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House of Commons Hansard #189 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was terrorism.

Topics

The House resumed from November 5, 2012, consideration of the motion that Bill S-9, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Scarborough—Rouge River.

Today, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill S-9, introduced by the hon. Marjory LeBreton.

I would like to being by recognizing the work done by the senator on this initiative, the purpose of which is to ensure that Canada honours the international commitments it made in 2005 in relation to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

Historically, Canada has been an important leader on the international scene, in spite of the pitfalls encountered in recent years. This country has distinguished itself by its proactive approach, by honouring its commitments and by its significant support for international law. It is therefore important to lay the legislative groundwork for ratifying these two conventions.

These conventions are the product of negotiated agreements and extensive work done with the objective of making our world safer and more secure. In 2005, Canada committed itself to enhancing security around activities relating to nuclear energy. At the nuclear security summits held in 2010 and 2012, Canada reiterated that commitment, with a view to the 2014 summit. In terms of both physical protection and potential acts of terrorism, Canada has committed itself to taking action to contain these problems.

By signing these two conventions, Canada committed itself to ratifying the agreements negotiated by the international community.

At present, 56 countries have already ratified the treaty, but Canada has still not done so. Bill S-9 is therefore a welcome initiative, since it will eventually bring us closer to formally implementing these conventions and ensuring a more uniform enforcement internationally.

Seven years have passed, and it is now time for action to honour those agreements. Usually, our parliamentary caucus is not open to bills coming from the Senate, because that institution is not elected. However, we agree that the technical aspect of this legislation, in the sense that it is a matter of honouring our international commitments, makes it more acceptable.

Bill S-9, the Nuclear Terrorism Act, is a step toward eventual ratification of the commitments relating to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

There are many aspects to this legislation. First of all, it makes it formally and explicitly illegal to possess, use or dispose of nuclear or radioactive material or a nuclear or radioactive device. It also makes it illegal to use or alter nuclear or radioactive material or a nuclear or radioactive device. At the same time, it formally prohibits the commission of any act against a nuclear facility or its operations. Finally, it makes it illegal to threaten to commit any of the other three offences.

Bill S-9 introduces and defines several key terms related to nuclear and radioactive concerns, including “nuclear facility”, “nuclear material”, “radioactive material” and “device”.

It also amends the definition of “terrorist activity” and broadens the legal scope of these measures, meaning that an individual can be prosecuted in Canadian courts even if the offences are committed outside our borders.

It is also important to note that wiretap provisions have been introduced so that warrants can be issued in the event of offences related to this legislation.

This legislation also amends the notion of double jeopardy. Therefore, if someone is prosecuted by a foreign court for a crime under Bill S-9, but that trial does not meet certain basic Canadian legal standards, that person can be tried again in Canada for the same crime.

In short, Bill S-9 covers several legal issues and therefore warrants careful consideration and a more thorough examination in committee, especially since it is a question of defining new legal terms and broadening the application of Canadian laws. Our parliamentary branch recognizes how important it is for Canada to meet its international obligations, which Bill S-9 largely does. However, certain deficiencies have been identified and warrant careful consideration.

On the one hand, in some respects, the proposed measure goes too far. Some components of the bill have an overly broad scope. We want to make sure, for instance, that the provisions related to wiretaps do not go too far, and more importantly, that they do not violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The crimes outlawed by this legislation are serious, but we must respect the surrounding legal framework.

On the other hand, Senator LeBreton's initiative does not go far enough. All the same, we commend the Liberal amendment that aims at prohibiting the production of nuclear or radioactive devices, without which the bill would not comply with the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

We also have reservations about the penalties. We want to make sure that the penalties will be appropriate and that they will correspond to the convention's expectation that these offences will be dealt with severely. At the same time, we believe it is necessary to take steps to strengthen the security of nuclear facilities. We do not want government action to be based solely on the legal aspects. We must also be sure that measures are taken to guarantee the security of facilities themselves.

Our position on Bill S-9 is going to be pragmatic and conciliatory. As has been stated, the bill does contain some positive elements, but there are also some not insignificant shortcomings, which could be remedied through amendments. This is why we will be voting in favour of this measure, so that the process will run its course. I would like to remind my colleagues how important it is that the initiative by the hon. Marjory LeBreton be sent to committee for discussion.

Together, we will be able to work on improving it and strengthening its positive impact. When we have an opportunity to debate and discuss this issue, parliamentarians will also be able to understand the proposed policy more fully. The legal scope of this bill and its complexity demand that parliamentarians give it particular attention.

On the other hand, the government must also show good faith by accepting the opposition's amendments, intended as they are to improve Bill S-9. Such multi-party dialogue will lead to better legislation for Canadians, as well as for national and international security.

To conclude, I want the members of this House to give some thought to how they will vote on Bill S-9. They should give some thought to the importance of complying with international conventions, the importance of filling the gaps in the senator’s initiative and the importance of pinpointing the problems relating to nuclear and radioactive issues.

Let us send this bill to committee, so that we can implement a just and effective policy.

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10:10 a.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the speech by my colleague from Saint-Lambert concerning this important bill.

Every time we discuss the international convention on nuclear safety and that there are international concerns in that regard, we always talk about the urgent need for action. This convention was signed in 2005 and it is now 2012. Legislation to ratify this convention will probably not even pass before 2013.

The years are passing and the urgent need for action is always at the forefront of discussions. Therefore, can my colleague talk about the fact that the government has not been very proactive and has not set a good example internationally in terms of ratifying this convention and amending legislation in order to proceed with ratifying this convention in a more reasonable timeframe?

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10:10 a.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. The nuclear issue is truly very important. The time it takes for this government to ratify international conventions is a major problem.

Many countries have already taken a position on this nuclear issue, and some of them are real leaders in this area. It is truly regrettable that Canada has not taken a position on this issue sooner.

However, today we are debating a bill that will really allow us to make up for lost time and to take the most appropriate course of action.

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10:15 a.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, of course, it is important for us to conform to the treaties to which we are a party. However, it seems that some modifications may be made, and we are supporting the bill to go to committee.

I note that the bill has been amended already in the Senate, to add a provision to make the manufacturing of a radioactive device a criminal offence. I wonder if that means a little more study is required. There are many types of radioactive devices, some of which are medical in nature and used for purposes of X-rays and different types of medical procedures. Is this one of the reasons we need to have further study on the bill, because it is highly technical in nature?

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10:15 a.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. The issue of safety and criminal offences is an important one. In my speech, I emphasized that this bill must be referred to committee in order for us to truly have the opportunity to study it and to make constructive and positive suggestions about this bill and different nuclear devices. It is very important that this bill be improved and that new provisions also be heard.

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10:15 a.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech. It is indeed very important to move this bill forward to stop the proliferation of nuclear threats.

As the hon. member clearly explained, the convention dates back to 2005. Canada was involved in its drafting. Its ratification was pushed back to the end of 2012. This legislation is important. However, it comes from the Senate. It is rather odd that the Senate is the one teaching a lesson to the Conservatives.

I thank my colleague for her speech on this issue, and I want to ask her what she thinks of how long it is taking to finally ratify this convention.

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10:15 a.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. Of course, it is very unfortunate that it took so long to truly address an issue of critical importance in today's world.

The delay is indeed inexcusable and very regrettable. It is time to really deal with this Senate bill in a positive and constructive fashion, to improve it in committee, and to finally ratify this convention on nuclear terrorism.

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10:15 a.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of Bill S-9, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the nuclear terrorism act, at second reading, in order to give the bill further study at committee.

It is an honour to speak on a topic that is so important to the safety of Canadians and also our global security. Safety and security are a priority for the constituents of my great riding of Scarborough--Rouge River, and Canadians deserve to feel safe and secure in their own home communities. Residents of Scarborough are still reeling, sadly, following the tragic incident this summer that involved the loss of two young lives and left 23 injured.

I was proud to co-host the leader of the official opposition in Scarborough to share in a discussion about what the community wants and needs to feel safe in the neighbourhood. The outcome of this discussion was that people want to see increased care of the environment, longer term investment in our youth and job creation in Canada, increased witness protection to ensure people who are witness to a crime can feel safe and, of course, a decrease in the number of guns on our streets.

The Conservative government does not properly invest in witness protection. It is slashing public safety staff, which is allowing more guns to flow on to our streets. We are not seeing legislation to prevent gun violence from occurring. People do not feel safe and they feel further terrorized by guns. It is disheartening that the Conservatives ignore the pleas for action from constituents and residents of the GTA.

Today is about Bill S-9. This Senate bill would amend the Criminal Code in order to implement the criminal law requirements of two international counterterrorism treaties, the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, the CPPNM, as amended in 2005, and the 2005 International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, the ICSANT. These two agreements deal with the protection of radioactive material, nuclear material and nuclear facilities, as well as the protection from nuclear or radioactive devices.

The bill would align our laws to these treaties by introducing four new indictable offences into part II of the Criminal Code. First, it will be illegal to possess, use or dispose of nuclear radioactive material or a nuclear or radioactive device, or commit an act against a nuclear facility or its operation with the intent to cause death, serious bodily harm or substantial damage to property or the environment. Second, it will be illegal to use or alter nuclear or radioactive material or a nuclear or radioactive device, or commit an act against a nuclear facility or its operation with the intent to compel a person, government or international organization to do or refrain from doing anything. Third, it will also be illegal to commit an indictable offence under federal law for the purpose of obtaining nuclear or radioactive material, a nuclear or radioactive device or access or control of a nuclear facility. Finally, it will be illegal to threaten to commit any of the other three offences.

The New Democratic Party believes we must seriously address the issue of nuclear security and comply with our international obligations in order to better co-operate with other countries on counterterrorism strategies. New Democrats are committed to multilateral diplomacy and international co-operation, especially in areas of great common concern such as nuclear terrorism. It is certainly important that we, along with our international partners, do what we can to protect Canadians from all forms of terrorism and protect global security.

It is curious as to why the government waited for so long to implement the necessary changes and ratify these two treaties. As I said, the bill would fulfill Canada's treaty obligations under the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, the CPPNM, and the ICSANT. This includes extending international measures beyond protecting against the proliferation of nuclear materials to now include the protection of nuclear facilities.

Bill S-9 would reinforce Canada's obligation under the 2004 UN Security Council Resolution 1540 to take and enforce effective measures to prevent the proliferation of nuclear materials as well as chemical and biological weapons. To date Canada has not ratified either the ICSANT or the CPPNM amendment because Canada does not yet have legislation in place to criminalize the offences outlined in the ICSANT or some of the offences outlined in the CPPNM amendment.

The amendments in Bill S-9, introduced into the code, are Canada's effort to align its domestic legislation with what is required by both conventions so they can be ratified. If these amendments should become law, one could presume Canada could be in a position to ratify both the ICSANT and CPPNM amendment, something Canada, as well as other countries, committed to working toward at both the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit held in Washington, D.C., and the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, Korea. This is an important step for global security.

Miles Pomper, senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Monterey Institute of International Studies, advised those at the Senate hearing on Bill S-9 as follows:

—I want to point out generally how important it is to global security that Canada ratify these treaties. As you know, Canada and other countries, at the 2010 and 2012 Nuclear Security Summits, committed to ratifying these conventions. At the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit, just held a few months ago in Seoul, states also made a particular commitment to have the 2005 CPPNM amendment enter into force by the time of the next nuclear summit in 2014. For this to happen, two thirds of the 145 parties to the original CPPNM, or 97 states, need to ratify the treaty. To this date only 56 have done so.

In ratifying this treaty, therefore, Canada will not only bring us one step closer to the magic number needed for entry into force. Canada is deeply respected in the international community for its leadership on nuclear issues and its commitment to multilateral diplomacy. Its ratification will encourage other countries to move forward with their own ratifications and improve global security.

We believe that Bill S-9 brings forward necessary measures as part of Canada's international co-operation against threats related to nuclear terrorism. Given the increasingly heightened sophistication of technology and radioactive devices, it seems to me to be imperative to ensure that Canada is co-operating with other parties and in compliance with international treaties. As I said, New Democrats are committed to multilateral diplomacy and international co-operation, especially in areas such as nuclear terrorism.

Canada needs to work with other leading countries that are moving toward ratifying these conventions. It is very important that we fulfill our international obligations, and Canada will only be able to officially ratify these conventions after their domestic implementation is complete. We believe there must be close technical scrutiny of the bill in committee to make sure Bill S-9 is drafted in the best way to fulfill our obligations under these two treaties. Once we ratify, Canada can go on and will not be in non-compliance.

This stage of study is extremely important. As we saw in the Senate hearings, a vital component of the bill was originally missing. Bill S-9, in its original form, did not include the making of a radioactive device as an offence. We appreciate that the Senate amended this major omission in the bill. It is a good thing that the bill arrived with this improvement already in it. Once again, it is a relief that this omission was caught and corrected in the Senate, but it demonstrates the need for greater scrutiny in committee, and assurances that nothing else will be overlooked.

There are a few technical issues that I hope those in committee will undertake during their consideration. It seems that this bill may be broader and more general than the treaties themselves. As my colleagues have noted, some of the new Criminal Code offences are broader in scope than the offences found in individual international agreements. As well, the language used in the bill is more general than the specific treaty articles. For instance, my colleague noted concerns with proposed sections 82.3 and 82.4 in the bill, in that the specific intent formulations of the ICSANT treaty with regard to damage to a nuclear facility are not replicated in Bill S-9. Rather, Bill S-9 assumes a general intent standard. Also, the reference to crimes of threat in Bill S-9 go further than required under the treaty. Ultimately, these concerns highlight the need for scrutiny at committee to ensure the legislation has been drafted to be in compliance and that the issues that have been raised in the Senate and the House chamber are dealt with.

In conclusion, Canadians and people around the globe deserve to feel safe and secure. Nuclear weapons are an affront to safety, security and peace in the world. New Democrats are very pleased to support this bill at second reading and to send it to committee for further study.

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10:25 a.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague on her speech. She spoke to the urgency of ratifying these international conventions. She also mentioned the time lost, unfortunately, by our country with respect to these ratifications.

Could the hon. member tell us if, in her opinion, Bill S-9 goes far enough with regard to nuclear safety, considering that, unfortunately, a number of nuclear accidents have occurred in various countries? Does she think the bill goes far enough in terms of environmental and human security?

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her contribution to this debate in general.

The urgency of ratifying these treaties has been noted by people around the world. We are still waiting for many countries to get their domestic legislation in order so they can actually ratify the treaty. Canada is seen throughout the world as a leader in the global security realm. We need to ensure that we maintain that leadership position on the global scene. We need to ensure that our domestic affairs are in order so that this legislation can be studied with proper scrutiny to ensure that we meet all of the requirements of the treaty and ensure the safety of Canadians and the international community.

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10:30 a.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would submit to the member for Scarborough—Rouge River an answer that was given by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice. She stated:

The fact is that there were attempts to bring forward many of these measures during the time of minority Parliaments but they were not accepted. Now we are in a majority situation and we are bringing them forward.

I would like to know if the hon. member is convinced by that argument. Does she think that any MP from any party would have voted against this bill if it had been proposed during a minority government?

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10:30 a.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Saint-Jean for his wonderful fast-finger research and question.

Absolutely, I do not think any member of the House elected to represent Canadians would do anything to harm them in this regard. If it were brought forward in a manner ensuring that we meet the treaty requirements and the safety of Canadians and global security, we would all support it. Therefore, for the parliamentary secretary to make comments like that is unfair. It is unfair for Conservative members or the parliamentary secretary to make broad-brush claims that the government has tried before but no one was listening, and that now that it has a majority it will push this through.

The New Democrats have stood steadfastly for the safety and security of Canadians and the global environment.

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10:30 a.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for her wonderful speech. She gave a very good explanation of the nuclear dangers and the importance of addressing this issue, particularly since it meets a requirement for Canada, which signed the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism back in 2005.

The Conservative government took a long time to meet this requirement, which is part of the convention. What does the hon. member think of this delay, which does not really make sense?

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10:30 a.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Drummond is correct. We signed the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, both in 2005. Yet today we stand at the end of 2012 and still do not have our domestic affairs in order. We cannot ratify the treaty requirements until we have domestic legislation that ensures safety and our meeting of the treaty requirements. For the government to be in power for seven years and not to have done anything until now is sad. It is time that we finally do it.

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10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise today to speak to an important issue. It is not new but has actually been talked about for a number of years.

As was pointed out in the most recent question and answer, governments will go abroad and work with other levels of government and sign agreements. Quite often we find that a signed agreement is nothing but a piece of paper with a signature, with the intent of it ultimately passing the House of Commons. In fact, that is the case with this particular treaty.

There have been four treaties relating to the whole issue of security and nuclear terrorism. The first was United Nations Security Council resolution 1373 done in 2001 and then United Nations Security Council resolution 1540 done in 2004. There was also the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism of 2005, and in that same year the amendments to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. I will provide a bit of a comment on each of those a little later.

The point I would like to make is that what we have before us today is not really new. This whole topic has been debated at different levels of government. Different governments around the world have come together, recognizing that as a world community we need to come up with progressive legislation among the member nations of the United Nations supporting a common goal. That common goal is to deal with the horrors of nuclear energy, the power of nuclear energy and the damage it could ultimately cause if it were used inappropriately.

Hollywood has made hundreds of millions of dollars producing movies based on the fear factor of the potential harm of nuclear fusion, including the ability to kill millions of people with just one dirty bomb or nuclear bomb. Previous generations have witnessed that in a world war, seeing just how horrific a nuclear bomb can be.

This is something that has been in the minds of many politicians and diplomats over the years as they have tried to come up with the best way to manage this very complicated and difficult issue. When we see organizations like the United Nations come to a conclusion and propose and support resolutions, we would expect the government to want to take action in a more timely fashion.

The bill that we have before us could have been introduced years ago. For whatever reasons, the government has not really acted on the issue. In fact, in principle, we in the Liberal Party support the bill going to committee stage so that we can hear some more technical presentations and make sure that we are moving in the right direction.

Suffice it to say, former Prime Ministers Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin were leaders at the time in ensuring that Canada would be at the table and that our viewpoints would in fact be heard. I believe that through both Mr. Chrétien and Mr. Martin, at least in part, we were able to see these treaties come into play. I think that speaks volumes.

My NDP colleagues talk about how they believe in the importance of addressing the issue. Not only do Liberals believe in it, we have acted on it. Both Liberal prime ministers, predating the current Prime Minister, played a critical role in getting those treaties at least signed off by Canada and raised the concerns we would have in regard to the whole area of nuclear. There is the negative side, but there is somewhat of a positive side, and I will make some reference to that also.

This has been sitting on the back burner. It is encouraging that Senate has seen the value in bringing it forth and getting the ball rolling.

I appreciate that the Senate had the opportunity for some public meetings on the issue. I was quite pleased to see that some amendments were suggested. Former general Senator Dallaire provided some feed back on the importance of incorporating into an amendment something that would prohibit the making of radioactive devices. It is important that we recognize, as Senator Dallaire has, that even though we have Bill S-9, there is a need for us to be diligent as we go through the committee process, because there is the opportunity to make it better legislation.

