House of Commons Hansard #17 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was crime.


Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.


Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, as I often like to do when we stand in the House and have a dialogue and debate among each other about issues of crime and safety in our country, I like to start with what I think is a bridging set of statements in which we all believe.

I think every member in the House believes in and wants to create policy that keeps our communities safe.

I think every member in the House, legitimately and sincerely, wants to ensure that we have a justice system that is efficient, effective and geared toward the goals that we all hope our justice system would be geared toward, which is to ensure that our justice system accomplishes the goals that it purports to have.

That goal would be twofold, when we combine effective public policy on crime and an effective justice system, and that is to adopt policies that prevent crime as much as we can from happening in the first place and once crime is committed, to do everything we can to ensure that the person committing the crime does not commit it again.

I had the honour of being our party's public safety critic in the last Parliament and spent a good part of almost two years examining, in detail, the situation in our corrections system. I had the distinct honour and privilege of touring some 26 federal correctional institutions and seeing first-hand the work that our correctional officials do every day in our prisons. It also gave me an eye-opening experience into the real situation that was occurring in our federal prisons. I would encourage all members of the House, as members of Parliament, to inspect our federal institutions and learn first-hand what is going on.

A provision in the Corrections and Conditional Release Act specifically gives MPs the untrammelled right to go into our federal institutions and inspect them. As legislators, that is a very important responsibility so we can be supervising, monitoring and inspecting our federal prisons.

I will tell the House what I have noticed in visiting those prisons from my point of view. The people who populate those prisons are, as has been said, among the most marginalized people in society, in general. It is true that there is a small segment of the prison population who are incorrigible, dangerous and violent people for whom we have very little option but to keep locked away from society. Nobody in the House would suggest that the Clifford Olsons and the Paul Bernardos of the world should safely ever be returned to the streets of our country and they should pay a price for the crimes they have committed by being incarcerated for the rest of their lives.

However, we cannot make policy based on that small percentage, because what I also saw was that 80% of the people who are in our federal prisons today, men and women, suffer from an addiction. This figure is widely accepted on all sides of the House. The public safety committee heard expert testimony after expert testimony from corrections officials, from wardens, from the John Howard Society, from the Elizabeth Fry Society, from all manner of people who all agreed with that figure, that 80% suffer from an addiction.

Another commonly accepted fact on all sides of the House is that there is a substantial number of men and women inside our institutions who suffer from mental illness. Leaving aside, the obvious point is addiction itself is a mental illness. Issues like fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, brain damage, low cognition and those with brain injuries also are disproportionately represented in our prison system.

That leads me to my first point. If we truly want to ensure that when those people come out of prison they do not recommit offences, then we need direct resources at the real problems they face.

It is true that well over 90% of people in our federal institutions will leave those institutions and come back into our communities. They will be walking down our streets, walking down our alleys, sitting beside us in restaurants, applying for jobs. They will be members of our communities.

It is only common sense. It is not only from a moral point of view but it is from a self-interested point of view for us to ensure we do everything possible when we make policy to improve the situations that cause them to commit their crimes in the first place. That is why the New Democratic Party is a consistent voice for putting resources into crime prevention and into resources that address and attack the fundamental causes of these people's criminogenic behaviour where we can do so.

What I see in Bill C-10 is an accumulation of ineffective policies to solve a diminishing problem that is inexorbitantly expensive. I do not see how that will make a noticeable dent in the problem that we have in this country.

At the public safety committee, we asked a person from the United States who is a member of an initiative called right on crime to appear before our committee to tell us about the experience in the United States. The person who came up was the appointee of Ronald Reagan as the original drug enforcement agency czar. He also was the chief architect of the tough on crime policy that has been pursued by the United States over the last two decades.

What he told us was remarkable. He told us that the policies of toughening up sentences and incarcerating more people in the United States by pursuing policies like mandatory minimums, lengthening sentences, taking away judge's discretion and reducing sentencing options for judges has resulted in poor outcomes. He said that it threatened to bankrupt the treasuries of every state in which these policies are being pursued and that it has made no noticeable dent in crime. So, after spending billions and billions of dollars and locking up hundreds of thousands of citizens, the net result was that they were nearing bankruptcy and the crime rate was unaffected.

I said to members opposite in the House at that time that they had the benefit of the justice department and public safety department and that they had access to our civil servants who can access research that one hopes is being done before legislation is being brought before the House. I asked them to tell me the name of one jurisdiction anywhere in the world, a state, a government or a province, where these policies that the government seeks to put into law have resulted in safer communities with lower crime rates.

