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 #148 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was force.

Topics

Motions in amendmentCorrections and Conditional Release ActPrivate Members' Business

7:50 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

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

Motions in amendmentCorrections and Conditional Release ActPrivate Members' Business

7:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Motions in amendmentCorrections and Conditional Release ActPrivate Members' Business

7:50 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

All those opposed will please say nay.

Motions in amendmentCorrections and Conditional Release ActPrivate Members' Business

7:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Motions in amendmentCorrections and Conditional Release ActPrivate Members' Business

7:50 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 98, a recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, September 26, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

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

TransportAdjournment Proceedings

7:55 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, may I take this opportunity, since it is the first time I have had the opportunity of addressing you as duly appointed Deputy Speaker, to say what a great pleasure it is and how wisely I think the powers that be have moved to put you in the chair.

The question that leads tonight's adjournment proceedings was a question I put in June, before the House rose for the summer. Unfortunately, the response came from a minister whose areas of responsibility do not actually fall within the parameters of the question I asked. It means that this time the representative for the Minister of Transport is here. However, my question did not specifically relate to transport. It was a tangential issue.

My question was one of constitutional authorities. In particular, I put it to the Prime Minister that since he was well known in opposition as an individual who believed that the provinces should exert their jurisdictional authorities to the maximum to press back against heavy-handed federal intrusion into their areas of authority, I wondered if he had now changed his mind. Those of us in British Columbia felt very clearly that the Prime Minister was pushing a particular project on the people of British Columbia whether we liked it or not.

Just to make it clear to all present today, to refresh their memories, the question I put was the following:

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister for many years expressed concern as an Albertan about the heavy-handed intrusion of federal policy on the will of Albertans.

Right now, British Columbians oppose supertankers on the coastline, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities opposes supertankers and today's polls show by a margin of three to one that British Columbians do not want oil tankers on their coastline. Will the Prime Minister run roughshod over the will of British Columbians for his pet project?

In that brief question I was alluding to something that is famously known as the firewall letter. This was back in January 2001, when our current Prime Minister was not serving in the House but had left a position as MP to become the executive director of the National Citizens Coalition. In that capacity, he co-signed a letter with University of Alberta professor Tom Flanagan; with Ted Morton, who was described in the letter as Alberta senator-elect; with the head of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation; and with other Albertans, particularly Ken Boessenkool, who is now an advisor to Christy Clark.

The irony is not lost on British Columbians. This famous letter was designed to do the following. The current Prime Minister wrote in 2001 about what could be done to extend provincial powers to “limit the extent to which an aggressive and hostile federal government can encroach upon legitimate provincial jurisdiction”.

Perhaps I will have better luck tonight. I will put my question again.

Has the current Prime Minister lost track of his previous concerns that provincial rights, privileges and powers, and particularly the will of the people of a province, should be respected and that in fact he should be guided on the matter of the Enbridge proposal and the supertankers, which British Columbians do not want, by the will of the people of British Columbia and not his own preference for expansion of bitumen production?

TransportAdjournment Proceedings

7:55 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I will begin by addressing the constitutional and jurisdictional questions that the member posed. I would point out the very obvious, that even the most strong believer in the principle of subsidiarity would accept that the federal government is responsible for regulating shipping and the associated industries. That is because ships cross borders. It is an international business and it would be impossible for it to be adequately regulated on a province-by-province basis.

The member mentioned oil tankers and the safety-related issues around them. The reality is that oil tankers have been moving safely into west coast waters since the 1930s. This, contrary to the member's remarks, is nothing new. In fact, a total of 82 oil tankers arrived at Port Metro Vancouver in 2011. During the last five years there were 1,302 tankers that arrived at that same port. During that time period, nearly 200 oil and chemical tankers safely visited the ports of Prince Rupert and Kitimat. They follow international and Canadian requirements, including double hulling of ships, mandatory pilotage, regular inspections, and aerial surveillance. With double hull, the bottom and sides of the vessel have two complete layers of water-tight hull surface. Tankers that are not double hull are being gradually phased out. For large crude oil tankers, like the Exxon Valdez was, the phase-out date for single hull vessels was 2010, which means that all large crude oil tankers operating in our waters today are double hull.

