House of Commons Hansard #142 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was accountability.

Topics

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

An hon. member

That's a point of order.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Brown Liberal Oakville, ON

Members have not listened to my explanation of what—

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The member across the way said and her words were “the parliamentary secretary is getting away with fraud” when he speaks in the House.

As an elected member of the House, I have the privilege to speak in the House. That is not a fraud. It was a privilege conferred upon me by over 39,000 electors who chose me as their representative in the last election. She is violating that privilege.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Order, please. I know this is Friday afternoon, but I would like to point out to all hon. members that House of Commons Procedure and Practice by Marleau and Montpetit, at page 522, says:

Remarks directed specifically at another Member which question that Member's integrity, honesty or character are not in order.

I think in this case the hon. member for Oakville did identify a specific member and so her words are not in order. Before we go on, withdrawal would be in order.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Brown Liberal Oakville, ON

I will withdraw that, Mr. Speaker. I am sorry about that.

What I am trying to get to is not the person across the way. What I am trying to get to is the accusation he made in his initial comments that the corruption—

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, she hasn't apologized.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Brown Liberal Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I did. I withdrew.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The Chair has asked the hon. member to withdraw. That is the only thing that the Chair has asked for and the Chair is satisfied that she has withdrawn.

The hon. parliamentary secretary may respond, but the Chair's patience is getting a little short, so I would hope so would be the reply.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for having withdrawn her remarks. I know sometimes members across the way do cross the line and are forced to withdraw their remarks. I will accept her apology as well.

I note that she made an implicit reference to my age in her remarks and used that as a means to attack my character. There are young people across the country who deserve a voice in this country, young people, millions of them who pay taxes, who work hard and make a contribution to our country. They ought never to be pushed aside simply because of their age. In fact, it is their constitutional right not to experience discrimination. I will be proud to stand up for that.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:20 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill ConservativeSecretary of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, I want to get back to the issue I raised earlier with the member for Charlottetown.

We are left to guess why the member for York West would move this concurrence motion on a Friday afternoon if it were not the case that the Liberals do not want to discuss and debate the legislation we are here to debate, which is Bill C-43, the reform of the Senate, long overdue reform I might add.

I would like to pose a question to my colleague. This report was tabled on March 27 and the Liberals, as other did, had 12 sitting days when they could have called concurrence on this issue and discussed the report. I am left to ponder.

I take the member for York West at her word. When she made her remarks earlier today, she said how important this issue was, how critical and crucial it was that we have a good, fulsome debate about the committee report. I do not disagree with that, but I am left wondering.

Given that the Liberals had 12 days and if it were that critical, why would they not have brought it forward?

If they are really serious about this issue, why would they have only notified their own colleagues? The member for Charlottetown said that he cancelled his flight home for the weekend so he could stay here to debate this issue. We are fortunate that my colleague, who just spoke, happens to sit on that committee. We had no prior knowledge of this so we could ensure that the government members, who sit on the public accounts committee, would be here to participate in the debate.

We are left to really question, along with the viewers watching this at home I am sure, how serious the Liberals happen to be about this debate.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think it might have been an emotional outburst that caused them to bring the motion before the House of Commons. I know the chair of the public accounts committee has been prone to such outbursts. Today, with the very troubling news that is coming out, I think all of that might have led to this very sudden decision to raise this debate.

The Liberals do not want an elected Senate, so they are blocking our democratic Senate bill. They do not want accountability, so they are trying to shift debate away from a very prominent Liberal who has pled guilty today to 28 counts of fraud in conjunction with the Liberal sponsorship scandal.

They want to avoid any form of accountability. That is why they are trying to push a protocol that will transfer responsibility away from politicians and on to public servants. We will not support them in their efforts.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I had been so preoccupied with some other constituency issues that I did not hear the revelation today about the case about which the member for Nepean—Carleton just talked. Could he possibly enlighten me and the House on it again?

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I generally do not like to speak about it, but today a very prominent Liberal has pled guilty to 28 counts of fraud. Mr. Jean Lafleur was—

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:20 p.m.

An hon. member

How many?

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

That was 28 counts of fraud. This very prominent Liberal has admitted to what happened under the previous—

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. May I ask what the relevance is of this blow by blow account of what a criminal has agreed to plead guilty to? The hon. member—

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

I thank the hon. member for Hull—Aylmer.

The hon. member for Malpeque.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, the secretary of state is trying to determine why we would debate this issue on a Friday afternoon. It is quite simple. It is an important issue.

This is usually what the government tries to do on a Friday afternoon. You know how Friday afternoons operate, Mr. Speaker. Some members are not here and the government is trying to slip through senatorial change on a Friday afternoon when the public really should know what the debate is all about. That is what those members over there are trying to do.

My question is for the parliamentary secretary, who stood in his place and claimed that the new government is being accountable. Has anyone in the House read the papers saying that in the House this week the Minister of National Defence, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Safety had contradicting stories?