Like the Senate, I would suggest the House vote in favour of the bill. I do not see it as controversial legislation. At the very least, let us see if we can pass it through second reading and ultimately get it to committee stage.

I am not the critic assigned to the bill, but I can assure the House that our critic for public safety has a great many thoughts and concerns that we would like to express at the committee stage, but most important, we would like to encourage the government to have an open mind in approaching the committee stage, with the idea that the bill can be improved upon.

It is important that we underscore the fact that Canada's efforts to combat nuclear terrorism fall into an overall framework of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. While it is still necessary, especially in implementing international agreements, Bill S-9 is insufficient if it is to constitute a significant part of Canada's efforts on this file.

The Liberal Party believes we could do more. In the past, Canada has demonstrated great leadership on the international scene, and this is one of those areas in which Canada has the potential to play a leadership role.

Many of the critical components to nuclear fusion comes from Canada. We have had a great many scientists who have trained and gained the knowledge that is necessary to become experts on the issue. In Manitoba the whole idea of nuclear power was greatly explored through Pinawa. A great deal of scientific work was done in regard to some of the positive ways we could use nuclear power, as an example. It generated not only economic activity, but it also provided a great deal of expertise.

Whether it is looking at the scientists we have in Canada, or political leadership and the experience gained, or Canada's role in the world in being able to have influence to speak out in forums like the United Nations, we can in fact make a difference. We have a lot more to contribute.

When we look at Bill S-9, it is important that it represent a domestic focus as well as our international obligations to contribute to the debate. The stronger we reflect on what we can do in Canada to improve our own situation I think will bode well when we sit down at those international tables. At the end of the day, we speak with a louder voice when we have done the work in our backyard.

I have made reference to the four resolutions, particularly the United Nations Security Council resolution 1373, which requires member states to adopt certain anti-terrorism legislation and policies. It calls upon member states to prevent and repress the financing of terrorist acts; freeze the financial resources available to terrorist organizations; suppress the supply of weapons to terrorist organizations; and deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support or commit terrorist acts. It also calls upon member states to become party to and fully implement the relevant international conventions and protocols related to terrorism as soon as possible.

In Canada many of these acts were criminalized and reclassified as a terrorist activity as a result of the 2001 Anti-terrorism Act. Since then, amendments have been brought forward to that act.

We know through experience that we want to play a significant role in ensuring that terrorism, and the promotion of terrorism, is minimized and as much as possible. We want to prevent it from taking place. We want to prevent it from originating in Canada and prevent people who are residing in Canada to contribute in any fashion whatsoever to world terrorism.

I made reference earlier to the United Nations Security Council resolution 1540, which was adopted in 2004. It focused specifically on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It asked member states to take steps to prohibit non-state actors from acquiring nuclear weapons and to put in place additional controls on nuclear materials. It also asked member states to adopt and enforce effective domestic controls to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons; adopt legislation to prevent the acquisition, use or threat of use of nuclear weapons by state and non-state actors; extend such criminal legislation to apply to citizens extraterritoriality; and include internal waters, territorial waters and air space in the territory for which nuclear weapons would be prohibited.

Each of these concepts are present in Bill S-9. Therefore, the principle of the bill is something I believe most, if not all members of the House, will see the merit in allowing it to go to committee.

However, just because the bill incorporates those concepts, we do not necessarily have to settle for that. As Senator Dallaire pointed out, there are other ways in which we can improve Bill S-9.

The other reference I made was in regard to the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, better known as the ICSANT, adopted in 2005. It was the first international convention related to terrorism open for a signature after 9/11. It builds on both the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and International Conventions for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings.

ICSANT is comprehensive and contains detailed language on what particular aspects of nuclear terrorism should be criminalized. ICSANT is the inspiration for the bulk of Bill S-9, as several articles are codified in Bill S-9, such as article 2, which outlines new offences created in section 82. Articles 4, 5 and 9 also all contribute to it.

It is important that we take note in terms of when that resolution was before the United Nations in 2005 and, in essence, asked that it take effect in June 2007. However, it does beg the question as to why we have waited so long in having this issue come before the House of Commons. One would have expected that the government would have had the support to pass such legislation.

It was interesting in one of the questions posed to the New Democratic Party in regard to why it was not passed at an earlier point, the speaker made reference to the fact that the NDP did not oppose the legislation. I suspect that had the government, two, three or four years ago, raised the issue with the opposition parties, there would have been the type of support necessary even to get it through a minority situation. I suspect that whether the House or Canadians are canvassed, we would find there is a need to not only support, but go beyond supporting and taking a proactive approach in dealing with issues of terrorism. If potential nuclear weapons, or chemical weapons, or weapons of mass destruction being used, I am sure there is an enormous amount of goodwill to protect the world community.

I think had the government genuinely wanted to see that pass, having a capable government House leader along with co-operative opposition House leaders, it would not have been a problem. It is a bit disappointing that it has taken as long as it has to come before us.

The last point I referenced about the United Nations was the amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, which was done in 2005 at a diplomatic conference convened in July 2005, three months after the ICSANT opened for signature. The Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material was signed in Vienna, Austria in March 1980. It is the only legally binding undertaking in the area of physical protection of nuclear material and establishes measures related to the prevention, detection and the punishment of offences relating to nuclear material.

Given the age of the CPPNM, the 2005 meeting was meant to update and strengthen the CPPNM provisions. Therefore, the CPPNM amendment will require that states protect their nuclear facilities as well as nuclear material used, stored and transported domestically rather than protect only nuclear materials during international transport, as the CPPNM currently requires.

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10:50 a.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the speech by the Liberal member. He talked about a number of UN resolutions, including resolution 1373. As I recall, that resolution was passed in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center, in 2001. Paragraph 3(e) of that resolution, for example, calls upon all states to increase co-operation and fully implement the relevant international conventions.

That resolution, on which all signatory states agreed, dates back to 2001. It is now 2012 and it will soon be 2013, which is the year when we will be able to ratify the two international conventions we are talking about today in connection with Bill S-9.

I wonder if the Liberal member could tell us about his party's view on the delays that occurred during the Parliaments that followed 2001 and have led us to an international stance that is not very rigorous and also does not project a good image of Canada.

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10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I recognize that back in 2001 it was obviously a very serious issue, not only at that time but even prior to the whole 9/11 incident. There was already a great deal of discussion about terrorism. At the time, Chrétien was the prime minister of Canada and played a role in trying to heighten the importance of getting some form of treaty signed through the United Nations. The Liberal Party has always been very supportive of the United Nations.

The resolution that the member is specifically referring to was back in 2001. It required member states to adopt certain anti-terrorism legislation and policies, including those to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorist acts, freeze the financial resources available to terrorist organizations, suppress the supply of weapons to organizations, as well as deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support or commit terrorist acts. It also called on the member states to become party to and fully implement the relevant international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism, as soon as possible.

Some of those items are fairly recent in terms of enactment in Canada's own Criminal Code. I believe even Bill S-7 might have attempted to deal with some of this. There is no doubt that the government has been negligent in not addressing some of those dated resolutions that were passed years ago.

Therefore, we could be doing more. Maybe we should be having a thorough review on those resolutions dealing with terrorism that have been passed, or those agreements that have been signed off, to see what more Canada could do, through the House of Commons, to ensure that we are not only signing agreements but actually implementing—

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please.

There will be about six minutes left for questions and comments when the House returns to this matter after question period. We will now move on to statements by members.

The hon. member for Elgin—Middlesex—London.

Algoma UniversityStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, this September Algoma University in St. Thomas, Ontario, welcomed its inaugural class. As the city's first university, Algoma offers a wealth of opportunity for residents of St. Thomas and the surrounding area.

Fittingly, the university has taken up residence in the old Wellington Street Public School, a heritage building where students have studied for over a century. Currently students have the opportunity to complete up to two years of an undergraduate degree. Courses are offered one at a time in three-week blocks allowing students to fully immerse themselves in course material.

Six years of planning went into this project and would not have been possible without the president of Algoma University, Dr. Richard Myers, the City of St. Thomas and Andrew Gunn, the executor of the Dorothy Palmer estate.

I would like to offer Algoma University a very warm welcome to St. Thomas. I look forward to watching it grow with our community.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, in the decade before I was elected I was negotiating reduced emission standards for Alberta electricity. In Alberta, electricity is essentially code for coal-fired power.

Industry, federal and provincial governments and environmentalists found consensus on cleaner standards, with one critical exception, reduction targets for greenhouse gases. Why? A federal election was looming. Some hoped the next government would delay action. We all know what happened in 2006. The government changed Canada's direction on climate change policy so quickly anyone watching was open to whiplash.

We were not the only ones to notice. By 2007, special envoys were dispatched to find out what had happened. Had Canadian scientists changed their positions or had the new government simply abandoned science? Every minister backpedalled on national and international commitments, mirrored in regressive laws, policies and omnibus budget bills.

Billions were gifted to coal power and oil sands to test CCS. Then coal companies pulled out. Why? With regulations exempting not-yet-built plants for another half century, why invest in reductions?

The Conservatives canned the national science advisor, cut loose the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. It was too much bad news. Their contempt for science is dangerous for our future. We need concrete action. The world's children deserve it.

AOE Arts CouncilStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Conservative Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to commemorate the silver jubilee of the AOE Arts Council.

The AOE Arts Council is one of the 300 dynamic community organizations in Ottawa—Orléans that I have the honour to represent in the House.

This organization has been successfully supporting, promoting and developing the arts scene in Ottawa for 25 years.

Executive director, Christine Tremblay, has been a catalyst in our community since the incorporation of AOE in 1987. The first recipient of the Order of Ottawa, she was instrumental in bringing the Shenkman Arts Centre to Orléans.

After 25 years at the helm of the AOE Arts Council, Ms. Tremblay is stepping down and will soon pass the torch to Micheline Joanisse.

Good luck with your new challenge, Micheline.

I also wish a happy anniversary to all the artists who are members of the AOE Arts Council and may these first 25 years be only the beginning of a great venture.

Before I sit down, I would like to thank the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and members from all corners of the House for their grace and good wishes over the last few weeks. I just want to reassure everyone, it was a big dig but they got it all.

Thank you very much.

HIV-AIDSStatements By Members

November 30th, 2012 / 11 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, on World AIDS Day, we reflect on the millions of people in Canada and around the world living with HIV-AIDS and those who have lost their lives in the three decades since this deadly disease was first diagnosed.

Today, more than 34 million men, women and children, including nearly 7,000 Canadians, continue to fight for their lives and fight the stigma.

While HIV-AIDS is far more treatable today that it once was, more than half of those combatting the disease are without access to life-saving antiretroviral drugs and therapy.

We are saddened by the Conservative defeat of Bill C-398 this week.

HIV-AIDS does not discriminate. It does not respect boundaries. The search for a cure starts with embracing research and innovation. The B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, an innovative program of seek and treat, has seen a drop of 66% in new cases and lowered morbidity and mortality rates by 90%. The World Health Organization and UNAIDS hope this can be the answer to this world epidemic.

Operation Red NoseStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, for the last eight years on weekends during the month of December in Newmarket and Aurora, Operation Red Nose has assisted partygoers unfit to drive with a safe alternative to get home.

A national volunteer program, Operation Red Nose is a free, designated driver service that will be held in 110 communities across Canada throughout this holiday season. Upon request, a team of three red nose volunteers will pick people up and drive them and their vehicle home safely. Last year across Canada 55,000 volunteers provided 81,000 rides.

As honorary chair for Operation Red Nose in Newmarket—Aurora, I encourage everyone to consider volunteering with their local team for a fun and rewarding experience.

I ask all members to join me in thanking the volunteers who, by giving their time, will help keep our communities safe this festive season.

Aerospace IndustryStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Emerson report on the future of the aerospace industry confirms what the NDP has been saying for a long time: the government is not providing adequate support to this sector, which is essential to the greater Montreal area, the third largest aerospace hub after Seattle and Toulouse. For example, the public sector share of funding for aerospace research and development is three times higher in the United States than in Canada.

This gap will only grow wider since the Conservatives are cutting $500 million from their industrial research and development support programs.

Under the Conservatives, we are becoming increasingly dependent on the extraction and export of raw natural resources.

I sincerely hope that the Emerson report will shake the Conservatives out of their stupor. They need to realize that the aerospace industry—a $22 billion industry—helps make our entire economy soar.

Democratic Republic of CongoStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, Canada is deeply worried by the humanitarian situation in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. We strongly condemn the occupation of territory by the M23 rebel group.

We are extremely concerned by the displacement of almost 650,000 civilians since the beginning of the year due to confrontations between armed groups and the military, and by the grave human rights abuses committed by these groups, including systematic and widespread rape and summary executions.

Canada has contributed up to $41.9 million since 2011 to help meet humanitarian needs in the DRC, including $3.75 million since October in response to the worsening conflict. As per the decision made by the regional leaders, M23 troops must complete their withdrawal from Goma. We call on all support to M23 to cease immediately.

Canada continues to call for an end to the violence and for all parties to respect human rights and the protection of civilians.

National Research Council CanadaStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to announce that Canada leads the world with another first.

A few weeks ago the National Research Council of Canada successfully flew the first civilian jet using 100% biofuel derived from Canadian feedstock. Tim Leslie, the NRC pilot who flew the Falcon 20 said, “It is truly inspiring to take this step towards an eco-friendly future!”.

The NRC has been partnering with the Canadian ag-biotechnology firm, Agrisoma Biosciences, and the American research and engineering company, Applied Research Associates, to develop and validate biofuel derived from the carinata plant. This biofuel meets all the specifications of conventional petroleum-based fuel. Even more important, this plant used as the feedstock for biofuel is grown in Canada by Canadian farmers in the arid regions of the southern prairies.

This aviation biofuel initiative was also made possible with the support of the Government of Canada's clean transportation initiatives, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Green Aviation Research—

National Research Council CanadaStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The hon. member for Saint-Lambert.

Violence Against WomenStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, in recent months, a series of cases of violence against women have been reported in Montérégie. Some have made headlines, while others have gone unnoticed.

These cases serve to remind us of the challenges that women still face: spousal abuse, sexual harassment, rape, social pressures, and the list goes on. These cases also remind us that prevention and awareness are key.

Last Wednesday, some comedians joined forces to put on a benefit performance to support Tanya St-Arnaud, the young woman from Longueuil whose ex-boyfriend threw acid on her and who has demonstrated so much strength and courage in the face of adversity. As I stand before you today, thousands of Congolese women are also the victims of rape used as a weapon of war, paying the price for an armed conflict that will change their lives forever.

These situations remind us of the importance of constant vigilance. It is an everyday reality, an everyday responsibility and an everyday struggle.

Human TraffickingStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, as Canada and the world marks 16 days of activism against gender violence, a critical concern is human trafficking, a heinous form of modern-day slavery that preys on the most vulnerable, especially women and girls. Canadians are not immune from this terrible crime. The forms of abuse and risk associated with trafficking include physical, sexual and psychological abuse, economic exploitation and abusive working or living conditions.

Our government recently launched a national action plan to combat human trafficking. Eighteen federal departments are working together to combat human trafficking, identify victims and protect our most vulnerable. Our government has also announced a call for proposals through Status of Women Canada to support community action plans that will reduce trafficking of women and girls.

Once again, we are taking real action to improve safety for women and girls across Canada.

Prostate CancerStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are very grateful to see the end of November. The men in our lives will finally shave off their moustaches. All through the month they have sacrificed their upper lips to raise everyone's awareness of men's health, a topic that is frequently neglected.

The health of men and women in Canada is not just an individual situation. I am proud that, together, Canadian men and women are showing their solidarity and this year have raised more than $32 million to conquer prostate cancer.

On behalf of my fellow New Democrats, our sincere thanks to all Mo bros and Mo sisters from across the country who have raised awareness about men's health. To remember the ones we have lost to disease, let us work together for the health of all.

With Jack's spirit among us, let us change the face of men's health so we no longer lose the faces of the men we know and love.

UnionsStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the postal union has a new idea to improve conditions for mail workers: create a new Palestinian state in South America.

A group of union leaders tried to use a taxpayer fund meant for postal workers to travel to a Brazilian beach town for a radical anti-Israel conference this weekend. Make no mistake, while the mailman is carrying parcels through the snow, his union bosses are making sacrifices of their own. According to the union's memo on the beach town junket, “participation in this trip may require walking for extended distances and sitting or standing for long periods of time”.

Those sunset walks along the beach can be oppressive. Brothers and sisters will unite to show solidarity in applying sunscreen to one another between anti-Israel chants.

Now that Canada Post indicates that it will not fund the trip, will workers have to pay for it through forced union dues? As the union's slogan courageously says, the struggle continues.

Marcel BeaudryStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, the mortal remains of Marcel Beaudry will be laid to rest. Thus will end eight decades of a well-lived life, a life that left its mark all around us.

As chairman of the National Capital Commission for 14 years, Marcel did everything in his power to contribute to improving the lives of people in this region and in Canada.

Before Brian Mulroney appointed him to head the NCC in 1992—his term was later extended by Jean Chrétien—Marcel was elected mayor of Hull in 1991. In a short time he forged close, solid links between the two sides of the river running through the nation's capital.

In addition, we must remember that he served on the commission on the political and constitutional future of Quebec as a federalist commissioner. Not only a proud Canadian, Marcel Beaudry was also an experienced businessman and, most importantly, a good father.

We offer our sincere condolences to his brothers and sisters, his children, his 10 grandchildren and his many friends.

Marcel, may your soul rest in peace

New Democratic Party of CanadaStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, New Democrats are on the defensive. They are upset that our government is telling Canadians about their plan for a $21 billion carbon tax. I wish it were not true, but regrettably it is. We only need to flip to page 4 of the 2011 NDP platform. It is right there, in black and white: a proposed tax on carbon that would generate $21 billion off the backs of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Literally everyone would be affected, because the tax would raise the price of everything. It will not matter if people are seniors, veterans or struggling families. Everyone will pay more if they are subjected to this NDP tax regime.

The truth is sometimes hard to swallow, but we on this side of the House will continue to tell Canadians the painful truth about this NDP carbon tax. We on this side of the House will continue with our low-tax plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.

EthicsStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' record on ethics is looking worse and worse. Fraudulent calls made during the last election, the greatest electoral fraud in Canadian history, the story just keeps getting bigger. Their Minister of Industry has a frequent flyer card with the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.

One of their senators was named in a public inquiry into corruption for meeting with contractors accused of having Mafia ties. Their Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and his parliamentary secretary got mixed up in fraudulent campaign donation scandals. They appointed Arthur Porter to a sensitive post where he saw all kinds of top secret documents. That same Arthur Porter had the top job at the McGill University Health Centre, a project tainted with corruption allegations.

