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House of Commons Hansard #123 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was acadian.

Topics

Questions on the Order PaperGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions on the Order PaperGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Questions on the Order PaperGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Questions on the Order PaperGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Questions on the Order PaperGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Questions on the Order PaperGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Questions on the Order PaperGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Questions on the Order PaperGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Pursuant to Standing Order 45, the division stands deferred until Monday, September 22, at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.

Questions on the Order PaperGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Madam Speaker, discussions have taken place between the parties and there is an agreement to further defer the recorded division requested on Bill C-49 until the end of government orders on Tuesday, September 23.

Questions on the Order PaperGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from September 15, consideration of the motion that Bill C-45, an act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal liability of organizations), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Progressive Conservative Kings—Hants, NS

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure today to speak to Bill C-45. As a Nova Scotian it is particularly poignant. The legislation emanates from a disaster in my province, in fact the Westray disaster in the riding of the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, the leader of my party.

Almost 12 years ago, on May 9, 1992, the Westray mine disaster in Plymouth, Nova Scotia occurred, killing 26 men. At the time I was actually living in New York. I was listening to national public radio on that morning. It was the first time I had ever heard Nova Scotia mentioned on national public radio in New York during the period of time that I lived there. I remember how it impacted me, the thought of 26 Nova Scotians dying, and we were to learn unnecessarily, in a disaster that could have been prevented. It is unfortunate that 12 years later we are still debating the merits of a piece of legislation that could have been in place a lot earlier to protect Canadians against that sort of corporate malfeasance.

It is interesting to consider the legislation today in an environment where increasingly issues of corporate governance and accountability are being debated and discussed. Most of the time when we are talking about corporate governance and accountability, we are talking about financial issues, dollars and cents issues and accounting issues. We are talking in this case not about dollars and cents but about human lives.

If we consider the principles of corporate governance and the principles of financial accountability and financial corporate governance, the similarities are striking of what we want to achieve. We simply want to see that management and ownership is held accountable and responsible to protect the safety, of workers in this case, from avoidable disasters.

Our party has spoken supportively. My leader, in his capacity as justice critic for our party, has been supportive. Clearly there are some legitimate criticisms of the legislation that it does not necessarily go far enough. I suppose an unfortunate irony of this is that the legislation quite possibly would not have helped address the accountability of the management and ownership of the Westray mine.

In the case of Westray, prosecution of the corporation would have been pointless. The parent company, Curragh Resources, was bankrupt by the time a prosecution could have been started and there was nothing left for a court to fine. No company survived to implement new safety policies.

The power to charge a corporation would have been an empty power in that sense in the Westray disaster. There is a fine line clearly between ensuring reasonable accountability and governance on health and safety issues but also recognizing that there is always the risk of somebody down the management chain acting irresponsibly. There is a fear in Canada today at the board of directors level of various companies that there is going to be an almost unlimited accountability. These issues have to be considered.

There is a fine line effectively in creating an environment within which no Canadian would take the risk of being on the board of a company for fear of being implicated in a proceeding like this, even though they would not have a direct responsibility. Despite those fears, there is no doubt we need greater levels of accountability of management and ownership in health and safety issues.

I would hope that this legislation will help prevent the kind of disaster, such as the Westray disaster which destroyed lives. It took away lives and tore apart families in Nova Scotia in 1992. We would like to see Canadians protected immediately by the passage of this legislation. Hopefully this legislation can play a role in preventing another Westray type disaster in the future.

We should not have had to wait 12 years after the original Westray disaster for this legislation. It is imperative that we as legislators move quickly now, when we have the opportunity, to pass this legislation and do the right thing.

Sometimes in this place when we are talking about legislation it seems a little esoteric, it seems less connected to the lives of ordinary Canadians, but this is not one of those times. This is a time when I am proud to speak to an important piece of legislation. As a Nova Scotian, I feel particularly honoured to have the opportunity to stand in the House and support this legislation.