In compulsory pilotage areas, the pilotage authorities require tanker operators to take on board a marine pilot with knowledge before entering a harbour or busy waterway. The department ship inspectors are on board and they inspect foreign vessels, including oil tankers, entering Canadian ports to ensure they comply with all of our rules. In 2011, there were 1,100 inspections carried out across Canada, 147 of them on oil tankers.

We also have the eye in the sky which watches tankers as they approach our shores. Transport Canada performs aerial surveillance over Canadian waters to detect pollution from ships. In 2010-11, crews observed more than 12,000 vessels, nearly one-third of which were over west coast waters. It is an effective prevention tool because potential polluters know that Canada is watching and we have the power to prosecute.

What I am about to say is very important, so I ask that the member listen carefully. The good news is that over the last 20 years there has not been a single major oil spill in Canadian waters. We will work to ensure that the next 20 years are as successful as the last.

TransportAdjournment Proceedings

8 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think my hon. friend has been picking up speaking points from former president Bill Clinton and the style of his Democratic convention speech.

I would ask that he listen closely, because what I am going to say is important. My question in June and my question today relate to respect for the will of British Columbians. Let me speak to the will of British Columbians.

It is the will of British Columbians not to have supertankers on our coastline. That is why since 1972 there has been a moratorium. Although the port of Vancouver was grandfathered at the time, the coastline of British Columbia, and Hecate Strait in particular, which according to Environment Canada is the fourth most hazardous body of water on Earth, is not traversed by supertankers carrying oil because we have had a moratorium since 1972.

That moratorium is the will of British Columbians, and we will, as a province and as a people, continue to insist that the Prime Minister of this country respect the British Columbia firewall.

TransportAdjournment Proceedings

8 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am disappointed the member wants to build a firewall around British Columbia, particularly on the issue of international shipping.

There is not an expert in the world on regulatory matters that would believe it in the interest of Canada to go to province by province regulations for shipping. We would have five or six different regimes just entering the St. Lawrence into the Great Lakes, and that would not be practical.

The reality is that we have had tankers going in and out of the British Columbia west coast since the 1930s, a total of 82 tankers last year, 1,302 tankers in the last 5 years, and 200 oil and chemical tankers safely visited the ports of Prince Rupert and Kitimat.

We have strong regulations, aerial surveillance, onboard inspections. For 20 years, as a result of these strong regulatory actions and the co-operation of industry, we have not had a single, solitary major oil spill in Canadian waters. That is a success story we should celebrate, not something we should tear down.

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceAdjournment Proceedings

8:05 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to congratulate you on your appointment as Deputy Speaker. We are excited to have you in the chair, even at this late hour.

I am also pleased to have the opportunity to raise what is a critical issue for so many Canadians.

One of the paramount needs that we all have is to feel safe and to live in a safe community. In that context there are many factors that come into play, but one of the most important is policing.

While we recognize that critical work is done in this area, many Canadians, particularly many women in Canada, have raised real concerns around the allegations of sexual harassment in our national police force, the RCMP.

As the status of women critic for the NDP, I have the opportunity to work through Parliament's status of women committee, which is looking at this issue. Within the next couple of weeks we will embark on a broader study, looking at sexual harassment in the federal workplace, including, we hope, a special focus on the RCMP.

All of this connects to my question to the government in late spring. At that time, I asked what specific commitment it was making in terms of funding and financial support as well as political support and political direction to ensure that the issue of sexual harassment in the RCMP became a priority going forward.

The government has repeatedly referred to the ongoing court case by the women who have brought forward these serious allegations, women who have talked about verbal abuse, sexual assault, post-traumatic disorder, depression, having to leave their work as a result and not being able to go on with their lives and, in some cases, not finding gainful employment as a result.

Every Canadian would agree that it is unacceptable that the people who are charged with keeping us safe would also have an environment in which some among them would feel not just unsafe, but also abused. While we all acknowledge the severity of the problem, the Conservative government has been unwilling to draw specific attention to it.

Earlier this week I was in the House taking part in the debate on Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, something that we voted on today. It was clear in the deliberations in the House that the focus of the legislation was not on sexual harassment. That is where I want the question to be once again.

When will the government commit to funding and giving political priority to the need to find out what is going on in terms of sexual harassment in the RCMP and ultimately put an end to it now and for all?