Guess who the two people arrested in connection with the project gave thousands of dollars to? The Conservatives, of course. If they truly believe in law and order, the Conservatives should start by cleaning up their own backyard.

New Democratic Party of CanadaStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is unbelievable that the NDP members continually stand in the House and try to deny their plans for a $21 billion job-killing carbon tax. Why will they not just come clean? We can all see it stated on page 4 of their party platform. It clearly states that the NDP will impose a carbon tax on all Canadians.

My riding of Portage—Lisgar is not buying their denials, nor are the rest of Canadians, especially when we all see that the NDP carbon tax will raise the price of everything for Canadians, including gas, groceries, electricity and the Christmas trees we will be buying over the next few weeks. Everything we purchase will go up because of the NDP carbon tax.

Our government has a low-tax plan for jobs, growth and prosperity. Our plan is working. I can assure the House that all of us on this side of the House will continue to oppose the NDP job-killing carbon tax. We will stand up for jobs, prosperity and success for all Canadians.

The EconomyOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, according to Statistics Canada, our economic growth is barely 0.6%. Our exports and private sector investments are down. Our real economic growth is three times slower than projected in the economic update. The minister's projections keep changing.

Why not give the Parliamentary Budget Officer the documents he needs to get a better idea of the economic situation?

The EconomyOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, in the uncertain global times that we face, our economic situation is actually quite clear. This economy has generated over 820,000 net new jobs since the depths of the recession, 90% of them full-time jobs for the people of Canada.

The experts at the OECD are projecting that Canada will lead the G7 in economic growth, not only this year, not only next year, but for the next 50 years. We are on the right track. We are focused on jobs and growth for the Canadian economy, and that will continue.

The EconomyOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, 350,000 more Canadians are unemployed today than before the recession. That is the Conservative record.

Two years ago, Conservatives were forecasting 3% economic growth in 2012, and those projections have already been downgraded to 2.1%. Even that target has been missed every single quarter this year.

We know the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance cannot get their stories straight on deficits and contingency plans. Will the Prime Minister now have to correct the Minister of Finance again, but this time on his economic projections?

The EconomyOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, or should know, economic projections are based on private sector forecasts, using the experts in the field. The expertise is in. The Wall Street Journal reported that Canada is “one of the developed world's most stable economies” and said that Canada “outperformed most of its peers in the Group of Seven”.

Christine Lagarde, IMF managing director, said, “Canada, a country with one of the strongest financial sectors in the world.... Canada can teach the rest of the world about how to build a stronger, safer financial system”.

That is the way it works. We are on the right track.

Food SafetyOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, official CFIA documents surfaced that state:

—ensure that non-Japan eligible carcasses are not inspected for spinal cord/dura-matter, OCD defects and minor ingesta. (Ignore them).

This is an explicit directive from the front-line food inspectors. When faced with these facts, the minister denied that the documents even exist. I have them right here, and I can make copies for him.

With people worried about the food they are putting on their tables, why is this minister cutting funding for food safety?

Food SafetyOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz ConservativeMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, of course there are no such cuts.

I actually have the document in front of me, too. Where the members opposite are very selective and are wilfully misinterpreting the issues, the memo actually goes on to explain how these issues are covered in further stages down the line. What the memo refers to is a specific issue for Japanese market access. The member opposite should know that by now. We have had a number of technical briefings. I would be happy to have one for her, if she would like.

Food SafetyOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

We will never support these ridiculous cuts to food safety, and neither should the minister.

For four long years, these directives were followed by inspectors at XL Foods, the same plant that was behind the largest meat recall in Canadian history. All this under the watch of this minister, and he has the audacity to blame us.

The Weatherill report recommended an independent assessment of the CFIA. Why is the minister rejecting our requests for this key assessment?

Food SafetyOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz ConservativeMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the question from the member opposite, because it gives me another opportunity to assure Canadians and our exporters around the world that our food is safe.

We continue to have a very robust food safety system in this country. This government has expanded the budgetary capacity of CFIA by some 20% in our short time in office. We have added 700 inspectors to the roll call. We continue to build a robust food safety system in this country, in spite of the NDP voting against every one of those adjustments.

Food SafetyOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, here are the facts. CFIA officials and the minister attended committee and downplayed serious food safety issues.

The minister refuses to detail his planned cuts to CFIA, and when faced with the cold, hard truth of the memo, what does he do? He denies everything. Canadians are worried about the food they put on their tables, and the minister is not helping to reassure families. When will he hand the food safety portfolio over to somebody who can fix his mess?

Food SafetyOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz ConservativeMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, we attended committee with the president of the CFIA and one its directors of operations. We answered every one of the questions that opposition members had. Maybe they should ask better questions.

However, at the end of the day, it again gives me the opportunity to assure Canadians that the food they buy, all quantities and all types of food that they buy, is safe.

We continue to build a robust food safety system. Our system is noted as superior around the world. Other countries come here to learn from the CFIA and what this government is doing and putting in place when it comes to a robust food safety system.

I wish the NDP would actually help us in that initiative.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, the actual facts of how Canadians are being hurt by the government's financial incompetence are compelling. After the government slashed staff at EI processing centres, people are now waiting five weeks for the first payments. Last year, over three-quarters of a million people waited more than 40 days for their first cheques, while 14 million applicants were hung up on.

The debt continues to go up, services to Canadians continue to go down. Why are the most vulnerable Canadians paying the price for the government's fiscal incompetence?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Simcoe—Grey Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, improvements have been made to employment insurance, and as the minister mentioned at committee just yesterday morning, we have been meeting seasonal norms for EI processing.

Let us be very clear about EI. It was the Liberals who raided the EI account, the $58 billion in EI funds that were intended for EI recipients.

I encourage the members opposite to get on board and help create jobs. On this side of the House, we are standing up for employers and employees. We are not raiding a fund that belongs to them.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is taking 40 days to get a cheque kicked out. Noah did better than that, but we do not have to go back to the Great Flood. We can go back to 2005 when EI recipients were getting their cheques in half the time.

Again, the Conservatives continue to spend money, but the services continue to go down. I would think that would be the definition of fiscal incompetence. How on earth is that possible?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Simcoe—Grey Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, let us be very clear. This government is very focused on making sure that taxpayers' dollars are used appropriately, unlike the Liberals who, when given the opportunity to make sure that EI recipients, employers, and employees would receive the funds put into the EI account, they took that $58 billion to use for other purposes. They took it away from employers and employees.

This government is focused on making sure that employees and employers receive what is in that EI fund. We are focused on making sure that there are good services for Canadians.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, the only outfit I can think of that has spent more and delivered less would be the Toronto Maple Leafs, and that is coming from a Toronto Maple Leafs fan.

However, I am certainly no fan of the government. Canadians are out there having to decide if they should fill their fridge, fill their oil tank or fill their prescription. Those are the hard choices Canadians are facing.

When will the Conservatives realize that they have a real problem and are hurting real Canadians?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Simcoe—Grey Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

I have to say, Mr. Speaker, with fans like that, who needs enemies?

Let us be clear. This government is focused on making sure of what is good for Canadians. We are creating jobs across the country, 820,000 net new jobs since the downturn in the economy. Whether that is via the EI small business hiring fund, apprenticeship grants, or by making sure there are targeted initiatives for older workers, this government is focused on creating jobs, unlike the Liberals, who just wanted to raid the EI fund.

National DefenceOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' famous seven-point plan for the F-35s is nothing but smoke and mirrors. As soon as it was announced, the government started downplaying expectations.

KPMG's independent audit figures were to be made public in July. Now we will have to wait until Christmas. Even the Grinch will be disappointed this year.

Why do we have to wait so long for these figures? When will we finally get to see an update on the cost of the F-35s?

National DefenceOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the government has implemented a seven-point action plan to replace Canada's CF-18s, in order to ensure that we take our time to do things right.

National DefenceOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

That is not much of an answer, Mr. Speaker. According to the National Post, KPMG's review of the price tag for the F-35 will be published some time before Christmas. It should have been done a long time ago, according to the government's own seven-point plan.

For years the Conservatives refused to update their lowball estimates for the F-35, even as every other partner country was revising theirs. It took the Auditor General's report to force the government to update its numbers.

Why did it take so long for the government to act? Will the Conservatives confirm that the new numbers will be released before this House rises in December?

National DefenceOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the government has implemented a seven-point action plan to replace Canada's CF-18s, in order to ensure that we take our time to do things right. Canada will not sign any contract to purchase new fighter jets until all the steps of the action plan are complete and enough development work has been done.

National DefenceOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, lots of questions and no answers. We have heard the Conservatives say there is an option A, option B and option C, all of which are the F-35.

It seems that the new Chief of Defence Staff has a different take on this. He told the defence committee yesterday that the F-35 was not the only plane that met the stealth requirements of the SOR. According to him, other planes could meet the requirement for some measure of stealth.

Does the government now admit that the F-35 is not the only plane that can fill the requirements set out by the military and that a true consideration of alternatives must take place?

National DefenceOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, this plan includes an analysis of all the options to replace the CF-18s, which will not be limited by the statement of requirements.

National DefenceOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, as my colleague said, yesterday the Chief of Defence Staff said that there are planes than the F-35 that could fill the role for Canada. This is despite the fact that the Conservatives have said for years that the F-35 is the only plane available.

The Minister of Public Works refuses to reveal whether other planes are being considered. With the Chief of Defence Staff indicating that this is happening, will the Minister of Public Works finally tell us which other planes are being considered in the process?

National DefenceOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, our government has put in place a seven-point plan to replace Canada's CF-18s in order to ensure that we take the time to do things right. This plan includes an analysis of all options for replacing the CF-18s, which will not be limited by the statement of requirements.

Government ContractsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, we will try another question for the Minister of Public Works.

Yesterday, the minister revealed that after watching the Charbonneau scandal she was rethinking how her government screens contractors and appointees. One would have thought the Conservatives had learned their lesson after the Bruce Carson fiasco at the PMO. However, the minister's shopping list approach through a non-binding code falls way short and will not touch contractors and subcontractors under the Conservatives' popular P3 plan.

If the minister is truly serious about revamping her scrutiny of contractors, why not upgrade the law?

Government ContractsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, our government has brought in measures to ensure the appropriate use of taxpayers' money. These measures include an integrity framework to ensure that we do not do business with criminals.

Old Port of Montreal CorporationOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Old Port of Montreal is not just any patch of land. It is one of Montreal's most popular gathering places. It showcases the St. Lawrence, it is one of the city's major tourist attractions, and it is a significant part of our collective history. Merging it with a huge organization whose main goal is to make a profit would be to lose sight of its unique features.

Can the minister guarantee that the Old Port will have special status within the Canada Lands Company?

Old Port of Montreal CorporationOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, our government is determined to achieve sound financial management of public funds. Canadians must have confidence in the way crown corporations operate and use their hard-earned money. The Old Port of Montreal Corporation will be placed under the stewardship of the Canada Lands Company as of November 29, 2012.

41st General ElectionOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, since the beginning of the Conservative robocall scandal, their chief windbag has been boasting that his party is co-operating fully with Elections Canada. But yesterday we learned the truth.

When Elections Canada asked for some information from Arthur Hamilton, the Conservative Party's lawyer, it took three months to set up a meeting.

Will the Conservatives stop dragging their feet and co-operate with the investigators quickly in the future, instead of trying to delay the investigation?

41st General ElectionOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, we are proactively co-operating with Elections Canada to find out what happened in Guelph. Furthermore, the government is committed to being transparent. The New Democrats are blocking a bill that would make the unions and their finances transparent so that workers can learn how their money is being spent.

However, today we know that the Union of Postal Workers is off at an anti-Israel conference in Brazil. Why is the NDP trying to cover up the costs of that conference?

41st General ElectionOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Craig Scott NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, waiting 90 days to respond to Elections Canada is not co-operation.

Newly released court documents reveal that voter suppression investigations have expanded far beyond Guelph. Elections Canada has requested phone records for no less than 56 ridings across the country. Conservatives can no longer pretend that this is just about a few rogues in Guelph. Will they now support my private member's bill against fraudulent election calls?

41st General ElectionOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, of course we have been working proactively with Elections Canada to find out what happened in Guelph. We ran a clean and ethical campaign, unlike the NDP, which took $340,000 in illegal union money.

Today we learned that the postal union is trying to access tax dollars in order to send delegates to an extreme anti-Israel conference in Brazil at a beautiful beach town. We would know more about the way these union bosses spend their workers' money if we had the union transparency bill adopted. Why is the NDP trying to block union transparency?

41st General ElectionOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Craig Scott NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, Guelph was clearly not an isolated incident. There were some 56 ridings with the same activities as Guelph, including 20 in B.C., 9 in Alberta, 5 in Manitoba, 2 in Ontario and 20 in Quebec.

A Conservative Party lawyer waited 90 days to even respond to Elections Canada. What is the government doing to actually ensure real co-operation with Elections Canada?

41st General ElectionOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I already answered that question. I expected that after doing so, that member would in turn answer the question posed to him. Why is his party blocking the transparency or union finances?

Unions have the extraordinary power of taking money out of the pockets of workers. It is a coercive power that they enjoy and are unique in enjoying, and they can spend the money without sharing with their workers how that money is spent. Now we know that the CUPW union is spending money on ritzy conferences in South America.

Why will the NDP not support union transparency?

Old Port of Montreal CorporationOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Public Works said that, for over a year now, she has been considering whether the Old Port Corporation should be placed under the stewardship of the Canada Lands Company. Yet, six months ago, on May 12, I asked the Conservatives' friend Gerry Weiner, the chair of the Old Port of Montreal Corporation, the same question and he said that this was a completely hypothetical question and that it was not possible.

And so, the question is simple. Who is telling the truth: the minister or the former minister? Why did they not wait for the Auditor General's results in the spring? Was the audit for nothing? Was it just to buy time?

Old Port of Montreal CorporationOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the government is determined to provide sound fiscal management of public funds. It is of the utmost importance that Canadians have confidence in the way that crown corporations operate and use taxpayers' hard-earned money. The Old Port of Montreal Corporation will be placed under the stewardship of the Canada Lands Company effective November 29, 2012.

Old Port of Montreal CorporationOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are going to ask him to take a break. He is reading too much.

I am going to ask the same question of the minister responsible for Montreal. Maybe he will give me an answer.

As the New Democratic Party reiterated earlier, we know full well that the Canada Lands Company's mandate is to sell properties, to sell assets, and to make money, while the Old Port of Montreal Corporation's mandate is to protect the waterfront and our heritage.

Is the minister responsible for Montreal prepared to negotiate an agreement with the City of Montreal so that, for its 375th anniversary, it can protect its crown jewel? The Canada Lands Company sells properties. We want to protect the waterfront. We do not want any condos built there.

Old Port of Montreal CorporationOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, we appreciate the fact that the Old Port of Montreal Corporation is an important institution for the City of Montreal and its people, but we are talking here about good management and good governance.

41st General ElectionOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, new court records have confirmed that Elections Canada has seized Conservative phone records in 56 ridings. Voter suppression calls have been traced to the Conservatives' national campaign number.

Why will no minister touch this? Why will any of the MPs whose ridings are involved not speak up? When will they tell us what they know? The members for Winnipeg South Centre, Yukon, and Nipissing, when will the Conservatives come clean to Canadians, or are they waiting for the RCMP to once again raid their headquarters?

41st General ElectionOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I have cautioned members before about asking questions that touch on the administrative responsibility of government, and many of these questions about campaigns and things like that do not fall under that. I see the parliamentary secretary rising to answer, so I will give him the floor to do so. I hope members keep that in mind in the future.

41st General ElectionOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I agree with you.

I note, as well, that the member was just about to get around to the fact that only her party has been found guilty of making illegal robocalls.

After breaking the law in this way, perhaps she could find some way of regaining the trust of Canadians by finally supporting more transparency for how unions spend the money they forcefully take away from workers. For example, now that our government is ensuring that Canada Post will not fund this conference that Canada Post unions are attending, will it be clear that workers will not be forced to pick up the tab through their mandatory dues?

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' decision to close the Maurice Lamontagne Institute's library makes no sense.

Some 61,000 French-language scientific documents will be sent 800 km away from where they are truly needed. In addition to serving that institute, the library serves the UQAR's ocean sciences department, the Institut des sciences de la mer, the Institut maritime du Québec, the Marine Biotechnology Research Centre, the Interdisciplinary Centre for the Development of Ocean Mapping and the Technopole maritime du Québec, all located in Rimouski.

Can the minister tell us, with a straight face, how this makes any sense whatsoever?

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission B.C.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, we are doing what any responsible government would do. We are focusing on providing effective services in the most efficient way possible. We are modernizing where we can and eliminating waste and duplication.

In this case, library users are asking for digital information, so it is logical that Fisheries and Oceans Canada would accommodate that demand by making its collection available in a digital format. The library will continue to deliver services in English and French.

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg NDP Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, only 3% of the 61,000 documents are digitized. That does not qualify as modernizing, not to mention that no funding has been made available to digitize the rest. The location of those documents is therefore crucial to the scientific community.

If the minister insists on going ahead with her absurd plan to move the library, she must tell us immediately how much funding she will earmark for the digitization of the documents before closing the library. Will they really be modernizing, or are these empty promises?

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission B.C.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that in 2011, for example, over 96% of clients' requests were addressed virtually, and by that way staff addressed the service from their own desktop. Clients downloaded over 137,000 articles from their desktops and phoned 8,000 times as well. We think this is a good measure.

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Emerson report is clear: the Conservatives are not investing enough in the aerospace industry. Industry stakeholders are concerned about the ground they have lost in recent years. The Conservatives' lack of vision for this industry is creating uncertainty that discourages investment.

Will the Conservatives take their usual approach and shelve this report that criticizes them, or will they implement the recommendations?

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Industry and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to thank David Emerson for his excellent report. We asked him to review the state of the aerospace industry. We are ranked fifth in the world. Mr. Emerson has produced a revenue neutral report that contains good recommendations. My colleagues and I will take the time to examine them properly. The industry also welcomes this report.

Our proposals are very different from those of the NDP, which wants to tax everything and bring in a $21 billion carbon tax, which would kill the aerospace and automobile sectors and manufacturing in general.

We are taking the right approach, and we are very pleased with this report.

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Emerson report is clear: the Conservatives are not doing a good job.

The aerospace industry represents 66,000 direct jobs, 92,000 indirect jobs and $40 billion in economic spinoffs. To avoid losing ground in the global aerospace market, we must invest more in research and development, among other things.

The industry wants a long-term development plan and stable funding. When will the Conservatives take action? Will they follow the recommendations or not?

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Industry and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, I do not believe that my colleague is familiar with the file.

When the council was appointed, Mr. Emerson told a press conference that we must not sit on our laurels. We are ranked fifth in the world, but we have to see where the industry will position itself and where it will be in five, 10 and 20 years. That is why we asked for the report, and we have received some good recommendations.

