House of Commons Hansard #22 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was prison.

Topics

Drug-Free Prisons ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Conservative Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I am going to be sharing my time with the hon. member, a very capable member, I might add, for Medicine Hat.

I rise today as a former police officer and as a person with five institutions in my proximity: Millhaven, the former Kingston Penitentiary, Joyceville, Warkworth, and Pittsburgh. Today I rise with some personal knowledge about the very challenging issue of drugs in federal prisons.

Our government has worked diligently to establish Canada as a country where those who break the law are held accountable for their actions and where the rights of victims are respected. This ensures that we have a strong correctional system that actually rehabilitates prisoners. To this end, we have taken strong action to tackle the problem of drugs in prison, which is, obviously, a significant roadblock to correcting the behaviour of prisoners and to the safety, of course, of correctional officers.

The reality is that prisoners should not have access to illegal drugs or substances while serving their sentences. While the NDP seems to disagree, unfortunately, and would have us provide needles to prisoners, Canadians agree that drugs have absolutely no place behind bars.

The Correctional Service of Canada has a wide range of interdiction measures in place to search out, seize, and detect drugs in institutions, and it has had some successes. However, we can certainly always improve, and that is why our government is drawing a firm line with this bill.

Almost 1,500 drug seizures take place in prisons each year, and more than 1,700 institutional sanctions have been imposed on prisoners for positive drug tests or a refusal to take drug tests. These numbers underscore the drug problem in prisons. It cannot be underestimated. Not only does the sale and use of drugs in prisons adversely affect our chance of correcting criminal behaviour, it certainly poses a threat to the safety of the staff. That is why our government, in its 2011 election platform, made a strong commitment to do even more about this problem.

We set the bar very high when we made three key promises. Number one was that every federal inmate would undergo drug testing once yearly. Is that too much to ask? Number two was that prisoners in possession of illegal substances would face additional and appropriate charges. Is that too much to ask? Number three was that parole applicants who failed these drug tests would be denied parole. They should not be rewarded for illicit, illegal actions.

We have moved forward with these measures to help us achieve these ambitious goals. We have made much progress, particularly with respect to addressing the first two promises.

We have invested heavily in broader interdiction measures. In 2008, we provided $122 million over five years for interdiction efforts, efforts that included drug detector dogs, security intelligence capacity, and perimeter security. Obviously, institutions are less safe and secure when there are drugs and other contraband, so this has turned out to be a very smart investment.

More recently, we complemented this investment with important changes under the Safe Streets and Communities Act that enshrined in law the role of the prisoners' correctional plans. The Safe Streets and Communities Act also introduced two-year mandatory minimum penalties for trafficking drugs in prisons or on prison grounds.

The CSC has recently brought in a number of vital institutional measures that are under way at present. It has increased random monthly urinalysis testing of prisoners. That is amazing. That is one of our most effective detection measures, by the way, and it has increased from 5% to 10%.

CSC is improving data collection on drug use in prisons. It is preparing regulatory amendments to increase fines for inmates possessing or using illicit drugs, with further increases for repeat prisoners. It has also introduced mandatory reporting of all serious incidents of drug possession to the appropriate law enforcement agencies in those jurisdictions.

In an effort to augment CSC's interdiction efforts, Bill C-12, the drug-free prisons act, proposes an important legislative change, another step in our improvement, one that will allow us to fulfill the third of our 2011 platform commitments, which is to deny parole to those prisoners who fail drug tests.We want to provide members of the Parole Board of Canada with additional legislative tools to deny prisoners parole in cases involving failed or refused urinalysis tests. Two changes are required to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act in this regard.

The first is an amendment to add specific authority to cancel parole based on failed or refused urinalysis tests. This means that between the time a prisoner has been granted parole and is released, the CSC would be required to get information on urinalysis to the Parole Board. The Parole Board would then have an opportunity to change or modify its decision and to change or cancel the parole should the new information alter its assessment of the prisoner's risk to the community.

The second is an amendment to include specific authority for the board to impose a special condition requiring the prisoner to abstain from drugs and alcohol. This would apply to prisoners for whom substance abuse had been long identified as the leading factor in that prisoner's criminal behaviour. This would focus the board's attention on this factor, and when the condition was applied, it would create an opportunity for parole to be revoked if the condition was violated.

By striving toward a drug-free environment, we hope to create a number of beneficial outcomes that contribute to successful rehabilitation, that ensure the safety and security of Canadian institutions and communities, and that further support our commitment to hold prisoners accountable for their actions.

We are taking the necessary steps to equip the Correctional Service of Canada and the Parole Board of Canada with the tools they need to tackle drug use in our prisons. We are proud of the substantial progress we have made in respect of our 2011 commitments. We are confident that the drug-free prisons act would take us another step even further down the road in addressing this significant societal problem.

While members of the other parties have pushed for relaxed laws on drugs, on needles in prisons, and promoting drugs in schools to our youth, we will continue with these common-sense measures. Canadians expect absolutely nothing less.

