House of Commons Hansard #225 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was s-6.

Topics

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

Madawaska—Restigouche New Brunswick

Conservative

Bernard Valcourt ConservativeMinister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

moved that Bill S-6, An Act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act and the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act, be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, in 2007, this government launched a comprehensive northern strategy focused on sovereignty, the environment, the economy, and governance. Under the leadership of this Prime Minister, for the past nine years we have been providing northerners with the tools they need to take advantage of the vast natural resources at their disposal in an environmentally sustainable manner. By doing so, we are creating jobs and economic opportunities for northerners, ensuring the long-term prosperity of the north for generations to come.

Members can take great satisfaction from our progress in advancing the northern strategy in recent years thanks to extensive federal infrastructure investments, whether it be the creation of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency under the able leadership of the Minister of the Environment, the devolution of the Northwest Territories, the Canadian High Arctic Research Station in the eastern Arctic, the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway, Canada's leadership on the Arctic Council, or the extension of protected land and marine areas, and the list goes on.

The bill before us today, Bill S-6, is the next example of how we are delivering on our northern strategy. This bill will complete the modernization of regulatory regimes in the north by bringing Yukon and Nunavut's regulatory regimes up to speed and on par with other Canadian jurisdictions.

This legislative work was started in 2013 with the Northern Jobs and Growth Act and completed in the Northwest Territories last year with the Northwest Territories Devolution Act. Now it is time to finish what we have started.

The proposed amendments to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Act and the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act are designed to make the regulatory systems in Yukon and Nunavut more efficient and effective, while ensuring sound environmental stewardship.

This is what Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski told senators during hearings on the bill:

We [the Yukon] are now in a position where we are not as competitive with other jurisdictions. Quite frankly, we would like to get back on an equal footing with the other jurisdictions in this country.

Bill S-6 would do just that. It would make the two territories' regulatory regimes consistent with others across the north and in the rest of Canada. This would ensure Yukon and Nunavut remain attractive places to live, work and invest for generations to come.

Let me briefly highlight the many advantages of Bill S-6 for each territory. I will begin by summarizing some facts about updating YESAA.

It is important to underline that the amendments were informed by extensive discussions and consultations in Yukon over a period of seven years. These included the five-year review of YESAA as well as more recent engagement on this legislation.

Bill S-6 is consistent with the Umbrella Final Agreement and the individual first nations final agreements signed by the federal and territorial governments and Yukon first nations.

Decision-making powers over natural resources that currently rest with the territorial government or the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board would not change. Neither the federal government nor the territorial government would have the authority to influence, direct, or interfere with an assessment process. It is especially important that aboriginal input and participation would remain central to the YESAA process.

It is important to point out that the Senate Standing Committee Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources completed its review of the legislation last fall. At the end of its review, it endorsed the bill unanimously. I submit that it correctly recognized that the passage of this bill would help foster economic development in the region and would create jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity in an increasingly global marketplace.

These are the facts.

Allow me to take a moment to clarify, for the record, a few of the concerns that have been raised with regard to this bill, because as with every bill that comes through this place, there is very rarely unanimity. Bill S-6 would provide the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development with the authority to give binding policy direction to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board. The minister could also delegate his authority to the Government of Yukon in certain situations, if the need arose.

Including the power to delegate authorities to the territorial government is, I submit, consistent with the northern strategy and its aim of devolving and improving northern governance. It does not conflict with land claim agreements nor does it disrupt the tripartite spirit of the environmental assessment process. Further, and I have made this very clear, the government has no intention of exercising its authority to delegate any powers to the territorial government in the near term. Of course, if any such delegation were contemplated in the future, it would be consistent with the Umbrella Final Agreement and would also be in the best interests of Yukoners, including Yukon first nations.

When it comes to the issue of policy direction, there has been a lot of fearmongering about what types of policy direction the minister could issue. Allow to me alleviate these concerns. Not only does this power already exist in the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act, but in each and every case when this power was exercised, which was four times, it was to protect the interests of first nations and to ensure that all the parties involved, namely the board, had a common understanding, with the government, of agreements the government had subsequently undertaken. That is important to point out.

Policy direction could only be given within the framework of existing legislation and land claims agreements and after consultation with the board. This amendment would apply to matters such as board conduct, the use of new technology, and satisfying roles and responsibilities regarding aboriginal consultation.

