This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #131 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was changes.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

It being 5:15 p.m., pursuant to an order made earlier today, all questions necessary to dispose of the opposition motion are deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until Monday, June 4, at the expiry of the time provided for government orders.

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I ask that you see the clock at 5:30.

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Is there consent to see the clock at 5:30?

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure whether I want to see the clock at 5:30. Is there not 15 minutes left on this debate?

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

No. The time allocated for the business of supply today ended at 5:15. The vote was deferred by a motion made a little while ago rather than at this time. If the clock is not seen at 5:30, then we suspend.

Is there consent to see the clock at 5:30?

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from April 4 consideration of the motion that Bill C-313, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (non-corrective contact lenses), be read the third time and passed.

Food and Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I continue to support Bill C-313 from the member for Sarnia—Lambton. Bill C-313 has received support from all parties.

As we all know, the bill is aimed to classify non-corrective contact lenses according to subrule 2(1) of part 1 of schedule I of the Medical Devices Regulations, which states:

Subject to subrules (2) to (4), all invasive devices that penetrate the body through a body orifice or that come into contact with the surface of the eye are classified as Class II.

I also thank the hon. member for being very open to amendments and suggestions at the committee stage of the bill. In fact, there was an amendment that very much improved her bill, which was that it would be best to classify the non-corrective contact lenses as a device under the Food and Drugs Act as opposed to a medical device. The member agreed to that.

I want congratulate the member and her bill has the support of the Liberal Party because we believe in sound, evidence-based policy, and this bill would do exactly that. I thank the member for continuing to pursue this. I look forward to its passage.

I had hoped that it would have been in the budget but, alas, that was too much to hope for.

Food and Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House and not only speak to Bill C-313 but also to offer the support of the official opposition, the New Democratic Party, to the proposed legislation.

This enactment will amend the Food and Drugs Act to deem that a non-corrective cosmetic contact lens is a medical device for the purposes of the act. This enactment will ensure that non-corrective contact lenses are subject to the requirements of the Food and Drugs Act and the medical devices regulations.

Corrective contact lenses are classified and regulated as medical devices under the Food and Drugs Act and are regulated as class II medical devices by Health Canada. Despite the fact that the health risks are identical to corrective lenses, cosmetic or non-corrective contact lenses are not classified as medical devices and are not regulated by Health Canada. In other words, under federal and provincial law, it currently is permissible to sell cosmetic lenses in any retail establishment without a prescription.

There is, however, an abundance of evidence and research concerning the potential dangers of using cosmetic contact lenses improperly and without professional involvement.

Bill C-313 would amend the Food and Drugs Act to classify cosmetic contact lenses as class II medical devices, the same category as regular corrective lenses. This is a first step that would require all cosmetic lenses sold in Canada to be licensed through Health Canada and for distributors of the products to require a medical device establishment licence.

The bill, however, would only be the start of regulations of cosmetic contact lenses. Prescribing and dispensing regulations are provincially controlled. The next step would be for the provinces to also change their regulations to treat cosmetic lenses the same as corrective lenses.

The hope is that the passage of this bill will bring the issue to the attention of provincial health ministers, and it is essential for governments to establish a firm timetable for achieving effective regulations of these devices.

By way of background, what are cosmetic contact lenses? These are lenses that are usually used to change the colour and/or appearance of eyes. They have become increasingly popular, being marketed as fashion or Halloween accessories, at beauty salons, novelty shops, flea markets, convenience stores and through online businesses.

While it is difficult to estimate the exact size of the cosmetic contact lens market in Canada, all available indicators point to a growing market in recent years. It is also mostly young people, who are often less informed and more prone to taking risks, who are wearing cosmetic contact lenses more frequently.

There is no essential difference between cosmetic contact lenses and corrective lenses because both are inserted in and interact with the eye. Moreover, some cosmetic lenses cover a larger portion of the eye, known as the sclera lens, and do not have the same oxygen permeability as corrective lenses and may be more dangerous.

