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House of Commons Hansard #90 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was refugees.

Topics

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

There is no consent in that respect and, of course, members are not obliged to do that, as ministers would be.

The hon. member for St. John's East has the floor.

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for raising that point of order. As the Speaker has ruled, in the absence of unanimous consent it cannot be tabled. I note that the refusal to give unanimous consent came from the other side. This is a report of an officer of the House, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, whose job it is to assist parliamentarians find out the costs of government programs.

To table a report of that nature in the House would add to the debate, as the member said, but it has been refused. I do not really understand why. Is it that the Conservatives do not like the figures, that they do not like the truth, that they do not like the evidence? Do they not want to hear what the Parliamentary Budget Officer has to say?

One of the outcomes of the Parliamentary Budget Officer's exercise was to discover that the government did not have any figures. The only figures produced by the government when it was asked about the costs of the bill was that there was no federal cost and that it did not know what the provincial costs would be. Therefore, the Parliamentary Budget Officer asked recently if the government had any figures now. It said it did not.

We are imposing measures that will have consequences for provincial governments and the Government of Canada. They are measurable. The increased cost as a result of the bill, only for conditional sentences, would come from the larger number of hearings the parole board would have to hold. The government knew the number of hearings and the average cost per hearing. If we multiply one by the other we come up with $8 million. It is not rocket science, but based on actual projections of the number of cases for each of these different offences.

It was a bit tedious, but for the last year in which reports were available, that is, 2008, Statistics Canada could find the exact number of people convicted of these particular offences during that year. The numbers were there, and the number of people who would actually be convicted and go to jail was extrapolated from that. All of these figures came out. However, we had someone on the other side saying that the Parliamentary Budget Officer had not been right yet. I guess there is a big difference between the $750 million the Parliamentary Budget Officer came up with as the five-year cost of this provision and the government's figure, which is, “We do not know”. The government's figure was, “We do not know” and the Parliamentary Budget Officer's figure was $750 million over five years. That is the nature of this debate about the costs to Canadians of just one measure in the entire Bill C-10.

The government members do not want the Parliamentary Budget Officer's information and report to be tabled before the House, I guess because it is a bit of an embarrassment. It is not as if the amount of money over five years, the $750 million, is going to break Canada. I am not suggesting that. However, if it is a difference between $750 million and “We do not know”, then that tells us something about what goes on over there when they are deciding to bring forward legislation.

They do not even bother to figure it out themselves, and they are the ones who seem to be interested in talking about parties' fitness to govern. Is that something we should be wondering about in terms of their fitness to govern here? Are these the fiscal managers, the people who tout themselves as the great fiscal managers of Canada, the ones whom Canadians should have faith in to run the country because they are so good at fiscal management?

We have a contrast here. The Parliamentary Budget Officer, who was appointed by the Prime Minister to advise parliamentarians on these issues, did a report at the request of a member of Parliament and said it was going to cost $750 million over five years. That is just one measure in this huge bill.

The government says “We do not know.” It has never bothered to try to find out, although it did claim it was going to cost the federal government nothing. The Parliamentary Budget Officer says it is going to cost the federal government $40 million over five years in additional expenses and it is going to cost the provinces another $710 million, or something in that range. The government is saying that it is going to cost it nothing, and it does not know what it is going to cost the provinces. It did not even try to figure it out.

This is what we are faced with in dealing with a government that is arrogant and out of touch with the realities of Canadian life.

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

It is so arrogant to put criminals in jail—

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

It is out of touch with the consequences of what it is doing, whether it is fiscally, or—

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Breaking the law puts them in jail. That is arrogant.

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order. I would ask again that hon. members recognize the hon. member for—

Order, order. The hon. member for Oak Ridges—Markham will come to order.

The hon. member for St. John's East has the floor.

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I am encouraged by the number of members now showing up to listen to my speech. I thank the members for the compliments on the speech. One hon. member said that he was suffering from insomnia. I guess it is better to suffer from insomnia than to fall asleep on the job. I thank him for his attention.

It is disturbing to know the enormous expense that comes with the bill. The Minister of Justice and the Prime Minister have from time to time said so what, that is the nature of the Constitution. They say that they have the responsibility for passing the criminal law and that the provinces have the responsibility for the administration of justice. If that is their constitutional responsibility, they say that they are prepared to let them take their responsibility and they will take theirs. However, that belies the nature of our Confederation. We have a country that depends on federal-provincial co-operation, or at least respect, at least consultation on matters like the cost.

The minister talked about how the government consulted. I do not deny that some provinces sought some of the measures that are in the bill but there is not unanimity among the provinces on the bill. Some are opposed and some are in favour. However, I think all are concerned that they would need to bear some of the additional costs that are associated with the bill.

