House of Commons Hansard #145 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was victims.

Topics

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by thanking all members of Parliament for engaging in this debate. It has been a great opportunity to bring the intentions of Bill C-583 to the forefront.

I will talk briefly about the impetus for the bill and my belief in it. However, before I get to that, there are a few people in my community in the Yukon I would like to thank for all the work they have done to support this legislation getting this far.

I would particularly like to thank Rod Snow and Heather MacFadgen; the great people at FASSY and Mike McCann; and a good friend and former member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Gina Nagano, who provided some fantastic insight into the merits of Bill C-583 on a recent visit here in Ottawa.

My staff, of course, as members can imagine the evolution of this bill, have done a tremendous amount of work with the broad stakeholders across Canada, and for that I thank them.

I thank the great stakeholders in our nation who have done so much work that we have been able to get the bill to this point.

I want to touch on one thing, so that those across the community realize. Unfortunately, in the life of a private member's bill, time is not always our friend. We know that it is not immediate, but as we near the end of the 41st Parliament, I am being very realistic about the chances of my bill now getting through all the phases a bill needs to go through, including three readings in the Senate. It is important to me that we do not just have a symbolic victory for this bill, but that we actually have concrete, measurable, and tangible things.

On that note, I was proud to support the government's initiative to expedite the subject matter of this bill, move it into committee, break down the silos, and go across departments to study this bill from a broader range than the focus I had under Bill C-583. From that, I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that we are going to achieve outcomes and recommendations that will provide a broader benefit for the entire community of FASD. I very much look forward to seeing the results of that study and hearing expert testimony right across Canada, particularly from my home territory in the Yukon, which I know are leading the way in FASD research. I am looking forward to that.

I know the recommendations are going to be concrete. I know they are going to be solid and beneficial to the entire community. I know, without exception, that we are going to build on the great work we are already doing as a government, take those recommendations, and come out with an action plan that will invariably improve the lives of people living with FASD in Canada. I am very excited about that.

I cannot help but notice that, in the world of social media, already the NDP has tweeted out that I have agreed to kill my own bill. Let me correct the record on that point before those members get on their tweeter storm.

This is an important step for people living with FASD and an important step for the community. I urge NDP members, before they launch out into their social media hack job on this, to understand that this is critical for the community and important for the people across this country. Their opportunity to study and research this is going to be the most significant step forward that we have had on FASD in a long time in the Canadian Parliament. For that I am proud, and for their previous support of my bill, I am thankful. However, I ask them, I urge them, to not play politics with this issue, get on board, support the committee, provide witnesses, participate wholeheartedly and fulsomely, provide recommendations that are going to help this community, avoid the social media attack campaign that they have already started less than a minute and a half ago, and get on side with this community. That is what I am asking as we move forward, and I look forward it.

Fundamentally, as a former member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and as a deputy superintendent of the Whitehorse correctional facility, I know and I have seen first-hand the impact of the criminal justice system on people living with FASD who involve themselves or get mixed up in it. I believe fundamentally that the merits of my bill are sound and I stand behind the tenets of that piece of legislation. Were it not for the time I had left, this bill would still be going forward, and I know with a good amount of support from the House of Commons.

I will leave members with this note.

I know that our government stands behind victims, and victims first, and people with FASD are victims first. Long before they ever become offenders in the criminal justice system, they are victims. There is no other population in our country who, when they take their very first breath, are on a crash course with the criminal justice system, and that is true for people with FASD.

I look forward to bringing this issue to committee, getting great results with the subject matter experts who exist in our nation, and finding concrete and real results.

I look forward to everyone in this place participating wholeheartedly in that study so that we can improve the lives of Canadians. I thank the government for its efforts on this.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The question is on the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

All those in favour of adopting the amendment will please say yea.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

All those opposed will please say nay.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

In my opinion, the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, November 26, 2014, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Science and TechnologyAdjournment Proceedings

6:05 p.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to follow up on a question I asked during question period on October 21 regarding a letter written by more than 800 international researchers who criticized the fact that Government of Canada scientists are seeing a rapid decline in funding while their freedoms are being eroded.

The letter, addressed to the Prime Minister, spoke about how important it is for the international science community to work together to address the threats to our health and environment. The scientists urged the government to put an end to its war on knowledge and to provide adequate funding for research. They also said that the Conservatives' muzzling of scientists was undermining international co-operation among researchers. In their letter, they even quoted a New York Times editorial that denounced the Conservative government's muzzling of scientists and called this practice an attempt to guarantee public ignorance.

The scientists who signed this very recent letter come from 32 different countries, including Argentina, Australia, Austria, France, Germany and Israel.

It seems that the Conservatives have gotten used to muzzling and ignoring the advice of Canadian scientists. They also ignore scientists and Canadians who speak up to oppose their unsound approach. This letter proves that their despicable practices are not only undermining democracy and knowledge in Canada, but they are also undermining our international reputation.

It was only a matter of time before the international scientific community criticized this government. In the last year alone, many published reports have described in detail this government's disdain for research and science.

Last October the report by Evidence for Democracy, a non-profit organization, and Simon Fraser University assessed the degree of accessibility of federal researchers. The report gave 85% of departments a grade of C or lower. All departments scored lower than their U.S. counterparts. If Americans have the right to access their federal scientists, why do we not have that right?

Another report by the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria and the non-partisan group Democracy Watch described this government's Orwellian efforts to silence researchers. The 128-page report was widely quoted in the media across the country. It also led the Information Commissioner to call for a formal investigation into this muzzling.

I would like to conclude by referring to the comprehensive survey commissioned last year by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada. The report entitled “The Big Chill” found that 90% of federal scientists do not feel that they can speak freely to the media about their work. If their minister made a decision likely to harm public health, safety or the environment, nearly as many said they would face censure or retaliation if they shared their concerns.

We can see that the government is afraid of science, facts and democracy.

How can the government deny that its malicious approach is not conducive to Canadians' well-being and that it is now a source of embarrassment in the international scientific community?

Science and TechnologyAdjournment Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

London North Centre Ontario

Conservative

Susan Truppe ConservativeParliamentary Secretary for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to respond to comments made earlier by the hon. member regarding support for and conduct of publicly funded research.

This government sees science and technology as an important contributor to a strong and prosperous society. Since 2006, the government has provided more than $11 billion in new resources to support basic and applied research, talent development, research infrastructure, and innovative activities in the private sector, including more effectively aligning federal support for research and business needs.

I am proud to say that this government's investments have made Canada internationally known for its research strengths, highly qualified personnel, and advanced research infrastructure. For example, Canada is ranked number one among G7 countries for higher education expenditures on research and development as a percentage of GDP.

Our investments are clearly making a difference. In the highly competitive global environment, where innovation and collaboration matter more each day, the world has taken notice of Canada.

Our federal departments and agencies produce over 4,000 scientific publications per year. Moreover, Canada produces some 5% of the world's peer reviewed articles. That is pretty impressive for a nation with less than 0.5% of the world's population.

Our government strives to maintain this research excellence. Through economic action plan 2014, our government announced significant measures that enhance support for advanced research.

The new Canada first research excellence fund, with resources of $1.5 billion over the next decade, will help Canadian post-secondary institutions excel globally in research areas that create long-term economic advantages for Canada.

Our federal granting councils play a major role in boosting our research performance by funding programs in the natural and social sciences, engineering, and health.

Successful Canadian science requires collaboration among all members of the scientific community. It requires governments at all levels to put in place frameworks and policies that support research success. It requires universities and colleges to inspire and develop tomorrow's highly educated workforce, and it requires our businesses to continue to invest and commercialize.

As the hon. member knows, it is important to not only perform world-class research but to communicate the results. Federal scientists regularly provide media interviews and publish thousands of research papers every year. The Government of Canada communications policy directs federal institutions to cultivate proactive relations with the media and to respond promptly to enquiries. Further, through open government, the government is opening access to federal research and is supporting openness and transparency.

We have taken action, because we are committed to turning ideas and innovations into new knowledge and products that will result in jobs, growth, and prosperity for all Canadians.

Science and TechnologyAdjournment Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for commenting on this topic.

However, my question had to do with the muzzling of scientists and not with funding for science. That said, since my hon. colleague brought it up, I will tell her that Statistics Canada has shown that funding for science and technology in Canada has dropped by more than 14% over the past five years. This looks bad for the federal government.

Not only do the Conservatives want to muzzle scientists, but they also want to dismantle any mechanism that would enable us to investigate this censorship.

Despite a 31% increase in complaints to the Information Commissioner this year, her budget has been cut by nearly 10% since 2009. Wait times have now reached disastrous levels. That is not standard practice for a government that has nothing to hide.

Why does the Conservative government not take action to unmuzzle scientists?

Science and TechnologyAdjournment Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Susan Truppe Conservative London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government is extremely proud of the world-class research being conducted through Canada's science, technology, and innovation ecosystem. The world-class research of federal scientists and researchers is helping us improve the quality of life for Canadians through improving public health, ensuring the safety of foods and products, building strong and vibrant communities all across the nation, and ensuring a clean and healthy environment for future generations.

To better support Canadians, federal scientists communicate these results promptly through regular media interviews and research papers. Government scientists are not subject to separate rules for communicating with the media. All federal public servants follow the same established rules under the Government of Canada communications policy.

