House of Commons Hansard #75 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was firearms.


7:50 p.m.


Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals could have gotten us 80% of the way to Kyoto. The government has reduced the targets by 90%.

If we do not reduce carbon emissions, the cost to our children and grandchildren down the line is estimated to be $21 billion to $43 billion annually by 2050. The cost to children in small island states and the least developed countries is economic devastation.

My Canada would not allow this to happen to our future. My Canada would lead, as it has done throughout the last century. I ask members to join with me, fight back and do not blindly accept the government's talking points. The government wilfully ignores the science of climate change and the global warming impact on Canada.

Members should ask what a 2°Celsius difference means to Canada in terms of extreme weather events, Great Lakes water levels and human health. Members should ask the government to take moral and intergenerational responsibility rather than making a cowardly withdrawal from our international obligations and encouraging other nations to follow.

7:50 p.m.


Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Mr. Speaker, I encourage my colleague opposite to put into her talking points the fact that her party did not support this year's budgetary measures to address climate change and climate change adaptation. In fact, we had almost $870 million over two years for Canada's clean air agenda.

I would ask the member to support our sector by sector regulatory approach which is designed to achieve real results and ensure that environmental stewardship is balanced with economic growth.

7:50 p.m.


Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am rising to continue the debate on a question regarding Bill C-10, and the government's expensive, ineffective and discriminatory approach to crime.

I have talked with people in Vancouver Quadra. I have had a stakeholder meeting with key leaders in the community on a number of issues. To discuss this approach to crime, I hosted a telephone town hall involving almost 6,000 constituents to go over the details and get input. My guest was a former minister of justice. I have had a policy breakfast featuring the head of the criminology department at Simon Fraser University.

I have had a chance to hear from constituents in Vancouver Quadra. They are most disturbed with the provisions in Bill C-10 around mandatory minimums. There are many other parts of this omnibus grab-bag of nine different laws that they are concerned about, but those provisions are the most concerning.

When I asked the question, the leader of the government in the House of Commons at that time used the words “safe streets and communities” four times in 30 seconds. Clearly, all of my constituents want safer streets and communities too, but the research and evidence shows that Bill C-10 would provide the opposite. The Conservative government would actually make streets more dangerous.

Don Head, the Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada, said, “Offenders who participate in substance abuse programs are 45% less likely to return with a new offence and 63% less likely to return with a new violent offence.”

Substance abuse programs make our streets safer. However, the government has put a huge amount of money into security because of the overcrowding and in-prison crime. It has cut the funding for substance abuse programs. Correctional plans include those programs for a reason. The government would actually make the streets more dangerous by denying 85% of prisoners the very programs they need to help with their rehabilitation.

In B.C., the prisons are close to 150% capacity. Recently there was news that charges against two alleged offenders were dropped due to lack of capacity to prosecute in a timely way. That problem will only be exacerbated with Bill C-10 by the influx of prisoners because of fixed mandatory sentences. This will make the streets even more dangerous.

This has been shown in other jurisdictions, such as Texas. Texas saved $1.7 billion and slashed crime rates by 27% by reversing its approach to crime which had resembled Bill C-10. Instead, Texas put that money into rehabilitation, mental health centres and so on.

The government for ideological reasons will make our streets more dangerous. It needs to level with Canadians because if that is its plan, more dangerous streets will be the outcome.

7:55 p.m.

Portage—Lisgar Manitoba


Candice Bergen ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I need to correct a couple of things that the hon. member said in regard to Commissioner Head who just appeared at our committee and praised this government for the funds that we had invested, which was his terminology, in our prison system, specifically to address the issue of drugs and alcohol addiction in prison. The member is not correct. Commissioner Head is very thankful for our investment. We have increased investment as opposed to other governments.

Bill C-10, the safe streets and communities act, is important legislation. It would make significant and positive changes to our justice system.

We are following through on a commitment our government made to Canadians that we would introduce and pass comprehensive law and order legislation to combat crime and stand up for victims within 100 sitting days of this new session of Parliament. Canadians gave us a majority government, which means that is what they wanted us to do, and that is exactly what we have been doing.

Bill C-10 does include a range of significant law and order issues that affect Canadians across the country.

I do want to note that our government is very sensitive to aboriginal offenders and we ensure that our government follows all of our obligations in this area.

