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House of Commons Hansard #242 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was come.

Topics

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Does the hon. member for Elgin—Middlesex—London have the unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

(Motion agreed to)

Nutrition StrategyPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise and present a petition signed by dozens of Canadians who are calling on Parliament to act immediately and take leadership through the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food and develop a national child and youth nutrition strategy.

The petitioners, like many health experts, understand that access to healthy food is critically important to a child's development and that in the face of poverty and rising rates of obesity, we have to do something. A nutrition strategy is the right way forward.

Lyme DiseasePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

April 29th, 2013 / 6:10 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to present two petitions.

The first is signed by residents literally from coast to coast, from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, all the way to Vancouver, British Columbia. The petitioners call for the passage of my private member's bill, Bill C-442, which proposes to develop a national strategy on Lyme disease.

I am encouraged by the fact that so many members on all sides of the House appear to be supportive of this effort.

Canadian Broadcasting CorporationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition calls for the protection of the CBC, which is Canada's national public broadcaster. This petition comes from residents of Halifax and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, as well as North Saanich and Nelson, British Columbia.

The petitioners call on the government to ensure there is adequate, secure and predictable funding for the CBC.

Sex SelectionPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to present the sixth petition from my riding.

The petitioners ask the House to condemn discrimination against females occurring through sex-selective pregnancy termination. They ask that all members of Parliament support that.

Brain InjuryPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present two petitions on the need for comprehensive action on concussion in Canada to improve the lives of all those living with this brain injury. For many people living with the affects of concussion, the physiological, psychological and social impacts are devastating.

The petitioners call upon the government to enact a pan-Canadian concussion awareness week to promote understanding of the injury, develop a pan-Canadian strategy to address prevention, diagnosis and management and develop a centre of excellence in concussion research.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-15, An Act to amend the National Defence Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to speak to the bill, I guess, in part, because I spent my first career in the military. I always took particular interest in the justice system within the military, realizing it was somewhat different. I am glad to say that I did not have too many encounters with that justice system during my time in the navy.

However, let me summarize some of the key points the Liberal party feels are important to talk about with respect to Bill C-15.

The Liberal Party certainly understands the need to reform the Canadian court martial system to ensure that it remains effective, fair and transparent. At the same time, our party believes that Canadian citizens who decide to join the Canadian Forces, as I did, should not, thereby, lose part of their rights before the courts.

The Liberal Party understands that rights and equality are universal. Without an effective means for appeal and no recorded proceedings, the current summary trial system is unbalanced and does not respect the basic rights of the Canadian Forces members. The Liberal Party of Canada does not believe that introducing a criminal record for Canadian Forces members for certain service offences is fair and just, as the means for pardoning offences has been recently removed by the current government.

Finally, the Liberal Party of Canada finds it problematic that the VCDS, the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, can intervene and give direction in military police investigations. The VCDS is also subject to the Code of Service Discipline.

I will provide some background.

There are a number of disparities between the military and civil justice systems that should be narrowed as much as possible. While we recognize that updates to the military criminal justice system must be made, the government is missing a real opportunity to make these changes properly.

Many aspects of the military justice system would inexplicably remain unimproved or would provide unnecessary powers. For example, Bill C-15 would enshrine in law a list of military offences that would now carry a criminal record, some of which are hardly necessary. Without the pardon system recently revoked by the Conservative government and with the summary trial being set up as it is, with no record and no means of meaningful appeal, Canadian Forces members would be left haunted by a record and unable to find employment upon release.

As Colonel Michel Drapeau noted in his committee testimony:

...someone accused before a summary trial has no right to appeal either the verdict or the sentence. This despite the fact that the verdict and sentence are imposed without any regard to minimum standards of procedural rights in criminal proceedings, such as a right to counsel, the presence of rules of evidence, and a right to appeal.

Further quoting him:

In Canada, these rights do not exist in summary trials, not even for a decorated veteran, yet a Canadian charged with a summary conviction offence in civilian court, such as Senator Patrick Brazeau, enjoys all of these rights. So does someone appearing in a small claims court or traffic court.

I find it very odd that those who put their lives at risk to protect the rights of Canadians are themselves deprived of some of those charter rights when facing a quasi-criminal law process with the possibility of loss of liberty through detention in military barracks.

I would like to also quote from former Justice Gilles Létourneau, who provided further criticism of the summary trial system which remains largely unaddressed by the modernized version of the current bill:

This form of trial has been found to be unconstitutional in 1997 by the European Court of Human Rights because it did not meet the requirements of independence and impartiality set out in Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

As a result of this decision and others, the British Parliament enacted legislation which now provides guarantees to an accused soldier. These provisions include the following

(a) the accused may be represented by counsel;

(b) the accused is entitled to an Appeal to the newly created Summary Appeal Court;

(c) the Summary Appeal Court is presided by a civilian judge, assisted by two military members who are officers or warrant officers; and

(d) as a general rule, imprisonment or service detention cannot be imposed where the offender is not legally represented in that court or in a court martial.