Recommendations such as the NDP's $21.5 billion carbon tax will kill the aerospace sector, as well as manufacturing. The NDP has no credibility. That is why I do not listen to their recommendations. I prefer to study Mr. Emerson's.

The EconomyOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, Canada is not immune to ongoing global economic challenges from beyond our borders, especially those who are our most important trade partners, like the United States and Europe. That is why we continue to work hard to implement economic action plan 2012, including measures to grow the economy today.

While we are focused on helping the economy grow, the New Democrats want to take $21 billion out of the pockets of Canadians with a new carbon tax that would cripple our economy and kill Canadian jobs. Can the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance please update Parliament on the state of the Canadian economy?

The EconomyOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Saint Boniface Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Souris—Moose Mountain for prompting me to share some good news today for Canadians.

As everyone knows, our Conservative government has focused on creating jobs and long-term prosperity and ensuring that our economy grows. Indeed, today Stats Canada announced that our economy grew again in the third quarter of 2012. This represents the fifth consecutive quarter of economic growth in Canada. Our modest but steady economic growth shows that we are on the right track. We are going to continue on this track. What we are not going to do is to implement a $21 billion carbon tax on Canadians that would kill—

The EconomyOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The hon. member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, no matter what the hon. member for Saint-Boniface may think, the number of unemployed Canadians is growing. And four out of 10 of them are not currently receiving EI benefits. And yet, instead of making sure that employment insurance is available to people who need it, all the Conservatives are doing is finding more ways to prevent more people from accessing benefits.

Nearly 20% of Canada's unemployed workers have not accumulated the number of hours needed to qualify for EI.

Why are the Conservatives so stubborn? Why not help the unemployed, instead of blaming them?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Simcoe—Grey Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, this government has been focused on ensuring that Canadians have jobs, in fact creating 820,000 net new jobs since the downturn of the recession.

Unlike the New Democrats, we have a plan we are putting in place that would help create jobs, whether that be the EI small business tax credit, the additional $50 million for the youth employment strategy or $30 million in order to aid individuals with disabilities to be employed. Unlike the NDP with its proposed $21 billion carbon tax, we are creating jobs.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is not enough to tell unemployed people that they just need to find jobs. For every vacant job in Canada, there are more than five people out of work. By not renewing the pilot project to extend EI benefits, the government has left seasonal workers without an income for nearly two months.

These workers did not ask to work seasonally, but the lobster fishery is seasonal.

Does the government not understand the importance of seasonal industries to our economy? Why not support them?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Simcoe—Grey Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, actually, this government's members understand seasonal workers exceptionally well. In fact, in my riding in Simcoe—Grey, there are many seasonal workers and they are delighted with the plan that this government has put forward. We have created 820,000 net new jobs. Whether that be ensuring that young people have opportunities for employment or the targeted initiative for older workers, we have a plan for creating jobs, unlike the New Democrats who have a $21 billion carbon tax that would just create an opportunity to destroy jobs and increase taxes.

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry, but “delighted” is not the way I describe the unemployed citizens in my riding.

The lobster season opened this week, but clouds of uncertainty hang over the industry.

Fishers met in Moncton yesterday to express their concerns about the cuts to Fisheries and Oceans Canada that affect the already unsatisfactory dates for the fishing season, the minimum size for lobsters, and much else. All these issues need to be resolved as quickly as possible.

Will the minister take her responsibilities seriously, go to Moncton, and find the appropriate solutions to protect the future of this crucial industry?

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission B.C.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, of course, this is an important issue that the minister and our government is paying close attention to. The minister's officials are working with industry to make sure they get their questions answered, because a sustainable fishery is of key importance to us.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the closing of the Buffalo visa office is another example of Conservative incompetence.

People lost in the Buffalo process have had no news of their permanent residence files for nearly two years. My office is inundated with calls and letters from people who simply ask not to be overlooked. It is unacceptable.

Will the minister finally step up to the plate, tell us how many people are affected by the closing of the Buffalo visa office, and take action, at last, to solve the problem?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, all the applications that were being processed in Buffalo have been moved to Ottawa, where public servants are dealing efficiently with them.

I can assure the House that the department is able to process these applications normally. If people want information on the status of their applications, they must contact the department. It is one way we work efficiently for the taxpayers.

Intergovernmental AffairsOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, Atlantic Canadians are well aware of the disdain the Prime Minister has for their region. Not only does the Prime Minister want to cut out all of our services, he has now sent his three amigo senators to corral all the maritime provinces into one. He has gone from putting up a firewall to creating one province. We are not going to let him take away our individual rights or our constitutional rights.

Why are the Atlantic Conservative MPs not standing up for the region?

Intergovernmental AffairsOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Madawaska—Restigouche New Brunswick

Conservative

Bernard Valcourt ConservativeAssociate Minister of National Defence and Minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency) (La Francophonie)

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member is referring to a political union of the maritime provinces, this is not the policy of this government.

Intergovernmental AffairsOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, apparently size matters. Size matters to Senators Duffy, Wallace and Greene, who want to erase Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick off the Canadian map.

We are a proud people back home and, yes, we have challenges. If the Conservatives really want to help the Maritimes, how about they stop attacking our way of life? How about they stop gutting thousands of jobs from our region? How about they stop saying that we have a culture of defeat? How about they stop the EI changes that are killing seasonal industries? How about trying to find real solutions instead of creating division?

Intergovernmental AffairsOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Madawaska—Restigouche New Brunswick

Conservative

Bernard Valcourt ConservativeAssociate Minister of National Defence and Minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency) (La Francophonie)

Mr. Speaker, he did not understand it the first time, so I will say it again: that is not government policy. Not at all.

Science and TechnologyOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government is axing the Language Technologies Research Centre in the Outaouais.

The Minister of State for Science and Technology claims that the decision to relocate National Research Council researchers to Ottawa was a matter of responsible management. However, an internal review shows that 25% of the premises leased by the NRC at the Université du Québec en Outaouais were not used.

Will the government make a responsible decision to ensure that the NRC maintains a presence in the Outaouais?

Science and TechnologyOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Industry and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, the responsible thing to do is to ensure resources are used efficiently.

Canadian taxpayers have given us a mandate to ensure we get value for money. That is why we have undertaken to reform the NRC under the leadership of my colleague, the Minister of State for Science and Technology, so that we can provide better services with greater efficiency.

Science and TechnologyOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, to the contrary, the Interactive Language Technologies Group at the University of Québec in Outaouais is simply another casualty in the Conservative's irresponsible cuts to science and technology. After gutting the Translation Bureau, the Conservatives are now eliminating support to small businesses that need language tools on the Internet, yet another Conservative attack on ensuring that the country thrives in both official languages.

Why is the government taking away the resources that Canadian companies need to be competitive in a growing global market? Will the government allow NRC scientists to stay in Outaouais?

Science and TechnologyOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Industry and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, it is the contrary. I urge my colleague to stop fear-mongering.

We want to continue to give good services to Canadian taxpayers but more efficiently. This is why we are reforming the National Research Council under the leadership of my colleague, the Minister of State for Science and Technology. It is to make sure that we continue to provide good services to Canadians with more efficiency.

LabourOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Bev Shipley Conservative Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, a delegation of six CUPW big union bosses departed for the World Social Forum Free Palestine conference. Where? Rio de Janeiro. Using what? Public funds. This radical political conference is dedicated to the destruction of Israel as a Jewish homeland and promotes Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

We know union transparency is needed. Could the minister explain to the House what the government's actions need to be to get the public funds that the union took back to Canadian taxpayers.

LabourOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia Manitoba

Conservative

Steven Fletcher ConservativeMinister of State (Transport)

Mr. Speaker, I find it disturbing that the NDP big union bosses would think that this kind of expenditure is acceptable, using public funds to go to Rio.

When I became aware of the situation, I immediately ordered Canada Post to recover and stop payment of any public funds used by the big NDP bosses to attend this radical political conference. Canada Post has assured me that it acted immediately and that no money has been used from the public purse.

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the aerospace industry is very important to the province of Manitoba. It is looking for leadership from the Government of Canada. Air Canada had a legal obligation to maintain an overhaul base and it has decided not to, thereby causing Manitoba to lose hundreds of valuable aerospace jobs.

Why is the Prime Minister letting down Manitobans and not taking Air Canada to court, as the province of Quebec and the province of Manitoba have already chosen to do? Why not the Government of Canada?

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia Manitoba

Conservative

Steven Fletcher ConservativeMinister of State (Transport)

Mr. Speaker, in fact, the government has provided tremendous support to the aerospace industry in Manitoba. We have, through our various programs, provided tens of millions of dollars to companies like StandardAero, Magellan and Boeing, all in the Winnipeg area. However, we have also done the same throughout the country because aerospace is a big part of our economy and it is just about to take off.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, the consequences of the Conservatives' reckless decision to cut health care for refugee claimants not only leaves the most vulnerable behind, but downloads the costs onto provinces and communities across the country.

In Scarborough many refugee claimants rely on a volunteer clinic run by the Muslim Welfare Centre for care, but the clinic has become overwhelmed since the changes came into effect.

Why does the minister believe that volunteer run community clinics, like this one, should pay for his misguided decision?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, there has been no reduction in health insurance for medically necessary physician and hospital services through the IFHP for refugee claimants. What the member is talking about is a different category of people. She is talking about rejected asylum claimants, people who by definition are not refugees. These are people who, according to our fair and generous legal system, do not have a well-founded fear of persecution, people who no longer have a right to be in Canada and who are delaying their removal from the country. Taxpayers have no obligation to provide them with health insurance any more than they do to illegal immigrants.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are generous and welcoming, but they have no tolerance for those who abuse their generosity.

Last year, Canada received more asylum claims from the liberal democracy of the European Union than Africa or Asia. It became clear that Canada's asylum system was not working. That is why our Conservative government introduced Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act to make Canada's system faster and fairer.

Could the hard-working Minister of Immigration please update the House on the progress being made to implement Canada's new and improved asylum system?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to announce this morning that Canada's new balanced fast and fair asylum system would come into effect on December 15. This is the result of legislation adopted by Parliament.

We will go from what used to be almost two year wait times for bona fide refugees to get protection to two months. We will go from being able to remove bogus asylum claimants that used to take us several years to now being able to do it in a few months. This will save taxpayers $1.6 billion over five years and will allow us to focus on providing protection to real refugees, those who need the help.

Persons with DisabilitiesOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Manon Perreault NDP Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, the disability tax credit was created to recognize some of the additional costs incurred by persons with disabilities. However, a number of people with disabilities are not eligible for income security programs that would allow them to have a decent income, to save for the future and to reduce their stress level.

Instead of using this tax credit as a prerequisite for disability programs, why do the Conservatives not propose a plan that would guarantee income security for all persons with disabilities?

Persons with DisabilitiesOral Questions

Noon

Saint Boniface Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I find it somewhat odd that the member would actually ask a question about the RDSP because it is her party that voted against the creation of it.

Let me remind the member that not only have we made a number of significant changes to the RDSP program, but in this coming budget implementation act, which we are hopeful she will support this time, we have expanded the eligibility for people who use RDSPs. It is an important measure. There are other measures in the BIA, too, and I know she is aware of them. Let us get the NDP on board to vote for it.

Natural ResourcesOral Questions

Noon

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, despite the Government of Quebec's formal opposition and a unanimous motion in the National Assembly, Ottawa will be announcing several billion dollars in funding for the Lower Churchill hydroelectric project with great fanfare this afternoon. The federal government will be using Quebeckers' tax dollars to fund a project whose purpose is to compete with Hydro-Québec, yet Quebeckers had to pay for their power generation network themselves.

How can the government justify this unfair and inequitable funding that is against the economic interests of the Quebec nation and constitutes nothing less than unfair competition for Hydro-Québec?

Natural ResourcesOral Questions

Noon

Cypress Hills—Grasslands Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, we will support new clean energy projects that are of national and regional importance. During the last election campaign, our government committed to the Muskrat Falls projects. That same day, our government committed to sorting out sales tax harmonization with Quebec.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

Noon

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am really relieved the Prime Minister has not yet ratified the Canada-China investment treaty. There is new information that is really important for Conservative members of Parliament to consider. A new European report blows a hole through the idea that the arbitration is impartial and unbiased. In fact, there is an elite group of international lawyers, who are making millions out of being global ambulance chasers. They seek the cases, talk governments into entering into FIPAs and reap the rewards of $1,000 an hour as they serve on these cases.

I urge those members to look at the inherent unfairness of arbitration.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

Noon

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, I remind the hon. leader of the Green Party that, as we know in this place, this whole treaty is about protecting Canadians who are investing in China, to give them the same rights and protections that Chinese investors and other foreign national investors already have under Canadian law. I cannot imagine the hon. leader of the Green Party would not want that to happen.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

Noon

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Saint-Jean used unparliamentary language toward me personally. I want to know if he wished to apologize now for doing that.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

Noon

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Perhaps the hon. member for Prince George—Peace River would like to apologize to the member for Saint-Jean for some of the auditory abuse that was going on during question period, which I think prompted the exchange.

The member sits in a unique position in the House and when members of the opposition ask questions, I think he has an extra responsibility to follow the rules of decorum.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

Noon

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I did not use that kind of language. I never would. Some members are stating complete unfactual statements in the House, to which I gave my opinion.

I did not use that kind of language, since I never would. That is what I am asking him to apologize for today.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

Noon

NDP

Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am completely satisfied with the answer you provided, and I have no further comment.

Tabling of DocumentsPoints of OrderOral Questions

Noon

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in question period, the member for Scarborough—Agincourt rose in the House and said that he “twice I wrote to the Minister of Foreign Affairs requesting that he contact the Egyptians with respect to the false accusations that my constituent”. He went on to say, “The minister ignored my letters”.

For the record, I have a copy of the letter the minister wrote to him here. Not only the letter the minister wrote, but also the letter from the staff of the minister who wrote to the member.

Therefore, what the member said was not factual, and I would like that member to apologize to the minister for giving a false report. As well, with permission, I would seek unanimous consent to table this letter to show what the letter said.

Tabling of DocumentsPoints of OrderOral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Does the hon. parliamentary secretary have the unanimous consent of the House to table the letter?

Tabling of DocumentsPoints of OrderOral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Bill C-377—Income Tax ActPoints of OrderOral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, further to my point of order on Wednesday regarding Bill C-377, I would like to include another document for consideration, in addition to the ones I mentioned before.

There is a letter from the building trades and construction trades. If I could include this and two other documents, I will forward this to your office.

Bill C-377—Income Tax ActPoints of OrderOral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Yes.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 22 petitions.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 23rd report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

The committee advises that pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2), the subcommittee on private members' business met to consider the items added to the order of precedence as a result of a replenishment of Wednesday, November 7, 2012, and recommended that the items listed herein, which have been determined, should not be designated non-votable be considered by the House.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2), the report is deemed adopted.

Justice and Human RightsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Delta—Richmond East B.C.

Conservative

Kerry-Lynne Findlay ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 15th report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in relation to requesting an extension of 30 sitting days to consider Bill C-273, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cyberbullying).

Justice and Human RightsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Pursuant to Standing Order 97.1(3)(a) a motion to concur in the report is deemed moved, the question deemed put and a recorded division deemed demanded and deferred until Wednesday, December 5, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Saint Boniface Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations on this, and I believe if you seek it, you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That, notwithstanding Standing Order 83.1, the Standing Committee on Finance be permitted to present its report on pre-budget consultations no later than December 14, 2012.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Does the hon. parliamentary secretary have the unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

(Motion agreed to)

Rights of the UnbornPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition from 25 people from Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan and Alberta, 16 of whom are women. I have a second petition to exactly the same effect from 173 people from British Columbia, 80 of whom are women.

The petitions are with respect to the fact that Canada's 400-year-old definition of a human being states that a child does not become a human being until the moment of complete birth, contrary to 21st century medical evidence, and that Parliament should reject any law that states that some human beings are not human.

The petitioners call upon the House of Commons and Parliament assembled to confirm that every human being is recognized by Canadian law as human by amending section 223 of the Criminal Code in such a way as to reflect 21st century medical evidence.

I have another petition that is a little different. It points out that subsection 223(1) of the Criminal Code remains identical to section 195(1) of the Statutes of Canada, 1953-54, and refers to the science of embryology, ultrasound, intrauterine photography, microsurgery, fetal health interventions, all confirming that a child is distinct before birth.

The petitioners ask Parliament to strike down subsections 223(1) and 223(2) and replace them with definitions that currently reflect embryological knowledge.

Citizenship and ImmigrationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table petitions with hundreds of signatures from people in my riding of Scarborough—Rouge River who are calling for the repeal of Bill C-31. The petitions are with respect to the fact that Bill C-31 concentrates more power in the hands of the minister by allowing him to name safe countries and restrict refugees from those countries. It also restricts access to humanitarian and compassionate considerations and would arbitrarily designate irregular arrivals and the mandatory incarceration of people who are arbitrarily designated as irregular arrivals.

The petitioners are calling upon the Government of Canada to repeal Bill C-31, which they call the “punishing refugees act”, and return to the framework of the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, which was passed with the support of all parties during the last parliamentary session.

Experimental Lakes AreaPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions from roughly 75 people who have written asking the government to recognize the importance of the ELA to the Government of Canada's mandate to study, preserve and protect aquatic ecosystems; to reverse the decision to close the ELA research station; and to continue to study and provide financial resources to the ELA at the current or higher level of commitment.

Search and RescuePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present two separate petitions from residents of St. John's East and other parts of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The petitioners are among the extremely large number of people who are calling upon the government to reverse its decision to close the Coast Guard marine rescue sub-centre in St. John's. They point out that the base was responsible for 900,000 square kilometres of ocean and an astounding 28,956 kilometres of coastline.

The petitioners believe it is irresponsible to close down this base because of the work that it does in preserving the lives of many people who live and work at sea.

Experimental Lakes AreaPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions that I am tabling. As was the case earlier with the member across the way, the petitioners call upon the government to save the Experimental Lakes Area. They say that it is important to recognize the historic and international reputation for the area and that it is critical to the future of aquatic ecosystems.

The petitioners ask the government to continue to staff and provide financial resources to the Experimental Lakes Area at the current or higher level of commitment.

Public TransitPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition today in support of a national strategic transit plan. We are the only OECD country that does not have such a plan, even though it is very much needed. In my riding, the people of Mirabel, who commute to Montreal, often tell me how needed this is. It is very important for us to develop a national transit and infrastructure strategy.

Lyme DiseasePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today with two petitions. The first is from residents from Winnipeg, Saskatoon, and Bracebridge and Oakville, Ontario.

The petitioners urge members of Parliament to support my private member's Bill C-442, which would move Canada toward a national Lyme disease strategy. I am hearing from patients and doctors across Canada who support this legislation. I certainly hope my colleagues will join me with all-party support.

Foreign InvestmentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, my second petition is from residents of the Toronto area but is consistent with petitions that continue to come into my office.

