House of Commons Hansard #17 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was voters.


Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think that the NDP's proposal, which would give voting rights to any person who swears an oath, is unacceptable. That proposal was rejected by the other three political parties last session during consideration of Bill C-31.

We believe it is reasonable to require photo identification, if available, to verify the identity of voters and ensure the integrity of the electoral system.

I would like to point out that there have been serious fraud cases. The time when someone could pile a bunch of people onto a bus and have a voter swear an oath to identify them is over.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-18. Of course, if all members of the House had done their job when Bill C-31 was before the committee, we would not be in this position.

The parliamentary secretary spoke about the fact that the NDP opposed Bill C-31 simply because it was concerned about homeless people. There are a couple of things I would like to say about that. I am sure the parliamentary secretary could not possibly be suggesting that homeless people should not vote. We know that homelessness is a rising crisis in this country and that there are increasing numbers of homeless people in Canada. I would be very surprised to hear members of the House say that homeless people should be disenfranchised.

I point to the preliminary report of the UN special rapporteur, Miloon Kothari, that was released on October 22. It talked about the fact that Canada has a crisis in housing. We have a national crisis that is in an emergency situation. We know that independent sources are talking about increasing homelessness. We know homeless people often do not have identification that would allow them to vote.

Members of the Bloc are suggesting that somehow the New Democrats are not in favour of integrity in the voting system and that is absolute nonsense. The member for Vancouver East had a very concrete suggestion, one that has been used in Vancouver East, which was the use of statutory declarations for people who showed up with no identification and were not on the voters list.

NDPers are certainly very conscious of maintaining the integrity of the voting system and of ensuring there is no fraud, but I am also very aware that the Chief Electoral Officer also indicated that fraud is by no means rampant in this country. One wonders, when we attempt to use a sledgehammer on a small isolated problem, what the overall intent is.

When the parliamentary secretary answered a question I asked him about what this particular bill before us was going to do for people who were going to be disenfranchised, living in transient shelters and homeless, he indicated that the quote I read was actually not a quote of his from Bill C-18 when in fact it was his response to Bill C-18 amendments proposed by the Senate.

When the former Bill C-31 came back to the House for further review and consideration, I want to point out to members that New Democrats not only identified problems with that bill, and I am going to talk about some of them, but they also proposed solutions. They were concerned about rural voters in small communities. We talked about them being in small isolated communities. Not all rural communities are small and isolated, but we were certainly conscious of the fact that other community members could be disenfranchised.

On June 18, in response to amendments to Bill C-31 proposed by the Senate, the parliamentary secretary said:

What we are trying to do, by presenting a bill that will give increased and expanded voting opportunities for all Canada, is attempt to raise the level of voter turnout.

What we actually did with Bill C-31, in effect, is disenfranchise nearly a million rural voters. When those kinds of comments are made, one wonders if homelessness was considered as well.

The parliamentary secretary went on to say again on June 18, 2007, regarding amendments to Bill C-31 from the Senate:

I think there is no greater fraud that could be perpetrated on Canadians than that of an individual voting in a federal or provincial election who pretends to be someone that he or she is not.

Surely, there is also a fraud in disenfranchising voters. People have talked about section 3 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. When we pass legislation that says Canadians will not be allowed to vote because of where they live in rural Canada, surely that is perpetrating a fraud.

On that very same day of June 18, in response to Bill C-31 amendments from the Senate, the Minister for Democratic Reform said:

As I have mentioned on other occasions, this bill makes a number of changes to the electoral process that will reduce the opportunity for electoral fraud, improve the accuracy of the national register and the lists of electors, facilitate communication with the electorate and improve the administration of elections. These are changes that will be of benefit to all parties, to all candidates, and to all Canadians because it will make our electoral system, and in turn our democracy, stronger.

The Minister for Democratic Reform was supporting a piece of legislation that was actually going to make sure that some Canadians could not vote. How is that possibly in keeping with provisions for making our democracy stronger? In fact, in the government's rush to reduce a virtually non-existent fraud problem, it has actually made sure that well over a million Canadians will not be able to vote.

The bill attempts to correct that. If we are going to correct a piece of flawed legislation, I would argue that we need to correct all of the issues that were identified when Bill C-31 came forward initially.

Often in the House, we hear people talking about accountability, transparency, and fiscal responsibility. Bill C-31 was before the House and the Conservatives, the Liberals and the Bloc pushed it through despite some very strong reservations identified by New Democrats, and solutions suggested as well I might add. Now we are in the process of fixing a flawed piece of legislation at what cost to taxpayers.

We have a responsibility when legislation comes before the House. I have heard members say that not every piece of legislation is perfect and we have to do what we can do to get things through the House. However, when we do things hastily and without adequate consideration for broad ranging impact, we end up not only delaying the process, but we end up spending far more money than we needed to spend in the first place.

When the government brought in Bill C-18 to fix the problem of disenfranchised rural voters, it was not fixing the problems with respect to people who perhaps were homeless or living on low incomes. Does that mean we will have to bring another bill back before the House, at great expense to taxpayers, in order to fix a problem that should have been fixed when Bill C-31 was originally before the House?

I heard the parliamentary secretary speak about the fact that the primary reason that New Democrats opposed the original bill was because of our great concern for homeless people. We are absolutely concerned about people who are homeless. Whether it is their right to vote, their right to adequate shelter, and everything in between like health care, liveable wages, adequate education, we are concerned. I am very proud as a New Democrat to stand up and speak about these things in the House.

New Democrats identified a number of issues in Bill C-31 which are not being addressed in Bill C-18 and are still going to continue to be a problem.

We talked about the fact that the bill would result in thousands of individuals not being able to exercise their right to vote because of a lack of proper identification due to poverty, illness, disability or having no stable address. This also included people who were temporarily housed in transition shelters. We put forward a recommendation around the statutory declaration as an alternate means of identification for an elector to prove his or her identity.

We also talked about the fact that there were some serious problems with the vouching system. With the vouching system, one person can vouch only for one voter.

Sometimes, for example, there may be someone who lives in a riding and works a lot with people who are homeless, some of the street workers, who often have daily contact with people who are homeless. That person would only be able to vouch for one of those people who he or she works with on a regular basis. We were arguing that using that vouching system is a legitimate way to say that someone should be able to prove who they are and that one should be able to vouch for more than one person. That seems perfectly reasonable.

Surely, if one's credentials are good enough to vouch for one person, they should be good enough to vouch for five, six or ten people. What difference does it make?

I want to highlight the fact again that when New Democrats were speaking about the problems with Bill C-31, which have not been fixed in Bill C-18, they were identifying more than homelessness as an issue. The member for Vancouver East, in a very good speech that outlined a number of the problems and potential solutions, said:

What is being offered as the main solution to this problem is a voter identification system. In looking at the bill and knowing where this came from at committee, we want to express some of our concerns about what may be the unintended consequences of the ID system on voters. In particular, we are concerned about how this would impact low income people, people who live in small remote communities and aboriginal people who do not have the necessary ID outlined in the bill.

Clearly, the member for Vancouver East, who is a very experienced member of the House and has been a tireless advocate for homeless people, was also talking about people who are not only homeless but who lived in small and remote communities and aboriginal people.

Therefore, I think that is a very good example of how New Democrats talked about issues that included the homeless and others. Further on in her speech she talked about a solution. She said:

However, I have looked at this carefully and have talked to lawyers in my community who have been involved in providing assistance around statutory declarations for voters with no ID, and they are very concerned, as I am, about what this provision will mean. At present, it is acceptable for a voter to make a statutory declaration along with a person in the community who can identify the voter. In the downtown east side, it has often been a street worker, someone who knows many of the people in the community, who vouches for the individual. Under the new bill, [Bill C-31], this would no longer be allowed.

Bill C-18, which is before the House, does not take into account that provision that would have prevented the disenfranchisement of a number of people in our communities. The member went on to say:

We are prepared to see this bill go to committee. The government has said that it is willing to look at amendments--

We, of course, know that what happened is neither the government, nor the Liberals, nor the Bloc supported some of the amendments that the NDP put forward. This is the important part. The member also said:

--to ensure that by dealing with voter fraud, we are not at the same time unintentionally disenfranchising people who have a right to vote, who want to vote and who are voting legitimately, but would be precluded from doing so by these new provisions.

We have seen the first round of people who will be disenfranchised by Bill C-31.

I talked a bit about the vouching system and how extremely complicated it is in terms of the fact that we have one person who can vouch only for one person.

The member for Ottawa Centre, again a tireless defender of democratic reform and people's right to vote, in his speech against Bill C-31, and this is prescient, identified some problems that could occur. He said, “I would hate to see unintended consequences that would do the same here”. In this context he was referring to some problems that happened in the civil rights movement in the United States where people were, some would argue, intentionally disenfranchised and there were court challenges that resulted from that. He said:

We have seen laws in this country that have done that. I refer to B.C. and its so-called section 80, whereby people were not able to get on the voters list until the actual day of the election simply because of a flawed enumeration system. It is important to acknowledge, with the way the bill is presently written, that a charter challenge could happen.

The member for Ottawa Centre spoke about the fact that there could be unintended consequences of the bill and what do we see but over one million voters in Canada not able to vote because of this very deeply flawed bill.

The member goes on to talk about solutions. People in the House have said that New Democrats only oppose things, not propose things. That is wrong. We talked about the fact that enumeration, which has been cancelled, would have been a very good way to ensure that we had the best possible electoral list so that people would be accurately reflected on that voters list. It would certainly ease voting when it comes to voting day. That would have been one solution, along with the use of statutory declarations.

One of the members referred to the fact that New Democrats are not doing anything on democratic reform. Again, that is absolute utter nonsense because we know the previous member, Ed Broadbent, with whom I was very proud to serve as a member of the New Democrat caucus, presented a very detailed plan on democratic reform. Part of that plan dealt with corporate lobbyists. When we talk about democratic reform, we had the member for Winnipeg Centre yesterday pointing out the fact that measures to deal with corporate lobbyists under the Accountability Act still have not been put in place.

The member for Winnipeg Centre has been tireless in talking about ethics and accountability in this House.

We have a government that ran on a platform of accountability and so-called clean government and now we have a situation of Conservative corporate lobbyists who, because of the Conservatives' failure to enact certain provisions of Bill C-2, the Accountability Act, they have pretty much a free licence these days.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Pat Martin

An infestation.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

An infestation, as the member for Winnipeg Centre points out.

This is all about democratic reform and accountability in our voting system.

We also had an opportunity in this House to put forward proportional representation and members of this House folded like a stack of cards. We had an opportunity to ensure every vote counted so that we did not end up with a government that sometimes ended up with a majority when it only had 35% of the vote. Now that truly is a democratic reform initiative.

The member for Vancouver Island North brought forward a motion proposing electoral reform that would have substantially impacted on the way this House operates. Instead, members chose to disregard that very good motion. Canada is one of the few western democracies left that does not have some form of proportional representation.

I think New Democrats have a very proud history of fighting for democratic reform, electoral reform and for standing up for working class and middle class families to ensure their vote actually counts for something in this House. We are proud to be in the forefront in that area.

To get back to Bill C-18, I want to emphasize how broad the scope is of this problem. In a CTV news story on November 2, it stated:

Elections Canada last week disclosed that one million rural Canadians do not have a proper residential or civic address--complete with street name and number--as envisaged by the original legislation.

--that is Bill C-31--

Rural addresses are more often post office boxes or rural route numbers. On native reserves, a resident's address is sometimes simply the name of the reserve. The problem is particularly acute in the North, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Under this bill, many communities in our province simply would not have the right to have their votes registered. Our member for Timmins—James Bay is one of those. The member for Timmins—James Bay has called on this House to not only look at the disenfranchisement of rural voters, but also to look at the disenfranchisement of homeless people, transients, students, other rural people and aboriginal people. The list is very long.

When Elections Canada released its report, it gave some specific numbers, which I think are important. It released a report to Parliament saying that 4.4% of eligible voters do not have the proper address required by law. In Nunavut, 80.75% of the voters cannot offer a street name or address; 27.3% in Saskatchewan; and 23% in Newfoundland and Labrador. That is a serious problem.

I am hoping the House will look at the impact Bill C-18 would have on rural voters but I also hope the House expands its view and looks at all the other people who are disenfranchised.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Nanaimo—Cowichan for giving such a good overview of the current legislation before us, Bill C-18, as well as its predecessor, Bill C-31 which was approved by this House.

I want to emphasize the points she made. The original bill, Bill C-31, was actually a bill that did not need to come forward. It was a bill that was manufactured by the government based on alleged voter fraud that really does not exist.

There are isolated cases from time to time but the chief electoral officer and Elections Canada have a very good system for following that up and actually zeroing in on where there may be potential fraud.

Therefore, this bill, in its previous form, was never required in the first place. What it did was it disenfranchised millions of rural voters, as well as those who live in an urban environment who may not have the necessary ID. There was nothing wrong with the way people in my riding of Vancouver East voted but they were suddenly disenfranchised by Bill C-31, as they will be by this new bill.

It is quite astounding that a problem that never existed has now become a problem because of legislation that has been created by the government.

We know about the rural voters and the fact that is why this new version of the bill has come forward, but is it also not the case that there are other voters who will be disenfranchised? Unfortunately, there is nothing in this bill that will correct the situation for those people. They are mostly people in inner cities, homeless people, people without ID and who have every right to vote. As a result of this legislation, they will still find it difficult to vote, if not impossible. They will, in effect, be disenfranchised.

I know I and my colleagues have pressed very hard to get this message through. It is quite alarming that not only did the government not listen, but the Liberal Party and the Bloc Québécois rejected those arguments as well and went along with this bill. Now we have the second version of the bill back and it is still a flawed bill.

I would ask the member to comment on how this impacts people in the urban environment as well.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, many people who live in urban environments are transient. I spoke earlier about the UN special rapporteur's report on housing and homelessness in Canada, and it is no wonder. People are facing a crisis. Many people who live in cities simply do not have an ID or a residence address but they can be vouched for under a statutory declaration. It is a fairly widespread problem.

I want to quote from a blog on the CTV website. It is from someone in the Gulf Islands who said, “Well, I guess I won't be voting in the next election. I live on a small Gulf Island off the B.C. coast. We were recently assigned house numbers for this island but pick up mail on a different island and our voting stations are on a third island. A few years ago I was turned away at the polls because my driver's licence address (place I live) didn't match my voters card address (mailing address). Here we go again....”

That kind of thing happens all over Canada.

In one of the advance polls in the last election, a person who lived on one Gulf Island had to travel to Vancouver Island to cross over to another Gulf Island to vote in the advance poll.

If we are going to talk about how we actually ensure voters legitimately vote in this country, we need to fix some of the problems that are in the system that have been clearly identified, instead of doing the kinds of things in Bill C-31, which actually made sure voters could not vote.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, my colleague has put forward many good arguments. Over the past while in Parliament, before the summer break, we worked diligently on this issue trying to understand what was driving the government agenda in actually developing Bill C-31 in the first place.

Is it a question of voter fraud? We had four cases of voter fraud in the last four elections. That is not sufficient to bring forward an act to this Parliament.

Is it a question that somehow our system of voting is under scrutiny, that the elaborate system of returning officers, scrutineers and the complete system of Canadian voting, which is probably one of the best in the world, is somehow under suspicion? Are we letting too many people through the gate? Is it because some people walking into the polls are unable to identify themselves in many instances?

Yes, there are some problems but did it require this kind of authoritarian hammer that came down in terms of Bill C-31? Or, is this something else? Is this really about social conditioning? Is the bill one of the steps that is leading us toward a more authoritarian state where everything we do must be qualified with some form of identification, where we are moving toward government identity cards and where we are taking the steps that will lead us to a society that Canadians will not like? Or, are the steps being taken small ones so that Canadians will be conditioned to accept this kind of burden?

What does my hon. colleague think was the motive behind the government moving ahead with this legislation, wasting our time in Parliament and creating a situation where, in the next election, we will have massive confusion at the polls, which will turn many people off voting? What was the government's purpose in all of this?

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question. It remains somewhat of a mystery because the chief electoral officer himself talked about the fact that fraud in our electoral system was a rare and unusual case.

Instead of dealing with the circumstances as they arose, this is the government's response. It makes great political rhetoric because the government can say that it is protecting the integrity of the voting system. However, the integrity of the voting system, by and large, is just fine, thanks very much. Instead, what we had was a response that far outweighed the problem.

What happens when we develop responses that far outweigh the problems identified is that mistakes are made. Instead, we have created a far greater problem with this flawed piece of legislation.

There is a creeping notion and we are seeing it any number of ways. We now have no-fly lists. What is happening in this day and age in our country in terms of protecting the integrity of certain systems when we have this kind of legislation creeping in?

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is probably nothing more important in a democracy than to have integrity in the voting system, integrity in results. It is critically important that everybody who wants their voice heard in an election have that opportunity.

However, it is also critically important that the results of an election, the results in all 308 ridings, are beyond question, that they are above any sort of suspicion that there may be a problem in the voting system.

It is right for members of Parliament to look at the system from time to time to ensure the integrity of the system is beyond reproach.

Does the member feel that the previous system was perfect or is it right for Parliament, from time to time, to look at the system and ensure the integrity is there and that the results of an election in any riding cannot be questioned?

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, of course New Democrats are absolutely concerned with the integrity of the system. That is why we are really concerned with a bill that actually disenfranchised a million voters. When we talk about the integrity of the system, surely a bill that actually does not let people vote when they legitimately should be able to vote speaks to a lack of integrity in that bill.

New Democrats again have suggested ways to make sure people could vote legitimately.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska has 20 minutes, but I will have to interrupt him at 2 p.m.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I understand completely. This is going to be a very important question period.

It is my pleasure to speak to Bill C-18, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (verification of residence). A few minutes ago, my colleague from Drummond discussed this and stated that the Bloc Québécois supports Bill C-18 in principle.

The purpose of the bill is to close some of the loopholes in Bill C-31. All of our colleagues who have spoken to Bill C-18 talked about problems that resulted from the adoption of Bill C-31. People did not pass it in bad faith to cause problems, but, as is frequently the case, they realized after the fact that there were some problems. That is what happened with Bill C-31, which attempted to minimize opportunities for fraud or error by strengthening requirements related to voter identification. People were asked to produce identification that included their home address. That was when a pretty serious problem surfaced.

Elections Canada revealed that at least one million Canadians do not have a proper residential address, that is, an address with a civic number and street name, as required by Bill C-31. This might seem strange or unusual to someone who lives in the city and has always had a civic address with a street name. This does not mean, however, that these other people have nowhere to live. We are familiar with the plight of the homeless. However, there are also people who live in a rural setting who do not have that kind of address. It is not the same thing. They do not have a civic number and street name. They may simply have a rural route number. For instance, in the case of first nations peoples, their address might simply be the name of the reserve and nothing else. The address is just as valid, but it is not the kind of address that city dwellers tend to have.

One million voters represent 4.4% of all eligible voters in Canada. As I was saying, in rural settings, addresses often consist of post office boxes or rural routes. On first nations reserves, residential addresses often consist only of the name of the reserve. In order to ensure a healthy democratic process, everyone must, if possible, have the right to vote, which is an inalienable right.

Those who have a rural route as their address, for instance, cannot call upon a vouching elector from the same polling division, because he or she will have a similar address. If a voter brings along their neighbour or their roommate because they do not have all the documentation required by the law, the problem is that the other person will have more or less exactly the same address. They will have the same problem, that is, no civic number or street name. Therein lies the problem in Bill C-31.

This situation affects about one million people in Canada. Fortunately, the number is much smaller in Quebec, but there are people who do have that problem. Indeed, 15,836 voters, or 0.27% of all electors in Quebec were found to have an address that can be described as incomplete. They find themselves in the situation that I described earlier, in that they do not necessarily have a civic number or a street name. So, a solution had to be found to allow the greatest possible number of people to exercise their right to vote, a right—and I am saying it again, because it is important—that is unalienable.

So, Bill C-18 was drafted. However, the democratic process must be conducted while trying to prevent fraud as much as possible. Now, we joke about the days when people used to say that political parties would sometimes make dead people vote. We laugh, but it is not funny, because it was the reality. Some people did use that ploy at one time. Whenever the possibility exists, dishonest people will try to use all sorts of schemes to win elections in a fraudulent and illegal manner. That was done in the past. People would go to the cemetery, write down the name of a dead person, find his old address, and then go and vote while using the dead person's identity. This really happened.

In more recent times—unfortunately, this may still be happening, but it definitely did in the rather recent past—some people would vote by doing nothing less than to steal another voter's identity.

I do not believe I am mistaken in saying that this happened in the borough of Anjou, in Quebec. In the very recent past, it was proven that people were engaging in this fraudulent practice. Someone was elected because people—called floating voters—had been paid to vote for that person by stealing other voters' identities. This is a serious problem that must be prevented. That is why the NDP's suggestion that people simply take an oath in order to have the right to vote is highly problematic. It is not enough.

Bill C-18 amends the Canada Elections Act to relax the rules on verifying residence for voters who live in areas where the municipal address on pieces of identification consists of a post office box, general delivery or a rural route. The bill provides that if the mailing address on the pieces of identification provided does not prove the voter's residence, but is consistent with the information related to that voter on the voters list, the voter's residence is deemed to have been proven. For example, a voter whose identification shows an address limited to a rural route can prove his residence if that mailing address matches the information on the voters list.

In the case of someone who is vouching for another voter, the bill requires that the voucher first prove his or her own identity and residence. If the address on the voucher's identification matches the information related to the voucher on the voters list, that address can be used to prove the voucher's residence.

I will conclude by saying that if there is any doubt, the deputy returning officer, poll clerk, candidate or candidate's representative can ask the voter to take the prescribed oath. This is what is proposed in Bill C-18. As I said earlier, the Bloc Québécois supports this bill in principle.

Sinclair CutcliffeStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I wish to pay tribute to one of P.E.I.'s finest sons, Sinclair Cutcliffe, who passed away Saturday.

Sinclair spent his lifetime helping others and was strongly committed to his family, his community and Canada. He was active in many capacities, key among them being past owner and director of Cutcliffe Funeral Home. He was a provincial MLA and deputy speaker, a stalwart Liberal activist, a founding member of the Hillsborough Rotary Club, provider of ambulance services and first aid training to nurses and firefighters. For his years in first aid he won the highest honour, the Order of the Red Cross.

Although he never sat in this chamber having made one attempt to do so, he still had an influence on this place and federal policy through his active connections with Prime Minister Trudeau and the Liberal Party. The stories he could tell.

Canada and Prince Edward Island are a better place because of Sinclair Cutcliffe. We thank his family and we wish them well.

Democratic ReformStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Bruce Stanton Conservative Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, as our government took office almost 22 months ago, there was little doubt that Canadians had grown tired of the scandals and entitlement that had become the watchwords of the former Liberal government. They looked to us to clean up the mess and get government back on track. We have kept that commitment. We have honoured that promise and our work continues.

I am proud to be part of a government that just this week introduced new legislation that goes right to the heart of a more democratic accountable government, giving Canadians a say as to who will represent them in the Senate, limiting Senate terms to eight years, and providing fairness in representation in the House.

We know from experience that the Liberals will flip and flop, obstruct and delay these reforms, just as they did in the last session. It is up to Liberal members and senators to put their romance with the days of privilege behind them, do what Canadians want and expect, stand up and pass these measures without delay here and in the other place.

International Day of ToleranceStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Johanne Deschamps Bloc Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, every November 16 is designated as the International Day of Tolerance, a day to advance human welfare, freedom and progress everywhere, as well as to encourage tolerance, respect, dialogue and cooperation among different cultures, civilizations and peoples.

In Darfur, Burma and Colombia, the concept of tolerance is being trampled and severely tested. Closer to home, the Conservative government's tolerance of the minorities in this country also leaves much to be desired.

They are intolerant of women's groups which dare to fight for their rights and for pay equity, intolerant of our workers, from whom they have been stealing billions of dollars for years, and intolerant of Quebeckers, whom they recognize as a nation, even though that does not really mean a thing.

Youth Rendez-vousStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, Rendez-vous Jeunesse will bring together some 150 young people to discuss the future of the Acadian peninsula. It will be held November 16 and 17 at the Shippagan campus of the Université de Moncton.

The aim of the meeting, an initiative of the Comité Avenir jeunesse, is to create a platform for discussion and the exchange of ideas regarding the Acadian peninsula's social, economic and educational situation.

The event will consist of workshops and other activities, as young people from near and from afar share their success stories.

This innovative and ambitious project, designed by and for young people, will help boost the development of the Acadian peninsula and serve as preparation for a youth encounter initiative as part of the Congrès mondial acadien in 2009. On behalf of the NDP, I would like to wish Rendez-vous Jeunesse every success.

Alberta Diabetes InstituteStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Rahim Jaffer Conservative Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, November 14, marked the celebration of World Diabetes Day. On that same day, Canada's largest diabetes institute opened at the University of Alberta.

The Alberta Diabetes Institute will bring together top researchers in type 1 and type 2 diabetes to work toward prevention, better treatment and an eventual cure of the disease.

The disease affects 150,000 Albertans with 1,000 new patients being diagnosed each month. The opening of this remarkable institute will certainly have a positive effect on the prognosis and management of their disease.

This is the largest free-standing building dedicated to diabetes work in Canada and will house more than 200 researchers. The new building will hold 35 investigator labs for people in physical education, medicine, nutrition, pharmacy and public health.

The lives of Albertans and Canadians living with diabetes will be dramatically improved with the opening of this institute. As a resident of and member of Parliament for Edmonton—Strathcona, I am proud to congratulate Dr. Ray Rajotte and his team for working very hard to make this a reality.

Income TrustsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I hold in my hands a petition from 4,000 Canadians who want to remind the Prime Minister that he once said, “There is no greater fraud than a promise not kept”. They are among the million-plus victims of the Prime Minister's broken promise on income trusts.

Their names were compiled by David Marshall, a retired man from the Cornwall area who worked hard all his life only to see his retirement savings go up in smoke. He delivered these names to me on the first anniversary of the income trust announcement.

What he and millions of Canadians want now is simple. They want the government to uncover the 18 pages of blacked-out documents used to justify destroying their billions of dollars of savings.

Most of all, they want an apology, because the only thing they did wrong was to take the Prime Minister at his word.

Project Red RibbonStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Patricia Davidson Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, Project Red Ribbon officially started on Parliament Hill today.

This national campaign asks Canadians to display a red ribbon on their vehicle or their car keys, purse, backpack or other personal item.

This red ribbon is a tribute to honour those killed or injured in impaired driving crashes. It also serves as a constant message to people on the roads to drive safe and sober.

MADD Canada hopes the red ribbon will also serve as a reminder to call 911 and take action in ensuring our roads are safe.

We can all agree that impaired driving is not to be tolerated. That is why this government has introduced impaired driving measures within the tackling violent crime act. I urge the House to support this important legislation and I urge Canadians to support MADD's valiant efforts by displaying a red ribbon.

Anti-DopingStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Luc Malo Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, as the third World Conference on Doping in Sport opens today in Madrid with the objective of revising the World Anti-Doping Code, I would like to highlight the importance of this exercise for the credibility of the world of sport.

Every day, thousands of athletes spare neither time, nor money, nor energy—sometimes to the detriment of their health—to give a performance that will go down in history. They have to deal with the demands of sponsors and the public's judgment. They must never disappoint.

We cannot deny that all this pressure makes doping attractive. However, athletes—as well as their families, doctors and trainers—must realize that doping is illegal and must not be trivialized.

This third conference should also eliminate the threat of moving the agency's main office, currently located in Montreal. The Secretary of State, now in Madrid, must accept nothing less.

Project Red RibbonStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Daryl Kramp Conservative Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, impaired driving is a crime that is 100% preventable. That is why on November 13 volunteers for Mothers Against Drunk Driving from my riding of Prince Edward—Hastings launched their 2007 red ribbon campaign.

Last year this Conservative government introduced Bill C-32, which provided police with the tools to detect drug impaired driving. This bill, now part of Bill C-2, the tackling violent crime act, whose legislative committee I am proud to be a part of, authorizes police officers to conduct a series of tests to determine if a driver is impaired by a drug or a combination of alcohol and drugs.

There is general agreement in this House and in this country that drug impaired driving represents a serious criminal justice, health and traffic safety issue in Canada. Drug users are disproportionately involved in fatal accidents and impaired driving is still the number one criminal cause of death in Canada.

This Christmas season and throughout the year, I urge all Canadians to display a red ribbon in an effort to stop impaired driving.

Family Violence Prevention MonthStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, November is Family Violence Prevention Month.

Family violence is about power and control, not just conflict or anger.

In 1998, the Statistics Canada report entitled, “Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile” showed that women still outnumber men two to one as victims of spousal abuse. It also indicated that three times more women than men were killed by their spouse or partner.

Today I wish to acknowledge Crossroads for Women, a transition house in my riding, which has assisted more than 7,500 women and their children living with family violence over the past 26 years. Crossroads for Women also offers the second stage facility of eight safe and affordable units with services for women and their children who want to break the cycle of family violence and live in a violence-free environment.

Let us pause and reflect on concrete actions we can take in all of our communities to prevent and eliminate domestic violence affecting women and their children.

Bloc QuébécoisStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Denis Lebel Conservative Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, with the Conservatives in power, the Bloc is trying in every way possible to justify its presence in Ottawa. Today the leader of the Bloc and his current heir apparent are accusing the Conservative government of reducing Quebec's weight in this House.

Is it not ironic to see the Bloc worry about Quebec's representation within Canadian institutions? The hon. member for Joliette said, and I quote, “We are not here to reform Canadian institutions. We want out.” While the hon. member for Saint-Jean said that the future is in the National Assembly, not in Ottawa.

Considering that party's raison d'être, the Bloc is simply being hypocritical and inconsistent.

The Bloc should tell the truth and acknowledge that if it were anything more than a think tank, Quebec's representation in the House of Commons would go from 75 members to none at all.

Contrary to the Bloc's objective, our government is protecting the number of seats Quebec has in the House of Commons, which will never be less than the current 75.

Public SafetyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have been calling for a full review of the use of tasers since 2004, shortly after their implication in the deaths of two people who lived in my riding of Vancouver East.

We learned yesterday that after only 30 seconds on the scene at the Vancouver airport, the RCMP tasered Mr. Dziekanski at least twice, with charges of 50,000 volts. Moments later, he was dead.

In too many instances, tasers are being used on the homeless, people with mental health problems or drug use problems and essentially the most marginalized people in our communities.

There are no clear national standards for the use of tasers and little understanding of their impact. Two more men died in Quebec after being tasered earlier this year. We cannot wait for one more victim before action is taken.

Until strict standards are in place, until we can know that tasers are safe and until we can be sure that tasers are being used properly, they should not be in use. We call for a full and comprehensive review of the use of tasers.

Committees of the HouseStatements By Members

November 15th, 2007 / 2:10 p.m.


Ken Boshcoff Liberal Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, as parliamentary committees attempted to resume their work yesterday, evidence of the Conservatives' 200 page obstruction manual surfaced in full force: stacking procedural committees with government members; reducing quorum to require only one opposition member; allowing political staff from parties to attend in camera meetings; and destroying transcripts after only one year instead of the traditional 30 year period.

These are just a few of the proposals put forward by the government in an attempt to delay and destroy the work of parliamentary committees.

I urge my parliamentary colleagues to remain vigilant to ensure that the essential work of committees can proceed. Colleagues, stand warned.