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House of Commons Hansard #56 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was officers.

Topics

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Liberal Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I commend the hon. member for her presence and her work with respect to the police memorial. The hon. member will also know that I became one of the first backbenchers to amend the Criminal Code on an issue that was number one for our police and for public safety in 1999-2000. The hon. member will know the work I have done to combat the scourge of child exploitation, with good friends, people who worked for the Kids' Internet Safety Alliance, including some of her constituents on the issue of victims' rights.

However, I would also caution the member that over time we have seen the evolution of a police service in this country that has come out of sync with the services that are provided to others. Whether it was a Liberal government or a Conservative government, the reality is that the courts have now suggested that there is a very serious problem. In fact, it struck down current legislation that bars RCMP officers from collective bargaining.

I think that is crucial and something that did not exist prior to 2006. That has certainly been the case for the past three months, and most importantly, the government appealed that decision. If the government wants to demonstrate its support of police, it can back off, call back the appeal and allow them to elect to organize collectively.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it has been noted by a number of speakers that they attend the yearly memorial for fallen law enforcement officers here in Ottawa. It is something that should be attended. But after the memorial, and more poignantly, after the funerals, with federal law enforcement officials, with the RCMP, what do the families face? We provide them a death gratuity equal to two months' salary. We are addressing the superannuation of pensions, but they will never see the pensions. Their families will never see their loved ones again, and what do we provide? We provide two months' salary.

If the government truly wanted to bring fairness and equality, would it not have also used this as an opportunity to provide for educational benefits for spouses and children of fallen federal law enforcement officers, similar to those that exist in jurisdictions such as Ontario for the Ontario Provincial Police?

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Liberal Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Etobicoke Centre raises an excellent, very important and very glaring omission in terms of how we treat the RCMP and its officers.

We can talk about being there, have all the right sense and purpose of emotion, and support the families of those who have lost their lives in the defence of this country, but if we are not prepared to at least honour them with a decent and sustainable pension for the family in terms of a death benefit, that is yet another example of why I think the government really has to wake up and recognize that when it comes to the RCMP, the government is barely getting a passing grade. We recognize a number of problems, which I have raised in my speech. The hon. member has just introduced a bill that I think demonstrates yet another example of how we are failing the RCMP.

The government cannot continue with this rhetoric of being strong on law and order while at the same time denying our police officers, our men and women, the rights, opportunities and benefits they so clearly deserve.

It is a shame, frankly, for anybody to be talking about this when they are not prepared to match the concerns expressed by my good colleague from Etobicoke Centre.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, this morning we have before us a bill that is very important for superannuates, but also for RCMP personnel.

This bill amends the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act, validates certain calculations and amends other acts. It was introduced by the Minister of Public Safety on March 9, and modifies the administration of the Canada Pension Plan. The changes also provide the necessary powers to broaden prior service provisions and to implement pension transfer agreements.

Anyone who works or has worked for the federal public service or a Canadian police force which has an agreement with other police forces is familiar with prior service provisions. It is standard practice when people transfer from one police force to another for them to transfer their pension fund or to buy back service.

Prior service means buying back years of service for entitlement to a full pension. Bill C-18, which we are examining today, sets the cost of buying back service according to actuarial rules.

Members are responsible for taking steps to buy back prior service and can do so through their regular pension plan, a lump sum or monthly deductions.

Moreover, the bill extends the right to buy back prior service to other Canadian pension plans. This enables eligible pension plan participants to exercise an option regarding prior service under other Canadian pension plans.

We are used to that, but in organizations such as the RCMP, it was not possible. With the introduction of transfer agreements, the RCMP will be able to enter into official agreements with other Canadian pension plans in order to authorize pension transfers to the RCMP superannuation plan.

This has been done because the RCMP wants to modernize, of course, but also because it has a very tough time recruiting and retaining personnel. It is a question of being fair to the people who work for the RCMP.

This bill amends six other acts, which I will not name, as a result of the amendments to the superannuation act.

However, while we agree with this bill, concerns have been raised. RCMP divisional representatives in Quebec recognize, as we do, that Bill C-18 is a good bill and a step in the right direction, but they are concerned, in particular with regard to cadets. Cadets are new recruits hired by the RCMP.

Until 1992, the time spent in training by cadets, as recruits are known, was included in their pensionable service. This is no longer the case, though. Although cadets are paid a lump sum for their training, the six-month training period is no longer included in their pensionable service.

RCMP divisional representatives in Quebec also say that the definitions in Bill C-18 do not recognize these young recruits. Something was added to the bill, but it does not go far enough. The RCMP also agrees with that and considers this an anomaly. In provincial and municipal police forces, recruits' six-month training period is recognized and included in pensionable service.

Take, for example, provincial police officers—I talked about this problem earlier—who want to join the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Their six months of training are counted toward retirement. If they join the RCMP, their six months of training are recognized. However, those six months are not recognized for Royal Canadian Mounted Police cadets recruited since 1992. That is clearly unjust. The Bloc Québécois wants to reopen the discussion about this inconsistency in committee to make sure that young police officers get fair treatment and perhaps to amend other laws as well.

Another inconsistency that RCMP divisional representatives in Quebec are really worried about is the exclusion of civilian members from the RCMP pension plan. Why? Because these civilian members, who contribute to the pension plan under the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act, are at a disadvantage compared to the plan regular members belong to even though conditions of employment are similar. They have responsibilities and they deserve recognition too. They are subject to rules of transfer, just like regular members. They are subject to the same administrative rules about hours of work, as well as to the code of ethics. Most of them have responsibilities equivalent to 80% or more of the duties carried out by regular members. We should also bear in mind the fact that some civilian members are required to supervise regular members and to assign duties to them.

The Bloc believes that excluding them from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police pension plan is unfair. We want to take a closer look at conditions of work for civilian members of the RCMP and compare them to those of other RCMP members and other public service employees to find a suitable pension plan for them.