By email alone, I have heard from 70,000 Canadians who urge the government not to ratify the Canada-China investment treaty at least until its terms are changed. Without any vote or debate in the House, we could be locked into a treaty for 31 years that would give an unaccountable group of arbitrators permission, without appeal, to rule out of order our laws and to order billions of dollars in damages against Canada for measures to protect health, the environment or labour standards.

Access to MedicinesPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Grandmothers Advocacy Network did a wonderful job in trying to ensure a sustainable flow of life-saving generic medicines to developing countries when it circulated petitions in regard to Bill C-398 even though it did not pass.

I introduce this petition to encourage the government to reflect on how it voted on Bill C-398. I submit this petition on behalf of residents of Manitoba.

Public TransitPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg NDP Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to present a petition on behalf of the people of the greater Toronto area, who feel that a national public transit strategy is needed.

It is also very much needed in my riding. My situation is similar to my colleague's. My constituents from Terrebonne, Blainville or Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, commute as far as Montreal, so we need a national strategy. We must sit down together to manage this situation. We must look at what can be done and look at what kind of leadership role the federal government can play.

Public TransitPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition on behalf of residents of my riding of Scarborough—Rouge River.

The petitioners are calling for the creation of a national public transit strategy since Canada is the only OECD country that does not have a national public transit strategy. It is estimated that over the next five years there will be an $18 billion gap in transit infrastructure needs.

It takes me two hours to get from my home to downtown Toronto where most of the jobs are in the greater Toronto area. On behalf of my constituents, I am very happy to present this petition.

AbortionPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition to the House today.

The petitioners point out that Canada is the only nation in the western world, and is in the company of China and North Korea, without any laws restricting abortion. They note that Canada's Supreme Court has said it is Parliament's responsibility to enact abortion legislation. The petitioners call upon the House of Commons to speedily enact legislation that would restrict abortion to the greatest extent possible.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 983, 991 and 992.

Question No. 983Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

With regard to the decision to send Canadian Forces personnel to Afghanistan: (a) what specific evaluations of the additional requirements and costs for health-care services for the Forces (funding and budget, health-care staff and professionals, their areas of specialization, organizational structure, evaluation tools, recruiting programs, and any other aspects) were conducted before or after this decision, including evaluations of (i) the requirements of the mission in Canada and in the field, (ii) the long-term needs of service personnel and veterans following the mission, (iii) mental-health assessments; (b) what were the findings and recommendations of these evaluations, and (i) what recommendations were implemented and to what extent, (ii) what recommendations were not implemented and why, (iii) what follow-up was conducted on the recommendations that were implemented; (c) what programs and recruitment campaigns were introduced for health-care staff and professionals; and (d) how many health-care staff and professionals were recruited while Canadian Forces personnel were deployed to Afghanistan, and to what extent has the number of medical staff and health-care professionals increased compared with the number of uniformed Canadian Forces service persons deployed?

Question No. 983Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the provision of health care services for the mission in Afghanistan was not determined by a specific evaluation, but by on ongoing and continuous assessments to ensure that Canadian Forces members received appropriate health care services. The Canadian Forces deployed to Afghanistan quickly following the attacks of September 11, 2001, as part of a larger international effort. Since then, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces have adapted in all areas related to deployed operations to meet the increased operational requirements associated with the mission in Afghanistan. As part of this ongoing reorientation and adjustment since the Canadian Forces first deployed to Afghanistan, health care programs and services available to all Canadian Forces members have evolved considerably based on ongoing assessments of evolving operational requirements.

The Canadian Forces monitored all aspects of health care for its personnel deployed to Afghanistan, those returning from deployments, and those remaining in Canada. As a result of this ongoing review and monitoring, processes and programs were adapted or developed to ensure the health care provided is appropriate and of a high quality.

With respect to improving treatment of combat casualties, Canada partnered with the U.S. Department of Defense joint theatre trauma system, which resulted in immediate improvement in the treatment of in-theatre casualties.

With respect to improving recording or tracking of individual medical information, the Canadian Forces health information system was deployed forward during the Afghan mission. It was successfully implemented and has become the standard of medical record keeping for all operations.

With respect to treatment of the complex physical injuries of those returning from Afghanistan, several physical rehabilitation initiatives were implemented to offer optimal care to injured personnel. The Canadian Forces notably made the following progress. It established the position of head of physical rehabilitation in 2008 to develop a multidisciplinary program of rehabilitation care to those with injuries. This led to the implementation of the Canadian Forces physical rehabilitation program in 2009 and the establishment of 20 physical rehabilitation positions in support of seven rehabilitation centres of expertise. It also acquired two virtual reality medical treatment systems, computer assisted rehabilitation environments, in partnership with civilian rehabilitation hospitals in Ottawa and Edmonton. These systems are used in the rehabilitation of Canadian Forces personnel with both physical and mental injuries.

With respect to mental health care, the Canadian Forces launched a number of initiatives to improve the immediate and long-term treatment needs for its personnel. The Canadian Forces notably made the following progress. It included deployed mental health teams in all Afghanistan rotations since 2003. In addition, five Operational Trauma and Stress Support Centres were established, focusing on the treatment of operational stress injuries. The mental health presence also increased at major bases and stations across Canada. It increased clinician training and mental health care education for military health care professionals undergoing training at the Canadian Forces Health Services Training Centre in Borden. It established in 2006 the third-location decompression program for Canadian Forces members returning to Canada after a lengthy deployment to ease the transition and ensure access to mental health professionals. It established the requirement that all Canadian Forces members returning from an international operation of 60 or more days undergo the enhanced post-deployment screening process as per the screening and reintegration policy of 2006 and based on a screening program that began in 2002. It established a series of joint network for operational stress injuries clinics across Canada in 2006 to provide a core set of specialized interdisciplinary mental health services for psychological trauma related to operational stress injuries. It established the cognitive behavioural therapy program in 2007 to provide treatment of a wide range of health and mental health problems. It instituted the mild traumatic brain injury clinical guidelines and surveillance in 2008 to improve treatment of concussions resulting from exposures to blasts. It developed the Road to Mental Readiness in 2009 to provide training to Canadian Forces personnel on mental health conditions, as well as traumatic and non-traumatic stress, with the objectives of decreasing stigma, overcoming barriers to mental health care, enhancing psychological resilience and providing tools to assist Canadian Forces members and families. It launched the ongoing operational stress incidence study in 2009 to provide information on the impact of deployment to Afghanistan on the mental health of Canadian Forces members, and it conducted the operational mental health survey in 2010 to identify symptoms of mental health problems in Canadian Forces members serving in Afghanistan and to determine the utilization of and perceived need for mental health services.

The Canadian Forces conducted an active recruitment campaign to address shortages in health services occupations, which coincided with the mission in Afghanistan. Since 2001, the number of health care professionals in the Canadian Forces has increased by over 360, representing an increase of over 15%.

The extent to which the number of medical staff and health care professionals has increased compared to the number of Canadian Forces personnel deployed is not available.

Question No. 991Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

With regard to the Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk: (a) was the budget allocated to the Program increased or decreased in 2012 and 2013; (b) was the budget allocated to the Program transferred to another program; (c) what impact, in terms of financial and human resources, will the 2012 federal budget have on the Program; (d) have the application criteria or evaluation procedures changed and if so, what are the new application criteria or evaluation procedures; (e) has the selection process, in partnership with the provinces, changed; (f) have Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada or the Parks Canada Agency been consulted on changes to the Program; (g) what considerations justify these changes; (h) have the relevant departments signed agreements with communities under this program; (i) has a value for money assessment been completed for the Program; and (j) must the relevant departments respond to funding requests by a specific date?

Question No. 991Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), the budget allocated to the program did not change in 2012-13. In March 2012, a portion of habitat stewardship program, HSP, funding, $4 million, which was to sunset was renewed and these funds are being included in the supplementary estimates (B).

With regard to (b), this is n/a as there was no change in the budget as stated in (a). To note though, $144,000 of the 2012-13 $11,769,000 HSP budget was allocated to other Species at Risk Act, SARA, priorities, namely, continuing work with key first nations to build capacity to effectively participate in the development and piloting of SARA section 11 conservation agreements.

With regard to (c), budget 2012 renewed $25 million annually in funding for 2012-13 and the next two fiscal years to implement the Species at Risk Act. This renewal included $4 million per year for the continued implementation of the HSP.

With regard to (d), the only change for the 2012-13 year was that the program used five-year HSP regional investment plans, RIPs, to guide priorities for project election rather than the annual regional priority. Projects recommended for funding were well aligned with the priorities identified in the RIPs. The evaluation grid that is used across the country to evaluate each project submission is updated annually to address minor changes in program direction or administration, but no criteria were changed for the 2012-13 year.

With regard to (e), there have been no changes to the selection process, which is undertaken in partnership with the provinces.

With regard to (f), all three federal agencies co-manage the program in partnership and are involved in setting national and regional priorities, and the evaluation of the projects. Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, DFO, and Parks Canada, PCA, all participated in the drafting and approval of the regional investment plans, which was the only change to the program for 2012-13 as stated in (d).

With regard to (g), the changes were in response to increased demand for funding using limited resources. There was a need to strategically align priorities and funding; the RIPs were developed to address the need to demonstrate over the long term a more strategic investment and guide future decision-making by identifying priorities for funding for a five-year period.

With regard to (h), while, DFO, PCA and EC co-manage the program, Environment Canada solely administers the HSP. As such, only EC signs contribution agreements with successful HSP project proponents.

With regard to (i), no value-for-money assessment has been done for the program, but the audit function of the 2009 program evaluation looked at cost-effectiveness of the program and evaluated whether the most efficient means were being used to achieve results. The evaluation concluded that the evidence gathered indicated that the program was being delivered cost-efficiently and offers good value for money.

With regard to (j), there is no set date for departments to respond to funding requests. Environment Canada carefully reviews its entire grants and contributions budget each year to ensure that funding addresses the federal government’s priorities for clean air, climate change, clean water and biodiversity, which includes habitat conservation. Only after this review is complete, can proponents be notified of the results of their application.

Question No. 992Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

With regard to the Joint Emergency Preparedness Program: (a) will the Program be extended beyond 2013; (b) will the Program be replaced by another program beyond 2013; (c) was the Program budget increased or decreased in 2012 or 2013; (d) was the Program budget transferred to another program; (e) what impact, in terms of financial resources or human resources, will the 2012 budget have on the Program; (f) were there any changes to the criteria or application evaluation procedure and, if so, what were those changes; (g) did Public Safety Canada hold any consultations regarding the changes to the Program; (h) what are the considerations that justify these changes; (i) was a value-for-money assessment conducted on the Program; and (j) are the departments involved required to respond to funding applications by a specific date?

Question No. 992Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), the answer is no. With regard to (b), the answer is no. With regard to (c), the answer is no. With regard to (d), the answer is no.

With regard to (e), in line with budget 2012, federal contributions under the joint emergency preparedness program, JEPP, will end in 2013. Two indeterminate positions were affected by this decision.

With regard to (f), the answer is no.

With regard to (g), before the planned saving measures were announced, consultations occurred with elected officials.

With regard to (h), the Government of Canada recognizes the importance of an integrated and resilient approach to emergency management. Emergency management is a shared responsibility between all levels of government, the private sector, non-governmental organizations and individual citizens. The Government of Canada also recognizes that most emergencies in Canada are managed by municipalities or at the provincial or territorial level. As such, the Government of Canada has supplemented provincial emergency preparedness since 1980 by investing over $175 million in emergency planning, training and specialized equipment through the JEPP.

Moving forward, the Government of Canada is developing a long-term national disaster mitigation program through engagement with provinces and territories, recognizing that mitigation can lessen the impact of natural disasters and reduce the costs associated with these events. In addition, up to $99.2 million will be provided over three years to assist provinces and territories with the cost of permanent flood mitigation measures undertaken for the 2011 flood season.

With regard to (i), the Government of Canada recognizes that most emergencies in Canada are managed by municipalities or at the provincial or territorial level. The original objectives of this program, namely, to enhance local emergency preparedness and response capacity, have been met. As this is a provincial responsibility, communities are aware of the need to invest in preparedness.

With regard to (j), the JEPP will conclude on March 31, 2013. As all projects must be completed prior to March 31, 2013, applications will not be accepted beyond March 15, 2013.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, if Questions Nos. 980, 982, 984, 985, 986, 989 and 990 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker Mr. Barry Devolin

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 980Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

With regard to Bill C-10, An Act to enact the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act and to amend the State Immunity Act, the Criminal Code, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and other Acts: (a) what has the Department of Justice identified as the policy objectives or desired outcomes of Bill C-10 and what indicator has been identified to measure progress; (b) what has the Department identified as the overall legal costs for defending Bill C-10 from legal challenges; (c) when assessing the compliance of Bill C-10 with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms under section 4 of the Department of Justice Act, what measures were used to assess whether delays in trial processes and prison overcrowding would violate Charter-guaranteed rights; (d) what is the measure of post-sentence recidivism rates used now by the Department of Public Safety, and how is the success of Bill C-10 to be defined and measured; (e) what are the numbers of Aboriginal, women, addicted, cognitively-impaired or mentally-ill offenders in remand or federal custody facilities that are being used as a base against which to assess whether Bill C-10 increases or decreases those numbers; and (f) how is the government assessing benefits to victims of crime resulting from Bill C-10?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 982Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

With regard to air safety: (a) from 2006 until now, how many air traffic controllers have been employed, broken down by (i) year, (ii) province; (b) from 2006 until now, how many air traffic controllers have been employed at Montréal-Mirabel International Airport, broken down by year; (c) from 2006 until now, how many aviation incidents have been reported, broken down by (i) year, (ii) province; and (d) how many aviation incidents reported from 2006 until now occurred at Montréal-Mirabel International Airport, broken down by year?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 984Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

With regard to Canadian missions abroad (embassies, consulates and delegations within international and regional organizations) and for each of these missions and for fiscal years 2005-2006 to 2012-2013, inclusively: (a) how many positions were related to culture; (b) what were the titles of these positions; (c) where were they located in the mission’s hierarchy; (d) what were the duties of these positions; (e) how many artistic or cultural projects received support from the people occupying these positions; (f) what form of support did these projects receive; (h) how many Canadian works of art were on display in the rooms of the mission; (i) how many public activities promoting Canadian culture took place and what were these activities; (j) how many private activities promoting Canadian culture took place and what were these activities; and (k) how much of the mission’s budget was allocated to cultural activities or programs, (i) what were the names of these programs, (ii) how much funding was allocated to each of these programs?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 985Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Dionne Labelle NDP Rivière-du-Nord, QC

With regard to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC): (a) how many CIC positions will be eliminated in 2012 and subsequent years, broken down by (i) year, (ii) province; (b) how will the Fédération des francophones de la Colombie-Britannique, which co-chaired the CIC’s British Columbia region, fit into the new structure if the British Columbia region disappears; (c) has the impact of merging services for the Atlantic region with the Quebec region been analyzed and, if so, what were the findings; (d) what impact will merging services for the Atlantic and Quebec regions have on francophone immigration; (e) what structures will be implemented to avoid competition between the Atlantic and Quebec regions for francophone immigrants if the decision-making centre is transferred to the province of Quebec; and (f) how will cuts to the Destination Canada Job Fair budget be offset in order to ensure that the Atlantic provinces can continue to attract francophone immigrants in light of competition from the province of Quebec for francophone immigrants?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 986Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

With regard to the Governor in Council appointment process for the Privy Council Office from 2005 to 2013 inclusively: (a) how many people work at the Senior Personnel and Special Projects Secretariat, and what is the language profile for each of their positions; (b) how many appointments were made; (c) what is the list of all the positions granted through Governor in Council appointments and how many positions are on the list; (d) how many of the job postings include or included language requirements, (i) how are these requirements worded, (ii) what criteria were used to determine these requirements, (iii) are the language requirements for each of these positions recorded, (iv) were the federal institutions involved consulted before the language requirements were determined, (v) was the Treasury Board Secretariat consulted regarding the drafting of these postings, (vi) was the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages consulted regarding the drafting of these postings; (e) are there guidelines for the linguistic designation of positions as regards official languages and, if so, (i) what are they, (ii) who created them, (iii) are they systematically consulted before each appointment; (f) what is the proportion of appointments for each of the provinces and territories; (g) what is the proportion of anglophones and francophones who are appointed and how is this information recorded; and (h) is the proportion of bilingual anglophones and francophones on boards of directors appointed by the Governor in Council recorded and, if so, what is it?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 989Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

With regard to small craft harbours, what expenditures are planned by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for fiscal year 2012-2013, what are the estimated costs of each planned repair or general work, for the following harbours in New Brunswick: (a) Cape Tormentine; (b) Murray Corner (Bostford); (c) Petit Cap; (d) Bas Cap-Pelé; (e) Aboiteau; (f) Robichaud; (g) Cape-de-Cocagne; (h) Saint-Thomas; (i) Cormierville; (j) Saint-Édouard; (k) Cap-Lumière; (l) Richibucto; (m) St. Louis Cape; (n) Loggiecroft; (o) Caissie Cape; and (p) Sainte-Anne (Chockpish)?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 990Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

With regard to the Interchange Canada Program: (a) how many temporary assignments of core public administration employees were there to other public, not-for-profit or private sector organizations, and what were the program’s recipient organizations and the number of employees by organization for the years (i) 2007, (ii) 2008, (iii) 2009, (iv) 2010, (v) 2011; and (b) how many temporary assignments of employees of public (other than core public administration), private and not-for-profit sector organizations were there, and what were the program’s core public administration recipient organizations and the number of employees by organization for the years (i) 2007, (ii) 2008, (iii) 2009, (iv) 2010, (v) 2011?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

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

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker Mr. Barry Devolin

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Bill C-45—Notice of time allocation motionJobs and Growth Act, 2012Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I must advise an agreement has not been reached under the provisions of Standing Order 78(1) or 78(2) concerning the proceedings at report stage and third reading of Bill C-45, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures. Under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the Crown will propose at the next sitting a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at those stages.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill S-9, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

When this matter was last before the House, the hon. member for Winnipeg North had six minutes remaining in questions and comments. Questions and comments.

Seeing none, resuming debate, the hon. member for Manicouagan.

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain NDP Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by saying that I will be sharing my time with my colleague.

Preparing this curious speech to defend the claims in a bill on nuclear terrorism was, in a sense a personal act of bravado. When I say bravado I mean that when I looked at the House calendar and saw that a question dealing with nuclear terrorism had been entered, I told myself it was a golden opportunity for me to reconnect with my old passions.

When I was a graduate student, I often took part in these types of exercises. Graduate studies at university often involve oral presentations and plenary sessions. That is why obscure topics are studied and discussed. Moreover, it is why I decided to embark on a discussion of an issue that may appear inaccessible and intangible at first.

Over the past few days, I invested some effort in reviewing case law and the definitions of “threat” and “terrorism” in the Criminal Code, as well as concepts such as criminal intent or mens rea. This helped refresh my memory of concepts that I learned during my legal training and allows me today to spend a little more time on them and investigate them more deeply.

