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House of Commons Hansard #34 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was afghan.

Topics

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague not to anticipate the future too much, even if there is a dash of clairvoyance in all of this. I want to congratulate my colleague for his excellent speech and tell him how much—and I do so on behalf of all of the members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights—we appreciate his presence at the committee. Not only does he have theoretical expertise on the Criminal Code, but he also has a very practical knowledge of it, since he was himself a sought-after criminal lawyer for more than two decades.

Is it not unfair to see the Minister of Justice completely lose all personal dignity and rise to have a temper tantrum, which could put him in the same league as young offenders and cause the loss of all decorum in this House? Would we not be remiss in not reminding people that it was this government that prorogued this House? If we had had more time, we could have had analyses of the bills. It is irresponsible to attack the opposition, when it was the government that prorogued the work of this Parliament not so very long ago.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague the member for Hochelaga, an extraordinary leader at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, gifted with a composure that will undoubtedly serve him well in his future endeavours. Personally, I would be very disappointed to lose him, should he go.

That being said, I think that there is a blatant lack of communication within the Conservative Party. If the Minister of Justice, rather than behaving in this way—my colleague is perfectly right—had spoken to his whip, things would not have come to this pass and this little crisis, which lasted 10 or 15 minutes, would have been averted. This does not reflect well on the image of a minister of justice.

That said, it is important that we be given the proposals ahead of time, and that we also move forward with Bill C-14, which will be referred to committee within a few minutes.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Dawn Black NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Vancouver East.

New Democrats are supporting this bill but we are asking the government to do more to provide a comprehensive federal anti-gang strategy. Although we are supporting this bill, we are saying very clearly that this bill alone is not a strategy and it is not enough to combat gangs.

A comprehensive strategy must include, not only tougher sentences, but more police officers on the street, improved witness protection, tougher laws to tackle the proceeds of crime, modernizing our laws that cover surveillance and evidence-gathering and a comprehensive plan for prevention to ensure that our kids are not attracted to the gang culture and that they stay away from joining gangs in the first place.

In the last two months alone, there have been at least 31 shootings in the metro Vancouver region and 15 people have been killed. These are not petty thugs. These are notorious criminals, decked out in body armour and emboldened with a sense of invincibility, who are wielding guns and ready to do battle.

We need strong and effective action from all three levels of government: federal, provincial and municipal. Stiffer penalties for those involved in gangs are certainly appropriate but it is not a sufficient response to this problem.

The metro Vancouver region has one of the lowest police to population ratios in the country, but what have the Conservatives done as an answer to this desperate need for investment in policing services? They have torn up contracts with the RCMP, have rolled back their wages and have made worse an already difficult recruitment and retention situation.

The Conservative approach to gang violence has been to latch on to the most simplistic, headline grabbing component of the action we need, which is tougher sentences.

New Democrats have already said that we support tougher sentences for gang violence but tougher sentences will not mean much if we do not get convictions. Tougher sentences will be ineffective unless they are part of a comprehensive strategy because tough sentences alone do very little to divert kids away from gangs. They need to be coupled with diversionary programs and activities, things that give young people alternatives to the gang lifestyle.

A comprehensive anti-gang strategy requires substantial investment to bring hope to communities that are hurting. These efforts need to be well thought out, carefully implemented and monitored to see what is working and what is not. Diverting kids from gangs is far from an exact science. This is what is lacking from the Conservative government that says that it is tough on crime but is either unwilling or unable to come up with the creative kinds of ideas that are necessary to solve the problem.

One place that we can look to for an example of a program to divert youth away from gangs is in the U.S. The program is called GREAT, which stands for gang resistance education and training. This program sees police officers visit elementary and middle school classrooms, teaching life skills to help kids avoid delinquent behaviour and violence, and encouraging the building of positive relationships between law enforcement, parents, children and the whole community. It has proven to be effective. It has proven to give students a more negative view of gangs and a more positive view of law enforcement. This program operates right across the country, thanks to funding from the U.S. federal government. It sees programs like this as an investment in our children and in healthy and safe communities.