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceAdjournment Proceedings

8:05 p.m.

Portage—Lisgar Manitoba

Conservative

Candice Bergen ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate you on your recent appointment.

I am very pleased today to rise and to be able to address the question by the hon. member for Churchill. All of us, men and women alike, civilians, politicians, the RCMP, and Canadians generally are very troubled by the idea of and recent reports about harassment and, certainly, sexual harassment within the RCMP. I agree with the hon. members that the RCMP should be free to face the daily challenges of protecting our streets and our communities without harassment, which makes their workplace that much more difficult.

That is why the Minister of Public Safety, in consultation with Commissioner Paulson, referred this matter to the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP. On the specific allegations, nonetheless, it would obviously be inappropriate for us to comment because they are before the courts.

What I think is so important for my hon. colleague to realize is that harassment of any kind needs to be addressed, and to segregate the various types of harassment actually lends less credibility to the issue. What we have done is to have introduced Bill C-42, the Enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act. I am very pleased to see that the House agreed to send our recent bill to committee.

Many of us participated in the debate, and tonight we are sending it to committee. I look forward to all of us working together. The member for Churchill is not on the public safety committee but serves on another committee. The public safety committee is working to see this bill pass, getting it through committee and working together.

We have heard calls for better civilian oversight, more accountability and a stronger framework to handle investigations of serious incidents involving RCMP members. We have also heard the calls for a more modern, and I think that is a very important word, disciplined grievance and human resource management framework, one that would bring about a cultural shift within the RCMP.

We have responded, working together with our stakeholders. Our government believes that the time has now come to put this legislation onto the books and set out a pathway for the future. This legislation is vital to the future of Canada's national police force and indeed vital to the future of our community safety initiatives over the short and long terms.

Bill C-42 addresses the call for increased oversight and accountability of the RCMP, and builds on the progress that is already being made by the management and the workforce. It is a comprehensive bill. It will allow us to move forward with certainty in our transformation exercise. I think all of us agree that we have an excellent RCMP force but there is a change that needs to be made, not only with sexual harassment but also with harassment of any kind, in the complaints process, and in the way civilian oversight is addressed.

Bill C-42 addresses these issues, and I think that as we work together to see it pass, we can see a new culture shift happen in the RCMP. We can see both men and women working and enjoying their jobs, contributing not only as protectors of Canadian society but also in the individual jobs they do.

We look forward to the NDP working together with us in the public safety committee. Let us get Bill C-42 through committee quickly. Let us work through the different parts of it. Let us bring more accountability to the RCMP. Let us help stop sexual harassment in any workplace and harassment of any kind.

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceAdjournment Proceedings

September 19th, 2012 / 8:10 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, as the member will have heard, I also referred to Bill C-42 and the important debate that took place in this House, including looking at the various aspects that are indeed raised by this bill. I certainly know that our critic on public safety has spoken to that as well.

However, the reality is that there is only one court case where about 200 women have come forward with serious allegations of sexual harassment, based on the fact they are women working in this workplace. There is no other workplace for which there is such a court case presently. There is no other allegation of abuse within the RCMP where 200 people have come together to put forward such a court case.

The specificity of sexual harassment remains the question at stake. Men can also be sexually harassed, although we know that the greatest number tends to be women in our society, and certainly in the case of the RCMP the allegations have been made by women. That specificity must be considered and financial and political priority must be placed on it.

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceAdjournment Proceedings

8:10 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the concern that the hon. member brings forward to this discussion.

Our government is trying to lay a strong foundation within the RCMP so that things like sexual harassment can be addressed. Under the current act that the RCMP works under it can be very difficult to address these issues. Sometimes it is at the initial level, whether it is education or people working together.

We are trying to get Bill C-42 through committee and passed into law so that there can be a stronger foundation for the RCMP, for direct supervisors, the commission and members themselves to deal with these specific issues. I believe we are on the right path.

Again, there is always more work to be done, whether for the government or the people working together and being respectful to each other.

We want to lay the foundation with Bill C-42 to enhance and change the RCMP Accountability Act so that it can move forward, change the culture and have an even better police force.

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceAdjournment Proceedings

8:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 8:15 p.m.)