House of Commons Hansard #167 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was amendments.

Topics

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I stand here with my colleagues sharing our position as the official opposition in opposing Bill C-15 at second reading. My colleague from St. John's East and others have been involved with the content of the bill for some time. What I find disconcerting is that here we are rehashing the debate when so much good work took place at committee, where recommendations and changes were made to the legislation.

Yes, there was an election, so all of that work fell off the table. But when the government had the chance to put forward a bill that truly reflected the discussion that took place at committee, the kinds of testimony heard from top witnesses, it chose to discount the critical amendments to truly make the legislation what it could be, a piece of legislation that seeks to make military justice in Canada fair and truly just to the utmost extent.

The NDP has been clear in recognizing that, while Bill C-15 is a step in the right direction to bring the military justice system more in line with the civilian justice system, it falls short on key issues: reforming the summary trial system, reforming the grievance system and strengthening the Military Complaints Commission. It is really about two fundamental values that we hold dear as Canadians: the concepts of fairness and justice.

The reality is that we in the NDP believe that members of the Canadian Forces are held to an extremely high standard of discipline. It is something we all hold as such in our society. However, the members who put their lives on the line for our country deserve a judicial system that is held to that comparable high standard as well, something that is currently not the case and certainly will not be achieved by Bill C-15.

Many Canadians would be shocked to learn that the people who bravely serve our country can get a criminal record from a system that lacks the due process usually required in civilian criminal courts. For us, it is critical to fight for more fairness in the Canadian military justice system for the women and men in uniform who put their lives on the line for service to our country.

I know a number of my colleagues have referenced the summary trial system and the importance of making sure we are moving forward in that respect. I would note that countries we often look to, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, have seen fit to change their own summary trial processes. The question is: Why is Canada lagging behind? We have the opportunity to follow in the steps of these countries, but also to set a leadership standard on our own and to clearly state as a priority that the military justice system stand for fairness and justice for people working in the military, something we civilians know to be the case when it comes to our system.

In terms of the summary trial system, the amendments in Bill C-15 do not adequately address the unfairness of summary trials. Currently a conviction of a service offence from a summary trial in the Canadian Forces may result in a criminal record. Summary trials are held without the ability of the accused to consult counsel, there are no appeals or transcripts of the trial and the judge is the accused person's commanding officer. This causes an undue harshness on certain members of the Canadian Forces who are convicted of very minor service offences.

For example, some of the minor service offences include insubordination, quarrels, disturbances, absence without leave and disobeying a lawful command. These could be matters that are extremely important to military discipline, as we know, but they are not worthy of a criminal record. As we know, it remains a struggle for military personnel, once they leave the military, to get on and get settled with their life outside the military. Obviously a criminal record would be debilitating and further exacerbate the challenges many former military personnel face as they go on to pursue employment opportunities outside the military.

What better role could the Government of Canada play than to ensure that military personnel both have the justice they deserve while they are providing military service and also are not unduly penalized because of that unfair system once they leave the service?

We noted that there needs to be reform of the grievance system. At present, the grievance system does not provide a means of external review. Currently it is staffed entirely by retired Canadian Forces officers, some only relatively recently retired. If the Canadian Forces grievance board is to be perceived as an external and independent oversight civilian body, as it was designed to be, then the appointment process needs to be amended to reflect that reality. Thus, some members of the board should be drawn from civil society. The NDP amendments have provided that at least 60% of the grievance committee members must never have been officers or non-commissioned members of the Canadian Forces. This is one of the amendments that was passed in March 2011 in Bill C-41 but was not retained in Bill C-15, before us in the House today.

The third point is about strengthening the Military Police Complaints Commission. Bill C-15 amends the National Defence Act to establish a timeline within which the Canadian Forces provost marshal would be required to resolve conduct complaints, as well as protect complainants from being penalized for submitting a complaint in good faith. Although this is a step forward, we in the NDP believe that more needs to be done to empower the commission. For example, care has not been taken to provide the Military Police Complaints Commission with the required legislative provisions empowering it to act as an oversight body. The commission must be empowered by a legislative provision that would allow it to rightfully investigate and report to Parliament.

