House of Commons Hansard #181 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was nation.


Helping Families in Need ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed)

Safe Food for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at the third reading stage of Bill S-11.

The hon. Chief Government Whip is rising on a point of order.

Safe Food for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.


Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, if you seek it I believe you would find agreement to apply the results from the previous vote to the current vote, with the Conservatives voting yes.

Safe Food for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?

Safe Food for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members


Safe Food for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.


Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, the NDP agrees to apply the vote, and it will vote yes.

Safe Food for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals agree to apply the vote, including the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie.

Safe Food for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.


Louis Plamondon Bloc Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, QC

Mr. Speaker, the members of the Bloc support the motion.

Safe Food for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.


Bruce Hyer Independent Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, Thunder Bay—Superior North will be voting yes.

Safe Food for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Green Party will be voting yes.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #497

Safe Food for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed)

Safe Food for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

It being 6:15 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from October 15 consideration of Motion No. 385.

BullyingPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.


Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, as I explained the last time I commented on this bill, I am saddened by the extent to which people, especially young people, are affected by bullying.

For example, we all remember Marjorie Raymond, a young, 15-year-old girl from Gaspésie who committed suicide last year, after years of bullying at school. We also remember Jamie Hubley, another 15-year-old from Ottawa, who took his own life last year after being humiliated and insulted by classmates because of his homosexuality.

We all want to put an end to bullying. However, the approach by the Conservative Party and the NDP will do nothing to address the issue. Even if the challenge is enormous, we already see many potential solutions, both in the provinces and abroad, and the fact that we only put off everything until later without committing to any action could leave us without a solution to fight against this serious problem affecting our society.

The federal government has a role to play in combatting bullying, and here it should be noted that the previous Liberal government was active in this regard. When I was first elected to the House in 2002, the then Minister of Justice, Martin Cauchon, initiated an anti-bullying ad campaign and boasted that through the national crime prevention strategy, the government of the day was involved in over a hundred projects across the country designed to deal with the question of bullying.

One example was the then minister for multiculturalism, Jean Augustine, who spoke in the House of the program called reaching across differences, which provided information and training to elementary school children in British Columbia to increase their awareness of the impact of discrimination and bullying.

Here we must remember that bullying needs to be addressed from multiple angles, as a question of justice, of safety and health, of multiculturalism, of education, of the status of women and so on. One cannot adopt a myopic approach that treats the matter as solely something for the criminal law to be addressed after the fact. Prevention is the key.

Regrettably, how to prevent bullying is not an easy question. Many groups have studied the question and report back that it involves families, teachers, schools, communities and fostering a culture that goes beyond zero tolerance, to use a phrase from the Fondation Jasmin Roy, to 100% intervention. Many of the efforts in this regard involve items of provincial jurisdiction, such as education or realms the law does not touch easily, such as what our children see on television or even what they observe in their own homes.

That said, there exists a plethora of groups and initiatives in communities across the country that the government should continue to support. Moreover, Ottawa must collaborate with the provinces to ensure that each level of government is supported by the other to ensure maximum efficiency and that redundant efforts are not made. In short, we need a comprehensive and collaborative national bullying strategy. This is something on which we can all agree.

Unfortunately, today, we are not debating a strategy or a bill. Instead, we are debating a motion to create a special committee that will study the issue for 12 months and then write a report.

This is the main issue: if we adopt this motion, we will study the problem for 12 months, and we will create a report that will require nothing from anyone and might not lead to any bill and any additional funding to community organizations. We will only have a nice report with black ink on white pages that the government will be able to ignore as soon as it comes off the press. How will this contribute to improving life for our young people? That's what we call putting off things.

While I emphasize the need for a national bullying strategy, I am concerned about a process that gives the Conservatives a blank cheque to say what they feel is appropriate and will only result in a report to be issued in a year from now, which could easily be ignored.

Moreover, the motion itself does not define the scope of bullying to be studied by the committee, such that committee meetings on this could look at union busting, political intimidation and other types of intimidation that may not involve young people at all.

As I mentioned, various governments have looked at this question previously in response to a spate of teen suicides resulting from bullying. Numerous American states have changed their laws to address the epidemic of bullying, in particular, cyberbullying.

