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House of Commons Hansard #52 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was services.

Topics

The House resumed from March 24, consideration of the motion that Bill C-452, an act to amend the Criminal Code (proceedings under section 258), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Lynne Yelich Canadian Alliance Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased today to speak to Bill C-452, an act to amend the Criminal Code (proceedings under section 258).

The bill presents an important opportunity to strengthen the laws surrounding the investigation and prosecution of impaired driving and related offences. Too often individuals who choose to drive while drunk or otherwise impaired face no consequences. Even when they are caught, they can take advantage of technical loopholes to avoid justice.

My colleague's bill would eliminate some of these loopholes by giving the courts the ability to use blood or breath sample results as proof of the accused's blood alcohol content at the time of the alleged offences. The span of time during which a sample could be taken would also be increased to three hours from the current two.

These are positive changes that would correct earlier parliamentary oversights and make drunk drivers less likely to get away with their crimes. This is particularly important, because without intervention, impaired driving tends to be an oft-repeated crime with tremendous potential for tragic results. For example, impaired driving is the number one criminal cause of death in Canada. Approximately 1,350 people die each year in alcohol related motor vehicle crashes. That is a death rate two to three times higher than the national murder rate. Another 200 people are injured each day in impaired driving related incidents.

Over the last 20 years, alcohol has been a contributing factor in 30% to 50% of fatal crashes. The social and human costs are staggering. From an economic perspective, Transport Canada estimates the annual cost associated with health care, damaged property and lost wages resulting from crashes involving alcohol in Canada exceeds $5 billion.

The need to implement legislative changes that could reduce the number of impaired drivers on our roads is particularly important to the people in my home province of Saskatchewan, which has a higher rate of drunken driving than any other province in Canada.

Given the figures hon. members have just heard, it is clear that we have a responsibility to do what we can to ensure that authorities have the resources and legislative backing needed to successfully identify, charge and prosecute impaired drivers.

The member for Lakeland's bill addresses some important steps in achieving the goal. As I mentioned earlier, Bill C-452 would extend the time allowed for the taking of breath or blood samples from an accused in the investigation of an alleged offence from two to three hours. This would allow authorities more time to collect samples and could reduce the number of cases thrown out because the Crown chooses not to expend the resources necessary to have a toxicological expert verify results of samples not taken within the two hour timeframe.

The bill would also allow a court to use the results of the analysis of the sample, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, as proof that the concentration of alcohol in the accused's blood at the time of the alleged offence was not less than the concentration shown in the results. In cases where the accused challenged those results, he or she would face the eventual burden of establishing, on a balance of probabilities, factors that affect their reliability.

Finally, the bill would require a court to consider other evidence in deciding whether the accused had discharged the burden of proof. The courts have interpreted the Criminal Code in such a manner that breath or blood tests are often thrown out based solely on the accused's own testimony. Without the test results, the charges are usually dropped or the accused is acquitted.

Two of the main defences used by the accused are the Carter defence and the last drink defence. Hon. members may have heard these described in the House before, but they bear repeating.

The Carter defence is that the accused testifies that he or she had only a small amount to drink prior to the offence. The defence would call a toxicologist to confirm that the accused's blood alcohol content would definitely have been below the legal limit if such a small amount were consumed. If the court accepted the accused's evidence, the test results would be completely disregarded, even if they were administered properly, were consistent with the reading on the roadside screening device and were supported by the officer's evidence that the accused showed signs of intoxication.

The second is the last drink defence. The accused testifies that he or she consumed a large amount of alcohol immediately after driving. The contention is that this alcohol would not yet have been absorbed into the bloodstream when stopped by the police.

The accused argues that his or her blood alcohol content was below the legal limit when driving, and only rose above the limit in the interval between being stopped and being tested. Again, the breath results are rejected and the accused is acquitted.

What is the result? Despite an estimated 12.5 million impaired driving trips every year in Canada, the majority of offenders are not stopped by police and, even when they are stopped, officers do not press charges. Police officers do not believe their work will result in convictions because the laws are not strong enough.