On that note, on the need to strengthen the Military Police Complaints Commission to ensure that those in the military have access to the kind of justice all Canadians would expect, the concept of ensuring the independence of complaints commissions and the ability to review and investigate what is currently taking place is something to which we need to see a greater commitment from the government side in a whole host of areas. One of the areas that has also been discussed is the RCMP.

Despite the rhetoric we have heard from the government in favour of greater fairness for those working in the RCMP, the complaints commission there requires greater support. Canadians require greater assurance that the complaints commission of the RCMP will be independent. The reason I raise this is that we have heard about some serious allegations, some tragic stories around sexual harassment in the RCMP. That is something I am very concerned about, as the status of women critic for the NDP. There needs to be a policy when it comes to sexual harassment in the RCMP, but there also needs to be an assurance and clear legislative commitment to strengthen the independence and the role of the complaints commission. It is very much the same scenario in the case of the military. When we are talking about ensuring that members of the forces have access to justice and a fair system for recourse, we need to be looking at strengthening the Military Police Complaints Commission.

Finally, what we are asking of the government, and certainly what we would have hoped for, is that it would have taken the deliberations of the committee and the final amendments made by the committee in hand and, rather than reinvent the wheel, recognize that the work has already been done and the template is already there to ensure that whatever we do with regard to strengthening military justice in Canada be done with access to justice and fairness for military personnel as a foremost priority. It is a priority for us in the NDP. We hope to see that same kind of reciprocation from the government at some point soon.

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Ajax—Pickering Ontario

Conservative

Chris Alexander ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, what we regret on this side is that we are having to endure repetitive, often ill-informed speeches today about this important issue by the opposition. The recommendations of Justice Lamer have been pending for nine years. This bill has been before the House for a year, and yet we hear the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands asking us why the name of the grievance board is being changed and who proposed it. It was the Canadian Forces grievance board itself. If members have not taken the occasion to inform themselves about this bill, they would do well to make their remarks elsewhere.

On this side of the House, we are committed to moving this bill forward to make sure that many summary trial convictions no longer result in criminal records. The only thing standing between the current situation where that happens and a reformed system where it will not happen is the speech by the member for Churchill, which is literally preventing us from implementing a reform we all want to see. We too want the reforms she outlined. Let us move to committee and get them implemented.

My real question for her is this. Why have a quota on non-military members of the grievance board? Does the member for Churchill not have faith in Canadians with military experience to take an oath and serve with pride and integrity on that board? Why a quota?

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is truly disappointing that we have to resort to Conservative talking points instead of having a truthful debate in the House about how we could make the National Defence Act and military justice a true reality.

I know the member across the way is newly elected—I guess it has been some months now—but I would ask him to look at the records of the defence committee that, in March 2011, passed NDP amendments and others to strengthen Bill C-15 that simply are not in the bill we are talking about today. Why did the government not include changes with respect to strengthening the Military Police Complaints Commission or the kinds of changes the committee asked for with regard to summary trials? That is the question I would like answered by the government, and why are Conservatives so keen on reinventing the wheel instead of going back to amendments they themselves allowed to be passed?

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is funny to hear that speeches made during a debate are obstructing a bill. The fact that we were elected as members of Parliament and our very presence in the House are not an obstruction in and of themselves, but that is a whole other issue.

The situation is interesting. I would like to ask Conservative members why they did not include all the amendments in the bill. However, I cannot ask them that question, unfortunately, since none of them deemed that issue important to present a speech on it today. The one exception is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, who always asks the same questions and says we lack a good understanding of the issue. Based on what I know, some amendments were adopted at committee, a committee composed of members from all parties. Unfortunately, it is obvious today that the Conservatives will do anything to keep committees from doing their work. There was a time when committees were able to do that work.

Although my colleague cannot answer that question, I would like her to speculate on why the Conservatives did not keep bill C-41 just the way it was.

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question.