I am thankful for the opportunity today to express what is not only a platform and a party policy but a personal passion. I live and work in the areas where these kinds of illegal activities certainly contribute to the decline of what it means to be a respected Canadian who respects our laws, our challenges, our traditions, and the health and safety of our citizens.

Drug-Free Prisons ActGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member pointed out in his speech that the government allocated $122 million back in 2008 for the prison interdiction program. I want to ask what the result of that was, but I know that the member will not respond to that. Therefore, I will give him some facts.

The result was that the prisoners were tested in 2008 and then tested three years later. We spent $122 million of taxpayer money, but the results showed no difference. The number of prisoners who tested positive for drugs in 2008 was the same in 2011. These facts come from the Correctional Service of Canada itself. I was on the committee that studied drugs in prison, and it was the head of the Correctional Service of Canada who pointed out those figures.

Would the member not agree that spending $122 million was a waste of taxpayers' money, as it showed no effect on the number of prisoners with drugs in their blood?

Drug-Free Prisons ActGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Conservative Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, the answer is absolutely not. Granted, we have an equivalency. I believe that the rate was roughly 80% 10 years ago and it is roughly 80% now. However, the member is not thinking of the enormous amount of work we have put into identification. We now we have increased urinalysis. We now have sniffer dogs. We have more checks. We have increased areas of scrutiny through the entire system. We have now identified significantly more opportunities for measures where people have been abusing this privilege.

It might be like the member suggesting that if there were a number of police officers on the highway and then we took some of those officers away or left them the same but put another 5,000 vehicles on the highway, there would not be any difference in the level of infractions. That is wrong. The problem is still there. It is huge. The only way we can tackle it is one step and one issue at a time, and this would be a great step forward.

Drug-Free Prisons ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, as usual, I did not get an answer.

The facts are very clear. We spent $122 million on drug interdiction programs in prison. The result was zero. There was no difference in urinalysis before the money was spent and three years after the money was spent.

We know what works. We heard from experts. We heard from the Correctional Investigator. We heard from many stakeholders throughout the community. The best way to deal with drugs in prison is on the demand side.

There is a law of diminishing returns. We can spend as much money as we want on the interdiction side, but we will not get results for our investment. The best way to deal with what is happening in our prisons is on the prevention side, on the rehabilitation side. However, we have seen long waiting periods for people to get into these programs.

What is the government doing to address the real issue on the demand side? That is what needs to be done. What has the Conservative government done to decrease the wait list for prisoners for the programs that will actually help them?

Drug-Free Prisons ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Conservative Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, where I will agree with the hon. member across the way is that this is not a panacea. This will not cure each and every problem we have with illicit drug use in the prisons. However, I can assure the hon. member, from having been there, done that, watched, seen, and worked with these people, that if we eliminate this kind of approach, we are simply acting with one of our hands tied behind our backs.

We need rehabilitation. We need interdiction. We need everything that is there. As I mentioned before, it is not a panacea, but it is one positive step along the way.

I am pleased, quite frankly, that the member's party, and other members of this House, have tentatively agreed to support this bill, in principle, moving forward. They recognize that it is a move that would make a difference. For that, we thank them, and we look forward to continued support as this bill moves through the House.

Drug-Free Prisons ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Prince Edward—Hastings for his insight into this important bill. As the chair of the public safety committee, he has some very important views to add and his comments earlier, being a former police officer.

It is a pleasure to have an opportunity to speak about this issue of grave concern to our Conservative government and to all Canadians: the use of drugs in our federal prisons.

As hon. members know, our government has a robust agenda in place to strengthen the laws so offenders are held accountable for their actions and to increase the voice of victims in the criminal justice system. To this end, since 2006 we have supported significant crime prevention programs and invested in a wide range of support services for victims of crimes and passed laws to ensure that sentences match the severity of the crime. We have also committed to bringing forward legislation and a victims bill of rights that would enshrine the rights of victims in law. The legislation before us, the drug-free prisons act, would build on this work.

Notably, it brings back to us one of the key parts of our crime and public safety agenda; that of increasing offender accountability. This push to hold offenders accountable for their crimes forms the basis of much of our correctional programming. This is apparent in the many bills we have introduced and passed.

Offender accountability is a prominent feature in many elements of the Safe Streets and Communities Act, which received royal assent in March 2012. In that comprehensive bill, our government made a number of changes to increase penalties and to place the onus on offenders to succeed in their own rehabilitation and reintegration into the community.

We introduced measures ensuring violent and repeat youth offenders would be held accountable for their actions and that the protection of society would be of paramount consideration.

We ended the use of house arrest and conditional sentences for those offenders convicted of serious and violent crimes. We made it the law that federal offenders would have expectations for their behaviours and objectives for meeting court ordered obligations, such as restitution to victims or child support.

We modernized the disciplinary system, creating new offences for offenders who had disrespectful and intimidating behaviours toward correctional staff.