To further quote Judge Létourneau:

As a result, the British Parliament has gone a long way to ensure a fair treatment of soldiers facing summary trials. Similar changes have taken place in Ireland, Australia, New Zealand as well as France, Belgium, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Lithuania and Netherlands, to name a few. However, despite the fact the requirements of independence, impartiality, fairness and justice are the same in Canada, and if anything they are more compelling because, in Canada, they are entrenched in the Constitution, our men and women in uniform are still denied fair treatment at a summary trial.

Furthermore, Bill C-15 gives the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff power to intervene and give direction in investigations. This is troubling, considering that he is also subject to the code of service discipline and could technically intervene on his own behalf.

Colonel Drapeau notes:

The proposed new paragraph 18.5(3) in C-15 would, in my estimation, make the current lack of independence worse by now granting authority to the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff (VCDS) to issue “instructions or guidelines in respect of a particular investigation”.

This is very troubling indeed.

Quoting again from Colonel Drapeau:

Keep in mind that already the CDS and the VCDS has the power to call in the NIS to conduct an investigation on any issue which is of concern to them—and, frankly, under the existing command arrangements it is most unlikely that the NIS would ignore such a request. Also, the CDS does not feel inhibited to comment publicly on an open NIS investigation.

To now give the VCDS the authority to issue instructions or guidelines in respect of a particular military police investigation will remove any pretense that the Military Police is independent from the chain of command. Lest we forget, the CDS, the VCDS and, for that matter, the JAG, are each subject to the Code of Service Discipline. None of them should have the power to direct or influence either the initiation, the suspension or the conduct of a particular police investigation let alone to issue instructions or guidelines as to the conduct of a specific investigation.

Soldiers are citizens and should enjoy the same Constitutional and charter rights as every other citizen. As Judge Létourneau so eloquently puts it:

We as a society have forgotten, with harsh consequences for the members of the armed forces that a soldier is before all a Canadian citizen, a Canadian citizen in uniform. So is a police officer; he is a Canadian citizen in uniform, but he's not deprived of his right to a jury trial. Is that what we mean by “equality of all before the law”? Is not the soldier who risks his life for us entitled to at least the same rights and equality before the law as his fellow citizens when he is facing criminal prosecutions?

The answer, of course, for all of us must be a resounding “yes”.

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I agree with every part of the presentation of the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie. That is why I have put forward amendments to deal with the very issue raised by the hon. member, amendments to ensure that we do not allow the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff to be able to issue instructions for an investigation, something that Michel Drapeau pointed out in his testimony:

Would the mayor be able to issue a direction to the chief of the Ottawa police, even if it's in writing, about a particular investigation? The answer is “no”. Would the prime minister be able to do that with the RCMP? The answer is “absolutely not”. So why would it be here?

We would have a chance this evening to put this to a recorded vote instead of a division if only there were four other members of this place on the opposition benches who would vote for my amendments there before them and were willing to stand up and insist on the vote.

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her comment, and I agree with a lot of what she has expressed.

Let me remind everybody of what is particularly troubling about allowing the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff to intervene in an investigation. We all remember what happened with Somalia, and we all remember the fact that, if it had not been for media investigation, there would have been the very serious possibility of a cover-up.

We want to make sure that kind of thing does not happen in the future. Therefore, what is being suggested in terms of changes, even at this late report stage, are eminently sensible changes that we would be glad we made for the future.

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have listened to a lot of this debate today and, as both a former member of the Canadian Forces and as a lawyer, I have been concerned. In fact the member for Ottawa South made some comments in his remarks about the Attorney General that I think are really below what a lawyer should be saying when discussing policy or law with another lawyer. It is conduct or language that is really beneath him, and in the legal profession it is called “sharp practice”.

My question to the member relates to the fact that we heard in debate today that a lot of the concerns being raised today were not raised at committee. Specifically, the Liberal Party likes to quote the charter at length but does not seem to understand that the charter would provide for this law in a fulsome way. Certainly, section 1 of the charter would provide for some differences to the legal structure for military personnel who give the ultimate sacrifice.

I would like the member's comments on charter provisions specifically.

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not know what the member for Ottawa South said, but I will say that we brought up time and time again at committee the changes and the concerns we expressed today.

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, during the debate in committee, the NDP made quite a few comments.

It was important to us to participate in the debate because we wanted to stand up for military personnel and we felt that the bill was flawed. Unfortunately, during the last four hours of debate in committee, the Liberal Party said not a word.

I know that my colleague is not a member of the Standing Committee on National Defence, but why did he not convey his thoughts to the Liberal member who is on the committee? The Liberal committee member could then have shared those thoughts with the committee. Why did the Liberals have nothing to contribute to four hours of debate? Worse still, for some of the votes, no Liberal member voted.

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, what actually happened was a four-hour filibuster. There were 57 changes that were proposed, and no attention was paid to them whatsoever. To pretend in any way that there was a proper debate during this committee, over a period of four hours, is to not recognize the fact that it was one giant filibuster by the government.

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Is the House ready for the question?

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The question is on Motion No. 1. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.