I totally agree with his remark. The government seems to be quite allergic to any recommendations coming from committees. Instead of recognizing the work that was done to improve this bill, the Conservatives have chosen to waste our time by introducing a bill that lacks foundation. It is disturbing to see that the government is trying to go back in time and does not recognize how important it is for Canadian Forces members to be offered not partial justice, but full justice.

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

John Rafferty NDP Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this particular subject, particularly so close to Remembrance Day. It is particularly fitting, apropos, if I may say, that we have this debate today.

I would like to give a bit of background for those who are perhaps not familiar with the bill and are watching at home. I am continually amazed at how many people in my riding watch CPAC and watch it carefully.

In October of last year, the Minister of National Defence introduced Bill C-15. The bill is called an act to amend the National Defence Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts. Its short title is the strengthening military justice in the defence of Canada act.

The bill would amend the National Defence Act to strengthen military justice, following the 2003 report of the former chief justice of the Supreme Court, the Right Hon. Antonio Lamer, and the May 2009 report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

It is important for my friends across the way to listen carefully, because they need to know that the NDP believes that this legislation is a step in the right direction. The bill is not entirely out in left field. I am sure that some members will agree with me that the Conservatives have had bills that have been out in left field—

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

It is right field.

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

John Rafferty NDP Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

They are the Cardinals to our San Francisco Giants, I guess, Mr. Speaker. That is the way I look at it.

Among other things, the bill provides greater flexibility in the sentencing process. It provides additional sentencing options, including absolute discharges, intermittent sentences, and restitution. It modifies the composition of a court martial panel according to the rank of the accused person. It modifies the limitation period applicable for summary trials. It allows an accused person to waive the limitation periods and clarifies the responsibilities of the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal. It makes amendments to the delegation of the Chief of the Defence Staff's powers as a final authority in the grievance process.

I do not want people watching at home to think that there are not some good things in the bill as it moves forward. The bill is a step in the right direction. It is a step in the right direction toward bringing the military justice system more in line with the civilian justice system. However, Bill C-15 falls short on key issues when it comes to reforming the summary trial system, reforming the grievance system, and strengthening the military complaints commission.

In 2003, the Right Hon. Antonio Lamer, who is the former chief justice of the Supreme Court, presented his report on the independent review of the National Defence Act. It contained 88 recommendations. Bill C-15 is the legislative response to those recommendations, but to only 28 of those recommendations. Sixty are missing. Only 28 of those recommendations have been implemented by this legislation through regulations or by way of a change in practice.

This legislation has also appeared here in earlier forms, first as Bill C-7and then as Bill C-45, which died on the order paper due to prorogation in 2007 and the election in 2008. In July 2008, Bill C-60 came into force, and some changes were made at that time.

In 2010, Bill C-41 was introduced to respond to the Lamer report. It outlined provisions related to military justice, such as the things we are talking about today: sentencing reform, military judges and committees, summary trials, court martial panels, the provost marshal, and limited provisions related to the grievance and military police complaints process.

In essence, Bill C-15 is similar to the version that came out of committee in a previous Parliament. The amendments carried over include court martial composition and military judges' security of tenure, meaning appointments and age.

However, other important amendments passed at the committee stage at the end of the last parliamentary session were not included in Bill C-15. These included, not surprisingly, NDP amendments that we felt were and are important. One was the authority of the Chief of the Defence Staff in the grievance process, which responds directly to Justice Lamer's recommendation. Another was a change to the composition of the grievance committee to include 60% civilian membership. Third was a provision ensuring that a person convicted of an offence during a summary trial is not unfairly subject to a criminal record, and that is no small thing.

Let me say again, because I know that my friend across the way will be asking me a question, that there are many important reforms in the bill. We support the long overdue update of the military justice system. Members of the Canadian Forces are held to an extremely high standard of discipline, and they, in turn, deserve a judicial system that is held to a comparable standard.

However, there are some shortcomings in the bill, and we hope that they will be addressed at committee stage if the bill passes second reading.