We made certain that if authorized to be outside of an institution before the end of their sentence, offenders would be expected to continue on the right path. We did this by providing police officers with the power of arrest without warrant of an offender who appeared to be in breach of any condition related to the condition of his or her release.

We made it the law that offenders who received a new custodial sentence would automatically have their parole or statutory release suspended.

We changed the laws so those who committed serious crimes, like sexual offences related to a minor, would be no longer eligible to apply for a record suspension.

We ensured that the Parole Board of Canada could proceed with a parole review, even if the offender requested to withdraw his or her application within 14 days without a valid reason, thereby ensuring that the process would be serious and respectful of victims who planned to attend the hearing.

These are common sense measures that Canadians want and commitments that we are delivering on.

In the last session, a private member's bill put forward by my hon. colleague, the member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, was introduced to ensure that offenders would be held responsible for paying their debts to creditors, such as victims with restitution orders, when they received payment from the Crown.

We recently saw the coming into force of the Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims Act which would double the victims' surcharge that offenders must pay and would ensure that the surcharge was automatically applied in all cases.

It is clear that we have made progress in increasing offender accountability for a wide range of crimes and in a wide range of situations.

The importance of offender accountability applies equally to the topic at hand: drug use in federal prisons. Our government has taken decisive steps to remove drugs from our federal penitentiaries. In 2007, the Correctional Service Canada, or CSC, adopted a transformation agenda to address areas of concern within our correctional system. Among those areas was that of eliminating drugs from institutions. A consistent national approach was implemented to manage who and what was entering our institutions. New search and surveillance technology, including additional drug protection dog teams, allows for better screening and detection.

Furthermore, the national anti-drug strategy of CSC works within a zero tolerance policy that takes a multi-prong approach to tackling drug and alcohol use, including urine testing, administrative consequences and disciplinary actions.

In particular, urinalysis has been a key focus of the CSC and plays a role in the legislation before us. The use of random and required urine testing is seen as a critical tool in an institutional setting. It holds offenders to account, providing a strong deterrent to drug use.

Of course there are well-defined circumstances in which the CSC can use these tests. First, there are the reasonable grounds for testing, such as finding drugs or drug paraphernalia in a cell. Second, the offender must undergo drug testing in order to participate in a particular institutional program. Third, it is part of a random drug testing program used by the CSC.

Random resting is both fair and effective and an excellent method to helping keep offenders accountable for their actions in prison. The test is random and an inmate who is using drugs cannot plan ahead to ensure he or she is clean the day of the test. Furthermore, if offenders refuse to take the test, they can be subject to the same sanctions or infractions they would receive if they had failed the test.

CSC has recently increased its random monthly testing to help ensure every offender is tested every year and now tests 10% of the offender population every month, up from 5%. With this increase in random testing, the CSC will have more information at its fingertips to monitor an offender's progress and to measure our efforts to create penitentiaries free of drugs.

The legislation before us proposes two amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, which will empower the CSC and the Parole Board of Canada to use this urine test data to ensure offenders are held to account. Bill C-12 would stipulate in law that the Parole Board could cancel an offender's parole if the offender failed the test or refused to take a urine test in the same period between being granted parole and physically leaving the penitentiary. It would also emphasize in law the Parole Board's ability to set specific abstinence conditions on offenders as part of their parole conditions. Any evidence of drug use could result in the Parole Board cancelling an offender's parole.

We believe these are reasonable expectations of offenders to take responsibility for their actions and be held accountable for those actions. We believe this legislation can help us create a safer environment in our prisons. While many members seem to support more drugs in prisons, Canadians are not fooled. Canadians elected a Conservative majority government that was tough on crime, and we will crack down on drugs in our communities. That is exactly what we are doing, and we will continue to do that.

Drug-Free Prisons ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, it perplexes me when members in the House say that there are many members who want more drugs in our prisons. It just amazes me where that comes from. It is very clear from our side that the best way to reduce drugs in our prisons is to have programs in place, such as rehabilitation and addiction programs, for all prisoners and access to those programs.

The member pointed out that when prisoners are caught with needles, or some form of drug, they will be put into a drug rehab program. There are 2,400 prisoners waiting right now to get into these programs. Does the member believe we should have more money allocated to a drug rehabilitation program?

Drug-Free Prisons ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting because we have heard members from the opposite side propose providing safe needles in prisons. Somehow that does not fit with trying to ensure that prisoners do not have drugs. I have a really hard time understanding how that can help prisoners.

I believe we need to provide as much as we can in terms of rehabilitation, but there is another piece to that. That piece is individuals have responsibility for themselves, for their own actions. They need to ensure they take those actions, get rid of the drugs, stop using them and start performing in the way we expect our citizens of Canada to perform.

Drug-Free Prisons ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2013 / 12:55 p.m.

Scarborough Centre Ontario

Conservative

Roxanne James ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the good work he does in committee.

In my speech earlier today I talked about the number of drug seizures within our federal penitentiaries. It may have surprised someone listening for the first time to this subject. At the same time, Correctional Services Canada has acknowledged that about 80% of federal inmates have a substance abuse problem.