In that regard, my colleague, the member for Vancouver Centre, proposed legislation that passed in the House at second reading to ensure that cyberbullying would be caught by Canada's Criminal Code. I look forward to Bill C-273 coming back from the justice committee and being adopted by the House.

Such concrete actions are what the House should be studying and adopting rather than engaging in the exercise of study yet again. We have plenty of examples to turn to from around the world. In the U.K., for example, the education and inspections act gives headteachers the power to regulate the conduct of pupils when they are not on school premises and are not under the lawful control or charge of a member of school staff. This can relate to any bullying incidents occurring anywhere off school premises, such as on school or public transport, outside local shops or in a town centre, for example.

The U.S. state of Maryland has one of the most aggressive anti-bullying laws in the country, with students encouraged to fill out anonymous forms when incidents occur, protections for students who blow the whistle and reports of incidents published by schools are accessible to parents so they can monitor the school climate.

Simply put, there is no shortage of ideas out there for how to combat bullying and we all agree that this is a grave problem that must addressed urgently. In that regard, I do not fault the sponsor of this motion for wanting to help. We all want to help and do what we can. My biggest concern is that he proposes the committee trust the Conservative majority to come up with a solution.

As I noted at the outset, bullying is an epidemic in our country that all too often has tragic consequences. I applaud the parents, teachers and community groups seeking to make a stand and improve the lives of youth affected by bullying. I hope Parliament will also play its part for we must all work together to make the bullying of young people a thing of the past.

BullyingPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise here today to speak in support of the initiative brought forward by my NDP colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord. His initiative involves developing a national bullying prevention strategy.

My colleague's motion, moved on October 15, 2012, remains current and extremely relevant, especially considering the growing number of suicides that have been linked to bullying. A very recent case comes to mind involving a teenager named Amanda Todd, from British Columbia, who was a victim of bullying. In her case and others, isolation at school can cause kids to drop out or, sadly, even worse, to commit suicide.

Considering the seriousness of the situation, we have a duty to take action, which is why it is so important, as my colleague's initiative proposes, to call on the government to examine the prevalence and impact of various kinds of bullying. A national bullying prevention strategy would also look at the best ways to go about tackling the problem. Creating a special committee is a wonderful idea for examining the problem of bullying in Canada.

In Drummondville, in my riding of Drummond, people are very active in the fight against bullying. Furthermore, we have an anti-violence committee that includes several organizations. The committee decided to create a subcommittee strictly dedicated to the fight against bullying. I have the honour of sitting on that committee and attending meetings with the goal of creating an effective bullying prevention strategy in Drummondville and the greater Drummond area.

On October 1, the anti-bullying committee, my team and myself organized an evening to fight bullying. The theme was “Bullying, let's talk about it”. Over 18 committees, organizations and educators were present. I want to name them because it is really important to show the scope of the event and the importance of having people from the greater Drummond area involved in the fight against bullying, which is a very complex issue. Everyone must take action against this problem. The Rose des vents de Drummond, PANDA Mauricie/Centre du Québec, the Maison Marie Rivier, the Centre d'écoute et prévention suicide Drummond, Marie-Reine Cercle 407, the AQDR Centre-du-Québec, Commun accord, the Sûreté du Québec, Judo Drummondville, the Centre d'aide aux victimes d'actes criminels or CAVAC, the Collège Saint-Bernard, the Calacs La Passerelle, the GRIS-Mauricie/Centre-du-Québec, the Maison des jeunes de Saint-Charles and the Commission scolaire des Chênes, among others, were present.

All these people put their shoulders to the wheel to make this event a success. This allowed us to talk about bullying and to try to demystify its harmful effects. I am really proud that my community is tackling this issue.

Scientific literature shows that prevention yields better results than criminalization. It is important to realize that some of the most effective laws against bullying are provincial laws, for example in the field of education. However, the federal government must still act and show leadership on this issue. For example, cyberbullying is related to telecommunications, which is a federal jurisdiction. This national strategy to fight bullying should be developed in co-operation with the provinces, the territories, municipalities, schools, parents and young people.

The government should also follow the example of other countries that have made great strides in this regard. For example, the Finnish program KiVa is considered to be one of the world's best national programs against bullying. In Finland, the emphasis is on education. The program's objective is to influence and encourage people who witness bullying behaviour to intervene and put a stop to it. In cases of bullying, as an alternative to expelling the culprits, a dialogue takes place between the bully, his victim and other student witnesses. That is a good example of a government program in which education plays a key role in the fight against bullying.

