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House of Commons Hansard #158 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was measures.

Topics

Motor Vehicle Safety ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Davenport. I will advise the member that he will not have his full ten minutes; he will have about seven to eight minutes.

Motor Vehicle Safety ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, those who are listening to this debate may be surprised to see the government doubting the research, the evidence, and the very credible voices speaking out in favour of side guards. It is just as it was when the members of the current government denied the existence of climate change for many years, and have only recently awakened to that fact. This is a government that does not like evidence and hard facts. The way the Conservatives have spun their opposition to this balanced and reasoned private member's bill by my friend, the member of Parliament for Brossard—La Prairie, is to say that there is emerging technology that might be better. Therefore, they will not save lives now but rather wait for research to happen with respect to emerging technologies and groovy new mirrorless transportation systems.

It is the role of those of us in this place as parliamentarians to protect the lives of Canadians. When we come across a simple solution that would save some lives, the government refers it to the municipalities. It beats up the municipalities and hectors the provinces instead of standing up and taking responsibility for the areas it has responsibility for. That is one of the reasons this bill is so important and the government's opposition to it is so incredibly galling.

I am a little emotional about this because Jenna Morrison was killed in November of 2011 when she was pulled under a heavy truck on the border between my riding and the riding of Parkdale—High Park. She was killed at a turn that I often make on my bicycle. Jenna Morrison was the exact same age as my own wife, who just had a child a month ago. As we all know, Jenna Morrison was also with child at the time she was killed. For me it is also a very real reminder that we have cyclists and heavy trucks sharing the road.

It is true that we need better, stronger and more comprehensive transportation throughways for cyclists. I will remind those listening that many members of the government are quite friendly with the former mayor of Toronto who spent $300,000 in taxpayer dollars to paint over a bicycle lane after he announced that the war on the car was over. Apparently there was a war but no one knew it. What I am getting at here is that the government cannot help but play politics with even the most simple solutions to some very important problems.

When I think about Jenna Morrison's young son and her partner whom she left behind and the way in which their lives have been turned upside down, and others' lives too right across the country, I think it is incumbent on us to take the matter seriously and not to try to dodge the issue. We know that side guards are mandatory on many heavy trucks in the United Kingdom. Japan and the European Union are other examples. It is not as though this was an idea that came out of the ether. This is something that we know works. Instead, the government is saying that we should find some other technology. Maybe we need to check the logs of the lobby registry to see how often the trucking industry has lobbied the government to oppose this bill. In cities like Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, St. John's, and Halifax, in fact in cities right across the country, we have built roads for cars but we have more and more cyclists on the roads.

We absolutely need to deal with that change in road use. We have had a colossal battle over the last several years in Toronto to start to deal with it. They are complex issues and they are going to take a significant amount of political will.

However, I want to ask the members opposite how much political will we need to require mandatory side guards. It amazes me that we could not have all party support for the bill. I listened very carefully to the members opposite who said there were only a couple of deaths in the country, so it is not that big a deal. I think most members here would agree that if we in this place can save even one life by implementing safeguards and standards that are not going to cost the treasury a dime, it is incumbent upon us to take the issue seriously and pass this piece of legislation.

I would like to congratulate my hon. friend for tabling a bill that was initially put forward by our good friend Olivia Chow. I am honoured to stand here on behalf of the good people in the riding of Davenport, in the great city of Toronto, to support the bill.

Motor Vehicle Safety ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased and yet somewhat disappointed to be speaking today.

I am pleased because this is a private member's bill. When it was my turn to decide which bill I would introduce, I asked myself what change we could actually make. Clearly, we are talking about a bill that can save lives.

I listened closely to all of the speeches. I would like to thank my colleagues on this side of the House, both the Liberals and the NDP. They gave speeches that really touched me, that got to the heart of the matter and that expressed much of what I was feeling.

I am disappointed today because I also listened to the Conservative government during the first hour of debate. From the outset, the government opposed the bill. I found it unfortunate and difficult to witness such an ideological attitude. However, this is not just about ideology. The members are being whipped by their government and cabinet, which are telling them to vote a certain way and spout the same lines. Everything I heard from the other side was the same.

