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House of Commons Hansard #146 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-22.

Topics

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I have the honour to lay upon the Table the report of the Canadian Parliamentary Delegation to Trinidad and Tobago from April 2 to April 5, 2007.

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 five petitions.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

May 3rd, 2007 / 10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present this morning, in both official languages, the 47th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which was submitted by the subcommittee on private members' business.

Pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2) this report contains items added to the order of precedence under private members' business that should not be designed non-votable.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2) the report is deemed adopted.

(Motion agreed to)

Veterans AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Anders Conservative Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs in relation to Bill C-287, An Act respecting a National Peacekeepers' Day, with amendments.

Family ReunificationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table two petitions today, both of which call on this House to adopt the NDP's Bill C-394, the once in a lifetime bill.

These petitions were circulated in Hamilton and Brantford, although the vast majority of the petitioners live in my riding of Hamilton Mountain.

All the petitioners agree that family reunification must be a key component of a fair immigration policy. The current family class rules, as we all know, are too restrictive and mean that too many close relatives cannot become eligible to come to Canada.

The petitioners are asking Parliament to pass Bill C-394 so Canadian citizens and landed immigrants are given the once in a lifetime opportunity to sponsor a family member from outside the current family class as it is currently defined in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act so they may be reunited with loved ones from around the world.

It has been my privilege to work closely with the diverse communities of Hamilton to bring this petition forward on their behalf today.

Visitor VisasPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 it is my privilege to present a petition signed by approximately 300 concerned Canadians that were collected by the Canadian Polish Congress and the Lithuanian Credit Union of Toronto.

The petitioners demand that parliament pass and the government adopt Motion No. 19 calling for the lifting of visitor visas for the following EU member states: Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Latvia and Hungary. These countries are European Union members and the same visa regime should apply to them as to the other EU countries.

Canada's burdensome visa regime is a throwback to the days of the Cold War and should be modernized to reflect new geopolitical realities.

The Iron Curtain has come down. It is time for Canada's visa curtain to come down as well.

Gun RegistryPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present a petition today on behalf of 90 residents of Victoria county in my riding of Tobique--Mactaquac.

The petitioners want to draw the attention of the House to the fact that the vast majority of violent gun crimes are committed by unregistered or illegal firearms, that the long gun registry has cost Canadian taxpayers more than $1 billion, over 500 times its original cost, and that the long gun registry unjustly targets law-abiding citizens, farmers, sport shooters and hunters.

Therefore, the petitioners call upon Parliament to end the registration requirement for non-restricted long guns.

World Police and Fire GamesPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table two petitions today. The first one has been signed by many residents of my constituency of Burnaby—Douglas and it calls on Parliament and the government to extend support for the World Police and Fire Games that will be held on the Lower Mainland of British Columbia in 2009.

The petitioners point out that this is an excellent opportunity for police and fire personnel to exchange ideas and make connections with others in their profession worldwide. They also point out the economic benefits to communities on the Lower Mainland for holding these games.

They call on the government to extend generous support to the organizing committee for the 2009 World Police and Fire Games on the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.

Bill C-394PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition has been signed by many people from the Toronto area.

The petitioners call on Parliament to ensure that there is an appropriate definition of family in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to support the once in a lifetime bill that has been tabled by the NDP member for Parkdale—High Park, Bill C-394, which would expand the definition of family in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act allowing a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant, once in his or her lifetime, to sponsor a relative outside of that restrictive definition that currently exists. I am glad to see the bill on the agenda.

MarriagePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour today to present three petitions amounting to approximately 375 signatures.

All of the petitioners are asking that Parliament do what it can to preserve the traditional definition of marriage.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine 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, Question No. 187 will be answered today.

Question No. 187Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

With regard to programs and spending by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, CMHC, within the riding of Burnaby—Douglas: (a) what was the amount spent in 2006; (b) what is the projected budget for 2007; (c) how many CMHC funded housing units for singles and families currently exist; (d) how many CMHC funded housing units for singles and families are planned for 2006 and 2007; and (e) what is the amount that CMHC has provided to housing co-ops in the riding for maintenance over the last two years and what will be the amount over the next two years?

Question No. 187Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, CMHC administers housing programs through agreements with provinces and does not compile or analyze expenditure information by electoral district; information on CMHC program spending is disclosed in annual reports. However, over the course of the 39th Parliament, CMHC has undertaken efforts to identify federal expenditures by postal codes which it has then summarized by electoral districts using a tool developed by Statistics Canada. While there is some promise in this approach, there is also a significant potential for error. However, CMHC has, to the best of its ability, verified the location of the units and program spending contained in this answer to try to ensure they are in the riding of Burnaby--Douglas.