The strength of Canada's capacity for innovation requires advanced research and innovation in all sectors involved in the science, technology, and innovation ecosystem. To that end, our government remains committed to ensuring support for science and technology to improve the lives of Canadians.

Aboriginal AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, when I first took my seat in Parliament, the first question I asked was related to the tragedy that has befallen this country, in particular the missing and murdered indigenous women. My question was when would the government spend as much effort finding what happened to these women as it had spent searching for the Franklin expedition.

The response was that new money had been put into the program and that steps were being taken to protect these women's lives and that all was in order because this announcement had been made just days before I took my seat.

The trouble is that the minute we start to do the research on this issue, we find out that it is not new money. It is existing programs bundled under a new name, which have quite clearly failed both this country and, more particularly, the women involved in this horrible tragedy.

My question for the government is where is the new money? One of the issues for those of us who represent urban ridings and ridings that do not have treaty lands or traditional territories identified is that the shelters we have for these women do not get a penny of federal funding. Yet we know that when women are escaping violence, they quite often flee to major urban centres for safety. But there is no place for safety; there are no spaces being created to house that safety. There are no programs dealing with the dynamics that happen on our city streets, which are deadly.

When will the government deploy meaningful resources, new dollars, to deal with this issue and provide us with a real response to a real crisis that we see on city streets every day in places like Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal, Halifax? The list is sadly so long, I do not have all the time in the world to name them.

Aboriginal AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

London North Centre Ontario

Conservative

Susan Truppe ConservativeParliamentary Secretary for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, I would remind all Canadians that Canada is a country where those who break the law are punished, where penalties match the severity of the crimes, and where the rights of the victims are recognized. That is why our government has made it very clear that abhorrent acts of violence against aboriginal women and girls will not be tolerated.

We also believe in taking action. For example, economic action plan 2014 committed to a new investment of $25 million over five years to continue our government's efforts at reducing violence against aboriginal women. As a result of this commitment, the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Status of Women released the Government of Canada's action plan to address family violence and violent crimes against aboriginal women and girls on September 15. I had the opportunity to sit on that committee, and one of the most important aspects of this action plan is that it responds in a very real way to the call for action from families and communities while also addressing the recommendations of the special committee.

There are three main areas in which our government is taking action. First, our government is taking action to prevent violence against aboriginal women and girls with specific actions that include the development of more community safety plans across Canada, including in regions the RCMP analysis has identified as having a high incidence of violent crime perpetrated against women and girls; projects to break intergenerational cycles of violence and abuse by raising awareness and building healthy relationships; and projects to engage men and boys and empower aboriginal women and girls to denounce and prevent violence.

Second, our government is taking action to assist and support victims of violence. Specifically, the action plan supports family police liaison positions to ensure that family members have access to timely information about cases; specialized assistance for victims and families; and positive relationships and the sharing of information between families and criminal justice professionals.

Third, the action plan includes initiatives such as funding shelters on reserve on an ongoing basis, supporting the creation of a DNA-based missing persons index, and continuing to support police investigations through the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains.

We will also continue to work closely with provinces and territories, police services, and the justice system, as well as aboriginal families, communities, and organizations to address violence against aboriginal women and girls.

Aboriginal AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question was very specific and has not been addressed with the answer that has been provided. In fact, it is almost exactly the same answer that was provided to me the first time I asked this question.

I asked about cities. I asked about urban settings. During the debate on this issue that was brought forward under a different motion, we heard a member, I believe it was the member for Sault Ste. Marie, talk about the fact that 30% of the women had disappeared at the hands of strangers.

In our criminal justice system, we know that the rate for the general population of stranger violence is 0.4%. In other words, 0.4% of the people who die violently in our country in a criminal act die at the hands of a stranger. However, for aboriginal and first nations women, it is 30%. That tells us very clearly that this is not a family violence issue. What this tells us very clearly is that when these women are looking for safety, they are not finding it. Where they are not finding it in horrific numbers is in urban settings, in cities.

Everything you just talked about is on reserve and traditional lands. What are you doing in cities to protect women?

Aboriginal AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

November 20th, 2014 / 6:20 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The member for Trinity—Spadina should be aware that comments have to be directed to the Chair rather than to individual members of Parliament. His time has now expired.

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Aboriginal AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Susan Truppe Conservative London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, our government's investments to address violence against aboriginal women and girls are very significant.

In fact, measures in the action plan released by the Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women, on September 15, represent a total investment of nearly $200 million for five years. This includes new funding of $25 million for five years, beginning in 2015-16. There is also ongoing funding of $158.7 million for five years, beginning in 2015, for shelters and family violence prevention activities.

Starting in April 2015, there will be dedicated resources of $5 million over five years through Status of Women Canada to improve the economic security of aboriginal women and promote their participation in leadership and decision making.

Aboriginal AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:25 p.m.)