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House of Commons Hansard #82 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was security.

Topics

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I enter this debate a bit late. I have not heard the government position on this, but I listened intently to my colleague. The points he has raised are significant and almost alarming. It seems the government has developed the legislation almost in isolation. The shortcomings in the legislation seem glaring.

Where was the hue and cry for coming forward with this legislation? What was the motivation for the government to come forward with the legislation and what groups were consulted on it?

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's question is not surprising. The first we heard of this bill was a couple of days ago. We were certainly not consulted.

If it does pass second reading, and that is an “if”, then we will need to have a substantial number of witnesses at the committee. Rather than through the government, which has not been very communicative, we will, in a sense, brief ourselves on the bill when these witnesses arrive, assuming it passes second reading.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, the problem we are finding with Conservative legislation is that often it is done very rapidly and without due regard to an effective process. The statement has been made in the House that it is often done on the back of a napkin. There may be some good elements in some of the legislation, but that is mitigated by the fact that there is a hasty and sometimes incompetent drafting process in which the government seems to engage.

How does the hon. member feel about the quality of legislation brought forward in the House? Does he feel that the intent of legislation is matched by either need or by the appropriateness of how this bill has been drafted? Does he think the Conservatives have it right this time or not?

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, in terms of diplomatic relations, of which the latest example is the United Arab Emirates, the reputation the Conservatives have is dismal. Therefore, one of my primary concerns, given this dismal diplomatic relation, is the bill gives them unlimited power to engage in information giving, not sharing. It is a one-way flow of information from Canada to another country. With the stroke of a pen and an order-in-council, they can give out the private information of Canadians to any country they choose. That point is clear enough in the bill as drafted, so this would be one of my very major concerns.

However, as I said a few minutes ago, the only way we will really get to the bottom of what the bill would do and what its true implications would be, is if it gets to committee and we call a whole variety of witnesses who are experts in various areas, including privacy concerns. Only after that process, and not really thanks to the government, will we find out the true implications of the bill. At that point, we will know better whether we wish to support it.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I gather that my speech will be cut short by question period unless I request the unanimous consent of the House to delay members' statements. Rest assured though, I will not be doing that.

This bill deals with disclosing the identity of passengers flying over the United States who are not stopping there. Given that we have just started debate at second reading, I would like to say, on behalf of my Bloc Québécois colleagues, that we will be supporting this bill simply because we want to examine it more thoroughly in committee. I do not want to get into a long speech about parliamentary law, but typically the vote at second reading is about the principle of the bill.

We will vote in favour of the bill because we want it to be studied in committee. There we will be able to hear from witnesses who will share their diverse experiences and talk about the problems that this bill raises. To prepare for my speech earlier, I was talking to our colleague, the hon. member for Ahuntsic, who is the excellent Bloc Québécois public safety critic. She gave me the names of people who represent various groups that might be interested in providing testimony on this bill.

As I have already mentioned, the purpose of this bill is to allow airline companies to disclose information about their passengers to the countries whose airspace they will be using. That is slightly different wording from the former Bill C-44, which we adopted in 2001, when it was a question of stopovers and passengers in transit. It is appropriate for the country receiving the airline passengers to know the past and present of these individuals.

This bill talks about planes travelling through an airspace, which raises a few questions among members of the Bloc Québécois. We understand that this bill responds to a specific request by the United States. We recognize that the United States is a major trading partner, but that does not mean we have to blindly accept every request the U.S. makes. We saw what type of democracy the Americans had under George W. Bush.

The Bloc Québécois obviously recognizes that every country has the right to regulate its airspace, but the fact remains that we think this measure goes too far. As I was saying earlier, the identified passengers will not even land—or at least not during this trip—in the country that would be receiving confidential and substantial information. I hope I am not telling the House anything new, but planes travel through the air and not always through free or international zones. Sometimes, at 33,000 or 35,000 feet, planes travel through airspace subject to the sovereignty of certain countries, but the passengers of those planes will never touch the soil of those countries. They will only fly over those countries.

The bill gives the countries being flown over the right to receive personal information. We want to study this bill in committee to determine if that is really necessary. The Bloc Québécois wants to ensure that we are doing everything we can to avoid violating travellers' privacy. For instance, one of the questions we would like to ask the department's witnesses regarding the government's approach in this bill is whether the Canadian government tried to reason with the United States and ask it to justify this measure.

As vice-chair of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, I will have the opportunity to ask such questions on this measure, which, as we all know, comes from the United States. We believe that the information available must be kept to the absolute minimum required. We are concerned about the lack of any guidelines, including for instance, ensuring that only the information requested by the United States will be transmitted. But that is not the case; a blanket disclosure can be made.