Since 1994, the federal government in Sweden has been demonstrating leadership by requiring all schools to develop a plan to combat bullying. The United States government has set up a website that serves as a public information centre on bullying. In 2001, the American government also organized a conference and summit on bullying prevention. This event brought together many key stakeholders at all levels of government, experts, parents and young people.

It is important to see all the good things that are being done around the world to deal with bullying, which is a very serious problem. These things also help us to understand bullies better. Often bullies act the way they do because they are not comfortable in their own skin and they have low self-esteem. Witnesses often do not speak out against these offensive acts. Of course, there are also the victims, who are the first to suffer. This suffering does not always lead to suicide, since it is not always the most extraordinary and blatant suffering that is the most serious. Suicide is only the tip of the iceberg. The part of the iceberg hidden under the water is the true inner suffering of many people.

Over the years, the NDP has always been against bullying in all its forms. Unfortunately, history has shown us that the Conservatives do not really want to tackle the issue of bullying. Yet the provinces, community organizations and educational institutions need help. The federal government has to play a lead role in the fight against bullying. We hope that the government will show leadership and will finally work with the provinces, the territories, the educational community and even parents and youth. It is very important to involve youth in the fight against this very serious problem.

In fact, we are deliberately placing our youth in a vulnerable position. Stakeholders and experts are adamant about the need to promote education and prevention in order to combat bullying and cyberbullying. We need to address the root causes of the problem to better understand its complexity. To that end, the government must support initiatives to better train stakeholders from various communities.

However, the government must first reflect on the bullying phenomenon and attempt to fully comprehend it. For this reason, I am both proud and happy to support the motion moved by my colleague for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord. We need a game plan. The government must stop wasting time and dragging its feet on this issue. Faced with the escalating number of unfortunate events triggered by bullying in this country, it is urgent that we act now.

It is for all these reasons that my colleague's proposed national bullying prevention strategy is such a wonderful initiative. It reflects the values that Canadians and the whole of the NDP caucus hold dear. I think back to the late Jack Layton, who did an outstanding job throughout his career fighting bullying and the exclusion of people because they are different. Let us try to remember that we are all different, in one way or another. We are all unique, we all have our role to play and our own identity.

It is important to make sure that everyone has the chance to express themselves and to grow. I am very glad to belong to a party that has had a leader like Mr. Layton, and now Mr. Mulcair; indeed, through his vision of a country where no one is left behind, where exclusion is unheard of, Mr. Layton has cultivated our desire to fight against bullying. That is why I am very proud to support this motion. I once again congratulate my colleague for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord on his motion.

BullyingPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.


Lise St-Denis Liberal Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, bullying in schools has become a cause for concern to all Canadians. Many examples of violence against children have made newspaper headlines in recent years. We are experiencing a profound change in social codes associated with new technologies and modern means of communication. We can no longer put our heads in the sand and claim ignorance of these violent incidents affecting most of our communities.

We no longer live in isolation, but rather in an open world receptive to ideas, fashions and trends from around the world. This globalization of our relationships has sometimes happy, sometimes disastrous consequences for citizens, particularly children. We offer our children a world full of promise, but we have so little control over the flow of information conveyed through all the social media that have now become our standard means of expression.

Having been a teacher for three decades, I can attest to the tremendous transformation that has occurred in social relations among students at educational institutions since the early 1960s. Our world has changed at a dizzying pace, and we have not had time to reflect on the kinds of relations we maintain among ourselves. Young people are often placed in unavoidable situations at school since school is a fertile ground for experimentation of all kinds.

In recent years, we have made room for all these social communication networks, which have gradually broken down social structures and forms of communication, even at our educational institutions. Our duty today is to consider the various forms that bullying can take and the dangers stalking youth who are in constant contact with new information technologies. Even as adults we are not immune to abuse. One need only read the social media every day to agree that defamation, verbal abuse and insults abound in these 21st century forums.

I was particularly shocked to see that violence against young girls, in the form of bullying, is on the rise and that its consequences are disastrous to say the least. Verbal abuse, physical abuse, threats, extortion, defamatory remarks and racial and sexual insults are part of the everyday lives of thousands of young Canadians. How can we stem the flow of these reprehensible acts in educational institutions without creating repressive, sectarian "reform" schools?

