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House of Commons Hansard #100 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senators.

Topics

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 420 and 425.

Question No. 420Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Liberal Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

With respect to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and foreign vessels in offshore waters: (a) what is the department doing to address the illegal fishing of Newfoundland cod as bycatch and the misreporting of turbot catches and other species; and (b) will the government make public the department’s reports concerning boardings and inspections of foreign vessels in offshore waters?

Question No. 420Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Egmont P.E.I.

Conservative

Gail Shea ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), the bycatch limits for stocks managed by NAFO take into consideration NAFO Scientific Council advice. Canada and other NAFO contracting parties have committed to reduce bycatch, including the bycatch of southern Grand Banks, divisions 3NO, cod, to ensure that the NAFO stocks still under moratorium can recover and that stocks that have recovered sufficiently to allow targeted fisheries continue their path to recovery.

At its 2010 annual meeting, NAFO decided to establish a working group to develop rebuilding plans for 3NO cod and 3LNO American plaice in 2011. This working group will consider the key principles and elements in the development of conservation plans and rebuilding strategies, including a commitment to keep bycatch to the lowest possible level and restricted to unavoidable bycatch in fisheries directing for other species. These conservation plans and rebuilding strategies are expected to include measures to address bycatch.

Addressing the misreporting of catch of NAFO-managed stocks continues to be a top priority for Canada in NAFO. Based on our surveillance assessments of Greenland halibut, there has been a relatively low level of misreported catch. Canada continues to work within NAFO and with other contracting parties to improve compliance on this and other areas in the NAFO regulatory area fisheries.

In response to (b), reports of inspections, conducted under the NAFO Joint Inspection and Surveillance Scheme, are considered third party information. Canada is unable to release this information given international confidentiality agreements and the commercially sensitive, proprietary, nature of the information.

Question No. 425Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Navdeep Bains Liberal Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

With regard to the government’s Economic Action Plan: (a) how many projects have been funded in partnership with the provinces and municipalities; (b) for how many of these projects has the government been informed that the March 31, 2010 deadline for substantial completion will no longer be met, listing for each the title of the project; and (c) for how many of these projects has the government been informed that there is a risk of no longer meeting the deadline for substantial completion, listing for each the title of the project?

Question No. 425Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), under Canada’s economic action plan, the government has committed nearly $5.6 billion in federal funding toward over 7,000 provincial, territorial and municipal infrastructure projects.

In response to (b), please be advised only the national recreation trails initiative was subject to a March 31, 2010 deadline for project completion. All projects were completed by the deadline.

In response to (c), the government is monitoring progress on projects on an ongoing basis, but has not been provided with a listing of individual projects at risk as of October 5, 2010.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, if Questions Nos. 407, 408, 409 and 429 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 407Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

With regard to the Economic Action Plan, for every rejected application in Manitoba: (a) on what date was the application submitted; (b) on what date was a decision reached; (c) in which federal riding would the project have taken place; (d) on what date was the applicant informed of the decision; and (e) what would have been the total federal contribution?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 408Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

With regard to the Economic Action Plan, for every project in Manitoba: (a) on what date was the project announced publicly; (b) was there a public event associated with the announcement and if so, what was the cost of the public event; (c) what was the federal share of the funding; (d) what was the provincial share of the funding; (e) what was the municipal share of the funding; (f) on what date was the application for funding submitted; (g) in what federal riding was it located; (h) what is its description; (i) what is the estimated completion date; and (j) on what date was the application for funding approved?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 409Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

With regard to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), how much money has Canada contributed to date for the implementation of the EITI in each fiscal year since its inception in 2002 and from which departments or agencies did these funds come?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 429Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

With respect to the Marquee Tourism Events Program, in the last two fiscal years and for each riding: (a) how many applications were received and what was the total amount requested; (b) how many applications were deemed eligible and what was the total amount of those applications; (c) how many applications were deemed eligible without seeking approval from the minister and what was the total amount of those applications; and (d) how many applications were approved by the minister and what was the total amount of those applications?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

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

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Royal Recommendation--Bill C-568Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address the government's argument that Bill C-568, an act to amend the Statistics Act regarding the mandatory long-form census, requires a royal recommendation.

We believe it does not, and I will explain why.

First, we would like to remind the House that Bill C-568 was not included the Speaker's list of items that, in your view, Mr. Speaker, might require royal recommendation.

As all members know in this House, the Speaker always makes a statement on this question following a replenishment under private members' business.

However, in his remarks, the parliamentary secretary made the argument that this bill would not only require the expenditure of funds, but also change the mandate of Statistics Canada and give it so-called new responsibilities.

Before going any further, Mr. Speaker, I would like to read sections of the actual mandate of Statistics Canada under the act.

Section 3 states:

There shall continue to be a statistics bureau under the Minister, to be known as Statistics Canada, the duties of which are

(a) to collect, compile, analyse, abstract and publish statistical information relating to the commercial, industrial, financial, social, economic and general activities and condition of the people; ...