The following information is available with respect to programs and spending administered by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, CMHC, within the riding of Burnaby--Douglas in 2006:

With respect to social housing, CMHC currently administers 1,054 co-operative housing units which provide housing for singles and families. These co-ops received annual subsidies of $1,544,676 in 2006. Depending on the type of the co-operative program, the budget for 2007 can be adjusted due to mortgage renewals or changes in inflation rate. Under program design, there is no CMHC funding specifically earmarked for maintenance. Co-operatives set housing charges at levels sufficient to cover project operating costs including maintenance expenses and the provision of an allocation to a capital repair reserve fund. The funding provided by CMHC is used to offset or reduce these project operating costs and/or to subsidize housing charges for households in need.

In addition, CMHC provided funding to another 904 units in the riding of Burnaby--Douglas, committed under various programs, which provides housing for singles and families. Of this total, there are 668 units benefiting from a preferential interest rate and some of these units are also benefiting from a forgivable capital contribution grant equivalent to 10% of the original project cost. The remaining 236 units received annual funding of $401,166 in 2006. The administration of these 904 units was transferred to the province on January 15, 2007, under a social housing agreement, SHA, with the province of British Columbia signed in 2006. CMHC annual funding contained in the Canada-B.C. SHA is currently some $140 million. British Columbia also received a one-time lump sum amount of $24 million for risks associated with future inflation, changes in interest rates and loan losses. The amount of subsidy available in 2007 is governed by the agreements between CMHC and the various sponsor groups and assumed by the British Columbia Housing Management Commission pursuant to the SHA.

There may be additional units located in the riding that received ongoing federal assistance in 2006 under various federal-provincial programs already administered by the province of British Columbia prior to last summer’s signing of the SHA which are not included in the above unit counts. The province has the lead role for these units and does not report subsidies by project to CMHC. For the first nine months of 2006 the province had claimed federal funding of some $75 million on these programs, covering some 27,000 units across the province. These units are also covered by the social housing agreement, SHA. Effective October 1, 2006 funding for these units is being provided through the annual funding of $140 million contained in the SHA.

With respect to renovation programs, on December 19, 2006, the Government of Canada announced a $256 million, two year extension of the housing renovation and adaptation programs, effective April 1, 2007. The funding will help improve the quality of housing for an additional 38,000 low income households in all regions of Canada. For 2006-07, British Columbia’s allocation for these housing renovation programs is approximately $16.2 million.

Under federal renovation programs in the riding of Burnaby--Douglas, some $973,800 was committed for 163 units in 2006. CMHC is unable to provide a forecast of how many units and dollars will be committed in 2007, since this will depend on the number of applications approved.

With respect to the affordable housing initiative and Canada-B.C. affordable housing program agreement, under the $1 billion affordable housing initiative, AHI, over $130 million has been allocated to British Columbia. As of December 31, 2006, 4,432 affordable housing units had been committed or announced in British Columbia, representing federal funding of $126.4 million. The province of British Columbia and others are matching federal AHI investments.

British Columbia Housing, B.C. Housing, administers the Canada-British-Columbia affordable housing program agreement. According to information provided by B.C. Housing, there were not any commitments under this program in the riding of Burnaby--Douglas in 2006. B.C. Housing is not required to provide forecasts of units planned by riding to CMHC, but it does report on projects approved during the year.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine 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, if Question No. 156 could be made an order for return, this return would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 156Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Brian Pallister Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

With respect to Canada Post Corporation: (a) have works of art been purchased by or provided to Canada Post during the period of time in which Mr. Ouellet was President, and if so, please provide a complete list; (b) have any works of art been given or sold by Canada Post to Mr. Ouellet during his tenure at Canada Post, and if so, please provide a complete list including the estimated value, the mechanism for determining value and the amount received by the Corporation from Mr. Ouellet; and (c) what was the total amount of non-receipted expenses claimed by Mr. Ouellet during his term as President of Canada Post for which no receipts have been provided?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from May 2 consideration of Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (minimum penalties for offences involving firearms) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, as reported (with amendments) from the Standing Committee on Justice; and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Bloc

Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to speak today at the report stage of Bill C-10, an act to amend the Criminal Code.

When this bill was introduced and read the first time in May 2006, the government's goal was to toughen the Criminal Code by imposing minimum sentences for criminal offences involving firearms.

My Quebec colleagues and I carefully read and analysed this bill and quickly pointed out numerous flaws that prevented us from supporting the bill at second reading.

When the bill went to committee—and I want to commend my colleagues from Hochelaga and Châteauguay—Saint-Constant on their work—the committee rejected the clauses on minimum sentences.

