House of Commons Hansard #140 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was animal.


Criminal Code

6:45 p.m.


Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak on the issue of animal cruelty.

Canada's animal cruelty laws desperately need to be updated. The current law has remained essentially unchanged since 1892. That is 115 years. The world, of course, has changed in that period. Women are now considered people, racism is outlawed, and the world is no longer flat. Yet, we live with a law that, in practice, still treats animals as property and does not recognize them as feeling creatures.

Anyone who has any contact with animals knows that they are breathing, thinking, feeling, sentient beings. I keep thinking about a line from the film Pulp Fiction by Quentin Tarantino, when a two-bit criminal in a discussion around vegetarians says, “But a dog's got personality”, and lots of animals have personality. Anyone who spends time with animals knows they have personality. They are not objects and should not be treated as though they are objects by our laws.

I think we could all agree in this House that the 115 year old law dealing with animal cruelty needs to be updated. However, Bill S-213 does not do it and I will not be supporting this bill.

One thing the bill does is provide greater flexibility around sentencing and somewhat tougher penalties. This is a positive step. However, that is about the only positive thing that I could say about this bill.

As I mentioned earlier, the current law basically says that crimes against animals are considered property offences and does not treat animals as feeling, sentient beings. However, Bill S-213 has the same concept entrenched in it. There is essentially no change. Animals are worthy of protection only as they are property belonging to someone. Clearly, what we need in this country is legislation that removes animal cruelty from the property section of the Criminal Code and more properly reflects modern Canadian values.

Essentially, the problem relates back to the definition of animal. In the current legislation there is no definition of animal and that does not change under Bill S-213. What is clearly needed is a definition of animal as a vertebrate other than a human being. Under that definition then animals are protected. It does not separate out certain kinds of animals with differing offences.

That is the case under the current law. Offences to cattle are different than treatment of other animals and there is no justification for that. All animals should be protected and would be under this broader definition of a vertebrate other than a human being.

The current legislation does not address brutal or vicious treatment of an animal. We all know of examples. We have heard of examples in our communities where a person has terribly mistreated an animal, in essence tortured an animal. This kind of wilful, brutal viciousness toward an animal needs to be dealt with.

The current legislation does not even consider this kind of treatment as a form of violence. The proposed bill, Bill S-213, would not change the current situation. For those terrible high profile cases of which we have all heard that appear periodically in the media, these terrible tortures and brutalities would not be addressed.

What we need is legislation that makes it an offence to kill an animal with brutal or vicious intent and whether the animal dies immediately or whether it dies a horrible lingering death, that violence needs to be addressed.

It is also an issue and a concern how an animal is killed. Currently, it is an offence to kill an owned animal without a lawful excuse. However, wild or stray animals can be killed for any reason. Under Bill S-213 there is no change to that.

While clearly there needs to be protection for lawful killing of animals, whether it is through hunting, fishing, farming, et cetera, there needs to be effective legislation to make it an offence to kill any animal without a lawful excuse. That is missing under the current legislation and under the proposed legislation.

We also need to deal with neglect. Again, periodically we hear about terrible situations where a person, through some kind of wilful neglect, tortures and in many cases kills animals through that neglect. Whether it is on a farm or whether it is a person who is keeping animals in their home, we have all heard about situations of terrible conditions in which animals are kept. They are not properly fed. They end up emaciated and they die. These kinds of situations need to be addressed.

The current legislation has the notion of wilful neglect as an offence, but the bar is set too high. The test to actually prove that someone is culpable in such a situation is extremely difficult and people are rarely convicted in such situations.

Under Bill S-213 there is no change and that will mean that in these terrible cases where animals are starved or otherwise neglected, people will walk away scot-free and they will not be punished.

We need legislation that defines this negligence in a way that would allow for easier conviction and it would be a better definition. Rather than wilful neglect, we should define the neglect as something that is departing markedly from the reasonable care of animals, whether they be domestic animals or livestock. These are some of the deficiencies in the bill that need to be addressed in effective legislation.

This debate has gone on for many years between those who want to protect animals from cruel treatment and those who make their livelihoods by, in essence, killing animals. I believe there is a balance that can be struck to protect these activities while preventing cruel treatment.

Many of my constituents have contacted me about the issue of animal cruelty. They have urged me to work to modernize archaic animal cruelty laws. We need to urgently do this, but the bill is not a step forward. It is a failed attempt which does not merit our support and I will be opposing it.

Criminal Code

6:55 p.m.


Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to rise to speak on this bill. When I first came to Parliament nearly three years ago, animal cruelty was an issue that was indeed top of mind for me, something I was very concerned about. That concern was driven by what I had seen as a municipal councillor with both the city of Pickering and the Region of Durham, where again and again animal abuses were not prosecuted, where we saw that the laws that existed in Canada were completely ineffective and did nothing to deter animal abuse.