If the members truly believe that they are lacking information, they should support the bill at second reading and we will study it in committee. We will look at the facts.

According to them, the studies are inconclusive. I plead with my colleagues opposite to actually read some of the reports.

There is one report that came from the chief coroner of Ontario. It is dated June 2012, so it is a new report that came out not too long ago. It looked at what happened between January 2006 and December 31, 2010. It looked at the fatalities. It looked at the accidents involving trucks and cyclists. The recommendation that came from the coroner is outlined in number 13. It is a recommendation to Transport Canada that states, “Side-guards should be made mandatory for heavy trucks in Canada.”

Therefore, if my colleagues do not want to listen to us in the opposition and are saying the studies are not conclusive, they should at least look at the reports that came from the coroner. If they believe that what we have here is not sufficient, let us study it at committee. Let us look at what we have in terms of reports and studies and let us make a decision.

I urge my colleagues to vote in favour of the bill at second reading. Then, if they are not satisfied with what we do at committee, that is fine.

In Europe, vehicle side guards have been mandatory for the past 25 years. They are mandatory in Japan and Great Britain. In Canada, there have been so many deaths that I cannot name all the victims. One death in particular had a real impact on me because I met the victim's mother. Jessica was killed by a vehicle. She wanted to save her brother and she fell under the vehicle.

Westmount, the City of Montreal and Ville Saint-Laurent reacted by equipping their vehicles with side guards. If anyone thinks that the municipalities are wasting their money, they can think again. The government is saying that the municipalities and the provinces can make other regulations themselves. That is true, but we also have a responsibility. We must show leadership.

All my colleagues were going to vote against the bill at second reading. We should ask ourselves next time when there is a death. It happened two weeks ago. There was a death in Montreal, and the first thing that was said was that maybe sideguards would have saved the person.

When Mathilde Blais was killed earlier this year, we said that maybe side guards would have saved her. What did the coroner report say? It said they could have saved her. Please think about it next time.

Motor Vehicle Safety ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

Order, please. It being 6:17 p.m., the time provided for debate has expired.

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

Motor Vehicle Safety ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Motor Vehicle Safety ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Motor Vehicle Safety ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Motor Vehicle Safety ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

All those opposed will please say nay.

Motor Vehicle Safety ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Motor Vehicle Safety ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 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 an order made on Tuesday, November 25, 2014, the division stands deferred until Wednesday, December 10, 2014, at the expiry of the time provided for oral questions.

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

Aboriginal AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is difficult to accept that in the 10 years since Amnesty International Canada released a major report documenting the violence against this country's indigenous women, there still has not been a strong federal response on this issue. There has been opportunity for both Liberal and Conservative governments, but a full decade later, we are so mired in the problem that the only reasonable response is a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women.

That said, the current government refuses to budge, despite overwhelming and ever-growing support for an inquiry. Instead of recognizing the benefits that the process would have, it has managed to plug its ears and claim that these are all just crimes that are being dealt with by the police. All the while, the statistics keep mounting, and a direct line that runs from the brutal murder of Helen Betty Osborne to the discovery of Tina Fontaine's body in the Red River this past summer is being dismissed as nothing more than a number of unconnected crimes.

The real crime, however, is inaction and indifference, as well as viewing these women and girls in the worst light far too often. Disappearances are too quickly dismissed as runaways or substance abusers, which is supposed to excuse a lacklustre effort to find missing people. In addition, when these instances are seen as nothing more than simple crimes to be dealt with by police, we are dismissing the fact that these women are almost seven times more likely to be the victims of violence than any other societal group in Canada.

Too often, we have heard members of the governing party wonder what good an inquiry would do. My colleague from Timmins—James Bay did a great job of explaining that. He said that, among many other things, an inquiry would allow us to see what makes these women so vulnerable and how they can be taken without police investigations. It would let us talk about how children and young women can be taken from their homes because the federal government will not allow therapy and in-house support for their families. We would hear how they get put into foster care and so often end up on the street. Most importantly, an inquiry would send the message that these women were people who were loved and should be respected, and that our Canadian society is ashamed that so many people could be allowed to disappear or die.