Another factor that causes a problem for the divisional members, and this is very important, is the long-term viability of the pension fund, as well as allocation of the cost of pension fund contributions among former members and new employees.

Bill C-18 of course allows for recognition and transfer of years of service and pension funds acquired in another federal or provincial police force, as I talked about earlier.

That recognition does not create any problems. However, when it also means recognition for senior officers in the RCMP, there is another problem. At present, about 160 senior officers in the RCMP are appointed by the commissioner or the governor in council. Employees in that category, those senior officers, are eligible for bonuses, the amount of which has been rising year after year. Those bonuses are also eligible for the pension purposes.

According to RCMP divisional representatives in Québec, the bonus may be as high as 20% of salary. They are therefore afraid that transferring the amount from the former pension fund will be insufficient to cover benefits paid out of the new one. They believe that the viability of the pension fund will be jeopardized and the balance would have to be restored, probably by increasing all employees’ contributions. In committee, people could make sure there was no problem in this regard.

When I began speaking, I said we were should help the RCMP, which is having trouble recruiting new cadets and retaining its experienced members. We know that the government committed itself a few years ago to reforming and strengthening the RCMP. In my opinion, Bill C-18 will help the RCMP to be regarded and perceived as a police force that, while elitist, still offers the same benefits as any police force, whether in Quebec or in the rest of Canada, and that is one of the best.

This is not the first time salary issues have been discussed. We are talking about the pension fund, but in the past we have discussed Royal Canadian Mounted Police wages. It will be recalled that the Conservative government recently decided to change the wage agreement it had signed with the RCMP. It made that decision completely unilaterally and the Bloc Québécois spoke out forcefully against the government’s attack on the rights of RCMP members. We believe that, by unilaterally imposing new wage conditions, the Conservatives have reneged on the commitment they made in a wage agreement signed in good faith by both parties.

The Bloc Québécois, therefore, has condemned this attack. It demands that the Conservatives reverse their decision and, in accordance with the agreement between the two parties, provide the full wage increase promised to RCMP members. The Bloc Québécois is very disturbed by these devious manoeuvres. It will always pay careful attention when the government makes changes affecting the RCMP.

Bill C-18 has already been examined in the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, on which I sit. Some shortcomings were pointed out, and we hope very much that progress can be made when it is studied in another committee.

The Bloc Québécois has also noted that RCMP officers want to form a union. Why not?

Why should they be the only police force in Canada that is not allowed to unionize? I believe they should have the same freedom of association as all the other police forces in Quebec and Canada.

The Bloc Québécois once tabled a bill to amend the Canada Labour Code and allow RCMP members to form a union.

The Bloc has always been concerned about the life that awaits members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, especially when they retire, and that is why we are studying this bill today. I think that after all their years of loyal service, they deserve a decent, fair and equitable retirement.

Many of these people have made sacrifices. They worked hard defending freedom and justice. We should also consider the fact that the RCMP is currently experiencing recruitment and retention problems. We want to help the people responsible for human resources at the RCMP as well. The people who work for the RCMP must be treated equitably and fairly.

We should also not forget that public money is at stake here. That is why I suggest sending this bill back to committee, not only so that its impact on legislation can be studied but also to attenuate or eliminate the irritants that are currently preventing 10,000 former RCMP employees from receiving the treatment they deserve.

We should try as well to remove the famous orphan clauses, as we call them in Quebec. I do not know whether people in the rest of Canada know about it. This would help young people by allowing them to accumulate six months in the pension plan so that they would be on the same footing as everyone else.

We are therefore in favour of the principle of Bill C-18 but think a lot of changes need to be made in a spirit of justice and fairness.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation ActGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Oxford Ontario

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, the speech of my hon. colleague was full of a great number of inaccuracies, and I will not try to correct all of them.

When my hon. colleague talks about recruits, I ask whether she really understands what is going on in the country, and perhaps even in her own province. Can she tell us what she has done to change things in her own province? We understand that the City of Montreal and Sûreté du Québec do not offer compensation to recruits because of the way the legislation is formulated in Quebec for police candidates. In the province of Quebec, candidates must have graduated from the Quebec police college prior to being hired by any police force in the province.

If she were to look at that legislation, she would find it very similar to the situation the RCMP cadets are in. They are not members of the force until they complete their training. In actual fact what we are talking about is exactly the same as it is in the province of Quebec.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation ActGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, in response to my colleague's question, I would say that, first, I would like him to identify exactly what I said that was inaccurate. I would be very surprised and it is important that he tell me. Second, I would not compare this situation to the Montreal police service. Where the legislation creates a problem—and this is what I was talking about—is that when someone from a police force from another province, or from Quebec, wants to join the RCMP, he can bring with him his six months of training to become a police officer, while RCMP cadets cannot count those six months towards their superannuation.

Let us suppose that I am a police officer from Alberta who wants to join the RCMP. I have 18 years of seniority, plus six months, while a young recruit would not even have those six months. That is where the problem lies, since young people are being penalized. In Quebec, we called these “orphan clauses”.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation ActGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate on Bill C-18 regarding RCMP pensions.

I want to compliment my colleague from St. John's East for his work on this issue on behalf of the NDP caucus. I think the speech he made in the House recently capably outlines the NDP's position on Bill C-18.

To put my remarks about RCMP pensions and the public service pensions generally in context, I would like to recognize a former NDP member from my riding of Winnipeg Centre. The hon. Reverend Stanley Knowles represented the riding I now represent from 1942 until he was felled by a stroke in 1984. He dedicated much of his political career to fighting for pensions and old age security. He is recognized by many as the father of the old age security system in this country because of his doggedness in sticking to this one issue over a 42-year career.

The notion of ending poverty among the aged and income security had its origins in this country in 1925-26, when my predecessor for the riding of Winnipeg Centre, J. S. Woodsworth, with the Independent Labour Party, was elected to the House of Commons.

