Mr. Speaker, I was in the process of commenting on the source of this legislation being the Senate and the enormous legitimacy deficit that exists in the Senate. I think that is historical, but it is particularly acute these days. In particular, the Senate really is in no position to be issuing bills on the issue of corruption, mired as it is in scandals of exactly that nature.
That said, irrespective of the source and as unfortunate as the source of this legislation is, we remain prepared to support the bill. One of the central reasons for doing so is found in the legislative history of members of this party in the House. We have long supported clear rules requiring transparency and accountability by Canadian individuals and corporations overseas.
The bill complements legislative efforts by NDP MPs to encourage responsible, sustainable and transparent management practices. I speak specifically of Bill C-323, put forward by the member for Burnaby—New Westminster, which would allow lawsuits in Canadian courts by non-Canadians for violations of international obligations, and Bill C-486, from the member for Ottawa Centre, which would require public due diligence by companies using minerals from the Great Lakes Region of Africa. These bills reflect the history of our party. They reflect a respect for the democratic aspirations of people in other countries and a respect for their aspirations for better labour standards and a healthier and safer environment.
We understand that effective environmental and labour standards in developing countries often depend on advocacy and activism by local populations, and it is very difficult for local people to hold their governments to account when the government has secret sources of revenue that remove the financial incentive to be accountable in the first place.
We support this legislation as well because the lack of anti-bribery enforcement in Canada has been a national embarrassment to us. I will skip to my conclusion on this point of the national embarrassment over the lack of legislation.
It is worth pointing out that in spite of our support for this bill, it is in effect totally underwhelming. One is left asking, is that all there is?
When the parliamentary secretary points to the openness of our country to international trade and puts forward this legislation as the solution to dealing with corruption issues in such an open and global environment, when Canadians take such pride in and value so highly our reputation on the international scene, the question of why the government always seems to aim so low arises. Why can the government not aspire to a leadership role, one that Canadians could justly take pride in? If it is worth putting forward such legislation, and we certainly believe it is, why not set new and higher standards internationally to ensure that Canadians overseas conduct their affairs to the highest levels of transparency and ethics?