A recent letter from MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice suggested that this group, who sadly know too well the potential consequences of impaired driving, supports the changes put forward by the member for Lakeland.

MADD National Executive Director Andrew Murie wrote: “It is now almost 20 years that the Carter defence has made a mockery of the Criminal Code's elaborate provisions designed to curtail the grave social problem posed by drinking drivers. Parliament's failure to respond meaningfully condones the undermining of the statutory provisions. Surely it stands as an indictment of the present government that amendments shown by experience to be necessary have been shirked to the extent that a private member must take it upon himself to fill the gap”.

This is an important bill that could save lives. By improving the odds that an impaired driver will face consequences for his or her actions, I believe we can reduce the number of drivers willing to take that chance. With impaired driving affecting so many Canadians each day, I encourage all members in the House to support this bill.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I notice an irony here. The NDP were chiding the official opposition, the Conservative Party, for not having speakers on a supply day motion that is non-votable, just a rhetorical gabfest in here right before an election campaign. Here we have Bill C-452 that will actually save lives if it is put in place and there is no New Democrat here to speak about it.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I must remind the hon. member that any mention of the absence of any member or members is not acceptable as a practice of the House.

Knowing the full pressures and responsibilities members have outside the Chamber, I would ask him to draw on that experience. I know the respect he has for the Chamber.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. I do appreciate the rules and I did not want to allege that any New Democrats were not here but that the NDP are not going to put up any speakers in reference to the point that was made earlier.

I rise in support of this bill. I want to laud my colleague from Lakeland and certainly my colleague from Blackstrap who just spoke to the bill. Bill C-452 deserves the support of all members of the House because I am saddened to report that according to statistics, drunk driving is the number one criminal cause of death in Canada.

I am saddened in part because the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was made law in 1982 and yet one of its most commonly cited sections, subsection 24(2), deals with the exclusion of evidence at, among others, drunk driving trials.

Approximately 40% of all traffic fatalities involve alcohol. Every day 4 Canadians die and another 200 are injured because someone had too much to drink and acted irresponsibly. Canadians know that drinking and driving is illegal; however, they also know that there are a surprising number of ways to get out of a drunk driving charge.

The last time this bill was discussed in Parliament, on March 24, 2004, the member for Provencher spoke of the tremendous difficulty in successfully prosecuting someone for drunk driving. I think that Canadians should know more about the member for Provencher because it is important to understand his background and the leverage with which he speaks to the issue.

Before ever setting foot in the House, the member for Provencher was a criminal prosecutor, the director of constitutional law for the Province of Manitoba, and later Manitoba's attorney general and minister of justice. When he talks about the Criminal Code, we should all listen.

When he spoke on Bill C-452 on March 24, he said that as a prosecutor he would rather have prosecuted a murderer than a drunk driver. He told us how frustrating it was to deal with the technical defences on how to avoid convictions under the Criminal Code. Quite frankly, he said it was easier to prosecute a murderer than it was to prosecute a drunk driver.

How difficult is it? In opposing Bill C-452, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, the Liberal responsible for this bill, told the House that “It is better that 99 people who committed the offence go free than one innocent person be convicted”.

If that is the Liberal vision of justice, we are nearly there. A recent B.C. study showed that only 11% of impaired drivers taken to hospital were ever convicted. Think about this. In what kind of circumstances is a drunk driver taken to hospital? There are only three that come to mind. One, he hit another vehicle; two, another vehicle hit him; or three, he hit an obstacle like a tree or a wall.

In situations one and three, one would think that if the drunk driver was drunk enough to hit another vehicle or an obstacle like a wall or a tree--drunk enough in order that he would have to go to hospital because of the injuries--that he would likely be drunk enough to be found guilty of drunk driving.

The fact that only 11% of these people are convicted of drunk driving tells us that there is something seriously wrong with our system. Clearly, we need to do something about it and I wish that the government would stop sending mixed signals to my generation.