The NDP plan, enabling drug users to continue using drugs by giving them needles, is not the way to go.

How do these illegal substances, these drugs, get into the prisons in the first place? I think that is something Canadians would like to know.

Drug-Free Prisons ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the public service committee did a great job and I believe the parliamentary secretary is very much in support of this legislation.

I find it interesting that there are numerous ways that drugs get into our prisons. I have a prison in my riding, which I toured not long ago. I talked with correctional officers who try to ensure drugs do not get into prisons.

However, there are very ingenious ways that these things happen. For example, prisoners go out to an open area. They have their colleagues put drugs inside tennis balls and throw them over the wall. The prisoners then have a tennis ball to play with and then use the drugs afterward. That is one very interesting way that happens, and I was totally surprised. Our corrections officers certainly were aware of that and took the appropriate actions.

Drug-Free Prisons ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Conservative Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, earlier on I heard a comment from my hon. colleague from Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, a gentleman I admire and respect. He is the co-chair of public safety committee, which I chair.

What he said about the whole thing, in essence, was, that he thought the NDP members would support the bill, that they did not really have a lot of objection to it, but they did not like the name of the bill. My goodness, if that is not a serious situation to deal with.

I recognize the hon. member as one of the strongest constituency members in Canada. He has the pulse of his community. What do his people really think of the bill?

Drug-Free Prisons ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, people in my riding are very upset with the amount of drugs out there. When we talk to them about drugs in prisons in particular, they have a hard time believing that is possible. However, once we explain the process of how the drugs get into the prisons, they are extremely upset and they want us to crack down.

As far as the name of the bill, I fully support it.

Drug-Free Prisons ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, before I begin my speech I want to take the liberty of answering the question that was posed by a Conservative member to another Conservative member.

The bottom line here is that no one in the House wants to see drugs inside or outside of prisons. That is the reality.

There is an economic law called the “law of diminishing returns”. At a certain point, if enough money is spent on a particular investment, the return is less than the money spent on it, so one has to look at other ways to allocate that funding.

I am talking about the $122 million that the government allocated for the prevention of drugs in prison. The result of that $122 million, and I want Canadians to know because this is taxpayers' money, was zero. Basically the Conservatives put some gimmicks in place to prevent drugs from coming into the prisons. There were ion machines that gave false positives a higher than usual number of times. There were sniffer dogs and other gimmicks that the Conservatives brought in.

However, the result of that $122 million that we spent on preventing drugs from getting into prisons was zero. There was a zero result, which the head of correctional services, Don Head, pointed out in a study done a year ago by the committee. He pointed out that the urinalysis rate of prisoners' testing positive for drugs in the prison system before the $122 million was spent was the same rate as after three years.

In other words, it did not reduce the number of people taking drugs in the prison system. What it did do was shortchange taxpayers in the amount of $122 million.

That is the supply side when I talk about the “law of diminishing returns”, and it is maxed out. We spent an extra $122 million trying to prevent drugs from getting into the prisons, and it did not have any effect.

However, we have a waiting list on the other side of the economics. I know my friends do not believe in facts and figures. In fact, the member for Newton—North Delta often points out the Conservatives are allergic to data, research and facts.

The facts are that if we look at the demand side in prisons, we have a waiting list of 2,400 prisoners waiting to be treated. They want to get into a program. They want to rehabilitate. They want to get rid of the addiction they have so they can move into our communities and live a normal life.

What does corrections mean? Corrections means that we correct our behaviour. We correct the behaviour in prison. When people commit crimes, they go to prison and become part of a captive audience. Believe it or not these people are going to return to our communities. How can the government make sure these people are able to integrate into our communities? It could provide those rehabilitation services and apprenticeship opportunities, so when the prisoners get out into our communities they are better able to integrate into our society. That is how it works. That is the demand side of it.

On the demand side of the equation, we need to reduce the demand of people wanting to take drugs. The best way to do that is to treat the people who are taking drugs. We were able to spend $122 million on the interdiction side, which showed no result, yet we are cutting programs that have shown to be effective.

The corrections investigation officer has, time after time, pointed out that we need additional funds and resources to provide services to people who want to be rehabilitated. We have experts from our communities. There have been many peer studies done around the world that very clearly point out that we also need to work on the demand side to reduce drugs in prisons. However, facts, figures and research do not really work with the Conservatives.

Earlier today, one of the members from the Conservative side pointed out that some members somehow want drugs in our prisons, or they do not care how many drugs are in prisons. That is absolutely incorrect. I am perplexed. I do not usually get mad, but I do not think there are any members in the chamber who want more drugs, let alone in prisons. We do not want any drugs in our society.

How do we deal with it? The best way to deal with it is by helping those individuals who have addictions.

We heard the figures earlier; 80% of the people coming into our prisons have some sort of drug or alcohol addiction. That tells me that there are not enough resources in our communities to help these people and to get them off drugs and alcohol. If we can do that in our communities before they commit crimes, we would not have victims. We would be helping them by eliminating the victim side of it.