I urge the government to make a similar substantial investment in our children in programs to keep them out of gangs. Tougher sentences are meaningless when our police departments and our prosecutors do not have the resources needed to ensure that guilty gang members are brought to justice and convicted. At both the federal and provincial levels, we have seen governments that profess to be tough on crime and howl with indignation when they see criminals walk free through the gaping cracks in our criminal justice system, and yet they have systematically cut our police and our prosecutors.

Again I draw attention to the Conservative government shredding a negotiated contract with the RCMP. This is but one example. It is an absolute disgrace and particularly shameful coming from a government that claims to be tough on crime when we need to be going in exactly the opposite direction. We need greater investments in putting police officers on the ground because they are the front line in stopping gang violence.

In my own riding, the city of Coquitlam has one of the lowest police to population ratios in the entire country. The Conservative Party made promises in the 2004 and 2006 elections to ensure there would be 2,500 more police officers in municipal departments, a still unfulfilled promise.

A model for the integrated approach to policing and prosecution that is needed to tackle gang violence can be found in the city of Toronto's anti-guns and gangs task force. The task force has a dedicated staff of police officers, crown prosecutors, victim and witness support workers, probation and parole officers. The task force is headquartered in a state of the art operations centre, which allows for the highly coordinated investigations and prosecutions needed to combat gang violence.

If the government were really serious about tackling gang violence, it would provide funding to assist provincial governments in setting up similar task forces in major cities across the country.

Another area where the police need the support of the federal government is to pass legislation to modernize the laws around surveillance and wiretapping. These laws were written before the Internet age and wireless technology, which has changed society. Criminal organizations are operating and conducting business with all of this technology, cell phones, BlackBerries and online, and they know the police are unable to combat that. Criminals are taking advantage of the most cutting edge technology and we must give our justice system the same kinds of legislative tools to combat them.

I want to touch briefly on the proceeds of crime. I share the anger of citizens in my communities who have been terrorized by gang violence, only to see gang members profiteering freely from dangerous and violent activities. Police and prosecutors need to be able to go after the luxury cars and the million dollar homes that upper echelon gang members flaunt in our communities. Otherwise, how can we truly tell our children that crime does not pay?

We propose that the proceeds of crime recovered by government should be reinvested in communities that have been victimized by gang violence. I can think of nothing more appropriate than auctioning off the possessions of gangsters to fund school programs or community centres.

I know all members of the House want to see an end to this kind of violence. I join with my New Democrat colleagues in calling upon the Conservative government to move further and faster to put forward a comprehensive strategy to end gang violence. Every day that goes by that the government does not have a strategy to end gang violence is another day wasted. That is a shameful reality. Communities are looking to the government for hope and action but so far they have been sadly disappointed.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

I must interrupt at this point. The member will have two minutes remaining in her speech when we return to this matter.

Youth InvolvementStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to rise in the House to recognize a remarkable constituent of mine.

Recently featured as one of southwest Saskatchewan's five most fascinating people, Lonnie Hunter is a teenager living in Waldeck, just outside Swift Current, Saskatchewan. Lonnie Hunter has a lot in common with teenagers across our nation. He is a high school student who likes sports, music and spending time with his friends. Lonnie Hunter is also far from typical. He is deeply passionate about youth involvement in the community and the political arena. He sits as the local Chamber of Commerce youth ambassador and serves on school and community boards.

In the last election Lonnie Hunter encouraged many young people to play an integral role.

This nation's potential to succeed is magnified when our youth are willing to step up to the plate.

I want to congratulate and thank Lonnie Hunter for everything he has done for southwest Saskatchewan and for his country of Canada. He believes that youth can make a difference in our community now.

Polish Canadian CommunityStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Crombie Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, as a Polish Canadian, I rise today to ask the government to take action and deliver. As my mentor, Jesse Flis, did for many years in this very House, I intend to do the same, to stand up for Polish Canadians and deliver the goods. The Conservatives talk the talk, yet the only thing they deliver is the photo op.

It has been over a year and Polish Canadians around the country, including Wladyslaw Lizon, president of the Canadian Polish Congress, are waiting for ratification on pension portability, youth mobility and Allied veteran pension benefits.

On April 2, 2008, an agreement was signed between Poland and Canada regarding social security. Where is the ratification of this agreement and when will it be signed?