If there were any accountability on that side, the Minister of National Defence would be long gone, but I can understand why they do not allow him to go, because the Prime Minister is calling the shots--

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

It is a good thing that another member is not raising relevance at this point.

I recognize the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I recognize that due to events today must be very difficult for all the members of the Liberal Party. Today, with so many dark facts haunting that party, we see the strain and the stress on the face of every single Liberal member. In fact, all Canadians are concerned about the corruption that has been uncovered in the previous Liberal government.

Now we have the opportunity to reverse that trend of corruption, that failure in accountability, by moving forward with democratic reforms. That is what we wanted to do today. We have waited 140 years for Senate reform. Why do the opposition members want us to wait longer? Why can they not attempt to redeem themselves by joining with us in making the Senate more democratic? Why not?

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Brossard—La Prairie should know he has 20 minutes for his speech. However, since we have to move on to private members' business at 1:30 p.m., he will be given three minutes to speak today.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

April 27th, 2007 / 1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Lussier Bloc Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk about the Liberal Party motion on the protocol.

Today's debate is between a minority government and a majority opposition and is on the accountability and responsibility of deputy ministers.

We have before us a report that was tabled in the Standing Committee on Public Accounts in March 2007 on a study that was conducted by an honourable university professor, Mr. Franks. He had a very specific and unanimous mandate to examine the issue of accountability of deputy ministers.

Let us now look at the Gomery report, which heavily influenced the new accountability legislation. The Gomery report, at recommendation four of chapter five, says:

In order to clear up the confusion over the respective responsibilities and accountabilities of Ministers and public servants, the Government should modify its policies and publications to explicitly acknowledge and declare that Deputy Ministers and senior public servants who have statutory responsibility are accountable in their own right for their statutory and delegated responsibilities before the Public Accounts Committee.

This recommendation from Mr. Gomery should be integrated. In my opinion, Professor Franks has integrated it into his protocol. He is clear that this protocol signifies for Parliament, the public service, the government and the general public that no new statutory powers or authority are given by the accounting officer approach to deputy ministers, agency heads or any other senior public servants.

This protocol codifies and clarifies practices for accountability for the existing statutory and delegated powers of accounting officers. Furthermore, this protocol states that for members of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, as far as parliamentary privilege is concerned, questions should pertain to responsibilities and accountabilities.

Since my time is almost up and we want to move on to private members' business, I would just like to say that the Bloc Québécois will support this motion.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings on the motion at this time. One hour and 45 minutes of the three hours allotted by Standing Order 66 for debate on the motion remains. Next time, the hon. member for Brossard—La Prairie will have 17 minutes, and, of course, 10 minutes for questions and comments. Accordingly, debate on the motion is deferred until a future sitting.

It being 1:31 p.m. the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from February 27 consideration of the motion that Bill C-343, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (motor vehicle theft), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to express my support for Bill C-343, introduced by the hon. member for Regina—Qu'Appelle.

The government agrees that there is a pressing need to reduce the high rate of vehicles stolen every day in this country. This bill, by creating a distinct offence for motor vehicle theft, aims to do just that.

It is true that there are many offences in the Criminal Code that already address motor vehicle theft, such as theft, fraud, joyriding, possession of property obtained by crime, and flight from a peace officer. However, this bill will create a distinct offence, with penalties in the form of mandatory minimum sentences.

The sentence for a first offence will be a minimum fine of $1,000 or a minimum term of imprisonment of three months, or both. A second offence would result in a mandatory minimum fine of $5,000 or a minimum prison term of six months, or both. A third and subsequent offence would result in a minimum fine of $10,000 and a minimum term of imprisonment of two years, up to a maximum term of 10 years.

I am aware that not all members will agree on the penalty that a distinct Criminal Code offence for motor vehicle theft should have. However, I am certain that most members can agree on the utility of creating such an offence. Accordingly, the bill should be sent to the appropriate committee for review on its merits, including the proposed penalties.

I would like to note that the idea of a distinct offence for motor vehicle theft was supported by the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre on March 20, 2007, when he introduced Motion No. 295 calling for, among other things, an amendment to the Criminal Code to include auto theft as a distinct, stand-alone offence. Clearly this is an issue that cuts across party lines and is one that most members of the House can support.

Winnipeg holds the dubious distinction of being the car theft capital of Canada. For example, in Winnipeg, the auto theft rate in 2005 was 1,712 thefts per 100,000 population, whereas in Toronto there were 306 thefts reported per 100,000 population.

It is clear that the rate of auto theft in Canada is simply unacceptable. In 2001, the per capita rate of auto theft was 26% higher in Canada than it was in the United States. In the 1999 international crime victimization survey, Canada ranked fifth highest for a risk of car theft, with 1.6% of the population being a victim of car theft. Overall since 2001, the auto theft rate has remained roughly the same.