I want to commend my leader for having played such an important role at justice committee as justice critic for our party over the last number of years in terms of working toward the passage of this legislation. I want to commend him and offer my full support and that of our party for the direction that this legislation is trying to achieve.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, I was very happy to hear the spokesperson for the Conservative Party indicating support for the direction of the Westray bill, Bill C-45. However, I am deeply disturbed that he has made no indication that his party shares the concerns that have been widely raised about the shortfall and inadequacies in the legislation that is now before the House.

Let us be clear, we are talking about a piece of legislation that has been 11 years in incubation and is only finally now finding its way into the light of day. It leaves me wondering whether the Conservative Party has already dropped the term “progressive”.

I want to ask the member if he would clarify something. I have heard from many people that if this legislation had actually been in place at the time the Westray disaster occurred in Nova Scotia 11 years ago in 1992 costing 26 lives, that it would not have made any difference whatsoever in establishing the criminal liability, the criminal culpability, of the directors and senior managers of that company. They clearly were responsible for horrendous deeds that were documented in the Westray inquiry. Is the member prepared to fight alongside the New Democratic Party and all others concerned? We must ensure that the bill actually is what it needs to be to get the job done in the future both by way of prevention, and punitive measures where they are deserved.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Progressive Conservative Kings—Hants, NS

Madam Speaker, first, my party is the Progressive Conservative Party and I intend to keep it that way. I am sure that will please the hon. member for Halifax immeasurably.

During my comments I referred specifically to the flaw of this legislation. I read an article written by David Roberts, a Halifax lawyer. I quoted specifically the following passage:

It's worth remembering, however, that in the case of Westray, prosecution of the corporation would have been pointless. The parent, Curragh Resources, was bankrupt by the time a prosecution could have started. There was nothing left for a court to fine. No company survived to implement new safety policies. The power to charge a corporation would have been an empty power in the Westray disaster.

I did refer specifically to that during my comments. I referred to it as an unfortunate irony that in legislation which some refer to as the Westray bill this legislation would have failed to have any impact at that time. That is a very unfortunate irony. I do support strengthening the legislation in that regard. I concur with the hon. member on this.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2003 / 12:35 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I take part in this debate today on Bill C-45, which deals, among other things and most importantly, with the criminal liability of organizations.

It is with great pleasure that I do so, because I had the opportunity, over a year ago, to attend the convention of the Canadian Labour Congress, the CLC, in Montreal. The CLC had made a number of parliamentarians aware of the problem. I remember this convention in Montreal quite well. Some parliamentarians were present. I was there, but there were also representatives from the NDP. Unfortunately, the Liberal Party had refused to attend, as had the Conservative Party and the Canadian Alliance.

The delegates made us aware of the importance of making legislative changes to better protect workers. They gave as an example, of course, the explosion at the Westray mine, in Nova Scotia. The explosion inside the mine had caused the death of more than 26 men. After a rather extensive public inquiry, it was concluded that, most likely, if some prevention or safety measures had been taken to protect workers, the tragedy would not have occurred. The public inquiry into the Westray mine showed that there had been negligence on the part of company directors, with respect to safety.

The delegates had made us aware of the importance of enacting legislation. Essentially, Bill C-45 is merely the expression of a willingness to react to this problem and to make the necessary legislative changes.

I must remind the House that we had studied this issue many times before, through private members' bills such as Bill C-468, Bill C-259 and, more recently, Bill C-284, containing similar provisions. Of course, some aspects have been omitted from Bill C-45. We know that some provisions of Bill C-284, particularly with regard to penalties, have not been included in Bill C-45. Consequently, we would like to amend it.

First of all, the bill uses the word “organization” instead of “corporation”. As a result, it applies to a larger number of institutions. We must raise the awareness of firms regarding the need for prevention and protection of workers in the workplace. However, we must realize that some workplaces are more dangerous than others.

As the Westray mine disaster taught us, it is essential to make the organization, in other words the institution or the firm, responsible for the protection of workers.

Another aspect of the bill is that from now on a firm will be criminally liable for the actions of employees who are not necessarily very high in the hierarchy. What does this mean? It means that in the case of bosses who are not necessarily executives but foremen or third or second level bosses, the firm would have organizational liability insofar as these bosses are responsible for the enforcement of stringent security standards.

Negligence is no longer acceptable, it is now a criminal offence. This is not a trivial issue when we know that some workplaces are more dangerous than others, especially for human health. Moreover, in some workplaces, negligence relating to safety can result in the loss of human life. The Westray mine is a case in point.

Offences of negligence are another important aspect. Let us take criminal negligence as an example. The moral element of the offence will be attributable to the organization insofar as the moral element of the offence can be attributed to one of the senior officers of the organization.

So, as I mentioned earlier, there is now criminal liability for offences of negligence. In reality, the whole issue of prevention in the workplace is at the heart of these provisions.

Another aspect of the bill is that it explicitly makes it a duty for those who have the authority to direct how employees do work, to take the necessary steps to prevent bodily harm to the employees. In other words, this is about the responsibility of foremen and managers and the need to have stringent prevention standards in dangerous workplaces. That is another important aspect.

Clause 3 of Bill C-45 is even more interesting and it is the key element of the bill. It reads as follows, and I quote:

Every one who undertakes...to direct how another person does work or performs a task is under a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to that person or any other person, arising from that work or task.

This will make it possible to charge those who fail to comply with this requirement with criminal negligence.

With clause 3 of the bill, occupational safety is improved. This is fundamental.

We agree with certain aspects relating to the principle of the bill. But we can only condemn the fact that between the time when we studied Bill C-284, during the first session of this Parliament, and Bill C-45 now before us, some substance was lost, with respect to the criminal liability of directors and officers, for example.

With respect to the penalties that could be imposed on organizations, I should point out that they would have no effect in cases of bankruptcy. Given the very principle that underlies it, Bill C-45 should therefore not be allowed to provide loopholes to businesses which are in a difficult fiscal situation or have declared bankruptcy.

In our opinion, there should be full liability, not only for businesses which are operating but also for those that have declared bankruptcy. It seems clear to us that this bill bears some resemblance to Bill C-284, but there are significant omissions as well. The danger is that this could lead to loopholes with respect to criminal liability.

Another significant omission is that, contrary to Bill C-284, Bill C-45 contains no provisions for making directors and officers of corporations criminally liable if they are not the ones who, materially, committed a criminal act.

Once again, there are significant omissions in this bill and, in some respects, Bill C-284 was more comprehensive than the one before us today.

I will point out in closing that, with a vote in favour of this bill today, we are telling those working in conditions hazardous to their health and safety that the message from the Westray mine workers has come through loud and clear: negligence must be punished.

We have also understood that prevention is the most fundamental action, the cornerstone of worker protection. We believe nothing like this must ever be allowed to happen again. We believe that imposing penalties and taking stringent measures, up to and including punishment of negligence under the Criminal Code, cannot help but improve workers' lives, as well as their working conditions.

The message we are sending out today is that we have understood the Westray mine workers, and intend to make the necessary legislative changes to protect them better. Workers have the right to protection, particularly when they work in a dangerous environment.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, I am happy to again have an opportunity to address Bill C-45, which deals with corporate criminal liability.

When debate on second reading began on Monday, I had an opportunity to raise various concerns that had been identified about the legislation in terms of the shortfall, the inadequacy of the provisions in the bill to actually get the job done, to actually act upon the horrifying tragic lessons of the Westray disaster that occurred in my province in 1992 resulting in the deaths of 26 miners.

What the Westray inquiry clearly established was that those deaths were preventable. I will quote directly from the report of Justice Peter Richard when he said that it documented “a complex mosaic of actions, omissions, mistakes, incompetence, apathy, cynicism, stupidity and neglect”.

The details of that horrendously irresponsible behaviour that could be described as nothing less than criminal have been fully spelled out. I will quote briefly from a couple of the specifics that documented the glaring safety abuses, among them: inadequate ventilation design and maintenance that failed to keep methane and coal dust at safe levels; unauthorized mine layout, forcing miners to work risky tunnels to get the coal out faster; methane detectors were disconnected because frequent alarms, signalling dangerous concentrations of methane, interrupted coal production; procedures to stonedust coal to render it non-explosive were done only sporadically, usually before inspections; and an appalling lack of safety training for miners.

There may be some people following the debate on this so-called Westray bill, Bill C-45, who are wondering if this only has to do with coal mining. That is an important question to be addressing. Many people know that coal mining, by its very nature and its very essence, is a very hazardous industry, and that is true, but what has clearly been established is that the most basic, the most elementary, the most fundamental safety precautions that could have prevented this tragedy were not observed, were not enforced by the company that employed those workers and operated that mine.

However it is about more than coal mining and this particular tragedy. It is about the 1,000 men and women in this country who lose their lives in workplace accidents. It is about the close to one million--and it is hard to get one's head around that figure--workplace accidents that occur on an annual basis in this country.

At the end of the day it is not a statistic or an array of statistics that we are talking about. What we are talking about are human lives shattered or terminated, in all too many cases, as a result of practices that could have been improved and accidents prevented.

In the few minutes that remain to me I do not want to talk about more details respecting the Westray disaster because that has been well-documented again and again. It was documented in the private member's bill that I had the privilege of bringing forward in 1999, which died on the Order Paper, and in the private member's bill brought forward by my colleague from Churchill which also was sidelined. However, we are finally at the point where we are dealing with a piece of legislation. It is inadequate to the task but at least it is now before us and we need to get it right.

In the few minutes remaining to me I will talk about a courageous young man by the name of Lewis Wheelan. One month ago today, on August 19, 2003, I received the following message from the parents of Lewis Wheelan, Melanie and Bob Wheelan, from Echo Bay, Ontario. The message reads, “Sadly I share with you the loss of our beloved Lewis. He left us strong and optimistic with nothing but love in his heart even for those who failed him so terribly”.

I want to tell the House the tragic horror story that unfolded on May 30, 2001 for 19 year old Lewis Wheelan, a young man who was energetic, optimistic and who faced a brilliant career.

He reported for his summer job on May 30, 2001 after his first year at university. The second day on the job he was electrocuted by 7,200 volts from a live hydro wire dropped on him as he worked gathering and piling brush for his employer.

As a result of that electrocution he lost his right arm, his right shoulder front and back, both legs, the middle finger of his left hand, partial use of his left hand due to nerve damage in the forearm and was burned over half of his body.

I visited Lewis Wheelan in his home as he was struggling to pull his body and soul together to get out across the country to tell his story and fight for workplace health and safety and, yes, fight for the kind of legislation that we are here considering today, which is legislation to change the Criminal Code to hold corporations accountable for criminal behaviour in putting the lives of employees knowingly at risk in the workplace.

It is a double tragedy that Lewis Wheelan passed away in August, because he was clearing brush under contract to a company that was engaged by Great Lakes Power. In the hearings held to gain convictions for the completely unsafe practices of that company under contract, what was absolutely documented was that this was a private company owned by Brascan that was constantly guilty of cutting corners, of not maintaining the power lines to any kind of safety standard, not clearing the trees and brush in a timely manner and not willing to invest the money to keep the lines safe so that the line that broke, which resulted in Lewis' electrocution and ultimately his death, had 15 splices in it. The company was too cheap to protect the lives of its workers.

However, even though, under the provincial health and safety requirements for training, this company was found to be woefully inadequate, the occupational health and safety division of the Ontario government was not able to hold the four directors charged in this case in any way accountable for their actions.

This is a company that made $240 million last year. It received a fine of $250,000 and, I might say, a tax deductible fine, which my colleague for Winnipeg North has repeatedly talked about as being obscene and something we have to do something about.

It is a double tragedy that this young man's life was ended as a result, again, of inadequate public policy. His life ended as a result of the power blackout; surely a double irony if we consider the workplace accident that occurred in the first place.