Young Canadians are very aware of the “Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk” campaign. Those of us who are under 30 do not typically have a drink with lunch on a workday. The idea of a designated driver is common practice. We are opposed to drinking and driving, and we want to keep drunks off our roads.

When we hear the government has tabled legislation to deal with drug impaired driving, we are encouraged. We are happy to hear that Alberta has asked its prosecutors to seek dangerous offender status and long term offender designations for habitual drunk drivers. At the same time when we see the government's members of Parliament here in this place fighting against Bill C-452, and when we hear that convicting a drunk driver is tougher than putting a murderer behind bars, we become concerned.

Then we read that Daniel Bert Desjarlais of Edmonton has been convicted 19 times of drunk driving including one offence that killed his uncle or we hear of Robert James Dornbusch, recently stopped by police staggeringly drunk, nearly three times over the legal limit, who is to be convicted for the 17th time of impaired driving, partly because his own lawyer described him as incorrigible.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes Liberal London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I was quoted in the member's speech. The record from Hansard gives my exact quote. It said:

It has been said that the rationale behind the criminal standard is that it is better that 99 people who committed the offence go free than the one innocent person be convicted.

Please go with the exact record, not implied.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Members will understand that from the Chair's perspective this is not so much a point of order as a matter of clarification, but it is on the record.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, if I misrepresented the direct statement from the member for London West, I apologize. That was not my intention.

When it is tougher to convict people for drunk driving than it is to convict them of murder, as the former attorney general for Manitoba has told this place, that is a serious problem. That is a red flag that we should all notice about the system. When we find out that there are people who have been convicted of 19 drunk driving offences and they are still behind the wheel, our heads start to spin.

It is a question of odds. How many times do people have to drive drunk before they are caught? How many times are drunk drivers charged before they are convicted? If only 11% of impaired drivers taken to B.C. hospitals were convicted and drivers who have been convicted 16 times are still behind the wheel, that just shows how strong the odds are in a drunk driver's favour.

The government tells us that roughly 71% of drunk drivers were convicted, but if it told us that only 71% of murderers were convicted, the country would enact tougher laws. A 71% conviction rate against people who were charged with drunk driving is not good enough, especially when the biggest single reason why they were not convicted was not that they were innocent, but that they managed to exclude the evidence that proved that they were in fact drunk.

Research has shown that the vast majority of drunk driving trips, 87% of them, are taken by just 5% of drivers. Drunk drivers get behind the wheel of a car 12.5 million times every year in Canada. Only about 70,000 charges of drunk driving are laid per year in these car trips. Of these, 71%, or roughly 49,700 are convicted. That is 49,700 convictions for 12.5 million offences. That is a true conviction rate of roughly 0.4%. Like I said, the odds are very much in a drunk driver's favour.

Bill C-452 is an attempt to swing the balance back. When drunk drivers are pulled over, they are given a blood roadside breathalyzer test and if they have a blood alcohol concentration, BAC, of over 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, or .08, they are charged.

Then at trial the accused typically relies on one of two defences: the Carter defence or the last drink defence. The Carter defence relies on experts to rebut the evidence produced by the breathalyzer. The last drink defence claims that the accused was at a party, quickly chugged three or four drinks and then got into the car to get home before getting over .08 alcohol absorbed in the blood rate.

Bill C-452 aims at dealing with both offences. On the Carter defence, subclause 1(4) of C-452 introduces a new paragraph to the Criminal Code that would require any accused wishing to rebut the breathalyzer evidence to show on a balance of probabilities that: first, the analyses were improperly made; second, the procedures were not followed; third, the equipment malfunctioned; or fourth, the accused consumed alcohol after the alleged offence but before taking the samples.

The legal director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada, Professor Robert Solomon of the law faculty of University of Western Ontario, supports Bill C-452. He writes that requiring the accused to establish on balance of probabilities that the breathalyzer result is inaccurate is no different to requiring him to prove claims that he was not in the driver's seat, as per the existing paragraph 258 (1)(a) of the Criminal Code.