The answer I received was that there were none. No country could be named. That is instructive. Before we embark on a policy that will cost the Canadian taxpayers billions and billions of dollars, it is instructive and responsible of us as legislators to do our homework and to at least have an even chance of accomplishing the goals that we seek the money to achieve.

Crime is not an issue that is restricted to Canada. Every society in the world is grappling with this, whether it is Europe, Asia, South America or Africa. Crime exists everywhere. This is not a unique situation. We have examples all over the world of different approaches to dealing with crime. We have very harsh approaches, like the current government seeks to take our country in, and we have examples of more lenient approaches.

Surely there is a wealth of information in this world that we can glean from and craft best policies to ensure we accomplish the goals that Canadians want us to accomplish, and that is to ensure we prevent crime as much as we can and to reduce the possibility that somebody will commit a crime a second time.

I want to talk a little bit about police officers because our party, the New Democrats, has been calling, through the last three elections, for the increase of 2,500 police officers in this country. We do believe in putting police officers on Canadian streets and using them properly.

In my view, that means putting them in our communities and having police officers on bikes. Putting them around high-crime areas like sky train stations in my city of Vancouver is an important way that we can improve community safety.

The Conservative Party promised to create 2,500 police officer positions in the 2008 election. I have met with police boards and police chiefs across this country and they all tell me the same thing, that only a fraction of those 2,500 police officer positions have been created. The reason is that the money the federal government promised to give jurisdictions to create those positions has been reduced from ongoing funding, to five-year funding, to three-year funding. Police chiefs have looked the Conservatives in the eyes and said that they are not creating a single position when they only have funding for only three years.

There is no funding for the civilian staff that each police officer position engenders. The money has been transferred to provinces with no strings attached. The provinces have received that money without any obligation to actually create police officer positions and, in some cases, that money or portions of it have disappeared into provincial treasuries' general revenue.

The Conservatives have not fulfilled their promise to Canadians to create those 2,500 police officer positions. I would encourage them to do so because they have unanimity on this side of the House to do that.

If we really want to improve our justice system and reduce crime on our streets, we need to add more prosecutors and judges in this country. Our courts are overburdened. There are cases kicked out of courts across this country every day for want of prosecution and delay. I see nothing in Bill C-10 that adds police officers, judges, prosecutors and nothing that addresses addiction, mental illness and crime prevention. Those are valid, fact-based criticisms of this bill.

I will talk about what I have also seen in our federal prison system. There was a program in our federal prisons called CORCAN which allowed inmates to learn skilled trades and engage in programs like making furniture. The furniture would then be sold to the federal government at reduced prices. It was a win-win situation. It gave underskilled inmates an opportunity to learn soft and hard skills, to learn the discipline of work, to learn skills that would allow them to survive on the outside and maybe have a better chance of escaping the criminal lifestyle. It also gave the federal government much needed equipment at a reduced price.

Do members know what has happened to the CORCAN program? It has been reduced. I am not saying that rhetorically. If people were to go to Kent Institution 90 kilometres outside of Vancouver, they could walk into the CORCAN rooms, which are three big rooms that look like industrial arts labs in junior and senior high schools, and all they will find are storage rooms. They are empty.

The government has closed prison farms. We have had big debates, and I do not intend to open that debate again, but there were prison farms operating at four or five institutions in this country that were absolute models of success. They gave offenders a chance to learn soft skills, to get up in the morning and show up for work. They had responsibilities. The arguments I heard in the House about the closing of the farms were absurd, like those people would never find work on a farm. That is not the point of prison farms. The point of prison farms is to teach skills of responsibility, of working together, of having to show up at the same time every day, working with animals, for hardened people to emotionally reconnect and consider the feelings of other people and learn responsibility. They were very effective programs and the government closed the farms.

This bill is titled “the safe streets and communities act”. I think it should more aptly be called “the overcrowded prisons, no crime prevention and overburden taxpayers with no results act”. That is just as accurate a title as any other.

I want to talk a little about some of the pieces of Bill C-10. Part of this practice of governing that the Conservative Party has proven a predilection for is to take a whole bunch of unrelated bills and throw them into one great big conglomeration before the House, which is a very imprecise and ineffective way to govern because we then need disentangle all of the pieces, some of which are good, some of which are bad. I want to focus on some of the pieces of this.

I want to talk about the international transfer of offenders provision of the bill.