The member also talked about how we are going to bring in a charter for victims and help them. I have been in this place for two and a half years. I have not seen a single piece of legislation from the other side of the House to help victims.

The Conservatives will talk about the veterans and how they are the champions for veterans' rights. I know of a number of cases in my own constituency and I hear from veterans across the country that the government has failed. These are our heroes. These are people who have served our country. These are the people who have given us the right to speak here and outside the House in a free and democratic society.

Going back to the bill, I look at the title, the drug-free prisons act. The correctional investigation officer wants zero tolerance for drugs in prisons. I agree with that. We should strive to do our best, but that is an aspiration. It is not the reality in our society.

We talk about spending $122 million on the interdiction of drugs in prisons. We have seen no results. The results that the experts have given us are from the rehabilitation and prevention side. That is where the results are. That is where we can still have economies of scale. We can get more prisoners off drugs. Those are real facts. That is science. Those are economic models.

The Conservatives will tell us that they are great economic managers, but they have been in government for seven years. In seven years, how many surplus budgets have they had? Can someone tell me from the Conservative side how many surplus budgets they have had? They have all gone quiet, because they have had none. The budgets have all been deficits. Not only that, the Conservatives have had the largest deficit for any government in the history of our country, yet they call themselves good managers of our money.

Here is another example. When the Conservatives formed government, we had $26 billion in a current account trade surplus. Under their management we have somehow turned a $26 billion surplus into a $62 billion deficit. That is their record.

When we are talking about real records, facts and figures, science and economics, economics tells us that the $122 million did not have the impact that the government was hoping for. We, along with experts, were telling the Conservatives that they needed to spend money on the other side.

Going back to the title of the bill, this is just like the title for Bill C-2 with regard to InSite in Vancouver, making our communities safe. Their talking points are that they want to hear from the communities when this is decided. In 2003, when InSite was being put in place, the community decided. The City of Vancouver met with stakeholders, whether they were public safety officials, police officers, public health officials, medical officers, doctors, nurses or community organizers, and they came up with a plan to set up InSite in Vancouver. It has been highly successful in regard to reducing crime rates and reducing needles in the area.

Conservatives say the opposition parties want the needles out in the community or that we want our kids to have access to these needles. That is not true. In fact, the needles that were in the alleys and in front of businesses are no longer there. That has been reduced because of InSite, which was put in place to deal with heroin addicts in Vancouver.

A process was in place that was working well. However, what do the Conservatives do? They said they want to consult the community. In 2008, they took it to the court in B.C. and then to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court clearly told them that under the charter people have the right to access these particular services. Well, we know the Conservative ideology. They were not satisfied with the Supreme Court decision. What did they do? They came up with this fancy name that the bill is protecting our communities, yet it does exactly the opposite.

It is the same with Bill C-12, the drug-free prisons act. There is nothing in the act that gives facts and figures or how it is going to reduce drugs in our prisons. In fact, Bill C-12 basically adds a provision to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act that makes it clear that the Parole Board may use positive results from urine tests or refusals to take urine tests for drugs in making decisions on parole eligibility.

This gives clear authority to an existing practice of the Parole Board, which we support. In other words, the practice is already in place if a prisoner has a positive test for drugs, that information is taken into consideration by the Parole Board before parole eligibility is decided.

Bill C-12 has a misleading title, “drug-free prisons act”. Maybe the Conservatives are hoping to send a letter to their base or maybe they have already, because they did that when C-2 came to the House. They fired off a letter to their Conservative base asking for money based on how they were protecting the community. In fact, it was exactly the opposite. The bill does not protect the community. It puts roadblocks for communities to make local decisions. The bill is basically Ottawa telling our municipalities what they can or cannot do in their neighbourhoods. The communities can decide for themselves.

I do not see any facts or figures for some sort of program or plan that would show us how this measure would make our prisons drug-free.

I would certainly like that, but I am also pragmatic. We have had laws for hundreds of years prohibiting drugs in our society. The United States raised a war on drugs and said they were going to get rid of them. Did they get rid of them?

We have spent billions of dollars trying to. There are the times when we have to keep going back to this law of diminishing returns.

However, we have to look at the other side, which I have also talked about. That is the rehabilitation side, but there are shortages of space for people who want to get into these programs. The title of the bill has nothing to do with trying to make our prisons safer and rehabilitating and correcting the behaviour of prisoners.

Bill C-12 has a misleading title, as the bill would do little to eliminate all drugs from our federal prison system. An investment in rehabilitation is required if we are serious about rehabilitating prisoners and integrating them back into the community.

I think all people in this House believe that the prison sentence has to fit the crime. There is no doubt that if somebody commits a crime, we put him or in prison. I think all Canadians agree with that. The bottom line is that in two years, three years, four years, 10 years, or whatever the sentence is, these people are going to come back into our communities, so how do we deal with them?

