House of Commons Hansard #131 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was protection.


Public Servants Disclosure Protection ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.


Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of quick points in response to an observation from my colleague on the definition of the largest political scandal in Canadian history. He mentioned the Devine government in Saskatchewan.

I would point out to the member that the total amount of money that was stolen by members of the Saskatchewan Conservative Party was far less than the amount stolen by Mr. Coffin in one example of abuse in the sponsorship scandal. Yet Mr. Coffin, it appears, gets to lecture on the university circuit while others in Saskatchewan, as the member rightfully points out, did go to jail. I would suggest that if we are looking at the scale of theft, this is by far, in terms of monetary terms, the largest scandal in Canadian political history.

The member mentioned in his remarks that it was worth the time it took to present this bill, and the years that it took in development to get it right. There were a couple of points that my colleagues and I have raised that this bill still needs some refinement in terms of clause 55, which refers to the five year period in which information can be withheld.

If a department head chooses to do so based on the fact that he or she may feel the disclosure of that information would ultimately lead to the identity of the individual, I feel that is somewhat restrictive and onerous on the Canadian public. It would allow department heads to arbitrarily say that they are going to withhold the information because they believe the identity of the whistleblower might be revealed and, therefore, the information itself cannot come forward.

Second, does the member believe there should be exemptions for crown corporations and others or should all arms of government be treated equally inasmuch as they should all be under the same umbrella of Bill C-11 as every line department or should there be exemptions as this bill suggests there should?

Public Servants Disclosure Protection ActGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.


Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I actually like Conservative scandals better than Liberal scandals because with the Conservatives they do not seem to be afraid to fire people and put them in jail. When Brian Mulroney was prime minister, a cabinet minister a week went down. He would fire them. He would not just prop them up month after month. I am with my colleague. I prefer all of the scandals of the Progressive Conservative Party to the ones that we have lived through with the Liberals.

Clause 55 is meant to be very narrow in scope and application. There is some comfort we can draw from the fact that our committee at any time could amend and change Bill C-11 if we find there is a real problem with clauses. We do not have to wait for the five year mandatory review of the bill. There is nothing stopping us from correcting irritants as we go. I believe the application of clause 55 will be very rare and narrow as it pertains to the Access to Information Act.

Public Servants Disclosure Protection ActGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.


Nina Grewal Conservative Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Newton—North Delta.

I am pleased to rise on behalf of the constituents of Fleetwood—Port Kells to speak to Bill C-11, an act to establish a procedure for the disclosure of wrongdoings in the public sector, including the protection of persons who disclose the wrongdoings.

Canadians have been waiting for a long time for effective whistleblower legislation. Countries around the world have had whistleblower legislation for decades, protecting public servants who take their oath of protecting the public interest seriously.

Indeed, one wonders that if there had been whistleblower legislation years ago, we may not have had a sponsorship scandal. Who knows how much taxpayers' money could have been saved. Instead, it ended up in the coffers of the Liberal Party.

Unlike the Liberal Party, the Conservative Party has always supported effective whistleblower legislation for public servants who expose wrongdoing, corruption, waste and mismanagement.

Bill C-11 fails on a number of levels, including its enforcement apparatus, its procedural scope and its transparency mechanisms. Before voting to support this bill, I would like to see amendments made to correct these glaring deficiencies in the bill.

First, as it stands, the bill's creation of an independent commissioner to oversee whistleblowing complaints is flawed.

As was the case with the previous Ethics Commissioner, the independent commissioner will report to a minister and not the House of Commons. Past experience with ministerial reporting has not endeared anyone to the process. In fact, in the case of whistleblowing, which could easily implicate political appointees, party workers and/or elected government officials, there is nothing worse than having the commissioner report to a cabinet minister who is often beholden to these interests. An enforcement apparatus must be put in place that avoids reporting to cabinet.

This is clearly a case of the fox guarding the hen house. An independent commissioner reporting to Parliament would be freer in his or her assessments and also more likely to avoid the subtle and structural procedures and biases of cabinet and ministerial authority. Why after 12 years of Liberal rule would we trust a system that furthers ministerial power over whistleblowing?

Rather, we should be making every attempt to make the independent commissioner's office truly transparent. Quite frankly, why should Canadians trust these Liberals to guard themselves, when in the past, they have proven themselves so capable of being untrustworthy?

Second, an independent commissioner responsible to Parliament would further decentralize power from the Prime Minister's Office. As we saw in the sponsorship scandal, power concentrated in one area tends to be abused. Or as Lord Acton most famously said, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Lord Acton's words are just as applicable today as yesterday.

Part of the need for whistleblowing legislation is that power has been centrally concentrated in the Prime Minister's Office, leading to cronyism and control. By having the independent commissioner report to the House of Commons, we can further erode the incredible power of the Prime Minister's Office, promoting greater transparency, accountability and democracy.

However, democracy has not been this government's strong point. In fact, the Prime Minister came into office promising to slay the democratic deficit. We have seen in this House the exact opposite: confidence votes ignored, excessive nannying of the Prime Minister's Office, appointing Liberal hacks to the patronage appointments and absolutely no movement on democratic and electoral reform.

Bill C-11 furthers this trend by not prohibiting reprisals against public servants who bring their complaints through procedures other than the ones spelled out in the bill. Those who go through the media, police or Auditor General all face the possibility of disciplinary action under this bill. Far from opening up government, this aspect of the bill places undue restrictions on public servants and could continue a climate of secrecy in the public service.

A Conservative government would provide broad protection for civil servants in all areas of disclosure, including the media. The media's role in any democratic society is to act as a check and balance against excessive government authority and control. While we would all think that at various times the media has failed in its role, by eliminating the ability of public servants to go to the media we further erode the checks and balances of a free and democratic society. Accountability and transparency demand that public servants be allowed media disclosure.

There is nothing to keep politicians more accountable than the prospect of headlines screaming scandal and corruption, as the former head of Canada's Mint has recently discovered. Accountability through the media is a key component of any whistleblowing legislation and a Conservative government would ensure that it was included in the bill.

Transparency is further eroded by the scope of the bill, which excludes several crown corporations. There is simply no excuse not to include all government agencies. As we saw at the Mint under former Liberal MP David Dingwall, crown corporate heads often feel themselves outside the purview of Parliament and end up spending taxpayers' dollars wildly. We cannot allow this to happen by excluding certain agencies.