(c) to take the census of population of Canada and the census of agriculture of Canada as provided in this Act; ... and

(e) generally, to promote and develop integrated social and economic statistics pertaining to the whole of Canada and to each of the provinces thereof and to coordinate plans for the integration of those statistics.

That begs the question, what exactly would Bill C-568 do?

Would the bill create a new responsibility for Statistics Canada, as has been suggested?

It is very clear that its mandate is to take information for the census. It is as simple as that. This is not a new responsibility. This bill does not propose to produce a new function.

We would not be changing the mandate of Statistics Canada. We would simply be asking Statistic Canada to undertake the census in the way it has taken the census for the last 40 years, with a mandatory long form.

We would not be changing the mandate of Statistics Canada. We would simply be enabling Statistics Canada to fulfill its existing mandate.

The parliamentary secretary also argued that the bill would impose a cost of $50 million to carry out the long form census.

This entirely false, in our view. The bill would not impose any cost since the government already conducts a short and long form census. The forms are being printed and the money is already being spent. Bill C-568 would simply ensure that it is mandatory for Canadians who receive the long form census to respond to it. As a result, no additional expenditures would be required from Statistics Canada to do this.

Indeed, because the long form census is no longer mandatory, the government must print and mail significantly more forms out to the public to gather the necessary data and compensate for a reduction in the rate of response. It is estimated the new voluntary form would in fact cost $30 million more. As a result, Bill C-568 would actually reduce expenditures. I repeat, Mr. Speaker: it would actually reduce expenditures by $30 million.

In summary, Bill C-568 would not change the mandate of Statistics Canada. It would simply enable Statistics Canada to fulfill its existing mandate and reduce, not increase, expenditures by $30 million.

For these reasons, we believe the bill does not require a royal recommendation and we look forward to your adjudication and ruling on this matter.

Royal Recommendation--Bill C-568Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The chair will take that under advisement.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Senate term limits), be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.

Constitution Act, 2010 (Senate Term Limits)Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity. It is good to have a chance to speak to Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Senate term limits). This bill actually seeks to establish a term limit of eight years for senators in Canada. That is the key part of this legislation.

What we are actually debating today is an amendment to the main motion that was moved by my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley. The amendment motion reads:

“the House decline to give second reading to Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Senate term limits), because the term limits do not go far enough in addressing the problems with the Senate of Canada, and do not lead quickly enough to the abolition of the upper chamber, as recent events have shown to be necessary”.

It is an unusual step for us to move that kind of motion in debate on a bill like this, especially a bill that we had indicated we would support to get to committee for further discussion and for improvement. We were already saying that, even though we have very serious problems with the Senate and even though we have called for the abolition of the Senate, we were prepared to see this bill debated further and hopefully improved at committee.

The events of the past week have certainly changed our opinion about what should be done about the Senate at the present time and the government's attitude towards Canada's democracy and how this Parliament functions.

What I am referring to there is the decision by the government and by the Prime Minister to call on his senators to defeat the climate change accountability act, a private member's bill that moved all the way through the House of Commons. It was debated here in the House. It went to committee and had lengthy hearings.

It was a lengthy process on that bill by the elected representatives of the Canadian people here in the House of Commons. It passed all stages here in the House and was sent to the Senate, where it languished for months.

It was finally passed back in the spring of this year and sat in the Senate without any action until earlier this week when, out of the blue, the bill was called and defeated. It was without a hearing, without reference to a committee, nothing. There was no activity and no debate whatsoever at the Senate.

This is clearly an action by the government to defeat the only possibility of Canadian action on climate change that was in the works. This bill was something that New Democrats had put forward. It was put forward in the last Parliament.

Our earlier attempt at the climate change accountability act in the last Parliament, the 39th Parliament, was Bill C-377. After a great deal of hard work on the part of many members of the House of Commons with input from environmental leaders and other leaders from across Canada, that actually passed through the House of Commons in 2008. That was a cause for celebration among Canadians who are concerned about climate change and the environment.

That was the first time any legislature in the world had actually passed legislation that would deal with the post-Kyoto greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Canada, this Parliament, this House of Commons took an extremely important step in the last Parliament, in 2008, with the passage of the climate change accountability act. Unfortunately the election was called and interrupted that progress. It stopped the bill in its tracks, and that meant it had to start all over again when we returned after the election in 2008.

New Democrats did put it back on the agenda. Our member from Thunder Bay put that bill back on the agenda and had it debated here in the House. It went through the same long, laborious process and was again passed in May 2010.

On two occasions, the elected representatives of the Canadian people, the members of the House of Commons, have dealt with this important piece of legislation and have passed it. When it was finally sent off to the Senate, where in our process it needs to be dealt with further, going through the same kind of process, the unelected and unaccountable members of the Senate, presumably under marching orders from the Prime Minister, killed the bill without so much as a debate, without so much as a referral to committee for further study.

It is an absolutely outrageous affront to our democracy and an unconscionable use of the power of the Senate, of the unelected and unaccountable appointed Senate.

