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House of Commons Hansard #115 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was amendments.

Topics

Government SpendingPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I am sure the House appreciates that clarification.

The hon. member for St. Boniface is rising on a point of order.

Government SpendingPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Saint Boniface Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I find it unfortunate to be rising on this point of order made by the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan.

We brought to her attention the fact that she made a severe error in including domestic flights and numerous other things in a statement made during question period on December 7. The factual number is $1.579 million as opposed to $67 million that she suggested during question period. She has made another error with respect to this $83 million.

I would ask that the member get her facts straight and apologize.

Government SpendingPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

That sounds like a point of debate.

The hon. member for Vancouver East is rising on a point of order.

Government SpendingPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to point out that is exactly what the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan did. She rose independently in the House to make the House aware that she was incorrect in her figures. She just apologized to the House. I am curious as to why the parliamentary secretary is now calling on her to do that when the member for Nanaimo--Cowichan actually did the responsible thing. She pointed out the mistake that was made and she apologized to the House. End of story.

Government SpendingPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I do not think the House needs to hear any more on this particular point.

The hon. member for Ottawa South is rising on a point of order.

Remarks Attributed to Member for Ottawa SouthPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday, December 8, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage attributed a remark to me with respect to the former deputy prime minister of Canada, John Manley. At that time I considered the member's intervention to be of such a frivolous nature, if not in fact malicious, that I did not deem it deserving of a response. However, given he has repeated these remarks outside the House, I feel it is very important to set the record straight. I did not make the comment attributed to me and I want the official record to reflect that fact.

Remarks Attributed to Member for Ottawa SouthPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, when I asked the member to retract the statement the other day, it was clearly heard by a number of members on our side and I found the comments regrettable. That is why I gave the member the opportunity to withdraw them. It seems to me the former deputy prime minister has in fact taken a very high level, non-partisan position on Bill C-32, one that I think is important. He is joining a long list of leaders in this country who are calling for an update to Canada's Copyright Act to enable employers, to enable investment, to create jobs in this country. I thought the statements he made were outstanding. I found that the comments made by the current member for Ottawa South should be retracted.

Remarks Attributed to Member for Ottawa SouthPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member may have heard something that he disagreed with, but to my knowledge the alleged remark was not something the Chair would normally rule on. There was no allegation of unparliamentary language. It was a comment that maybe the member does not agree with, but certainly not something that would be worthy of a point of order.

I see the hon. member for Ottawa South rising, so I will hear him and then I think the House would be best to move on to orders of the day.

Remarks Attributed to Member for Ottawa SouthPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I agree with you. Once again, for the record, in case the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage who was not here moments ago did not hear what I said, I did not--did not--make the comment attributed to me.

The House resumed consideration of Bill S-6, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and another Act, as reported (with amendments) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

When the bill was last before the House, the hon. member for Edmonton—St. Albert had the floor. There are three minutes remaining in questions and comments.

There being no further questions, we will resume debate.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member for Windsor—Tecumseh was in the process of asking me a question. May I answer?

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Fair enough. I will let the member for Edmonton—St. Albert respond to that.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, the question had to do with victims and one of the proposed amendments by the Liberal-NDP coalition regarding the bill before the House. It had to do with the alleged request by victims groups to receive information.

The reason the government rejects the amendment that came out of the committee is that it is absolutely impractical for Corrections Canada to anticipate whether or not an offender is going to make use of the faint hope provisions. This is information that is specifically and particularly in the knowledge of the offender and perhaps his or her solicitor. It is absolutely impractical for Corrections Canada to notify victims' families when an offender has chosen not to make application for the faint hope provisions. They just do not know.

More to the point, victims want closure. Victims do not want to be notified by Corrections Canada of an impending faint hope application or that there is not going to be an imminent faint hope application. Victims have told us unequivocally and loudly that they want closure. If the opposition members are really interested in conforming to the wishes of victims, they will allow the bill to proceed as it came to the House from the Senate without any amendments and to abolish the faint hope clause for future murderers.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, is the member aware that the removal of the faint hope clause would not have any practical effect for 15 years? The Conservatives have led the public to believe that somehow they are going to be removing the faint hope clause, but the public does not understand that nothing will happen for 15 more years.

Would the member comment on whether he has discovered why the Conservative government of Joe Clark in 1979 started mailing pension cheques to murderers in prison? Has he been able to investigate that yet?

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is correct. The provisions of this bill will not be retroactive, nor should they be.

