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House of Commons Hansard #27 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was money.

Topics

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 10 petitions.

Fisheries Act, 2007Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

St. John's South—Mount Pearl Newfoundland & Labrador

Conservative

Loyola Hearn ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-32, An Act respecting the sustainable development of Canada's seacoast and inland fisheries.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, we were very busy this summer as an interparliamentary group, and I have the privilege, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), to present to the House, in both official languages, the following reports of the Canadian delegation of the Canada-U.S. interparliamentary group respecting its participation at a number of conferences.

The first is the New England Governors & The Eastern Canadian Premiers 31st Conference in Brudenell, Prince Edward Island, on June 25 to 26.

The second is the National Governors Association's 2007 annual meeting, “Innovation America”, in Traverse City, Michigan, on July 20 to 23.

The third one is the Council of State Governments, Southern Legislative Conference's 61st annual meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia, July 14 to 18.

The fourth is the Pacific Northwest Economic Region's Legislative Leadership Academy in Banff, Alberta, on September 28 to October 1.

There will be more to come.

Status of WomenCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women in relation to trafficking of women and children during the 2010 Olympics.

The Standing Committee on the Status of Women has done an extensive study on the human trafficking issue. It is an important issue that has world attention. Human trafficking is a heinous crime and that is why the previous minister of justice in the Liberal government made it a criminal offence.

I hope that the government will provide the House with a plan of what specifically is being done in advance of the Olympic games.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Finance concerning the introduction of tax measures, in a unanimous report from February 2007 entitled “Manufacturing: Moving Forward--Rising to the Challenge”.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and I think you will find consent for the following. I move that the order for second reading of Bill C-376 be discharged and the bill withdrawn.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Does the hon. government House leader have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

There is no consent, so shall we simply defer this matter until another time?

The hon. member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

November 29th, 2007 / 10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask for unanimous consent for the following motion. I move that Bill C-254, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda) stand in the name of the member for London West instead of the member for Etobicoke Centre, and that it stand on the order of precedence in the place of Motion No. 400.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Does the hon. member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Yes.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Guimond

No. The answer is no.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The answer is no. There is no consent.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Guimond

We need to talk before that.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Good. I am sure there will be continuing talks.

Hazardous ProductsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to rise today to present a petition on behalf of my constituent, Mr. Lance Ryan, and many of his friends and neighbours in the riding of York West.

Mr. Ryan's petition calls on the government to formally include nicotine in the Hazardous Products Act. I am pleased to table it on his behalf.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Question Nos. 26, 36, 40, 61 and 68.

Question No. 26Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

With respect to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT): (a) will the government ratify the OPCAT; (b) does the government have a timeline to ratify the OPCAT and, if so, when; (c) since OPCAT was adopted at the United Nations in December 2002, why has the government delayed its ratification; (d) what are the government’s concerns with respect to ratifying the OPCAT; (e) has there been a change in the government’s position on ratification since January 26, 2006 and, if so, what; (f) does the government plan to bring the issue of ratifying the OPCAT before Parliament or any of its committees and, if so, when and to which committees and, if not, why; and (g) what studies and evaluations about the OPCAT have been undertaken, requested or commissioned by the government and (i) what individuals, what department, or what organization undertook these studies, (ii) what is the cost of these studies, (iii) what are their findings and recommendations?

Question No. 26Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the response is as follows:

a) The government of Canada is strongly committed to the prevention, the prohibition and the elimination of torture and other forms of cruel and inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, globally and at the national level. Canada is a party to the Convention against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Canada actively participated in the negotiation of the optional protocol to the Convention Against Torture, the Optional Protocol. It supports its principles and voted in favour of its adoption by the UN Commission on Human Rights and the UN General Assembly in 2002. We believe that the optional protocol can be an important tool in protecting human rights. Indeed, Canada has many mechanisms already in place to protect persons in places of detention from torture. These include correctional investigators, police oversight agencies, ombudsmen, human rights commissions, and the courts. Canada collaborates with many international mechanisms that can review conditions of detention in Canada. These include the committee against torture and the human rights committee through the periodic reporting process and individual complaints mechanisms, as well as the working group on arbitrary detention through its 2005 visit to places of detention in Canada. The Government of Canada has extended a standing invitation to all UN special procedures to visit Canada, including the special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The government is currently considering becoming a party to the optional protocol as it pledged to do when it presented its candidacy for a seat at the Human Rights Council in 2006. Canada takes its international human rights obligations very seriously. Accordingly, the general practice for human rights treaties has been to become party only after Canada is satisfied that its domestic laws and policies meet the obligations they impose or has clearly identified the required measures to meet these obligations. Consultations and analysis began after the adoption of the optional protocol, and are still ongoing. Ensuring that domestic laws and policies will meet international obligations requires that extensive and complex consultations involving multiple departments and levels of government be undertaken, as explained in responses c) and d), below. The complexities of establishing independent proactive domestic visiting mechanisms, particularly in a federal state, with a vast territory, must not be underestimated. This work takes time. Only after this analysis is completed will Canada be in a position to make a decision as to whether to become a party to the optional protocol.

b) Owing to the extensive consultations required and the complexities of the issues raised by the implementation of the optional protocol, no timeline has been developed for Canada to become a party to the optional protocol.

c) The government is committed to actively considering whether Canada should become a party to the instrument. However, the analysis is complex and many issues require further clarification.

The length of time for the review process to determine whether Canada should become a party to a human rights instrument depends on several factors:

1) whether the treaty obligations impact solely on matters under federal jurisdiction or whether they relate to matters under the responsibility of the provinces and territories and First Nations;

2) whether the analysis of the domestic implications of becoming a party is complex involving many issues and numerous federal departments and agencies, as well as the provinces and territories and First Nations; whether new measures are likely to be required, including new legislation and significant resources;

3) the level of priority and resources dedicated to the review process across federal departments and in the provinces and territories;

4) the level of priority of other international human rights work including: review of other treaties for ratification; establishing Canada's positions on human rights issues and negotiating positions on new instruments at various multilateral fora; preparation of periodic reports to UN committees; visits by international bodies and responding to individual complaints.

With respect to the optional protocol, in particular, the process is complicated due to several factors:

1) the scope of “places of detention” is broad and includes: prisons, police stations, immigration detention centers, youth facilities and psychiatric hospitals. Responsibility for these institutions falls under several federal departments and agencies as well as the provinces and territories and, in some instances, First Nations;

2) the analysis of the issues is complex and resource intensive. Some of the issues include: determining whether existing bodies at federal, provincial and territorial levels that conduct visits to places of detention meet the requirements of the protocol (i.e. whether they conduct “regular visits”; whether they are sufficiently independent from government; whether privacy legislation will permit the sharing of personal information with the UN subcommittee and other information sharing issues). If new measures are required, then an analysis of the potentially substantial resource implications is also required;

3) several concepts, such as the requirement of “regular visits”, are not well defined and could have an impact on resource requirements. The Government of Canada is presently analysing these concepts with a view to clarifying their meaning.

The experience of other countries shows that there are challenges to the implementation of the optional protocol. In order to ensure that Canada can live up to its future commitments and preserve its international reputation, we should continue to do the necessary homework.

d) It is more apt to speak of “challenges” related to Canada becoming a party to the optional protocol than “concerns”.

In examining whether to become a party to the optional protocol, a decentralized federal state such as Canada faces a particular set of challenges. As a first step, we must determine whether the federal, provincial and territorial mechanisms to prevent torture that are already in place in Canada, are in accord with the provisions of the optional protocol. This analysis includes determining whether existing bodies at federal, provincial and territorial levels that conduct visits to places of detention meet the requirements of the optional protocol regarding regular visits to places of detention and, if not, what is needed to make them compliant with the requirements of the optional protocol. Further, there is a need to determine the frequency of monitoring visits to places of detention, as the frequency of such visits will have a direct impact on the financial implications for Canada implied by the protocol. The analysis also includes whether the mechanisms already in place are sufficiently independent from government and whether privacy legislation will permit the sharing of personal information with the UN subcommittee on the prevention of torture and other information sharing issues. We will also need to examine to what extent the optional protocol requires, or it would be desirable to, ensure proper communication and coordination of work between visiting mechanisms.