The minister says that the government has increased its contributions to the provinces through transfer payments in the last year or so but they were not increased specifically to deal with this proposed legislation. There was no consultation on the cost of it. The Government of Canada did not say that it had some changes that would cost a considerable amount of money for some provinces in terms of additional incarceration costs. The provinces would need to build more prisons to keep more people housed in jails and that would cost some money. However, the federal government did not make the provinces aware of that. It did not give them an implementation schedule or say that it was prepared to consider ameliorating some of that cost. We did not hear that.

What we hear is that the government does not even know the costs. It is not even going to look at what the costs would be. It is not going to consult on the burden of the costs. It is just going to go ahead and say that it is the federal government's job to pass criminal law and that it is the provinces job to pay the costs of incarcerating people, the prosecutorial costs, the legal aid that is generated by the new provisions and the extra amount of trials that there would be to deal with the mandatory minimums. That would all fall on the heads of the provinces and the federal government would let them look after it because, after all, it is their constitutional responsibility.

There is a nice intellectual argument that, yes, we can divide sections 92(a) and 92(b) in the Constitution, but the reality is that the Confederation of Canada involves a partnership and that partnership needs to be respected. The dignity and role of the provinces must be acknowledged and respected in terms of that imposition. I used the term “downloading” once and someone suggested that was wrong because the provinces had those responsibilities in the first place. However, if it is not downloading, it is creating new costs for the provinces that are not there now. The federal government is creating these costs because it would increase the number of people who end up in jail.

Someone opposite said that all the government was trying to do was put criminals in jail. If that is all it is trying to do, I could still argue on how long offenders will be put in jail. We could argue about whether jail was the best place for some of them or whether a rehabilitation program would make our communities safer. The assumption from members opposite seems to be just to put criminals in jail.

If the members on that side just want to put criminals in jail and want us to agree with them, that would not be much of a debate because that is not our responsibility as members of Parliament. Our responsibility is to examine the laws to see whether they will actually work and whether this is a bill to make streets safer or a bill that will result in more crimes, more criminals and more victims. That is our concern about the other side.

Foreign AffairsStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, a month ago, I stood in the House to bring attention to the anti-democratic practices currently ongoing in Russia. Twice in the last three months, election fraud has been strongly alleged in the Russian federation, once in the Duma elections on December 4 and, most recently, this past Sunday in the Russian presidential elections.

Our Minister of Foreign Affairs recently noted with concern the identification of procedural irregularities that tainted the vote in nearly one-third of the polling stations. An observer for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe stated:

There was no real competition and abuse of government resources ensured that the ultimate winner of the election was never in doubt

As the Prime Minister of Canada has said:

...one of the human rights we treasure most is the right to freedom of expression. Without it, there can be no democracy, no free press, no freedom of enterprise...and no free exchange of ideas, the universal catalyst for human progress.

I hope all members of the House will stand with me today and urge the Russian authorities to respect the rights of their citizens to demonstrate peacefully and for both sides to refrain from the use of violence.

Status of WomenStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, International Women's Day is just two days away. I would like to take this opportunity to draw the attention of the House to the many abuses suffered by women in general, and refugee women in particular.

Around the world, women are victims of all manner of violence, particularly sexual violence used as a weapon of war.

In the 21st century, there should be no need to use terms such as “rape capital of the world” or “most dangerous place in the world to be a woman”. Women are forced to flee their countries to preserve their dignity.

Every year, Canada offers hope for a better life to persecuted women. We are known for being welcoming, compassionate and caring, values that we demonstrate by welcoming women who are victims of persecution. My heart goes out to refugee women who are victims of spousal abuse and who are excluded from our protection because of the narrow definition of the word “refugee”.

I hope that March 8, 2012, will inspire us to think about how we can better protect those women.

Freedom of SpeechStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Conservative Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, universities in Canada are often thought of as the bastions of free speech and expression. Certainly they are the last places where censorship should occur. I wish this were true, but sadly, it is not.

When it comes to some of the most sensitive issues, such as pro-life issues, many universities are exactly the opposite.

For example, when students at Ottawa's Carleton University put up a pro-life display, some students found the photos offensive and complained. I expect that most Canadians would find such photos offensive but that was the point the group was making: that abortion and particularly late stage abortion is offensive.

What is of concern is how the university reacted. It demanded that the group remove its display and then charged the students when they refused.

Similar censorship has occurred at universities in Toronto, Calgary, Fredericton and, most recently, Victoria where students are banned from carrying out pro-life activities and were forced to apologize to groups that were offended by their display.

I call on all universities to truly become places where students and society can count on free speech and free expression being allowed and, in fact, encouraged.

South AfricaStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I recently returned from a very moving and memorable trip to South Africa, which included a reunion with the leaders of the anti-apartheid movement and lawyers for Mandela, and meetings with government, parliamentary and civil society leaders, at an important constitutional moment, the 100th anniversary of the ANC. I have tabled a motion to remove our presumptively inadmissible visa policy and the 15th anniversary of the inspiring South African constitution that has drawn on our Charter of Rights and Freedoms whose 30th anniversary we will soon be celebrating; and where we have been the beneficiaries of this symbiotic constitutional relationship, as when I introduced the national justice initiative against racism and hate as justice minister; and where South African initiatives in areas of women's rights, freedom of expression and hate speech have inspired our own.

I am sure all colleagues will join me in extending best wishes to the ANC and to South Africa on these milestone anniversaries.

Decoration for BraveryStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, on June 8, 2009, Ms. Lana Mae Krieser of Brandon, Manitoba, rescued an 11-year-old boy who was electrocuted during a school trip.

While hiking, the boy and his friend had noticed something in the bush that piqued their interest and went off the main trail. After finding a dead deer, the boys were about to return to the main trail when one boy slipped on the wet grass, fell on the ground and came into contact with a live hydro wire. His friend ran to get help.

When Ms. Krieser arrived on the scene, she found the young boy in convulsions and a small brush fire burning close by. Without any concern for her own safety, Ms. Krieser pulled the young boy off the live wire, electrocuting herself in the process. Despite knowing the risks involved in moving a victim while he was still in contact with the power line, her selfless actions saved this boy's life.

It is with pride that I share with the House that Ms. Krieser was recently awarded the Governor General's Decoration for Bravery for her courageous act. I wish to recognize Lana Mae in the House as her actions are an example for us all to follow.

VolunteerismStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Jean Rousseau NDP Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, on February 21 I had the honour of attending the Eastern Townships' Gala du Mérite organized by the Sherbrooke newspaper, La Tribune. Among the honourees were a professor from Bishop's University, a young farmer from Bury, an athlete from Coaticook and several other deserving individuals and volunteers.

In rural settings, volunteerism is crucial to the survival of leisure activities, culture and sometimes even the communities themselves. This was clearly demonstrated the day after the gala, when I visited a small village of 768 residents, Saint-Isidore-de-Clifton. I received a very warm welcome and had the pleasure of speaking with elected officials, elementary students, business people, ordinary residents and volunteers. I was quite moved by the vitality of such a small village.

Furthermore, it is not the only municipality in my region that depends on its volunteers. The town of East Angus was created on March 14, 1912, and, thus, will be celebrating its centennial next week. The celebration will last for the rest of 2012. These festivities would not be possible without the hard work of dedicated volunteers. I would like to congratulate them on their courage, their tenacity and their pride, and I wish East Angus another 100 years of prosperity and community spirit.

Long live the volunteers in my riding.

Status of WomenStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joyce Bateman Conservative Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, this week, we are celebrating women in Canada and around the world.

Yesterday I attended the very first conference organized for International Women's Day by the Viscount Alexander French immersion school in my riding of Winnipeg South Centre.

The goal of the conference was to prepare young girls and boys for the world of work by introducing them to women in professions they are interested in.

It was my great pleasure to speak to the young people about my work as a member of Canada's Parliament. I was very impressed by their questions and the quality of their French.

I hope this is the start of a tradition, because I am sure that many of the young people I met are the leaders of tomorrow.

Oreo CookieStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to celebrate the 100th birthday of one of the world's most recognizable cookies, the Oreo.

Manufactured by Kraft Canada, whose headquarters are located in my riding, the Oreo is sold in more than 100 countries around the world.

On March 6, 1912, the Oreo was born and today, 100 years later, dozens of countries are celebrating.

The popularity of the Oreo is evident from the 25 million Facebook friends the Oreo has, 900,000 of whom are Canadian.

In 2011, global Oreo sales hit the $2 billion mark. Over one billion Oreos were made here in Canada alone.

I congratulate Dino Bianco, president of Kraft Canada, the management and employees for their hard work and dedication to the Oreo.

I hope all hon. members will join me in wishing the Oreo a happy 100th birthday. “Mr. Christie, you make good cookies”.

Status of WomenStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, on the eve of International Women's Day, I want to give a shout out to the Hamilton and District Labour Council which will once again host the Norma Berti women's breakfast to celebrate International Women's Day.

Each year we get together to celebrate the successes of women and girls in challenging stereotypes and in breaking down barriers to their full equality, but we also remind ourselves of the battles yet to be won.

Globally, women and girls continue to face violations of their basic human rights. In too many parts of the world women die because they cannot access safe and legal abortions or even information on family planning. Girls are prevented from going to school. Crimes of sexual violence continue with horrific impunity.