There is a principle of criminal law, which has been reinforced by our charter, that these provisions cannot be implemented retroactively. This will only apply to individuals who are convicted of murder on a go-forward basis from the time this bill receives royal assent and is proclaimed into law. That is appropriate.

Although the situations with Mr. Olson have often been cited and family members of the victims of Mr. Olson appeared before the committee to support this bill, the member is quite correct in that this bill will have no effect on those victims.

Realistically, and sadly, we can anticipate that these types of situations will occur in the future. This is to protect future victims—

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I will have to stop the member there as he has gone over his time.

We will move on with resuming debate. The hon. member for Toronto Centre.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am participating in the debate today for two reasons. One reason is that I am concerned about the general approach the government is taking toward the House of Commons and toward the process of debate, discussion and amendment in a minority House. I will come back to that point in a minute. The other reason is our concern about the way in which the government is handling criminal justice legislation.

On the first point, my colleague from Edmonton—St. Albert made much of the fact that this bill has gone through the Senate, which the government now effectively controls, and the House of Commons is now receiving the bill.

The government decided to put the bill in the Senate, not us. It decided to put the bill in the Senate and, miracle of miracles, because the government controls the makeup of the Senate, the bill managed to get through without any changes or amendments.

Then when the legislation comes to the House of Commons, and the House of Commons decides that it should be amended, if that is what the House of Commons decides, it is what the committee decided and we will see whether or not it is what the House of Commons decides, at that point the government takes great offence and says that if we amend this bill, that effectively means it has to go back to the Senate again. This is the government's most powerful reason for not providing any amendments.

To say that I am unimpressed with this approach is putting it mildly. The problem we have had with the government in both of its apparitions, the first apparition in 2006 and the second apparition in 2008, is that it has never understood what it means to govern in a minority Parliament.

It is clear that the government has never accepted the fact that it is a minority government. But it has no choice but to accept the possibility that amendments will be made to its legislation if it wants to create legislation on any given subject.

That is why I spoke today about the democracy deficit, which has been a problem with this government since it took power. The performance of the ministers answering questions in the House of Commons is deplorable. They never answer the questions, they just attack anyone who asks a question and there is never any substance to their answers. All they do is attack non-stop. This has nothing to do with democratic dialogue. I would know, because I have been in politics for over 30 years now. In my political life, I have never seen such a performance from a government that is supposed to support the notion of democracy.

I have never seen such a performance as I have seen by the government since my election to this place in 2008. The Conservatives never answer a question of substance. They never deal with an issue of substance. The only method they know to deal with any question is to attack. They attack the character, attack the personality, attack history, attack some other point.

Now the government turns around and says it is not prepared to deal with the amendments to this legislation. I have news for the government. There will be lots of amendments to legislation that it proposes. There will be lots of discussions and there may from time to time even be defeats if it persists in its approach of saying, “It is our way or the highway”.

It is not the way to conduct the public affairs of a country. It is the not the way to conduct the public affairs of a province. It is not the way to conduct the public business of Canada. We see day by day the corrosive effect of the attitude which the government continues to display. The way in which it continues to present itself to the House and the people of Canada increasingly attacks the very notion.

I find it so ironic that it was the Reform Party that came to the House with all of its ideas about how it was going to restore democracy. The government has shown a systematic contempt for parliamentary democracy. It knows nothing of respect for the parliamentary process. It complains about amendments being brought forward by the opposition. Of course there will be amendments. It is our right and our responsibility to bring forward amendments.

The government says it will not deal with them, it will never compromise, it will not negotiate, it will not make any arrangements to allow legislation to go through and that is the way it is going to govern. That is tough because if that is the way it is going to govern, then we have no option but to say we will stand in our places and fight and fight and fight again because this is an approach to democracy which simply cannot be allowed to stand.

The government claims that it is concerned about the economy. The member for Peterborough was up on his feet yesterday asking why we would bring up issues of the charter when we should be worrying about jobs. I would say to the member for Peterborough, show me the legislation you are bringing forward that deals with jobs, every single item. The Criminal Code is going to be bigger than the Encyclopedia Britannica if you guys are allowed to get away with this—

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime ActGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. I have to take this opportunity to remind the member for Toronto Centre that he has to address his comments to the Chair and not directly to other colleagues.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime ActGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

I have only been here for years and I cannot get used to not using the phrase “you guys“. I apologize, Mr. Speaker.

I can only say that the approach to criminal justice that is being taken by the government is an approach that is not going to reduce the level of crime one iota. Every jurisdiction in the United States which has attempted the approach that is now being taken on by the Government of Canada is saying to us, “Please do not do what we did”.