Cosmetic lenses can be worn safely, just as is the case for corrective lenses, provided they are appropriately prescribed and dispensed by a licensed professional. However, problems arise when they are not suited for the particular purchaser or are an improper size and are not fitted correctly. Each eye has its own unique shape and curvature. Also, if they are of questionable quality from an unknown supplier, they can be dangerous.

It is often the case that critical information and proper instructions are not provided to consumers concerning how to use the lenses safety, for instance, concerning insertion, removal and cleaning. Again, it is mostly youth, who are more prone to taking risks, who are wearing these devises and risking damage to their eyes.

Although cosmetic lenses appear harmless, serious eye injuries can occur, as an allergic reaction, bacterial infection, swelling or inflammation of the cornea may result. In serious cases, ulceration or scratches of the cornea, impaired vision and even blindness or eye loss can be the result. Some of this damage can occur in as little as 24 hours, can be difficult to treat or there can be permanent damage caused. The risk of potential harm for any type of contact lenses has already been proven.

There is an abundance of evidence and research concerning the dangers of using cosmetic contact lenses improperly and without professional involvement. By way of international comparison, until 2005, the U.S. also exempted cosmetic contact lenses from regulation under its food and drugs act. At the urging of eye care professionals, of course, a bill was passed to ensure that all contact lenses, corrective or cosmetic, are regulated as medical devices within the United States.

Now, according to the FDA in the United States, it is against the law in the U.S. to sell cosmetic contact lenses without a valid prescription or note from an eye doctor.

In October 2000, Health Canada issued a health warning about cosmetic lenses because of their being obtainable without a prescription, being improperly fitted and not being subject to health assessment as corrective lenses. It highlighted the risks and potential for injury associated with cosmetic lenses and recommended that they only be used under the supervision of an eye care professional.

In September 2003, Health Canada commissioned a third party risk assessment, entitled “Human Health Risk Assessment of Cosmetic Contact Lens”. In it, it concluded that the available evidence suggests “that the level of risk associated with the use of cosmetic contact lenses is comparable to that associated with corrective lenses and may be potentially higher”.

Given these risks, it recommended that cosmetic contact lenses be regulated by Health Canada and that they require a prescription for their use and that their sale be restricted to regulated health professionals.

In March 2008 a motion passed unanimously in the House called for the development of a regulation that cosmetic contact lenses be regulated as medical devices under the FDA or the Hazardous Products Act. It received all-party support and was passed unanimously.

After the motion, the government incorporated the motion's recommendation into one of its omnibus health bills, Bill C-51, as it was known then. Unfortunately, that legislation died on the order paper when Parliament was prorogued.

The NDP believes that the vision health of Canadians should be protected and that this is a simple measure that would help reduce the incidence of eye injuries. As both types of lenses have the same set of health risks, the regulations for cosmetic contact lenses must be the same as those for corrective contact lenses.

This bill addresses an issue that optical health professionals have called on the government to fix for years. It has taken a Conservative member of Parliament, to her credit, independently suggesting regulations for cosmetic contact lenses to bring this issue to the government's attention. It is regrettable that it requires a private member's bill. This is something that should be implemented by the government immediately. The NDP recognizes that this is an important first step for the federal government to take to finally establish an effective regulatory regime for cosmetic contact lenses.

There is broad, unanimous and widespread support for this measure in the stakeholder community. The Canadian Association of Optometrists, the Canadian Ophthalmological Society and the Opticians Association of Canada all have been publicizing the risks associated with this product and asking Health Canada to regulate them under the Food and Drugs Act.

The Canadian Association of Optometrists, talking about people's eyesight and, in most cases, young people's eyesight, stated:

There are daily news stories from around the world about the complications that can arise due to ill-fitting cosmetic lenses or improper use and handling. It is an important vision health issue and the optometrists, opticians and ophthalmologists of Canada are asking for unanimous support from the House, Senate and Health Canada to adopt this amendment and enact it with haste.

There has been increasing activity in Europe, Asia and, as I said, North America by associations calling for exactly that.