For many years, Canada has had a provision whereby Canadians who are convicted abroad have the opportunity to apply to serve their sentence in Canada. This is not done just because they want to. The host jurisdiction must agree, Canada must agree and the offender must agree.

There are criteria and the criteria are that they must satisfy the Canadian authorities that they are not able to access proper rehabilitation services in the country of origin, sometimes because no English or French is spoken, sometimes because there is no rehabilitation programs and sometimes if there is particularly compelling humanitarian and compassionate grounds. We all remember the fellow who was convicted with Conrad Black, his compatriot, who successfully applied and came back to Canada.

There is another important reason that the bill is important for public safety. If a Canadian in the United States finishes his or her sentence, the second after that sentence is completed the individual is deported back to Canada. The individual comes into our country and we have no record of him or her coming and we have no probation and no parole. We do not even know that the individual is in our community.

If the person is actually transferred back to Canada, however, and serves his or her sentence in Canada, we have a record of the sentence and we often will have parole conditions so that when the individual is released from jail we can impose conditions and monitor his or her re-entry into Canadian society. It is actually better for public safety and community safety to have this program.

This bill essentially would gut that program. It would allow the minister to have virtually unparalleled discretion to refuse such a request without any real kind of review. That is not good legislation.

I want to talk briefly about the pardon system.

The New Democrats, not last June but the one before, worked with the government to toughen our pardon system. We are the ones who proposed that we give the National Parole Board the power to deny a pardon in any case in which the administration of justice would be brought into disrepute. We added the provision that someone convicted of manslaughter would be prohibited from obtaining a pardon for 10 years whereas it was 5 years before.

Those are the provisions that would prevent Karla Homolka from getting a pardon, which, under the Conservative government's watch, was going to happen unless we did something. The New Democrats worked with the government to ensure that did not happen.

The government has now come forward with further pardon provisions that are simply unjustifiable. It wants to deny the ability of anybody with more than three convictions from ever in their entire life qualifying for a pardon. We heard evidence before our public safety committee from people in that situation, people who had four convictions or ten. We heard from one who had 26 convictions, and it sounded really bad.

The person with 26 convictions had a constructive story. He was a young executive who was recently married and bought a house and his wife developed leukemia and died. He went into depression and he started selling steroids for six months. Over the course of those six months, he engaged in selling steroids over the Internet. When he was convicted, he pled guilty. For every one transaction involving the sale of steroids, he had multiple convictions: possession, trafficking and there were offences because he was selling across the border. He is now an executive with Corus media. He appeared before our committee as a bright, rehabilitated, productive member of our society. This is the kind of person who would be prevented from getting a pardon under this legislation.

The “three strikes and you're out” approach that has been prevalent in places like California are being repealed in those jurisdictions because they have found that it has put a straitjacket on their justice system. That is not effective and it does not result in better community safety. It is also expensive.

The New Democrats are opposed to this because we want to create effective, strong, rational, fact-based policy that will likely result in safer communities, which, as I said at the beginning of my speech, is the goal of everybody in the House.

I would urge the government to listen to what the experts say, listen to what people across the justice system have to say, and not pursue a blind, ideological approach because it may be good wedge policies, but to actually work together with all members of the House to craft good policy to make our communities and our country safer for everyone.

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.


James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, the member for Vancouver Kingsway demonstrated again with his speech why I have such respect for him and the thoughtful way in which he presents his perspective on criminal justice reform, but I would encourage him to recognize that the approach our government has taken, both in the previous two Parliaments and again in this Parliament, is actually based on a great deal of consideration of the perspectives of provinces and of those who are not necessarily Conservative supporters and voters.

As a matter of fact, in the last Parliament, as the member knows, we eliminated the faint hope clause, we got rid of two-for-one sentencing for criminals, and we established mandatory minimum prison sentences for those who are sexually abusing our kids. We did these, by the way, with the support of the NDP government in Manitoba and, in British Columbia, as he knows, the then solicitor general critic for the NDP, Mike Farnworth, who is now the House leader for the NDP in British Columbia. These are radical right-wing people. Mike Farnworth, I think, would describe himself as a proud socialist, but he recognized the common sense of standing beside those who are victims of crime and not having a litany and a constant focus as a government on only those who are committing the crimes.

I entirely respect the approach that he recommends rhetorically, which is to have a balanced approach as a government, and we do. We have programs. A Chance to Choose is a phenomenal program in my riding that supports kids who are at risk of becoming career criminals, who are without any kind of structure in their lives. We support those kinds of programs. However, we also believe in making sure that the common-sense approaches to ensuring that we are tough on crime are in fact a part of the government's agenda. That is what this legislation is about.