This debate has reached all levels of society and has left no one indifferent. Children have too often been forgotten in our society, and since we must look for solutions to address this insidious violence spreading through our schools, we must have the courage to consider the sources of that violence.

I am one of those people who believes in education, having worked in that field for decades. When I taught, I always tried to put my students above all other concerns so they could be the centre of my educational activity. They were my purpose. In facing the threat that bullying represents, we must join forces and set our political stripes aside. We must raise the debate above our usual partisan politics so that we can understand the sources and causes of all this violence. We must make children the Canadian government's priority. Together we must look for solutions to the violence undermining our societies.

Violence is committed against children on aboriginal reserves, in French-Canadian villages, in Ontario, in British Columbia and across Canada.

Bullying is one form of violence against children, but make no mistake: violence has a thousand other faces and expressions.

The fact that we lack the courage to help children who suffer from hunger or a lack of education or who do not have access to decent housing is reflected, among other things, in this deterioration in relations among young people.

Our actions will be an utter waste of time if we are incapable of examining the origin of all this violence. We have abandoned our children. We had a world full of promise. We rethought our education system. We rebuilt our infrastructure. We redesigned Canada but forgot the most disadvantaged among us, those who have no voice.

Our duty is to address the issue of bullying so that today's children can know a world where there is no violence in their schoolyard, their classroom or their now-global village.

In this deterioration in relations among young people, I beg my colleagues to see the truth about the place we give the children of our country. We have ratified the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, believing in humanist principles that abhor violence and asserting fundamental rights such as the right to education and to protection.

We have belonged to all the forums that have asserted children's right to dignity and respect. We have been at the forefront in standing up for the rights of the most disadvantaged around the world, but have we failed in that task in our own communities?

Development inevitably depends on respect for fundamental rights. These principles, which are entrenched in Canada's charter, must guide us in developing policies on children's rights.

We have unfortunately gone back to square one for thousands of children in Canada who experience violence every day in the form of bullying, but also in the form of hunger and too often in a lack of decent housing or educational resources. The right to life, health and education can only be expressed through our common will to include our children in our social and economic development actions.

We are at the dawn of other major social changes, and Canada must remain an example of respect for human rights. Every form of violence finds its source in imbalance, whatever it may be. Our desire to succeed must not make us forget our primary responsibility toward our children.

While violence today is made manifest through modern technology, it still finds its source in the individual injuries of these children who are forgotten, mistreated, dispossessed and destitute. It is up to us to make room for children.

Today my colleague is moving a motion to strike a special House committee responsible for developing a national bullying prevention strategy.

The Liberal Party supports that motion.

BullyingPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.


Paulina Ayala NDP Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, Motion No. 385 moved by my colleague against bullying certainly strikes a nerve. I used to be a high school teacher and I am a mother whose children attend school. Therefore, I am a first-hand witness of acts of bullying and their consequences on our youth and our society at large.

On January 18, 2011, the Public Health Agency of Canada published the following on its website:

The thought of our own child being bullied at school, on the playground or in cyberspace is a huge concern to parents everywhere.

It would be important to define bullying. For that, I will use my document on the bullying prevention strategies used in Alberta.

Bullying is defined as a conscious, wilful, deliberate and repeated hostile activity marked by an imbalance of power, intent to harm or a threat of aggression. Severe bullying can lead to a feeling of terror on the part of the person being bullied.

Bullying affects everyone, even the bullies. From their own actions and the lack of action by their peers, they learn that antisocial behaviours and exerting control over others (verbally, physically, socially or by e-mail) are acceptable and effective.

In fact, at one point or another in our lives, we have all been a victim or a perpetrator of acts of bullying or we have witnessed acts of bullying. Bullying is harmful and is not a normal part of growing up.

Bullying can take various forms such as:

Verbal bullying: name calling, insults and criticism, threats and intimidation.

Social bullying: excluding others from a group, intimidation and teasing by a group.

The bully will say it is just a joke, but the joke cuts like a knife through the other person's heart.

Physical bullying: to hit or injure someone.

Cyberbullying: to use a computer or other technology to harass or threaten someone.

[According to the experts] bullying is the assertion of power through aggression. Its forms change with age…

Bullying starts at elementary school. It is not only a problem among teenagers. It may also occur among the elderly.

Homophobic language is often the most common verbal form of bullying, yet it is the least responded to by students and trusted adults.

In other words, many people stand idly by when others are bullied on the basis of sexual orientation. I would also like to turn my attention to cyberbullying, including being threatened, harassed or humiliated over the Internet. This phenomenon has become a scourge.

Bullying has consequences. Studies show that bullies and their victims are at greater risk of developing emotional problems later in life. When a child in your family has been bullied, you often realize from his behaviour that something is wrong: he does not want to go to school, he is often sad or even aggressive at home. You may wonder what is going on.

When you ask the teacher what is going on in the classroom, she may say that it is nothing serious and that all it amounts to is the games children play. Then, one or two months later, you realize that your child has been excluded or mistreated by his classmates, for months and perhaps for years. Soon, the child is no longer interested in having friends and becomes a loner, because he feels that the other children are mean. And that is that.

Bullying may result in poor self-esteem and a lack of self-confidence. It may have a negative effect on a child's social skills and on his happiness, even as an adult. There is also the matter of guilt. I know of a bully who, as an adult, still remembered how much he hurt a little girl by stealing her candy on Halloween.

Moreover, the bully also has to come to terms with his inability to solve his own problems. He uses aggression as a crutch to solve problems of a different nature.

By tolerating bullying, we are not teaching children to solve their own problems or to behave in an acceptable manner with others.

Other consequences of bullying include depression and missing out on opportunities to grow up. Childhood is a time to learn, to grow and to discover activities that will be useful in adulthood. Bullying can, to a large extent, adversely affect a child's ability to participate in activities, to learn and to have fun both in school and in society in general.

Finally, the most dramatic consequence is suicide. In extreme cases, a child may decide that death is preferable to interminable bullying.

On the subject of bullying, I would like to speak about three groups. Youth are often the focus, but today I would like to talk about immigrants, children and seniors. Often, immigrants are threatened with deportation by their sponsors. I know of a woman who was sponsored by her husband and had a child by him. The man threw her down a staircase and told her that if she reported him he would send her home and keep the child. That is an example of bullying. The woman was afraid.

Let us also consider the case of a Portuguese permanent resident of Canada who was bullied recently. He was threatened with expulsion from the country although he had been living here a long time. Bullying can also be institutional. Think of the temporary immigrant workers with an individual employer, who live in isolated situations and often do not speak either English or French. If they complain about anything at all regarding their working conditions, they will be sent back. What do they do? They keep quiet; they do not even dare to complain.

Some young immigrants to Canada say that they face racism and xenophobia, but admire the freedom of Canada’s youth culture. Because they are subject to discrimination at school, they form groups—that may be called gangs—to find the strength they do not have alone. Sometimes this leads to bad behaviour.

A report on immigrants indicated that in 1999-2000, the latest year for which statistics are available, the vast majority of immigrants in the groups being studied thought it was difficult to feel accepted as Canadians, and most faced ostracism and bullying at school. Many of them indicated that not only the other students but also the teachers and school staff were part of the problem. The report also examined the community support available to immigrants.

Last week I attended a party in my riding with a number of young teens who had just come from Haiti with their families, who were sponsored. They hardly spoke any French and their parents spoke even less. The organizations that welcome these people and give them hope have had to reduce their staff, for lack of funding.

I will go back to the report, which says:

While immigrant youth generally adapt well to Canadian life, problems remain, and many community service providers do not have adequate resources to help young people address these problems.

I now want to talk about older persons, our grandparents and parents. They also are subject to all kinds of violence and bullying. Mistreatment may happen to old people who live at home or in a care facility. It may take various forms: physical abuse, emotional abuse, financial exploitation or neglect. Physical and psychological abuse are forms of bullying. What often happens is that old people are told that if they do not give what is being asked for, no one will visit them and they will not see their grandchildren.

Lastly, I am very concerned about violence and abuse toward children. It has been talked about a great deal. The communication media can play an active role. If there could be television programs where children learn to speak up against bullying and are invited to talk about it, we would all win. To that end, an infrastructure is needed. For that, my colleague’s bill is truly necessary.

BullyingPrivate Members' Business

6:50 p.m.


Sylvain Chicoine NDP Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to debate an extremely important issue that concerns all Canadian youth: the scourge of bullying.

Bullying has serious consequences for our youth. That is why I am rising today to emphasize to my colleagues opposite that it is important to take action to address this serious problem affecting our communities.

I believe the members here present are aware of the impact this scourge has on our youth. We need only think of all the cases that have made the news in recent months. Young victims of bullying have committed the tragic act of taking their own lives.

In response to this problem, more and more Canadians are calling on the government to take action to combat bullying properly. Current efforts are inadequate, and the governing party has unfortunately come up with no solution to the problem.

The leadership of the Conservative Party refuses to adopt a tough approach to bullying and prefers to leave that task to the provinces.

We hope the federal government will show some leadership and work with the provinces and groups that combat bullying, as well as all other stakeholders, to solve this problem once and for all, instead of simply washing its hands of the matter and handing it over to the provinces and schools concerned by the problem.

As proof of the Conservatives' inaction, when my colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, whom I congratulate for this important motion, asked a question about the suicide of Marjorie Raymond, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety suggested that bullying was the responsibility of everyone except the federal government. This lack of leadership on the government's part is utterly unacceptable.

That is why my colleague introduced this important motion because, unlike the Conservative Party, we want to take action to ensure that our children and teenagers are no longer victims of bullying.

This motion urges the government to study the prevalence and impact of various types of bullying and to evaluate the best ways to combat the problem by establishing a special committee to study bullying in Canada. It asks the government to study, by means of a special committee, the four types of bullying, which are physical bullying, verbal attacks, indirect attacks such as the spreading of rumours, and , and to determine their effects on our communities. It also asks the government to do a more effective job of disseminating best practices for combatting all forms of bullying and to support organizations that have the necessary expertise to combat the problem effectively.

There are a number of approaches to combatting the problem. Some have proven successful and others have failed. It is therefore important that all stakeholders from the various communities have access to this information and know the best approaches so that they are able to adopt the approach that can produce the best results depending on the situation.

I would therefore like to emphasize that anti-bullying strategies that focus on prevention rather than criminalization will indeed have a better chance of succeeding. That is why this motion emphasizes prevention programs instead of proposing a bill to amend the Criminal Code.

Studies in psychology define bullying as acts, repeated over time, that intentionally cause harm to others where there is a power imbalance. Bullying includes physical behaviour, such as punching, kicking and biting, and verbal behaviour, such as threatening, name-calling, insulting, denigrating or making racist or sexist remarks. Bullying can also include social exclusion, such as spreading rumours or gossip, or ignoring, rejecting or socially isolating a person.

Studies also show that boys are more likely to engage in bullying and to be bullied than girls. With boys, bullying takes many forms, especially physical aggression and the use of force, whereas girls seem to prefer indirect forms of bullying, including social isolation, spreading rumours and maligning others.

There is a whole range of signs indicating that a child is being bullied: sometimes children may invent illnesses so that they do not have to attend school; their money or belongings may be missing; they may have trouble sleeping; they may be irritable; they may have trouble concentrating; they may change their routine unexpectedly; or they may have problems from an academic standpoint. It is important for schools and parents to be aware of the symptoms of bullying so that they can identify them.

According to a study done in Toronto, teachers are aware of approximately 4% of all cases of bullying. However, 70% of teachers believe that they are aware of most cases of bullying and that they intervene in most incidents, whereas students estimate that teachers intervene in only 25% of cases. Only 60% of victims tell their parents when they are bullied.

As I mentioned, bullying has extremely serious consequences for victims. For example, boys who are bullied are five times more likely, and girls three times more likely, to experience depression than their classmates. Victims of bullying are more likely than their classmates to have suicidal tendencies, as is evident in several cases reported by the media.

Moreover, studies show that the consequences of bullying do not diminish over time. Bullying has long-term consequences. According to The Journal of the American Medical Association, 23-year-olds who were bullied during their childhood have high levels of depression and lack self-esteem, even though they were neither harassed nor socially excluded in adulthood.

Moreover, there is a very close correlation between bullying others during childhood and anti-social behaviour during adolescence and adulthood. Children who were bullies may become teenagers who sexually harass others, engage in criminal behaviour, get involved in gangs, and are violent toward their life partner. In adulthood, they harass their work colleagues or abuse their spouse, their children and sometimes even seniors. Preventing bullying, therefore, helps to reduce the likelihood of criminal behaviour later in life. It is a matter of public safety in both the short and the medium term.

Many countries have developed anti-bullying programs. Every country has a different approach, but they have all decided to take an active role in combatting this problem. For example, a program in Colorado tries to identify and change factors in the school environment that contribute to bullying, since to be effective, we must be able to target all of the risk factors. This program encourages elementary school children and high school students to take responsibility for safety at their school and to participate in developing and maintaining a school environment where everyone is safe. The program is more likely to be effective when children are more directly involved in all steps of the preventative approach.

Another program in Colorado managed to reduce the number of bullying and victimization incidents by 50% and considerably decrease incidents of anti-social behaviour, such as vandalism, fights, theft or students skipping school. They also noted a significant improvement in the social climate, order and discipline in class, and in social relations, as well as a much more positive attitude towards school and school work.

That was a brief overview of the situation. I think it is time to take action. We cannot stand by while our children are being bullied at school. The time for making speeches is over. We can no longer settle for talking about compassion. We must take concrete action to combat bullying and support this important motion. I think it is an excellent measure to adopt.

I urge all of my colleagues to do so.

BullyingPrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before I give the floor to the hon. member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue, I will tell her that she has six or seven minutes left for her speech, because we must leave time for a response.

The hon. member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue.

BullyingPrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.


Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to the motion against bullying, made by my hon. colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord.

We must fight bullying wherever it exists because we know it is a serious problem.

The federal government must take steps to greatly reduce this serious problem, which is growing among Canada’s youth. It is now found in elementary schools, as I have seen in my own riding.

In an elementary school in Rouyn-Noranda, last February, worried parents had had enough: some 15 of the 50 children in the school did not go to school for several days as a protest by their parents, who were worried about the violence and bullying and fed up with broken promises. Fifteen children out of 50 is nearly one-third of the school’s population.

The provinces, including Quebec and Ontario, and some schools and school boards are already taking steps, but more effort is needed. It is a national epidemic. As we have seen, with great regret, the consequences can be extremely serious. I am thinking about the young people of 11, 15 or 17 who committed suicide because they believed their torture would never end.

Bullying has also changed. It no longer is confined to schools. Now there is cyberbullying through social networks. Young people can be continuously exposed to bullying 24 hours a day. Moreover, it is even easier to do such things when hiding behind a computer. Thus, it is even more important for the government to act. Cyberbullying is a problem that lies within federal jurisdiction. In other fields, it is a provincial matter, and that is why the federal and provincial governments must co-operate to reach a solution.

We need an action plan based on studies and facts, with input from families, stakeholders and victims from across the country, in order to eliminate this problem in the long term. In addition, studying this problem in a committee, as my colleague has proposed in his motion, could help us find long-term solutions.

Parents and grandparents are worried that their children are being bullied. Parents, too, often feel powerless in this situation, and powerless to help their young people overcome their problems.

I would like to talk about André Lavigne, a resident of Rouyn-Noranda and a Second World War veteran. He is very much involved in finding practical solutions to the problem of bullying in Abitibi-Témiscamingue. One of his granddaughters was a victim of bullying. He told me how important it is to create real solutions and to get the entire community involved. According to him, the current approach is like putting buckets under a leaky roof.

That is exactly what this motion is intended to do: act quickly, but find a real solution.

He understands that a concerted effort by all stakeholders is necessary, that the problem must be taken seriously and all resources committed to permanent change in situations where youth across the nation are subject to bullying and violence.

When young victims take their own lives, it causes a lot of talk, and the political classes agree that it is not acceptable. But that is only the tip of the iceberg. Most people who are bullied are not being talked about and not doing media interviews, but they are suffering serious problems like depression, anxiety and sleep loss. Without help, some of these child victims will suffer the consequences the rest of their lives.

Bullying can affect everyone. Tommy Thibodeau, from La Sarre, was bullied as a young boy. Today, as the author of Entre l'ombre et la lumière, he gives talks at institutions in the region on how to deal with bullying. He has dared to speak out. When he gives talks, many people identify with what he says. He survived, but others may not have that chance. His experience could help other youth and institutions take effective measures against bullying, and that is what this motion proposes to do.

We also have to think, from a social and medical point of view, about taking care of those who are bullied and the people who bully them.

The federal government also has a role to play in this area and can lend impetus at the national level.

As I said, people who have been bullied may suffer from mental health problems, such as chronic depression, even into adult life years later. Bullies are often young people with other problems, such as family problems, for example.

To combat bullying, we must not only put tools in place to help people who are bullied; we must also consider the bullies. In some cases, bullies are former bullying victims for whom bullying was the only way out.

We need a national anti-bullying and anti-cyberbullying strategy. We must bring stakeholders together and discuss best practices across Canada to provide specific, effective tools for organizations, parents and institutions. Lastly, we must provide support for stakeholders in the field.

For all these reasons, I will tirelessly support the motion of my colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord because I believe it is high time we found a long-term solution and took the trouble to think about this issue and help our children build their future.

BullyingPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord has a five minute right of reply.

BullyingPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.


Dany Morin NDP Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud of the debate that we have had in the House. I would first like to thank all the members who spoke during the two hours of debate, whether they were New Democrats, Liberals or Conservatives.

Before I continue my speech, I would like to say that I am proud that the Kid's Help Phone called me today to formally offer me its support. I would also like to thank this organization for supporting this motion, which is very dear to my heart and to the hearts of so many people here. Regardless of the role we want to play to combat bullying, I think that everyone's heart is in the right place.

I would also like to thank those who did not have the opportunity to speak during the two hours of debate because I know that these people, these adults, have been leaders over the past few years and that they have told young people and Canadian society that we must combat bullying, whether it was in the course of their duties in the House of Commons or elsewhere in the media.

I am going to take the four minutes that I have left to quickly thank them. There are so many that I cannot thank everyone, and I apologize for that.

First, I would like to thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice who said the following on April 24:

She was referring to the cyberbullying bill introduced by the member for Vancouver Centre and stated:

I would just like to raise for our consideration a few points regarding the approach this bill is proposing. I would ask members to think about the scope of the bill and the fact that it only addresses the issue of cyberbullying and not the broader issue of bullying. In my opinion, these two types of bullying are so closely intertwined that it may well make more sense to deal with both together.

I totally agree with her. In fact, I believe we must take a comprehensive view of the issue. That is why my proposed national bullying prevention strategy takes aim at bullying as well as cyberbullying.

I would very much like to thank the member for Vegreville—Wainwright who, in the fall of 2010, stood in the House to present three distinct petitions on behalf of Canadians. These petitions asked the Government of Canada to introduce a bill to address the issue of bullying. He even added his own thoughts, and for that I am very appreciative.

On November 4, 2010, he said:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of constituents, mostly from Edgerton and Chauvin in my constituency, who note that bullying is becoming a very significant problem in Canada. Particularly with the new communication methods, including the Internet, email, cell phones, et cetera, bullying is becoming easier for people to carry out.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to consider introducing legislation that would target putting an end to bullying.

Thank you very much.

I would also like to thank the member for Tobique—Mactaquac who said, on January 27, 2009:

Mr. Speaker, bullying is a problem that Canadians have faced for generations. Today one in four kids is bullied, one in five is a bully and 282,000 high school kids are attacked each month nationally.

Bullying has changed over the years. While there are still bullies in the schoolyards, advances such as the Internet and text messaging allow bullying to happen anytime, anywhere, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Sadly, once there is a habit of childhood bullying, this behaviour can continue into the workplace.

My sincere thanks go out to him as well. I would also like to thank the deputy government whip and member for Kitchener—Conestoga, who said the following in response to Jer's Vision:

Bullying in any form and for whatever reason must never be condoned. It is a serious social issue that will require all of us – families, parents, students, educators and government to each do our part to stop it.

As well, when speaking in the House about the suicide prevention strategy, he said:

There is already lots of good work being done in suicide prevention across the country, but with some federal coordination and federal leadership, we can do better for vulnerable Canadians.

I would like the hon. member to know that I totally agree with him and believe the government has a role to play in terms of coordination. I do not believe the government has a miracle solution, nor do I believe my proposed strategy to be a miracle solution. We must all work together.

There are so many members I would like to thank, including the members for Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, Portage—Lisgar and Ajax—Pickering. I am short on time, but I would also like to thank everyone who stood in this place in the last few years to address the bullying issue.

BullyingPrivate Members' Business

7:15 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

It being 7:16 p.m., the time provided for debate has expired.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?