Contrary to the myths that have been spread around, it absolutely does not affect the independence of the board or the board's decision-making abilities with respect to a project under consideration or a completed assessment. The board maintains the jurisdiction, as set out in the agreement, of an independent arm's-length body responsible for making recommendations to decision-making bodies based on their socioeconomic and environmental assessment.

Finally, and I am not sure if my colleagues are aware of it, this authority also exists and is consistent with territorial legislation that allows a Yukon minister to issue policy direction to boards, which has been done on one occasion.

While the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board has a clear record of completing reviews in a timely manner, the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Act does not set out the “beginning-to-end” time limits for project reviews that exist in every other jurisdiction in Canada.

Bill S-6 fixes that problem. The time limits in Bill S-6 are intended to put Yukon on a level playing field with the rest of Canada and the world, minimize investor uncertainty and make project planning more predictable, while allowing for necessary extensions that could arise with more complex projects.

Of course, the time required by the proponent to gather information and undertake any studies necessary for the review would be excluded. We heard repeatedly from government and industry about the time and money spent on assessments for minor changes that had no substantive impact on a project or the environment.

This proposed legislation clarifies that authorization to renew or amend a project would only require a new assessment where there has been a significant change to the project. This would reduce the administrative burden on the proponent and the board and ensure predictability for established projects.

First nations would have a direct role in determining whether there has been a significant change when the project is located on settlement land and the first nation is a decision body for the project.

There has been much debate about the Yukon component of this bill, particularly with regard to the concerns I just mentioned. I think hon. members will have no choice but to agree, after hearing these remarks, that indeed the bill was developed with the best interests of Yukoners in mind, including those of Yukon first nations, and will help us to finally bring this bill into law.

I want to take a moment to recognize the tireless efforts of the member of Parliament for Yukon on this bill. If it were not for him, it would not have been possible, due to the NDP's interminable ban on committee travel, for the committee to have concluded its hearings in Yukon to hear directly from Yukoners, which was significant. I think Yukoners should be grateful for such a hard-working Conservative member of Parliament.

Another aspect of this bill that has not been debated, it seems to me, is the one that concerns Nunavut. For the record, the Government of Nunavut has called on us to take action to modernize the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act.

The hon. Johnny Mike, Minister of Environment in Nunavut stated:

...the Government of Nunavut believes that this bill will make a number of improvements to the regulatory regime in Nunavut....this is an important piece of legislation for the North and will contribute to the environmental protection and economic development of Nunavut.

In developing this proposed legislation, the Government of Canada sought the input of the territorial government and Nunavut Tunnagavik Inc., NTI, which represents the Inuit of Nunavut. We also engaged with the Nunavut Water Board, with industry and other federal government departments prior to preparing the Nunavut related provisions of Bill S-6. We listened closely to the input received during consultation, which is reflected in the proposed legislation.

Residents of Nunavut can look forward to an improved regulatory environment as a result of these efforts. The changes proposed would introduce beginning to end time limits on the issuance of water licences and reduce the duplication and uncertainty of unnecessary reviews. They would also give the Nunavut Water Board the ability, at its discretion, to issue water licences for the anticipated duration of a project. Life of project water licences would extend the maximum duration of a licence from 25 years to the anticipated life of the project. This would enable companies to undertake long-term planning and implement the principle of one project, one assessment.

Bill S-6 also addresses the long-standing disincentive to investment in Nunavut, security over bonding. Over bonding occurs when a company is required to provide more security than would be required to remediate a project at its completion because both regional Inuit associations and the Nunavut Water Board have set security amounts. With Bill S-6, the federal minister of aboriginal affairs and northern development would be given legislative authority to enter into agreements relating to security with Inuit landowners and the project applicant. The Nunavut Water Board would still be responsible for setting the amount of security, but the board would be required to consider any arrangement reached.

Bill S-6 would also implement stronger enforcement provisions to increase environmental stewardship, as well as align the act with other federal environmental statutes. The proposed legislation would increase fines for violations and allow for the creation of administrative monetary penalties to encourage compliance with regulatory requirements and remove the financial benefit of rule breaking.

There is broad support for the Yukon and Nunavut regulatory improvement act throughout Nunavut. Northerners recognize that consultation has been robust and that the proposed amendments would foster investor confidence, economic opportunities and growth while promoting sound environmental stewardship in the eastern Arctic.

For example, while giving testimony at the Senate committee, the witness from the Nunavut Water Board said:

...we were very much part of the working group and very much contributed to that working group all throughout and indeed are quite satisfied how well some of the issues we raised were heard.