Transparency is also jeopardized by the time allowance for departments to refuse to release wrongdoings for over five years. Frankly, five years is too long. With such a provision in place, the sponsorship scandal would still have taken place even if it had been reported by dutiful public servants. The Liberals could have continued to keep a lid on the scandal while claiming to be ethical in government.

Such a scenario is completely unacceptable. It seems the Liberals have learned nothing about ethics in government over the last two years. While the Prime Minister is good at ethics rhetoric, when we look below the surface we see the same Liberal solutions to Liberal-made problems. It is not surprising that the solutions turn out to be no solutions at all.

Whistleblowing legislation is an important component to any reform agenda. However, it is one piece of the puzzle. Well crafted whistleblowing legislation provides transparency and accountability, but it does little to address the systemic and structural problems inherent in our present parliamentary system. For that we need a clear focus on system-wide reform measures, such as parliamentary confirmation of judges and heads of crown agencies, electoral reform, and Senate reform.

What we clearly need is leadership on both democratic reform and ethical government. We have had leadership on neither issue from the Prime Minister and I fear we never will. The only way to truly bring honest government to Canada is by implementing a broad range of democratic reforms, something a Conservative government will be more than happy to do in the not too distant future.

Public Servants Disclosure Protection ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.


Gurmant Grewal Conservative Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise again on behalf of the constituents of Newton—North Delta to participate in the third reading debate on Bill C-11, an act to establish a procedure for the disclosure of wrongdoings in the public sector, including the protection of persons who disclose the wrongdoings.

It has taken more than a decade for this weak government to fulfill its promise and produce this whistleblower legislation. Canadians have had to endure the tainted blood scandal, the HRDC boondoggle, the ballooning gun registry, and the sponsorship scandal, not to mention the numerous other smaller scale spending scandals which have been regularly occurring in this mismanaged government and which have emerged on a regular basis since the government came to power in 1993.

In each and every case, the existence of effective whistleblower legislation could have made a significant difference, but the government has not been interested. It lacks the political will. The Liberals have been more interested in protecting their own reputations than in ensuring good government and the careful handling of taxpayers' money.

It took the sponsorship scandal for the Liberals to finally make good on their 1993 campaign promise, coupled with the pressure from members of the opposition and the Conservative Party. However, even now it is obvious that their hearts and souls are not in this legislation. Up to now, it seems that the Liberal government's policy has been to control occupational free speech rather than permit it.

Rather than rewarding whistleblowers, like governments do in the United States and many other countries, the Liberals have bullied whistleblowers, intimidated them, harassed them, fired them, and ruined their professional and personal lives. The Liberals have always believed in secrecy, confidentiality and cover-ups rather than transparency, accountability and corrective actions.

Let us take a moment to remember some well publicized whistleblowing cases. Bernard Dussault, the chief actuary of the Canada pension plan, reported that he was asked to modify numbers to paint a more positive state of the CPP. He was fired from his job.

Michèle Brill-Edwards, senior physician in Health Canada's prescription drug approval process, was pressured to approve medication that had caused deaths in the United States. She went public. She had to resign from her job.

Joanna Gualtieri, DFAIT portfolio manager for Latin America and the Caribbean at the time, blew the whistle on waste and lavish spending on diplomatic housing and embassies. The inspector general and the Auditor General later supported her allegations. She was harassed and marginalized within the department. Finally she had to quit and go through the expenses of court, her career completely ruined.

Marilla Lo, senior analyst at the Treasury Board, claimed abuse and harassment, including discrimination for promotions, layoffs, and abusive management practices. She was ultimately fired from her job. Of course she later won a wrongful dismissal suit, but was then forced into retirement.

Brian McAdam was a 25 year veteran foreign service officer, an honest officer in Canadian diplomatic missions in the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, South America and Asia. In 1991 he documented evidence of corruption at Canada's foreign mission in Hong Kong, real evidence, which I have mentioned in my earlier speeches. He was demeaned and ostracized by his colleagues. He finally gave up and had to take early retirement.

Michael Sanders, a financial analyst with the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, blew the whistle on the absence of sufficient safeguards to protect taxpayers against the collapse of major financial institutions. His fate was to be fired from his job.

Dr. Shiv Chopra, a senior veterinary drug evaluator in Health Canada's therapeutic products and food branch, blew the whistle on the drug approval process for bovine growth hormones, saying that human health concerns were being completely ignored due to pressure from drug companies. His fate was to be fired from his job.

There are many other cases, including those of Corporal Robert Reid of the RCMP, Dr. Margaret Haydon of Health Canada, Bob Stanhouse, again of the RCMP, and Dr. Barry Armstrong of the Canadian armed forces. The list goes on and on, but my time is limited.

Canada is well served by professional and independent public servants, who are often the first to spot problems such as those in the sponsorship scandal. They know when their department has been told to suppress test data. They know when someone is submitting inflated travel expenses or phony invoices or when the work is not being done but the invoices are being submitted. They know what laws they are supposed to enforce and they know when they are not being enforced.

However, federal public servants who disclose wrongdoing in the workplace have little or no recourse if their manager chooses to retaliate against them. Bill C-11 proposes an improvement over the status quo, but it is far from protecting the real whistleblowers and it is not nearly as effective as legislation in other countries.

Five years ago, in the face of government opposition, I introduced legislation to protect bureaucrats who reveal wrongdoing in the workplace. In 2003 the Liberals refused to vote in support of my private member's bill because they did not have the political will to introduce any effective whistleblower legislation. They simply lacked the political will, and that is well reflected in Bill C-11.

When I blew the whistle on whistleblowing, the Liberals had their ears plugged. My private member's bill, Bill C-201, was debated in the House. It was written with the assistance of real-life whistleblowers, many of whom I have named before. They have suffered harassment and reprisals for doing what was right, for doing what was in the best interests of this country but not the Liberal Party.

One whistleblower, Joanna Gualtieri, was of great assistance. She founded the institution called FAIR. Ms. Gualtieri has highlighted a number of points that must be included in whistleblowing legislation if it is to be effective. The following points were included in Bill C-201 but are not found in Bill C-11.

First is full free speech rights. Protected whistleblowing should cover any disclosure that would be accepted in a legal forum as evidence of significant misconduct or would assist in carrying out legitimate law enforcement functions. There can be no loopholes for this one.

Second is to permit all disclosures of illegality and misconduct. Whistleblower laws should cover disclosures of any illegality, gross waste, mismanagement, abuse of authority, substantial and specific danger to public health and safety, and violations of policies, rules and conventions. They are missing from this bill.

Third is the duty to disclose illegality. It is also missing from the bill.

Fourth is that the coverage under the bill should extend to all personnel and affected communities. This is also missing.

Last, and of course, there should be safety from harassment after blowing the whistle.

Bill C-11 serves more as a tool to manage whistleblowing and rein in potential whistleblowers than it does to encourage disclosing wrongdoing. We need effective legislation that would really protect whistleblowers.

The Conservative Party deserves kudos. It is through our efforts that we have these amendments, such as whistleblowers now reporting to an independent commissioner rather than to the president of the public service, the commissioner reporting to Parliament rather than to a minister, the RCMP being included in the group of whistleblowers and the Access to Information Act restrictions being reduced to five years from twenty years. In fact, there should be no restrictions. However that goes to the Conservative Party's credit.

Similarly, there is the amendment on the removal of government bodies. The government had the arbitrary authority to remove certain bodies from coverage of whistleblower protection, such as the public service commission, the pension commission, CPP commission, Bank of Canada and many others. Compensation should be given by the commissioner and the penalties against reprisals should be given by the commissioner, not by anyone else.

All those things were the accomplishments of the Conservative Party.

Public Servants Disclosure Protection ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.


Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate some of the work that the hon. member has done over the past in his private member's legislation.

I have a very specific question concerning the justification for the moral high ground that has been presented in this debate from his party. When it comes to the ethics of both patronage and the protection of civil servants, if one were to step back in history to when the Conservatives, God help us, were last in power, the amount of patronage that flowed from within the prime minister's office was extraordinary, breaking all records and the scandals that came from that.

However during this very debate a colleague of his stepped forward and said that he had no problem with patronage appointments and thought they should continue with some mild justification that they should be connected to merit. Whereas the moral high ground would firmly place us to say that all positions in crown corporations, wherever the government has any authority on the decisions and the decision makers in our country, should be based entirely on merit, not so much on which party's allegiance one holds and whether one has been contributing significantly to the party that happens to be in power at the moment.

If Canadians are expecting the government to exhibit a certain amount of fairness in the way in which it conducts its business, and Lord knows we have been missing that, extraordinarily, for at least the last 20 to 25 years, how is it that the Conservative Party is able to stand up, with such a shakey record at best when it comes to the issuing of patronage, and in the very debate in which we are talking about trying to go to a new era of clean government and accountable government, still promote the use of patronage as a buy-off for their loyal donors and party members, which flies in the face of many of the words that were expressed by the member today?

I wonder if he can reconcile those two disparate realities.

Public Servants Disclosure Protection ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.


Gurmant Grewal Conservative Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am surprised that the hon. member's question has nothing to do with the whistleblower legislation, Bill C-11. This is simply a ranting from a different point of view.

I would like to highlight that the worst corruption record in Canadian history is from the current Liberal government, for patronage appointments, for corruption, for mismanagement, for wrongdoing and for the things I mentioned earlier.

The Conservative Party of Canada believes in appointments based on merit and on transparency.

What the member should have asked is why Bill C-11 is not very effective legislation. Even though it is a step forward in the right direction, I would like the bill to be much more effective so that it would really protect the whistleblowers. In fact, any whistleblower legislation should protect the public interest that it serves and, when applied, should be free to expose the mismanagement, waste, corruption, abuse and cover-ups within the public sector without the fear of retaliation or discrimination.

With this bill, the government has blown a golden opportunity to have effective whistleblower legislation. It could have implemented real protection and meaningful reforms that the Conservative Party has been asking for, and the opposition parties in general. However what the government has done is it has given us a half-baked, half-measure kind of bill.

Bill C-11 is a step in the right direction but it is not at the point where it will actually protect all whistleblowers for the wrongdoing they expose with the corrupt Liberal government and other corrupt governments.

Public Servants Disclosure Protection ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.


Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am beginning to enjoy this exchange. I think the connecting of the dots, which I hope the member is struggling to do, just in the lack of perception rather than any other reason, is that when one supports the use of patronage, as his party said not an hour ago in the House, and when one suggests that this is a good way of appointing the top level decision makers and authority figures within the country, it terrifies many Canadians as we watch the Coffins, Radwanskis and the many others going all the way back through to the Mulroney's years and before. When a patronage appointment is made the responsibility and the allegiance of that person placed in that spot automatically is given toward the person and the party that made the appointment for them. Their allegiance lies there, not to the taxpayers of the country.

For a party that claims to want to clean up government, not connecting the two dots between patronage and the ethics of our crown corporations and their officers is baffling at the very least. I wonder if the member could connect those dots and justify his position.

Public Servants Disclosure Protection ActGovernment Orders

October 4th, 2005 / 1:05 p.m.


Gurmant Grewal Conservative Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be very gentle and tell the rookie member to talk to the member for Winnipeg Centre and his party about the whistleblower protection.

If the Conservative Party of Canada is given the opportunity to form the government, the member will see how transparent a government can be. We would restore accountability, transparency and clean up the government and the government system that the Liberals have corrupted for the last 12 to 13 years.

As far as the legislation is concerned, we support legislation that is effective and in the best interest of the country but not legislation that is half-hearted.

We have shown with a flashlight where the darkness is and the Liberal Party has sometimes fallen down in bringing effective legislation to the House.

Public Servants Disclosure Protection ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.


Guy Lauzon Conservative Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House today to address Bill C-11. As a former public servant for 22 years, I and many of my colleagues laboured in the trenches without any protection whatsoever. I saw firsthand the kinds of things that unscrupulous management can do if the rank and file do not have support and protection. Therefore I am very glad to address Bill C-11. Although it is flawed legislation, it is a step in the right direction.

I would like to make some observations. First, the Conservative Party has always called for protection for public servants who expose corruption. We have seen so much corruption recently from the government that thank God we are finally enacting legislation to protect the people who care enough to expose this corruption.

In its original form, the bill would have done more harm than good because it was the same old, same old. It was the government controlling the agenda. Now, with the amendments we have made, the Conservative Party has finally convinced the government and the President of the Treasury Board to agree to have an independent commissioner in charge of whistleblowing. Although the legislation is flawed, none of the flaws are fatal and we can work with the legislation. The bill lays important groundwork on which we can work further when we, the Conservative Party, form the government in the not too distant future.

The bill was amended at committee and at report stage to ensure that the bill created a truly independent commissioner to hear and investigate disclosures of wrongdoing from public servants and others and protect those making disclosures. We heard witness after witness at committee, long term public servants with 20, 25 and 30 years of loyal service, and because they were just doing their jobs of exposing what they thought was a wrongdoing to their superior, they ended up losing their careers and suffering years of emotional distress. These people did not even realize they were whistleblowing. They thought they were doing their job and that was the thanks the government was heaping on them. They were fired from their positions after long, loyal service.

The bill includes most crown corporations and the RCMP. I have to thank the member for Nepean—Carleton for insisting that we include the RCMP. He led the charge and we were able to convince the government to include the RCMP under the legislation. The bill still excludes military personnel, CSIS and the CSE. It includes several other government agencies and crown corporations listed in the schedule to the bill but the cabinet, unfortunately, may add or delete from the schedule at any time after the bill is passed. We have some concerns about the fact that the cabinet will be able to remove certain agencies from that.

One of the nice features about the bill, which again is because we worked so hard in committee, is that we now have legislation where whistleblowers may report directly to the commissioner instead of having to report internally first. The government's original piece of legislation was totally ineffective. At one stage of the process the committee was trying to decide whether it should scrap the whole bill and start over again. However we worked on it clause by clause and we think we have come up with pretty decent legislation that requires a heck of a lot more work, but it is a big first step.

In closing, the public servants of Canada, people who have served this country loyally for years and have worked day in and day out and have done such a good job for the country, deserve the respect of Parliament. I believe this bill starts to give a little bit of Parliament.

Public Servants Disclosure Protection ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.


Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is good to participate in the debate on Bill C-11. I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley.

This bill is an act to establish a procedure for the disclosure of wrongdoings in the public sector, including the protection of persons who disclose those wrongdoings. That is the long title of the bill. The short title is the public servants disclosure protection act, but I think we all know it as the whistleblower legislation.

Today we are on the verge of passing this legislation. In fact, we may finish the debate today and finally see this important legislation move through the House of Commons. That would be an occasion to celebrate. It has been a long time coming. Many people in this place have worked very long and hard to see the accomplishment of some whistleblower legislation. This legislation is not perfect, but it has been long needed. Today if we get the bill through the House, it will be an accomplishment indeed.

I want to pay tribute to my colleague from Winnipeg Centre, one of the people who have worked hard on this legislation. He has worked hard on this legislation from the very moment he arrived in the House back in 1997. His first private member's bill focused on the whole issue of whistleblowing and the need for an accountability mechanism that would allow public servants to raise important issues of wrongdoing in government and not suffer the consequences for their courage in raising those issues.

That came from my colleague's background in the trade union movement. For many years he represented workers and the difficulties they faced in the workplace, not the least of which would be how to deal with wrongdoings on the part of an employer. His work and initiatives which started back in 1997 have contributed to where we are today on this issue.

Members from other parties have contributed as well. We have heard today that the Bloc Québécois back in 1996 introduced a significant private member's bill on this issue. This was an important contribution and included important principles that have finally seen the light of day in the legislation we are debating today. We have also heard of attempts from the Conservative side of the House on this issue.

We are taking an important step to finally get a bill through the House. This kind of legislation is a crucial part of any government's approach to ethics in government, accountability in government and a response to wrongdoing in the conduct of government. Even though there are still some problems with this legislation, it will take us to a new level of accountability. It is something we can all celebrate.

In the past there have been other attempts. Bill C-25 in the last Parliament was an extremely flawed bill. It was so flawed that some folks came to believe it was an attempt to protect ministers from the disclosures of whistleblowers and that it had nothing to do with the protection of people who took that strong step and made the commitment to expose wrongdoing in government. It is a good thing that is behind us.

I think it is because there is a minority government situation in this Parliament that we have been able to make progress on this issue. The government has been convinced of the importance of proceeding along these lines, perhaps egged on by some of the other scandals that face the government today.

Whistleblowing is not an easy thing to do in any workplace, particularly a government workplace. We know the power dynamics of the workplace. Workers often feel they do not have the resources and huge power that managers and the people who are in authority over them have, which often puts workers in a terrible position.

There are huge risks involved in whistleblowing, such things as the loss of jobs and relationships people build in organizations and the workplace. There are subtle reprisals people can face, such as changes in holiday times or access to other benefits in the workplace. We have also heard in the past of concerns around frivolous complaints that might be made because of other disputes in the workplace.

When the Canadian Labour Congress appeared before the committee, it talked about many important issues and cited a study from the October 2004 issue of Policy Options . Researcher Donald Rowat highlighted a study done in the United States on the fate of whistleblowers. This was before the U.S. had strengthened disclosure law.

Mr. Rowat studied 161 workers who had made a wrongdoing disclosure. He found that 62% of them lost their jobs, 18% were harassed or transferred, including being subject to isolation tactics and character assassination, and 13% had their responsibilities or salaries reduced. In addition, many of them experienced mental breakdown and family breakup. Those are very high prices to pay for speaking out on wrongdoing in government.

I am glad that we have finally made progress on this and that we are taking steps to ensure good management and to encourage public servants to make this kind of disclosure, to encourage government to engage in the problems that have been raised, and to encourage action to resolve those problems.

Bill C-11 almost died in this Parliament. It took the hard work of many opposition and government members to keep it on track. We have ended up with a piece of legislation that is a good attempt at addressing these important issues. It is a good example of how a minority Parliament can work.

We have worked hard in this Parliament to ensure fairness to see that not only the interests of the government are addressed, but also the interests of opposition parties, of Canadian citizens and of the workers in the public service. We successfully reached a conclusion of which we can be proud. It took a minority Parliament to convince the government of the need to move in this area. Clearly, the earlier attempts had been unsatisfactory and in some cases extremely disappointing.

Bill C-11 saw some major changes from that which was introduced originally by the government. Those changes have enabled the bill to go forward. Those changes include an integrity commissioner who would report to Parliament and not to a minister. That is a significant improvement to this legislation.

Changes have been made to the list of exempted organizations of government. Significant deletions were made from the long list that was originally part of the legislation. All crown corporations, agencies and institutes are now included. Those that are not included are those that have clear measures around wrongdoing and whistleblowing already in position.

Many whistleblowers have lost their jobs because of that, including a number at Health Canada who are very important to this whole process. This legislation is a tribute to the risks that they took and the punishment that they received. I am glad that we are on track with this legislation. I look forward to its final passage.

Public Servants Disclosure Protection ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member's speech was constructive, particularly with regard to advising the House and Canadians that we did hear from whistleblowers. We heard their stories. I can assure the member that the committee was quite moved by the real life examples that have gone on over a number of years.

He will also celebrate the fact that the new commissioner will be in a position to receive alleged wrongdoings and those kinds of matters not only from members of the public service, but also from suppliers and others. There is also the opportunity to bring forward some matters which were of a whistleblower nature prior to this legislation coming into force.

The committee had a great opportunity to shape this legislation by having it after first reading.

I wonder if the member would care to comment on the matter his colleague from Winnipeg Centre raised about how important it is going to be to shepherd the implementation and communications plan to ensure a good start with regard to Bill C-11.

Public Servants Disclosure Protection ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Mississauga South has raised an important issue of how this legislation is implemented. The regulations, the implementation process and the administration of this legislation will be absolutely crucial to establishing trust among members of the public service in their ability to raise issues of wrongdoing. That must be done successfully in ways that do not force them to bear the most dramatic consequences of having taken that step. That has often been the case in the past. I mentioned the people at Health Canada. Over a number of years I think they are some of the most dramatic examples of the kinds of consequences that public servants have faced.

A number of years ago Pierre Blais raised very serious concerns about silicone gel breast implants and Health Canada's position on them. He is someone who took the consequences of raising that important issue. In my constituency that is a very important issue. Daphne Robertson, who is an activist on the issue of silicone breast implants, would see Dr. Blais as a real hero in the movement to deal with the health impacts of breast implants. I know that in her work she would feel that he had taken a very important step and a great personal risk to assist many thousands of women who have had to deal with that issue.

There were the scientists who lost their jobs over the whole issue of bovine growth hormone. Those people, Shiv Chopra, Margaret Haydon and Gérard Lambert, and the late Chris Basudde, have known great consequences. Even at this point I think one of them is in the process of losing his or her home in order to finance not having had a job and the consequences of having made the disclosures about bovine growth hormone. We have seen that often public servants are on their own once they take action.

My colleague from Winnipeg Centre talked about how in the Radwanski case public servants who blew the whistle had to bring lawyers to the parliamentary committee because of their lack of security around their position. They took the very important and ethical stand that they did in that terrible situation.

It is crucial that the regulations be developed with care. The ongoing interest of the appropriate parliamentary committees must be focused on this legislation to make sure that it does what we hope to have accomplished with this legislation.

Public Servants Disclosure Protection ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, one of the most worrisome aspects of the whole idea of blowing the whistle is being disciplined for that wrongdoing. That is why the name of this bill is the protection of whistleblowers.

I would ask my colleague if he has given some thought to the possibility that a person could come forward with information of a wrongdoing that the person believes to be accurate and it turns out that the information is incorrect, then that person is very vulnerable to discipline as well. Does he agree with me that being simply wrong about an issue should not preclude coming forward? A person should not worry about reprisal. In other words, it is not evidence of mischief to be incorrect.

Public Servants Disclosure Protection ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I agree with my colleague from Winnipeg Centre that being wrong on the issue should not preclude someone from making an attempt to bring light on an important issue. It is important to have protection for those folks as well. It is crucial to openness and accountability that people who are acting out of a sense of altruism and a sense of commitment to the work of the public service be in a position to raise these important issues.

With the appropriate investigation of those issues, if some explanation is found for the matter that was raised there should not be any retribution to that person if it was done in good faith and via the proper channels. That is an important part of what this legislation is about.

Public Servants Disclosure Protection ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Burnaby—Douglas for splitting his time on this important legislation for Canadians. It is important for them appreciate it and have some understanding of it. Because of the way we have operated in the House this past session and in sessions before, the erosion of public confidence in this place has been extraordinary. When we go back to our ridings and talk to average Canadians about their faith in not only politicians but also in the work that is carried out on their behalf, it is clear the erosion in faith has been steady and consistent. It is at an all time low, I would suggest.

The bill starts to move in the direction of addressing the issues. Bill C-11 is an example of how a minority Parliament can improve upon any government's unwillingness to see something through to the end of the day. The first attempt at this bill in the previous Parliament was a second class affair. The intention of the bill was at some point buried in the midst of protectionism and it became much more about ministerial protection than it did about what it was truly intended to be.

The modifications from all four corners of the House, including from the member for Winnipeg Centre and many others who have contributed to the debate, have led to a bill that has the congratulations and support from all four corners of the House. This is very important to me and to many here. We are trying to make this place work, despite the constant mudslinging and the rest that we see on a daily basis.

I will contextualize for average Canadians who are watching the debate, why the bill is important and why it came to be. It is important to understand that the intention of the bill is to prevent the scandals we have seen over the last number of years. Many people will understand this issue from having watched the movie The Insider . Great strain and stress is put on a person who has the evidence of a company or a government that is doing something wrong. That person has to break through the many barriers, which now exist for public servants and administrators, to proclaim from on high the wrongdoings of someone potentially at a senior level who, by de facto, has more power than the person who blows the whistle.

Our own Insider movie has been playing in Montreal and Ottawa: the Gomery inquiry. There are absolutely scandalous tales of what went on in the backrooms between the government of the day and the present government and their supporters, the people who funded them and worked on their behalf. Brown bags of money across tables at nefarious restaurants and all the rest brought cynicism to a new high within the Canadian electorate. We saw that through the last election, which bore extraordinary fruit, a minority Parliament. We have taken mediocre bordering on bad legislation and improved it to a quality where people can start to be proud of the work of the House.

The strength of the opposition in this place has contributed to the government's slightly increased humility and intelligence in introducing legislation that would meet the requirements of the constituents who have elected us to represent them from all parts of the country. They are seeking a government that is accountable, not only in words, but in action.

For years we have heard rhetoric of this government and past government about the need for openness and transparency. Yet when it comes to action, when it comes to the day to day happenings at the most senior levels, both within the Liberal Party and those they appoint to those patronage spots in particular, the House of Commons and the entire parliamentary system suffers. The reputation of the hard-working people in the Canadian bureaucracy also suffers. It becomes an embarrassment to admit that we work for the federal Government of Canada, knowing what has gone on.

The intention is another important context. What is the intention of the government in introducing the bill? Is the intention to have a fundamental cultural shift, almost a psychopathic culture toward the promotion of patronage, of taking care of friends and ensuring that the flow of money from the trough always arrives at people who are most supportive of the government of the day? Is it the intention of the government, to reform itself from within? It is a speculative question with a deeply held suspicion as an opposition member, having watched the goings on in the government from an arm's length.

I take a small example of the many patronage appointments. The Prime Minister promised to fix this process in the last election, another promise broken. It is the appointment of Mr. Murray, a failed Liberal candidate, to the National Round Table of the Environment and the Economy. He is very nice, commendable fellow of sorts and a very strong mayor in Winnipeg. He was appointed to an environmental portfolio at a very important time in the history of Canadians, particularly when it comes to the environment. We are facing dire predictions for our future. We have a government that has failed to reduce the amount of pollution and smog, with another smog day for Toronto and many other cities across the country.

The obviously loyal member of the Liberal Party of Canada came before a committee to present his credentials. He was found wanting. He was found to be in absence of some of the basic understandings of the issues facing our environment today. It was a patronage appointment that led to a lack of confidence in one of our most important bodies, a fully funded body from the national taxpayers' roll, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. This further eroded our confidence in the government's ability to manage and steer this ship.

The Information Commissioner, Mr. Reid, through a number of disclosures to Parliament and in the press has talked about the almost addiction to privacy that the government has maintained. Legislation was passed to create the position of an officer of this House who would report to the House and keep the government in check, when it came to access to information. It also provided other key tools that the Canadian public and their representatives, us, could use to access the government's work to ensure that there was accountability and the much looked for openness of government. This officer has told us repeatedly that the Liberal Party needs to fundamentally shift its culture away from this addiction of secrecy and seek the openness and transparency that has been talked about but not fully acted upon.

Once again we are asked to have faith and confidence that the words which exist within the bill will match the actions that are forthcoming. These include a sincere commitment by the government to reverse the culture of protecting minister at all costs, of protecting one's immediate superior in the bureaucracy. It is a commitment to a culture in which we can appreciably learn from our mistakes, a culture in which we can understand that mistakes in a bureaucracy the size Government of Canada will be made and certain expenditures will not be the most prudent. It is a culture that accepts that fact and will improve upon the mistakes rather than cover them up as we have seen over and over again. Only through the exposure of the work of the opposition parties in this place and the media were we able to gain access to find out what went wrong with policy or spending of tax dollars.

The governing party of the day is looking for praise in the introduction of this. The best way to negotiate at times is while holding the gun. Putting the government's back against the wall, with certain dire electoral predictions, is a way to motivate it, after more than a decade of words but no action, to finally produce a bill that has some merit and some weight. That accountability must now take us to the next step to see what the ramifications and actions will be.

Will the culture shift? Will the Radwanskis no longer appear? Will the patronage end? Will the trough be closed down for a small period of time to allow Canadians some restoration of faith in the decisions that come out of this Parliament?

The Prime Minister has often talked about the democratic deficit, yet when promises have been made with respect to electoral reform, of fundamental accountability, the government has stalled, dragged its feet and has not come forward with its promises.

What comes next? Will the patronage machine continue? Will failed Liberal candidates seek the high positions and the gravy train they have come to expect? Will former ministers have extravagant expense accounts and no accountability or will the government finally take charge and change its fundamental culture? I remain doubtful.

Canadians expect the protection that is offered by strong whistleblower legislation, the protection of their food, of their medicines, of their tax dollars. They need this. They expect this bill to have teeth. They expect the enactment of this bill to be sincere.

The New Democrats' position is that we will hold the government's feet to the fire, hold it to account on this and the many other promises that have been made through legislation. We will ensure that Parliament begins to function rather than the mudslinging that is so supported and relished by the official opposition, which dare I say barely has the reputation to hold the name.

Within the context we now have, we have an opportunity to get things done, as the New Democrats did in the spring by providing a better balanced budget for Canadians. We will continue to work hard and diligently for Canadians.

Public Servants Disclosure Protection ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am little cautious about suggesting the bill can solve all the problems of the world. We should keep some perspective as to what in fact the bill is trying to address.

It is important to remind the House of the definition of a wrongdoing, which is the subject matter of the whistleblowing bill. It is the contravention of any act of Parliament or legislature of a province or any regulations made under the act, or breaking a law. It is the misuse of public funds or public asset and misuse in the context of misappropriation or use for purposes for which it was not authorized or intended. It is the gross mismanagement in the public sector. That is one that would have to be looked at carefully in terms of assessing what constitutes gross mismanagement. It is an act or omission that creates a substantial or specific danger to the life, health or safety of persons or to the environment, other than a danger that is inherent in the performance of the duties or functions of a public servant. It also is a serious breach of the code of conduct established under this act, or taking of a reprisal against a whistleblower or a public servant which is consequences for having been a whistleblower. Finally, it is knowingly directing or counselling a person to commit a wrongdoing set out in the act.

Perhaps the member could reflect on the expectations of the act. We are not talking about human resources complaints, or general complaints or matters related to policy directions or decisions of government . I think the member mentioned patronage. It is not illegal to have a patronage appointment. It may be that there is an accountability.

Therefore, I want to be absolutely sure that Canadians understand the expectations of the bill. The bill will not somehow solve all the policy or philosophical differences that people may have with regard to Parliament and parliamentarians. The bill deals with the protection of public servants who come forward with allegations of serious wrongdoings.

Public Servants Disclosure Protection ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for reading clause 8 of the bill. That was the first clause I read when I was given the bill.

The member talked about expectations. I am not sure the expectations of Canadians could be any lower of the government's actions when it comes to credibility and ethics in its guidance of the public purse.

He mentioned the patronage appointments. The Conservatives seemed to have a problem earlier connecting of the dots between the allowance of patronage appointment and the allegiance of the person in that appointment to the Prime Minister or inner-party sanctum that appointed the person. This sets up a scenario in which Canadians cannot have the confidence of that officer who has been appointed. That person's allegiance does not go to the Canadian taxpayer as much as it goes to the person who put him or her in that place. We are seeing that with the Dingwall effect going through Ottawa this last couple of weeks. The responsibility to the Canadian taxpayer is eroded.

The question at hand with respect to the expectations, I can very clearly read. I can read other pieces of legislation whereby the spirit and intent of the law has not been enacted. The spirit and intent of this is clear. The member's reading of it was exceptional.

It is the credibility of the government to enforce this. The sad and strange irony of this is the day the bill was introduced we saw the firing of Health Canada officials. They were trying to do their jobs and protect Canadians from the potential hazardous effects of something like the bovine growth hormone.

We all know the enactment of these measures will be signed by the leadership at the very top. The Prime Minister and his cabinet have spoken much about the need for such things as electoral reform. We have heard so much about the democratic deficit, although we have heard much less about it these days. The intention and the credibility of the government is found wanting at best.

The only way the bill will restore faith and have some merit within the eyes of Canadians is somehow if those folks change their culture. That is what I express my doubt over. As we have seen over the last number of months in Parliament, the fixing of the democratic deficit has been one of the lowest priorities. This is merely an example of the culture which exists within that fundamentally flawed party.

Public Servants Disclosure Protection ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Ken Epp Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured to stand and speak on this important topic. In general I support this legislation. I have some reservations about some of the details but that is always so. It is not likely even when we form government that every piece of legislation brought forward in every detail will have no imperfection or no room for improvement. I would like to point out a few of those things during the course of my discussion.

I have had an extraordinary privilege for the last almost 12 years now of observing government in action. I was one of those ordinary taxpayers. I was the single wage earner in our family. We made that choice. Even though I was making a very fine professional salary, we found it tough to make ends meet because of the huge amounts of taxes. That is one of the reasons I became involved in the political process.

From that perspective, all the time that I have been here it has been drilled into my mind even more in observing what happens around here, the absolute importance that all parliamentarians, all civil servants, all people who work for government, which is another way of saying that we are employed by and work for the people of this country, treat every dollar as a sacred trust. Maybe I should not use the word “sacred”, but it is an extremely important trust. I compare it to the trust that is placed in a lawyer when someone gives that lawyer money in order to proceed with a real estate transaction. That money is held in trust. That lawyer will lose his or her position, will be debarred if he or she in any way misuses or abuses the funds that are entrusted to him or her.

The same thing should be true for every civil servant, every parliamentarian, every senator, every individual who works for the public in this country. I hesitate to use my own convictions as the example, but it is one that came to mind because of what happened to me last week. I had to change my airplane flight and lo and behold the company, and I will not name the company because it is not nice to pick on Air Canada, would not let me change my flight to one day prior without paying over $1,000.

Even though I have been here for 12 years, I have tried very hard to not become “Ottawized” and think that because it is not my money, it does not matter. I am always concerned about that. I cannot spend money so flippantly that some poor taxpayer in my riding has earned. I went to a competitor, and I am not about to give any free advertising so I will not mention WestJet, but for about $500 I bought another ticket. By the way, Air Canada did let me change that ticket to a date further down the road. I moved that ticket to a future date which I will use and I used the WestJet ticket to take me to my riding. I had to set my alarm at 3 o'clock Alberta time in order to make the flight, but I did so, and on the way to the airport that morning, I thought, “I am doing what is right and I feel good about it”, even though I would have liked to have stayed in bed for a couple more hours.

I hesitate to use that as the example and yet I cannot resist saying that is the conviction that I have. The kinds of decisions we make with respect to how we are using the money given to us in trust should reflect the seriousness with which we guard that trust.

I am in favour of this legislation in principle, but I really wish that all civil servants at all levels would have a built-in moral compass, from the ministers, the deputy ministers, all the way down, as the parlance goes, to the people lower in the organization. I think the real important work is done by those who are at the bottom of the organizational chart. They are at the top, in my view, in terms of the importance of their tasks. They are the ones who are actually delivering the services for Canadians. I wish every one of the people in the organization would have a built-in moral compass that says that abusing, misusing and misspending public money is wrong and that they will not do it. That is what I would like to see.

However, as we always say, laws are not there for those who have this moral compass built in anyway. This is true for laws against murder. It makes no difference to me whether or not there is a law against murder. I am not going to murder anybody. To me it is wrong. I would refuse to murder someone even if I knew I could get away with it and no one would ever find out. I still would not do it. I wish every civil servant had the attitude that they would not do something that is wrong, whether or not there was a whistleblower in the wings. That would be the goal. We need to keep pressing toward that kind of standard in our country.

The rules are there for those who would break them. That is why we have rules against drunken driving. It is not because we want to restrict those who would not do it anyway because it is wrong. We have laws in order to stop those who do not have the common sense and the moral fortitude to make that decision themselves.

This whistleblower legislation in effect gives freedom to other people in organizations when they observe someone misusing public funds or in other ways misusing the public trust to bring it the attention of someone who has the ability to do something about it. That is probably a good measure because, unfortunately, human nature being what it is, there will always be those who abuse their privileges and the positions they hold. This is a way of counterbalancing it and I appreciate that.

I am very glad we live in a day and age in which with computer technology, the Internet, et cetera, there is so much more information available and so much more openness that is accessible, provided the information is put there by the authorities. I believe that exposure is one of the greatest motivations to doing what is right.

For those who wonder whether or not something should be done, if they ask themselves whether it became public and their family, friends and colleagues knew that they did it, that will often help them decide that they had better not do it.

Hopefully, the result of this will be not a whole flood of complaints made by whistleblowers, but rather that the amount of misuse of public funds will be reduced simply because there is this additional motivation to not break those rules.

I have a couple of concerns about this bill. My colleague opposite took the time to read from the bill. I was going to do that as well but I will not repeat it. We need to be aware of the wrongdoings as specified in clause 8 of the bill. My colleague read six points contained therein. Actually there are seven, the seventh one being that every one of the six is a violation if a person counsels someone to do the wrong thing. He read those and I think they are a good starting point.

We need to recognize that there is probably no codification that would cover all the bases. We have to make sure that we build within this legislation the positive part of the culture which says that because in principle we are doing this, therefore the abuses will cease.

I was going to say I had the privilege but it was not a privilege, it was more of a punishment to be on the committee that investigated Mr. Radwanski. It was, very frankly, a dreadful thing. I remember when the investigation was going on and whistleblowers from within his organization came forward to our parliamentary committee, a reporter said to me, “You must be really excited about this because this really helps you as a party”. My response to that reporter was, “No. This makes me incredibly sad. The fact that a person in public trust could do this and put in question his own reputation and the reputation of thousands of civil servants, to abuse the taxpayers' money and to so blatantly break the rules and think that he could get away with it, to me, that is a point of great sadness. It does not give me any pleasure at all”.

Without divulging any of the confidential proceedings that went on in that committee, I must confess there were a couple times when, even though I am a man and real men do not cry, I had tears running down my cheeks as I saw the tremendous depth of emotional turmoil that the witnesses were experiencing in drawing to our attention the wrongdoings that were going on. They were fearful for their jobs. They were fearful for their own futures. That is just not acceptable. They were people who wanted to do what is right.

We need to set up our rules and procedures in such a way that the people who want to do what is right feel comfortable and that those who want to do what is wrong are made incredibly uncomfortable. In this particular case, because of the lack of this kind of legislation, it was turned around. The person who was doing what was wrong, specifically the commissioner, felt very comfortable and at ease because he was in charge and if people broke a confidentiality of his department, he could call for their heads and cause them to lose their jobs.

I am so glad that our committee was able to respond to that. As far as I know, not one of the individuals who were involved in bringing this injustice to light and getting it corrected lost his or her job.

In that sense, I strongly support this legislation, because people who take that risk—and there is always a risk; even with this legislation there would be a risk—should not have to deal with the possibility of losing their jobs and having financial hardship imposed on them.

It is important for us to make sure that when this bill becomes law, and I trust that it will, we press for implementing the spirit of this law and not just the legalities of it.

In our present milieu in Canadian political history, we are at a low point. A number of Canadians have lost trust. This is demonstrated by the fact that fewer and fewer of them even bother to vote. It shows that we do need to do something.

Mr. Speaker, I will finish my speech after oral question period.

Parkinson Society CanadaStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Gary Carr Liberal Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to let all members of the House and all Canadians know that 2005 marks the 40th anniversary of Parkinson Society Canada.

In every community across this country nearly 100,000 Canadians woke up this morning knowing they would experience tremors, slowness, difficulty walking, impaired balance and several other symptoms. This number is expected to double over the next 10 years.

Parkinson's equally affects men and women, and this disease, for which there is currently no cure, affects young and old. Young onset of Parkinson's can affect people as young as 30 or 40 years old. Parkinson Society Canada has made this disease more manageable for those affected. This organization has helped ease the burden for many and has been instrumental in finding a cure.

I invite all members of the House to join me in wishing Parkinson Society Canada and its regional partners success in easing this burden and finding a cure. Its commitment to people is truly remarkable.

Public SafetyStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Jim Abbott Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, winter in the Rockies is coming.

Snow avalanches have killed more than 600 people and are the most deadly natural hazard in Canada. Emergency Preparedness Canada has a mandate to minimize risks to personal safety for naturally occurring events.

ABS, avalanche airbag systems, save lives in avalanches. It uses compressed nitrogen gas to inflate a pair of airbags, which helps someone caught in an avalanche to stay above the surface. When deployed it has been 95% successful.

Sale of ABS has been hindered in Canada by the Department of Transport because the canister, when screwed into this lifesaving backpack, is acceptable. However, the same canister, in a protective case for independent transportation, supposedly is a danger. This is bizarre.

The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness must work with the Minister of Transport to ensure approval of ABS is granted now, today, before another life is needlessly lost.

Stop the avalanche of red tape.

EinsteinFestStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Andrew Telegdi Liberal Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics is hosting North America's most comprehensive event marking the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein's miracle year of 1905.

EinsteinFest is taking place until October 23, 2005 at the institute's award winning research facility in Waterloo, Ontario. Perimeter Institute's EinsteinFest is a spectacular event that celebrates Einstein's most pivotal year by exploring our rapidly changing civilization and setting his prolific contributions in context with the science, philosophy, politics, art and music of the day.

Einstein's pioneering accomplishments of 1905 are being commemorated worldwide as part of the world year of physics 2005, a United Nations endorsed international celebration of physics.

More than 30 nations are participating in year long festivities to highlight the importance of physics in the coming millennium and inspire a new generation of scientists, Einsteins of the future.

Centre d'entraide aux rayons du soleilStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Marcel Gagnon Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, on August 17 last, the Centre d'entraide aux rayons du soleil launched its 2005-06 fundraising campaign at the Auberge Santé Lac des Neiges.

Among the many scheduled activities to raise $50,000, this campaign's objective, is a fundraising dinner, which I will be proud to host in an honorary capacity. This event will be held on October 15, at the Sainte-Flore golf club, in Grand-Mère.

Centre d'entraide aux rayons du soleil is an organization in the field of addiction working with a mixed clientele, which addresses a real need in our community.

I wish every success to this fundraising campaign. I encourage the public to take part, to show their solidarity and support to people who are greatly in need of it.

Toronto French Book FairStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week, I had the honour to represent the Minister of Canadian Heritage at the 13th annual Toronto French Book Fair.

Each year, it brings together participants from Ontario, Quebec, France and every part of the world for roundtables, lectures and study groups on the development and promotion of the Franco-Ontarian culture.

Since October 1993, the Toronto French Book Fair has been a forum where participants can meet and share their Franco-Ontarian culture.

Participants also strive to support young Ontarians who are enrolled in French studies programs in the province.

Finally, the Toronto French Book Fair is designed to promote francophone culture and communities across Ontario.

I am sure that hon. members will join me in wishing the 13th Toronto French Book Fair the very best of success.

RamadanStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Rahim Jaffer Conservative Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow will mark the first day of the holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. The month of Ramadan celebrates when the Holy Quran was sent down from heaven.

The fast of Ramadan lasts an entire month. It is a time when Muslims concentrate on their faith and spend time with their families and communities.

During Ramadan strict restraints are placed on the daily lives of Muslims. They are not allowed to eat or drink during the daylight hours. At sundown the fast is broken with a prayer and a meal called iftar . After the meal Muslims spend time visiting with their family and friends. The fast is resumed the next morning.

Ramadan is a time to focus on family and faith. I hope all Canadians take time to experience and learn more about the Islamic faith.

On behalf of the official opposition I would like to wish all my Muslim brothers and sisters well during the observance of Ramadan in a joyful celebration of Eid.

RamadanStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Wajid Khan Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow marks the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan. For Muslims across the world it is a time for worship and contemplation, a time to strengthen family and community ties, a time to focus on self-sacrifice and devotion to Allah.

On behalf of my colleagues in the House of Commons and myself, I would like to wish all Muslims across Canada a very happy holy month of Ramadan. May God bless us all. God bless Canada.