In light of the scope of the issue, as well as its specificity, I would like to focus particularly on the concept of threat set out in this nuclear terrorism bill. A few offences are mentioned in the bill, including the threat of use of nuclear material and devices. I will focus on this specific concept.

The degree of specialization associated with the scope of the bill gradually helped direct my arguments toward highlighting the impact of the provision creating the threat offence. Here I will rely on the text of the bill. This is not something I am in the habit of doing, but considering the specialized nature of the bill, it is just as well to remain close to the text and refer to it. The bill refers to the threat to possess, use or dispose of nuclear or radioactive material or a nuclear or radioactive device, or to commit an act against a nuclear facility or its operations, with the intent to cause death, serious bodily harm or substantial damage to property or the environment.

With regard to "substantial damage to property", it is important to understand that in the Criminal Code, more often than not threat is limited to two situations, either threats against persons or threats against property. I will come back to this later on, when I go into greater detail on the concept of threat, its impact and its use in this bill.

The bill before us also refers to the threat of using or altering nuclear or radioactive material or a nuclear or radioactive device, or committing an act against a nuclear facility or its operation, with the intent to compel a person, government or international organization to do or refrain from doing any act.

Here, I will focus on the concept of nuclear facility as provided in the bill before us. I will refer to it in my conclusion, when I briefly address nuclear facilities in Canada. It should already be possible to see where I am going with my speech.

Finally, the bill refers to the threat of committing an indictable offence under federal law for the purpose of obtaining nuclear or radioactive material, a nuclear or radioactive device, or obtaining access or control of a nuclear facility.

This particular bill incorporates notions that are already covered by the Criminal Code, such as the definition of threat as an offence, as well as the notion of terrorism. With regard to the definition of threat—I have already taken a few steps along this path—the Criminal Code sets out two very specific cases, that is, the threat to the integrity of an individual and the threat against property. These two cases are covered here, in the bill.

In the case of threat, there is very little in the way of a defence that can be made when an accused faces this type of charge. Ultimately, the accused must show that the threat as expressed should not have been taken seriously because it was only a joke or pure fantasy.

This is the notion of threat. In my view, that is the only defence available under the Criminal Code. However, it must also be understood that the notion of threat, as it is set out in the Criminal Code, does not necessarily involve an investigation of the individual’s ability to commit the act or the medium that was used to formulate and make the threat. The threat may be expressed orally or it may even be sent through an intermediary on the Internet. There are countless methods of transmitting a threat.

Ultimately, the Criminal Code does not consider the actual ability of the person making the threat. His or her actual ability to make good on a threat is not necessarily taken into account. This is what I would like to emphasize because nuclear materials and devices are quite specific.

At the very least, it might be worthwhile to introduce a degree of nuance regarding the possibility for an individual to formulate a threat relating to nuclear devices and to determine whether the individual is in fact able to get his hands on a nuclear device. Even though we support this bill at second reading, it must be understood that, once the bill has become law, the terrorism aspect will automatically apply when this variable, the nuclear aspect, enters the picture.

The offences created under this bill are far-reaching and are very likely to lead to a serious record for an individual. Therefore, we should be very careful in this regard.

While I will support this bill at second reading and despite the fact that the threat offences, as defined in the Criminal Code, disregard an offender’s ability to commit the intended offence, the high level of specialization inherent in the handling of nuclear materials should militate in favour of tightening the criteria relating to the threat offence involving nuclear devices or materials.

As I was saying, these concepts are imported. The Criminal Code already contains very specific terminology and provisions relating to threats and terrorism. If we incorporate these same notions in this bill, we must ensure that the distinction is made. This is a big challenge in light of the fact that, as soon as someone is found guilty of one of the offences set out in this bill, he will automatically be labelled a terrorist, and there is quite a stigma attached to that label. These are very important matters that must be carefully examined.

As some of my colleagues mentioned this morning, this notion of threat goes far beyond Canada's international obligation. This bill was initially drafted to fulfill our international obligations, but we must not get carried away.

In conclusion, I will say—a message from our sponsors—that the greatest nuclear threat is here, in Canada. Some members of my team have told me that some plants here in Canada are storing radioactive waste, including the plants in Gentilly, Quebec, and in Toronto, Ontario. Right now, a rather large and measurable quantity of nuclear waste is being stored in Canada, right under our noses, which is a problem. The nuclear threat is hiding right here in Canada.

I humbly submit this information and hope that I have made members more aware of and interested in this issue.

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the speech by my colleague from Manicouagan with great interest. We are lucky to have people in this House who have practised criminal law and are in a position to have a really very specific and very expert perspective on these particular points.

He clearly explained the two types of threats: threats against a person and threats against property. In the case of a threat to use fissile material or nuclear material, one of the issues I had not been aware of until now is the question of actual ability to act on a threat: a person could threaten to use a nuclear weapon without being in possession of such a weapon.

Can my colleague comment further on the conflict that might arise if a person were convicted of making threats to use fissile materials when they were not in possession of any such materials?

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain NDP Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. First, I would note that I will be sharing my speaking time with my colleague from Terrebonne—Blainville.

To answer my colleague’s question, when I was working on this bill, I recalled my psychiatric clients. Sometimes, my clients simply stopped taking their medications, and as a result they were disorganized and made threats.

I think there are cases where someone is really not in possession of all their faculties and threatens to use a nuclear device to blow up Canada. I have heard people say things like that, but there was really no nuclear device involved. It would be worth ensuring that the bill require that people actually have the ability to get their hands on a nuclear device or nuclear material, before we think about charging them and accusing them of making threats.

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg NDP Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague for his excellent speech. I would also like to ask him a question about the fact that this bill comes from the other chamber, the Senate.

Perhaps he could reiterate our position on the Senate and the bill before us here, which comes from the other chamber.

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain NDP Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. She will also be the next to speak on this subject.

We will be supporting the bill at second reading. The principle and the international obligations are of crucial importance, although the Conservatives should also be paying attention to the other international obligations they must honour. This important bill is a priority, and that is why we will be taking the path of reason and supporting it.

Bills have to go through the Senate eventually anyway.

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a brief question concerning the fact that we should have acted urgently at the time to adopt all of the legislation and ratify these conventions.

I would like my colleague from Manicouagan to talk about the image that Canada may be projecting on the international scene when we do not act promptly.

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain NDP Manicouagan, QC

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

We have seen so many examples of fast tracking on the part of the Conservatives—in fact, I only learned the term here in the House in the past year and a half. It is important that this not become their trademark, because anytime things are done too quickly, certain aspects can be overlooked and sometimes corners are cut, as they say.

In my opinion, having studied the bill, the government was somewhat lax about this for a number of years. Now, at the last minute, the Conservatives want to fix everything. Of course that must be done, out of necessity, but it should not become their trademark. Some subjects warrant careful consideration and must be studied for many years.

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg NDP Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to support Bill S-9 at second reading. I would like to say, however, that our position on the Senate, the other chamber, is well known. That chamber has become a place of partisanship and of rewards for friends of the Conservatives, and their family members too, sometimes.

Naturally, it still bothers us to receive bills from the Senate. We disapprove of the fact that it is a completely undemocratic and unelected chamber that wastes a lot of money. At a time when we are seeing cuts everywhere, cuts to services that directly affect my constituents, that chamber is wasting money. I am not reluctant to say it is a waste, because that is what I sincerely believe.

At any rate, we are debating Bill S-9, which is a good bill in principle, and we will study it thoroughly. This bill amends the Nuclear Terrorism Act and creates four new offences in part II of the Criminal Code.

First, this legislation would make it illegal to possess, use or dispose of nuclear or radioactive material or devices, or commit an act against a nuclear facility or its operations with intent to cause death, serious bodily harm or substantial damage to property or the environment; use or alter nuclear material, radioactive material or a device or commit an act against a nuclear facility or its operations with intent to compel a person, government or international organization to do or refrain from doing any act; commit an indictable offence under any act of Parliament, with intent to obtain nuclear material, radioactive material or a device or to obtain access to a nuclear facility; or threaten to commit any of these three offences.

Bill S-9 also amends the Criminal Code in relation to these four new offences, and that is important as well. It also defines certain terms used in the new offences, including “environment”, “nuclear facility”, “nuclear material”, “radioactive material”, and “device”. The bill also amends the definition of “terrorist activity”.

The bill adds a new section to the Criminal Code to ensure that industries that commit or attempt to commit one of these offences while outside Canada can be prosecuted in Canada. It also amends the Criminal Code provisions on electronic surveillance to ensure they apply to these new offences.

The bill amends the Criminal Code so that these four new offences are considered “primary designated offences” for the purpose of DNA warrants and collection.

Finally, the bill amends Canada's rule against double jeopardy so that if an individual has been tried and convicted for the four new offences outside Canada, the rule against double jeopardy will not apply when the foreign trial did not meet certain basic Canadian legal standards. In such circumstances, a Canadian court may try this person again for the same offence of which he or she was convicted by a foreign court.

My party and I think it is extremely important to ratify the international conventions and agreements we have signed. This bill is the result of the ratification of agreements signed in 2005, the ICSANT and CPPNM. We ratified these agreements in 2005 but have not taken the next steps, and it is now 2012.

Of course, it is important that we act in a spirit of international co-operation and concern for the world's safety. It is important that we take action and not just make promises. Therefore, we support Bill S-9 at second reading so that it can be sent to committee and studied more thoroughly.

To date, only 56 countries have ratified the agreement and incorporated the measures included in that agreement into their respective laws.

In my opinion, it is important that Canada take the initiative and ensure that its laws comply with the conventions and agreements that it has signed and ratified. In so doing, we may be able to put pressure on countries that have not yet changed their laws to meet the requirements included in the agreements.

I would like to quote Matthew Bunn, associate professor of public policy at Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He said:

At the moment, unfortunately, the mechanisms for global governance of nuclear security remain very weak. No global rules specify how secure a nuclear weapon or the material needed to make one should be. No mechanisms are in place to verify that countries are securing these stockpiles responsibly. Fukushima made clear that action is needed to strengthen both the global safety and security regimes because terrorists could do on purpose what a tsunami did by accident.

A central goal leading up to the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit must be to find ways to work together to strengthen the global framework for nuclear security and continue high-level attention on this topic after nuclear security summits stop taking place. Ratifying the conventions that are under consideration now is important, but it is only the beginning.

Matthew Bunn raises an excellent point. The Nuclear Security Summit will be held in 2014, and it is important to adjust Canadian laws in order to meet the commitments that we made in 2005 and be ready for 2014. We will thus be able to say that we did what the international community pledged to do. Now, what is the next step?

However, I would like to point out a few of our concerns about the bill. These concerns were also raised when this bill was examined by the Senate.

The first concern relates to overbreadth. The intent of the Department of Justice was to stay as close as possible to the provisions of the convention. However, some of the new offences in the Criminal Code are broader than the offences set out in the international agreements. We must therefore make sure that the overbreadth of those sections will not result in excessive criminalization and will not be contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Canada does have such a charter. It is important that every act and every bill introduced in the House be obeyed.

The second concern raised during study of the bill in the Senate relates to sentencing. The maximum sentences that may be imposed for one of the four new offences are significant. Three of the four offences are liable to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. However, that meets the requirements in the ICSANT and the CPPNM, under which member nations must make the offences punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature.

It should be noted that the bill does not impose a mandatory minimum sentence and that this continues to be a matter of concern. It will be our job to examine that question at greater length when the bill is considered by a committee of the House of Commons.

One of the amendments was proposed by the Senate, and I welcome it because, in my opinion, it is very positive: making a nuclear or radioactive device, which is prohibited by the ICSANT but was not originally prohibited by the proposed amendments to the code. The Liberals therefore put forward an amendment to include this, and I congratulate them for that. I think it is a good amendment. I am glad the bill we are now considering includes that amendment.

I will conclude by saying this. Over time, we have seen various threats to security, and the international community has to respond accordingly.

We responded accordingly after the cold war, after everything that had happened during that era in which nuclear arms were still new. That was the first time we saw this on the international scene. It is important for nations to come together and discuss at greater length what they are going to do to combat present-day threats to security.

I concur with this bill, because it is a step in the right direction.

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank my hon. colleague from Terrebonne—Blainville for her speech, which I found very informative. I enjoy listening to her.

The NDP believes that we need to have a serious look at the issue of nuclear safety and meet our international obligations in order to co-operate better with other countries with respect to strategies for fighting nuclear terrorism.

This bill was introduced in the Senate. The NDP usually opposes bills introduced in the Senate, because we believe that it is an unelected house and that these kinds of things should be examined in this House.

Can my hon. colleague from Terrebonne—Blainville explain why the NDP wants to study this bill carefully in committee?

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg NDP Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

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

There are several reasons we want to see this bill move forward and go to committee for further study. For instance, Canada has made certain commitments by ratifying agreements, and it is important that we act accordingly.

It is important to remember that we are seven years behind on this. The agreements were signed in 2005. Thus, we have already waited seven years to amend Canada's laws accordingly. It is important that we take action based on our obligations and what we have promised to do.

Of course, as my colleague pointed out, we take exception to the fact that so many bills are coming from the Senate, which is an undemocratic house.

At one point, the Senate opposed a bill and voted it down, even though it had been democratically passed here in this House, and all the parties had supported it. It was a bill on environmental accountability, a very important and crucial piece of legislation that would have changed all of our positions and policies on the environment. Unfortunately, the other place rejected it.

I regret and condemn that kind of undemocratic activity.

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was taken by the comment the member just made about the Senate being an anti-democratic body. The last time I looked, there were a couple of parties represented by senators and some independents. They have sessions, much as we do, with a Speaker. They have free votes in the Senate, and every senator is able to express his or her ideas on any particular subject before voting.

I would like to ask the member, unless I am really missing something, how she sees that as undemocratic, when it operates basically the same way this House does. Apart from the fact that senators are appointed rather than elected, the operation is exactly the same. She was referring to the operation as being undemocratic. I would like her to explain that.

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg NDP Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, yes, the Senate does have some good ideas about certain things. However, I am sorry, but senators are not elected. Voting for our representatives is the very foundation of democracy.

I would remind my hon. colleague opposite that three senators—we all know who I am talking about—even said they no longer wanted to be senators and instead wanted to run for a seat in the House in the election. They were defeated. The public rejected them. And what did the Prime Minister do? He reappointed them to the Senate. That is a flagrant example of the partisanship and the lack of democracy that characterize that chamber.

12:45 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I am honoured to speak to Bill S-9, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, or the Nuclear Terrorism Act.

This bill was introduced in the Senate on March 27, 2012. It amends the Criminal Code in order to implement the criminal law requirements contained in two international treaties to combat terrorism.

The Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, commonly referred to as the CPPNM, was amended in 2005 and ratified by Canada. If my memory serves me well, Canada also signed the 2005 International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, the ICSANT.

The Nuclear Terrorism Act includes 10 clauses that create four new offences under part II of the Criminal Code. This legislation will make it illegal to possess, use or dispose of nuclear or radioactive materials or devices or to commit an act against a nuclear facility or its operations with the intent to cause death, serious bodily harm or substantial damage to property or the environment.

Second, it will make it illegal to use or alter nuclear or radioactive materials or devices or to commit an act against a nuclear facility or its operations with the intent to compel a person, government or international organization to do or refrain from doing any act.

Third, it will make it illegal to commit an indictable offence under an act of Parliament with intent to obtain nuclear or radioactive material or a device or to obtain access to or control of a nuclear facility.

Finally, it will make it illegal to threaten to commit any of the three other offences.

These are serious offences that have dangerous consequences for the safety of Canadians. Bill S-9 was introduced to address these concerns and to comply with the requirements of the various conventions that were signed or ratified by Canada in 2005. This responds to these problems and the danger posed to the safety of Canadians by acts that could be carried out from close by or far away with nuclear materials or devices. That is why we support the bill. We hope it will be referred to committee so we can properly examine the bill and make the necessary changes, and in order for a report to be prepared.

As an aside, this is what the government should have done with Bill C-45. The government should have split the bill into a number of smaller bills so that they could be examined in committee in keeping with procedure and democracy. Unfortunately, the government did not do so.

Let us get back to Bill S-9, which is what we are talking about today. This bill finally meets Canada's international obligations under the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. This means that we must extend the application of international measures beyond protecting against the proliferation of nuclear materials to include protection of nuclear facilities.

This bill also reinforces Canada's obligation under UN Security Council resolution 1540 to enforce effective measures to prevent the proliferation of nuclear materials as well as chemical and biological weapons, but that is another matter.

Finally, I must point out that this law meets a requirement with which Canada has been supposed to comply since 2005. Yet, it is rather strange that it was the Senate, an unelected chamber, that finally fulfilled this obligation.

On the other side of the House, the Conservatives have been twiddling their thumbs since 2006 instead of fulfilling the obligation resulting from the international convention that Canada ratified in 2005, which seeks to implement laws and measures to prevent direct or indirect nuclear threats and ensure that Canadians are safe.

In this regard, it is important to mention that the NDP is determined to promote multilateral diplomacy and international co-operation, particularly in areas of common concern, for example, everything to do with keeping Canada and the world safe from nuclear threats. We must therefore work with the other main countries working on ratifying these conventions.

Canada has also agreed to be legally bound by these conventions. Therefore, it is important to fulfill our obligations before the implementation process at the national level is completed. If I am not mistaken, that is coming very soon, in 2014. So, it was time to act. Unfortunately, as I said, I do not understand why the Conservatives dragged their feet during all that time. They have been in office since 2006 and they have done absolutely nothing. Had they asked for the NDP's co-operation, we would have helped them pass this legislation, which respects international conventions.

In fact, we want to be co-operative. That is why we are going to support this bill at second reading and examine it more thoroughly in committee, pursuant to a democratic process, as I mentioned earlier. In Canada's democratic institutions, it is absolutely necessary, critical and relevant to follow a process whereby a study is properly conducted by a committee. We must have time to prepare, to call experts, to listen to them, to weigh the pros and cons, and to write a report that is submitted to the House of Commons. Again, that was not done in the case of Bill C-45. The approach used was undemocratic, and the Conservatives are the ones who resorted to it.

It is quite telling to see that it is the Senate, an unelected body, that proposed this legislation at last. What was the Conservative government doing during all that time? Nothing. The Conservatives stood idly by. That is what is deplorable, because the NDP was prepared to co-operate with them.

We fully support respecting international conventions. Since 2005, Canada has signed two of those very important conventions. That is the direction we must take. We must properly follow a legislative and democratic process. That is why we support this bill. We want it to pass.

Incidentally, the New Democratic Party also believes that we should take a serious look at the issue of nuclear safety and meet our international obligations to co-operate more efficiently with other countries. It is important to ensure international co-operation. We have long enjoyed a good international reputation. Unfortunately, under the Conservatives, that reputation has really been tarnished, whether we are talking about compliance with conventions or the environment.