In Canada too, women are losing ground. The Conservatives continue to attack women's equality rights. They have cut funding to organizations like Status of Women, Sisters in Spirit, and groups that help newcomers. They have failed to invest in child care and affordable housing. They ignore pay equity rights.

That is why in Hamilton we celebrate International Women's Day by committing to fight on. We know that all women deserve fairness, affordability, opportunity, equal pay for work of equal value, a decent standard of living, and the freedom to live without fear.

Laurent DubreuilStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, in Quebec there are young athletes who are passionate about their sport and dedicated to their training.

This deep passion for speed skating and the desire to excel have put Lévis's Laurent Dubreuil on the podium and in the history books.

Laurent Dubreuil mastered the balance and speed needed to become the very first Quebecker to win the world junior title for 500-metre long track speed skating this past weekend, in Obihiro, Japan.

Laurent has become a positive role model that many passionate young athletes can identify with, a model—

Laurent DubreuilStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway.

Charlie Sang Now QuanStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Chungsen Leung Conservative Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the life of Charlie Sang Now Quan who was one of Canada's last surviving head-tax payers. Charlie Quan passed away peacefully on February 23 at the age of 105.

At 16 years of age, Charlie was forced to pay a $500 head tax to enter Canada simply because he was Chinese. Throughout his life, he dedicated himself to speaking out against the racist policy that was later expanded under the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1923 which banned all Chinese immigration into Canada.

For years, Charlie sought recognition from the Government of Canada for the humiliation caused by the head tax. Finally in 2006, Charlie witnessed the Prime Minister issue a historic official apology to all head-tax payers in the House of Commons. Charlie and other head-tax payers finally had their dignity restored.

Despite all the difficulties he faced in his life as an immigrant, Charlie was a proud Canadian. On behalf of all Canadians, I thank him for his contribution to the building of our pluralistic society.

Junior Canadian RangersStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honour a group of youth from the town of Gaultois in my riding of Random—Burin—St. George's.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Junior Canadian Rangers in Gaultois, an isolated community with a population of 180. While the Gaultois Junior Rangers are comprised of just 12 youth, their commitment and enthusiasm is second to none. The dedicated youth who join this organization learn skills that equip them to become responsible in the outdoors. Many of them become members of first responder organizations, either as volunteers or professionals.

In rural Canada, the Canadian Rangers are known for their expertise in search and rescue operations and as a valuable asset to local law enforcement. The Junior Rangers program provides many young men and women in rural Canada with exposure to the adult organization.

I ask all members to join me in showing our admiration for all youth who are members of this exemplary organization and in congratulating the Gaultois Junior Canadian Rangers on the occasion of their 10th anniversary.

Status of WomenStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Susan Truppe Conservative London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Minister for Status of Women has launched International Women's Week by announcing this year's theme, “Strong Women, Strong Canada – Women in Rural, Remote and Northern Communities: Key to Canada's Economic Prosperity”.

To support this theme, the minister today announced government support for new projects to support women living in communities outside Canada's urban centres. These projects will help reduce violence against women and girls and increase their economic security. We believe women's safety goes hand in hand with their economic security, and the economy remains our government's number one priority.

I encourage all Canadians to play their part so we can deliver on the goal of strong women and a strong Canada.

The Conservative GovernmentStatements By Members

March 6th, 2012 / 2:10 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, gala dinners, golf tournaments and Caribbean cruises are but a few examples of the lavish gifts that Royal LePage gave public servants to try to coax them into granting the company a billion dollar contract. What is next—champagne and caviar?

The Conservatives were elected on a promise that they would put an end to the scandals. But all we hear about is election fraud with a distinctly Conservative flavour, the in and out scandal and the robocall scandal. That is not what Canadians expect from their government. Canadians want leadership. They want a responsible and trustworthy government that addresses Canadians' real priorities, such as the environment, old age security, health, employment insurance and the status of persons with disabilities.

Canadians can count on the NDP's leadership. The New Democrats can put an end to the scandals of the Conservatives and their predecessors.

Canada-United Arab Emirates RelationsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Clarke Conservative Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, yesterday His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan, the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, completed a two day visit to Ottawa. The successful visit was a strong signal of the warming relations between the two countries and reciprocated the generous hospitality extended by the sheikh to the Minister of Foreign Affairs last fall.

During their meetings, the two ministers discussed a wide range of issues, including shared concerns about the humanitarian situation in Syria and regional peace and security, as well as opportunities to expand person-to-person ties between our two countries. The productive trip also resulted in yesterday's announcement of negotiations on a joint nuclear co-operation agreement, which would create business opportunities for Canada's nuclear industry and create jobs in both countries.

The United Arab Emirates is a strategic ally and valued commercial partner for Canada and our biggest trading partner in that region. This is a welcome step forward in boosting exchanges of all types and a sign that our bilateral relations are getting even stronger.