation; the Ottawa Renegades Football Club; the Ottawa Citizen ; Glebe Pharmasave; the St. Clair Group; Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt LLP; Exchanges Canada, Government of Canada; Iqaluit Minor Hockey Association; and all the volunteers and many others too numerous to list.

Thanks to all.

Okanagan Life Poetry ContestStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Darrel Stinson Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, many of my constituents from Salmon Arm to Osoyoos entered the Okanagan Life Poetry Contest. I would like to congratulate two of my constituents, both from Vernon, who tied for top honours in the mothers category, Shannon Spence and Rhelda Evans. I would like to read parts of their poetry.

Shannon Spence wrote:

There is a history in these hands.They have all passed slowly in front of our eyes.Long and slender and, at time, overworked.They have cared for us, smoothing away childhood fears just before the dawn.

Rhelda Evans wrote:

A mother's love is a gift that lasts Through changing times and shaky pasts.Forgiveness is the shaping toolThat love insists becomes the ruleWithin the home throughout the years.

As May 11 approaches, I would like to take this moment to wish all mothers, including my own, a very happy Mother's Day.

Westray Mine DisasterStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Rodger Cuzner Liberal Bras D'Or—Cape Breton, NS

Mr. Speaker, it has been 11 years since 26 coal miners lost their lives in the deeps of the Westray mine in Pictou County, Nova Scotia. It was one of the darkest days in the province's history. Wives lost their husbands, children lost their fathers, parents lost their sons and friends lost their loved ones. Nearly 200 brave men and women risked their own lives to make every possible effort to try to save those who were trapped below.

There is a long history of coal mining in Nova Scotia. Cape Breton, Springhill and Pictou County were all once sources of coal exported around the world. Now they are silent.

On behalf of all members of this House I honour the memory of the 26 men who lost their lives on May 9, 1992 and extend our condolences to the family and friends they left behind. They are gone but not forgotten.

ParliamentStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, woe are the days for parliamentarians. Our sad demise is flourishing around us as this democratic institution, a guardian of democracy and a place to be regarded as a model for decision making and open debate is being throttled and stalled.

The dog and pony budget show emanating from the Ontario government has drawn the ire of the Speaker of that house, as it should. But hey, we have our problems too. The provisional government of the Liberal Party of Canada has reached its long arm into this place too. Whether it be pronouncements on the first nations governance act, or star wars, or same sex marriage, we see the shadowy powers of the former finance minister calling the shots and laying out the orders of the day.

We in the federal NDP say let us bring back Parliament and can the extracurricular activities once and for all.

Canada Labour CodeStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Gilles-A. Perron Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, after a lockout that lasted more than 38 months, everyone thought the labour unrest was over at last at Cargill, in Baie-Comeau, but the employer has refused to sign the collective agreement.

This is a situation that illustrates more than ever the urgency of changing the Canada Labour Code to include anti-scab measures, like those which have been in place in Quebec for 25 years.

What we want, and what the workers continue to demand as well, is for the Canada Labour Code to make it possible to hold civilized negotiations that foster industrial peace and establish a fair balance of power.

The Prime Minister must assume his responsibilities and make it known to the Minister of Labour that he will be supporting the anti-scab bill introduced by my colleague, the hon. member for Laurentides, so that this unfair situation may be remedied.

Reserve ForcesStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NB

Mr. Speaker, today we honour Public Service of Canada employees who also serve our nation as members of the reserve forces.

Reservists train on evenings, weekends, and for periods of full time service usually during the summer. To facilitate this training the government is taking a leading role in reiterating its position on military leave regulations for reservists and setting an example that many civilian employers are following.

Following question period today, the Minister of National Defence and the President of the Treasury Board will mark Federal Reserve Force Day by signing a statement of support for flexible leave regulations and launch a year long awareness program.

Many of these same reservists are in Ottawa today. I would like to thank them on behalf of all Canadians for the outstanding contribution they make to Canada by dedicating a portion of their busy lives to serve in Canada's reserve forces.

Volunteer FirefightersStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

John Herron Progressive Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, at 3:30 in the morning in Hampton, New Brunswick, Marc Mathurin discovered a fire next door. In rapid fashion the Hampton volunteer fire department responded to a fire at the adjacent hardware store.

Mixtures of hazardous materials, including chemicals and paints, were ablaze. Despite these hazards the firefighters showed courage, dedication, conviction and commitment in containing the fire so it would not spread, jeopardizing other buildings on that site and also other homes.

Fire departments were on site in numbers for over 20 hours. It was a community effort in that fire departments from neighbouring communities came to be of assistance. Crews from eight communities, including Rothesay, Nauwigewauk, Norton, Long Reach, Upham, Belleisle and Kingston joined Hampton firefighters at the scene.

Last February at the Moffatt farm, volunteer firefighters again showed the same amount of dedication when they were on that particular site.

These events are stark illustrations of the courage and commitment that volunteer firefighters offer their communities. I am highlighting these incidents but I would like to applaud volunteer fire departments across the country for their bravery and dedication in every community and in every hamlet across this great nation.

MedicAlert MonthStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.


Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to remind the House that May is MedicAlert Month in Canada.

The Canadian MedicAlert Foundation is a national charitable organization that has been protecting the lives of Canadians with health conditions and special medical needs for more than 40 years.

It is currently estimated that one out of every five Canadians requires the services of an emergency department each year. MedicAlert provides immediate and reliable emergency medical information through custom engraved bracelets or necklets linked to a medical record through a 24 hour emergency hotline.

This year MedicAlert aims to educate Canadians about the increasing importance of emergency preparedness. It is pleased to have the support of national and local paramedic associations, emergency nurses and physicians in its May awareness activities.

The Government of Canada recognizes the vital role of the Canadian MedicAlert Foundation in Canada, the emergency health care system, and extends best wishes for a successful MedicAlert Month.

Waste ReportStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Williams Canadian Alliance St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, waste, waste, waste and more waste, the litany continues. Today I released my waste report explaining to Canadians how the government finds ways to spend our tax dollars.

We start with Citizenship and Immigration which paid $10,000 to an employee because it hurt his feelings. Aw, the poor dear. Well, he is not quite so poor today anyway.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency paid $2,500 because its detector dog reached retirement age before its contract expired.

Correctional Service paid $2,100 to a prisoner because it trashed his computer.

No one wastes taxpayers' money better than the Department of Canadian Heritage. The National Film Board produces trash and it is not even Canadian trash or good trash: $300,000 for The Influent and the Effluent , a documentary that explores the hidden world of sewers and the relationship between humans and their waste.

Human waste, government waste, it all adds up to a lot of taxpayers' money down the toilet.