By the way, Canadians are with us. It is why we have a majority. It is to pass this legislation and to get it done, and we are going to do it.

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.


Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I respect the thoughtful intervention by my hon. colleague from British Columbia, but I am not sure whether there was a question. I suppose it just reflects a different philosophy of how best to achieve those safe communities that we all want.

For instance, I understand why the Conservatives would have criticized the faint hope clause. They would want someone who has committed murder to serve the full sentence. In general, I agree with that. The reason I supported the faint hope clause is that, as a lawyer myself, I know that a cookie-cutter approach to justice does not work. Often one case with a unique set of circumstances comes up where someone could demonstrate that he or she has earned the right to come back into society. We want there to be that carrot-on-a-stick approach. We want people to have that incentive. Corrections officers have told me it is a good tool for maintaining co-operation and good behaviour in jail when people think that if they behave properly they may have a chance of getting some sort of benefit from it.

These are some of the tough considerations that go into these difficult issues, and I appreciate that they are different perspectives on this matter.

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The member for Vancouver Kingsway will have seven minutes remaining in the period for questions and comments when the House next considers this matter.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

6:30 p.m.


Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand in my place and look for a few answers to a question I asked on June 8 concerning cuts to DFO.

Before doing that, I would like to thank the people of Cardigan for having faith in me once again and re-electing me to the House of Commons. It is important that I bring to the House the issues that affect the people of Cardigan, but of course this issue affects people right across Canada. The fishing industry is so important to the people of my riding.

There are many concerns in the fishing industry and one of the major concerns is what takes place with respect to midshore seiners.

I would first bring to the attention of the government the edge project which gave 2,500 tonnes of spring stock in herring that would be able to be applied in the fall. The fishermen in my riding and the fishermen in Prince Edward Island are trying to fish herring right now and they cannot catch herring. It is a serious problem if they are trying to make a living. It is nothing to smile about. The fact of the matter is these people need to catch fish in order to make a living and they are not catching them.

When there is a reduction in the funding for DFO, it is very difficult to find out just what effect these kinds of changes have. The government can spend $90,000 a day and up to $20 million in order to have consultants tell the government how to put cuts in place, but it is pretty difficult for people involved in the fishing industry or even the people who work where my office is located, in Montague, P.E.I., in the claims processing area to find out that they have no job.

I want the government to look at the economic benefits and how important the safety issues are. Of course, we must have the research capacity in order to ensure we have a strong fishery. The problem economically is when the funding is cut, we have no wharf repair. All across my riding and in places like Avondale, Hants County, and Little Harbour in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, there are a couple of wharves in Atlantic Canada that are starving for dollars. These kinds of things are so important.

Regarding the rationalization program, when the member responds to my question, could he tell me if the rationalization program will continue? Prince Edward Island depends so much on areas 24, 25 and 26A. The fact is that the licences are issued by the Government of Canada. They are owned by the Government of Canada. Many people in my area have invested a lot of dollars in the fishing industry but they just cannot make a living. We need to ensure these dollars are put in place.

I would like the parliamentary secretary to indicate what will be done for the fishermen and people involved in the fishery who have little or no catch. What will happen to the rationalization program? Why would the government reduce or remove the coast guard from Newfoundland and Quebec to Halifax? Newfoundland would seem to be a pretty sensible area to have a coast guard. It is impossible to understand. Why would the government slash the budget when it is so necessary? More dollars are needed in the small-craft harbours for research, safety and to ensure they have the structure in place to enable people to go fishing. I hope the parliamentary secretary will elaborate on these questions.

6:30 p.m.

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission B.C.


Randy Kamp ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to say a few words about our government's commitment to the fishing industry in Canada.

As my colleague will know from his briefing that the minister offered to him in the spring, we take this responsibility very seriously. Our government has consistently ensured that Fisheries and Oceans Canada has the funding to properly implement the programs and policies for which it is responsible.

Since 2006, the annual operating budget for Fisheries and Oceans has seen steady incremental increases each year of approximately $1.4 billion in 2005-06 to more than $1.8 billion in 2011-12. This, for example, has helped us address the neglect of harbours and vessels caused by the significant underfunding of the department in the mid-1990s when, I might add, my friend was a member of the government, and at the same time to tackle ongoing and unforeseen challenges, like storm damage.

In addition to annual increases in the department's operating budget, our government injected an additional $455 million in direct stimulus to Fisheries and Oceans Canada as part of Canada's economic action plan.

