House of Commons Hansard #272 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was victims.

Topics

National ParksPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I stand to submit some petitions on behalf of constituents from all over the GTA—from Etobicoke, Richmond Hill, Markham, of course the city of Toronto and Mississauga—with respect to the Rouge Park.

The current Rouge Park is home to endangered Carolinian and mixed woodland/plain life zones of Canada, the zones with one-third of Canada's endangered species. It is also the ancestral home of the Mississauga, Huron-Wendat and Seneca first nations and their sacred burial and village sites.

This is the last chance we will have to create a large national park in southern Ontario, an area with 34% of Canada's population and 77% of its land in agriculture and human settlement use, with only about 1/400th of the lands protected in national parks. The petitioners are requesting many things, but they are also requesting that the Government of Canada conduct a rational, scientific and transparent public planning process to create Rouge national park's boundaries, legislation and strategic plan and include first nations and Friends of the Rouge Watershed on a Rouge national park planning and advisory board.

Climate changePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce two petitions to the House today.

The first petition calls upon the Government of Canada to accept the science of climate change and table a comprehensive climate change plan, to commit to attaining greenhouse gas emission reduction goals that are supported internationally and to contribute its fair share to fill the megatonne gap.

Genetically Modified AlfalfaPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition, again signed by constituents from across Toronto, is with respect to genetically modified alfalfa.

The petitioners call upon the government to impose a moratorium on the release of genetically modified alfalfa in order to allow a proper review of the impact on farmers in Canada.

Don RiverPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Craig Scott NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition from citizens in Toronto, especially in my riding of Toronto—Danforth.

The petitioners are concerned that the Don River was removed from protection under what was then the Navigable Waters Protection Act by Bill C-45 and are calling for its re-protection.

The petitioners also want to draw attention to the fact that the right to navigation should include non-mechanized vessels, such as canoes and kayaks.

The petitioners want a commitment from the government to meaningful public consultation prior to approval of any project that affects the Don River.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

June 18th, 2013 / 10:20 a.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

10:20 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill S-14, An Act to amend the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Fighting Foreign Corruption ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

There being no motions at report stage, the House will now proceed, without debate, to the putting of the question on the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.

Fighting Foreign Corruption ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

moved that the bill be concurred in.

Fighting Foreign Corruption ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Fighting Foreign Corruption ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Fighting Foreign Corruption ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

(Motion agreed to)

Fighting Foreign Corruption ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

When shall the bill be read a third time? By leave, now?

Fighting Foreign Corruption ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Fighting Foreign Corruption ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Fighting Foreign Corruption ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Mississauga—Erindale Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to participate in the third reading debate on Bill S-14, the fighting foreign corruption act. I would like to thank members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development for considering the bill so quickly and our witnesses for their thoughtful contribution to discussion. I note the chairman of the foreign affairs committee is here, and I just want to say to all the members of the House what a superb job he does chairing that committee.

Corruption, in all its unsavoury forms, is an affront to the values of good, honest and hard-working Canadians. Our government's position of zero tolerance in this area is clear. Canada needs to work to root out corruption wherever it lies, and these amendments to the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, or the CFPOA, offer a vital contribution in this regard.

Before I address the important amendments proposed in Bill S-14, I would like to first provide a sense of the considerable efforts Canada is already making in this area. It is a good story for Canadians and for Canadian businesses, and our government is convinced that the enactment of Bill S-14 would only make it better.

I would like to first establish where we are now; that is, firmly committed to combatting foreign corruption in all its guises. Our government's approach to tackling foreign bribery centres on two main thrusts, its prevention and its enforcement. This draws on contributions from a wide spectrum of stakeholders including federal departments, crown corporations and other agencies, all of whom collaborate closely. These actors have all worked constructively together to develop and implement the range of regulatory and legislative tools already in place to advance this worthy and indeed critically important cause. Canada is truly engaged in a whole of government approach to combatting corruption.

Clearly, the best means of addressing corruption is working to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Consultation and outreach figure heavily in such preventative work, and a number of government stakeholders are already engaged in this area. I would like to highlight a few of them and their contributions.