While in recent years auto theft rates have held steady at unacceptably high rates, the number of stolen vehicles that are recovered has been on the decline. It used to be that over 90% of stolen cars were recovered. Today, that rate has fallen to 70% nationwide, with recovery rates varying by city. In large cities in Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia, organized crime groups are believed to be more active in thefts, thanks in part to readily accessible ports that allow cars to be shipped out of the country quickly and with relative ease.

Out of the approximately 170,000 automobiles stolen every year, police and insurance experts estimate that about 20,000 of these cars are shipped abroad to destinations such as Eastern Europe, West Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

Stealing and reselling a vehicle is an extremely lucrative way for organized criminals to make money.

Let us take, for example, the scenario when a new luxury SUV is stolen. It is valued at $65,000 on the lot. It would cost an organized criminal around $1,000 to pay a youth to steal the car and approximately $1,500 to have the car “re-VINned” if it is being sold in Canada, or if it is exported to another jurisdiction, around $3,000 for shipping and handling. The automobile would likely be sold for around $45,000, resulting in a profit of nearly $40,000 per car.

Clearly the rewards for motor vehicle theft are enormous. There is a great incentive for young future career criminals to get involved in motor vehicle theft rings.

The involvement of youth in motor vehicle theft is a serious problem. Almost 40% of those charged with stealing motor vehicles are between the ages of 12 and 17 years. While vehicles are often stolen by youth for joyriding, it is also frequently the case that youth are enticed by organized criminals to steal an automobile and deliver it to a predetermined location all for a set fee. This involvement in organized crime unfortunately often has the effect of cementing criminal behaviour in young offenders. This influence on Canada's at risk youth is another tragic aspect of motor vehicle theft.

Not all of the news is bad though. Advances in technology, such as alarm systems, steering wheel locks, and GPS tracking units are making it harder to steal motor vehicles. However, as technology advances so do the skills that professional car thieves use to defeat these technologies.

So while the smash and grab method employed by most joy riders will no longer work on newer cars outfitted with sophisticated anti-theft devices, the new career car thief will ultimately find ways to outfox these devices.

It has already been mentioned that auto theft costs Canadians more than a billion dollars a year in insurance costs, medical costs, legal costs, police costs, and costs to the victims, such as insurance deductibles.

However, what about the costs that are impossible to calculate? I am referring to the human toll that motor vehicle theft has on our society. All too often when a car is stolen, the offender will drive erratically or at a high speed and not always because of police pursuit. Each year motor vehicle theft results in over 30 deaths and over 50 people being seriously injured a year in Canada.

Recently, a 10 year old girl in Regina was killed after a driver of a stolen pickup truck smashed into the minivan she was travelling in while he was attempting to escape the police.

As a society we do not tolerate impaired driving and our laws should treat this type of dangerous driving with the same seriousness. It is time that we reaffirm our commitment to making Canada's roads and highways safer.

I am proud that the government is taking a number of measures to tackle crime in Canada. We have introduced a number of pieces of legislation that deal with serious criminal offences.

Bill C-10 was introduced to ensure that criminals who use guns in the commission of an offence or if an offence is gang related receive a very serious sentence with escalating mandatory minimum penalties for first and subsequent offences.

As well, the government also introduced Bill C-35 which seeks to protect the public from gun crime by amending the bail provisions in the Criminal Code. The proposed amendments would reverse the onus to the accused to prove why he or she should not be denied bail when the accused is charged with a serious offence committed with a firearm or charged with smuggling or trafficking firearms.

The government is serious about making our roads and highways safer. We introduced Bill C-19 which created five new offences to combat street racing. It also gets these dangerous drivers off the road by providing mandatory minimum periods of driving prohibition. I am pleased that this bill received royal assent on December 14, 2006.

Another step the government has taken to make our roads and highways safe is with Bill C-32 which aims to significantly increase fines and minimum jail terms for driving while impaired. This bill tackles driving while under the influence of both alcohol and drugs. Although it is already a crime to drive while impaired by drugs, currently police officers have to rely on symptoms of impairment to driving behaviour for an impaired driving investigation. There is no authority in the Criminal Code to demand physical sobriety tests or bodily fluid samples.

Bill C-32 would authorize the police to demand roadside testing and a drug recognition expert evaluation at the police station, and if this evaluation shows impairment, the police will be authorized to demand a sample of bodily fluid to identify that the impairment was caused by an illegal drug. Refusal to comply with these demands would be a criminal offence punishable by the same penalties for refusing to submit to an alcohol breath test.

The government is also committed to crime prevention. The 2007 budget allocates $64 million over two years to establish a national anti-drug strategy to crack down on gangs, grow ops and meth labs, prevent elicit drug use and illicit drug dependency. As well, the government has set aside $14 million over two years to combat the criminal use of firearms.

The hon. member for Regina—Qu'Appelle has brought forward a very important issue for the House to consider. I urge all hon. members to vote to send this bill to committee for further review.