An inquiry is about a commitment to make societal change, like the change that came to the OPP because of the Ipperwash inquiry. That showed us that an inquiry process can and does work.

With all this in mind, I ask the government if it will reconsider and call an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women.

Aboriginal AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Mark Strahl ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, 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 victims are recognized. That is why the Government of Canada has made it very clear that abhorrent acts of violence against aboriginal women and girls will not be tolerated in our society.

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 in reducing violence against aboriginal women. As a result of this commitment, the Minister of Labour and 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.

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 on Violence Against Indigenous Women. There are three main areas in which our government is taking action.

First, the Government of Canada is taking action to prevent violence against aboriginal women and girls. Specific actions set out in the action plan include the development of more community safety plans across Canada, including in regions that the RCMP's 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, the Government of Canada 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 Government of Canada is taking action to protect aboriginal women and girls. Specifically, 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. The Government of Canada 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.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, repeating announcements of old money is not getting the job done. There are a lot of communities that do not have crisis centres for these people to go to. There is a lack of funding from the government.

Year after year, indigenous women face more violence than other groups in Canadian society. This is not about solving crimes. It is about showing respect and changing the cultural view of what is acceptable. Part of showing respect is allowing the families of the victims to be heard, which is what an inquiry would actually do.

If we look at what we learned from Ipperwash, it was that it is possible to make big changes when we have big societal conversations. The appetite for that discussion only grows all through Canada, with one notable exception: the Conservative government here in Ottawa.

Will the government listen to the growing chorus of calls from groups such as the Canadian Public Health Association for a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women?

Aboriginal AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, BC

Mr. Speaker, our government's investments to address violence against aboriginal women and girls are significant. 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 over five years. This includes new funding of $25 million over five years beginning in 2015-16. There is also ongoing funding of $158.7 million over 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 to promote their participation in leadership and decision-making.

Consumer ProtectionAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, on November 17, I asked a question of the Minister of Industry, and I was a little surprised and disappointed with his answer. That is why I chose to take the opportunity that is offered tonight in adjournment debate to raise this matter.

I want to explain the question first. I started it by saying, “Canadian consumers believe in and benefit from a fair and open competitive marketplace”.

Previous to November 17, I attended a presentation at the Ottawa Economic Club luncheon, where the CEO of Club Coffee, John Pigott, explained the situation consumers are facing in terms of single-serve coffee pods, which is a fairly significant market. He told us that in 2012, sales were about $204 million; in 2013, they were $367 million; and in 2014, they were almost half a billion dollars. Over one billion of these things are sold in North America.

What was being raised was that his company had started competing in 2012, when the foreign company that had the largest single share of the market, almost a monopoly, because of patents that were coming to term at that point, started selling. The average cost was 52¢ a pod versus 73¢ a pod for the larger company. Their market share from coffee was increasing, and it was being alleged that the larger company was now trying to do things that would reassert its monopoly, so to speak. They lodged a complaint with the Competition Bureau.

My question to the minister, asked in an absolutely non-partisan manner, was whether the government would respond as to whether there would be an inquiry initiated by the Competition Bureau in a timely manner. I also mentioned that five other independent companies in Canada also supported the complaint. I mentioned one of the companies that happened to be in the minister's region of the country.

I was surprised by the response, because it was a little flippant. He said that if this was the most serious question coming from the opposition, then we were doing great in Canada.

Over 70% of Canadian adults consume coffee. If we are looking at that kind of price differential, then we are talking about tens of millions of dollars. That is why a fair marketplace is important. I just wanted to make sure the minister was aware of it, and he did confirm that he was. After I asked the question, he told me he had talked to the company I had mentioned, the Granville Island Coffee Company.