As well, the President of NTI, Cathy Towtongie, wrote to me, saying, “NTI has no objections to the modest changes proposed to the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act”.

My colleague, the Minister of the Environment, who represents Nunavut, has further reinforced the desire of her constituents to see Bill S-6 passed. As she has observed, the proposed legislation plays a crucial role in preparing for devolution to be successful in Nunavut. It would ensure the water management regime that is eventually transferred from the federal government to the Government of Nunavut would encourage investment and allow the territory to fully benefit from increased resource development.

Of course, our government remains committed to moving forward with the implementation of the legislative changes in a collaborative manner, respecting the spirit and intent of the land claims agreement in both territories.

For all of these reasons, I urge all-party support for this most worthy proposed legislation.

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the remarks of the minister today about the debate on Bill S-6 that would affect the people of Yukon so dramatically.

I think it first should be noted, this is the first and only day of debate on third reading for Bill S-6, as the government has decided to, once again in an unprecedented way, use time allocation to shut down debate on legislation in this place.

The minister talked about “broad support” for the bill, and it respecting the spirit and intent of the Umbrella Final Agreement in land claims in Yukon. One of the great accomplishments of Canada was the creation of the Yukon Environmental and Social Assessment Board, YESA. That was a three-legged stool with the equal participation by statute after the Umbrella Final Agreement, of first nations, Yukon government and federal government.

I had occasion to work. I was the legal adviser to the Yukon government during the self-government agreement preceding YESA. With this bill, people of Yukon are saying that this is tilting that three-legged stool in an unbalanced way to the federal government, and Council of Yukon First Nations are talking about lawsuits in order to stop this misguided legislation.

My question to the minister is, how does he say that there is this “broad support” for the legislation when people are talking about lawsuits to stop it and to change the balance that had been created so effectively when YESA was first created?

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Bernard Valcourt Conservative Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, to answer the hon. member's question, I would like to point out the fact, which he omits to mention, that the vast majority of the amendments in Bill S-6 to the YESA process stem from the five-year review that took place.

I referred in my remarks to a seven-year process that took place in order to bring Bill S-6 before this House.

When I talked of broad support, the fact of the matter is that there is indeed broad support, total support for all of those measures except four particular amendments. These four particular amendments have also been the subject of consultation with the first nations. As the record will show, all Yukoners, stakeholders, industry, government and first nations participated in the consultation process on these amendments, and the four particular amendments in question are probably most important to level the playing field I referred to.

The Yukon Territory deserves to benefit from the same rules as other territories and those provinces south of 60, and they ensure the certainty required to promote investment into the responsible natural resource development of the territory.

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the minister is so confident about the legislation he has brought forward, and yet, as has been pointed out, again through time allocation, is limiting participation, which is somewhat typical of the entire process of the bill.

I was not able to be there at the committee stage to hear the witnesses, but I have heard from a significant number of individuals in regard to Bill S-6. If the minister believes his legislation is so great, why then has there been so much resistance by the different stakeholders in coming on board with the member's legislation?

On the one hand we have the government saying, “Here is this wonderful piece of legislation”, but the communities that it is affecting are obviously offside with the minister.

How does the minister justify bringing forward legislation when he was not able to even come close to achieving any sort of consensus6 To illustrate just how bad it is, the only way the government has been able to pass this thing through to date is through time allocation. If it was not using its majority, it would not be passing the legislation.

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Bernard Valcourt Conservative Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, the observation of the hon. member, again, is very isolated. The fact of the matter is that this bill is fully supported and asked for by the entire legislature of the Yukon. The Government of Yukon supports this bill, asked for its implementation, and what is more important is that all of the provisions in the bill are fully consistent with the letter of the Umbrella Final Agreement.

This is not news to anybody in the Yukon who has read the Umbrella Final Agreement. All of these measures were contemplated, and I cannot understand why Liberals would want to keep the Yukon on a playing field that is inferior to that of other jurisdictions in Canada so as to prevent investment in the Yukon. That is what this bill would achieve.

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Colin Mayes Conservative Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, as the minister mentioned in his speech, last year the NDP acted unilaterally to impose a travel ban on committee travel. This is clearly a case of the NDP not acting in collaboration with first nations and northerners, as our government has been doing.

Thankfully, due to the strong leadership of the member of Parliament for Yukon, who strongly advocated for committee hearings to take place in Yukon, we were able to hear from Yukoners. I lived in Yukon for 28 years, consider myself a former Yukoner, and I know that Yukoners appreciate Ottawa hearing their voice.

