House of Commons Hansard #237 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was s-7.

Topics

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his very perceptive question and especially for pointing out one of the problems caused by Bill S-7.

When bills are introduced, we have to work on them and consider all their potential consequences. It is scandalous that experts appeared before the committee, amendments were proposed and that, once again, the government turned a deaf ear. That is a problem.

We identified serious flaws in this bill. The government must absolutely go back to the drawing board.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain NDP Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to inform you that I will be sharing my time with the member for London—Fanshawe.

The iterative, in the sense of repetitive, nature of additions to the Criminal Code devised unilaterally by this government bring out my instincts as a litigator.

Introducing in the House arguments that call into question a tangent that resembles an edict and that would implement coercive measures can only contribute to maintaining an intrinsic balance in the rule of law in our country.

Bill S-7, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act and the Security of Information Act, currently before the House, is likely to feed a number of citizens' fears related to repeated attempts to circumscribe the spectre of civil liberties and human rights in our country, all under the cover of legislative initiatives associated with the repression of contingent and intangible threats to Canada.

I would like to emphasize the hypothetical nature of terrorism in Canada, and I think that my colleagues agree with me in this respect. The Criminal Code, the tool we are currently using, already contains many provisions related to terrorism. Based on my own analysis, which is fairly sound since I practised law for six years, I believe that we would be opening a Pandora's box by blindly delegating discretionary powers to peace officers. This would ultimately allow them to unilaterally determine which individuals pose a threat to national security and then simply proceed with interrogations and pre-charge detention.

Pre-charge detention already exists in France, where individuals can be detained for a certain period of time while an investigation is conducted. This is unprecedented in Canada, particularly for individuals who do not necessarily have a criminal record or links to organized crime or terrorist groups.

This type of addition to the Criminal Code will leave the door wide open to abuse. As a lawyer, my first instinct is often to look at how such decisions and legislative measures could be challenged in court. I know that the Canadian government has crown lawyers. I have sometimes wondered whether the government is really listening to these lawyers, because this type of measure can clearly be challenged.

The bottom line is that the exercise of such discretionary power can only result in abuse. We know that such measures have never been implemented in Canada. Adding them to the Criminal Code will only result in a significant number of court challenges. I strongly urge the government to re-evaluate its position and listen more closely to its own lawyers. The Government of Canada must have good lawyers on staff.

The notions of terrorism in the Criminal Code are always being revised, which means that the use of power could become more arbitrary and less evidence could be needed to determine the reasonableness of an interrogation or preventive detention.

I would like to give an example of the type of reasoning that could result from the implementation of the proposed measures if the bill is passed. The proposed amendments will result in many instances of individuals being arrested without a warrant because a peace officer believes that the arrest is necessary to prevent a terrorist attack. Ultimately, the individuals in question will be subject to recognizance with conditions. This all concerns individuals who were not suspected of terrorist activities.

Thus it will be possible to arrest someone who has no criminal record and no known links to terrorism or organized crime. That individual could be arrested based on suspicion, based on the perception of the officer responsible for the case who sees an act of violence. That individual could be questioned for 24 hours.

Then, also based on the peace officer's opinion, that individual could be brought before a judge and forced to appear outside the usual structure of criminal charges and penal and statutory rules. We are still talking about civil matters.

That individual, who should be presumed innocent until proven guilty, can be brought before a judge who will be called upon to determine if release conditions can be imposed on him.

If that individual does not want to meet those conditions or appears unwilling to do so, he could be imprisoned for up to 12 months. Accordingly, someone who is presumed innocent could be held in detention for 12 months, if he does not meet those conditions. Quite obviously, this leaves room for potential abuses of power. It is immediately obvious that this is unacceptable.

If the individual refuses, he can be imprisoned for up to 12 months. This imprisonment, not the result of a criminal conviction, is considered preventive detention.

I would like to say a few words about preventive detention. I would like to reiterate that I miss practising law. That said, over the years that I was a practising lawyer, some changes were made to preventive detention. When I began practising in 2006, if a client's case was treated according to normal criminal procedures, preventive detention counted for double time. In fact, judges applied this calculation de facto. In other words, time spent in remand custody was credited two-for-one for individuals who were not released following their bail hearing. That is no longer the case. The justice system has new instructions and that time simply no longer counts as double time.

This illustrates the trend towards applying harsher, more demanding measures when it comes to sentencing for criminal matters.