The first is the reform of the summary trial system. The amendments in the bill do not adequately address the unfairness of summary trials. Currently, a conviction for a service offence in a summary trial in the Canadian Forces may result in a criminal record. Summary trials are held without the ability of the accused to consult counsel. There are no appeals and no transcripts of the trial, and the judge is the accused person's commanding officer. This causes undue harshness for certain members of the Canadian Forces who are convicted of very minor offences.

Some of these minor service offences could include, for example, insubordination, quarrels, disturbances, absence without leave, and disobeying a lawful command. These are matters that could be extremely important to military discipline but that I do not feel are worthy of a criminal record.

Bill C-15 makes an exemption for a select number of offences if they carry a minor punishment, which is defined in the act, or a fine of less than $500 so that they no longer result in a criminal record. This is one of the positive aspects of the bill, but it does not, in my opinion and in the opinion of the NDP, go far enough.

At committee stage last March, NDP amendments to the previous bill, Bill C-41, were carried. They expanded this list of offences that could be considered minor and not worthy of a criminal record if the offence in question received a minor punishment.

A criminal record could make life in the military very difficult and could make life after the military very difficult. Criminal records could make getting a job, renting an apartment, and travelling difficult. Many Canadians would be shocked to learn that the people who bravely serve our country can get a criminal record from a system that lacks the due process usually required in civilian criminal courts.

The second amendment we talked about was a reform of the grievance system. I know that my friend across the way will probably have a question about that. At present, the grievance committee does not provide a means of external review. I think that is important. Our amendment provides that at least 60% of the grievance committee members must never have been officers or non-commissioned members of the Canadian Forces. The amendment was passed but was not retained in the bill as it stands today.

The third amendment concerns strengthening the Military Police Complaints Commission. I do not think care has been taken to provide the Military Police Complaints Commission with the required legislative provisions that empower it to act as an oversight body.

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Ajax—Pickering Ontario

Conservative

Chris Alexander ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, indeed, the member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River anticipated my question, because it still has not been answered, and I have put it several times today.

There are 27 categories of infraction under the summary trial system that can result in a criminal record that we agree, as a government, need no longer result in a criminal record. The minister confirmed that yesterday. We want the draft to go back to what Bill C-41 reflected in the last Parliament. We think it is timely but also urgent that this happen, given that this bill has been before the House for a year and that the recommendations, of which we have accepted 83 out of 88, have been before this country in one way or another for nine years.

Why does the member opposite insist on joining all of his colleagues in holding up the work of the committee, which really should be making sure that these reforms are enacted as quickly as possible? Instead, the member is repeating the same requests and criticisms we have already heard from dozens of his colleagues today. Why not move to action, if he really believes that the members of the Canadian armed forces deserve our respect, our support, and the very best military justice system for these times? Why do we not move on to action in committee, when we agree on the outcome we all want?

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

John Rafferty NDP Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, the committee will be looking at this.

Let me clarify that this is a step forward. This is a bill that moves in the right direction. However, the reason I stand up here and talk about these other things is that the committee will soon be doing its work on this bill after second reading. The members of the committee need to know where the official opposition stands on this bill so that there can be a good, decent discussion in committee about the amendments we think need to move forward and some conciliation and give and take. That is what Canadians expect us to do. We will continue to hammer away at these points, because we feel that they are important.

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Paulina Ayala NDP Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to read a quote from Colonel Drapeau's testimony to the committee studying the bill. This is what he had to say:

I strongly believe that the summary trial issue must be addressed by this committee. There is currently nothing more important for Parliament to focus on than fixing a system that affects the legal rights of a significant number of Canadian citizens every year. Why? Because unless and until you, the legislators, address this issue, it is almost impossible for the court to address any challenge, since no appeal of a summary trial verdict or sentence is permitted. As well, it is almost impossible for any other form of legal challenge to take place...

I would like to know the member's thoughts on this.

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

John Rafferty NDP Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is the crux of the matter. We believe that all Canadians should be treated fairly and equally, whether they are in the armed forces or not.