In 1925-26, William Lyon Mackenzie King found himself in a minority situation. Many students of parliamentary history will know the King-Byng affair. King was in a minority situation, and he needed the support of J. S. Woodsworth and the small Independent Labour Party. A. A. Heaps, another member of Parliament from Manitoba, was a labour leader, one of the leaders of the Winnipeg general strike, as was J. S. Woodsworth.

It is interesting, in fact the Government of Canada wanted to send J. S. Woodsworth to prison for his role as a leader of the Winnipeg general strike but the people of Winnipeg Centre sent him to Ottawa to be their member of Parliament instead. He stayed there for 22 years.

It is interesting as well that the charges of treason against J. S. Woodsworth were laid against him because he was quoting the Bible, the Book of Isaiah. He was speaking to a large gathering of strikers during the 1919 Winnipeg general strike. He pointed out that we are our brother's keeper on this earth, et cetera, and for these words he was charged with inciting a riot and was thrown in prison.

Like many leaders of the 1919 general strike, and it is the 90th anniversary of that strike this year, they were elected to the provincial legislatures, to the municipal chambers of Winnipeg and to the federal House of Commons from their prison cells.

It was J. S. Woodsworth who cut a deal with King in a letter, a promissory note. J. S. Woodsworth said, “I will support your government”--the King government of the day--“in exchange for old age security. If this Parliament will introduce old age security, old age pensions, I will support your government”.

King agreed to that in a famous letter, which is in the archives of the New Democratic Party. It was the member for Winnipeg Centre, J. S. Woodsworth, who used his political leverage to introduce pensions in this country.

Fittingly, after 20-some years as the member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre, when Woodsworth was succeeded, Stanley Knowles took up that crusade. He dedicated a long and illustrious parliamentary career to establishing old age security. He was not only satisfied when he achieved the old age security of $50 a month, he started another fight that very day. The very day that it passed in the House of Commons another battle began, to have it indexed to inflation so that old age security would be meaningful.

I think we all know that while the incidence of poverty among seniors, especially elderly women, is still problematic, it is nothing like it used to be. We have a fairly robust retirement income system for our seniors.

Having said that, Bill C-18 deals with the RCMP pension, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act. It makes a modest reform to the administration of that act.

It is impossible to talk about the RCMP pension without talking about public sector pensions more generally, because the two are directly connected.

The RCMP pension became an issue of great controversy at the public accounts committee in the last Parliament. The head of the RCMP was hauled before that committee, and she was grilled about her involvement in the administration of that pension plan. She was found to be in contempt of Parliament, an extraordinarily unusual circumstance. She was hauled before the bar of Parliament and found to be in contempt of this place. The administration of the RCMP pension has not been without controversy, and it should not be tread upon lightly.

As a former trade union leader and trustee of an employee benefit plan, I can say that all public and private sector pensions should have joint trustees. There should be representation on the board of trustees of the beneficiaries of the plan, the retirees who are getting benefits from the plan as well as the people making contributions to the plan. Either they or their representatives should be adequately represented. I would argue they should be represented fifty-fifty so their voices can be heard on the administration of these pension plans. They are huge. Most of the trading on the New York Stock Exchange and the Toronto Stock Exchange is in fact from employee benefit plans that are moving money around.

This is the new face of capitalism. Union pension plans are driving the venture capital markets, and the markets generally. It takes a fair amount of expertise to watch over that amount of trading, to make sure that it is done in the best interests of the beneficiary. We certainly have all learned a lot of lessons because of the complex financial engineering that goes on in the financial markets of today. It takes a great deal of expertise to make sure our pensions are being cared for, and the RCMP plan is no different.

I would say that white collar crime is very much a blue collar issue. We need to be able to trust the financial statements of the companies in which our pensions are invested. If we cannot trust those financial statements, our financial security is in deep, deep trouble, no matter what we do with the RCMP Superannuation Act or any of the pension legislation.

The first thing we have to do is clean up the corporate governance on the financial markets where our pensions are invested. That is for another day, I suppose. One thing that has always bugged me, and I will raise it here to put it on the record, is that in the corporate world, at least in Canada, we can hire the same company to be our tax adviser as our auditor.

Surely to God we have learned the lesson from Enron that we want our auditors to be independent. We do not want the same company, Arthur Andersen, to give us advice on how to structure our books and play games to avoid taxes, how to juggle money, hide things and play the shell game, and then be the same company that audits those books and puts a seal of approval on them.

What is a blue collar trustee of a union pension plan supposed to do? Who are they supposed to believe? All they can do is read the financial statements that are put in front of them to try to figure out if they are accurate. We have to be able to trust the financial statements of those companies or we are in deeper trouble than the administration of this RCMP plan.

Let me also raise the issue that surpluses in public sector pension plans should be considered the property, the deferred wages, of the beneficiaries of the plan.

As his last action as Treasury Board president, Marcel Massé changed all that in 2000. There was a $30 billion actuarial surplus in the public service pension plan. He knew this action was political suicide, so, as he was going out the door, he passed a bill that said employees had no proprietary claim on surpluses in pension plans.

That was news to us. We always thought our pension plans were our earnings held in trust for us and invested wisely so we could retire with some dignity. In fact, we negotiated that at the bargaining table. Instead of taking a $1 raise, we would take a 50¢ raise and the other 50¢ would be put in the pension plan to grow and we would take it when we needed it. Marcel Massé changed all that.

It has had a ripple effect in the private sector as well, which claims that any surplus in a pension plan is the property of the employer not the employees. That should be condemned. In fact, it should be fixed.

There is an assault on pensions generally. It is absolutely mind-boggling that analysts of the day, after reviewing the global economic crisis in North America at least, are not finding fault with bad management or bloated CEO benefits. They are not finding fault with car companies that manufacture products nobody wants.

These analysts have arrived at the source of the problem of our economic crisis. It turns out that greedy union pension plans are dragging us all down the road of perdition. We did not realize this as trade unionists when we were negotiating fair retirement benefits for our members. We did not realize we were dragging down capitalism as we knew it.