The Department of Foreign Affairs, for one, looks to prepare its diplomats to deal with the issues of corruption, before they serve abroad. Through the provision of information and training, the department educates its ambassadors and political and trade stream officers concerning the Canadian Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act and Canada's international obligations in the area of corruption.

In March 2010, DFAIT adopted and provided to its missions around the world the policy and procedure for reporting allegations of bribery abroad by Canadians or Canadian companies. That policy was adopted and circulated to provide guidance to Canada's missions on what they should take as appropriate measures when confronted with allegations that a Canadian business or individual had bribed or attempted to bribe a foreign public official and/or committed other bribery-related offences. The policy essentially instructs Canadian officers at mission to relay any such information received to departmental officials back in Ottawa, who in turn transmit the information to law enforcement authorities here, as per an established set of standard operating procedures.

It should also be noted that DFAIT regularly dispatches its legal officers abroad to deliver presentations and serve as panellists in various fora with a view to advancing the anti-corruption cause and building awareness of the wide range of Canadian activity in this area. As just one example, Canadian legal experts from DFAIT delivered a presentation to the 2011 Conference of the States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption concerning legal mechanisms for freezing the assets of corrupt foreign officials and for combating the bribery of foreign public officials.

As noted earlier, DFAIT is joined by other departments and stakeholders in such important preventative work. Public Works and Government Services Canada, for example, recently added the bribing of a foreign public official under the CFPOA to the list of offences that render companies and individuals ineligible to bid on contracts. That change became effective in November 2012, and it is hoped that it will serve as an added deterrent to companies and individuals contemplating or engaging in such activity.

Our government, through the combined initiative of several federal departments, also took steps in early 2012 to host a workshop in Ottawa on the subject of foreign bribery, with invited experts from various sectors including NGOs, academic institutions, Canadian companies and law firms. The workshop, entitled “New Ideas for Canada's Fight Against Foreign Bribery” was designed to help innovate and develop better measures for enhancing efforts in this area and saw more than 30 participants join officials in a discussion of several foreign bribery-related areas of interest.

The consultation covered topics such as the recognition of and resistance to the solicitation of bribery, voluntary disclosure, books and records offences, the discouragement of facilitation payments, advocacy concerning SMEs, education, training and focused awareness raising, as well as a discussion of the possibility of amending the CFPOA.

The consultation enabled the government to register preventative messaging with Canadian companies first-hand and to really contemplate how to best improve the enforcement of the CFPOA and seek stakeholder support in working to prevent bribery before it occurs and to detect it when it does. The workshop provided a pivotal platform for enhanced engagement and co-operation with these stakeholders as we look to upgrade efforts in this area. We continue to draw on the invaluable input received. The amendments before us today reflect some of that solicited feedback, and we will probably mine some of the good ideas heard for some time to come.

Prevention is only half of the story. Our government is working hard to ensure that we effectively enforce what already exists in the way of legislation and other instruments established to advance the fight against foreign corruption.

Of course the legislative centrepiece of Canada's work on foreign corruption is the CFPOA, which has been in force since 1999. I believe we are all familiar by now with the reasons for the CFPOA's development and its role in honouring Canada's international obligations in this area, as well as the principal purposes it serves and the main activities it criminalizes. I will not repeat those here.

Rather, I would like to use some of my time today to very briefly flag the indispensable contributions that our key law enforcement agencies are making to the enforcement of that existing legislation governing the corruption of foreign public officials. The RCMP serves as the primary enforcement body for the CFPOA and since 2008 has had an international anti-corruption unit in place enforcing and raising awareness about the CFPOA. With teams placed in both Ottawa and Calgary, the latter owing to its position as the largest hub for Canada's extractive industries and related business, this unit would only get better and more effective with the benefit of Bill S-14's enactment.

The Public Prosecution Service of Canada works hand in hand with the RCMP to tackle corruption. Since 2006 and its creation, the PPSC has stationed one of its counsel in Ottawa with the explicit mandate to advise and assist the RCMP's two teams in Ottawa and Calgary with their anti-corruption investigations. This collaboration is paying off. We have seen 3 convictions, and there are another 2 cases pending and 35 more under investigation. The penalties are increasing significantly with each conviction, and we can expect this trend to continue as our legislation gets tougher and we get better at identifying and holding these offenders to account. We are on the right track, and Bill S-14 would only drive us further in that positive direction.