As a result, we were able to complete more than 240 repair, maintenance and dredging projects at small craft harbours, procure 98 new vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard, upgrade an additional 40 Coast Guard vessels and enhance 16 laboratories across Canada, among other projects.

The economic action plan did what it was intended to do: provide short-term economic stimulus and target important projects across the country.

We now have the opportunity to take stock of our departmental programs to ensure we are continuing to respond to the priorities of Canadians. We must ensure our programs, like those in every department of government, are efficient, effective and achieving the expected results for Canadians.

That is what the strategic review process has been all about. Under strategic review, Fisheries and Oceans Canada worked to identify ways to continue its transformation toward a streamlined, efficient and responsive department.

Modernizing fisheries management, adopting new technologies and eliminating duplicative work are ways the department can focus on its core mandate and ultimately spend Canadians' tax dollars more wisely.

The department did not undertake this process lightly. Every change proposed was carefully considered and designed to improve the work we do and the services we provide.

Our government will build on recent achievements to promote the best interests of long-term, viable fisheries that are both ecologically and economically sound for future generations to enjoy, fisheries that are characterized by stability, predictability, transparency and trust.

I know that some reports have focused on the potential impact of the budgetary measures on our workforce, so I will say this. We estimate that a very small percentage of employees could be affected over three years and our goal is to address this reduction to the greatest extent possible through attrition, reassignment, relocation, planned retirement and other staffing mechanisms.

Once the details are finalized, managers will talk to employees who are affected. We owe it to employees to speak with them before making details public. We will make every effort to identify re-employment opportunities within Fisheries and Oceans or other federal departments.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is at an important juncture. The minister and I are committed to working hard, consulting with stakeholders, getting as much information as we can and making decisions that are in the best interests of the long-term economic prosperity of the fishing industry in Canada.

6:35 p.m.


Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am sure my hon. colleague, who I know quite well, is concerned about the fishery.

I have one example in the Malpeque Harbour where a boat went aground. The boat was lost but the lives were saved. However, when dollars are taken out of DFO and when the capacity and manpower of the Coast Guard is reduced, and I would like the member to indicate whether they will be reduced or not, not only does it endanger the fishermen but the Coast Guard expertise is not there when needed to ensure that lives are saved.

It is important that we keep the infrastructure in place, that we have the dollars for the dredging and that we have the Coast Guard fully equipped, instead of being reduced which is the case now. I hope my hon. colleague will elaborate on that.

6:35 p.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, the minister has answered this a number of times. He said that the on-the-water service that the Canadian Coast Guard provides will not be affected.

However, I hope my colleague agrees with the main point that taking opportunities to review a department's expenditures is an important practice because it forces one to look at every dollar of expenditure in light of the bigger picture. That is what we have done.

Over the next few years, this is what this will mean. We will see accelerated progress toward a more modern, economically and ecologically sustainable fishing industry. We will see regulatory practices that are characterized by clear rules, consistently applied, bringing predictability to stakeholders. It will mean programs and services that are better aligned with priorities, more efficient, relevant and better designed to take advantage of modern technologies.

That is a worthwhile destination and I encourage my friend from Cardigan to support us as we work hard to get there.

6:40 p.m.


Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have a chance to speak and have a debate on the question that I asked in June.

I stated that despite the Canada Revenue Agency giving itself A grades on service to taxpayers, an internal audit found that these grades were in fact inflated by almost 20% and fell well below acceptable standards. I asked the minister to please explain this lack of accountability to Canadian taxpayers, who have the right to expect timely and respectful service. It seems like a reasonable question.

The CRA falsifying their own audit is really tied into bad service that affects individuals and especially small business tax filers. In fact, on my recent tour of small businesses in rural British Columbia I heard that small businesses are being left out by the government and that the complexity of tax filing and administrative reporting is a nightmare. A vast array of administrative charges that affect them are announced in budget after budget, which the government then does not implement in their implementation bills, or if they do, they then do not come into force. Those small businesses that can afford professional advisers are spending a lot of time and money on a complicated system set in place by the government's ineffectiveness and mismanagement.

One would think that the response to me would have been that this is an important issue and that the government would look into it. However, that was not what I received as a response. In fact, the minister at the time claimed that an important example of how the government was doing just fine with respect to my question was the taxpayer bill of rights and the Office of the Taxpayers' Ombudsman.