Seeking to include preventive detention of up to 12 months in the Criminal Code, coupled with eliminating the need to comply with the conditions of making an arrest without a warrant for the purpose of preventing a hypothetical terrorist act, clearly shows the highly questionable nature of the Conservatives' approach to national security.

As I said, I still have my lawyer's instinct. That is why I saw a case right away and the possibility of a court challenge against measures like these.

Actually, when I give training and I go to various first nations reserves and aboriginal communities across the country, I always make sure to tell them that people have the option to consider class action suits against unilateral decisions that are highly prejudicial and problematic.

I often encourage people to consider that option, given the possibility of pooling money and having a host of plaintiffs in a case. That reduces the financial burden for each plaintiff. In cases involving thousands of plaintiffs, they can put together a substantial amount of money and gain access to experts and their expertise, which would be difficult for an individual.

I submit all this respectfully.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his speech. I always pay close attention to his way of seeing things and presenting them.

Could he speak to the fact that we have before us a bill from the Senate? If this is one of the government's priorities, why does the bill not come from the House of Commons? Let us move on to something else.

In budget after budget, the amounts for public safety agencies have been significantly reduced.

Could he comment on the disconnect between what the government says and what it does?

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain NDP Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.

There has been decentralization, but this constitutes thoughtless delegation of the criteria for assessing how dangerous individuals are and the threat level when it comes to terrorism.

According to the text of the bill before us, this is being delegated to peace officers. They have some training, but there is only so much they can do. They are, after all, human beings. This delegation of power to individuals could result in serious abuses of power, as I pointed out. It would be better to invest in better-equipped entities, state entities overseen by government, to assess how dangerous individuals are, rather than going about it this way and opening Pandora's box.

I submit this respectfully.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to go back to the issue of the investigative hearings.

The Supreme Court made a decision that investigative hearings are in fact constitutional. Given the very important issue of terrorism, there are law enforcement officers who genuinely believe this is a tool they could actually use to combat terrorism. We heard that in the presentations at the committee stage.

Given the member's background in law, from what I understand, does he not see any merit at all? It appears the NDP does not support the concept of investigative hearings. I wonder if he could just provide a little more clarity as to what the NDP really does believe in regard to investigative hearings to assist law enforcement officers in combatting terrorism.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain NDP Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

With respect to the NDP's position, I would rather talk about my own position as an individual. Yes, investigative hearings are a good idea. They have passed the constitutional test, as my colleague pointed out.

However, the criteria that will result in such measures being used on individuals can be confusing and leave a lot of room for interpretation. This is too much discretionary power. As I stated in my speech, we will be relying on the judgment of a single individual, a single peace officer making decisions based on tenuous facts that may or may not be well documented concerning individuals with no prior record and no direct connection to terrorist or criminal organizations. That can lead to abuses of power.

Investigative hearings can be a good thing, but I have my doubts about how they will be carried out and the circumstances and criteria that will lead to individuals being subjected to these measures.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have been hearing the same arguments put forward for many years in the House: that these are necessary and they will only catch bad guys, so if we strip citizens of basic due process, it will all help. We saw Maher Arar, who was deported and tortured under the Liberals' watch; they did nothing for him.

On this issue of preventive detention, the idea that a Canadian citizen could be thrown in jail on someone's word, without clear cause, is very disturbing. Most Canadians need to know that is part of the bill. As well, there are no provisions to protect children under the age of 18. Why, I ask my hon. colleague, does he think the Liberals would support a bill that does not have clear breakout provisions to ensure that children age 12, 13, 14 or 15 are not going to be subject to unfair detention?

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain NDP Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

I see the connection to what my Liberal colleague said in his remarks. The member makes a very good point.

This kind of highly controversial measure could be subject to a court challenge. Detaining an individual for 12 months even though police have no information in their files, an individual who has no connection to criminal or terrorist organizations, is the hallmark of a police state. I was going to say that this has never been seen before, but we were given an example.

I submit this respectfully.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, this Parliament is supposed to be a place wherein democracy and communities are protected. Consequently, I have some very serious reservations about Bill S-7 being debated today, the context in which it is being debated and the various elements within the bill. I am concerned because it would not only impact the civil liberties of all Canadians, but it would also be part of a larger dismantling of the democratic core of this country.

Liberty and democracy are very much part of our history and what makes us who we are. For example, here is an excerpt from the translation of the original French poem by Adolphe-Basile Routhier, written in 1880. It is the basis upon which our own national anthem has been created. The poem reads, “The Canadian grows full of hope. He is born of a proud race; enemy of tyranny, but full of loyalty. He knows how to keep in harmony his proud liberty, and by the effort of his mind on our soil establish the truth”.