All I am saying tonight is that we ought to treat parliamentarians with respect. When we raise questions that are of significance to millions of Canadians on a daily basis, then we ought not to be flippant in our answers. That is why I thought this evening I would raise this matter, and hopefully I will get a response from the parliamentary secretary that is not flippant and not partisan in any way, shape, or form.

Consumer ProtectionAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Mark Strahl ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the hon. member that I respect him and I know the Minister of Industry does as well.

The minister made clear in his answer in the House that we did not direct the Competition Bureau in its investigations of conduct under the Competition Act. The Competition Bureau is an independent law enforcement agency and, as such, conducts its investigations confidentially and independently.

I can assure the House, however, that the Competition Bureau is working for consumers every day, and our government introduced major reforms to the Competition Act in 2009 to give the Competition Bureau better tools to do just that. The bureau has been using these added tools to ensure fair competition and better outcomes for consumers.

The Competition Act provides the commissioner with the authority to investigate anti-competitive behaviour. The act contains both civil and criminal provisions and covers conduct such as bid-rigging, false or misleading representations, price-fixing, or abuse of a dominant market position, among other things. The act also grants the commissioner the authority to make representations to promote competition in various sectors. It does all of this work to advance an efficient, competitive and open marketplace for the benefit of the economy, businesses and, most important, Canadian consumers.

Where there is evidence of conduct in violation of the act, the bureau will not hesitate to take appropriate action. Whenever price-fixing or collusion is suspected, the Competition Bureau investigates. In fact, the last fiscal year has been a record year for the bureau. The Competition Bureau has saved Canadians over $500 million in the past year and issued more than $54 million in fines.

More recent, the bureau made a decision relating to anti-competitive return policies and procedures by water heater providers in Ontario that prevented consumers from switching to another provider. This resolution included an administrative monetary penalty of $5 million and required the companies to make changes that would protect Canadian consumers in the future.

We know that the Competition bureau will not hesitate to take enforcement action, where appropriate.

Let me assure the House that our government is standing up for consumers in numerous areas to ensure they benefit from a fair and open competitive marketplace.

Canadians know that more competition will serve them and their families well through better services and lower prices. The 2013 Speech from the Throne signalled that the government would continue its commitment to consumers, and budget 2014 expanded upon the government's consumer-focused measures to improve the bottom line for Canadian families and ensure they would get value for their hard-earned dollars.

Our government committed to promoting competition in the telecommunications sector so Canadian families would benefit from cutting-edge technologies and services at affordable prices. We set aside wireless spectrum for new entrants to create more choice in the market and to increase competition, reduced barriers to foreign investment, extended mandatory rules for tower sharing and roaming, and established spectrum auction rules to ensure new wireless entrants and regional providers would have access to prime spectrum. Since 2008, prices have fallen by almost 22%.

Canadian families work hard for their money and our government has demonstrated that we are committed to putting consumers first.

Consumer ProtectionAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, this response was a little more respectful and less flippant, so I appreciate that.

I am not expecting the government to direct the Competition Bureau. I understand it is an arm's-length agency. However, I hope it will pay attention to this significant issue.

A campaign was launched, freethebeans.ca. Many Canadian consumers have written both to the minister and to the Competition Bureau hoping they will indeed take a look at this to prevent behaviour that is not appropriate. I am not suggesting that is the case; that is not my job to do. However, I would hope we would see this happen so this market niche, which is now in the competitive environment, remains in the competitive environment and no one uses a dominant position to drive out the competitors. I think if that is done, then Canadians who drink coffee using the single server pod will all benefit from this.

Consumer ProtectionAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, BC

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned before, our government has taken decisive action to put Canadian consumers first. We have cut taxes nearly 180 times, saving Canadian families nearly $3,400. Canadians work hard for their money and every dollar counts, including the money they might use to purchase coffee pods.

As I said before, the Competition Bureau is an independent law enforcement agency. It will conduct those investigations confidentially and independently. We trust it will do that in this case or in any others that are brought to its attention.

Consumer ProtectionAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 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 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:35 p.m.)