According to key facts and figures, it has been estimated that the rate of injury and complications for this use is around 1% of all users. This is an alarming rate, considering the number of contact lenses in use. Recent studies in France and by the FDA in the United States make it clear that this is a potentially dangerous object that should be regulated.

Finally, these regulations are to protect Canadians' vision health, especially in young people, who may not appreciate the consequences and risks associated with cosmetic contact lenses.

One of the first responsibilities of government should be to protect Canadians from potentially dangerous products. This bill would ensure that corrective and cosmetic contact lenses would have the same protection from the same health risks and would be regulated in the same way by government. This bill is a simple measure that would help prevent eye injuries in Canada, and the New Democrats are proud to support this logical, reasonable measure that is long overdue.

Food and Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand here this evening as we go through the final second hour of third reading of my private member's Bill C-313.

This has been a fairly long process. It started back in 2007 with the introduction of my private member's motion, which as the member across has alluded to, was passed unanimously but then died on the order paper. It is greatly gratifying to see that the bill has reached this stage.

I want to thank the members who have spoken not only tonight in favour of this bill but all the way through this process. Whether it was through second reading or whether it was at committee stage, there has been wonderful support for the bill. All members and all parties have shown support, and I thank them for that.

There has been support through two ministers of health, as well, and Health Canada. The bill has been very well supported.

The industry has been 100% supportive. I have received a great deal of assistance from it in getting the correct medical facts. I have received wonderful support from everybody involved.

We know that this bill would help improve and protect the eye health of Canadians, as has been said in many cases, affecting our young people more than others.

I am pleased to see the bill at this stage. I look forward to its being passed through the House and sent on to the other place.

Food and Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

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

Food and Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Food and Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed)

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

HousingAdjournment Proceedings

5:30 p.m.

NDP

Marie-Claude Morin NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, before the budget was tabled, I asked the minister what she intended to do when a number of financial agreements between the federal government and housing co-ops and non-profit housing organizations expire.

She replied that the government was making investments in new social housing, including renovations for 21,000 seniors and 415 projects for persons with disabilities. However, I have still not been given an answer about existing social housing.

Almost all social housing built before 1994 was covered by long-term financial agreements with the federal government. These subsidies ensure that low-income renters can pay rent that is geared to income. With the expiry of these agreements, many renters will suffer because their rents will double or even triple.

There is nothing for social housing, nothing for affordable housing and nothing for the renewal of operating agreements for housing co-operatives and non--profit housing organizations in the 2012 budget or the famous Bill C-38, which is a real Trojan Horse.

There is nothing to help the more than 1.5 million households, or 13% of all Canadian households, that have core housing needs or that do not have access to decent housing that they can afford. The 21,000 people who received help from the government represent just 1.4% of all households that do not have access to affordable housing.

I have a hard time believing the government when it says it is investing in social housing. What is more, the budget makes no mention of social programs, including homelessness and housing, although there is a real need.

The City of Montreal, the Union des municipalities du Québec and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities all made requests of this budget, but all those requests were ignored. Unfortunately, there is still no long-term investment plan for housing. A petition was tabled in the House of Commons two weeks ago calling on the federal government to provide the necessary funding to renovate, improve and modernize all social housing.

I would like to know why the federal government did not allocate any funding to social housing in its budget, in order to help renters affected by the end of these subsidies. At the same time, I would also like to respond to the parliamentary secretary's question about why the opposition never supports the government's initiatives in the area of social housing.

I would answer that it is impossible for us to support initiatives that will help only 21,000 people, when there are over 1.5 million households that need assistance. Conversely, why does the government present initiatives that do not meet the needs of more Canadians?

HousingAdjournment Proceedings

5:30 p.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, I thank the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot for asking the question to explain the government's approach to affordable Housing.

Hon. members on this side of the House are deeply committed to ensuring that Canadians have access to affordable housing. We have backed up this commitment by supporting unprecedented investments in this area. As I've noted previously in this House, the government believes that everyone in Canada deserves a stable, safe and affordable place to call home. We recognize that not everyone can achieve this on his or her own, which is why our government, the provinces and territories and other stakeholders have looked to address the housing needs of some of Canada's most vulnerable citizens.