British politicians are telling us emphatically that their prisons are overflowing, that they did not realize what the impact of some of their legislation was going to be. They ask us how we have managed to keep things under control. I look at them and say that we did manage for a considerable period of time with a crime rate that has been going down and not up and with protection of the public that has been going up and not down.

The only message the government over there knows is fear, fear and fear again, which has nothing to do with the reality on the ground and with the need to prevent. Does it have a crime prevention strategy? No. Is it encouraging those communities that want to prevent crime? No. Is it working with the provinces to make sure that we deal with gangs in schools and with violence on our streets? No, it is not.

Its only answer is to lock people up, throw away the key, be done with it, minimum sentences, et cetera. That is the only approach the government knows. It is not an approach worthy of the name. It does not pass muster when it comes to dealing with the challenges and problems we have as a country and it does not deal effectively with the problem that we have.

Do we have a problem of crime? Every country has a problem of crime, a problem of crime that comes out of poverty, a problem of crime that comes out of insecurity, a problem of crime that comes out of addiction, a problem of crime that comes out of drug dependence, a problem of crime that comes out of alcohol dependence, a problem of crime that comes out of hopelessness and no opportunity. The government does not get that. The government's answer to those people is to say it is simply going to lock them up and throw away the key.

Yes, the Liberals are going to be moving amendments to this particular bill. We are going to be hoping that our colleagues in the opposition and whoever has the will to stand on the other side will stand and deal with it. If the government says it is very inconvenient because it got this crystal clear bill through the Senate with no amendments and no discussion and there was no problem, as we say in French, tant pis, too bad.

That is the government's problem, not ours. Our duty, as the opposition, is to ask questions, propose amendments and listen to the witnesses who testify before committees, as is the case here. We need to continue to have a positive and responsible approach to tackling crime, instead of all these things that the government is proposing in the House.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I think the member ended this exactly where I wanted to go with his speech, which I consider to be most unfortunate. The message that the Liberal Party and the coalition members are sending to people in our communities and the message they are sending to victims, the message that they are sending to people who are advocating for justice measures that will protect society, is “too bad”. They are going to be irresponsible when it comes to justice. They would rather play politics with the issues than actually stand up for safe streets and communities.

The message from the member for Toronto Centre is quite simple to the people in my community and the people in communities right across this country who want real justice measures in place, his message is “too bad, we are irresponsible”.

How does the member respond to that?

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I respond to it by saying that the member is full of hot air. I respond to him very directly by saying that.

What we have said is very clear. If we believe for one second that the whole panoply of prime measures that are being brought forward by the government actually address the issue of crime, actually address the question of safety on our streets, actually looked at the problems that people are facing in our communities, we will respond. We will respond in an effective manner.

However, when we are told, as we were told by the member for Edmonton—St. Albert that we should not be bringing forward any amendments because it is very inconvenient for the government, and the bill might have to go back to the Senate again, we have to say that nothing is being delayed. Issues are being debated. Issues are being discussed. We have an issue in the House for the simple reason that the government will not accept amendments. There has not been an amendment proposed that it has ever accepted.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member whether he thinks the government is guilty of a little bit of false advertising.

The provisions under the faint hope clause bill will not take effect for 15 years. The Conservatives will be coming into the election in a few months proclaiming that they have gotten tough on crime and they have eliminated the faint hope clause and people are going to be very disappointed when they find out it is going to be 15 years before any part of this act takes effect.

Meanwhile, month by month, every month Conservatives are putting pension cheques in envelopes, licking stamps and sending pension cheques to Clifford Olson, a process that started under the Conservative government of Joe Clark in 1979, and they have yet to explain why they are still doing it or in fact why they started mailing those cheques in the first place.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think the member is right. When we look at this legislation, the particular bill that is being proposed by the government that they want us to deal with today, the government is saying to us that we have to get this through right away, that it is absolutely vital that we get the bill through because we are going to be making the streets safer.

This legislation will have no impact until 2025 or 2026. It is not urgent legislation. It is important to get it right. It is important to make sure that the people who are the victims of violent crime are given full information, which is what one of the amendments in this legislation is all about.

I do not know why we would not take that approach.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I agree entirely with the hon. member's speech, particularly with respect to the approach of the government to lock them up, throw away the key and maybe some day or another they might get out. The problem with that approach is that it costs a fortune and it does not work.

I would be interested in the hon. member's comments on the enormous amount of money that the truth in sentencing bill is going to cost the Canadian taxpayer. Does he think that locking people away for a longer and longer period of time at great expense to the taxpayer actually will do anything to reduce the crime rate?