Will the transmitted information be determined by legislation rather than regulations? Should the transmission, if necessary, be conditional on the signing of a protocol between Canada and the country requesting the information? Such a protocol would govern how the information is used, stored and deleted. Furthermore, it could provide a mechanism to give the victims of errors an opportunity to correct their information, as well as a process to compensate them if necessary.

Lastly, we believe that passengers must be clearly informed, before they purchase their plane tickets, about the fact that certain countries will be receiving some of their personal information. Given these many problems, the Bloc Québécois reserves the right to oppose the bill at future stages in the parliamentary process. The responses we obtain in committee will determine how we decide to proceed during the clause-by-clause study of the bill and how we vote at third reading.

Mr. Speaker, since you are indicating that the time for members' statements is about to begin, I will continue after question period.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

When the hon. member resumes, he will have 12 minutes to finish his speech.

Brain InjuryStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to pay tribute to an outstanding couple who have revolutionized the way Kamloopsians and Canadians think about the effects of brain injuries on survivors and their loved ones.

Dr. Gur Singh has been a leader in the Kamloops medical community and his enormous contributions have brightened the lives of countless individuals. As a neurosurgeon, Dr. Singh witnessed first-hand the devastating impact that brain injuries had on both individuals and their families.

Recognizing that more must be done and with the committed partnership of his wife, Manju, they have spearheaded the annual Gur Singh invitational charity golf tournament since 2003 and an annual dinner, appropriately named “Celebrating Survival”, starting in 2007.

Over $500,000 raised in seven years has enabled the Kamloops Brain Injury Association to maintain and increase the services it provides to brain injury survivors and their families in the Kamloops and surrounding areas.

We thank Dr. and Mrs. Singh for their enormous contribution to our community and in support of brain injury prevention, treatment and care.

Human RightsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate a group of young citizens from my riding of Lac-Saint-Louis, Ally Hobson, Douglas Slobod, Alex Timmons and others, who have contacted me with grave concerns about police interventions against protestors at last summer's G20 in Toronto.

These bright and engaged young people, the lawyers, doctors, teachers, scientists and political leaders of tomorrow, are so concerned about the chilling effects of police actions at the G20 on the future rights of citizens to free assembly and protest that they have signed a petition calling for an independent public inquiry into the matter.

Specifically the group supports the various recommendations of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, including the call for an independent inquiry and a law reform initiative to ensure that Criminal Code provisions relating to breach of the peace, unlawful assemblies and riots are brought in line with constitutional standards.

I commend all these young constituents for their unshakeable idealism, namely for their keen awareness of the principles upon which a free and effective democracy rest. I also congratulate them for their courage to take action in support of these principles.

Our country's future is indeed in good hands with young people such as these.

Saint-Jérôme CEGEPStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, for 40 years, the Saint-Jérôme CEGEP has been the knowledge showcase of the Laurentian region. This institution opened its doors in 1970, with 900 students. It now has 4,200. Beyond being an educational institution, the CEGEP is a living environment that reflects the dynamic, committed and forward-thinking young people who go there. Their vision for the future is evident in the thousands of graduates who are now citizens making their contribution to advancing society.

Its success over the years can be attributed to the hard work and passion of the school's management and support staff and its professors and instructors who are able to share their knowledge both competently and passionately.

Many activities are being held to celebrate this 40th anniversary. I invite the public to take part in these activities. And I say to the staff of the Saint-Jérôme CEGEP: may you always feel this passion.

Baha'i Community in IranStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, on March 30, 2009, this House unanimously condemned the persecution of the Baha'i of Iran.

The House also urged the government to review the charges and hold a fair, open trial.

Iran did not heed our call.

On August 8, 2010, after a show trial, the seven accused were sentenced to 20 years in prison, which was later reduced to 10 years.

One of the defence lawyers, Shirin Ebadi, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, said that there was no evidence to corroborate the charges against the seven Baha'i individuals. Their only crime was to belong to the Baha'i community.

Meanwhile, the government continues to violate their rights.

We again condemn this charade, this denial of justice, and we urge Iran to immediately release the seven individuals pending the fair, rapid resolution of their appeal and to stop persecuting Iran's Baha'i community.

North Shore Youth Safe HouseStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Conservative North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a moment to highlight the inspiring story of the North Shore Youth Safe House, which is in my riding of North Vancouver.

The safe house provides emergency bed and supportive housing spaces for vulnerable youth who are at risk of becoming homeless. Services available include the development of life skills, personal counselling, addiction counselling and employment coaching.

What makes this service particularly special is that it is the creation of a caring community. I was involved in this project from early on, even before being elected, and saw for myself how it was built with the hands of volunteer tradespeople, with the support of community service clubs, and with the backing of a generous and anonymous donor.

I am proud to say that all levels of government have also done their bit to ensure its continued operation, including our own government, which contributed $800,000 last year through the homelessness partnering strategy.