Apparently those corporate interests that have always had pensions in their crosshairs, the guys who have always wanted to get out from under these legacy costs, in the spirit of never let a good crisis go to waste, are blaming their economic stupidity, their incompetence, on employee benefit plans, the pensions of members, my pension, and the pensions of auto workers, forestry workers and steelworkers. Somehow we are dragging down capitalists with our greed.

All the empirical evidence and all the numbers indicate that if Canadian auto workers worked for nothing, it would only bring down the cost of a car by 5% to 7%, and those pieces of junk could still not be sold because the car companies design cars that nobody wants to buy. They found some way to blame employee benefit plans.

Corporate Canada has wanted to get rid of this for 20 or 30 years. Never let a good crisis go to waste. Here they have an excuse to put the pension plans of workers in their crosshairs and set their sights on them.

The public sector perhaps is the last bastion where reason and logic prevails in terms of employee benefit plans. We are not going to be deterred by this sort of PR campaign by the corporate sector in trying to assign blame to workers for its own failures.

I personally feel if we had more real engineers coming out of our universities instead of financial engineers, we would be in a lot less trouble. They have made the financial market so complex and so incomprehensible that even investors do not really understand derivatives markets and hedge fund markets, et cetera.

A trustee on a public sector pension plan, or a private sector pension plan for that matter, has to keep up to speed with all of the financial engineering grads being pumped out of MBA programs. There is a fiduciary responsibility on the part of trustees of these benefit plans to act always in the best interests of the beneficiaries. Shop floor trustees have that idea in mind. I am not sure the management side trustees have the same goal in mind. They worry more about what they call the legacy costs, the burden on their operation, than about the well-being and the income security of retirees.

In the context of the RCMP Superannuation Act, a lot of these things can and will be addressed when free collective bargaining is introduced into the relationship between the RCMP and the Government of Canada.

I would like to know why the government is appealing the Supreme Court ruling stating that the RCMP should have the right to free collective bargaining. This has been a long time coming. Those who are opposed to the idea would say that we cannot have the RCMP go on strike because of national security. That is a complete red herring. There are many essential services where people do not have the right to strike, but they do have the right to free collective bargaining. It is the only way to achieve a compensation package that is free of interference and that is argued on its merits, not on the imbalance of the power structure between the employer and the employee. We get away from the imbalance in the power structure and we arrive at a fair compensation package.

In the context of that package, I assure the House that the representatives of the employees would want adequate representation, if not equal representation, on their superannuation plan, their pension plan, especially with the shenanigans and the hanky-panky that went on in recent years. There is a bit of a paucity of trust, faith and confidence in their own package.

As I have said, two representatives from Winnipeg Centre paved the way to income security for retirees. Every day I take my seat in the House of Commons, I am very aware of the honour to follow in the footsteps of these two great men, J. S. Woodsworth and Stanley Knowles, both ministers, both men of the cloth. Both believed fully in using their position in Parliament to benefit not only the constituents they represented, but the people of Canada generally. I commend them for choosing income security for seniors as a main priority.

That struggle is not over; it continues. The very modest points in Bill C-18 we agree add some modicum of fairness to the RCMP Superannuation Act. The notion that one could purchase a period of past service for pension service is fair. That is why we can support the idea.

However, as a member of the Standing Committee on Government Operations, where the bill found itself for the committee stage, we heard representation from representatives of the RCMP. I am not making reference to the SSR, which is the official representatives for the purposes of bargaining for the RCMP. I am speaking of an informal group that may wind up being the advocates for RCMP, and that is the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada. It would certainly seek to be the legally recognized bargaining agent for RCMP.

The courts have given the Government of Canada 18 months to remedy this situation and to allow for free negotiations through collective bargaining. It will have to recognize a bargaining agent. I urge the government to drop its appeal and allow that 18 month period to begin immediately so RCMP officers can have the right to representation of their own choice.

There is no compelling reason whatsoever why RCMP officers should not have the right to free collective bargaining just like the rest of the public service. If their services are deemed essential, then their right to withhold their services can be limited and truncated, but there is no excuse for them not to have free collective bargaining.

I hope the matters we have dealt with today will be dealt with properly at the bargaining table.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation ActGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Winnipeg Centre gave quite a discourse about the public service and its pensions. He quite rightly pointed out that the proposed amendments in the bill are modest.

They are the right things to do and we should support them, but there is a bigger issue at stake. It is this lack of fairness that the RCMP faces because it cannot enter into a collective agreement. Its members do not have an opportunity to form unions or stand up for their rights. It is perplexing why the government would not allow RCMP officers to have the same rights that other law enforcement agencies in the country have, whether municipal or provincial.

I will point out why this is such an important issue. As the member has noted, the public accounts committee spent a tremendous amount of time investigating the pension scandal in the RCMP. A number of senior officials ended up having to resign. One was found in contempt of Parliament. However, most people think that this is incredibly unfair. If RCMP officers die in the line of duty, what do we give them? We give them two months salary. That is what their family gets. Is this fair? Why have we ended up with such a lack of equality and fairness in the system?

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation ActGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Etobicoke Centre raises a very compelling point.

First, I think I made the point in my remarks and I will restate it now. The government should drop its appeal and heed the court ruling, which said there was no justification for denying the RCMP the right to free collective bargaining that other police forces enjoy with their municipalities. It is the only way to arrive at a fair compensation package, free of interference and the imbalanced power relationship between employer and employee. If they are both at the bargaining table, with equal rights under the law, things can be negotiated fairly.

As far as the compensation for people killed in the line of duty, I know first responders and public safety officers have fought for quite some time to have recognition in our country comparable to the United States. If a public safety officer, or first responder, or firefighter or paramedic is killed in the line of duty, he or she gets a compensation of $350,000 above and beyond anything that may be in the collective agreement. We support that. I would like to see that come through Parliament as well.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, as my Bloc colleague pointed out, we will be supporting this bill at second reading so it may be studied in committee.