We are presently in Doha and, once again, we are collecting fossil awards because we refuse to co-operate with other countries. We now have a bad reputation on the world stage. That is not what New Democrats want. On the contrary, they want co-operation, whether the issue is nuclear safety or the environment.

I would urge the Conservatives to change their ways to ensure better co-operation with other countries. We must all support this bill to ensure the safety of Canadians and of other countries.

1 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, it was introduced via the Senate. We had Senator Dallaire, a former general, who suggested that we needed to amend it. One of the things he made reference to, and they had moved it, was to allow for prohibiting the making of radioactive devices.

The point is, as we go into committee there is a need for us to recognize that in principle this is legislation we can and should support. However, Canada does have a larger role to play in looking at what we are doing internally, and what we could do to further enhance the strength of this legislation so we are speaking from a position of strength at the local level.

Could the member comment on that?

1 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his very relevant question.

As I mentioned in my speech, it is very important for Canada to take a leadership role in international negotiations. Canada could show a lot more leadership and initiative in terms of nuclear security.

My colleague mentioned the support of Lieutenant-General Dallaire, whom I respect a great deal for the excellent work he has done both here and abroad. He is a very committed man and I admire him a lot.

It would be very important for Canada to take a leadership role. An NDP government would work to improve our international co-operation.

1 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is regarding the timing. We know that both of the treaties were signed in 2005, and we are now sitting at the end of 2012. We know that the treaties cannot be ratified until domestic legislation is up to par with the needs to meet the treaty requirements. The bill is trying to do that, trying to ensure that our domestic requirements are met so we can actually ratify the treaty.

My question is twofold. One, why has it taken so long? We have had the same people in government since 2005, when the treaties were signed, and it is now 2012. Also, why was ensuring Canadian and global security against nuclear terrorism not a priority for the government?

1 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member. She also made an excellent speech on Bill S-9 earlier today.

She is absolutely right. It is completely unacceptable and it makes no sense. Why has the Conservative government been dragging its feet since 2006?

As I mentioned earlier, we would have offered our full co-operation to comply with the international conventions. We must do even more than simply complying with them; we must be a leader when it comes to negotiating treaties, whether they have to do with the environment or—as is the case here—protecting Canadians from nuclear risks.

The Conservatives dragged their feet and missed their opportunity to take responsibility for the conventions that they signed in 2005. That is why they are dealing with this fallout. The Senate finally woke up and introduced this bill, but it should have come from this House. The Conservatives have unfortunately not done their job here.

1 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of Bill S-9, which would amend the Criminal Code to implement the criminal law requirements of two international counterterrorism treaties.

The NDP does support the bill at second reading, and it is important to get the bill to committee and to study it further. It is also important to have a fulsome debate in the House of Commons to explore different issues and problems, and to work together with other MPs, regardless of political affiliation, to try to glean a better understanding of this legislation and what changes Canada needs to make to the Criminal Code to deal with nuclear terrorism. This is a good opportunity for us to come together and have a debate in the House. We will support this legislation at second reading so we can get the bill to committee and then hear from experts, and whomever we need to hear from, to make sure we are putting forward the best bill that we can.

To start off, I thought we could look at our international treaty obligations. The bill was introduced in the Senate earlier this year to implement the criminal law requirements of two international counterterrorism treaties, specifically the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. To date, Canada has not ratified either of these treaties, and that is because Canada does not yet have the legislation in place to criminalize the offences that are outlined in these two documents. In a case where the implementation of a treaty requires amendments to Canadian legislation, a treaty is ratified only when such amendments or new legislation has been passed.

The amendments in Bill S-9 would introduce into the Criminal Code, Canada's efforts to align our domestic legislation with what is required by both conventions internationally. If the amendments become law, then presumably Canada will be in a situation where we could ratify these two treaties, something that Canada as well as other countries committed to working toward, both at the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., and the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, Korea.

The NDP is committed to multilateral diplomacy and international co-operation, especially in areas of great common concern like nuclear terrorism. No one could possibly not agree that nuclear terrorism is a great common concern, no matter where one is living in the global community. We need to work with other leading countries toward ratifying these conventions.

Canada has agreed to be legally bound by these conventions. We have said out loud to the world that we would like to be bound by these conventions. It is important to fulfill those international obligations, and we cannot do that until the domestic implementation is complete. We welcome the bill and the government's attempt to implement our obligations and start down the path toward ratification.

However, we do need to talk about some important considerations concerning the bill, both in the House as well as at committee. It is interesting to note that these considerations arose during the bill's study in the Senate. It is important to look at what happened while this was being studied by the Senate because some very interesting things came out. As I pointed out, this issue is of great common concern, but it is also an issue that we need to get right. We need to fully understand how to address this issue and make sure we are putting the best piece of domestic legislation forward.

I am going to talk about three main areas that came up in the Senate study. The first is that of overbreadth.The intention of the Department of Justice drafters was probably to adhere as closely as possible to the defined terms in the convention, but some of the new Criminal Code offences are broader in scope than the offences found in these individual international agreements. We have to be certain that the overbreadth of these sections will not result in undue criminalization, and we have to make sure they will not go against our charter of rights. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is unique to Canada. We need to spend extra time making sure we get this right.

The next subject that arose, and again it is not a huge concern, but it is of enough concern that we need to have a fulsome study and gain greater understanding of this issue, is penalties.

The maximum penalties that can be imposed for any of the four new offences are substantial. We will even see a life imprisonment maximum for three of the four offences. The penalities are substantial. They are strict. They reflect the requirement, under these two treaties, that parties make the offences punishable by penalties appropriate to the grave nature of the offences. There are no mandatory minimums in Bill S-9, and I think that is to be noted.

I am not saying that this is a piece of great alarm. I am not saying that it is something we need to throw out. I am just saying that there needs to be a very fulsome consideration of this issue at committee. I think we need to bring in as many experts as we possibly can to help us understand whether the penalties are actually appropriate to the nature of the offences, whether they go too far or whether they do not go far enough. That is something I am not prepared to make a decision on standing here. I would want to hear from experts to see whether the penalties are appropriate.

As I have indicated, the NDP supports this bill going to committee. We will vote for it at second reading. We expect to vigorously participate at committee. We expect that we will probably vote for it at third reading as well, because we are anxious to make sure we have the domestic legislation to fulfill our international treaty obligations. Overall we are completely behind this bill. It is a necessary measure of Canada's international co-operation against threats related to nuclear terrorism of various forms.

In a world of technological sophistication that increases the ability to steal material, attack installations, make radioactive devices and so on, it is impossible to overstate the importance of such co-operation. Indeed, it is impossible to overstate Canada's role in that co-operation.

We wish to see the bill become law as rapidly as possible, while, at the same time, it achieves that balance. We emphasize that we need close technical scrutiny of the bill in committee. This is still called for to ensure that it has been drafted in the best way to fulfill our obligations under these two treaties. Then we can go on. Once we ratify, we will no longer be in non-compliance.

That brings me to another issue that came up in the Senate study that I think we need to address both here in the House and at committee. That is the fact that there seems to have been a major omission in the government's bill, the bill that went to the Senate before coming to us. What was that omission?

In the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, ICSANT, article 2(1)(a) includes the offence of making a radioactive device. Bill S-9, in its original form before the Senate, did not include this activity, despite mentioning every other type of activity that was also in the two treaties: possession, use, transport, export, import, alteration and disposal. The Senate caught this omission, which is great. The mistake has been rectified, and now we do not have a problem with the bill we have before us from the Senate. I think that underlines the point that we should take a pause and ask questions.

If something as significant as making a radioactive device was missing from the original treaty, perhaps something else could have been overlooked. What if there is some accident of inaccuracy? What if we are not including something we have not thought of in the drafting of this bill?

That is exactly why we have the legislative process we have. We can debate in the House. We can go to committee. We can hear from experts and Canadians from coast to coast to coast. They can be part of the legislative process. They can guide us and give us advice, whether it be technical or about their hopes and dreams or their vision for a safe country.

We need to have that exploration at committee. I do not think it is something that can be rushed. We will all look forward to that debate and discussion at committee.

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, when I was addressing the issue, I made reference to the fact that these are agreements that were signed many years ago. In fact, if we look to their origins, we can date some of them back to former Prime Minister Chrétien and former Prime Minister Paul Martin, who recognized them as important issues and ultimately played a role in terms of the agreements being signed.

The issue we have to address, at least in part today, is the substance of the legislation. However, one could also call into question why it has taken the government so long to process it through the House of Commons. It seems that the support is there from all political parties in terms of the principles of trying to deal with the importance of nuclear terrorism.

Would the member provide comment as to whether she thinks the time has come to get this done?

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, there is a balance required between delay and having a fulsome discussion and study. This was introduced in the last Parliament. I do not have any advice as to why the bill was not brought forward. The technical procedural elements and those kinds of delays are different from spending time looking at the legislation and hearing from witnesses with respect to it.

I do appreciate that the member brought up the point that we have signed this international obligation and that it is important for us to have domestic legislation. I do wish those requirements would have been asked with respect to other pieces of international treaties, such as the international convention on social and economic rights, which we signed in 1970. It states that there is a right to housing in Canada; yet we do not have any domestic legislation with respect to that. Therefore, I wish that in some of those other treaties we had the requirement to bring forward domestic legislation in order to ratify those treaties.

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I have two points. The member pointed out that in its deliberations the Senate discovered a flaw in the bill at committee stage, that it did not proscribe the making of radioactive materials. That gives reason as to why it ought to receive significant scrutiny. Other potential errors have been pointed out, as well, for further study, so that we get it right.

Would the member comment on the fact that instead of the bill being introduced by the government in the House of Commons that it introduced it in the Senate? Is that the start of something, or is that a trend we might see more of? Is the government trying to legitimize the Senate in a way that it has not done before, and is that something that we ought to worry about?

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is right to point that out. The bill did originate in the Senate.

We in the House of Commons are the democratically elected representatives of our communities across Canada; yet we are seeing more and more coming from the Senate. We are seeing a number of bills being brought forward from the Senate, perhaps in an attempt to legitimize its role and existence over there, as the member pointed out.

I will also point out, which would be interesting for this member in particular, that today some senators banded together to call for a maritime union to turn the three Maritime provinces into one province. Of course, they neglected to remember Newfoundland and Labrador is part of Atlantic Canada.

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

We do not want it.

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, according to the heckles, it appears they do not want that.

It is quite something for senators to think they can propose a new province. It speaks volumes as to how out of touch the Senate is with Canadians.

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Resuming Debate. Is the House ready for the question?

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

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

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I ask that you see the clock at 1:30 p.m.

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

I that agreed?

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

It being 1:30 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 22 consideration of the motion.

First NationsPrivate Members' Business

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to stand in the House again and speak about an issue and a motion that is important. Today, I will speak in opposition to the motion brought to the House by the member from Toronto Centre.

The beginning of the motion is pretty straightforward. It expresses views that are shared by many in the House, including myself, and many first nations throughout the country. The beginning of the motion states:

That, in the opinion of the House, the Indian Act is the embodiment of failed colonial and paternalistic policies which have denied First Nations their rights, fair share in resources; fostered mistrust and created systematic barriers to self-determination and success of First Nations...

After that is where I and the member for Toronto Centre begin to part ways. In the part of the motion that follows he says that the House, should: first, undertake a process to eliminate these barriers; second, take two years to complete this process of discussion; and third, take two years to present a series of concrete deliverables for the government to act upon. Therefore, what the member proposes is two years of talking and no action. That is why I so strenuously oppose the motion.

It has been 136 years since the Indian Act was first brought into force. I wonder how many more years need to pass before we begin to build a process to replace it? The motion is nothing more than flowery rhetoric that we have come to expect from the Liberal Party and it is entirely consistent with the Liberals' track record of inaction when it comes to first nations' issues.

Instead of proposing concrete action to enable first nations to move forward and finally begin to escape the shackles of this paternalistic and colonial legislation, the member opposite has suggested that we further delay any concrete action and take two more years to simply talk about the devastating impacts of the legislation.

When the member opposite brought forward the motion, did he not consider that 136 years was long enough for first nations people to wait? Maybe he should listen to first nation leaders who have said that they have waited long enough. Having listened to the speeches at the Assembly of First Nations elections in July of this past year, I heard all the candidates state unilaterally that the Indian Act must go.

Clearly, everyone agrees that changes must be made to replace and to modernize the sets of laws that provide first nations with the same rights and opportunities that every Canadian enjoys.

I urge all parties in the House to reject the motion and instead support the private member's bill that has been brought forward by my colleague and my friend, the member for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River. Bill C-428 is an act to amend the Indian Act and provide for its replacement. What my colleague proposes is real action and tangible results that would make a difference for first nations people.

The bill would do a number of things. First, it would provide greater autonomy for first nations people. Second, it would lessen the role of ministerial involvement in the day-to-day lives of first nations citizens. Third, it would give back the responsibility for key areas, such as bylaw making powers and the administration of wills and estates over to the first nation, where it rightly belongs.

I wonder what the members opposite have against providing greater autonomy for first nations and lessening the federal government's paternalistic role in the day-to-day lives of first nations citizens.

About a month ago I had the privilege of speaking in support of that private member's bill during the first hour of debate. Second reading of my friend's bill concluded this past Wednesday evening, and we are now waiting for the bill to be referred to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs. I am really disappointed that the Liberals did not even bother to stand in the House and speak to the bill during the second hour of debate last week, particularly when it has to do with some of the same material they suggest needs to be discussed in the bill they brought before the House now.

First NationsPrivate Members' Business

1:25 p.m.

An hon. member

We already spoke to the bill.

First NationsPrivate Members' Business

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

I hear calls from the opposite side suggesting that they did speak to the bill. They did at one point but not when it came to the House the last time. I am not going to suggest if the members were even here or not in the House when the bill was brought forward, but I wonder if members opposite really do have the same passion they suggest they have if in fact they did not bother to contribute to the debate when the bill came back to the House.

The heckling from the other side continues to demonstrate that they want to talk and not act.

I am certain that anyone familiar with the Liberals' track record of inaction on first nation issues will recognize this familiar pattern. The Liberals believe that they need more talk, more plans, more proposals and reports, more suggestions but no action. We on this side of the House disagree. There is heavy lifting to do but action must be taken, and the time to act is now, not two years from now.

Even members of the Liberal leader's own party disagree with the motion. When the member for Papineau was asked about the Liberal leader's motion in Victoria last week, it was reported that he denied that the Liberal leader had even brought this motion to the House. He said that he opposed this type of motion and that it would be a “bad idea”. That is interesting. The future or wannabe future leader of the Liberal Party denied this motion had even been brought forward and said that a motion like it would be a bad idea.

It is also interesting to note that even last month the hon. member for St. Paul's clearly stated her disapproval of the introduction of private members' motions and bills addressing first nation issues. She said, “This kind of change must be undertaken by the Prime Minister in a government-to-government way”. Now today the leader of her own party introduced a private member's motion. I wonder if there are members in the Liberal Party who find this completely ironic.

I will conclude today by quoting the member for Toronto Centre. In speaking to a group in Regina last month, he said:

I think there's a lot of agreement in the country—including among the aboriginal leadership—that the current Indian Act is a relic of our colonial past. It was originally introduced in 1876 and some of the language is very paternalistic and, frankly, completely out of date.

I agree with the Liberal member and the Liberal leader that it is important to begin to act and not simply talk, like his motion suggests. As members of Parliament we need to consider if it is time for us to simply talk like the Liberals suggest, or is it time to begin to act like members of the Conservative caucus have done in bringing forward legislation to undertake exactly that?

First NationsPrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is also my pleasure to rise and speak to Motion No. 386 by the member for Toronto Centre.

Contrary to the submission by the previous member, I have quite a different understanding of what the member for Toronto Centre is proposing. Regardless of the details therein, he is pretty straightforward. What he does say, as have first nations and the government itself, is that the Indian Act embodies failed colonial, paternalistic policies. Individual members of the House have said that.

What this motion calls for is the opposite of what the government has been doing, despite what Conservative members are saying. What the government has been doing, including through private members' bills, is unilaterally bringing new legislation to the House, including rescinding the Indian Act, before it has delivered on its constitutional responsibility for advance consultation with the very first nations who will be impacted.

Indeed, I support the intent of this motion, as does my party. The motion is essentially not to move forward on significant changes to the Indian Act. Frankly, I would hope that this would include any legislation impacting first nations' lands and peoples, until there has been a formal process of direct engagement with first nations. That is precisely what the Prime Minister promised almost a year ago.

I could not agree more that the most important action, which seems to be the one that the government fails to comprehend, is to reach out and finally initiate this process of direct consultation. Sadly, one thing that seems to be missing is any commitment of dollars to realize that. I will speak to that in a moment.

We have witnessed a number of initiatives by the government, including legislation on safe drinking water, financial accountability and land management. We have had private members' bills proposing to rescind various provisions of the Indian Act.

In all of those cases, there was no intensive advance consultation and consideration of the views of the impacted first nations and peoples, and the effects on their lands. That is a break from the very promise made by the Prime Minister at the summit he held this January between the Crown and first nations. At that summit, as well, the Prime Minister stated:

To be sure, our government has no grand scheme to repeal or unilaterally rewrite the Indian Act. After 136 years that treaty has deep roots, blowing up the stump would just leave a big hole.

He then said that there were a number of creative, collaborative ways to go forward.

We have witnessed in the House what their so-called creative, collaborative ways are. They are incredibly paternalistic or they are incredibly shallow, for example, the safe drinking water bill with its great promises but zero content and no dollars committed in the budget this year to actually moving forward on the substantive regulations.

I took the time in my job at committee to review Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development's supplementary estimates (B). In looking at the plans and priorities for 2012, I was delighted to see the department actually claim to be moving forward with developing the very promises of the Crown-first nations summit. However, regrettably, when one looks at the department's main estimates and supplementary estimates (A) and (B), there are zero dollars committed to delivering on this promise. In committee, the response to me by the deputy was that this was actually being done between the lines as the department moved forward with the specific initiatives. However, I am hearing back from the first nations that they do not think that approach is very satisfactory.

The first thing I would certainly recommend to the member who tabled the motion and the government is that it is time to step up to the plate and put some dollars on the table to deliver on the actual promises made. That is what action is; that is what putting money where one's mouth is.

I concur with the member that the list is mounting of the commitments and obligations of government to move forward on this new, touted more respectful nation-to-nation relationship.

We have the obligations under section 35 of the constitution, the historic and modern treaties, the fiduciary duties under law, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Again, as I raised yesterday, article 18 requires Canada, because it has endorsed this declaration, to recognize that:

Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decision-making institutions.

Article 19 says that:

States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.

Clearly the motion is recommending to the government and to this place that we finally step up to the plate and adhere to the very declaration that the government signed on to.

What is the key to a respectful process? As I mentioned, the string of laws that have been tabled in this place, frankly, according to the first nations, has not followed that new protocol.