It worries me greatly that there has been a whittling away of our democracy in recent years and the undermining of truth by those seeking political expediency. In the last election alone, there was illegal overspending by certain MPs, some of whom have been forced to step down and others who are facing serious accusations. These are accusations that Elections Canada is currently investigating.

Of greater concern were the acts of voter suppression in ridings across Canada, and now charges have been laid in one of these cases. This illegal spending and voter suppression is a very real threat to the basic functioning of our democracy in this country. Citizens require the ability to vote, and those running the various campaigns need to be on an equal footing to ensure a fair race, and that is not just during elections.

In this House, the government continues to limit democracy by attempting to silence, by using dissenting opinion, including the opposition and its own members of the government caucus. We cannot speak out on this side of the House or on that side of the House. It is no kind of democracy.

The government has shut down debate a record 31 times and is actively limiting debate, not just in the House but also in committees. The government is using its majority to conduct committee meetings in camera. Therefore, Canadians do not know what is happening. They do not know what members have proposed. They do not know what is being undermined.

Sadly, the government is clearly not interested in hearing other ideas. The problem is that our job here is to work together and collectively look at legislation to ensure it is in the best interest of all Canadians.

The government has no interest in compromise, in the House, in committee, in public, or even behind closed doors. This dogmatic and anti-democratic approach to governing is, to say the least, problematic. It is concerning and it is a travesty of Canadian values.

Bill S-7 continues in that same vein. If passed, it would be a hit on democracy in Canada as it would inhibit the personal freedoms of individuals. This principle is sacrosanct in our democracy and should absolutely be a principle that is above any meddling by anyone.

We have the protections and the prosecutorial measures already in place within current legislation to address terrorism in this country. We do not require the changes that we see in Bill S-7. Bills such as this would tarnish the very core of what makes us Canadian. We are a great country that is known for our democratic principles. However, if we pass this legislation, we would in fact be stripping away the very thing that makes this country great.

It is often said that the goal of terrorism is to create fear. Reacting to that fear and taking away civil liberties has the circular effect of validating that fear and giving into it. In this sense, the terrorist is successful in creating a culture of fear. This is not a new idea. Benjamin Franklin stated, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”. Without liberty and democracy, we are neither safe nor free.

I want to emphasize that this bill does not protect Canadians from terrorism and it shows a lack of balance between security and basic rights. There are better ways of combatting terrorism without taking away Canadians' civil liberties. Our job in this place is to protect Canadians and our communities. Protecting Canadians does not mean taking away their freedoms, nor does it mean opening up our laws to a cycle of fear. As I have already said, the Criminal Code contains the necessary provisions for investigating those who are involved in criminal activity and detaining anyone who may present an immediate threat.

Paul Copeland, a lawyer from the Law Union of Ontario, when testifying before a parliamentary committee, stated:

In my opinion, the provisions that you are examining here in committee will unnecessarily change our legal landscape in Canada. We must not adopt them, and in my opinion, they are not necessary. Other provisions of the code provide various mechanisms for dealing with such individuals.

In December of 2012, Mr. Paul Calarco, a member of the national criminal justice section of the Canadian Bar Association, stated:

There is no question that the prevention of terrorist action is vital to preserving our society. This requires effective legislation, but also legislation that respects the traditions of our democracy. Unfortunately, this bill [S-7] fails to achieve either goal.

The fact that the sunsetted provisions of the Anti-terrorism Act were never used between 2001 and 2007 is evidence of this. Even though it may be politically risky to oppose measures that have been engineered to seem effective, our position on this side of the House is rooted in the belief that the measures are ineffective and unnecessary, and in the belief that our position reflects the values cherished by Canadians and our absolute faith in the strength of existing laws.

Bill S-7 violates civil liberties and human rights, especially the right to remain silent and the right not to be imprisoned without first having a fair trial. Imagine that. We are talking about putting people in prison for as much as a year without any evidence or a trial. That smacks of the worst kind of totalitarianism. The state should never be used against an individual to force a person to either testify against himself or herself or to inflict punishment of a year in prison without recourse.

This bill shows a lack of balance between security and basic human rights, notwithstanding that there are a few more safeguards than in the 2001 version, notably the role of the Attorney General in an annual reporting process.

The timing of this bill cannot be ignored. A Liberal opposition day intended to propose a more democratic process for members' statements for some parties in the House was abruptly—

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

Order, please. There is way too much talking and socializing going on in the House. I can hardly hear the debate, so please keep it down. If members want to socialize, they should move into the lobby.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, my point about a refusal to listen was illustrated quite effectively just now.

At any rate, as I was saying, a Liberal opposition day was abruptly cancelled in order to bring this legislation forward. Last week, Bill S-7 was not deemed a priority, but suddenly it needed to be debated today. The explanation given by the members opposite was that this bill needed to be passed in light of recent bombings at the Boston Marathon. I would like to point out that the House unanimously condemned those attacks and members rose in silence and respect for those who suffered.

It is unfortunate that members opposite are using the Boston terror attacks to reintroduce controversial measures. These measures go far too far. They endanger Canadians just as much as any other terrorist. New Democrats believe we need to work in strength and use our intelligence and law enforcement networks to deal with the threat of terrorism. However, the Conservatives are choosing to ignore that, to cut border intelligence units in half and end funding for police programs. It is very clear that this is an act of political expediency and not one of genuine concern.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I could not agree more with the member in regard to why we have Bill S-7 before us today, and I hope to address that in my own comments.

My question is along the same lines as the questions I have asked of her colleagues, and that is in regard to the need to have an investigation.

Could the member expand on the point that with terrorism today law enforcement officers are saying they need this additional tool to help them combat terrorism? Does the member not realize that if it did not pass we would have law enforcement agencies, and other experts, saying we have a gap that needs to be filled?

The power to hold individuals for investigation seems to be most important tool. Would she provide further comment on that aspect?

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, we do have in place a number of provisions that are already in law for dealing with unusual threats.

However, the recent Conservatives cuts in budget 2012-13 and 2013-14 to agencies and police forces that could maintain the security and safety of Canadians speaks more to the point. The Conservatives have cut those agencies by 29.8%. That means there is a huge gap in the ability of communities to deal with emergencies, of all kinds. While terrorism is certainly top of mind, there are a lot of things happening in our communities,and there is security to which we need to pay attention.

There are natural disasters in the Huntsville area right now. People are dealing with very serious floods. Yet, the emergency measures that are needed to help those communities have been cut.

While we are concerned about terrorism, we have to look at security in a much broader way and not just focus on what is expedient and politically of interest.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to my hon. colleague.

Everyone has heard about the Globe and Mail editorial that said it is very unfortunate that the debate taking place is an attempt on the part of the government to politicize the Boston Marathon bombings, that we need to think this legislation through and we need to look at it it in terms of other historical moments. In England, during the horrific bombings in the 1970s, preventive detention, which the Liberal Party has been promoting all day, was used. We then saw Annie Maguire and her six family members jailed for 15 years on the charge of being Irish in the wrong place. Later on, we realized that was a complete abuse of process.

We saw under the Liberal government, after 2001, that they thought the notion of the right to trial, of the basic freedoms we cherish in the rule of law, was outmoded, and we saw Maher Arar sent off for torture. Given the fact that there are no provisions for children under the bill, they would be treated as adults.

What does the member think of the Liberal Party's continual pushing for the supposed need to have preventive detention without trial, without charges, where people can be put in jail?

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, in a democracy, one of our chief aims is to protect. What could be more important than protecting children from whatever is out there, and apparently in this case, protecting them from their own government?

It seems to me that we go far too far. We need to remember that three people died on the streets of Boston a week ago. We have to respect that. We have to honour that. To see the government using it for its own nefarious purposes makes all of us feel dreadful. It is sickening in terms of what kind of response we should have.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand and address this bill.

I would like to start off by just commenting briefly on the Boston tragedy. I believe it is safe to say that no matter where people live in Canada or where they live in North America, we will find that people were shocked, surprised and horrified at what they witnessed in one form or another, whether it was reading or watching the news, seeing what had taken place in the landmark, iconic, annual event of the Boston Marathon.

It touched the lives of everyone. We extend our condolences and our best wishes to those individuals, families, friends and others who had to experience this first-hand. Let there be no doubt that it had an impact on all people living in North America and beyond. At the end of the day, we had seen all sorts of comments and remarks made by the average citizen on the streets of Boston, Winnipeg and Toronto. All over North America, people were touched and concerned and wanted to be able to express themselves.

We also had the opportunity to see leaders of nations provide comment on what took place in Boston. Unfortunately Canada's Prime Minister stands alone, in the sense that he is prepared to exploit what took place in Boston. I say “Shame” to the Prime Minister for doing that. He has done that in a couple of ways.

It was just last week that the Prime Minister was overseas in England, attending the funeral of the late Margaret Thatcher, as he should, and we heard comments coming from around the world. There was talk about what took place in Boston. What did the Prime Minister do? He decided to attack the leader of the Liberal Party, amongst others.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Members from the bench are saying “Hear, hear”.

We have to put it in context. What did other leaders have to say about the Boston tragedy, or terrorism in general?

It was interesting. President Barack Obama said:

Obviously, tonight there are still many unanswered questions. Among them, why did young men who grew up and studied here, as part of our communities and our country, resort to such violence?

That came from a real leader, President Barack Obama.

Then we have another real leader, David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, who said:

I believe the root lies in the existence of extremist ideology. I would argue an important reason so many young Muslims are drawn to it comes down to the question of identity.

That is another reaction, not necessarily to the Boston tragedy but a reaction to terrorism in general.

These are the types of comments we hear from leaders. On the other hand, our Prime Minister is so nervous, so concerned and scared of the leader of the Liberal Party that he focuses his attention on attacking the leader of the Liberal Party. Where is the statesman that the Prime Minister should be on this particular issue?

He wants to be able to get a little attention. At the end of the day, I think it is unfortunate the Prime Minister would use that to take cheap shots at the leader of the Liberal Party or anyone else for that matter.

Then we have what took place last Friday. We are debating Bill S-7 today. What happened last Friday is that the Liberal Party put a motion on the notice for opposition day, today, about democratic reform. A number of Conservative backbenchers feel the current Prime Minister, a former Reform Party member—the whole glass bubble—would say: “You have to do and say what it is I say, or you are not a part of the Conservative Party mentality”. That is the person we are talking about.

The Prime Minister decided on Friday to have Bill S-7 debated today, of all days. It has been on the order paper for months, yet the government chose today to have it debated.

What is the reason? It is because of the Boston tragedy. I have news for the Conservatives: the Boston tragedy occurred last Monday. Why did they not have it on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday last week? The simple reason is that on Friday, an hour before we were going to adjourn, the Conservatives found out that the Liberal Party, on an opposition day motion, wanted to talk about democracy and allowing individual backbenchers from the Conservative Party to look at a way in which they would actually be able to speak. That is what was happening.

What did the government do? A light clicked on, and Conservatives thought they could avoid that by having a debate on Bill S-7 and use the Boston tragedy as an excuse to justify it. That is the second time they have used that horrific incident for their own political self-serving agenda. That is not very prime ministerial. However, Bill S-7 does have merit, but we are concerned about the manner in which it came about. There is no way the government will convince me that Bill S-7 was its intention for today. It did not even raise it last week. It was a non-issue until the Liberal Party presented its motion for today to talk about democracy.

Shame on the Prime Minister for taking advantage politically of such a horrific terrorist attack in the United States. We will have to wait and see what happens. We have been very clear about this bill for a long time. The Liberal Party of Canada supports Bill S-7, the combating terrorism act. It is something in which we believe, and we have indicated support in the past, whether it was at second reading or at committee stage.

Could the legislation be better? Yes, it could be better, but we know that the Prime Minister, especially since he has had a majority, does not take kindly to amendments. I understand that the NDP members are a little sensitive because they proposed a number of amendments, which were always rejected. That is the new form of democracy coming from the Prime Minister, where amendments are not tolerated. We have seen plenty of examples of that.

However, the legislation, as it is being proposed, would assist because law enforcement officers, other stakeholders and experts have been very clear that the ability to have investigative hearings is important to help Canada in terms of combating terrorism. Yes, checks need to be put into place, and within the legislation there are a number of areas where checks are put into place to ensure there is some integrity. It would be nice to see more done to protect individual rights. The Liberal Party has to take second seat to no one in terms of protecting individual rights. One only need reflect on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which was introduced by the Liberal Party in the seventies.

We recognize that the Supreme Court of Canada was right in 2004 when it said it was constitutional. We believe this is an important tool for our law enforcement officers, but we question the integrity of the Prime Minister for the manner in which he has brought this forward and his anti-democratic approach in dealing with the House of Commons.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The hon. member will have 10 minutes and 30 seconds when we resume debate on Bill S-7.

International TradeStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to wish all members of this House a happy Earth Day. Today is the 43rd anniversary of that celebration, but please excuse me if I do not feel like celebrating. The only motion before us today that has any environmental content is the NDP motion from its last opposition day to block ratification of the Canada–China investment treaty.