This is significant. Could the minister please take a moment to highlight for the members opposite how this government continues to work in collaboration with northerners and first nations?

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Bernard Valcourt Conservative Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, I briefly want to thank the hon. member for his question. Notwithstanding that he no longer lives there, he has a strong commitment to Yukon.

The hon. member referred to the member of Parliament for Yukon, and I want to pay tribute to that Conservative member, because he rose above politics. Unfortunately, every time he brings a measure that is aimed at trying to do something positive for the benefit of people, other people, especially opposition members, try to score cheap political points.

Let us forget the fundamental of what is aimed for here. The member for Yukon, throughout all of this debate, and it has been tough at points, always rose above politics and addressed the best interests of Yukoners. If there was any doubt in anybody's mind on this side of the House that this is not in the best interests of Yukoners and also of Canada, then the bill would not be here.

This is about promoting growth, creating jobs, ensuring long-term prosperity and creating opportunities for Canadians in the north, Yukoners who love to live there, but would prefer to continue improving their standard of living, which this bill would achieve.

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, having listened to the minister's comments, I want him to know that he is completely incorrect when he says that the entire legislature of Yukon supported this bill. I was up there a few weeks ago and spoke on this bill. I met with many people, and I can say that there are members of the legislative assembly in Whitehorse who are very opposed to this bill. They reflected first nations and community concerns, because people believe that this bill would undermine agreements that are already in place.

I would like to ask the minister to withdraw his comment that this bill is supported by, I think he said, the whole legislative assembly. That is simply not true. He can check the record. It is not true.

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Bernard Valcourt Conservative Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, I will admit that when the House of Commons passes something and they vote against it, that does not prevent the statement that the House approved it. The legislature approved it, and that is a fact.

As to the other point the member made about some people being against it, of course they are. However, we have to look at the overall players. There are a few objectors to a few of the provisions of the bill, but the overwhelming majority of the provisions are endorsed by first nations, by the legislature of the Yukon, and hopefully also by this House, because the Senate has already unanimously approved the bill.

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to stand in this House to speak to this critical bill. I want to begin by correcting the record. The minister who just spoke characterized support from Yukon first nations in a way that is simply not the case.

I am proud to be part of the NDP, the official opposition that stands with Yukon first nations. We categorically oppose Bill S-6, not as the minister said. We oppose it along with many Yukoners, members of the legislature, members of organizations, environmental organizations, esteemed Yukoners who were part of putting together YESAA, and members of industry. They are all expressing their opposition to this bill. I am proud that we are standing with them today to do so as well.

The Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development travelled to the Yukon to hear testimony from those who will be affected most by Bill S-6. We now know that Yukoners do not want this bill. We know that first nations do not want this bill. To pass it would be imposition on their right of self-determination, and in the case of Yukon first nations, it will be a breach of the final agreement.

The callous disrespect that the Conservative government repeatedly shows towards treaty rights is both outrageous and, frankly, illegal. It knows that. It knows that Bill S-6 will send them into the courts, battling against Yukon first nations.

The fact is that Conservatives do not care. We know that the government is currently engaged in litigation with 95 first nations. It has spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayers' dollars fighting indigenous rights in court. Enough is enough.

As I attended the truth and reconciliation closing events this week, I saw thousands of Canadians who are ready to repair the ongoing violence of colonialism. However, we need our government to be a partner in this great task. Knowingly brushing off the Yukon first nations final agreement is illegal, immoral, and it will be expensive. More importantly, this week, it is also opposite to the spirit of reconciliation.

It is perhaps most disappointing in this case that Yukoners of all kinds are in fervent disagreement with Bill S-6. They want to uphold the final agreement. They see it as their agreement as well. The Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act, known as YESAA, is a made in Yukon program, and they worked hard to achieve it. They want to be good neighbours and good business partners with first nations and the federal government.

What is clear, since hearing testimony from Yukoners, is that the territorial Yukon government does not speak on behalf of the people. This is clear, as it supports this legislation.

I remember communicating with the Grand Chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations, Ruth Massie, who stated:

This whole process attacks the integrity of our constitutionally protected agreements and Yukon First Nations will stand by their agreements even if it means going to court, they give us no choice. We did not sign our agreements to implement them in the courts but we will protect them.

The people of the Yukon and first nations alike are baffled by the contents of Bill S-6. The YESAA recently underwent a five-year review, through which recommendations were made. However, the four amendments that are the cause of concern appeared nowhere as recommendations in the five-year review.

These four changes are contrary to the intent of the land claims agreement and undermine the neutrality of the YESAA process. The changes are that the federal Minister of Aboriginal Affairs will be endowed with the authority to provide policy directives to the YESAA board; that the federal minister will be given the power to delegate his federal powers to the Yukon government; that the exemptions for renewal and amendments could work to eliminate requirements for projects that could have major effects on the environment and communities; and, finally, that the condensed timelines on the YESAA assessments will limit the thoroughness of environmental assessments and limit the opportunity for first nations input.

Grand Chief Ruth Massie said this of the amendments in Bill S-6:

Yukon First nations have met with the Government of Canada, specifically [the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada] and have asked them to remove four problematic amendments proposed to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act [that was] established in Chapter 11 of the Umbrella final agreement and each final land claim agreement of the eleven Yukon First Nations.

1. Yukon First Nations are opposed to the proposed amendments to YESAA because they undermine our Aboriginal rights, titles and interests.

2. The four proposed amendments were not discussed with the agreement signatories prior to being considered, a complete surprise to Yukon first Nations. This is a direct breach of the constitutionally protected agreements for all eleven Yukon First Nations in regards to consultation and accommodation.

3. Canada's decision to impose the four proposed amendments will likely result in litigation with Yukon First Nations. This will affect the Yukon economy and cause [an impact on] any future resource development. Very unnecessary actions!

The question, why is the current government taking actions that it knows are unlawful and will lead to litigation? Why do Conservatives consistently force first nations, Inuit, and Métis communities into costly, protracted court battles that they will ultimately lose? The answer, I am afraid, lies in the Conservatives' willingness to put the perceived interests of extraction companies above environmental and first nations rights.

As with so much other legislation we have seen in this Parliament, the Conservatives intend to obliterate the environmental assessments and protections that Canada has established. I am speaking of Bill C-45, the omnibus bill that destroyed the navigable waters act; or Bill C-38, which made sweeping changes to Fisheries and Oceans.

What is most interesting about Bill S-6 is that a good portion of the businesses and extractive corporations with interests in the Yukon are also opposed to it. Industry is learning faster than government that in order to have sound, productive business dealings on or affecting indigenous lands, industries must secure meaningful consent and partnerships first.

I would like to read from a letter sent by a CEO of the Casino Mining Corporation, Paul West-Sells, who wrote to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs:

On behalf of Casino Mining Corporation...I am putting forward our company's concerns regarding the fragility of intergovernmental relations in the Yukon surrounding Bill S-6 and the negative impact this is having on the territory's mineral industry.

It is imperative for Casino that the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act...has the broad support of all governments in order to ensure the confidence of both project proponents and Yukon residents in the YESAA process and to facilitate investments in the territory.

In other words, if there is no confidence that first nations will support the government's environmental assessments, there can be no confidence in the investments that businesses want to make there. Bill S-6 could have disastrous implications on the Yukon economy.

I have been told that Yukon is proud that YESAA is homegrown and serves Yukoners and first nations. It is their tripartite agreement that created it. The current government is focused on destroying the protections over so many local and beloved waters and ecosystems. Yukoners know that YESAA is unique, and that it stands to protect the biosphere and their relationships with the indigenous communities they live with.

One of the repeated concerns that has been raised by Yukoners is that their voices have not been heard throughout this process. I quoted Grand Chief Ruth Massie, and I also want to read into the record the voices of other Yukoners who have been fighting Bill S-6.

Mary Jane Jim, councillor of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, provided testimony before the Senate Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. She said:

The CYFN and Yukon First Nations assert that the federal government would breach its constitutional duty to uphold the honour of the Crown when it proceeded unilaterally with amendments to the YESAA.

A great friend, Yukon NDP leader Liz Hanson, said in October 2014:

Eleven years ago, devolution gave the Yukon government province-like powers for land and resource management. This was an important step in Yukon’s history and crucial in Yukon’s ability to determine our own future, a future grounded in respectful relationships among Yukon First Nation governments and the Yukon government.

With these proposed amendments to what is a made-in-Yukon environmental assessment process, YESAA, it’s no longer ours.

The NDP leader Liz Hansen also said:

What we need, what is sorely missing, is a willingness to engage in an open and honest manner. We need a relationship built on dialogue and respect, rather than on lawsuits and secret negotiations.