In closing, I would like to share the words of the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, who has spoken out very clearly about his perspective on whether the government is in fact delivering on its promises at the Crown-first nations summit. In the words of National Chief Atleo:

Recognizing and implementing Aboriginal and Treaty rights takes us back to the very founding of this country—a country founded on our lands and politically on peaceful agreements based on respect, recognition, sharing and partnership.

Since 1982, successive governments have shown little interest in the real and hard work of reconciliation. There has been talk, but we know the equation of empty initiatives: talk minus action equals zero....

We’re taking action. For decades now we’ve been putting forward positive plans for progress and change, plans aimed at breathing life into the promises we made to one another and plans that will ensure a better future for our children.

Government’s response has often been limited, narrow, piecemeal and unilateral.

In the absence of the honour of the Crown, much of the ground that’s been broken has been through the courts.

The National Chief goes through a long litany of litigation that he regrets first nations are forced to take because of the failure of the government to live up to these commitments and obligations.

The National Chief then goes on to say:

But clearly change does not come easily and all of these efforts are hampered by what First Nations see as ongoing unilateral attempts to affect our rights and intensified pressures on our lands and resources.

Current policies and approaches too often only serve to stall negotiations. It prevents First Nations from benefiting from their collective rights. It impedes the economic and political development that would take us forward to become fully self-governing nations....

It’s clear that the current federal policies, fiscal arrangements and negotiation processes are not up to the task.

The chief of the Assembly of First Nations said very clearly he would disagree with what the government is saying to us today. He is saying that the processes right now for developing these new laws and policies are not up to task.

Shawn Atleo continues:

We can find a path forward—a path that starts with our earliest relations—the Royal Proclamation, the Treaties of Peace and friendship, the pre-confederation and numbered Treaties—the absolute foundation of Canada’s growth and progress as a Nation to section 35 and to the standards set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples....

First and foremost, First Nations need to be directly and fully involved in any process of change. This is consistent with our historic relationship as partners in Confederation and as Treaty partners, and it is consistent with the spirit of section 35. It is high time that the government stops trying to do things for us and starts doing things with us.

I closing, I think the first nations have been clear. We have heard the responses of the first nation leaders and peoples to the string of legislation the government has brought forward. If we have heard one consistent response, it is that they have not been properly consulted, and that is what the Prime Minister promised at the summit.

It is time to move forward to support the motion, begin the consultation and commit the dollars to make it happen.

First NationsPrivate Members' Business

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my great honour to speak to the important motion of our leader today. It proposes a path forward to move the Crown–first nations relationship beyond an outdated and fundamentally flawed piece of legislation. Unlike my Conservative colleague suggested, this is not a prescription and it is not top-down. This is a blueprint of a process that the Prime Minister needs to undertake about how this would get done and actually defines what real leadership would look like.

First nations have rightfully objected to the inherent paternalism of the Indian Act, which is an instrument of assimilation and external control by the federal government on the rights of first nations peoples. Today, and despite a number of legislative changes, the original framework of the act remains largely intact, as the principal vehicle for federal jurisdiction over first nations in areas not covered by treaties, agreements or parallel legislation.

Furthermore, the Indian Act defines who is considered first nations. It also governs band membership, band governance, taxation, the definition of reserves and the management of funds and resources.

There is broad consensus that we need to move away from the Indian Act, which is the embodiment of failed colonial and paternalistic policies that have denied first nations their rights and fair share in resources, fostered mistrust and created systemic barriers to the self-determination and success of first nations. However, first nations have been unequivocal that any plan to move away from the Indian Act must be led by first nations, must be pursued in ways that work for first nations and their communities, and must respect and fully adhere to first nations' rights as well as the outstanding promises and historic commitments of the Crown to first nations.

The Liberals fully agree. We believe that the relationship with first nations must return to the path of mutual respect, true partnership and co-operation, which was established in the original treaty relationships between first nations and the Crown.

That is precisely the approach taken by the Liberals during the nation-to-nation negotiations that led to the Kelowna accords in 2005. That is the same approach we are taking with the motion before us here today on how to replace the Indian Act.

The Conservatives have promised to consult with and work with first nations in a more genuine partnership. This was the basis for the Crown–first nations gathering in January, yet little has been delivered by the Prime Minister or his government. In fact, the Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo has recently noted that the anticipated progress report due this January will not contain anything of substance reflective of the opportunity and commitment to change.

Instead, the Conservatives continue to pursue unilateral changes to the Indian Act and other legislation, for example, on water, education, environment and accountability, which affect the rights of first nations and their traditional territories, without meaningful consultation or accommodation. As National Chief Shawn Atleo said earlier this month, “Yes—the Indian Act and the Indian Act bureaucracy must be fundamentally and finally eliminated. But here too any attempt to tinker or impose will not work”.

Yet, we have a government MP currently moving legislation through Parliament, with the support of the government, to unilaterally change various portions of the Indian Act with no prior consultation. The member for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River has introduced legislation that would repeal or amend sections addressing wills, education and band bylaws. This was the legislation that was opposed by the member for Papineau.

This ill-advised approach only repeats some of the unsuccessful attempts made in the past, which caused only anger and frustration instead of allowing room for respect and partnership.

I repeat that first nation leaders have been unequivocal in stating that any plan to move away from the Indian Act must be led by first nations and done in ways that work for first nations and their communities, and that respect and fully adhere to the inherent constitutional and treaty rights of first nations.

Motion No. 386 would establish this precise process.

The motion calls on the federal government to work directly with first nations to create a formal nation-to-nation process of engagement that focuses on replacing the Indian Act with new agreements between the Crown and first nations across Canada.

The motion makes it clear that these new agreements must be based on the constitutional, treaty and inherent rights of all first nations; the historical and fiduciary responsibilities of the Crown to first nations; the standards established in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, including the principle of free, prior and informed consent; respect, recognition, reconciliation and support for first nations; partnership and mutual accountability between the Crown and first nations; and the stability and safety of first nations as defined and prioritized by first nations.

The motion calls on the government to begin this process within three months of being passed by Parliament. It also calls for a mutual accord to be reached in order to examine how to go about replacing the Indian Act within two years of being passed by Parliament.

Implementing such a process has the potential to truly reset the relationship and move us beyond the unrealized promise of the Crown-first nations gathering that too many chiefs are now referring to as a photo-op.

The government's current handling of the relationship is not going well. Just yesterday, Manitoba's three grand chiefs expressed exasperation that the first nations have had little or no say in any of the legislation being rained down upon them, despite constitutional guarantees to consult and accommodate them. Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs stated, “I'm tired of seeing our people run over by all of this”.

The Conservative government has not been accountable to first nations on the transfer of deeply discriminatory funding for things such as health care, child welfare, housing and education. The education gap is widening in terms of both funding and outcomes. Housing shortages are becoming more acute. Water and waste water systems are in crisis. The tragic gaps in terms of first nations health outcomes are continuing unabated.

The national chief has written the Prime Minister expressing the frustration of first nations leadership with the lack of progress on the commitments made at the Crown-first nations gathering as well as with the government's broader legislative agenda. It is a legislative agenda that could have detrimental effects on first nations in terms of environmental regulation, fisheries policy, criminal justice and a host of bills directed specifically at first nations, without prior consultation.

Canada's aboriginal people are the youngest and the fastest growing segment of our population. However, the Conservative government has effectively turned its back on this tremendous resource and a potential source of future prosperity for all Canadians.

National Chief Atleo recently noted the upcoming 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, in October 2013. He also noted that renewing the relationship must be the basis of our work today to achieve fundamental change for first nations in Canada.

Today's motion would create a process for replacing the Indian Act that would be led by first nations and done as partners with first nations, not for first nations. The royal proclamation articulated how the Crown and first nations would share this magnificent land together, government-to-government, and move forward in a respectful way, as articulated in the motion. I urge all members of the House to support the motion as a way to truly reset the relationship with first nations in Canada.

First NationsPrivate Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo B.C.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to the motion brought forward by the member for Toronto Centre. Our government certainly recognizes the Indian Act as an outdated colonial statute and that its application results in first nations people being subjected to deferential treatment. We recognize that it does not provide an adequate legislative framework for the development of self-sufficient and prosperous first nations communities.

The Indian Act was originally enacted in 1876, more than 136 years ago. Clearly, this is not modern legislation. Despite some changes over the years, the act still includes archaic, outdated and colonial provisions that continue to prevent first nations communities from participating equally in and contributing fully to Canada's economic, social and cultural development.

Everyone in the House would agree that the Indian Act stands in the way of the success of first nations communities and continues to prevent first nations communities from becoming full participants in Canada's economy. However, this motion proposes an ill-conceived process to get rid of the Indian Act that would jeopardize current progress being made by the government and its first nations partners.

The motion introduced by the member for Toronto Centre also ignores the fact that the government has been engaging directly with many first nations communities and organizations for the past six years to conclude agreements and develop legislation that provides tangible, workable alternatives to the Indian Act. These agreements and legislation respond to the goals and reflect shared priorities that we have set with our first nations partners.

At the historic Crown-first nations gathering, held at the beginning of this year, the Prime Minister reiterated our commitment to working together with first nations communities and encapsulated our approach in this quote:

Our government has no grand scheme to repeal or to unilaterally rewrite the Indian Act: After 136 years, that tree has deep roots; blowing up the stump would just leave a big hole. However, there are ways, creative ways, collaborative ways, ways that involve consultation between our government, the provinces and First Nations leadership and communities, ways that provide options within the act, or outside of it, for practical, incremental and real change.

The historic Crown-First Nations Gathering was the result of a shared desire to see a Canada where all first nations people would participate fully in a social, economic and cultural prosperity, a Canada where strong, healthy, self-sufficient first nations communities would be full participants in Canada's economy and benefit all of us.

We acknowledge the many challenges still before us and we are actively working to move past these barriers by finding solutions to specific obstacles, working together with first nations. This approach is practical, realistic and effective.

One thing we know for certain from past experience is that proposals to significantly overhaul the act do not work. Our government's approach is to bring about incremental change in our consultation with first nations through new measures, investment and legislation that provide alternatives to the Indian Act. This approach will lead to the development of strong accountable and prosperous first nations communities, where first nations citizens have access to the same rights as all other Canadians.

Regarding health care, I would like to give an example from my own background. Back in the eighties, as a new nurse, one of my first employment opportunities was a band employed nurse. I was the first band employed nurse in Canada. Prior to that, the federal government put nurses into communities and the communities had no choice. It was truly rewarding to be the first band employed nurse where I was part of that team with the first nations communities.

I look with pride to British Columbia and see what a long way we have come. As the communities are ready, as the provinces have the conversations and, just recently, the signing of the tripartite agreement, the creation of the First Nations Health Authority, the First Nations Health Council, it shows how we can move forward through incremental changes in a very positive way to create new structures and new governance models that are really truly going to be effective. As of 2012, I believe we are looking at full transfer to this new governance structure for health care services.

Members will notice that the motion fails to acknowledge the important work currently being done by the government in collaboration with first nation people. I just gave a prime example in the area of health care, which is one that has and continues to produce significant results. Instead, this motion is calling upon the government to start over with a new process.

For the past six years, our government has been taking concrete steps to provide first nations with the tools they need to get out of the Indian Act. We have taken concrete action to address specific issues, such as education, economic development and drinking water.

In recent years, this government has negotiated and implemented initiatives in collaboration with first nations and other parties, such as provinces and aboriginal organizations. These initiatives have led to progress in a number of areas to address the barriers to social and economic participation currently faced by first nation people. Again, I would like to look to the First Nations Land Management Act in building a stronger first nations land management regime.

I am privileged that the First Nations Tax Commission is located in the riding of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo. I am particularly proud of the work that Manny Jules has done as a leader for many years in moving forward and taking the opportunity to leverage the value of the land.

The finance committee met with Manny Jules and a number of chiefs two years ago. He talked about his vision, the opportunities, and the specific concrete steps that we needed to take to get out of the way of the opportunities for economic development. It is a pleasure to see the phenomenal movement forward in economic development in Kamloops. They have an award-winning Sun Rivers resort community, golf courses, industrial land development, and a huge portion of the income of the Tk’emlúps Indian Band is now derived from own-source revenue. I know that Mr. Jules has practical ideas. We need to get out of the way and remove those barriers. I know there are a number of specific things around leveraging land that we still need to move forward on to ensure an equal playing field.

As members can see, the government's strategy has been to focus on finding solutions to the specific obstacles and on working together with first nations. This incremental approach to reform is practical, realistic and effective. It is part of a larger strategy that includes targeted investments and partnerships, enhancements to programs and legislative initiatives.

The government continues to identify, develop and implement solutions to help unlock barriers to first nations' participation in the economic, social and political development of Canada. We are achieving this by working with first nations and other stakeholders. The strategy is making steady progress. It would be misguided to abandon the strategy in favour of a vaguely defined process with a seemingly impossible deadline.

I encourage my hon. colleagues to join me in opposing the motion before us.

First NationsPrivate Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Manon Perreault NDP Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, today we are debating Motion No. 386, which asks for the House's support in initiating a formal process of direct engagement with the first nations that would replace the Indian Act with a series of new agreements.

These consultations would begin and end according to a precise schedule. They would lead to the writing of a report that would establish specific, meaningful elements on which the government could take action once the consultations are complete.

The repeal of the Indian Act will not be a sad occasion. It is a completely outdated, irrelevant, heavily bureaucratic tool for oppressing the first nations.

We are nowhere near having an act that meets their needs. In fact, the opposite is true. This issue deserves to be treated seriously. It is a call for action to eliminate the government's trusteeship over the first nations.

We must put an end to their status as wards of the federal government. This is one of the most pressing problems facing Canada. It is time to change things once and for all. It is time to put an end to the old habit of settling each dispute on a piecemeal basis. According to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the act not only includes discriminatory elements, it is discriminatory in itself.

The Indian Act is full of paternalistic and discriminatory policies with regard to the first nations. I will not go into details and enumerate its many provisions, but we must recognize the incalculable consequences of this interventionist and controlling attitude on the lives of all first nations.

The act is typical of all the government's attempts to maintain the marginal status of the first nations. Now we must think in terms of renewal. We believe that the Indian Act must be replaced with new legislation, in an equal partnership with the first nations, a real nation-to-nation collaboration.

The fact is that the current legislation is completely outdated, discriminatory and must be replaced by modern legislation. This government has never tried to do that. We in the NDP want the first nations to be able to prosper, and this involves replacing the current legislation with modern legislation.

It is important to understand that the very existence of this legislation hinders progress for first nations communities and is not viable on every level, especially in terms of the relationship between the first nations and the government. This is precisely what the first nations have been saying for years now.

Why is the government so stubbornly refusing to listen to those who are most affected and to really respond to their interests? By governing practically every single aspect of the lives of people living on reserves, this legislation has adverse effects on progress by first nations.

The government claims it is overflowing with goodwill, but its claims are false and misleading. It sees amendments to the legislation as the answer, even though it is clear that the legislation is outdated.

How can they claim to be modernizing an act that they know is completely out of date and has only been used to marginalize first nations for the past 136 years? The process has to be led by the first nations, in keeping with the principles set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the concept of their free, prior and informed consent.

The process must protect treaty rights and inherent aboriginal rights. The first nations do not have the legislation they need for health, education and funding at their disposal. This is a vacuum that must be taken into account in drafting modern legislation and setting up a timeline for the process. Modern legislation could then guarantee an improvement in the first nations’ economic and social circumstances.

This legislation undermines the efforts made by first nations to improve their living conditions. On this, we have the support of the Assembly of First Nations, which is entirely in agreement with us. The National Chief called on the government to take action months ago, but the government chose to drag its feet. It is not as though there is a shortage of cases.

I am thinking of economic development, self-government and the sustainability of communities. There is every indication that we have cause for concern. What will spur the government to action?

The NDP would not amend the Indian Act by replacing certain elements. We believe that this would be futile and unwise. However, everything leads us to believe that that is the government's intention. Just think of the declarations that came out of the Crown-first nations gathering last January. The government said that it wanted to work with the first nations to change things, but that did not last very long.

Private member's Bill C-428 sparked shock waves. It includes amendments to several sections of the Indian Act, but first nations were not consulted about this bill. This unilateral action makes no sense. It shows contempt for the first nations. And this is not the first time that the Conservative government's contempt has surfaced, which indicates that it is deeply rooted.

For example, if we go back to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Canada used all kinds of poor excuses to delay adopting the text and then it voted against its adoption, in 2007. It was not until 2010 that Canada ratified the declaration, after being so damaging to the work done by the UN to adopt the text.

What is surprising in all this, to say the least, is that the Liberals are responsible for a large part of this legislation, of its irritants and of the lack of consultation when attempts were made to impose changes. Remember the infamous 1969 white paper, whose author was none other than Jean Chrétien. This was a pure and simple attempt to assimilate first nations.

Motion No. 386 also does not mention the absence of distinction as to sex. Yet, it is crucial to deal with this issue in the context of gender equality, and it should be part of the basis for future consultations. The rights of aboriginal women were violated, particularly when they would marry outside their first nation reserve.

Despite the fact that the law was amended in 1985 with regard to women's rights, discrimination against women continues unabated. That was the finding of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, which pointed out in its 2003 report on Canada that aboriginal women continue to be the victims of systematic acts of discrimination in all aspects of their lives. The consultation process would thus give us the opportunity to harmonize the individual rights of aboriginal women with their collective rights as members of first nations.

I am asking all my colleagues to think carefully about this issue, which is of the utmost importance to first nations and Canada as a whole. This is a basic issue that involves guaranteeing real respect for the rights, needs and priorities of first nations, which are too often overlooked in this country. This is also an opportunity to make Canadians aware of the discrimination faced by first nations people. This is not a matter of making changes to the Indian Act but of replacing it with new, modern legislation. Consequently, the first nations communities that worked with the government will be able to help to determine what the next steps will be in promoting the development and well-being of their communities.

This co-operation is part of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the purpose of which is to get the states to consult and co-operate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned. Any commitment in this regard must be based on real co-operation among equals. We must implement a real consultation process and establish a real partnership. By so doing, we will finally be able to focus on reconciliation and harmonious relations between nations.

Unilateralism can lead only to failure, as it has always done in the past. So, let us revoke the Indian Act and scrap this 19th century law that has led to so many problems and discontent once and for all. Let us start fresh with new legislation.

The NDP wants to work with the first nations to develop modern legislation that will help these communities to prosper.

First NationsPrivate Members' Business

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Is the House ready for the question?

First NationsPrivate Members' Business

2:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

First NationsPrivate Members' Business

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

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

First NationsPrivate Members' Business

2:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

First NationsPrivate Members' Business

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

First NationsPrivate Members' Business

2:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

First NationsPrivate Members' Business

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

All those opposed will please say nay.

First NationsPrivate Members' Business

2:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

First NationsPrivate Members' Business

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 45 the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, December 5, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

It being 2:10 p.m., the House stands adjourned until next Monday at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2:10 p.m.)