We disagree with those who would equate our corrections system with that of the United States. They are two very distinct systems. We will continue to legislate based on Canadian principles and build on the solid correctional foundation that exists in this country.

Everyone is aware that the safe streets and communities act would make several reforms that this government deems critical, and Canadians have agreed with us, to modernizing Canada's corrections and criminal justice system.

The bill would amend the International Transfer of Offenders Act to emphasize public safety as an express purpose of the act. It would also update the decision-making criteria that the Minister of Public Safety can use in making the decision to transfer Canadian offenders back to our nation.

The proposed reforms would change the name of pardons to a more appropriate term, that being record suspension. It would end record suspensions for child molesters once and for all, which, again, is what Canadians have asked us to do, which is why we have a majority mandate from Canadians.

Bill C-10 also highlights the importance of the correctional plan in law and sets out clear behavioural expectations for offenders. We heard throughout the study just recently at the public safety committee how the correction plan works, how it is supported by correctional officers and by people who are working with inmates, and is supported by our government. It is in line with our zero drug policy in prisons.

Other modernizations to the justice system would increase penalties for sexual offences against children, as well as create two new offences that take aim at conduct that could facilitate the sexual abuse of a child.

The bill would create tougher sentences for the production and possession of illicit drugs for the purpose of trafficking.

Combined, all of those measures will strengthen our justice system. They will help create safer communities and they will have a significant positive impact on our ability to keep all of our citizens safe.

7:55 p.m.


Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I sat in the same committee meeting when Mr. Sapers and others spoke. Two million dollars are being taken out of the programs for people struggling with drugs.

The government is taking power away from judges to look at the circumstances of a crime and determine a fair punishment. It undermines the judge's necessary ability to consider extenuating circumstances. More young people, more aboriginal people and more people with FASD and mental illness will end up in jail. That will be the wrong place for those people. That will make our streets more dangerous as well.

Bill C-10 has many provisions that are based on a solid foundation all right but a solid foundation of regressive policies that have proven not to work. It would make Canadians less secure on their streets and in their communities.

8 p.m.


Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I was at every committee meeting when we looked at drugs and alcohol in prisons. We are just finishing that report right now. My hon. colleague will enjoy looking at the report. I think she will see some very positive things that came out of that because our government has invested unprecedented amounts of money into mental health, mental illness and specifically programs in prison to deal with drugs and alcohol.

Bill C-10 is a bill for which Canadians have asked. They were tired of the old Liberal way of dealing with criminals and worrying more about criminals rather than victims. We made a very distinct difference.

Our government believes in standing up for victims, which is what Bill C-10 would do. That is why our streets and communities will be safer when the bill is passed.

8 p.m.


Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, in January, we received some troubling news. We found out that 60 scientists at Environment Canada working on very critical research relating to climate change and water quality were being cut from the department. These cuts were part of previously announced plans to reduce Environment Canada's staff by 10%. The minister stood and said things like this was about the bottom line, but the net effect of these cuts is to significantly reduce the government's ability to conduct environmental research and analysis.

January's drastic announcement came in the wake of a previous round of cuts in the fall that actually saw Canada's ozone monitoring program on the chopping block. Over the course of last fall, it became very clear that the program cuts were not to duplicate or redundant scientific testing and monitoring and that the cuts would reduce the department's ability to do research and monitoring in ozone. That was actually confirmed by an internal memo to the minister. The cuts mean that necessary scientific data will be lost and the government's claims to the contrary are not supported by the facts.

These misguided and unscientific cuts could not have come at a more alarming time because, as we know, in October it was reported that an unprecedented hole in the ozone, twice the size of Ontario, had appeared in the ozone over the Arctic. An international team of 29 scientists, including 4 Canadians, were behind this report and they actually called the findings ominous.

Why the Conservatives would cut such an essential monitoring program that protects Canadians over the long term remains a mystery to me. The government, so far, has produced zero data for the House and zero analysis backing up the reasons for these cuts. The claims it is making that this will not impact scientific capacity are absolutely unsubstantiated. The Conservatives expect Canadians to trust the platitudes that they are spouting about their commitment to environmental stewardship but these assurances are continually called into question by their inaction on the environment file.