Having touched on what exists already and where we are at, I would like to turn now to where we are going next. Bill S-14 is fundamental to our continued progress, and these reforms would make a significant contribution to our ongoing work to ensure that Canadian companies refrain from bribing foreign public officials and continue to act in accordance with the highest legal and ethical standards in the pursuit of freer markets and expanded global trade. This bill is compelling evidence of our government's commitment to this work, and its passage would send a crystal clear signal to other countries of our expectation that they should hold their own companies to the same account.

These six amendments seek to introduce nationality jurisdiction, specify which authority can lay charges, eliminate the facilitation payments exception, clarify the scope of the CFPOA, increase the maximum penalty and create a new books and records offence.

If I may, perhaps I will just refresh the House's memory as to what each of these amendments would provide for, in turn.

The first amendment, which would introduce nationality jurisdiction, seeks to expand the limited reach of the existing act. The CFPOA's current requirement that the prosecution demonstrate a “real and substantial link” between Canadian territory and the offence charged effectively acts to circumscribe the number of corruption cases we can bring to justice. The assertion of nationality jurisdiction would allow us to tackle possible foreign bribery engaged in by Canadians or Canadian companies regardless of where that bribery might take place, by enabling us to prosecute them on the basis of their Canadian nationality alone.

The second amendment would provide the RCMP exclusive authority to lay charges under the act. This would permit the RCMP to ensure that there is a uniform approach taken to the pre-charge stages of the CFPOA cases throughout Canada. It would also put Canadian businesses on notice that it is clearly the RCMP that is the lead law enforcement agency as far as investigations are concerned.

The third amendment proposes to eliminate the facilitation payments exception currently provided for under the CFPOA. In essence, any payments made to expedite or secure the performance by a foreign public official of any act of a routine nature do not constitute bribes for the purposes of the current act. Such facilitation or grease payments to move along a foreign public official's performance of something he or she is already beholden to perform are plainly open to abuse and should also be characterized as bribes, which are payments specifically made to extract a business advantage and are already illegal under the act.

Indeed, bribes are illegal under the legislation of every OECD country. This is important in light of any concerns that this amendment would place Canadian companies at a competitive disadvantage internationally. As noted in the bill, the entry into force of the specific amendment would be delayed to further address any such concern in recognition of the fact that some other countries continue to permit facilitation payments and, most importantly, to provide Canadian companies with a fair and reasonable amount of time to adjust their own practices, internal policies and operations should that prove necessary.

The fourth amendment, which proposes the elimination of the words “for profit” from the definition of business would ensure that the reach of the CFPOA is not unduly restricted. It clarifies that the scope of the CFPOA is plainly not limited to bribes paid to for-profit enterprises or in the course of profitable businesses. This is key if we are target those who pay bribes on behalf of companies that may not earn a profit in a given year, as well as organizations with a not-for-profit raison d'être. These entities would be caught within this proposed change.

The fifth amendment is straightforward: an increase in the maximum jail term for a foreign bribery offence under the act to 14 years. It is currently set at five. The current possibility of unlimited fines for such offenders would remain untouched.

The new books and records offence that composes the sixth proposed amendment is meant to prevent individuals and companies from cooking the books. While there are offences under the Criminal Code that criminalize the falsification of books and records, they are not specific to foreign bribery. Canada is required to put such specific measures in place in order to honour its obligations under international anti-corruption treaties to which it is a party. The amendment would add another enforcement measure to our tool kit and would be punishable by a maximum of 14 years' imprisonment and unlimited fines; the same severity that is in place for the offence of foreign bribery.

Bill S-14 was adopted by the other place as tabled and I would offer that it is plainly in the national interest that the House do the same. If adopted, the amendments I have just described would clearly and unequivocally demonstrate to interested parties in Canada and abroad that corruption is simply not the Canadian way of doing business, nor should it be the way of doing business anywhere. Ensuring a level playing field for international business is crucial to the global fight against foreign bribery. Legislation such as Bill S-14 is vital if economic growth and expanding global trade and prosperity are to flourish. Indeed, foreign bribery works to undermine that growth, trade and prosperity and to corrode the rule of law that is the foundation for the market freedom so absolutely vital to a trading nation such as Canada.