Last year there was an agreement between Poland and Canada regarding youth mobility. Where is the ratification of this agreement and when will it be signed?

During every election the Conservatives promise to extend benefits to Allied Polish veterans. What came of these promises and when will the goods be delivered?

It is time the government stopped with open-ended promises and delivered the goods--

Polish Canadian CommunityStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The hon. member for Laval.

Pierre BriseboisStatements By Members

March 26th, 2009 / 2 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, Pierre Brisebois from my riding has recently finished an assignment with CESO, the Canadian Executive Service Organization. He went to Ivano-Frankivsk in Ukraine, where he prepared and trained restaurant employees in a new hotel in modern technologies and new methods of food preparation. He went on to evaluate the proposed menu and to make changes to reflect staff abilities and the restaurant themes.

He trained the staff to prepare the 15 new menu items he had created for the hotel.

The hotel was so satisfied with Mr. Brisebois' work that they then asked him to assess staff professional standards.

I and my colleagues in the Bloc Québécois congratulate Mr. Brisebois for giving his time and sharing Quebec's expertise with those who can get the most benefit from it.

ColombiaStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, just last week Amnesty International condemned the Colombia authorities for abusing the country's judicial system “to undermine the legitimate work of human rights defenders”.

More than a dozen human rights defenders and 46 trade unionists were killed by paramilitaries in 2008 alone, double the number in 2007.

According to testimony received today at the trade committee, thousands of paramilitaries with ties to the government are forcing poor peasants off the land and taking it over with the regime's complicity.

More than 1,500 peasants have been massacred so far by the Colombia military as so-called “false positives”. This is no less than the cold-blooded murder of innocent people.

Incredibly, the Conservative government is pressing ahead with a Bush-style free trade agreement with the regime.

What is more incredible is that theLeader of the Opposition is supporting this trampling of human rights in the name of powerful corporate interests.

The NDP is standing on the side of millions of Canadians who oppose murder, torture and human rights abuses. We oppose the blood that is on this agreement.

Thompson Rivers University ScholarshipsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay tribute to an extraordinary gentleman from my riding, Mr. Alvin Grunert.

Mr. Grunert has generously donated $1.5 million to Thompson Rivers University, allowing for the creation of an endowed scholarship for the top students in each of the faculties.

It was Mr. Grunert's desire to carry out his wife's wishes, making post-secondary education a reality for those students who might not otherwise afford it. Lydia Grunert's legacy will add to the spectrum of opportunities provided by TRU. This unique university offers not only post-graduate degrees but also professional diplomas and apprenticeship training.

This remarkable donation is made even more special because it did not come from family wealth. Instead, Mr. and Mrs. Grunert worked tirelessly throughout their lives saving where they could and investing wisely. They believed that this act of altruism would be the best investment they ever made.

I ask all members of the House to pay tribute to these fine Canadians. They are a shining example of what our nation has to offer.

Republic of HaitiStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the former premier of New Brunswick, Frank McKenna, recently visited Haiti with Bill Clinton in order to encourage more fortunate countries to come to the assistance of this country which is so in need of help. We are asking all governments and businesses to help Haiti get its economy back on track. As Mr. McKenna said:

Our trip brings attention of the international community to the plight of Haiti and I think it also reinforces a view in Haiti that the rest of the world is interested in their problems.

The lack of political leadership and the environmental instability in Haiti have led to the loss of Haiti's natural advantages; its land is eroded and floods occur regularly.

Canada is experiencing an economic crisis at present, but we have a duty to make every effort to also help countries such as Haiti that are worse hit than ourselves. With improved stability and an effort from the global community, there is hope for a prosperous and safe Haiti. We owe this to our Haitian friends.

Dalit Freedom NetworkStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert Conservative South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege today to welcome to Parliament Hill, Dr. Joseph D'souza, president of the Dalit Freedom Network.

Dr. D'souza testified today at our House Subcommittee on International and Human Rights. Dalits are below the lowest caste in the Hindu religion and have been called “the untouchables”. Traditionally relegated to menial occupations or various forms of servitude, Dalits are frequently denied equal opportunity in Indian society.

Dalit girls and women are often forced into prostitution. Dalit children are the victims of maiming and are forced into begging as so vividly portrayed in the film, Slumdog Millionaire.

The Dalit Freedom Network is working to provide vaccinations and basic medical care to provide Dalit children with education and to provide Dalit women with job skills and micro loans. The network is also striving to ensure equal treatment under the law for all Indians through its campaign for religious freedom.

I thank Dr. D'souza for all that he does.

Adriane ProvostStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to salute a Terrebonne athlete, cyclist Adriane Provost.

Adriane was named “Quebec female athlete” at Sports-Québec's 36th gala and awarded a Maurice. Thanks to her tremendous determination and outstanding passion, she dominated junior women's cycling in Quebec, finishing first in both the Quebec Cup rankings and the final rankings for the Quebec cycling federation.

At 15, Adriane's incredible performance in the Canadian championships made her the country's best junior cyclist. Next season, she hopes to hold onto her Canadian road cycling championship title, improve her track performance and go to the world championships in Moscow.

This young woman is a model for everyone in our community, and I would like to congratulate her and say how proud I am to represent her in the House of Commons.

JusticeStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Conservative Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, BC

Mr. Speaker, while we are all anxiously waiting to learn the details of the justice minister's bill to limit pre-sentencing credit, provincial attorneys general, particularly those from western Canada, are already overwhelmingly stating their support for this legislative change.

Saskatchewan Attorney General Don Morgan is quoted as saying that getting rid of the two for one credit will help the public's perception of the justice system.

Alberta Attorney General Alison Redford has said, “What this will do is allow us to correctly move these cases more effectively through the courts”.

With this kind of support, the opposition should have no trouble in assisting us in getting the bill, which will be tabled tomorrow, quickly through this House and the Senate. However, we are concerned the NDP will not co-operate as that party's justice critic is more concerned about ensuring that inmates “get credit for suffering”.

While the NDP is preoccupied with the suffering of violent and dangerous offenders, our government is standing up for the victims of crime.

Josip GamulinStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Albina Guarnieri Liberal Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, this month Canada bade farewell to a man who had a sense of justice and a scale of generosity that reached across the world.

Dr. Josip Gamulin came to Canada from Croatia in the 1970s to set up practice as a family doctor. Long before the Internet, he built his own worldwide web, connected by fax, shortwave and even the loudspeakers on his station wagon.

Through his Croatian Human Rights Committee and Croatian Radio Libertas carried around the world on shortwave, he sought freedom for political prisoners and sought relief for oppressed people everywhere.

In Canada he would shy away from no worthy cause, shrink from no challenge and stirred thousands to action.

Dr. Gamulin leaves a legacy of activism and integrity that continues to inspire the lives he changed with his belief, his genius and his generosity. His friendship was the greatest privilege I have known.

The Conservative GovernmentStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Daniel Petit Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, in its economic action plan, our government committed to stimulating the economy by investing in infrastructure in order to create jobs and get Canadians back to work. The Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec took another major step in that direction today by signing a historic agreement that will direct billions of dollars to infrastructure projects in la belle province. These plans for roads, bridges and water systems mean real projects that will create the jobs our citizens need.

Our government supports a stronger economy, creates jobs and allows communities in Quebec to be more prosperous. We are proud to deliver these concrete results for Quebec. These results will help rebuild our communities, get our citizens back to work and give Quebeckers hope for a better future. This is a government that delivers the goods.

PesticidesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Dawn Black NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, the New Westminster Pesticide Awareness Coalition has been working tirelessly to bring the harmful effects of pesticides to the attention of our community and to ban the use of cosmetic pesticides.

Medical and scientific research on the negative health effects of pesticides has shown that they have been explicitly linked to a number of types of cancer, along with birth defects and various neurological illnesses. These toxins are highly dangerous for our children and pose considerable harm to the environment. In fact, my son Stuart was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma after working on golf courses as a summer job.

It is critical that we reassess our continued use of these harmful chemicals. There are viable, less harmful alternatives. It is time for the government to follow the example of municipal governments across the country and support legislative measures to restrict the use of cosmetic pesticides for the safety of all Canadians and all Canadian children.

JusticeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Justice announced that he has drafted legislation which, if passed by Parliament, would cap the credit given to criminals for the time spent in custody before their trial, a practice that developed under 13 years of Liberal soft on crime government.

Canadians and our law enforcement communities have been speaking out loud and clear that they are fed up with a legal system that rewards convicted criminals with a credit, while victims and their families receive no credit, no consideration and no justice. Credit is something that is typically earned and it is time that we recognized that justice is deserved and expected.

Conservatives campaigned to end this practice and work toward truth in sentencing and now, suddenly, the Liberal critic for justice is attempting to take credit for this initiative. I would like to remind the hon. member that this is not an issue that magically appeared during the last few weeks. It has been around for many years.

I sincerely hope that the opposition parties will give credit where credit is due and stop giving credit to criminals.

Model United NationsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Nicolas Dufour Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Chairman, for the second consecutive year, 11 students from the Lanaudière regional CEGEP in L'Assomption will participate in the National Model United Nations in New York, from April 7 to 11. During these five days, thousands of students from universities and colleges all over the world will get together to discuss important and timely world issues and attempt to find sustainable solutions to them, while faithfully applying the rules and procedures of international organizations. Having represented Haiti last year, our students will this year be playing the role of diplomats from Paraguay, according to the choice made by the organizers of the event.

Last year, the CEGEP was awarded the prize for most improved delegation with regard to the work done at the Pan American Health Organization. As a former student of the CEGEP and as a member of the Bloc Québécois, I wish to personally congratulate these students for their participation in this important event. I am sure that they will represent our CEGEP brilliantly.

Purple DayStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to recognize the outstanding accomplishment of nine-year-old Cassidy Megan, a constituent in my riding of Halifax West.

Last year, Cassidy founded Purple Day, an international awareness campaign about epilepsy. Cassidy lives with epilepsy and started Purple Day as a way of educating the public. She also wanted to let other kids with epilepsy know that they are not alone. Today people around the world mark this special day by wearing purple and talking and learning about epilepsy.

I know all members will want to join me in congratulating Cassidy Megan.

The EconomyStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rodney Weston Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, while this Conservative government continues to focus on Canada's economic action plan, the Liberal Party continues to push its reckless, job-killing policies.

Our plan will reduce the tax burden on Canadians, while the Liberals want to increase the tax burden by raising the GST.

Our plan includes an unprecedented new investment in shovel ready projects. The Liberal plan is to delay money getting to those projects.

Our plan is to help Canadians who are hardest hit by the recession by enhancing EI benefits and broadening access to skills training. The Liberals' plan? Well, they do not actually have a plan on that front yet.

Canada needs the economic action plan this Conservative government has created, not the Liberal plan that would raise the GST and bring in a job-killing carbon tax.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Parliamentary Budget Officer indicated that the Conservatives' economic projections are so far from reality that they should be tossed in the trash. Today's TD Bank projections are another blow to the Conservatives' credibility.

Why has the Prime Minister cut one-third of the PBO's budget? Did he do it because the PBO has dared to tell Canadians the truth?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, my office just confirmed moments ago that indeed the budget for this particular officer is provided by the Library of Parliament and the hon. member and his counterpart in the Senate confirmed the budget for that library.

In other words, the question should be directed to the hon. member and if he would like to check his facts and do his homework, a great place to start would be in fact the Library of Parliament.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, we all know the government just caused his budget to be restored, but not only has it cut his budget, the Prime Minister is also refusing to give vital information to the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

Canadians, we are told, will learn everything they need to know from a government website which, by the way, is still urging the Senate to pass the budget bill two weeks after the fact.

Why does the Prime Minister put Canadians on a forced diet of manipulated Conservative numbers rather than letting the Parliamentary Budget Officer get on with his job?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the Chief Librarian testified before a parliamentary committee and was asked specifically if the Parliamentary Budget Officer had a funding cut, and he answered, “There was no budget cut for the Parliamentary Budget Officer. He received the same increase as the rest of the library received”.

He is completely independent from us and if the hon. member would like to learn more, I suggest he participate in some quiet study in the library.