Canada's economic action plan delivered on more than 14,000 projects for vulnerable individuals including low-income seniors, people with disabilities and first nations people living on reserve.

Our track record is very impressive. Since 2006, our government has invested approximately $12.5 billion in housing. This funding has helped support households living in existing social housing, create new affordable housing and revitalize the stock of social housing for future generations.

The hon. member is particularly concerned that some long-term agreements with social housing are expiring. This is the normal course of business. These agreements that are expiring were put in place many years ago and are ending on schedule as the mortgages on housing projects are paid off. Many other long-term operating agreements are ongoing and will remain in place for the next number of years.

As the hon. member knows, the federal-provincial-territorial working group has been created to examine the financial liability of the existing social housing stock as these agreements expire. In the meantime, our government continues to spend $1.7 billion a year to ensure that almost 615,000 households living in existing social housing can continue to afford their homes.

Furthermore, through Canada's economic action plan, our government invested $1 billion over two years for the renovation and retrofit of existing social housing. In addition, through bilateral agreements with the provinces and territories, a combined investment of $1.4 billion is being made under the new investments and affordable housing framework to continue to reduce the number of Canadians living in housing need. I am pleased to say that the agreements have been signed in every province and territory.

Under these agreements, federal funding is matched by the provinces and territories that, with the exception of P.E.I. and the Yukon which have opted to extend their previous agreements with CMHC, are responsible for program design and delivery in their jurisdictions.

In addition, I want to emphasize that we will continue to invest heavily in housing. This year, through CMHC, the Government of Canada will invest approximately $2 billion in housing.

I will say again that our government has made record investments in housing programs over the past number of years. Unfortunately, the NDP has voted against every one of these initiatives.

HousingAdjournment Proceedings

5:35 p.m.

NDP

Marie-Claude Morin NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, given the government's track record of distancing itself from housing issues, I am surprised to hear my colleague say that the government cares about access to housing. That is definitely not the case right now.

As I said before and will say again, 1.5 million Canadian households have an urgent need for housing. These people are living in housing that is unsanitary, too expensive or too small for their families. There are also between 150,000 and 300,000 homeless people in Canada right now.

I do not think that ending subsidies will solve these problems. Rather, it will lengthen the list of people who need better housing, and more people will end up homeless.

Why is the government offloading responsibility for social housing onto the provinces?

HousingAdjournment Proceedings

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do find it a bit rich that NDP members continue to demand funding for social housing when their voting record is crystal clear. Every time, they vote against the greatest investments that we have made in social housing in our nation's history.

Again, I would like to draw the hon. member's attention to our record on affordable housing.

Since 2006, our government has invested an estimated $12.5 billion in housing. This funding has benefited low-income Canadians and the communities they live in across the country. There were 97,000 renovation projects and 21,000 seniors have benefited from improvement in their housing. There were 430 projects that helped Canadians with disabilities. This year alone, the government will spend more than $2 billion on housing, which includes $1.7 billion in subsidies to support 615,000 households living in existing social housing on and off reserve.

As members can see, our government is working hard to ensure Canadians across the country have access to safe, suitable, affordable housing.

I encourage members opposite to support these initiatives that support those Canadians in need of housing.

Government PrioritiesAdjournment Proceedings

May 31st, 2012 / 5:40 p.m.

NDP

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise today as a follow-up to a question that I raised on March 2, regarding the bad environmental and economic choices made by the Conservative government.

Since I asked my question, the government has tabled a budget and a budget implementation bill that illustrate once again its inability to reconcile the environment and the protection of our economy. I am going to provide a few examples.

The budget implementation bill proposes to repeal the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. In addition to speeding up the process and restricting public consultation, the government reserves the right to overturn rulings made by review panels to allow major projects promoted by powerful oil interests. To make matters worse, the new regulations will apply to review processes that are already underway, so that projects such as the oil sands and the northern gateway pipeline could escape close scrutiny.