Bill S-14 seeks to ensure that our companies continue to embrace the highest legal and ethical standards in pursuing their business internationally. Canadians expect no less, and rightly so. Our government firmly believes that Canada can compete with the best and win fairly. Bill S-14 is an expansion of that belief and of our twin commitment to both strengthening the fight against corruption and securing jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity for all Canadians. I ask all hon. members in the House to work with us to ensure its passage into law as quickly as possible.

Fighting Foreign Corruption ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have certainly talked a lot about corruption recently in this place. As I have mentioned before, it is interesting that this bill on corruption comes from the Senate.

Let us look at what this bill would do. It is trying to bring us up to speed with other countries. There are some problems because it actually does not go far enough. My colleague will know where Canada ranks in terms of transparency internationally and it is low. We need to go further. We on this side have said that we need to strengthen our transparency measures. A communiqué came out of the G8 and we will be interested to see where Canada stands.

My question is this. Is this all the government is intending to do? It is clearly not enough. We have had only three cases of corruption dealt with in the last number of years, which I believe the member mentioned in his comments. We need to not only strengthen and amend the legislation, but go further. Is the government satisfied with just this? Is this going to be the status quo and is the government okay with it? Second, with respect to enforcement, we cannot deal with corruption unless we dedicate resources. The government has cut resources to deal with this issue, be it in the Department of Justice or the Canada Revenue Agency where it has cut resources.

I will summarize my two questions. First, is this all the government has on corruption and, second, what about enforcement?

Fighting Foreign Corruption ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the member knows from the hearings at the foreign affairs committee, this legislation arose out of some criticisms that were made about the current Canadian legislation by the OECD in its report in 2008.

We heard testimony from a number of witnesses, including Ms. Janet Keeping, president, Transparency International Canada, that this legislation addressed those criticisms that were raised in the OECD report. That was also reiterated and confirmed by government officials who had drafted the legislation based on the OECD report.

It does address the outstanding issues with our current Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. In addition, the government has created the special enforcement unit at the RCMP to deal specifically with foreign bribery. There 50 staff members working there, in Ottawa and Calgary. There are also special legal experts at the Department of Foreign Affairs and at other departments, such as the Department of Justice, who are made available to the RCMP and all government departments to deal with allegations of foreign corruption.

There is always more that can be done. The Prime Minister made a very important announcement on transparency in London last week, and legislation will be coming forward with respect to requiring Canadian companies to disclose what payments they make to foreign governments.

There is always more that can be done. We are certainly open to suggestions from that hon. member, his party and any international organization that sees a way we can improve our legislation. Of course, this is a key to Canada succeeding as a trading nation. Canadians can compete fairly and succeed, they do every day, and we want to enforce that all the time.

Fighting Foreign Corruption ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think my hon. colleague will agree that Canada's international mining presence is a major driver in our economy. We can actually set the standards for what could be seen as the best in the world.

Unfortunately, Canada's reputation has suffered because of the actions of some bad actors. They have damaged the legitimate companies and damaged our interests. It is really important that the government takes this seriously, to show the world that the Canadian standard is something that we should be proud of.

I would like to ask my hon. colleague a question in terms of the issue of bribery and corruption. We have very large corporate interests overseas, but we also have the small players. It is some of the small players that have gotten us into trouble. Should we be looking at different thresholds for what has to be revealed? For smaller players, 10,000 euros could be a huge amount of money in terms of getting a deal, as opposed to 100,000 euros. A lot of the areas that they are moving into could be bandit countries so money is being used all the time to grease wheels.

I would like to ask the member about thresholds for development, the development companies, the smaller players, the juniors versus the bigger players, and whether we need two standards.

The other question is on enforcement. It is happening overseas. It is happening in some pretty rough-and-tumble places where the rule of law simply does not exist. How do we ensure that we have the transparency to be able to say that we will hold these companies to account?

Fighting Foreign Corruption ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member is right that Canadian companies are amongst the largest and most prolific in the extractive industries in the world. A statistic I heard recently was that 50% of all the major mining companies in the world are actually Canadian-based, which I think is something to be very proud of.