I said earlier that the Canadian Forces are held to a very high standard of discipline and that in turn, they deserve a judicial system that holds a comparable standard. A criminal record can make life very difficult for people in the military and after their time in the military. I know that the parliamentary secretary and the other people on the committee will work hard to ensure that the things we are talking about today will be incorporated into this bill. I would like nothing better than to support a revised bill at third reading.

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence stood up repeatedly and criticized members for standing up and representing their constituents in the House.

It is a peculiar kind of attitude coming from the other side, saying that we should be very democratic but when we actually try to stand up and talk about things important to our constituents then they accuse us of wasting the time of the House.

I wonder if the hon. member has any reflections on those interventions from the parliamentary secretary?

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

John Rafferty NDP Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know the parliamentary secretary to be an honourable and decent man, so let me just say this. A lot of Canadians would be shocked to learn that the people who serve our country so bravely can get a criminal record from a system that lacks due process, the due process that is usually required in civilian courts.

We will continue to fight to bring more fairness to the Canadian military justice system for the men and women in uniform who put their lives on the line in the service of Canada every day.

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The time for government orders has expired.

HuntingStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Garry Breitkreuz Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, fall is the time of year that hunters look forward to as they harvest the abundant species of ducks, geese, deer, moose, elk and bear. Rural and urban Canadians of all ages and from all walks of life contribute billions of dollars annually to the national economy through hunting, fishing, sport shooting and trapping. Hunters also play an important role in managing our species and environment.

People who hunt and fish have led the conservation movement for well over a century. The greatest environmental success story in the history of the world is the restoration of wildlife populations and habitat on the North American continent. Populations of wildlife were in danger of extinction due to unlimited harvest. Hunters emerged as leaders in an effort to reverse this trend. People who hunt and fish donate more time, sweat and money to conservation than all other groups combined.

Those who denigrate hunting for their own agendas need to look at the real facts. Young people benefit from learning respect for our environment by participating in our outdoor heritage activities.

Let us celebrate the conservation leadership and benefits of hunting.

VeteransStatements By Members

October 23rd, 2012 / 2 p.m.

NDP

Dany Morin NDP Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, for more than a year now, my team and I have been supporting the efforts of a veteran in my riding who is being negatively impacted by a government that wants to send Canadians to the front but quickly forgets about them when they return. Daniel Couture lives with the consequences of his military service every day.

Having received the maximum amount of compensation permitted by law some time ago, he cannot count on any further benefits. However, as months pass, Mr. Couture is afflicted by new problems. Some days, he cannot even get out of bed because he is in so much pain. High doses of medication make his life difficult and he feels as though he has been abandoned by the Department of Veterans Affairs, which should be there to support him.

I find it unacceptable that this situation is tolerated by the Government of Canada.

Mr. Couture gave the best years of his life for his country. I am now calling on the Minister of Veterans Affairs to do his job and to help improve the living conditions of a man who sacrificed his health for his government's decisions.

International Day of the GirlStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Roxanne James Conservative Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, each year October marks Women's History Month, a month to commemorate the many important contributions women have made to Canadian society. Women's History Month was even more memorable this year because on October 11 Canadians had the opportunity to celebrate the first ever International Day of the Girl.

As a woman, mother and member of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, I was thrilled to mark this occasion by joining over 200 girls in grades three to seven at the Toronto District School Board's young women on the move workshop, presented by Dove and co-hosted by Plan Canada and Because I am a Girl. The focus of the workshop was building self-esteem and the message I delivered was that as girls, we can do anything.

I am especially proud that Canada led the international community in adopting this day and I wish to thank, on behalf of all girls, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Status of Women for making the International Day of the Girl a reality.

Brain Tumour Awareness MonthStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, this month is Brain Tumour Awareness Month. This month alone, close to 100 Canadians will learn that they have brain tumours. Between the ages of 20 and 40, brain tumours are among the top three deadliest forms of cancer. Among children, they are now the deadliest form of cancer.

There are 120 different types of brain tumours. They are all unique and require individualized treatment. This diversity makes research difficult, but progress is constantly being made, and the survival rate has gone up.