I applaud my community and I congratulate the Hollyburn Family Services Society for the continued success of the safe house.

Arthur ReevesStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Lise Zarac Liberal LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I have a heavy heart as I pay tribute to Arthur Reeves, a man who for 35 years left his mark on the borough of LaSalle with his volunteer work, his involvement with youth, his great generosity and his desire to make a difference in the community.

Mr. Reeves, who died suddenly on October 3, had worked for many years at the Club Richelieu LaSalle and served as club president from 2003 to 2004.

Mr. Reeves was one of the founders of the Boys and Girls Club of LaSalle. He was also active in the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. In fact, for a number of years, he helped prepare Christmas hampers for the less fortunate families in the riding.

Arthur Reeves will be missed by all the people whose lives he touched during his lifetime. His passing is a great loss for our community. On behalf of all the members of this House and the people of LaSalle—Émard, I would like to express our deepest sympathy to his wife Lise and his whole family.

Mississauga Community FundraisingStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report that Mississauga residents are giving back to their community.

Just this past Saturday, the Mississauga Board of Chinese Professionals & Businesses hosted its highly successful 12th annual Phoenix Ball. Over the past 12 years, the Phoenix Ball has raised over $1 million for local charities.

Congratulations to Audrey Chiang, Joseph Wong, Ying Lu, Tali Wong, Lily Van, and all of the volunteers, sponsors and donors for making this year's ball so successful.

On Sunday, the Erin Mills Lions Club held its largest-ever annual walkathon, in support of the Children's Wish Foundation.

I want to thank Tony Grewal, Sangeeta Nair, Harjit Dhaliwal and all of the volunteers, sponsors and walkers for their efforts and generosity.

On Friday, October 22, the Trillium Health Centre Foundation will be holding its ninth annual Diwali gala fundraising celebration, in support of health care for seniors.

The Trillium Diwali event is the largest of its kind in Canada and has raised over $2.95 million. I am pleased to report that this year's event is already sold out.

Canadians are well known for these acts of community service and generosity, and as parliamentarians we should--

Mississauga Community FundraisingStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. The hon. member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert.

CultureStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, while a fifth round of negotiations is under way to discuss a free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union, we have to wonder about the Conservatives' commitment to defending the cultural exemption clause, as was highlighted by Louise Beaudoin, former Quebec minister of culture and now the member for Rosemont.

And perhaps we should be worried, given the response from the Minister of International Trade, who laughed at the question, saying, and I quote, “I do not think that Canadians are worried that our television, literature and other parts of our culture will be overtaken by an influx of, say, Lithuanian literature.”

The minister must understand that cultural diversity needs to be protected because it is at the heart of our identity and whatever is offered to the Europeans should also be required of the Americans.

Since the Conservative government's real intentions concerning the cultural exemption clause are unclear, I invite the Minister of International Trade to come and testify at the heritage committee to explain seriously how he intends to ensure that the treaty on cultural diversity, which Canada promoted and signed, will be respected. I will propose this motion in committee this afternoon.

Canadian Forces CollegeStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, since 1943, Canadian officers have furthered their leadership skills through professional training at the Canadian Forces College. The college is known as the leading educational institution in defence and security education. Most of Canada's senior military leaders are graduates of the Canadian Forces College, which is affectionately known in the military as “General College”.

For over 60 years, the college has helped to sustain the effectiveness of the Canadian Forces and defence and security organizations within Canada and its alliances.

Courses now include a national security program, which prepares participants to deal effectively with national security issues, policy and strategy.

Today, we have staff and students from the national security program joining us on the Hill. All participants are Canadian Forces colonels, senior Canadian public servants, and senior officers from allied nations.

I know all members will join me in welcoming the Canadian Forces College.

CyprusStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, this month the Republic of Cyprus is celebrating its 50th year of independence. However, this independence as an integral country was short-lived, for in July 1974 an illegal invasion took place by Turkish forces, which occupy, until this very day, one-third of the island.

In the 21st century, this is unacceptable. It is unacceptable for a nation that is a member of the European Union to be illegally occupied by a nation that is also an applicant for membership to the same European Union. It makes no sense.

What is Cyprus then asking for? Cyprus is asking for nothing more than what any civilized nation is also asking: to have the right to live in peace within a secure, united and sovereign territory, recognizing the rights of all its citizens.

Cyprus must be, and deserves to be, a free and united country in which it is the right of all Cypriots, whatever their denomination, to live in peace.

ImmigrationStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, Canada is a nation of immigrants, with a proud tradition of welcoming refugees. In fact, every year we welcome hundreds of thousands of immigrants from around the world.

Unfortunately, our immigration system has come under attack by human smugglers. Human smugglers are abusing our good will and our immigration system. This must stop.