On the last drink defence, subclause 1(2) replaces subparagraph 258(1)(c)(ii) of the Criminal Code with new text increasing the time allowed for the taking of breath or blood samples from an accused to three hours from the current two hours. It would extend the window from which we can catch people for breaking the law. Here, Professor Solomon notes that this change is entirely consistent with the three hour period in which a police officer may demand a sample under subsection 245(3) and describes as inexplicable Parliament's failure to make corresponding changes to that section, as this bill does.

When this bill was first debated on March 24, some Liberal MPs pointed to its shortcomings and proposed to vote against sending it to committee. It is precisely this Liberal focus on the shortcomings of legislation proposed by other parties that is paralleled in law where 29% of persons charged of drunk driving are acquitted, not because of their innocence, but because of artful reliance on technicalities. That is just not good enough.

Bill C-452 is a serious attempt to deal with a serious problem. Drinking and driving is an issue that is a concern for all Canadians. I encourage all members of the House to vote in favour of sending Bill C-452 to committee for examination to strengthen our law, protect families, protect kids, and get in their face and tell drunk drivers that what they are doing will not be tolerated in this new and better Canada.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I just want to make a short comment. I know my colleague from the Conservatives was somewhat disappointed that the New Democratic Party was not going to put up a speaker. Quite frankly, having had a good number of people in the House listen to me on a number of instances today, I did not want to repeat anything or to speak any more than I had to today.

However, I want to reaffirm the position that we have taken in the past. It is private members' business and everyone will vote according to how they choose, but generally, we have taken the position that we support this bill going to committee. We will encourage our colleagues to vote in favour of it going to committee.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Taking note that no other member is rising, under right of reply, we will give a maximum of up to five minutes to the member under whose name the bill stands, the hon. member for Lakeland.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Canadian Alliance Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to make my closing comments on the legislation.

My private member's bill is about saving lives. The bill was designed and drafted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Louise Knox, the president of this organization, lives in my constituency. We have talked many times about the devastation caused by drunk driving. Her son was killed by a drunk driver. She knows the loss a family can feel as a result of this completely unnecessary death.

The bill tries, in a very reasonable way, to eliminate two of the most commonly used technical defences for those who are guilty of drunk driving but get off on technicalities. They hire a good lawyer, go to court, get a soft judge and get off on technicalities. The purpose of this legislation is to protect against that to save lives.

I cannot imagine why anyone in the House would not support the legislation. In fact the parliamentary secretary, in the last hour of debate, gave his reasons why the government, or members of the Liberal Party, might not support the legislation, and they were absurd. I am will read them so members can see just how ridiculous this argument is. Normally, I would not use that type of strong language, but I think it is being factual. He said:

Bill C-452 would impose a new and highly unusual requirement upon an accused person. In order to challenge the result of a breath or blood test, an accused would have to prove one of four things: first, the analysis was faulty; second, the equipment was faulty; third, the procedure was faulty; or, fourth, the accused drank alcohol after driving but before the testing.

The parliamentary secretary was arguing that requiring the accused to prove one of these things was unreasonable. He even went so far as to say that it somehow went against charter protection.

However, let us just examine whether that is the case. What I am talking about are the two most commonly used defences to get drunk drivers off the hook. My colleagues have presented the information effectively on these two defences, but I am going to present them once more and then quickly show how absurd the parliamentary secretary's arguments are.

The courts until now really have interpreted the Criminal Code in a manner that results in the evidentiary breath or blood test results being thrown out solely based upon the accused's unsubstantiated and self-serving testimony.

People go to court, accused of drunk driving, and say one of two things. In the case of the Carter defence, they say that they only consumed a small amount of alcohol. Even though the tests showed they were clearly drunk, based on the evidence they presented, that they had only consumed a small amount, they could not be guilty because their blood alcohol concentration simply could not have been that high.