This bill, the climate change accountability act, would have established greenhouse gas reduction targets 25% below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. It was hailed as important legislation by many respected people.

I have to point out that Mark Jaccard and Associates, an independent environmental assessment firm, did a survey of this bill. Mr. Jaccard is an important environment scientist from Simon Fraser University. Its conclusion about Bill C-311, the NDP's climate change accountability act, was that the targets it established would also encourage growing economy, increasing jobs and improving the quality of life for Canadians. It said there was a positive impact of this bill, an analysis that flies in the face of the government's blanket denunciation and rejection of the proposals in the NDP's climate change accountability act.

Unfortunately, this action has stopped. Any reasonable, effective or appropriate Canadian response to climate change was stopped dead in its tracks. It was our best opportunity and it is gone. It was done by unaccountable, unelected senators appointed by a Prime Minister who at one time did not seem to have much regard for the unelected, accountable Senate.

On a number of occasions, we have seen the Prime Minister and his Reform predecessors have had great criticism for the Senate. In December 2005, the Prime Minister said, “An appointed Senate is a relic of the 19th century”. I have to agree with the Prime Minister. It is not often that I do, but on that I certainly do. An unelected, appointed body is a relic of another era. It is an anti-democratic relic of a colonial era.

Some of the requirements to be a senator are relics of that era as well, such as the fact that senators have to be 30 years old before being appointed and that people have to own property outright in Canada before becoming a senator. Even though the threshold is now really low, the intention years ago was to make sure that senators were from the moneyed classes. They had the expectation that they would represent that class in Canada.

Today the threshold is low, but the requirement is still there. We have even seen in the past an interesting example when a nun was appointed to the Senate and, because of vows of poverty, did not have any property. Her order had to actually transfer some land into her name so she could take her seat in the Senate.

It points out the ridiculousness of that requirement. If it were a legitimate body, any Canadian of voting age, no matter what the individual's personal economic circumstances, should be able to serve in a body in the Canadian Parliament. However, not in Canada and not with the Senate. The Prime Minister was right. This unelected, unaccountable body is a relic of another era and of the 19th century.

In March 2004, the Prime Minister also said, “I will not name appointed people to the Senate. Anyone who sits in the Parliament of Canada must be elected by the people they represent”. How many times has the Prime Minister broken that promise and turned his back on that important statement of principle that came out of the convictions of the Reform Party, his predecessors? It boggles the mind the number of times he has chosen to ignore that advice.

In this corner, we are very concerned and outraged by what happened this week. It is ironic that we have this bill that would establish a term limit for senators, but that is not the issue. The issue is still that they are unelected, appointed by the Prime Minister and unaccountable to anybody. Whether they are there for 8 or 45 years, it is still an inappropriate, unelected and unaccountable body, and it should not be part of our system. It is an affront to democracy, and we need to abolish this relic of the past.

This is a very important issue. I am glad we were able to debate it this week, given that Bill C-10 was on the agenda when the inappropriate use of the Senate's power was mandated by the Prime Minister to kill the climate change accountability act. We are very lucky to have had this opportunity to draw to the attention of the House and Canadians why this body is inappropriate and why this proposed Senate reform bill does nothing to address the main problems with the Senate.

Constitution Act, 2010 (Senate Term Limits)Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from B.C. mentioned the comments of the Prime Minister and I remember those comments as well. I remember when the Reform Party was starting off and people were looking to it for change and to have accountability, democracy, a new voice and a new way of doing politics, and now, as I have said before, there is nothing left. It is a corpse over there, and a stinking one at that. It is just sitting there without any principles.

Conservatives say now that they will appoint senators for eight years. In eight years, if there are two majority governments, they could still stuff the Senate, so it matters not that we can take it from 45 to 8. It matters whether or not the senators are elected, and the Conservatives will not deal with that.

I want underline to my colleague from B.C. that we trusted the Conservatives once on fixed-date elections. They said there would be no constitutional change. We told them that was fine and we would sign on to that. What did they do when they put that into place? They broke their promise and called an election, so why should we trust them on this one? We will not be fooled again.

Constitution Act, 2010 (Senate Term Limits)Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I agree completely with my colleague from Ottawa Centre, as I regularly do, which will not surprise anybody here.

We heard from the current Minister of State for Democratic Reform of the constant need to modernize the Senate. What do we get instead? We get the same old stuff that we used to get from the Liberals: stacking the Senate with bagmen, with party insiders and with the representatives of the upper class in Canada. We get the same old appointments to stack the Senate to get government business through, to do the bidding of the Prime Minister. These are people who have no accountability to the Canadian people. The only accountability they have is to the person who appointed them, and that is the Prime Minister. Time after time they show that is where their accountability lies.

I do not want to deny that the Senate has done good work from time to time, but it is still not a legitimate body. I have a mandate from the Canadian people. I stand at election regularly and I am accountable to the people who elect me. People in the Senate never have to do that, and that is wrong.