We are concerned about how members of the RCMP who have reached retirement age are treated. The entire Canadian public service and the private sector should take note of this situation with the RCMP. For instance, preventing the RCMP from unionizing and negotiating a collective agreement, and preventing people from mobilizing to negotiate their working conditions constitutes an attack on their freedom. They are entitled to working conditions that fulfill their aspirations.

We in the Bloc Québécois are always surprised to see that we are never able to get anti-scab legislation passed, even though we have been trying for several years. Once again, it is surprising that, in a Canadian public institution, people are not allowed to unionize.

I wonder what my hon. NDP colleague thinks about these absolutely regressive measures in this Canadian institution.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, as a trade unionist, I am the first to agree that the right to free collective bargaining is one of the basic tenets of a western democracy.

It is appalling that the government of the day is appealing a court order that upholds the basic fundamental right of workers to organize, bargain collectively and, where fitting, withhold their services. In the case of police forces, it may well be that the labour board and the Minister of Labour would decide they would not have the right to withhold their services, at least in certain capacities. However, that does not negate their right to free collective bargaining and to those basic protections under the Labour Code that others enjoy.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

NDP

John Rafferty NDP Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Winnipeg Centre for his comments, particularly the history lesson we received. It was valuable for everyone in the House to hear and very important, but also his comments about collective bargaining, which other members have also discussed.

There is another point concerning the RCMP that has not been touched on and I would like to ask the member about, that being a pay raise that had been promised in 2008 by the current government and then was rolled back in the budget. The Conservatives say they have an agenda on crime, and in fact, have a police caucus that supports the RCMP. I would like the member for Winnipeg Centre to make some comments on that if he would.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Thunder Bay—Rainy River for reminding me of one of the important background points in this whole debate.

First of all, Bill C-18 has been criticized because it is not often that a bill amending the pension act for the RCMP is going to come up before Parliament. It may not happen again for another decade. So there is a missed opportunity not to address some of the other glaring oversights and shortcomings to the bill. We were not successful in getting amendments through committee stage.

Secondly, the morale of our national police force, the RCMP, is so struck down at this point in time because of the rollback. The government will say it did not roll back the wages, but in actual fact, there were increases of 3.5% scheduled to take effect for this year and next. The government cancelled the projected wage increase and dictated that it should be 1.5%. This perhaps is the best and most compelling argument for the right to free collective bargaining and negotiations, as opposed to the interference of the employer, in this case, with the absolute power beyond reason, beyond logic, beyond the employer's ability to pay. None of these matters entered into the equation at all. They simply received a letter in the mail saying their increase was going to be 1.5% instead of 3.5%.

For a party that claims to be tough on crime and sympathetic to the police, it is a hell of a way to treat their employees.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation ActGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Winnipeg talked about bargaining. Being a trade unionist myself, I know what he is talking about. He talked about bargaining for a dollar and putting 50¢ in wages and 50¢ in the pension plan.

When a pension plan has a lot of extra money in it, companies will take it to do as they please, a lot like what the Liberals did with the employment insurance plan when we had billions of dollars in excess. I would like to ask my colleague whether, in the future, this Parliament could pass a law that would prevent this from happening, that would prevent future governments from changing this law and would prevent companies and the government from taking money in pension funds.

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11:40 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, surpluses in pension plans should be considered the deferred wages and the property of the beneficiaries and employees covered by the plan. It is not a pile of dough that employers can get their hands on. Marcel Massé, the former Treasury Board president, should be criticized and condemned for being the one to set this precedent. It should be this Parliament, perhaps even this session of this Parliament, that establishes once and for all that the employer has no right to the deferred wages in the surplus of a pension plan. That money is the employees' money, held in trust for when they need it in their retirement years.

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11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-18. It is incredibly timely, given the fact that we are currently in the middle of National Police Week. We are always having to seek ways to ensure that we strengthen our national police force. Certainly one of the ways we can do that is ensuring that they are properly compensated, and after a lifetime of service and dedication, that they receive the pension they so rightly deserve.

In general, certainly I support the bill. There are a number of important measures that ensure the flexibility needed for RCMP officers to achieve the pension they should have. There have been some technical problems in the past that have prohibited that from happening, which the bill largely addresses. However, there are a number of concerns that I still have that will not stop me from supporting the bill but need to be highlighted nonetheless.

The first issue of concern, which came out in committee, was the fact that the first six months that RCMP officers spend training at Depot is not counted towards their pensionable service time. This is a concern, because clearly it is a period of time when they are engaged with the force and are working full time in its employ. If there is a technical difference in the fact that they are in training as opposed to actually being an officer, we need to recognize that time, particularly when we talk about the importance of recruitment and how difficult it is, with the number of retirements that are happening, to make sure that we have the number of recruits and the quality of recruits flowing into the system to keep the force strong.

I had the opportunity to visit the depot in Winnipeg and talk with a lot of the cadets there, and the calibre is incredible. We are very fortunate to have some amazing men and women who are stepping forward to serve in the RCMP. However, it really does occur to a person that if they are spending an enormous amount of time there, that is time that should be counted towards their pensions.

There are a number of other aggravating factors, though, that are important to bring up in this discussion. When we are talking about trying to fix some of the issues that create problems for recruiting for the RCMP, it is important to mention some of the things that are happening currently.

The first one that caused me grave concern was the issue of pay parity with other police forces. I recall very clearly the Prime Minister being in Vancouver and making a promise to RCMP officers that he would ensure they would receive the same wages as other police forces and the issue of pay parity was one of fundamental equality.

We expected the Prime Minister to live up to his word. The government went so far as to even sign a contract with RCMP officers to fulfill that commitment of pay parity, before it was promptly ripped up and thrown out. The promise was broken and his back was turned on those RCMP officers.

That had, obviously, a devastating impact on morale, but it also has a huge impact upon retention and on hiring new officers. It is very difficult to get somebody to come to the RCMP as a recruit if we are not even willing to pay them the same amount as other police are being paid.