The reality is that the Conservative government is doing everything it can, including making detrimental changes to federal environmental assessments, to reduce scientific capacity and monitoring so that it can avoid taking responsibility for the environmental consequences of its unsustainable development policies. If Canada cannot monitor changes to its own environment, how can we make sound policy decisions?

If people stand up to this mismanagement, as we have seen, they are called radicals or adversaries to Canada's economic well-being. However, what the government does not seem to realize is that by systematically denying scientific realities, they are denying Canadians a healthy and prosperous future because of the economic costs of these decisions. By wilfully blinding themselves to scientific realities and the consequences of lax environmental policies, the Conservatives are putting the health, prosperity and future of Canadian people on the line.

When will the government recognize that ignoring science hurts us all?

8 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta


Michelle Rempel ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, my colleague spoke about a mystery. I will try to clear up the mystery. I will refer to the environment committee testimony which happened before we broke in late December.

We discussed the ozone monitoring program. The minister and I stood in the House numerous times and talked about the fact that this capacity will be maintained. The assistant deputy minister of the science and technology branch, Dr. Karen Dodds, said:

There are no reductions to the monitoring, to the results, that Environment Canada needs to provide to meet our obligations to Canadians. How we provide those results is something that we're having discussions inside about to best use the dollars available to us.

I would like to read another quote from Dr. Dodds to emphasize this. She said:

Environment Canada will continue to monitor the ozone in the upper atmosphere, also known as the stratospheric ozone, in order for Canada to meet its obligations for the surveillance of ozone and the chemical composition of the atmosphere.

I think that is pretty clear. It re-emphasizes points that we have made repeatedly in the House.

I would like to take the opportunity to talk about my colleague's comment about being blinded to reality. That is very much part of her talking points, which would see the decimation of our energy sector in our country. We as a government do have a plan to ensure monitoring of our environment. I would like to draw her attention to the oil sands monitoring framework that was announced last week. The commissioner of the environment noted in committee that this was an ambitious and significant plan. It was developed by an arm's length panel. We are taking real leadership to have that monitoring in place.

I want to draw her attention to the fact that when she lobbies against our jobs in the energy sector, in spite of the fact that we have a robust and bold plan to deal with things like climate change, it hurts her constituents as well. The very programs that she talks about sustaining in Environment Canada, government, and social programs, depend on revenue from important industrial sectors, such as the energy sector. Therefore, it boggles my mind that she just refuses to admit that we can do it.

Our government is developing a plan which would see ensuring both the sustainable development of the wealth of natural resources that we have in our country, and ensuring environmental stewardship. We have done that. This is evidenced by our sector-to-sector regulatory approach. This is evidenced by the millions of dollars that we have put into environmental protection, that I note she has voted against, and the clean energy sector that is emerging in the country.

I ask her to think a bit about her talking points and think about the future of the country before entering into this rhetoric.

8:05 p.m.


Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, as the parliamentary secretary well knows, the oil sands monitoring program is not an arm's length body, despite the recommendation from scientists that it be arm's length. Therefore, it is the Conservative government that will be writing the press releases.

Also, I note that the results of the monitoring actually come in after the next federal election. Is that not a wonderful coincidence for the government?

Recently, the Prime Minister was in Davos and he actually talked about investments in science and technology. He said that they produced poor results and were “a significant problem for our country”. He cannot possibly be referring to Environment Canada scientists who are recipients of the Order of Canada, Nobel prize winners, discoverers of the hole in the Arctic ozone, inventors of the UV index. He cannot possibly be talking about these brilliant scientists. Therefore, I wonder why the Prime Minister cuts anything to do with science here at home and then goes abroad to denigrate the good name of our internationally renowned scientists?

8:05 p.m.


Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Mr. Speaker, that leads me to wonder why my colleague opposite continues to vote against budgetary measures which support research and development. We are looking at our research and development system. We are asking how we can be more competitive internationally. However, that is also saying that we are competitive here at home. We have many things that we are working on here and can be proud of. Certainly in Alberta, we can look at some of the technologies that are coming out of academic institutions which have a direct impact on environmental cleanup systems.

My colleague opposite has asked the international community, on a national television program, to ignore our country. Instead of doing that, I would ask her to get on board with the things, like our oil sands monitoring framework and budgetary support for environmental systems.

8:05 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 8:09 p.m.)