As a matter of policy, Canada does not ratify or accede to an international treaty until satisfied that we are in compliance with its provisions. While Canada, as a party to the optional protocol, would be responsible for compliance with its provisions under international law, the constitutional division of powers mandates that implementation be carried out at the federal, provincial and territorial levels. The Canadian government consults with the provinces and territories to seek their support for signature, ratification or accession.

e) There has not been a change in the government's position with respect to the optional protocol.

f) The House of Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights is studying this issue. We will closely follow the work of the subcommittee and look forward to examining its recommendations.

g) The government has not requested or commissioned any formal studies or evaluations of the optional protocol. Therefore, no individuals or organizations have been involved in such activities, no related costs have been incurred, and no recommendations have been issued.

The normal process when the government is considering becoming a party to a human rights treaty is for an internal analysis to be done of the provisions of the treaty in order to determine the treaty's domestic implications. Different departments, including Department of Justice, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, and Public Safety Canada, have been involved in the analysis of the optional protocol and its domestic implications. The process is ongoing.

Question No. 36Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

With respect to Canadian citizens who are captured and detained abroad as “enemy combatants” by foreign authorities: (a) what is the government's position with regard to their citizenship rights; (b) what is the government's position on their repatriation from foreign detention facilities to face trial in Canada; (c) what studies and evaluations about such citizens and their rights have been undertaken, requested or commissioned by the government; (d) what individuals, departments or organizations undertook these studies; (e) what is the cost of these studies; (f) what are the findings and recommendations of these studies; (g) which recommendations does the government agree with and which does it disagree with; (h) how many Canadians have been considered “enemy combatants”, either by the Canadian or foreign governments, since September 2001; and (i) which countries have described them as such?

Question No. 36Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, with respect to Canadian citizens who are captured and detained abroad as “enemy combatants” by foreign authorities:

a) Issues pertaining to Canadian citizenship are not affected by the circumstances described in the question.

The rights of individuals in respect of Canadian citizenship are determined by the Citizenship Act.

b) This question can only be answered on a case by case basis and presumes that the Canadian detained abroad is accused of crimes prosecutable in Canada. Whether or not the necessity or possibility exists for a given individual to “face trial in Canada” is subject to the circumstances of each case. Any decision to prosecute would be determined by, inter alia, the nature and availability of evidence; whether such evidence discloses a criminal offence in Canada; jurisdiction over such alleged offences; the likelihood of a successful prosecution. In the event of extra-territorial offences, the consent of the Attorney-General may be required before a prosecution can be initiated.

c) The government seeks and obtains legal advice on individual cases from experts in the Departments of Foreign Affairs, National Defence, Justice and Public Safety, as appropriate. No private studies have been commissioned.

d) See response to c).

e) Not applicable.

f) Advice to the government from its legal counsel is subject to solicitor-client privilege.

g) See response to f).

h) One.

i) On September 17, 2004 a Combatant Status Review Tribunal convened by the United States of America at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, determined Omar Khadr to be an “enemy combatant”.

Question No. 40Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

With respect to meeting the challenges of climate change: (a) what are the estimated costs to the Canadian economy of climate change; (b) what are the most current scientific modelling predictions used with respect to the impacts of climate change in Canada; (c) what regions of the country and which sectors of the economy are expected to be worse affected by climate change; (d) what are the anticipated job losses due to climate change; and (e) applying the same economic methodologies used for the environmental regulatory plan entitled “Turning the Corner”, what would be the health and economic costs of allowing the oil sands sector to increase volatile organic compounds emissions by 60 per cent by the year 2015?