Well, there has been very strong comment among those who work with those two offices in that they are completely ineffective. I will read from an article in the National Post by Mr. Drache, a Quebec-based lawyer, entitled “Taxpayers' Bill of Rights a weak publicity stunt”.

The writer talked about the community being “underwhelmed” by the announcement of a Taxpayer Bill of Rights, “because we've seen it all before”.

In 1983 the Conservatives latched onto a hot issue: abuses by Revenue Canada. They then stoked the public's outrage about that and then proceeded to do nothing about it. It was a public relations stunt.

This is another public relations stunt. The ombudsman's office lacks teeth and is not a benefit to the taxpayers, especially to small business people who are struggling to fulfill their responsibilities in job creation and stoking the engine of our faltering economy. They need help. They do not need just platitudes from the government.

6:40 p.m.

Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo B.C.


Cathy McLeod ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I am certainly delighted to have the opportunity to give more extensive discussion to this very important question and I thank my colleague for the intervention.

This question was asked of the minister in June of this year. The member takes a rather negative view of the report; however, we welcome these findings, as they provide an opportunity to make efficient and effective program improvements that will support the agency's focus on GST and HST.

I do want to note again that the audit found that controls currently in place support the responsibilities and activities of the GST-HST rulings program, which includes the provision of accurate and consistent rulings and interpretations. It revealed that functional support to field offices is strong, and working relationships with internal and external stakeholders are well established and effective.

The audit also identified that controls relating to planning, forecasting and the allocation of resources should be strengthened.

I can share with my colleague that in response to CRA's own internal audit, the agency has taken a number of steps to address the issues identified.

These measures include the establishment of collaborative working groups to examine and recommend appropriate changes regarding issues related to workload management, quality monitoring and outreach; consultation with the strategy and integration branch to ensure consistency of GST-HST rulings external service standards with other CRA programs and corporate practices; and ongoing monitoring of GST-HST technical publications to ensure they remain accurate and up to date.

Our government is very much action oriented, and when potential improvements are identified, we move quickly. I believe this is part of the reason that in May of this year, Canadians chose to give us a strong, stable majority government.

Canadians gave us a mandate to focus on the economy. Creating jobs and growth are issues that really matter to Canadians. We have created over 600,000 net new jobs since the beginning of the recent global economic downturn, and 80% of those are full-time positions.

Just this week the International Monetary Fund forecast that Canada will have the strongest overall economic growth of the G7 countries over the next two years. The IMF praised Canada for our “relatively healthy economic fundamentals” and our “sounder fiscal and financial position”.

While these are encouraging signs, Canada is not immune from the economic turbulence facing the global economy, especially in Europe and the United States. That is why we need to stay the course and implement the next phase of Canada's economic action plan.

I do want to quickly make note of the red tape reduction commission, which has support from the CFIB. The hon. member talked about talking with small businesses. We have talked with small businesses across the country, and they have made some great suggestions. They are very positive. It is a process that is going to really move forward in terms of great results for small and medium-sized businesses in Canada.

I invite the member to support our government and help us implement these very important measures for Canada.

6:45 p.m.


Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for mentioning the red tape reduction as a process, because so far it is all process and no action. That is not good enough for small businesses.

The member talked about HST-GST. That is another case where the government disassociated itself from its own actions. The Conservative Prime Minister gave British Columbia a take it or leave it ultimatum, giving that province no time to consult and leading to the disaster that we have today, which is falling squarely on small businesses that will have to adapt to a whole new tax structure.

The government cherry-picks the facts and figures around the economy and fails to reveal the reports that are negative about how Canada is doing, and they are there.

Canadian taxpayers are not naive and they are not stupid. The government must stop treating them that way. When the government says one thing and does another, people become cynical.

How can Canadians believe in—

6:45 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I must interrupt the member, as her time has expired.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue.

6:45 p.m.


Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member from the third party for taking an interest this evening.

Our government is committed to the fair and equitable tax treatment of all Canadians. That is why we have created the taxpayer bill of rights, along with the Office of the Taxpayers' Ombudsman. That is also why we mandate government agencies like CRA to conduct internal audits.

Internal auditing is in place in order to keep the agency accountable and to ensure that service to Canadians is constantly improving. Audits generally result in change, and change leads to improved services for Canadian taxpayers.

While it is obvious we cannot get the third party to share our view that taxes should be lower and that their ideas for massive tax hikes would kill Canadian jobs, surely we can agree that internal auditing is important in order to improve services for Canadians.

6:50 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The motion that the House do now adjourn is deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to an order made on September 19, 2011.

(The House adjourned at 6:50 p.m.)