As a result of the power blackout, Lewis Wheelan was abandoned for his most basic survival needs. I think two things are underscored by the story of Lewis Wheelan's life. First, the need for us to not just consider the legislation that is before us and uncritically pass it, but for us to send it on to committee where it is absolutely essential that it be tightened up and made more effective in order to achieve the recommendation made by Justice Peter Richard, which was to establish criminal liability for the directors and the senior managers who escape responsibility in such a horrendously irresponsible and reckless situations.

Second, it seems appropriate on this occasion to acknowledge that we need to keep the provision of power, as my provincial colleague, Howard Hampton, has argued again and again, in the public domain where there will be public accountability and where we do not end up with situations of private corporations further contracting out work, such as the maintaining of power lines, completely thumbing their noses at health and safety and not concerning themselves with the impact a power failure has on people' s lives.

I want to say again, as many have, that we welcome the fact that the bill has reached this stage. One steelworker e-mailed me this morning, as many others have, and said “Thank goodness the Westray bill is finally making its way into law”. However let us take the opportunity to do the job right in the name of the 26 Westray miners who lost their lives and in the name of the families of those Westray miners who pleaded to me and my NDP provincial colleagues 11 years ago to see that their loved ones did not lose their lives in vain, to at least leave that legacy for their children. Let us do it in the name of the Lewis Wheelans of this country who have lost their lives by the thousands, 1,000 every year on average, because of workplace health and safety accidents, the overwhelming majority of which could have been prevented.

As the NDP caucus has already indicated, we will be supporting the bill going to committee. Sometimes when we say that we will support a bill to go to committee and we hope there will be improvements when it gets there, we have a kind of sinking feeling that it is a faint hope. The government knew the legislation, as it brought it forward, was inadequate. It did not make the restrictions as tight as they needed to be, the provisions to capture those senior managers and directors. The government knew that.

However I have to say in this case that I am optimistic that the justice committee will do the work that is necessary to make sure this legislation comes back to the House appropriately amended. Why am I optimistic? I am optimistic because it was the justice committee that was willing to act on the private members' bills brought forward by myself and by my colleague from Churchill in the first place and put the government on the spot. Unanimously, members of all parties in the House recommended to the government that it take the essence of Justice Peter Richard's recommendations on the Westray inquiry, the essence of the private members' bills that we brought forward on behalf of the Westray workers and families, and the thousands and thousands of others whose lives have been unnecessary lost, and bring forth legislation to once and for all address this issue.

I appeal to the justice committee to act in that spirit and, having done the homework, having understood the need for this legislation, that it not bring forward nominal amendments that are just tokens, but amendments that will be effective, enforceable and will ensure the job is done.

I look forward to that spirit being carried out by all my colleagues in the House who represent the people of Canada who look for leadership on this issue.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, I want to recognize and thank the member for Halifax for her speech regarding the absolutely tragic incident involving 26 miners killed in the Westray mine disaster.

As much as Canadians across the country were horrified that these 26 people were killed 10 years ago in the Westray tragedy, they were even more horrified to learn that under the current Criminal Code those who were clearly responsible for these deaths would never be prosecuted. The crown prosecutors of Nova Scotia had to stay the charges because they knew the charges would not stick.

I know it was through the work of the leader of the NDP at that time, the current member for Halifax, who put forward a private member's bill, and other members of our caucus who worked closely with the steelworkers and pushed year after year to have this issue of corporate accountability, or what I call corporate manslaughter, recognized. The essence of what we are introducing here would amend the Criminal Code to entertain the legal concept of corporate manslaughter.

I would ask the hon. member for Halifax to expand on her view of what this will look like when it becomes a change to the Criminal Code of Canada. Some people are using the analogy that if someone kills a person while driving under the influence of alcohol, the individual is not just charged with a traffic violation but is also charged with manslaughter due to gross negligence. Our argument being that gross negligence in the workplace causing the death of a worker should be treated and viewed in much the same way. This is not just a workplace safety and health violation anymore. It is a violation of the Criminal Code as it pertains to manslaughter and murder.