However, more work and commitment are necessary. Advances in technology alone will not provide a cure. We need to track brain tumours, malignant and non-malignant, which is a critical element of research and can lead to more effective and life-saving treatments. In general, investment in research and support for those with brain tumours and their families is absolutely essential.

Oil and Gas IndustryStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Conservative Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the time to thank the 30 members of Parliament who accompanied me on a two-day educational tour of Fort McMurray and the oil sands this summer. They were given the opportunity to see the economic engine of Canada at work.

I would also like to take the time to thank CAPP, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Syncrude Canada, Suncor Energy Inc. and the Fort McMurray regional airport, which together worked very closely with Health Partners International of Canada to raise enough money to send one million dollars' worth of Canadian medicine to the world's most needy, including countries such as Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

The oil sands industry is taking steps like this to invest in the most important capital project in the world: the health of its citizens. I thank the people of the oil sands and oil sands corporations for taking time to help heal the world.

Litterless Lunch ChallengeStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to announce the winner of my third annual litterless lunch challenge. The challenge which I hold each year in my riding during Waste Reduction Week encourages students to pack litter-free lunches. This year over 50 classes from 10 schools participated, including the entire staff at School District No. 43. This year's winning class, which was 91% litter free, comes from Riverview Park Elementary.

I want to congratulate Mrs. Allen and Mrs. Donnelly's grade three-four class and also congratulate all students, teachers and parents who made this year's challenge another success. They did a great job and I hope they will continue to reduce waste all year round.

New Democratic Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Conservative Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, the NDP is attacking Conservative members in an attempt to change the channel on their carbon tax plans.

The NDP leader thinks that by dispatching his benches to spread patently false information about Conservative MPs, Canadians might not flip to page 4 of his platform where it outlines that the NDP plans to raise $21 billion by putting a price on carbon.

Conservative members are active in our ridings, where we are hearing from constituents who care about their jobs and their pocketbooks. At every event I hear from people who oppose the NDP's plans to increase the costs of everything and threaten their jobs.

Perhaps this comes as a surprise to the member for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, but my constituents do not want to pay higher prices every time they make a purchase in order to fund wild new NDP spending schemes.

I will continue to stand up for my constituents by opposing the NDP's reckless plan to threaten manufacturing jobs and hurt families in my riding.

Automotive IndustryStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Conservative Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate Ford, GM, Chrysler Canada and the Canadian Auto Workers union for concluding important four-year contracts. With these contracts Ford and GM Canada eliminate their cost-competitive gap versus UAW plants in the northeast United States, while Chrysler Canada narrows its gap, allowing all three automakers to protect and, for Ford and GM Canada, add new Canadian jobs. That is good news for Windsor-Essex, the auto capital of Canada.

Our government has stood with auto workers and the industry through our automotive innovation fund investments and by helping the industry avoid bankruptcy in 2009, measures opposed by the NDP.

What our government will not do is risk auto jobs by implementing the NDP's $21 billion carbon tax that would make minivans and the gas they run on more expensive.

Auto workers can trust our Conservative government to stand with them and grow the auto industry in Canada.

Border CrossingsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Jacob NDP Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, since January, many immigrants have been entering Canada illegally through the riding of the hon. member for Compton—Stanstead, and then going to Magog, which is in my riding.

I am not terribly worried about refugee claimants. The people I am worried about are those who come with criminal intentions, such as human or weapons trafficking or the importation of drugs.

The Minister of Public Safety can continue to deny that there is a problem, but the budget cuts to the Canada Border Services Agency are illogical and harmful. What is more, Morse's Line, East Pinnacle and Glen Sutton are three border crossings in my riding whose hours have been reduced, which is creating serious problems in the region with regard to safety and socio-economic imbalance. It is time that the government recognized that public safety and the economy go hand in hand with resource deployment, not with cuts.

I would therefore like to reissue the invitation that the opposition extended to the Minister of Public Safety last Sunday to come and see for himself the effects of his government's budget cuts—

Border CrossingsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar.