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House of Commons Hansard #154 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was property.

Topics

Parliament of Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I take this to heart. I do not dismiss the arguments that have been made by members. It is a good debate. In this Parliament we have had a particular strategic crossing, which makes it all the more interesting, but the bill would not have changed the voting results in that regard. The members specifically involved in that one case will be accountable to their constituents when they go to the electorate, presumably very soon.

When people make decisions, we all have to be responsible for the consequences. We have to give credit to members. By and large, I do not know of any member who did not come here in good faith, wanting to leave a fingerprint somewhere, wanting to make a difference and wanting to serve their constituents. At least two-thirds of the work we do has to do with the needs of the people in our communities.

It is extremely important for us not to discount the value of the rights of members to make decisions and to be accountable for their actions in this place. Some members are a little more aggressive than others and heckle a lot in this place. Nobody really knows about that. It does not show up in transcripts nor on TV, but it is part of the process.

How many members have had constituents say to them that they act like a bunch of children? People base that on what they see during question period, when the media is sitting here, the public is watching and the principal participants questioning people are seeking the headline for the news story of the day. It is not reflective of the work that is done in this place, the important debate that takes place after question period or in committees.

Members of Parliament have to be respected for the decisions taken. We cannot strip members of Parliament of the opportunity to make what they believe is an informed decision. In this case, mandating something would be saying that someone would be locked into a party or otherwise are going to be told that they will be are going into an election 30 days hence. I am not sure that kind of a draconian move is in the best interest of Canadians, or the House or of the rights and privileges of members of Parliament.

Parliament of Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today in support of a bill that I believe would restore some accountability around this place. I thank the hon. member across the way for having raised it.

When members of the House crosses the floor, I believe they break a contract, not with their political party but with their constituents. When a member of Parliament is elected to this place, he or she is elected with a party label, having made a commitment to serve with party's label attached to his or her name. Members of the public make their voting decision based on that commitment. Therefore, a contract is formed between the constituent and the member of Parliament.

As was the case for the member for Newmarket—Aurora, when a member crosses the floor, in particular to receive an inducement and be placed into cabinet and be given a promotion and a raise, that is an example of a broken contract with the constituents with whom that person was elected to represent. For example, in this case, the constituency elected a Conservative and it got a Liberal. That contract was broken with the constituents in Newmarket--Aurora.

I want to take this logic further. I have a private member's bill of my own before the House which would further tighten the bond between the constituents and the member of Parliament. It would allow constituents to fire a member of Parliament if that member of Parliament broke his or her word, lied, cheated or stole. It would be conducted through a petition system and would require that 50% of eligible voters sign the petition, in exchange for which the member of Parliament would have to resign his or her seat and the riding would reopen for a byelection.

It would be a very difficult process. We have 87,000 eligible voters in my constituency. That would mean one would need roughly 44,000 signatures on that petition, meaning the individual would have to have engaged in a massive violation of trust. But still, that resource should be there. Why? Because everyone else in the country has to be accountable for the job they do for their employer. All my constituents go to work in the morning and if they lie, cheat or steal, they are fired. For elected officials, it is four years. In what other field could an employee lie, cheat or steal and then be fired only four or five years later? Why should we in the House of Commons, the House of the common people, live above the basic norms and rules that other employees live up to in their work? We should not. We should live by the same guidelines as everyone else.

Let me give a few examples of how this would make a difference.

We have a government across the way that came into office making certain promises. One of them was to protect agriculture. Yet, we see, with the upcoming summit before us in Hong Kong, the World Trade Organization conference, that Financial Secretary Henry Tang of the Hong Kong government has announced his support for eliminating all forms of supply management. The government has not responded. Nor has it made clear what its position would be at that WTO summit in Hong Kong. That means dairy producers across the country, who may have been duped by Liberal promises in the last election, now have at this point no recourse to hold the Liberal government accountable for abandoning them.

The reality is my constituents, who are dairy producers, rely on supply management for their security and their prosperity. That is why our party passed into its policy book the following policy on supply management:

The Conservative Party of Canada believes it is in the best interest of Canada and Canadian agriculture that the industries under the protection of supply management remain viable. A Conservative government will support supply management and its goal to deliver a high quality product to consumers for a fair price with a reasonable return to the producer.

The government has not stated what its negotiating position will be going into these meetings. It is incumbent upon the agriculture minister and the trade minister to indicate clearly to this House and to all producers what they intend to do to uphold our system of supply management at those critical meetings. There has been nothing done so far. The producers are waiting and they have been given no assurances whatsoever.

This is a critical issue. Canada's dairy, poultry and egg farmers indicate that we in this country allow more imports of these supply managed products into Canada than the United States does. We also allow more of these products into Canada than the European Union permits.

Canada has already done its part to open its borders. It is now the responsibility of the United States, Europe and other countries, that are engaging in massive market distorting subsidies, to do their part. Yet, we do not see anything from this government advocating that position and defending Canada's national interest as it relates to agriculture.

For example, if we take the issue of child care. We have a Liberal government that claims it believes in human rights. Yet, the government is enacting a state controlled day care scheme that undermines basic human rights.

Parliament of Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It is not for me to indulge in the member's conversation, but we are not talking about cows crossing the border. We are talking about MPs crossing the floor. I wonder if you could get the member of Parliament to come back.

Parliament of Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

The hon. member for Sackville—Eastern Shore knows very well that this is not a point of order.

I have full confidence that the hon. member for Nepean—Carleton knows exactly what we are talking about here this morning. I will let him continue.

Parliament of Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, frankly, I am shocked that the member over there would stand in this House and object to my use of this occasion to speak out in defence of our farmers. I cannot believe that he would take occasion to stand up and speak out against our farmers. Farmers more than anyone deserve accountability in this country. If we are to debate accountability, we ought to take their interests into account as well. I am proud to have done that.

As I was saying, there is another issue. There is the child care issue. The government stands in this House and puts forward a policy that discriminates against the vast majority of parents and children in invoking what will amount to a $10 billion a year state controlled day care bureaucracy. It will not provide any support to stay at home parents, private day cares, home day cares, or religious based day cares. It is an act of discrimination that will be condemned by the United Nations. That is not accountable.

Today, I am proud to have spoken out in favour of some remedies, including support for the member's bill, including a recall of members of Parliament who break their word, and instruments that will protect accountability and restore integrity to our democratic process.

Parliament of Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

Noon

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

The member moving the motion has a five minute right of reply to conclude the debate. The hon. member for Sackville—Eastern Shore.

Parliament of Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

Noon

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank every member of Parliament who spoke either against or for the bill. I want to give a special thanks to my great colleague and former leader of our party, the member for Ottawa Centre, for his speech on the bill.

His entire parliamentary and political life has been devoted to change this place, to make it more accountable to the people of Canada, so that they can vote in confidence and have faith in their members of Parliament, not just at a federal level but also at a provincial, municipal and school board level. Politics do matter. Ethics matter and the member for Ottawa Centre is a shining light in that regard, so I thank him for that.

However, my hon. colleague from the Liberal Party talked about taking away opportunity. I am trying to take away the opportunity to be an opportunist. That is what I am trying to stop. The member from the other side is very disingenuous to talk about farmers. I remember two years ago when the Conservatives did not even believe in supply management, but the NDP have firmly been behind supply management. However, that is another topic.

We are elected in the House of Commons as members of Parliament of particular political parties. Some of us are elected as independents. If we wish to change that status and go to another political party, I believe we should go back to the constituents and ask them to vote us in, in that other political party, or sit as an independent until the election and then make a choice.

We have had examples of people who have done that. The member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca could not live with the new Conservative Party. He sat as an independent, made his intentions known and did exactly that. We have other members of Parliament who have not done that. My hon. colleague from Winnipeg—Transcona said very clearly, this is not the no tell motel. We do not check in under an assumed name. We have accountability to our constituents.

This is not about one individual who crossed the floor. Members of Parliament from the NDP have crossed the floor and we have accepted that. However, it is time to change that, to end cynicism in this country, and to bring ourselves and our accountability back to the constituents.

If the Prime Minister honestly believes in democratic renewal, if the Conservative Party of Canada honestly believes in democratic renewal, and if my colleagues in the Bloc Québécois believe in being accountable to our constituents, then it should be a unanimous vote in the House on Wednesday. Unfortunately, I do not think that is going to happen.

Mark my words, the Canadian people will not forget. We are held to our word and to our vote. This is a very simple vote. It is not that complicated. Do we want to be accountable to our constituents, yes or no?

Parliament of Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

Noon

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

It being 12:04, the time provided for debate has expired.

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

Parliament of Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

Noon

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Parliament of Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

Noon

Some hon. members

No.

Parliament of Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

Noon

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

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

Parliament of Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

Noon

Some hon. members

Yea.

Parliament of Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

Noon

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Parliament of Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

Noon

Some hon. members

Nay.

Parliament of Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

Noon

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Parliament of Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

Noon

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the division stands deferred until Wednesday, November 23, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill S-37, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Cultural Property Export and Import Act, as reported from committee without amendment.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2005 / 12:05 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Ken Dryden Liberalfor the Minister of Canadian Heritage

moved that the bill be concurred in at report stage.

(Motion agreed to)

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

When shall the bill be read the third time? By leave, now?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Ken Dryden Liberalfor the Minister of Canadian Heritage

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Minister responsible for Status of Women and Minister responsible for Industry (Women Entrepreneurs)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak in favour of Bill S-37 which would allow Canada to move forward to accede to the two protocols to the Hague convention, and by doing so, it would be the first G-8 country to do so. Once again, Canada is leading by example and ensuring Canada's place in the world as one of pride and indeed influence.

The Government of Canada is committed to the protection and promotion of Canada's heritage. We possess a history and a cultural heritage of immeasurable richness, appreciated by all Canadians. In this Year of the Veteran, 60 years after the end of World War II, it is appropriate that Canada join the protocol to the UNESCO convention for the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict known as the 1954 Hague convention.

Canada is already a state party to this convention. Joining its two protocols would result in a comprehensive commitment to prohibiting and preventing destruction, damage, and looting of cultural heritage during conflicts throughout the world. The convention and its protocols are based on the principle that damage to cultural property of any nation diminishes the cultural heritage of all nations. These instruments provide for measures in peace time to ensure protection of cultural property and prevent damage, destruction and pillage of such property in the event of armed conflict.

A wide range of cultural property, both moveable and immovable, is protected under the Hague regime from sites, buildings and monuments to the collections of museums, archives and libraries.

Canada acceded to the convention in 1999 as part of its human security agenda at the international level and as a further step in our long standing commitment to international cooperation and the protection of cultural heritage. The Hague convention was developed in response to damage, destruction, and theft of cultural property during the second world war. Canadian peacekeepers operating abroad know that heritage continues to be at risk during conflict.

We have seen, particularly during the last decade, an increase in non-international conflicts that are often deeply rooted in religious and ethnic hatred. In these and conflicts of all kinds such as those in the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq, we are seeing an increase in the intentional targeting of cultural heritage.

The importance of the Hague convention is therefore all too evident. In this context, it is vital that Canada clearly affirm our determination to protect cultural heritage from deliberate attack. This brings me to the Hague protocols and Bill S-37.

There are two protocols to the convention. The first protocol was introduced in 1954 and concerns primarily the export of cultural property from occupied territories. The second protocol was developed in 1999 to rectify weaknesses in the convention and to introduce measures to strengthen it, including a range of specific obligations to prosecute those who damage, destroy or loot cultural property in violation of the convention and its protocols.