Would the hon. member for Halifax expand on how she would ultimately like to see this new legal concept manifested in the Criminal Code?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague has of course has been a champion of workplace health and safety protections in his role as labour critic of the NDP and previously as a labour leader in the field. Therefore, what he very much recognizes is the inadequacy of our current laws to hold corporations accountable for what essentially is corporate greed very often in not ensuring that the kind of workplace health and safety conditions are created, that the workplace health and safety training is there and that investment in the job and working conditions is absolutely essential to provide the safest possible working conditions.

Sometimes I think people will say that we cannot prevent workplace accidents from happening. It is an absolute cop out to take that view. Of course we cannot prevent all accidents but most accidents can be prevented. The question is whether a company takes all the precautions that can be taken and can be reasonably expected to prevent the preventable accidents from ever occurring.

Many people watched in horror the account of the Westray disaster. What became absolutely clear was a convergence of political optimism by the respective governments of the day, and this is well documented, the Conservative government in Ottawa and the Conservative government in Nova Scotia, together with a corporation that engaged consistently in criminally irresponsible behaviour. When it came to trying to obtain convictions, it was not even possible for the law to get to first base with respect to that company. It was not possible to enforce subpoenas to bring the two most responsible persons in that company before the Westray inquiry let alone before the courts.

Therefore, what we are talking about here is changes to the Criminal Code that would make it possible to see through the kinds of convictions that would be appropriate to hold the corporate directors and the senior decision makers in a company also responsible for their actions, as all workers are now held responsible for their actions.

Why we need to see amendments to this bill when it gets to committee and before it comes back to the House for final consideration is because in the most ironic and perverse way there is a stiffening of the penalties that would apply to lead hands, to workers directly, but there is a very big escape for the most senior officers. Yet the recommendation of the Westray inquiry, the judge who presided over it, Peter Richard, was that we needed changes to the Criminal Code that would specifically make it possible to hold the senior directors and officers of a company criminally liable.

Those are the kinds of changes we need to get the job done correctly.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Madam Speaker, it is certainly beyond doubt that this legislation is highly welcome and most desirable. Perhaps the debate might be on whether it goes far enough or whether it goes too far.

Having gone over it, I would be inclined to think that the legislation offers a good initial step and as have other speakers in this debate have already indicated, it might be strengthened in committee when it gets there.

There is no doubt that this is an area that needs attention; namely, the area of regulating behaviour.

We regulate behaviour when it comes to traffic and transport. We regulate behaviour when it comes to the supply of food to consumers. We regulate behaviour in the use of the public airwaves, we could say. We regulate behaviour even in the use of the freedom of speech. It is therefore quite appropriate that we move into this area that would regulate the behaviour of the corporate sector when it comes to the security and the safety of its employees.

As others have already indicated, this is not just a measure for miners, it is a measure that would help to protect workers in a variety of industries, from construction, to forestry, to fisheries and so on.

However the event in Westray, which touched us deeply 11 years ago, is the one that somehow has triggered this measure, which made us realize that there was veil of protection to allow decisions in the corporate sector which turned out to be unreasonable and to the detriment of all employees.

The bill removes the shield that protects the corporate sector from anonymity and it aims at two aspects, which I would like to read into the record because they are very encouraging and most desirable.

First, it is to:

establish rules for attributing to organizations, including corporations, criminal liability for the acts of their representatives;

That means that corporate CEOs, decision maker and managers would be responsible for their actions should it turn out they were irresponsibly acting in the management of that particular sector in that particular firm.

Second, it is to:

establish a legal duty for all persons directing work to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of workers and the public;

That also seems to me to be well thought out, timely and will go a long way in improving behaviour and preventing accidents to workers engaged in a variety of activities across the nation every day.

There is never enough attention paid to the safety of workers at work or on site. If we seem to be focusing in this bill on miners, it is because they are probably those who face daily most danger than many other occupations and also that is where the number of accidents more frequently take place.

However through this bill, we are approaching it and applying it to the entire federal jurisdiction. It is one measure that I think the present environment will be proud and it is of course our hope on this side of the House that this measure will go through all its stages and be proclaimed possibly by the end of October so it will be part of the record of the present government.

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1:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Is the House ready for the question?

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1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

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1:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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1:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee)