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House of Commons Hansard #91 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was citizens.

Topics

Lyme DiseasePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 28th, 2014 / 4:15 p.m.

Green

Bruce Hyer Green Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition regarding Bill C-442, the national Lyme disease strategy act, brought by the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, which would develop a national strategy to ensure the recognition, timely diagnosis, and effective treatment of Lyme disease in Canada. We have a large and growing number of citizens in Thunder Bay—Superior North who have Lyme disease, and unfortunately, it is increasing with climate change.

Railway TransportationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to raise attention on behalf of residents of Sault Ste. Marie, Aweres, Prince Township, Goulais River, and Hilton Beach, which are in the Conservative riding of Sault Ste. Marie. They are concerned about the subsidy removal for the Algoma Central Railway passenger rail service and the fact that there was no broad consultation; that it is impacting businesses, homes, and communities along the route; and that it is affecting their local economy, especially for small businesses. They are asking the government to reinstate funding for the Algoma passenger rail service. I have to admit that the government did put a bit of funding back, but only for one year, and these residents remain concerned about that.

The SenatePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Jacob NDP Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have here a petition signed by the people of Brome—Missisquoi. They are calling for the Senate to be abolished. This house of unelected representatives—who are not accountable to anyone, other than the party that appointed them—costs us $92 million a year.

The petition states that senators represent no one except the party that appointed them. It must be abolished.

Blood and Organ DonationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have petitions from all over Canada calling on the Government of Canada to review thoroughly and examine the policy on blood and organ donation in Canada. The petitioners ask that the sexual preferences of people not be an instant refusal of the right to donate. They point out that they understand that people should be pre-tested for any disease prior to being qualified to donate. They understand that there may be some high-risk activities. What they object to is the automatic assumption that because of someone's sexual preference they would be prima facie excluded from donating blood. They request that the Government of Canada return the right of any healthy Canadian to give the gift of blood, bone marrow, or other organs to those in need no matter the race, religion, or sexual preference of a person, because they believe that this right is universal to all people and is a very important right of citizenship.

DementiaPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Jamie Nicholls NDP Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure to present three petitions to the House.

The first petition is calling for a national strategy on Alzheimer's and dementia affecting seniors. This has an impact on many Canadians.

Public Transit OperatorsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Jamie Nicholls NDP Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is aimed at putting an end to violence against bus drivers, a problem that is not going away. We hope that a solution is found soon.

SenatePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Jamie Nicholls NDP Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, the third petition is from residents of Vaudreuil—Soulanges, from towns such as Hudson and Saint-Lazare, who are asking that the House of Commons abolish the Senate. They are saying that it is an unelected chamber, it is unaccountable, and it has no place in our democracy.

AgriculturePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Craig Scott NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition entitled “The Right to Save Seeds”, sponsored by the National Farmers Union, on behalf of hundreds of residents of Toronto—Danforth.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to refrain from making changes to the Seeds Act or the Plant Breeders' Rights Act through a bill that is currently before this House, Bill C-18. They fear that it would further restrict farmers' rights and add to farmers' costs. They ask Parliament to enshrine instead of that part of the legislation the inalienable right of farmers and other Canadians to save, reuse, select, exchange, and sell seeds.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

4:20 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.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

4:20 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 notices of motions for the production of papers be allowed to stand.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Is that agreed?

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

4:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Sexual Assault in the Canadian Armed ForcesRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The chair has received notice of request for an emergency debate. I will acknowledge the hon. member for St. John's East.

Sexual Assault in the Canadian Armed ForcesRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, as was pointed out, I did give notice to the Speaker of a request for an emergency debate under Standing Order 52(2). I am seeking leave to propose an emergency debate on the alarming reports of sexual assault in the Canadian Armed Forces.

There is an urgent need for an emergency debate to allow parliamentarians to address this crisis in a substantive way so that substantive action can be taken to determine the extent of the problem and much-needed steps can be taken to prevent future cases.

I want to emphasize the fact that sometimes when emergency debates are proposed, it is suggested that there may be an opposition day on which the issue could be raised. However, there are no opposition days in the following weeks. There are none on the planned agenda of the House, and an emergency debate may well be the only occasion we will have to debate such an important and urgent issue.

It involves a serious matter: victims of sexual assault in the military. We have seen reports that as many as 1,700 assaults per year, or five a day, take place. People in the military need to have confidence that when anything like this happens, their complaints will be taken seriously, that it will not have a negative effect on their careers if they complain, and that the perpetrators will be handled properly and appropriately. That seems to be a big problem.

There is a potential significant loss of confidence that the current government is taking the matter seriously. We need a debate to allow members to talk about this issue and to discuss the possible ways of dealing with it.

There is the fact that we do not have reports that are statutorily required and a whole series of serious issues that cannot be dealt with and answered properly in 35 seconds of question period. Therefore, there is a need for a substantive debate. If it does not happen by way of an emergency debate, it may not be debated until the fall.

These are the reasons it is an emergency. The seriousness of the issue, I think, speaks for itself. We are talking about victims of sexual assault, and there are reports in the media that they are being re-victimized within the military because of improper handling of these matters.

This is a matter that has been ongoing for some time. There were reports of it 16 years ago. We have similar reports today.

Something serious needs to be done. We need to debate the issue here in Parliament, and an emergency debate seems to be the best method of doing that right now.

Speaker’s RulingRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I thank the hon. member for St. John's East for his interest in the subject and for his submission. We have taken the matter in hand, reviewed the proposal that the member submitted, and find that it does not actually meet the usual test or requirements that would compel an emergency debate in this case at this time, and so we will let that matter stand.

Before we go to orders of the day, it is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, Canada-U.S. relations; and the hon. member for Trois-Rivières, housing.

Bill C-24—Time Allocation MotionStrengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

moved:

That, in relation to Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the second reading stage of the Bill; and

That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration of the second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Bill C-24—Time Allocation MotionStrengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Pursuant to Standing Order 67.1, there will now be a 30-minute question period. As has been the case at other times where the House has considered these questions, we like to limit members' interventions to around a minute so that enough members will have the opportunity to participate. In addition, this is another reminder that the 30-minute question period is primarily intended for opposition members to question the government on the proposal that it has before the House.

We will proceed with questions. The hon. opposition House leader.

Bill C-24—Time Allocation MotionStrengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, 65 times we have had closure and time allocation. That is the deplorable record of the government. Back when Conservatives were trying to replace the former corrupt Liberal government, they said they were going to do things differently. They were not going to ram bad legislation through the House but would actually take the time to consider amendments from the opposition. We all remember that. That is what the Conservatives used to say.

Now, a few years later, the government has a deplorable record: it has used closure and time allocation 65 times. The public has a number of concerns about this controversial bill, which makes it even more deplorable that the government is doing this yet again.

The government does not want to show openness in the House. It simply wants to impose its law, regardless of the consequences. We all know what kinds of consequences these controversial bills have. The bills are so badly botched that the government is forced to introduce new bills to fix the problems. Furthermore, the Supreme Court has systematically rejected bills introduced by this government. This has happened four times in the past few weeks.

My question for my colleague is very simple: why is the government imposing a closure and time allocation motion for the 65th time, especially on such a controversial bill?

Bill C-24—Time Allocation MotionStrengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Ajax—Pickering Ontario

Conservative

Chris Alexander ConservativeMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, we are doing it because we have a responsibility to Canadians, a responsibility to do what we promised we would do.

This overhaul of citizenship legislation has been on our agenda for years. We promised it during the last election campaign, in various throne speeches, particularly the most recent one, and in our budgets. Now it is time for action.

Canadians care deeply about their citizenship. They understand that it is very valuable and that problems in the existing law need to be fixed.

The law was last updated in 1977 under Prime Minister Trudeau's Liberal government. Many problems, such as abuses and processing delays, have surfaced since then.

If we do not take action and make this bill the law of the land, tens of thousands of permanent residents who want to become citizens will suffer. The opposition is not taking their interests into account.

Bill C-24—Time Allocation MotionStrengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, we have the government of the day that continues to want to use time allocation. It uses time allocation more than any other government in the history of Canada. It is abuse. It is so sad to see. We have that on the one hand.

Then we have the official opposition, the New Democrats, who do not even want to sit in the evenings. They voted against having those extra hours so we could have more debate.

We have legislation, such as the bill that is being proposed here, that generally needs to be debated extensively, and the government is trying to prevent that debate from taking place by bringing in closure.

Then we have New Democrats who, even though they agree with legislation, the simplest of legislation, want to invoke and pressure government to have time allocation.