Canada played an important role in the development of the second protocol. Since its adoption by UNESCO, the government has been working to determine the necessary legislative requirements that would allow our ascension to the two Hague protocols. In fact, several factors have come together to suggest that the time is indeed right to move forward.

First, the loss of cultural heritage during armed conflict has been brought to the forefront of public attention during the recent conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq. As a result, the importance and significance of Canada joining the protocols will now be more readily understood and indeed supported by the Canadian public. Further, thanks to the adoption in 2000 of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, almost everything that Canada would need to implement the protocols is already in place in Canadian law.

All that remains is for a number of small amendments to be made to the Criminal Code and the Canadian Cultural Property Export and Import Act.

Bill S-37 would amend the Criminal Code to prohibit acts of theft, robbery, vandalism, arson, fraud and fraudulent concealment against cultural property as defined by the 1954 Hague Convention. It would also provide for the prosecution of Canadians who commit such acts abroad.

Bill S-37 would amend the Canadian Cultural Property Export and Import Act to prohibit Canadians from illegally exporting or removing cultural property from occupied territories. It would amend the act to allow for prosecution of such acts and would establish a mechanism to return such cultural property to its country of origin.

Over the past months Canada was one of the countries that championed the development by UNESCO of a new convention on the protection of the diversity of cultural expressions.

Joining the Hague protocols can only strengthen Canada's overall position with respect to cultural diversity internationally and it would provide a further concrete demonstration of our commitment to UNESCO and its multilateral instruments. As a nation that is committed to support for multiculturalism and promotion of the rule of law, ascension to the protocols would reinforce those Canadian values on the world stage.

Finally, as a leader in the protection and preservation of heritage, Canada's ascension to the Hague protocols would be an important step in our continuing efforts to protect the world's cultural heritage. A vote for Bill S-37 is a vote for the protection of the world's cultural heritage.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like the hon. member to explain why it took Canada so long to ratify the 1954 convention and protocols.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is important to understand that we have not taken that long at all. It was in 1999 with the second protocol that we were able to improve upon the first protocol. As I said during my discourse in the House, Canada was a leader in ensuring that it was done correctly.

Second, what is very important about the amendments that were being made to this legislation before is that we did not have in place the ability to prosecute Canadians who went to other countries, vandalized property or exported goods from there. Let us say that someone coming from Afghanistan who stops in London to drop off the cultural property and then goes back to Canada. We now have the ability to actually prosecute Canadians abroad for their intentional destruction of cultural property.

In terms of multilateral agreements, such as the agreement on cultural diversity, which was championed by the minister in Quebec's National Assembly, along with our Minister of Canadian Heritage, we moved very quickly from that in 1999. With Canada now being at the lead, just this year we were able to pass that convention at UNESCO.

I do not think it is fair to look at it as the exact date of 1954. In fact, it was not until 1999 when the second protocol strengthened the original protocol with the amendments that were made to the Criminal Code and putting in place a law to allow that to happen. We have actually moved quite quickly.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Bev Oda Conservative Clarington—Scugog—Uxbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill S-37, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Cultural Property Export and Import Act.

This is very important legislation, not only for Canadians but for Canada as part of a global community that believes in the protection of culture and heritage. It asserts Canada's position as a forerunner of multilateralism and a proponent of peace and civility. The bill would allow Canada to fulfil its obligations under the two protocols of the Hague Convention for the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict.

Born in the wake of the second world war, the Hague Convention serves as a reminder of the widespread destruction that was done to cultural properties during the two world wars. Much of that destruction was meant to wipe out the cultural heritage of certain groups and we as Canadians must be part of an effort to prevent the continuation of these acts of destruction and theft.

Since the middle of the last century, the Hague Convention has been applied to the 1967 Middle East conflict and to conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Croatia and Iraq according to the UNESCO, but it could also apply in other cases.