The member mentioned threshold levels. I am not quite sure what he is referring to. The legislation does not set any minimum amount for bribery. All bribery is illegal, whether it is $1 or many millions of dollars. We do not have any minimum standard. We expect all Canadian companies, large and small, to live up to the highest ethical standard.

There is a very strict focus on small and medium-sized enterprises. I mentioned that in my speech earlier. We have done a lot of training and outreach to small and medium-sized enterprises across Canada to make sure they are also aware of the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act and their obligations thereunder.

We will continue to do so. Enforcement is important. As I said, there are 50 individuals in the RCMP, based in Ottawa and Calgary, and legal officers who are looking at the corruption of foreign public officials full-time, ensuring that Canadian companies, large and small, continue to live up to the highest ethical standards.

Fighting Foreign Corruption ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Vaughan Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino ConservativeMinister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, as someone who has come from a law enforcement background, I can well appreciate and fully support the thrust of this bill, what it intends to do and how it is in keeping with the kinds of standards that we are employing in our dealings with development aid and so forth.

Could my colleague also speak to the co-operation that I know exists between the international law enforcement community and the Canadian enforcement community? How would Canadian enforcement of this initiative play into the international law enforcement community to investigate, track and chase down some of these allegations and the need for international investigations?

Fighting Foreign Corruption ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada and the RCMP are members of Interpol. We have officers stationed with Interpol in various places around the world. We co-operate with Interpol and other foreign police forces to deal with allegations of bribery.

In addition, all of our diplomats abroad have been specifically trained on the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act and investigate any allegation they hear from anyone in the countries where they serve. Any Canadian or Canadian business involved in bribery or attempted bribery is reported to the RCMP, which then takes it forward with its counterparts in whatever country the bribery is alleged to have taken place.

It is obviously very important that international police forces co-operate very closely on these types of allegations to ensure that the evidence is discovered to bring forward successful prosecutions. I believe that is happening now. That is why we have seen several successful prosecutions recently and I understand there are at least 35 more investigations currently under way.

Fighting Foreign Corruption ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will certainly support the bill. I think Canada needs to bring our enforcement standards to the level that the OECD would see as the highest level of enforcement.

My question is a more general one. I think we have to face the fact that we have some problems that we never thought we would see as Canadians where corruption is becoming a larger issue. People are seeing it. We have the instance of SNC Lavalin, we know that AECL used officials in the past. They say they were arm's-length, but we did have a South Korean contractor go to jail for the work in trying to entice that country to buy a CANDU reactor.

We have fallen on the Transparency International corruption index from sixth place, but we are still among the best in the world at tenth place. But at the time when we see charges of bribery and arrests of municipal officials in different places across Canada, we have seen a disturbing trend of lack of ethics, the kinds of things that are not governed by a rule book, but come from the sense that we actually care about how we are seen in the world and conduct ourselves in ways we would be proud for our children to hear about, not just in the way that we hope we are alright if we do not get caught.

Is there something more than can be done in terms of leadership to clean up our act as a society and practise good ethics, habituate ourselves to values instead of to vices in the way we organize our lives?

Fighting Foreign Corruption ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, enforcement is very important. The Prime Minister made a very important announcement in London last week about legislation that will be presented soon requiring Canadian companies to disclose all payments that they make to foreign governments. That is a big step forward.

The enforcement provisions under Bill S-14 and its penalty provisions are very important. They would be among the highest penalties in the world. Some have wondered why they should be. In fact, the penalties under Bill S-14 would be higher in some cases than the penalties for domestic corruption. But that just means that the Canadian Criminal Code probably needs to be updated as well.

We are setting the bar higher with the bill and we are sending a clear and strong message to Canadian companies and to people all around the world that Canada will not tolerate this kind of corruption, either here at home or abroad.

Another measure that I mentioned in my speech is that Canadian companies that engage in foreign bribery and are convicted of foreign bribery will no longer be able to bid on Canadian government contracts. That is a huge disincentive for them to do these kinds of things abroad. We think the combined suite of penalties and enforcement mechanisms we are introducing today would send a really strong message to Canadian companies and everyone in the world they need to compete fairly and ethically to succeed.