Of course when I came here to Ottawa and learned that it had been 1892 since last our legislation with respect to animal cruelty was changed, I wanted to embark on trying to modernize it, on trying to work with Parliament to get to a point where we could get those who are involved in the animal use industry and those supporting animal welfare to meet in the middle, to find a compromise and to find effective legislation.

Before we even got to that point, Parliament had already dealt with Bill C-17, Bill C-15, Bill C-15B and Bill C-10, then getting to Bill C-50 in the last term of Parliament. So for nearly 10 years Parliament had been wrestling with this issue.

The problem with the existing law rests in a number of different places.

One is that it treats animals as property, essentially affording as much protection to an animal as would be given to a chair in our house. For most Canadians that is not acceptable. It is a Victorian notion we have grown out of. It also did nothing to protect stray or wild animals that could be viciously killed for any reason. It gave no protection against brutally or viciously killing even domesticated animals. It did nothing to stop training animals to fight one another or receiving money from those fights.

It was clear that we needed to take action. Bill C-50 at that point came forward. It was an opportunity to bring the different groups together to look at why legislation had failed in the past. In fact, by the fall of 2004, shortly after that June election, as many as 30 animal industry groups came together representing a broad range from agriculture to fur and to animal research. They sent a letter to the then justice minister urging a quick passage of the reintroduced government bill.

That was Bill C-50. It represented compromise. It represented an acknowledgement that in the animal use industry there were legitimate uses that should be permitted, whether or not for agriculture or whether or not in hunting, but on the other side it recognized that we have a lot of work to do to better protect animals and to provide animal welfare.

Unfortunately, we did not get the opportunity, because of the brevity of the last Parliament, to pass Bill C-50. It had broad support, not only from industry groups and animal welfare groups but from this Parliament. I expect it would have passed, but we ran out of time.

In this Parliament I have put forward a private member's bill, Bill C-373, and we also have a bill that moved more quickly through the Senate, Bill S-213, which is before us right now and which we are talking about this evening.

Let us talk for a moment about Bill S-213 and the deep concerns I have with this legislation. First of all, the main thing the bill does, and in fact really the only thing it does, is deal with sentencing. This is a huge problem, because sentencing represents only a very small fraction of the real problem.

In fact, when we look at it, we see that less than one-quarter of one per cent of animal abuse complaints lead to a successful conviction. That is what this bill deals with: one-quarter of one per cent. If we hold Bill S-213 out as some kind of solution for animal cruelty, we are being dishonest. The only thing it deals with is that enormously small percentage of successful convictions. If we are serious about animal cruelty, certainly we must do more.

We also know that Bill S-213 will not make it easier to convict perpetrators of crimes toward animals. It will not make it easier to punish the people who commit crimes against animals or neglect animals. It will not offer protection against torture for stray or wild animals. It will not make it a crime to train animals to fight one another. In short, Bill S-213 just does not get it done.

If it were just a placebo, if we could just pass it and move on and hopefully get to my bill or some other version of what Bill C-50 was in order to pass effective animal cruelty legislation, then that would be one thing. My fear is that it will do more than that. My fear is that if we pass this placebo bill that does nothing, that addresses only one-quarter of one per cent of the problem we are dealing with in regard to animal cruelty, it will be held out as if we have done something.

I have listened to many speakers talk about animal cruelty. They talk about what happened in Didsbury. They talk about the terrible abuses that occur in our country today and go unpunished and they hold this out as some kind of solution. It is not.

If we do that, if we turn to Canadians and say that we have a solution for animal cruelty and it is Bill S-213, we are misleading them. Worse yet, it may destroy the ability to actually bring forward effective legislation. So if this does not do anything, why move forward?

I would like to talk for a second about some of the things my Bill C-373 should be able to do, or I would encourage the government to bring in a bill in the same vein.

An effective bill on animal cruelty should allow for the prosecution of negligent animal owners. It should protect the rights of those who work and must kill animals for their livelihood, such as anglers, hunters, trappers, farmers and biomedical scientists, et cetera, but it must prosecute individuals who harm animals without lawful excuse or who do so in a malicious way.

An effective bill must offer protection to pets and farm animals as well as stray and wild animals. It must make it illegal to train animals to fight one another. It must make it a crime to kill an animal with brutal or vicious intent, whether or not the animal dies immediately. This is one of the problems with our current law.

This would ensure that the perpetrators of grievous crimes, those who make the headlines, are actually brought to justice. We need to take that one-quarter of 1% into a figure we can be proud of and demonstrate that we are actually doing something.

Why do something about animal cruelty? The first thing that would come to mind, obviously, is hopefully because we would care, because we would have some compassion toward animals, because we would feel they deserve dignity and our protection. One would hope that this argument would be enough reason to protect animals.

However, there are other reasons. Certainly as Parliamentarians we have to consider the will of the Canadian electorate. We have to consider the will of those we represent. Anecdotally, we would all say, Canadians by a large measure want to see effective animal cruelty legislation, but SES also conducted a poll on behalf of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies in which 85% of respondents said they supported legislation that would make it easier for law enforcement agencies to prosecute perpetrators who commit crimes against animals, including wild and stray animals.

This means that 85% of Canadians said that existing legislation does not cut it. And Bill S-213 does not cut it. In fact, a petition was before the House with nearly 120,000 signatures, an enormous number, and it said that Bill S-213 did not do it, that it was placebo policy and it was essentially entrenching all of the same problems that we have today. The petition said that we needed to modernize our laws and, whether or not that is Bill C-373 or some other bill that accomplishes those aims, we should move forward with it.

The third reason we should care about animal cruelty, if those first two are not compelling enough, is that it is a precursor to violent behaviour against human beings.

In fact, Dr. Randall Lockwood, a Washington, D.C. psychologist who is also the vice-president of the Humane Society of the United States and one of the world's leading experts in the field of animal cruelty, states, “While not everyone who abuses animals will become a serial killer, virtually every serial killer first abused animals”. Of course this has been brought to the attention of the justice minister. He has been talked to about it and is made sick by this, it is said. It will continue to be brought to his attention until something is done.

We have every reason in the world to take action and yet we have not. In fact, we are still arguing about dealing with a non-measure that we are going to try to hold out as action. That is why groups like the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and so many others oppose Bill S-213 and urge the passage of Bill C-373 or other such effective legislation.

It is time that we listen to those voices, that we listen to voices of reason. It is time that we pass something that, frankly, should be motherhood. It is time to take effective action on animal cruelty and stop playing games or trying to pretend we are taking action. We need to stand up and either vote for Bill C-373 or have the government bring forward effective animal cruelty legislation.

Criminal Code

7:05 p.m.


Rick Dykstra Conservative St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to the presentation of the member for Ajax—Pickering. He certainly made some excellent points.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise to speak to Bill S-213 today. It is a private member's bill that emanated from the Senate. Actually the Liberals have another bill, one on Senate reform, that is sitting over at the Senate. It has been there for over 330 days, I think, and counting, but perhaps I will save that for another speech.

Bill S-213 has one aim and that is to increase the penalties for existing animal cruelty offences in the Criminal Code. I am pleased that the government is supporting Bill S-213.

There are a number of offences in the Criminal Code, some of which, as previous speakers have indicated, are over 100 years old, and others that were enacted in the 1950s, and which together prohibit a range of different kinds of conduct that injure animals.

I understand that the most frequently charged offence is the offence of causing unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal. This offence has been in the code for over 50 years now. Described in general terms, it is the essence of what we think about when we consider animal cruelty.

There is a body of case law that interprets what causing unnecessary pain actually means and how it is assessed in relation to a given case. The first thing to note is that the determination is made taking into account all of the circumstances. The court essentially engages in a two-part test. First, it looks at the purpose of the act. Second, it looks at the means used.

Let me expand. First, the courts look to whether there was a lawful purpose for whatever action caused the pain. If there was not a lawful purpose, then right off the bat we know that the pain caused was certainly unnecessary. So if we kick a dog out of anger or to punish the dog's behaviour or if an owner or someone who loves the dog is being cruel to it, it is cruelty, plain and simple.

However, there may be a lawful purpose behind other actions, such as the rearing of animals for food or the handling of animals for the purpose of administering veterinary medicine. If there is such a lawful purpose, the court would then have to look at whether the means used by the person to achieve a legitimate purpose were reasonable.

This again requires looking at all of the circumstances. These circumstances would normally include whether there were any means capable of achieving the same result with the infliction of less or no pain. Whether such means were known to and reasonably available to the accused is what needs to be looked at.

So if we consider this analysis in its totality, the result is a law of animal cruelty that holds a person responsible for causing pain or suffering for no reason or for an invalid one.

On the other side, where people are actually engaged in restraining and handling animals for valid and lawful purposes, they are also obliged to ensure that they do not use techniques that cause pain when they are aware of other techniques that cause less pain or, quite frankly, no pain at all.

This makes sense. Even in the course of lawful activity, we want our fellow citizens to minimize the pain they cause to animals, wherever this is feasible.

So what is the problem that Bill S-213 seeks to address? The problem is the maximum range of penalties upon conviction.

With the exception of certain offences which are only in relation to cattle, all of the animal cruelty offences are pure summary conviction offences. In plain English, this means that they carry a maximum sentence of six months or a $2,000 fine or perhaps both, no matter how outrageous or horrible the action or the consequence is.

The rationale behind Bill S-213 is very straightforward. It aims to enhance the sentencing provisions for these crimes. One way in which our society traditionally recognizes the seriousness of particular conduct is by assessing a penalty for that conduct. The more serious the conduct, the higher the penalty, and vice versa.

Canadians have made it very clear that the current animal cruelty sentencing provisions do not adequately reflect society's abhorrence of these crimes. The member for Ajax—Pickering quoted the recent poll by SES that was completed to prove and show that is the case.

A maximum of six months and a $2,000 fine is simply inadequate to declare our distaste and our disapproval of animal cruelty. If our members of this House do as the Senate did and pass Bill S-213, then the maximum penalties for animal cruelty would be raised to at least a more appropriate level.

I believe that we as parliamentarians would be reflecting the will of the public in declaring that animal cruelty is and always will be a serious crime. My constituents in St. Catharines have told me over and over again that we must recognize the seriousness of this crime of cruelty to animals. In fact, we should also take into account what many see as a relationship between animal cruelty and many other forms of violence.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the justice system does not treat animal cruelty cases as seriously as they might or certainly as seriously as they should and inadequate penalty provisions provide little incentive. In fact, many argue that they actually trivialize the conduct.

The maximum penalties we set for an offence have traditionally been an expression of how seriously we as a society view the behaviour. Thus far, we have obviously given little value to animal cruelty and this belies the true nature of this crime. Bill S-213 would remedy this deficiency in the law and would signal to potential abusers that they had better think twice before deciding to inflict pain and suffering on animals.

The government also hopes that by supporting Bill S-213, a message will be sent to the courts, to the crown and to the police that animal cruelty offences should be treated as serious criminal offences.

I would like to give an example. Recently in the Niagara region, an older female German shepherd was found shivering near Chippewa Creek. Many may say that does not sound that bad but this beautiful animal had dumbbells and weights tied to its neck. The owner was attempting to drown the dog and, fortunately, she managed to save herself. The police and the Humane Society are still looking for the owner. That beautiful German shepherd and many other animals are the reason that I support the bill.

Some may ask whether we they can do more, whether the Senate can do more or whether this House can do more? The answer to that question may be yes but for over 100 years the previous bill that was in place has been the only one that has served this country. It is obvious that this is a step that has already been passed, a step that is before us here in the House, and a step that will, at the very least, begin the important process of ensuring that we as politicians, as people who represent our communities, actually attest to the fact that we need to do more.

This would do more. It would set in place a process that would deem that animals in this country are to be treated fairly, are not to be abused and, if people do, there is a price to pay. After 100 years, it is about time that those who want to inflict this type of pain do pay the price.

Criminal Code

7:10 p.m.


Robert Thibault Liberal West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak this evening in support of Bill S-213, which has come from the Senate.

It is a bill that has been sponsored by Senator Bryden. I have had occasion to discuss this matter with Senator Bryden many times over the years, something that he is very passionate about.

Senator Bryden comes from rural Canada. That whole world after the last subway stop, which is rural Canada, which has many people concerned on both sides of the issue, people are not in favour of cruelty to animals, no farmer, no rancher and no researcher.

However, a lot of people earn their living from the managing and husbandry of animals and that includes many aspects including the final slaughter in most instances.

I think seven attempts have been made in the House to put animal cruelty legislation through and each time the member has brought forward serious concerns. At the end of the day, however, what do we have, by very well-meaning members of Parliament bringing these bills forward? None of the bills have been passed. Therefore, we have ended up with a 100 year old piece of legislation that does not meet the needs of anyone.

I am sure Senator Bryden, like any member of the House, will tell us that this is not the perfect bill. However, I do not think we should let perfect be the enemy of the good. What the bill would provide is an improvement in the conditions for law enforcement officers dealing with cruelty cases in the interim, while Parliament continues to discuss this matter and, hopefully, bring a bill forward that better responds to some of the elements that perhaps are lacking in this bill but that will be understandable and acceptable to the wider community.

By the wider community, I am talking about many people in the country, such as aboriginal groups who participate in hunting, trapping and fishing as part of their cultural heritage. I know of no group of people out there who take more care to administer their craft more carefully, causing less harm than trappers.

It is a difficult craft. It means bringing an end to the life of a fur-bearing animal and not being able to get to that animal for some time. A lot of research is done within Canada and we are foremost in the world. The most able participants, the ones who are the fastest to put in place that research and those new technologies, are the trappers themselves.

I have many craftsmen trappers in my riding. They do not do that as their primary source of revenue but it is part of their annual income and it is part of the traditions. They would no more want to cause unnecessary harm to an animal than anyone else.

However, in our rural areas like in urban areas, we know the horror stories of people who, for differing reasons, have more animals than they can care for that cause them harm by not being able to give them proper lodging, proper nutrition, proper veterinary care and end up putting those animals in undue stress and undue pain.

Those are the cases we want to take care of. We also want our judiciary to be able to look at persons, students, young people, who sometimes we hear for pure amusement put an animal through unbearable pain.

With this legislation, the judge would be able to look at those two cases and say that in both cases it is unacceptable behaviour and that we do not want that behaviour to continue in our society, but each case might not require the same penalty. One case of cruelty could have been brought about by poverty, by mental illness or other reasons, and the other case could have been brought about by pure malicious amusement. We have seen examples of cats being dowsed with gasoline and lit on fire. I will not go through too many because they are gory and not appealing to people. However, the judges need to have the ability to deal with those cases.

The bill would take care of that by increasing the fines and increasing the potential of imprisonment. Under the old statute, no matter what crime a person is found guilty of in cruelty to animals, the most a judge can do is keep the person from having animals for two years. This bill would take care of that in this instance. It would ensure that the judge at the time can decide what is appropriate. In many cases, these people should never have animals again.

However, at the same time, we must also recognize why it is that we are where we are and have not been able to move forward.

Universities conduct medical research with animals. I met with a lot of people from the sector when we were considering this bill the last time and I understand their point. They are good practitioners. They do not want to cause unnecessary pain to animals. However, if we move this law to fall under the Criminal Code and give them new standards, they will have a lot more expenses to do exactly the same thing they are doing now because they will need to protect themselves legally and document things differently due to the tests, standards and the risks being different when at the end of the day the practice will be the same.

We all agreed in this country a long time ago when the market decided that we did not want animals used for research on cosmetics. I do not want to see cats, dogs or any kind of animal suffer so that I can know the face cream used by the Prime Minister before question period is safe and appropriate. I think his image consultant can use her own judgment without having to harm animals.

I have a lot of fur farmers in my riding. It must be some 30 years ago when the anti-sealing and anti-fur movements started in Europe and those industries were at huge risk. I can say that their practices now are different than they were then, not by legislation but by research, by wanting to improve and by having different capabilities.

It has always been a tradition in my community that if tourists wanted to visit one of those farms they were given a tour. Nobody hid what they were doing. They would guide the families and show them how they operated. I remember that when Brigitte Bardot started her craze, people got nervous about showing their farms to people because they were afraid that people would report that things were not right or whatever.

After one of the farms gave a tour to a family, a young child asked the rancher, “How often do you take the fur from these animals?” The farmer did not know how to answer the child but he said, “Once a year. It makes them nervous”. He figured that was maybe the best way of answering the child.

I can say that if that child went back to the same farm now in my riding, he would see hundreds of people working in that industry and that practices have changed 100%. The farmers did their best with the technology and information they had at that time. Now they operate differently.

These animals now have better conditions, which is quite appropriate, but farmers get nervous when they think that Parliament will start regulating how they will manage their farms without ever knowing it or that we will put rules and regulations forward in animal cruelty that some judge, 10 years down the road, will interpret without understanding the sector or having participated in it.

For that reason, there is nervousness out there. It is not malicious. It is not that people are pro cruelty. However, there was a lot of resistance and reluctance to approve animal cruelty legislation that was presented in the House.

What we are doing is very good. It is a good interim measure. It would send the signal that unnecessary cruelty to animals is not tolerated by society. It would provide penalty possibilities to the judiciary that can send a serious message.

When people are looking at five years in prison for cruelty, it is a great deterrent. When people are looking at fines of $10,000, it is a great deterrent. However, we must realize that in some instances this unnecessary cruelty is not done purposely but due to feeblemindedness, which the judge can take into consideration. It can also happen in cases of poverty, as I mentioned earlier.

The senator had another thing to look at when he was looking at this legislation. If we want to have a comprehensive piece of legislation that most would prefer we have, it should be brought forward by government. However, the government has already stated or made it clear that such legislation would not be forthcoming during this session of Parliament.

It would be very difficult in a private member's bill to make all the changes one would like to do without having the financial resources and legal resources, all the tools that government has to do the consultations with the public, industry, professionals and all the people concerned, aboriginal organizations primarily, and bring about a proper and good piece of legislation.

While we wait for a change of government and the opportunity again to bring forward a proper piece of cruelty to animal legislation, I am pleased to support this effort, Bill S-213, sponsored in the Senate by Senator Bryden.

Criminal Code

7:25 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Is the House ready for the question?

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7:25 p.m.

Some hon. members


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7:25 p.m.

TheActing Speaker Mr. Royal Galipeau

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

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7:25 p.m.

Some hon. members


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7:25 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

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

7:25 p.m.


Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, DASH-L, the operator of the Saint-Hubert de Longueuil airport, is promoting a major partnership project with Pratt & Whitney Canada, which will require public funding in order to proceed.

The plan is to redevelop the current landing strip in order to allow Pratt & Whitney to continue its flight testing with a new higher-performance engine and therefore new heavier planes, since the focus of Pratt & Whitney's research and development is on larger turbine engines.

Pratt & Whitney is currently at a crossroads: either the company moves its flight testing abroad, to a factory that already has all the airport facilities to accommodate its activities; or it concentrates its flight testing in Saint-Hubert, where it is nonetheless essential to proceed with major improvements; restoration, widening and lengthening of the main runway, upgrading the tarmac and building a hangar and terminal.

In light of its affordable operating cost, Saint-Hubert is the preferred location. Pratt & Whitney's deadline is May 2007.

These new facilities and this new economic activity by Pratt & Whitney—in fact, it is not new activity, but renewed activity since Pratt & Whitney already has facilities at the Saint-Hubert airport, currently employing several hundred people—would have a very significant economic impact on the south shore of Montreal.

Partner investments would be in the range of $25 million from the City of Longueuil for work related to infrastructure, $130 million from Pratt & Whitney Canada, $27 million from a Saint-Hubert consortium made up of DEV-YHU/DASH-L and other investors, $18 million from the Government of Quebec, and $70 million from the Government of Canada, and that is what we have been asking for from the federal government for some time.

Of course, all the other investors, besides the Government of Canada, are waiting only for Ottawa's commitment before the project can get started. Additionally, other subcontractors, which I have not mentioned, and other financial stakeholders are also looking into how they can become involved in this project.

It is clear the that Minister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec has an envelope of only $220 million to allocate in total, to this project as well as all the other requests for funding that are coming in from across the country.

Furthermore, another program, the infrastructure program under the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, is not ideal to carry out an airport development project because an airport clearly falls under federal jurisdiction, while the Bloc Québécois has always believed that it should be the Quebec government that decides how money from that program will be allocated.

I also know that the airport capital assistance program, ACAP, cannot cover the full cost. There is only $38 million in this fund for this year and the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities recently announced that $33 million has already been paid out to 28 different airports.

And yet, this is the program that the Conservative government should use to provide the funding to help this outstanding project, which has no equal in Quebec or Canada. I must say that I would not be able to understand it if the government did not wish this project to proceed.

The runway has to be rebuilt, in any case. It must be restored because the subgrade is not solid enough to support the weight of larger aircraft. It will take years. It is an exceptional aeronautical project. There are many investors, including Pratt & Whitney, which has committed $130 million. The economic spinoffs are estimated at $200 million in the first year. The annual recurring investment by Pratt & Whitney Canada will be about $28.5 million.

7:30 p.m.

Fort McMurray—Athabasca Alberta


Brian Jean ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the opportunity to address this question.

I confirm that on March 22, 2007 the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities did meet with representatives of the City of Longueuil, the City of Longueuil Saint Hubert Airport Development Corporation, DASH-L, and indeed Pratt & Whitney that presented a proposal for the runway enlargement and expansion, as well as other improvements for the Saint Hubert Airport.

The planned investments are in the order of $140 million, as has been confirmed by my colleague, which includes rebuilding and enlarging the main runways and increasing the bearing capacity. The proposal also includes construction of an air terminal and a hangar for Pratt & Whitney aircraft.

In 2004 when the airport was transferred, Transport Canada allocated $3.2 million to cover the operating deficit and the cost of major maintenance projects.

The Saint Hubert Airport has met the eligibility criteria under the airports capital assistance program since June 2006. The purpose of ACAP is to assist eligible applicants in financing capital projects related to first, safety; second, asset protection; and third, operation cost reduction.

Eligible projects must meet the following evaluation criteria. They must be essential to maintain or improve safety, protect the asset, or significantly reduce operating costs. They must meet acceptable engineering practices. They must be justified on the basis of current demand. Projects which result in an expansion of the facilities will only be considered where it is demonstrated that the current facilities negatively impact safety.

The funding available under ACAP is $190 million from April 2005 to March 2010, or an average of $38 million per year. Because of the limited budget envelope for this program, projects submitted for funding are prioritized on an annual basis.

There is a large demand for these projects from all across the country. That is why we have to be fair. Priority for funding is established on the basis of first, safety related airside projects; second, for heavy airside mobile equipment; third, for air terminal building ground side safety related projects; and fourth, asset protection, refurbishing, refilling, relifting or operating cost reduction projects.

In this context it is currently impossible for Transport Canada to fund under ACAP the entire project submitted by Pratt & Whitney and the City of Longueuil. The purpose of ACAP is to improve the safety and security of our regional airport facilities for Canadians and travellers. Economic projects are not eligible.

The member may rest assured that our department will carefully review all eligible components of this project and refer to other components that the member has spoken about to other departments and/or programs which may make them eligible. Let me reassure the member that there is high demand for these funds. We have to be fair to all Canadians across Canada from coast to coast to coast.

7:30 p.m.


Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would say that the parliamentary secretary provided an intelligent answer to my questions. However, the main question, and the key point is as follows: does this government truly have the political will to see this project go ahead and to help it go ahead?

7:30 p.m.


Brian Jean Conservative Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that. I can assure the member that this is a very important project, as are all development projects of this nature. This in particular helps the greater Montreal area and as such, the government would assess such a request as part of other funding arrangements that can be made. We are hopeful that the project will go ahead and she will be successful in that.

7:30 p.m.


Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in this House this evening on behalf of my constituents of Don Valley East and debate on one of the most pressing issues facing the planet today, global warming and climate change.

A short time ago during question period I asked the environment minister if the federal government had a plan to develop a competitive and truly global marketplace for carbon emissions. I asked this question because Canadians and Canada committed to such a trading system when it signed the Kyoto protocol in order to reduce our country's greenhouse gas emissions.