Well, we try to rehabilitate them. We try to correct them in our system. They are a captive audience, and we have seen that when people have taken programs in prison, the recidivism rate for those individuals goes down quite low. Would it not make sense for the Conservatives to provide those resources, instead of wasting money on fancy titles for a bill or sending letters out to their base saying that they are actually doing something here and asking for money?

That is wrong. It is not going to help us in the long run.

The NDP has been very steadfast in its support for measures that would make our prisons safe, while Conservative governments have ignored recommendations from correctional staff and the Correctional Investigator that would decrease violence, gang activity, and drugs in our prisons.

I have had the chance to visit a number of prisons. I had the chance to visit a couple of prisons in Kingston. I had a chance to visit prisons in British Columbia, my province. I visited Kent prison and I also visited Matsqui prison. I talked to the prisoners. I talked to the correctional staff. Overwhelmingly, the response from those individuals was that, first, they do not have enough rehabilitation programs to rehabilitate the drug addict. In addition, money for apprenticeship programs is being cut.

To sum up, we certainly need more investment . There is a long list of people who are waiting to get into drug rehabilitation programs. That is the correct way to go forward: to prevent these individuals coming into our communities without any treatment in the correctional system.

New Democrats will support the bill at this stage, but the title does not reflect the true intent of this bill.

Drug-Free Prisons ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Scarborough Centre Ontario

Conservative

Roxanne James ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the speech by my colleague from the NDP and I lost count of how many times he said “I am perplexed”. After listening to his speech, I think most people in the House are probably perplexed at what he was trying to get to.

He mentioned multiple times that he would certainly like to see drug-free prisons and that he does not know why Conservatives keep saying that the NDP is not as tough on crime as Conservatives are. I am not sure if he realizes it, but he actually sits in the NDP caucus, and it is that party that wants to establish a needle exchange program in our prisons. Common sense dictates that if we want to get people off drugs, we should not give them the tools that enable them to continue doing drugs. We want to crack down, remove the drugs from prisons, and make sure they are not getting in there in the first place.

I am wondering whether the member opposite thinks we should be giving prisoners needles to enable them to do drugs or whether he believes that he should be sitting on this side of the House and supporting drug-free prisons.

Drug-Free Prisons ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will not be sitting on that side of the House, you can be assured of that. I will be sitting with my colleagues in 2015 on that side of the House, but not with those members.

I do not get perplexed very often, but I am perplexed, and I will tell everyone why. After Conservatives spent $122 million of Canadian taxpayers' money, I and people in my community are perplexed because they have wasted $122 million and have no data to show that the number of drug addicts in our prisons has been reduced or that the drug level in prisons has gone down. New Democrats have proposed to look at the demand side, where there are 2,400 prisoners waiting to be rehabilitated, yet the government has not invested in that side of the equation.

Yes, I am perplexed, but again, that is because the Conservatives have wasted $122 million of Canadian taxpayers' money.

Drug-Free Prisons ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Surrey North for that very good speech, but I am going to add to his perplexity.

On the one hand, the Conservatives say they are opposed to the trafficking of women, girls, and boys in this country, yet yesterday we learned that Status of Women Canada has stopped the funding for a shelter in Edmonton that dealt specifically with women and girls who were being trafficked. The Conservative government is claiming that it is aiming for a zero tolerance, drug-free policy in prison, yet on the other hand it does not invest in rehabilitation and treatment.

A zero tolerance stance to drugs in prison is an aspiration rather than an effective policy. I want to quote the report from the Office of the Correctional Investigator for 2011-2012, which stated:

A “zero-tolerance” stance to drugs in prison...simply does not accord with the facts of crime and addiction in Canada or elsewhere in the world. Harm reduction measures within a public health and treatment orientation offer a far more promising, cost-effective and sustainable approach to reducing subsequent crime and victimization.

I wonder if the member for Surrey North could comment on that.

Drug-Free Prisons ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is a wonderful question.

I was in the committee meeting when the Correctional Investigator pointed out that facts and figures show that we need to spend additional amounts on the rehabilitation side.

I am going to quote the member for Newton—North Delta. She always says that Conservatives are allergic to facts, research, and science, and I have to agree with her, because when New Democrats bring up facts and figures, the Conservatives go on rants that have nothing to do with the question we are putting together. If they wanted to have a real debate, they would present some facts and figures.

I am presenting some facts and figures for them. They spent $122 million of Canadian taxpayers' money with no results. While I am at it, $3.1 billion is missing from the Treasury Board. That was before the summer, and we have not seen the Treasury Board president stand in the House to tell us whether he found the money during the summer or if he is still looking for it.

Drug-Free Prisons ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have noted the interest the folks opposite have with the idea of cracking down on illegal drugs in prisons and elsewhere, and I commend them for that. I think it is extremely important. However, with the bill before us particularly, we have been talking about the fact that it would not do what they say it would do. As my colleague pointed out in his speech, the Conservatives spent in excess of $120 million and got no results in trying to stop it.