The second example is taken from the budget. The government is giving $8 million to the Canada Revenue Agency to monitor charities, including environmental groups, to ensure they do not get involved in the public debate. The government claims that these groups should not get involved in politics. In addition to interfering with a fundamental freedom, namely the freedom of expression, this measure seeks to prevent environmental groups from participating in the public debate and will yet again weaken the environmental assessment process by giving free reign to lobbyists representing big oil companies.

My third example is the changes to the Fisheries Act. Relaxing the act's requirements will jeopardize the economic activity related to commercial and recreational fisheries. In fact, John Fraser and Tom Siddon, two former Conservative ministers of Fisheries and Oceans, have condemned these changes. I think they are absolutely right. It does not make any sense to want to promote economic development by jeopardizing the work of thousands of fishermen and workers whose livelihood depends on tourism.

The budget also repeals the Kyoto Implementation Act. I have said it repeatedly in this House: this is an ideological decision that will end up costing us more in the long run. First, there is the issue of costs related to climate change. We can think, for example, of shoreline erosion, of the impact of global warming on agriculture, and of the destruction caused by severe weather events. But there is also the whole issue of missed opportunities for Canada regarding jobs in green industries.

With the elimination of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, the major decisions regarding our collective future will now be taken without any serious analysis. Unfortunately, it is future generations that will pay the price.

Finally, the budget also targets environmental sciences. I particularly condemn the abolition of the experimental lakes program run by the Freshwater Institute in northern Ontario, and of the MRS program, as well as the research, technology and instrumentation grants program run by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Hundreds of scientists will be affected by these cuts, and some important and irreplaceable data will be lost.

Will the government introduce a sustainable plan to develop our natural resources and to preserve them for future generations, for our children and grandchildren?

Government PrioritiesAdjournment Proceedings

5:40 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Michelle Rempel ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her question.

It is always a pleasure to address the member in the House on such important issues. I would like to start with her original question that she put in the House on March 2.

She made a claim that the government would “slash the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency's budget by 43%”. I hope she has read the budget since then to see that in fact not only was the entire funding allocation for this agency renewed, but there was increased allocation for participant funding. Once again, this demonstrates our government's commitment to ensuring that there is rigour in environmental assessment in opposition to what she has been saying tonight.

The one thing I picked up on was the member spoke with great disdain around the terminology “big oil companies”. She uses it like a term of derision. I find that very interesting because her leader is in Alberta today. He is touring the oil sands in Fort McMurray, which is a great wealth of natural resources. I hope she will listen to some of the comments he made. He did agree that this was a great driver of the Canadian economy. I certainly hope we will see a change in tune from him rather than these divisive comments pitting workers in Alberta against workers in Ontario.

Instead of acknowledging that this is a resource that should be developed for all Canadians, she talked at the end of her speech about ensuring that it was around for generations to come. I agree with her. We do need to ensure that we see this develop sustainably. That is why our government has implemented what has been called a world-class monitoring system for the oil sands. The commissioner for the environment has called it robust. He has called it leading and world class. It is a step in the right direction. We have great partnership with the province of Alberta on this.

Also, there are technologies being developed by industry in partnership with government to ensure that those resources are developed and that land is reclaimed on the back end.

I think my colleague is originally from Alberta. I hope she would visit her hometown, as her leader has done, to see the big oil companies. Frankly, I hope I do not hear that term used by her party as derision. We should be talking about the energy sector as a driver of the economy.

I will close with some quotes that came out of our subcommittee on finance reviewing the changes in the budget implementation act, which are designed to ensure we have environmental sustainability with economic growth. We want to ensure that businesses have predictability and timeliness in process but that we still ensure the rigour. In the environmental assessment, we feel the bill does that.

We asked the commissioner of the environment about the screening level assessments. Right now screening level assessments comprise 99% of the environmental assessments that are conducted through the Environmental Assessment Agency. I asked him if he would characterize us transferring resources from 99% of these screenings, 94% of which he is on the record saying have little to no environmental impact at all, to focus on larger projects to ensure we have resources within the agency and to ensure that those big projects, which the member talked about, are adequately concluded.

We are on the right track. I certainly hope she will support our measures in this regard.