Canadians are well aware, however, that when the current Prime Minister was the leader of the Canadian Alliance party, he publicly scoffed at the Kyoto agreement by calling it “a socialist plot to suck money out of developed countries”. It is therefore difficult to accept the Prime Minister's sudden conversion to the environment, especially when his clean air act was soundly rejected by Canadians when it was first introduced last fall and he was eventually forced to fire his environment minister.

Since that time, the clean air act was sent to a special all-party committee to develop a bill that would at least partially meet our international obligations under the Kyoto protocol.

Although all members in this minority Parliament have committed to work together for the benefit of Canadians, the Conservatives have thus far refused to reintroduce the bill as amended by opposition parties. In fact we are hearing rumblings from the environment minister that the bill aimed at reducing greenhouse gases is dead in the water. If so, the Conservatives risk being caught on the wrong side of history, science, and most of all, the wrong side of Canadian businesses.

Despite the doomsday prediction by the environment minister, many businesses see a great deal of profit in going green. In fact the head of the Toronto Stock Exchange, Mr. Richard Nesbitt, recently informed the government that the TSX would welcome a competitive global marketplace environment for emissions trading. According to Mr. Nesbitt:

TSX is in a unique position to work with Canadian companies to offer trading solutions for the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

He went on to say:

TSX believes that the market-based mechanisms can significantly help society achieve its emissions reduction goals through more efficient resource allocation....TSX can support absolute caps or intensity-based caps, with or without sector-based adjustments....TSX can support markets that are domestic-only or those that are linked within North America or globally.

Certainly with that kind of support from the private sector, plus the overwhelming support from the general public, why on earth is the Conservative government not taking action on global warming?

I am aware that the parliamentary secretary will have some notes prepared after the minister's speech was accidentally leaked last night, but aside from spin control, perhaps the hon. member could answer one simple question. Will the government take up the offer from the head of the Toronto Stock Exchange to create a truly global marketplace for emissions trading?

7:35 p.m.

Langley B.C.


Mark Warawa ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate every opportunity I have to share with the House and with Canadians the incredible job this government is now doing on the environmental file, and I look forward to answering the member's question.

Tomorrow our government will release the details of our short term regulatory targets for greenhouse emissions and air pollutants. These targets will drive real action on climate change and air pollution. We will see emission reduction projects in Canada, including the deployment of innovative cutting edge Canadian environmental technologies. This will result in the emergence of a green economy in Canada and will allow us to export our experience and technology around the world.

We believe Canada needs to turn the corner on our greenhouse gas emissions. We need to do a U-turn because of 13 years of inaction and empty promises by the previous Liberal government. Canada has been going the wrong way on the environment.

In the October notice of intent the government indicated that we would explore emission trading systems as part of the regulatory framework for both air pollutants and greenhouse gases.

There is certainly much interest among the various exchanges across Canada in emissions trading, including Toronto, Montreal and Winnipeg. For the details of the plan, I encourage the hon. member for Don Valley East and all members of the House to wait for the announcement tomorrow to hear all the good news about our plan on the environment.

Our government has already taken many steps to combat climate change. We are providing financial and tax incentives to encourage Canadians to buy and drive eco-friendly vehicles. We are supporting the growth of renewable energy sources such as wind and tidal power. We are providing incentives to Canadians to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. Through budget 2007, we are investing $4.5 billion to clean Canada's air and water, to manage chemical substances, to protect our natural environment and to reduce Canada's emissions of greenhouse gases and pollutants. This investment, when combined with over $4.7 billion in the previous investments, adds up to over $9 billion that is being invested in the environment.

We are excited about our plan to turn the corner for real greenhouse gas reductions across Canada. Our government is already taking action. The Liberals failed, but we will get the job done.

7:40 p.m.


Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I asked a very simple question, which would have been of interest to the business community in Canada and to all Canadians. I simply asked if the Conservative government had a plan that would meet the Kyoto targets in conjunction and with the cooperation of the companies belonging to the Toronto Stock Exchange. All I heard was nothing but the repetition of the minister's diatribe.

Yesterday, the Conservative voted on the absolute reduction as provided by the Kyoto protocol. How can Canadians take them seriously when they keep on flip-flopping every time?

The fact is the Liberal Party is way ahead of the government and has already published a plan. Let me ask the question another way.

After pledging to work with the opposition parties to make this minority government work for Canadians, when will the Conservative government reintroduce the newly amended clean air and climate change act?

7:40 p.m.


Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government is taking real action on climate change and clean air. As I stated, we will be the first Canadian government to introduce national regulations on greenhouse gases and air pollutants. The short term targets, that is, the targets that will come into force during the 2010 to 2015 timeframe, will be included in the regulatory framework to be officially released tomorrow.

As the government indicated in the notice of intent, we are exploring self-supporting market mechanisms such as domestic emissions trading systems for both air pollutants and greenhouse gases as part of the regulatory framework.

Where the Liberal Party did not get it done, we are getting it done.

7:40 p.m.


Ken Boshcoff Liberal Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, in true testimony to the innocence of Dr. Cheryl Everall and Ms. Kimberley Kim, they trusted in the Canadian government to act in their defence. This for a full eight months before coming to me for help.

They had been suffering horribly with malicious accusations in the Mexican media, all the while believing that the Minister of Foreign Affairs was being active in clearing their names.

After meeting with the minister last fall, they truly felt his reassurances were sincere. Can members imagine their despair and disillusionment when they discovered that absolutely nothing had been done to help them?

In a series of documented evidence, I have step-by-step undertaken to ask the questions the minister has failed to even attempt. These are clear and would be what each and every one of us would expect from a government whose duty is to care and protect its citizens.

I ask everyone watching this telecast or reading this in print: “Do you not expect your government to go to bat for you with sincerity and using the full weight of the law especially if you are falsely accused in a foreign country?”

These women are innocent. So, I ask very clearly: Why have their names not been cleared?

Why has the Prime Minister not spoken in their defence to counterbalance the Mexican president's accusations? Why has the minister not verified their innocence? Why has the minister not ensured their names are removed from any international watch list? Why does the minister have to be subpoenaed to appear as a witness at the foreign affairs committee?

These innocent victims came to me for help. One would think the minister would have told them that the government would do everything possible to help. Canadians need the reassurance the government will protect the innocent.

Why must these women continue to be forced to live in fear and uncertainty? Why will the minister not tell Canadians that a priority for him is to help the innocent?

7:45 p.m.

Calgary East Alberta


Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, this case has been a priority for the Government of Canada since the Ianieros' brutal murders in February 2006.

On March 3, the Minister of Foreign Affairs spoke to Anthony Ianiero to offer his condolences and to reassure the Ianiero family that we would continue to monitor developments closely. We have kept that promise.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Trade has also spoken to Anthony Ianiero on three different occasions and has reassured him that this case continues to be a priority.

The foreign affairs minister met with Ms. Everall and Ms. Kim in December 2006 to hear their concerns. These concerns included issuing a travel warning for the Mayan Riviera region of Mexico. I can assure the hon. member that our travel reports, including our report concerning Mexico, are reviewed regularly to provide Canadians with the most current and accurate advice to ensure safe and secure travel.

Ms. Everall and Ms. Kim have also asked the minister for his assistance in clearing their names. The minister reassured them at that time, and I can assure the member again today, that we have not been made aware of any arrest warrants issued by the Mexican authorities for either Ms. Everall or Ms. Kim.

As the hon. member knows, we cannot control what the media chooses to report, nor can we control statements by foreign authorities. It would be inappropriate for the Government of Canada to comment on any ongoing police investigation, particularly one that is not in our jurisdiction.

We do not take crimes against Canadians lightly whenever they occur, but Canada cannot investigate these crimes abroad. Investigations must be done by the responsible local authority.

In the Ianieros' case, the Mexican authorities did request technical assistance from the RCMP and this assistance is being provided. That being said, this request for assistance does not give the Canadian government the right to intervene in that investigation.

The Prime Minister and senior officials have on many occasions raised this case with the most senior levels of the Mexican government, including the Mexican president. We have reiterated that we expect a full, thorough and fair investigation, and we have received those assurances from the same Mexican authorities.

If there are no charges laid against Ms. Kim and Ms. Everall, there should be no reason for their names to appear on a no fly list of any country.

7:45 p.m.


Ken Boshcoff Liberal Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, if that were so, then the minister should announce in this House that they are no longer prime suspects in Mexico and that they are truly innocent.

How seriously can Canadians take the response when the parliamentary secretary does not even have an office in the Department of Foreign Affairs?

When we asked the parliamentary secretary to list the accomplishments, these women still remain prime suspects and the facts confirm that there has been no follow-up from the minister's office since December. If they are not on a no fly list or a watch list, why has nothing been told to them in the past year?

The hon. member mentioned that Mr. Ianiero was contacted. The record will show very clearly that he was only contacted the day before W-FIVE aired its show.

So, when I ask what has been done, I ask very specifically: What questions were asked of the Mexican government; what pressure has been put on it; and who was approached and talked to? This is what these innocent women need to know and what has to be clarified.

7:45 p.m.


Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, as I have stated in my speech, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Secretary of State have all contacted the Mexican authorities, including the Mexican president, who have assured us they are investigating this case according to their laws.

As no arrest warrants have been issued for these ladies, there is nothing we can do. We cannot control whatever speculation is in the media. The Government of Canada will continue to monitor this situation. Should anything occur or if they are charged, we will then stand up to ensure they are protected under Canadian law.

I want to reassure the member, again, that they have not been charged. We have taken this matter to the highest authorities, including the president of Mexico.

7:50 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:50 p.m.)