Frankly, I am perplexed about the stated commitment that the Conservative government has in trying to stop illegal drug use and trade. We have one of the most prominent political leaders in this country, the mayor of Toronto, who has admitted to smoking crack, purchasing crack and using other drugs such as marijuana and others, but we have not heard a peep out of the members opposite. Would the member not agree that it is perplexing?

Drug-Free Prisons ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, maybe I am not quite as perplexed with that question. The fellow he is talking about is the Prime Minister's fishing buddy.

We talk about reducing drugs in our prisons, yet here is a Conservative friend and donor who has openly admitted to using crack. Here is the mayor of Toronto who has admitted to using drugs, hangs out with drug dealers, yet we have not heard anything from the Prime Minister regarding how he views this particular mayor and how it is affecting Torontonians in their day-to-day business. Is this costing them money? I have heard a number of reports.

The Conservatives have one set of guidelines and rules for the general public, but they have another set for their friends and Conservatives.

Drug-Free Prisons ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, all evidence and research shows us that we cannot tackle the drug situation in this country just through incarceration and punishment. We need to invest in rehabilitation and treatment. Would the member for Surrey North agree?

Drug-Free Prisons ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want Canadians to know that these prisoners will get out of prison one day or another. It is the responsibility of the government to make sure that when they come out of prison they are rehabilitated.

We have seen from the facts that there are 2,400 prisoners waiting to get into rehabilitation programs, yet the government is spending $122 million trying to prevent drugs coming into prisons, which has not worked.

On this side of the House, we want prisoners to be rehabilitated. We want programs in place in prisons so that when prisoners do come out they are able to reintegrate into society very easily.

Drug-Free Prisons ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Surrey North will, I am sure, be interested to know that he has one minute remaining in the time for questions and comments, should he wish it, when the House next resumes debate on the question.

It being 1:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-461, An Act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act (disclosure of information), as reported (with amendments) from the committee.

Speaker's RulingCBC and Public Service Disclosure and Transparency ActPrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

There are eight motions in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill C-461. Motions Nos. 1 to 8 will be grouped for debate and voted upon according to the voting pattern available at the table.

Motions in amendmentCBC and Public Service Disclosure and Transparency ActPrivate Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

Independent

Brent Rathgeber Independent Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

, seconded by the member for Winnipeg North, moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-461 be amended by replacing the long title on page 1 with the following:

“An Act to amend the Privacy Act (disclosure of information)”

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-461, in the short title, be amended by replacing line 4 on page 1 with the following:

“1. This Act may be cited as the”

Motion No. 3

That Bill C-461 be amended by deleting clause 2.

Motion No. 4

That Bill C-461 be amended by deleting Clause 3.

Motion No. 5

That Bill C-461, in Clause 4, be amended by replacing lines 4 to 20 on page 2 with the following:

“(iii) the total annual monetary income of the individual, including any performance bonus, as well as the job classification and responsibilities of the position held by the individual, and any additional responsibilities given to the individual, if that income is equal to or greater than the sessional allowance—within the meaning of the Parliament of Canada Act—payable to a member of Parliament,

(iii.1) the salary range of the position held by the individual, as well as the classification and responsibilities of that position, if the individual's total annual monetary income, including any performance bonus, is less than the sessional allowance—within the meaning of the Parliament of Canada Act—payable to a member of Parliament,

(iii.2) the expenses incurred by the individual in the course of employment for which the individual has been reimbursed by the government institution,”

Motion No. 6

That Bill C-461 be amended by deleting clause 5.

Motion No. 7

That Bill C-461 be amended by deleting clause 6.

Motion No. 8

That Bill C-461 be amended by deleting clause 7.

He said: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to speak to the amendments that you have just deemed to be admissible with respect to the report stage of Bill C-461 dealing with public sector transparency.

The bill, in its original form, is intended to do two fairly modest things. It attempted to remedy a well-documented and often litigated flaw in the Access to Information Act regarding the public broadcaster. Section 68.1 has been the matter of no less than 14 separate pieces of litigation between the information officer and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Both the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal found that section 68.1 of the Access to Information Act, brought in by the Conservative government in 2006, is flawed in its drafting because it creates an exclusion subject to an exception. Section 68.1, and I am paraphrasing, says that the freedom of information act does not apply to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in terms of its documents and information that relate to its journalistic, creative or programming activities, other than information that relates to its general administration.

We can see the problem. It creates an exclusion where the act does not apply except under certain circumstances, in other words, matters regarding general administration.

In my view, and in fairly well-documented examples, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was able to use section 68.1 to deny the disclosure of documents that were under access request. The fact that the act did not apply indicated there was no power of review from the Information Commissioner. The Information Commissioner gets her powers of review from the act, so if the act does not apply there is no power of review.

This bill, in its original form, attempted to remedy this. It attempted to remedy what two federal courts indicated was not a model of clarity and was very awkward in its drafting.

The Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics did a complete study on section 68.1 because there was so much controversy and misunderstanding. There were also 14 pieces of litigation between the information commission and the CBC.