If the issue of breaking the promise on pay parity was not enough, the government went further. Just in the last number of days, the government made the decision to appeal a landmark decision of the Ontario Superior Court to allow the RCMP the right to choose whether or not they want to pursue collective bargaining.

This is a democratic choice enjoyed by every other police force in the country. In a western democracy such as ours, it is a right that we would expect all police forces to be able to enjoy. A number of people expressed surprise that it was not something the RCMP already had as a right to be able to explore.

The government appealed this decision, essentially sending the message that the democratic right of RCMP officers to have collective bargaining was something it did not support.

After the broken promise on pay parity, they were further kicked and morale further beaten down by having a government that said not only should they not be paid the same as other police officers, but they should not have the same democratic rights either.

To me, that is deeply concerning. It sends the wrong message to our men and women in the RCMP who do such an incredible job keeping our communities safe, and it is an abysmal failure of the government to live up to its rhetoric.

The government talks about being tough on crime, but being tough on crime means that it has to be supportive of the people who stop crime from happening, who work our streets and keep our communities safe. We have to be honest with them.

Trust is everything for police officers. They have to trust one another. When they go into dangerous situations, they have to know that a fellow officer has their back. Their word is their bond. So when trust is violated, it has an even greater consequence than it would perhaps have in other places. Therefore, that breach of trust is exceptionally serious.

I want to congratulate the member for Etobicoke Centre on a private member's bill that he brought up in the House today that addresses another matter of fundamental inequity. That is, when an RCMP officer is killed in the line of duty, essentially only two months' pay is made available.

That is in stark contrast to what is offered in most other police forces, where it is recognized that if an officer is killed in the line of duty, in service to his or her community, money should be given to the officer's family to allow it the opportunity to maintain living expenses, to pay bills, to keep its house, and to pay for groceries. Two months, frankly speaking, is wrong and needs to be corrected. I wholeheartedly support the efforts by the member for Etobicoke Centre to bring forward legislation to change that, because it is important.

With that as context and saying there are a number of other factors that we also need to be looking at, I can say that I support this bill, because it does achieve important ends. However, what I do not want to see happen is for us to pass this bill and think we have done our job.

There are a lot of other ways we have to support RCMP officers, such as paying them the same as other officers, giving them the same democratic rights as other police forces, ensuring that when they are killed in the line of duty the government supports their families, and making sure that we keep our word, that when a promise is made, such as the promise the Prime Minister made in Vancouver, that commitment is maintained.

With that, I look forward to the passage of this bill, as well as these other matters being addressed, and I will certainly support the private member's bill put forward by the member for Etobicoke Centre.

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11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have listened very carefully to my colleague's speech. In it he commented that the government is claiming to be tough on crime, but in fact is preventing RCMP officers from having salaries equivalent to those earned by members of other Canadian police forces. At the same time, it is preventing them from having the same democratic rights, that is the right to unionize. That is an absolutely fair right.

We know that crime today is far more organized and complex than it used to be. There was a time 50 years ago when the mafia was top dog in the organized crime scene, but now we have the Chinese triads, the Japanese yakusa, the Russian mafia, the biker and street gangs, and all of these criminal groups demand increasing expertise from police forces, at a time of staff cutbacks. Yet they are still claiming to be tough on crime.

My question for my colleague is this: since the Liberals were in power before, what did they do to get tough on crime and to treat the RCMP properly?

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11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, certainly the Liberal Party has a proud tradition of supporting the RCMP and recognizing the important work it does each and every day as a national police force.

When talking about being tough on crime, it has to go a lot further than rhetoric. I gave a lot of examples of how I feel the Conservative government has been very hard on police but not so much on crime.

As an example, when we look at last year's crime prevention budget, which is critical to preventing crimes and victimization from occurring in the first place, that budget was more than 50% unspent. In fact, in the last year that the Liberal government was in power, there was nearly $75 million being spent every year on crime prevention. Last year, it was down to somewhere around $15 million or $12 million spent on crime prevention.

We can look at the attempts by the Conservative government to gut the national registry for firearms, which both the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and the Canadian Police Association have said is an essential tool for them to combat crime and keep our streets safe.

We can look at the fact that our correctional system is rife with all kinds of problems. The correctional investigator is telling us that it is in many cases making the situation worse and the people being released are not getting the programs and services they need to deal with issues like addiction or mental health problems. We are treating our prisons like hospitals. When these people are released from these systems, they have a much greater likelihood of recidivism.

In so many ways, when we see the Conservatives being tough on police, we see them being soft on crime.

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11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague has referred to the inequity that exists with respect to the manner in which the RCMP is capable of doing its own negotiations, in a stand-alone labour relations context. He has also mentioned the fact that in balancing that out, the government, in order to validate the position it is taking that the RCMP must not have those same rights, is using the argument, I take it, that the RCMP, through the federal government, has entered into provincial contractual arrangements where it is now the last line of defence in many of those provinces that do not have a disagreement and it will use that in court to justify the position that it has taken in that appeal in denying the RCMP those universal standards of labour rights.

I wonder if my colleague could comment on whether that is a fair position to take, in the interests of equity, in the interests of it being perceived as protecting the public.

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11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think fundamentally the answer is no, that it is not a fair position to take, that it is not equitable, and that it treats the RCMP really as a second-class police force.

It is universally accepted that whether or not we are talking about firefighters, police officers or any officers, they have the right to collective bargaining. That is an essential part of their democratic right to ensure that their rights are treated fairly. I think that the Prime Minister's ability in Vancouver to break his word on pay parity, his ability to turn his back on RCMP officers and not pay them the wage that he had committed to them, just underscores the point that the RCMP should have the right to choose whether or not it wants to pursue collective bargaining.

So, in so many ways, I think this really is unjust and inequitable.

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11:55 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, a discussion of the importance of collective bargaining for the RCMP, I think, is overdue. A number of years ago RCMP officers, who worked on the police association, informed me that there were upwards of 6,000 grievances that were filed and still not acted upon within their hierarchical structure. So pay issues are one thing. Issues of pensions and working conditions are another. So, all these come together.

My question for my hon. colleague is this. Over the course of the Liberals' tenure and control of Parliament, where were they on giving the RCMP the ability to have collective bargaining?

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11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, the answer is that RCMP officers should have the right to collective bargaining. They are pursuing that now. They say that they want that option and they should be given it. I do not see how I can be any more clear on that point. Now that they have made that request and they want the opportunity for their members to have their say, that is what we should allow.

I would point out to the member that the key point is their democratic right, their opportunity to make the choice themselves. It is not for us to impose it upon them. Whether or not they choose to pursue collective bargaining or they may make the choice to stay with the status quo, the point is it has to be their choice, placed in their hands. They have made that request. I think it is incumbent upon the government and this Parliament to not stand in their way to make that choice.

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11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, many have referred to these changes being modest. In fact, they are pretty thin gruel when put into the context of the government doing everything it can to prevent the RCMP from having the opportunity for collective bargaining. Officers are expected to work in some of the most remote communities of the country and to do shift work. If they set up families, their spouses often have to stay at home. When they pay that ultimate price, what does the RCMP Act, the same act that prevents collective bargaining, give them? It gives two months salary to the family for the life of the RCMP officer.

Is this not a clear demonstration, should they decide they wish to have collective bargaining, that the government should not stand in the way and prevent RCMP officers who want fairness?

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11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member both for his question and for the bill he introduced in this House. I think it is important and speaks to this issue of equity. He is absolutely right that one should have the opportunity, as a police force, to have the choice of collective bargaining. I think that lack of choice has meant that these police officers have really not been treated fairly by the government over the last number of years.

When we look at a comparison of the RCMP, our national police force, which is asked to do some incredibly difficult assignments in remote areas and is doing very difficult work, its officers often being moved from location to location, which is enormously stressful on their families, and we see that they are not even paid the same as other police forces, are not given the same democratic rights, and are not given the same benefits when they die in the line of duty serving their communities, that is grossly unjust and is something we need to see corrected.

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11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, the average citizen may find the bill fairly boring and, at first glance, may not understand what it is about. It can be summarized in clear terms. The bill is fairly narrow in scope but it is currently very important in order to foster the development of the RCMP at a time when it is having difficulty recruiting members. Overall, it is a good measure for police forces in general.

This bill will facilitate the transfer to the RCMP of police officers who have experience in police services other than the RCMP. The greatest obstacle at present is that the police officers would lose the pension benefits to which they have contributed for a number of years. The bill would make possible a transfer to the RCMP of the pension amounts accumulated in the Ontario Provincial Police fund, for example. Therefore, the officers joining the RCMP in the middle of their careers could make contributions equivalent to those made by police officers who already have the same number of years' experience in the RCMP or they could be allowed to transfer their pension from the Ontario police fund—to use the same example—to the RCMP pension fund.

There are two aspects that must be addressed. We must deal with the rights of members who leave one police force to join another by allowing them to retain the pension benefits already accumulated and the two organizations involved must be allowed to have pension transfer agreements.

Thus, it is relatively straightforward but, by necessity, such matters need to be written in language that is fairly complex, language that I would even call difficult to wade through.

To start with, I think this is a good measure, for several reasons, not just because the RCMP is having problems at present, but also because, in general, it is a good thing for people to be able to change jobs over the course of their lives. A lot of people start with a company or an organization and at some point lose interest, but they are still productive and would like to work. They would still be interested in working if we allowed them to have an equivalent career somewhere else where their experience would be appreciated. But if they are held back by the fact that if they transferred to another career they would lose the benefits they have accumulated over 15 or 20 or 25 years, people instead decide to stay in their first job, a job that no longer interests them. I am convinced that these people are no longer as effective in that job. They are also not happy, and the other organization that could have taken them on is deprived of their experience.

So in general, in society, it is a good thing to make it possible for people to have successive careers over the course of their productive lives, their working lives. It is good for the people, it is good for morale and it is good for the organizations. In fact, I would mention in passing that the House of Commons probably benefits from this, because when we come to the House of Commons, or even to a legislative assembly, we are pursuing a different career.

That is why we support this principle. Now, some specific problems have been raised. They are in fact important for the people who are working. One member who spoke before me made the point that pension fund contributions, even contributions to a pension fund by the employer, are deferred wages. Those wages are given to someone for the work they are doing, but they are deferred precisely so the person can draw a pension at a time when they are no longer able to work.

That is how it was seen at the time. It is also so that the benefits one earns from working can be deferred in time.

The calculations done to determine the amount have to be very expert. The unions and government actuaries are very careful to count not only the years, but also the months, weeks and days worked so the person can be given the exact amount owing to them, in proportion to their contributions and their employer’s contributions, and so on. These things can seem pointless, but they are not. In practice, they are measured in dollars and cents.

Some little things should have been corrected at the same time. Other speakers have mentioned them. There is the time spent in training. For years, when young constables joined the RCMP, they did about six months’ training and they received pay, out of which a contribution to a future pension fund was deducted, in case they became members of the RCMP and made their career there. This was considered unfair because many cadets did not become members and did not pass all the exams used for selecting the best candidates. Those contributions were therefore somewhat unfair.

This situation was corrected in 1992. Cadets no longer get a salary but a housing allowance, which is equivalent to salary. Previously, it was counted from their first day of training. Thus, they contributed six more months and received a bit more money for these six months. Now that they get an allowance, their pension only starts counting after their training is completed. This applies to all cadets who joined the RCMP after 1992.

People who come from the Ontario police or another provincial police force were generally paid a salary as soon as they started their training. Contributions were withheld and their pensions will be a bit higher. As a result, there are three categories in the RCMP: people who will get a pension calculated from the first day they put on an RCMP uniform, people who will get a pension calculated from six months after they put on the uniform and remained in it, and people from other police forces who will get a pension calculated from their first day of training.

This injustice should have been corrected, but that is not enough to stop us from voting for a bill we think is otherwise quite good. When we were sitting in committee, I had the feeling the RCMP had noted the problem and would find an appropriate solution. The solution is actually very simple.

Since the RCMP accepts people who did not start their career with the force and proposes that they transfer their pension or contribute to it in order to be on the same footing as other officers with the same number of years of experience, that is to say, buy back their pension, why not allow the people who became cadets after 1992 to buy back these six months? They could contribute as much as they would have during their six months of training.

I hope this problem can be resolved soon. For the time being, though, we will vote for the bill in view of its objectives and how urgent they are.

Other problems have also been raised, including seats on the advisory committee that administers the RCMP pension fund.

Officers who sat on this committee received contributions in addition to their salaries. Our understanding is that these contributions were the equivalent of several thousand dollars, often more than $10,000 a year. This was additional pay, therefore, provided for work that only amounted to approving the actuaries’ calculations.

I do not think these officers would have been allowed to help themselves so easily to the profits generated by the pension fund if the people who were contributing most to the fund—the ordinary members of the RCMP—had been represented. This problem must be resolved in the same way that the problem of real representation for RCMP officers was resolved, not only in regard to the pension fund but in other regards as well. Other people have already spoken about this representation.

The RCMP is the only large police force that is not unionized. I should say one of the few large police forces, because some small police forces may not be unionized. In Quebec, virtually everyone is unionized. I do not know for sure in the rest of Canada, but all police officers have a kind of union. These associations are called brotherhoods, which are basically a kind of union. They obviously do not have the right to strike, but they can engage in collective bargaining over their wages and working conditions.

The RCMP is the only non-unionized police force, although there have been attempts to form an association for years, 10 at least, and more likely 15 to 20. They experienced a kind of semi-failure before the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999. I use that term because the Supreme Court of Canada did at least recognize their right to choose their representatives for negotiating their collective agreement. However, given the specific nature of their work, they could not exercise that right within a union organization that included other government employees.

The RCMP won its case with the 1999 ruling in Delisle v. Canada. This is a case I am very familiar with, having read it numerous times, incidentally. It addressed a number of principles with which I was concerned as Quebec's minister of public safety, and even before that as a lawyer. In fact, my last 10 years as a lawyer were in a labour law practice, although I was a criminal lawyer. So I heard all about it, and what is more I have read it thoroughly.

It is clear to anyone reading this case that the proper interpretation is that the Supreme Court of Canada recognized that RCMP officers had the right of association. That right of association, which is specifically recognized by the Charter, is the right to choose one's representatives. Given the particular situation of the RCMP officers, however, they could not be members of a larger labour organization which included other employees of the government.

In my opinion, if the government and the RCMP had shown any intellectual honesty, they would have wasted no time in allowing them to organize, but within a labour organization that was theirs alone and had no connection with other unions.

Instead, the whole thing was just put on hold, thereby forcing the RCMP employees to embark on lengthy legal proceedings. They had just been successful in the Ontario Superior Court, but, despite that, still had to appeal. The situation remained unchanged until they got to the Supreme Court of Canada, where this time they were told they were not in a labour organization with other unions and needed to apply the right recognized for them by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999.

I was the public safety minister in Quebec, and there was one union that represented the Sûreté du Québec and a separate union that represented the Montreal police. I did not have direct responsibility for the Montreal police, but I was responsible for the Sûreté du Québec.

The union representatives were elected by the members. I respected the people who worked under me, and I consulted them through their elected representatives. With that attitude, I enjoyed a good relationship with the Sûreté du Québec, although it too suffered as we worked to achieve a zero deficit. We did not always give employees increases commensurate with the skills and higher education they were required to have. I believe that the atmosphere at the RCMP would be much better if the members were allowed to elect their own representatives, as members of other police forces in Canada do.

Currently, the members of the RCMP are represented by people their superiors appoint. This is known as a company union. A company union is an organization whose leaders are appointed by management. That is what is in place at the RCMP. It is funny, but there is a conflict. We will not go into detail about the conflict among them.

Why is the Conservative government taking so long, and why does it have this attitude toward the RCMP? The previous speaker rightly mentioned that the government had promised a salary increase and signed an agreement with the appointed representatives of the RCMP members, but had decided after the most recent election to take it away from them. Clearly, this is seriously undermining the relationship of trust that the government should have with the police. It is odd that this is coming from a government that brags about being tough on crime.

I heard an earlier speaker say that the government was tough on crime. God knows that I have spent my career dealing with crime, first as a young crown prosecutor, later as minister of justice and minister of public safety in Quebec and now as a member of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. I know one thing for sure: what is important is not to be tough on crime or soft on crime, but to be smart on crime. We have to take a smart approach to dealing with crime. Sometimes, that means being tough on some types of offenders, and other times, it means being more understanding and putting more emphasis on rehabilitation. That is how to get the best results.

When I hear the Conservatives talk about the need to get tough on crime, it is quite something to hear their tone of voice and how they applaud one another. These people are not saying they will solve the problem of crime. Of course, we are looking for solutions in that regard, because managing crime is not easy. It is as hard to manage as psychology. Psychology is not an exact science, like math. Psychological treatments are different. Each must be adapted to the individual in order to achieve results. Certain people respond better to certain types of intervention. It requires a great deal of intelligence and sensitivity. The same is true for crime. There is no simple formula, such as, “Get tough and you will get the results”.

The Americans are the toughest in the world. People may not know this, but Americans have 768 prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants. They managed to beat Russia, China and even South Africa, which had one of the highest rates, with nearly 500 prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants. We have 116 prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants at this time. That is exactly the same rate as Australia, although it has varied. It is comparable to Europe and Japan, which, 10 years ago, had 36 prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants. Their rate has risen to 56 per 100,000 inhabitants. In any case, those countries are effective.

Being tough on crime is not the answer. I think that it is actually somewhat hypocritical. They are not tough on crime because it is effective; they are tough on crime because they think it will get them more votes. That is the only—