Our Conservative government will take fair and reasonable action to prevent the abuse of our immigration system by human smugglers. Our government will send a clear message: Canada opens its doors to those who work hard and play by the rules, while cracking down on those who seek to take advantage of our generosity and abuse our fair and welcoming immigration system.

Foreign AffairsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Conservative Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, this year we mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations with China. As co-chair of the Canada-China Legislative Association and on behalf of the Parliament of Canada, I welcome Chairman Zheng Silin and his delegation to Canada and to China on the Hill.

Although our countries are separated by the Pacific Ocean, we have built strong and lasting bridges in the areas of politics, commerce and trade, as well as cultural and educational exchanges that we must reflect upon and celebrate. During the last year in particular, we had numerous visits by ministers, parliamentarians, departmental officials and very successful reciprocal visits by President Hu and our Prime Minister.

This increased level of mutual co-operation has resulted in agricultural agreements benefiting the canola, pork and beef sectors, memorandums of understanding on climate change and mineral resources, and the agreement on approved destination status, resulting in a significant increase in tourism and business opportunities.

In developing relationships comes mutual understanding. In promoting relationships comes mutual prosperity.

Democratic ReformStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the NDP, I would like to welcome Equal Voice and the young women who have been invited here today to learn about the different roles women MPs play on the Hill.

Equal Voice has invited all MPs to focus on better decorum in the House, asking us to remember to be tough, not rough. We welcome this needed attention on Parliament, and I am pleased to have worked with my fellow House leaders in all parties to improve decorum and respect in the House.

It is a reality that question period is often the face of this place, and the daily, shall we say, exuberance that characterizes question period can be discouraging for young people, especially young women, who do not see a place for themselves in that kind of atmosphere. And why should they?

We recognize the barriers and challenges faced by women in the political process. The leader of the NDP has worked tirelessly to ensure the strong representation of women in our caucus and the need to overcome all barriers. We are committed to getting work done in this House in a way that is respectful of diversity, respectful of women and respectful of each other.

Democratic ReformStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to educate my colleagues on the need for decorum and a climate conducive to civilized debate. Our behavioural ethics, our words and our tone not only influence the public's perception of us and of our institutions, but they can also have an impact on our ability to attract new candidates, new female candidates in particular.

To that end, the Bloc Québécois tabled an action plan last year with seven initiatives to achieve gender parity in politics, a goal shared by the agency Equal Voice, instigator of this day of decorum. The Bloc Québécois has also noticed that women are far too underrepresented at all levels of government.

Let us take advantage of this day to recognize our work, the work of parliamentarians, and to show that we ourselves value this role. All these aspects combined will certainly contribute to promoting greater involvement of women and civil society as a whole in parliamentary life.

Democratic ReformStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the spirit of Persons Day, the organization Equal Voice, whose mission it is to promote the election of more women to all levels of government and ultimately change the face of Canadian politics, has put together guidelines on how to behave in the House of Commons. The rules tell us to be tough but not rough, avoid catcalls, insults, name-calling, jeering and needless interruptions.

We must demonstrate the respect Canadians want to see in the House by elevating the debate. As a society, we expect civility in the boardrooms of the nation, in the classrooms of the country and in this House.

Canada ranks 50th out of 189 countries in terms of the number of women elected on a national level. It is high time to restore balance and give Canadian women their rightful place. It is also high time to show young women that they have a place here in the House of Commons.

Status of WomenStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to highlight the efforts by Equal Voice to raise the issue of decorum in the House as part of its goal to help engage more women in the political sphere, not only here on Parliament Hill but right across the country. For this it should be commended.

As Equal Voice points out, women are 52% of Canada's population and make up an average of 21% of Canada's municipal councils, provincial legislatures and the House of Commons. It takes continual effort by all of us from across the political spectrum to continue toward breaking down barriers that discourage women from participating in the political process.

Equal Voice has brought a number of young women and men from across the country here to Ottawa today to demonstrate that there is a place for them in our Parliament and in federal politics.

To this I say congratulations, and maybe one day they too will have the privilege to serve all Canadians here in our House of Commons.

Government PrioritiesOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, last week at a town hall in Toronto, a young man named Derek asked me a question and asked me to ask it of the Prime Minister, so here it is. “My question relates to the fiscal waste and mismanagement that this government is doing. They emptied the cupboard. Their spending is a hodge-podge with no real vision or direction. Why is the Prime Minister throwing away my generation's money in such a reckless, incompetent and visionless way? Why?”

Government PrioritiesOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, actually nothing could be further from the truth. The fact of the matter is this. Obviously, as we all know, we have had to run a deficit over these past couple of years.

That said, the deficit of this country is by far the lowest among the major advanced economies. That is one of the reasons why we are coming out of this recession faster and stronger than anyone and why we will continue to resist the wasteful kind of expenditure and tax increases suggested by the Liberal coalition.