The committee heard testimony. The Information Commissioner, Ms. Legault, testified in front of the standing committee on access. She recommended that section 68.1 be repealed and that it be replaced with an injury-based exemption, not an exclusion. It would be discretionary, so that if the test was made that the CBC would somehow be injured in terms of its independence, she would recommend against disclosure. However, if there was no prejudice or injury, she would recommend that the documents be disclosed.

It all seemed perfectly reasonable at the time, and that recommendation was incorporated in the original version of Bill C-461.

We heard evidence at the committee, and we had a number of hearings. I am not a member of the committee, but I sat through them as an interested member and as the sponsor of the bill. We heard cogent evidence that the independence test was too narrow. It created a level of discomfort within both the broadcast industry and the public broadcaster that the independence test was too narrow and it might be expanded to include something similar, to protect not only the independence but the freedom of expression of the corporation.

I conceded at the last of my three witness appearances before the committee that it would be helpful. Wording to protect not only the independence of the corporation but also its freedom of expression would be helpful, and it would give a greater level of comfort to both the industry and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. However, the committee, or at least the majority of the committee, was disinclined to accept that type of recommendation, so it was not passed.

The committee did pass a most unhelpful amendment regarding journalistic source protection. The House will recall that the problem with section 68.1, as it still is in the act and in law today, is the exclusion at the beginning with the words “This Act does not apply..”.

What did the government do to amend it at committee? It granted another exclusion. It provided an absolute exclusion for journalistic source privilege. It recommended the wording “This Act does not apply..”, which means that the Information Commissioner has no powers of review. Therefore, decisions of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation with respect to journalistic source privilege are absolute and not subject to review by the Information Commissioner.

The inevitable result of that untenable situation is litigation. The Information Commissioner said as much when she appeared before committee. If her powers of review are compromised, she would have to go to court to get clarification of those powers because section 36 of the act gives her unfettered power to review documents under the control of government institutions.

The government, in its so-called wisdom, proposed the exact same problem that we just set out to remedy, which was that we were replacing the exclusion in section 68.1 with a discretionary exemption. Then government members went ahead in their amendments at committee to provide an exclusion with respect to journalistic source privilege.

I believe, and I say this with some regret, that the bill as amended by the access committee is actually worse than the status quo, the existing provisions regarding the Access to Information Act.

My intent was to provide clarity and certainty, and to have less litigation rather than more litigation. The government refused to entertain amendments regarding extending the discretionary exemption to include freedom of expression, in addition to its insistence that an absolute exclusion be given with respect to journalistic source privilege. I think that makes this a bad piece of legislation with respect to the CBC access.

In the motions that have been tabled, I am proposing the deletion of any reference to access to information regarding the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, including the name of the bill. Motions Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8 deal with the deletion of sections regarding the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's obligations under the Access to Information Act.

I still believe that section 68.1 needs to be fixed because it is awkwardly drafted. The courts have called it “not a model of clarity”. When there is an exclusion and then the exclusion is limited with an exception, we would have nothing but misunderstanding and litigation. It has to be fixed, but the bill in its current form does not fix it. In fact, in my view it makes it worse.

With respect to journalistic source privilege, I absolutely understand the importance of allowing journalists to protect their confidential sources. The Information Commissioner has had 1,200 cases before her, and not one has ever dealt with journalistic source privilege. As well, the name of an informant is confidential information under the Privacy Act and could not be disclosed. The CBC amendments at committee were most unhelpful.

With my remaining time, I want to deal with what I think is the most contentious issue, and that is with respect to salary disclosure. The bill attempts to allow an amendment to the Privacy Act to allow specific salary and job description disclosure for a civil servant over an appropriate range. The range in the unamended act was for the lowest level of DM1, or $188,000. However, the committee in its wisdom, and I say that with more sarcasm than I have ever used in my life, decided to raise the disclosure bar to $444,000 to ensure it could not apply to any DM, including a DM4, or anybody below him or her.

I am not sure how the government reconciles that with Treasury Board proactive disclosure. If an individual has a contract with the Government of Canada for as little as $10,000, their name, their contract and the value of their contract is on a Treasury Board website. However, if the individual is a deputy minister making $444,000, apparently the privacy laws of Canada are made to protect them.

The nub of this issue, in my view, is the performance bonus. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice will get up and talk about already disclosing ranges of salary. That is true. However, a DM4 is the highest level. The range is $272,000 to $319,000, and that is a pretty big range. That is almost $50,000.

However, that does not end it. A deputy minister at that level is entitled to up to a 39% discretionary performance bonus, or $123,000. Nothing in our current privacy provisions or access to information allows any interested Canadian to find out anything about a performance bonus, and that to me is deficient.

This bill attempts to undo the damage done by the access committee on June 5 of this year, which incidentally was the same day I left the Conservative caucus, and to promote transparency and disclosure, not opaqueness and secrecy. Given all the allegations of secrecy and opaqueness in this town, I would think that the government would grab my amendments and support transparency and salvage its reputation.