We should all be voting to block ratification, but I can predict as of now that the motion will be defeated, and that is going to be a terrible shame because it will mean that this House has not had a single proper day of hearings, not one day of expert witnesses coming here to tell us what we need to know about this extraordinary treaty that will give the People's Republic of China and its Communist Party government the right to sue us and lock us in for 31 years.

NAFTA locks us in for six months. The new treaty that was tabled after the Chinese treaty locks us in for 16 years. However, there was not one day of hearings on this. I urge members, before it is too late, to let us find a way to have hearings.

Leaside, OntarioStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Conservative Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of the town of Leaside. Named for William Lea, Leaside was originally a railway town just northeast of Toronto. An industrial boom began during World War I, and the community has grown ever since.

Leaside is not laid out on a grid but has streets that curve and intersect with parks, schools and churches, all centrally located. Leaside truly feels like a small town in the heart of Toronto.

Tomorrow, I will attend a ceremony for the unveiling of a quilted wall hanging, two historical plaques and an archival exhibit entitled “Layers of Leaside”. The Leaside 100 gala is this Saturday, and celebrations will continue through the year to the fall opening of the expanded arena, Leaside Gardens. All these events are led by volunteers who help make Leaside a great place to live, work, play, shop and raise a family.

Palliative CareStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today with profound sadness over the sudden closing of Perram House, a palliative care centre in Toronto. Perram House set a very high standard for care of families dealing with dying loved ones, and the loss of this institution reminds us that palliative care services remain elusive for many people across this country. Less than a quarter of Canadians have access to palliative care. In the rural areas, the north and on first nations, the lack of services is highly problematic.

I commend the all-party committee that did excellent work on the issues of palliative care, but at the federal level we do need to work with the provinces and first nations communities to ensure that all Canadians have access to quality end-of-life care.

I spent a week at Perram House as my dear brother-in-law lay dying, and I realized that palliative care is about restoring the family to the heart of these moments of hard transition. Everyone has to face these moments. Let us ensure that these moments of hard transition are met with dignity and with hope.

Search and RescueStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, this weekend in my wonderful riding of Kelowna—Lake Country I was flying high, and low too.

Let me explain. I had the amazing opportunity to participate in a training exercise with my local central Okanagan Civil Aviation Search and Rescue Association team. The association is a member of CASARA, a Canada-wide volunteer aviation organization dedicated to the promotion of aviation safety and the provision of air search support services to Canada's national search and rescue program. Represented by a dedicated group of men and women from a variety of professional backgrounds, it is part of a larger network of emergency volunteers across the country who rush in to help while the masses are running for safety.

I ask all hon. members, during this National Volunteer Week, to join me and salute all our first responders, including our police, firefighters, paramedics, search and rescue and the thousands of volunteers from coast to coast to coast who help to protect us and keep Canada safe.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

April 22nd, 2013 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, today marks the 43rd annual Earth Day, a day to celebrate Canada's tremendous natural beauty and to educate, empower and motivate Canadians to achieve solutions to improve the state of the environment for our children and grandchildren.

Successive Conservative governments have pitted the economy against the environment. To fast-track development, the government has weakened and repealed laws, putting the environment and the health and safety of Canadians at risk. The government has abdicated any national leadership role in combatting climate change, the most pressing environmental issue facing the planet. The government must stop its delay tactics, and immediately introduce emission regulations for the oil and gas sector, not just a monitoring plan.

It is time we once again made human health, and particularly the welfare of the most vulnerable, our children, a consideration in the environmental debate. Our future depends on it.

Glenrose Rehabilitation HospitalStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend, my wife and I attended the Courage Gala to raise money and awareness for the wonderful work of the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital in Edmonton. We heard powerful stories from David and Scott, two men whose lives have been given back to them in large measure by the expertise and compassion of the people who work and volunteer at the Glenrose.

Over the years, the Glenrose has developed world-leading expertise in neurological, orthopedic, cardiac, geriatric and pediatric rehabilitation as well as pediatric and geriatric psychiatry. Serving over 20,000 families each year, the Glenrose has become the model and the gold standard for rehabilitation in, at least, the Americas, and probably beyond.

Whether serving civilian, military or veteran communities, the heart and soul the Glenrose puts into everything it does is evident as soon as one walks in the door. Canadians of all ages and stations are treated and nurtured at the Glenrose in an environment and manner that go well beyond simply adhering to the Hippocratic oath. Those of us who are lucky enough to not need the Glenrose can take comfort in the fact that it is there, if we ever do.