We in the Bloc Québécois believe that adopting the automatic minimum sentences proposed by the Conservative government is detrimental and ineffective and will not help improve public safety, which is something that this government and we ourselves want.

Even though we have taken pains to explain why we are opposed to minimum sentences and have rejected these clauses in committee, the government is presenting us with the same clauses again today by way of amendments.

Obviously the Conservative government still does not understand that its approach is ineffective and will not decrease the crime rate and the recidivism rate, as it hopes.

As usual, the government is offering simplistic solutions, motivated by its electoral objectives, without taking into account possible solutions, and especially ones that are geared towards concrete and positive results.

So, this report stage gives us another opportunity to explain the reasons we reject the amendments proposed by the government, and we hope to convince them, once again, and try to wake them up to a new approach to crime.

When the then minister tabled Bill C-10 in May 2006, he said that the bill was in response to a crime rate that had, according to him, been increasing in Canada in recent years. Is this true? How many times have we heard members of the Conservative government tell us that society has never been this violent, that crime has never been so widespread, that crime rates are on the rise? But this is not true.

The statistics gathered by Statistics Canada—which this government has access to, and which I hope it takes the time to examine—show that crime, and in particular violent crime, has actually been decreasing since 1992.

Clearly the government is offering solutions based on false premises. Even worse—and the Bloc Québécois is completely convinced of this—they are damaging, ineffective and will not contribute at all to truly improving public safety.

Let us now look more closely at the solutions proposed by the government. The Conservative ministers and members keep telling us that minimum sentences will help fight crime more effectively.

Numerous studies have shown that minimum sentences have a dubious impact in the fight against crime.

One study done in 1997 by the federal Minister of Justice found that the mandatory prison sentences introduced in a number of western countries had no measurable effect on crime rates. I am sure that the government is aware of this study because when it introduces a bill, it must learn as much as it can and go over the studies.

In a press conference and before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, the Minister of Justice acknowledged that no Canadian study has demonstrated that new measures to introduce minimum penalties are effective in fighting crime.

As legislators, we all want to improve our laws to make our citizens safer. I believe that all members of this House want to do that. However, new measures must be supported by studies that demonstrate they are effective.

Clearly, the government has been unable to prove that the measures in the bill are effective. Rather, it has shown that its vision is based on a simplistic, populist ideology that has obviously sought too much inspiration in the American model. The American model imposes harsher penalties and puts more people in prison, yet the homicide rate is three times higher there than it is here. The Conservatives should be able to understand that the government will not reduce the crime rate by filling up our prisons and building new ones, which is what the Americans have been doing.

It is important to note that Canada puts far fewer people in jail than the United States does. According to the most recent statistics, Canada incarcerates 116 people per 100,000 while the United States incarcerates 702 people per 100,000. As I said before, the homicide rate is three times higher in the United States than it is here. How can anyone suggest that the American method works? Obviously, it does not, as the studies have shown.

As my colleague, the hon. member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, already mentioned, criminals do not read legislation and do not know what the minimum sentences are. When they are planning a crime, their only concern is not getting caught. According to criminologists and experts on criminal behaviour, the criminal mind is convinced that there is no risk of being caught. From that perspective, the threat of a longer prison sentence would have no impact on that individual.

As I said at the beginning of my speech, as well as being ineffective, minimum sentences can also have a negative impact. I will share an example given by a renowned criminologist. Incidentally, the Conservative government should have hired a few such experts, since there seems to be a lack of real analysis here. So, according to André Normandeau, a criminologist at the Université de Montréal, minimum sentences can encourage judges to acquit an individual, rather than be forced to sentence that individual to a penalty the judge considers excessive under the circumstances, for cases in which an appropriate penalty would be a conditional sentence, community service or a few weeks in jail.

We must also fight against poverty, inequality and the sense of exclusion, which are all significant factors in the emergence of crime. These are the areas on which we should be focusing our efforts.

I am convinced that measures to prevent crime are more effective, although we cannot overlook the importance of imposing severe penalties when the crime committed is recognized as extremely serious. We had a preventive measure, but unfortunately, the government preferred to render it less effective.

Instead of waiting until it is too late, the Conservative government should reconsider.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the excellent speech by my colleague from Berthier—Maskinongé regarding Bill C-10.

I was struck in particular by certain points that he made earlier. First, the Conservative government failed to consult statistics compiled since 1992 that show that the crime rate is declining. In addition, the member referred to a study published in 1997 that argues that mandatory prison sentences have no effect on the crime rate.

Does the member not feel that this bill is driven strictly by ideology? That is definitely how it comes across. We do not have the impression that the bill is based on an analysis supported by solid arguments and facts. I find the government's position very ambiguous. I would like to hear my colleague's thoughts on this.