Government PrioritiesAdjournment Proceedings

5:45 p.m.

NDP

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond to all of the points that my hon. colleague raised, but unfortunately, I have just one minute to do so.

I would like to repeat that the government made cuts to important environmental monitoring programs, such as the experimental lakes program in the Experimental Lakes Area.

This is about the fundamental difference between the NDP and the Conservative Party. The difference is that the NDP supports economic development and the development of Canada's natural resources. However, New Democrats support responsible science- and research-based development that conserves resources for future generations.

I would like to repeat my question. When will the government introduce a sustainable natural resource development plan that respects provincial jurisdiction and maximizes benefits for Canadians?

Government PrioritiesAdjournment Proceedings

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to clarify that “cut” does not mean renew funding or implement world-class monitoring systems. We have invested in environmental assessments. We have invested in world-class monitoring systems. We have invested in research and development funding for clean energy technology.

In fact, in the budget we have added stiff penalties for people who do not follow up with the guidelines in the environmental assessments. All of these are contained in the budget bill. They are designed to ensure that sustainable growth.

I hope my colleague will support it.

41st General ElectionAdjournment Proceedings

5:45 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise this evening to pursue a question that I initially put to the Prime Minister on March 1. It relates to an issue that is increasingly worrying to many Canadians regardless of how they voted.

This is not a partisan issue, and I want to set that out as a foundation. I include in my statement of non-partisan interest in this issue that I do not believe for a moment that in ridings where there were alleged dirty tricks there is a chance that Conservative candidates, many of whom I have great affection for, would have known about the voter suppression techniques that were used in the election that took place on May 2, 2011.

With the context out of the way, I want to pursue the question I asked on March 1, which was this: in the context of the voter suppression phone calls, which some people call robocalls, we need to understand them as multiple acts of illegal activity. Each single phone call purporting to be Elections Canada when it was not Elections Canada represents a crime. It is a crime on two levels. It is a crime against our fair and democratic free elections under the Canada Elections Act. Purporting to be someone you are not for purposes of fraud is also a crime under the Criminal Code.

It is criminal activity that occurred multiple times in multiple ridings. That is the context. You can call them robocalls, but it is election fraud we are discussing.

My question for the Prime Minister on March 1 dealt with the fact that I am personally aware of extensive evidence of electoral fraud that occurred in Saanich—Gulf Islands, the riding I represent, in the election in which I was not a candidate, the one in 2008, about which the New Democratic Party filed complaints. The Liberal Party filed complaints. Public interest groups like Democracy Watch filed complaints. Third party groups that were concerned about election fraud also filed complaints. Yet, despite a lot of evidence, the RCMP and Elections Canada were unable to get to the bottom of it, which is why I do not think we are yet on the right track to get to the bottom of what happened on May 2, 2011.

This is not to suggest malfeasance on anyone's part, it is just the reality that I examined. Let me tell you what happened. The failure to get to the bottom of that leads me to the inevitable conclusion that the Prime Minister must call a public inquiry that is properly funded and has subpoena powers and a proper staff to find out how election fraud took place in 2008 in Saanich—Gulf Islands and across Canada on May 2, 2011.

The reality is this. Calls were made in Saanich—Gulf Islands at the last minute on the night before the election only to those voters who supported the New Democratic Party. What would be strange about how this unknown, mysterious calling program got the phone numbers of people only supporting the NDP, as far as I know, to call purportedly from the NDP and urge people to go out and vote NDP?

There was no NDP candidate on the ballot. The name remained but the candidate had withdrawn. These were spoof calls, as we now know the term, in that the phone number that appeared on the call display was actually a home fax number for an executive within the NDP, who filed complaints. With the information they had, they pursued it. He was initially told to go to the Saanich police and complain there. Then he went to the RCMP.

Nothing was discovered because it was not properly investigated. With issues this important, must we not have a full public inquiry? I asked for a full public inquiry from Elections Canada in May of last year and have still not had a response.

I ask the Conservative Party representatives here tonight to explain how we are going to get to the bottom of this if we do not have an inquiry.