The question I have for the government House leader is this. Why are the NDP and the Conservatives unable to sit down with the Liberals and work out a legislative timeframe that would allow for adequate debate on the important pieces of legislation that Canadians need to see legitimately debated at second reading?

Bill C-24—Time Allocation MotionStrengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Alexander Conservative Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, there has been abuse. There has been a problem. Under our current Citizenship Act, last amended under a Liberal government in a thorough-going way in 1977, the door was open to people who claimed residence in this country, in relatively large numbers, but whose physical presence in the country was never checked. That is the kind of abuse Liberal governments left behind them, decade after decade, and this government is moving to correct, because Canadians attach importance to their citizenship. They want to see the rules followed. New Canadians want it. Canadians who have achieved citizenship by descent want it. People aspiring to citizenship today, making the sacrifices to go through the “Discover Canada” guide and to learn our official languages to the level required, want these rules to be followed. That is what the bill would do.

We have already had 36 hours of debate in this House. We will have many more hours of debate tonight, thanks to the willingness of this government to put its shoulder to the wheel and to work for the benefit of Canadians. That has allowed all sides of this bill to be considered. It has been pre-studied in committee. We are making progress, and we will make more tonight.

Bill C-24—Time Allocation MotionStrengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, my constituents are shocked. They are angry. I do not know why the current government does not buy an entire warehouse of duct tape and just tape every single mouth in this House. It is ridiculous that we are actually debating something so fundamental as what citizenship is and means in a modern democratic country. It is unbelievable.

My Liberal friend should probably check the record. It has been very clear from the beginning. We said we had no problems with working. The point is that they got into bed with the government in order to keep us from actually moving motions. How democratic is that? It is incredible.

My question is the following. Is my hon. colleague, who I know is well intentioned and for whom I have a lot of respect, not capable of recognizing that something as fundamental as citizenship, something that concerns Canadians so much, here and abroad, should be properly discussed by this august chamber?

Bill C-24—Time Allocation MotionStrengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Alexander Conservative Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, we strongly agree. It can and should be properly discussed. It has been discussed for dozens of hours. It will be discussed for further hours, this evening. It will be considered carefully in committee.

However, there is urgency to passing these measures, which we announced years ago in speeches from the throne and in budgets and for which Canadians sent us here with a strong mandate to bring into law, to bring into effect, because for us on this side who are in government it is very clear what Canadians' expectations are.

Last year was the biggest year ever for applications to become citizens: 330,000-plus permanent residents applied to become citizens. Our production of new citizens, of new awards of citizenship this year, has been unprecedented: 75,000 in the first three months. We are going to carry that pace forward.

However, we cannot meet Canadians' expectations and we cannot start to bring processing times down without the measures in the bill. They are urgently needed. That is why this debate, this fulsome debate, which has carried on for 36 hours, needs to continue tonight and come to a conclusion in due course.

Bill C-24—Time Allocation MotionStrengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Jamie Nicholls NDP Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, Marleau and Montpetit's historical perspective on closure is that the closure rule has been the subject of scrutiny and discussion on numerous occasions. In December 1957, the new Diefenbaker government placed a notice of motion on the order paper to repeal the closure rule, but the motion was never debated. In July 1960, the government thought about giving it to committee to look at the closure procedure. Then the Liberals of the 1970s again considered the desirability of repealing the closure rule, but they did not report it on either. Basically, no action has been taken on repealing this awful measure that was used only a handful of times for half a century. There was reluctance to apply the closure rule. It only started in 1913.

My question to the minister is simple. Does he actually believe in cutting off debate through this use of the closure tool, or like the Conservatives and Liberals of the past, would he at least consider repealing the idea of closure in debates?

Bill C-24—Time Allocation MotionStrengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Alexander Conservative Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would correct the hon. member. This is not a closure motion; this is a time allocation motion. We are debating a measure that has been amply debated. Aspects of it were debated under different guises as private members' business, and aspects of it have been debated in different forms in previous amendments to the Citizenship Act.

These issues are familiar to Canadians, but what would this bill accomplish? First, it would underline and reinforce the value of Canadian citizenship, which all Canadians consider incredibly important. It would speed up processing. If we get this bill passed quickly, it would benefit tens of thousands of those waiting for their citizenships to be processed. It would also honour those who served Canada and circumscribe those cases in which citizenship can be revoked for gross acts of disloyalty. These are all measures that are very popular in this country, that are very much needed, that we have amply debated in this place, and that we want to move forward with this bill.