In the other case, that of the last drink defence, they say that when they were tested their blood alcohol level was above the legal limit, that they were driving drunk according to the test, but what they did was guzzle back a bunch of booze just before the police stopped them. Therefore, while they were drunk according to the test, they were not drunk while driving. Believe it or not, some courts, with the right judge and the right lawyer, allow these defences to stand.

The parliamentary secretary says that it is unreasonable for the accused to require evidence that the test was wrong. The legislation says that if the tests are done appropriately, then that individual should be found guilty. The parliamentary secretary argues that it is an unreasonable thing to require. But is it? When the roadside test is consistent with the tests done a couple of hours later and is consistent with what the police officer saw, should that not be enough to convict the drunk driver, unless the accused can prove that the machine was faulty or that the proper procedure was not followed or specifically that something else was done wrong?

I would argue, for the sake of saving lives, the bill should be passed so the strong evidence that the machines provide will stand up in court and these technicalities will no longer get drunk drivers off the hook and lead to these needless deaths across the country every year.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

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

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

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

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, May 12 immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

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

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

5:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the President of the Treasury Board is in the House for this point. In an earlier incarnation, he chaired a standing committee of the House of Commons that looked at the issue, which was a subject of exchange between myself and the Deputy Prime Minister the other day in the House.

The issue fundamentally is the degree to which the so-called arm's length foundations, which were established for good purposes to which I will come, should operate free from the normal instruments of accountability to the House of Commons.

I should say at the outset that I certainly do not question the value of these foundations. I do not question the idea that there needs to be some separation between the normal influences on governments and parliaments, partisan and short term influences, and the long term goals with which these foundations are seized. There is no doubt that it had to be done, and that something out of the ordinary had to be done in the establishment of these foundations. Therefore, the purposes are not at issue.

However, it ill-behooves the Deputy Prime Minister to respond as she did in the House in terms of the defence of the purposes of these foundations, when what is at issue is not their purposes but their accountability to the House of Commons.

The foundations, which include Genome Canada, Canada Health Infoway and a range of others, were set up, as I say, with a good purpose; to maintain a distance on issues that were too sensitive to be left to simple partisan consideration.

In setting them up in this way, the result has been that there is absolutely no accountability to the House of Commons. They are not subject to the audit by the Auditor General. It is true that they can choose to have an audit, but they are not subject as most agencies of government are to an audit without choice by the Auditor General of Canada. They are not subject to access to information regulations. They are not in most cases subject to the provisions of the Official Languages Act. They are not subject to any kind of intervention by a member of Parliament, or indeed by a minister, if something goes wrong.

I understand the reasons why they were set up in that way. I am not suggesting any malign intent. I am however suggesting that there is a fundamental principle at the base of this Parliament. The purpose of Parliament is to control all spending that occurs in the name of the Government of Canada.

Whether it was by design or by accident, we have established here a system amounting to billions of dollars a year in which major decisions regarding the public policy of Canada in issues of particular importance to our future are taken in flagrant disregard of the principle that Parliament has the right to hold government agencies accountable for public spending.

This issue can be resolved today if the President of the Treasury Board will rise in response to this point and give an undertaking to the House that his review of accountability of government will include a serious examination of ways by which we, on the one hand, retain the independence of these foundations and, on the other hand, respect the fundamental principle of their accountability to Parliament. I do not pretend that it is easy, but I am absolutely certain that it can be done. All it requires is a will.

Before I take my seat, I should raise a defence of this practice that was made to the committee by the president of one of these outstanding foundations. The president said that even though they were not required to, they tried to respect the rules of accountability. That is not good enough. Trying is not good enough. What one chair of a foundation might do one day does not impose an obligation upon subsequent chairs in subsequent years. There needs to be a rule.

I hope the President of the Treasury Board will indicate that there will be a rule henceforth.

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, I thank the right hon. member for his question earlier and his continuing interest in this subject. As he pointed out at the beginning of his remarks, I too have an interest in this subject. He and I served together on a committee that examined some of these questions.