In 2001, the Taliban, Afghanistan's ruling party, destroyed two giant Buddhas in the Bamiyan Valley in its quest to wipe out all signs of pre-Islamic culture in that country. This was an act of brutality by a regime that has time and again proven its disregard for culture. The president of the World Monuments Fund has termed this an act of cultural terrorism.

The list goes on. During the Kosovo conflict it has been reported that archives were destroyed.

During the Iraq wars many ancient sites in the so-called cradle of civilization were badly damaged and looting has been documented. In Eritrea, the historic town of Massawa on the Red Sea sustained a great deal of damage during the war of independence with Ethiopia in 1991.

The destruction of cultural property is a common and widespread tactic during times of conflict used by aggressors to oppress and tyrannize by erasing the cultural heritage of a population, often a minority group.

Canada cannot stand by and allow these tactics to be used again. We must stand side by side with the international community in stamping out the theft and destruction of cultural property, the very pillar of a civilization.

This legislation allows states, in which arson or theft of cultural property have occurred, to have recourse against citizens or Canadian permanent residents and stateless individuals habitually residing in Canada who have perpetrated acts against cultural properties. For example, if a Canadian citizen commits an act of arson against cultural property in a certain state, that state will have recourse against the individual in a Canadian court under the Hague Convention.

I am certain that this legislation will garner the whole-hearted support of all my colleagues. This will facilitate the task of holding the perpetrators to account as it will be done in their countries of residence. It is an avenue to promote justice and lawfulness on an international scale, something with which we all agree very strongly given the turbulence that faces the international community today.

Any steps that Canada can take to bolster the rule of law on an international scale should be taken. It would strengthen our position internationally and allow us to continue our role as a global leader, leading by example. The convention defines cultural property broadly to include immovable and movable items of artistic, historic, scientific or other cultural value. This includes cultural objects, monuments, collections and the premises housing them, sites and archeological zones.

The definition of cultural property given by the convention has been repeated in the legislation tabled before the House. It is very important that the definition we give to cultural properties encompasses a broad range of items so that we can ensure maximum protection of the world's global heritage.

The protocols would also allow for the recovery of cultural property that was illegal exported from a state. This is an equally important provision. If that property ends up in Canada, the state from which it was legally removed will have recourse under the new legislation to recover it through the Canadian judicial system after all interested parties have been heard.

The legislation would allow Canada to play an essential role in returning stolen cultural property to its rightful owners. It would also guarantee that the cultural heritage of other countries is preserved for future generations to learn about and enjoy. As peacekeepers of the world, is this not the role that Canada has chosen to take on an international platform?

This is not to say that the cultural property would be taken away from a Canadian who has unknowingly purchased or acquired cultural property that has been stolen. The legislation provides that a judge may grant compensation to the purchaser of an item so long as they acted in good faith.

I think it is important to repeat that Canada must lead by way of example in the stamping out of illegal activities on an international scale. We have always been the initiators of such multilateral conventions and this is the time to continue that tradition for the sake of our global cultural heritage.

Finally, though not least important, the Hague Convention and its protocols allow Canada to benefit from the reciprocal recourse through other signatory state judicial systems in the event of a conflict on Canadian soil. That means that citizens, permanent residents and stateless individuals residing in a signatory state can be pursued through the state's courts and that Canadian cultural property can be repatriated.

The bill clearly enhances the wartime protection of cultural property in foreign countries and would give Canada another opportunity to demonstrate its respect for global cultural heritage as much as it respects and values its own cultural heritage and properties. It would allow Canada to maintain its position as a forerunner on the importance of multilateralism, creating increasingly strong ties with our global neighbours.

As we can all appreciate, cultural properties and cultural artifacts are of value to the citizens of every country and can never be replaced. We have a responsibility as a member of the global community to help every country protect its cultural properties and its artifacts. Therefore I ask the House to support the bill.