While I take his last point that these relationships should not be voluntary, when we undertook to have this examination and invited the foundations to come before us, they all did so quite willingly. There was never any resistance.

However, the concern that I think underlies his question is certainly one that the auditor has raised. In the 2003 budget the then finance minister tried to introduce conditions and some requirements for the foundations that clarified some of the reporting relationships, the requirement that they produce audited financial statements, that there are reports laid before the House before the relevant ministers and the like.

Also, I think it is very important to point out because of some of the questions that have been raised, not by the right hon. member, but by others in the House that these foundations do in fact have audited statements. They are not done by the Auditor General of Canada, but they do produce audited statements. In fact, many of them are very transparent in that they post on the Internet all of their transactions for people to see and, as I said earlier, they are willing to entertain questions.

I would like, though, to offer my right hon. friend the assurance that he seeks. We are doing reviews of the functions of government and governance both of the big crowns as a specific piece of work but also governance internally. The choice of governing instrument is a big question. I would argue, and have argued in this place before, that we have tended, in response to various pressures over time, to create a bunch of different organizational delivery mechanisms and we have taken the position that it is time to have a look at all of that.

I think by and large it would be the position of the government that we are quite satisfied--and I think the right hon. member has said this--that the purpose for which these foundations were established and the work that they are doing is of quite high value. That is really not at question here. What is at question is the direct accountability relationships.

I also think it is important to point out that the legislation that established these foundations was vetted and passed by the House. The money that is transferred to them either in the first instance of their establishing grant or subsequently is mentioned in the budget, presented in estimates and duly voted on in the House. It is not as though there is no House oversight.

In this and in a great many other things the member has shown a keen interest in how government functions and what its relationship is with this chamber. That is an extremely important question. It is one that I take very seriously, the government takes very seriously and one on which we will be coming forward with more discussion. We are working quite diligently with a number of folks to try to organize discussion for this chamber, when it is ready to entertain such a discussion, on exactly these questions.

Who knows what the future holds, but it is theoretically possible that this will be the last time I will speak in this chamber in direct response to a question from the member. I want to say to him and to anyone else who cares to listen that I have enormous respect for the work he has done here. I took great pleasure in the fact that he sat as a member of my committee. He worked very diligently on these issues. He has added great value to this place and I shall miss him.

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

May 11th, 2004 / 6:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for those concluding remarks. I will be gone, I assure people of that.

The purposes here are not at issue. The minister said that the purposes of the foundations were vetted by Parliament when they were established. He knows that these are matters of such enormous complexity and that they were whipped, which is to mean that there was not the kind of scrutiny that would normally justify a $7.5 billion annual departure from the rules of parliamentary accountability.

What I am interested in hearing is that there will in fact be a deliberate review of this arrangement with an eye to finding some procedure that is consistent both with the independent actions of the foundations and the fundamental principle of accountability to Parliament. I would like to receive that now.

I would like to receive from the minister some indication that there will be regular reports to the House as to the nature of the consideration that he and his colleagues are undertaking. It seems to me that a simple place to start would be to make these foundations accountable not by choice but by requirement to the audit of the Office of the Auditor General.

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Reg Alcock Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, I certainly do not wish to appear the least bit evasive on the question itself. It is just that I have a process in place. In the terms of reference of that process and the instructions I have given to the people who are working on this, it is to look at all of these arrangements.

Government is huge. We have a great many of these things, including these foundations. They have to be evaluated not just in terms of how useful they are or in terms of the public good, but in terms of their relationship with Parliament and as an instrument of the government. Having done that and having made that assessment, we will be putting that stuff before the House. The intention is to come back in the fall with a report to the House on our findings, with a series of questions to engage the House in exactly this discussion. Hopefully, it will lead to changes in legislation.

It is difficult for me to presume on the outcome but on the member's question as to whether there will be the opportunity to have debate on those things, I give him my assurance that there will be.

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24.

(The House adjourned at 6:07 p.m.)