A Yukon news editorial in June 2014, entitled “Environmental assessment reform should be done in the open”, wrote:

A long list of people deserve raspberries for this needlessly shady behaviour. At the top of the naughty list are Senator Daniel Lang and [the member for Yukon], who are supposed to ensure that the interests of Yukoners are represented in Ottawa. Instead, they’ve kept the public out of the loop, other than [the member for Yukon] uttering vague generalities about the forthcoming changes without offering any meaningful specifics. Shame on them.

Chief Eric Fairclough, chief of Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation, is quoted as having said:

—YESAA originates from and is rooted in our land claim agreements. It manages the use and the development of lands, waters, and resources in Yukon. As a result, implementation of YESAA may affect the exercise of aboriginal treaty rights. In this case, the crown has not acted in accordance with its constitutional duties owed to Yukon first nations. The crown has breached its duties to work with Yukon first nations and take steps to accommodate our concerns. The crown has not acted honourably or fairly. The crown has breached its constitutional duty to act in the honour of the crown.

Chief Carl Sidney of the Teslin Tlingit Council is quoted as having said:

Industry and development come and go, but we are here forever and we carry that sacred responsibility. YESAA is connected to those beliefs and values through our agreements and should not be amended without our consent. We entered into the agreements as a way forward as an expression of who we are as people. An essential part of that vision was the recognition of and respect for our land, our water, and the air we breathe. They are a part of us and we are part of our environment for all time. It is our collective responsibility as a treaty party to ensure these unique relationships will be part of our future.

The amendments in Bill S-6 imposed by Canada at the last minute undermine what we have created together. It is critical to success that we continue to work together as was the vision under our agreements. Canada's stated intention in entering into final agreements was to create certainty about the use and ownership of Yukon land and natural resources. Substantial aboriginal rights, including title, were exchanged for constitutionally protected treaty rights. That was a high price to pay to achieve certainty for all Canadians and the Yukon first nations who have signed agreements and have paid it in full.

I would like to read into the record Chief Angela Demit's words, the Chief of White River First Nation, who said:

We participated in meetings with Canada about the changes to YESAA. Through that experience we have understood that the changes being proposed by Canada have much more to do with an agenda made in Ottawa than with the recommendations that came out of the YESAA five-year review process.

Mr. Tom Cove, director of the Department of Lands and Resources for the Teslin Tlingit Council, said:

If I may, if the bill passes as is, the potential for litigation is a virtual, absolute certainty and is a great concern to Teslin Tlingit Council, other first nations, and a lot of Yukoners, and to investors outside the Yukon who have an interest in investing further in natural resource development, but in many other ways as well. It's of great concern and it is a virtual certainty. I'm not exactly sure, but the last time I looked I think there are five law firms already hired to prepare the work that's necessary in anticipation of this bill going forward. That's a lot of momentum in that direction.

Chief Doris Bill, the chief of Kwanlin Dün First Nation, stated:

Providing a single party with authority to direct the board is fundamentally inconsistent with any legislation that stems from our tripartite treaties. While the treaties obligate Canada to enact YESAA, it does not own YESAA and cannot choose to dictate its own policies on the independent assessment body.

Ms. Millie Olsen, deputy chief of the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun, stated at committee:

YESAA currently has timelines for assessors to review each iteration. This approach encourages proponents to prepare comprehensive applications that minimize iterations. Proponents who prepare adequate applications quickly are rewarded under the current process because they can proceed quickly.

On the other hand, the Bill S-6 approach of applying a beginning-to-end timeline will reward proponents who prolong the adequacy review phase by using up time with multiple iterations. The approach will penalize assessors and reviewers like first nations because it will shorten the most important public review phase, infringing on our right for comprehensive reviews of projects.

Chief Steve Smith, the chief of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, testified at committee. He stated:

Bill S-6 is a roadblock to reconciliation. The unconstitutional bill demonstrates the federal government's unilateralism and lack of understanding of the relationships that arise from the final agreements, the federal government's failure to abide by the collaborative development assessment regime mandated by the final agreements, and the federal government's indifference to fostering productive and collaborative treaty relations with Yukon first nations. This is fundamentally unacceptable.

Ms. Wendy Randall, the chair and executive committee member of the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board, YESAA, stated at committee:

It is important to note that YESAB is not part of government. We are not a regulator. We do not issue permits or authorizations, and we do not make final decisions on projects. We are an independent board that conducts environmental and socio-economic assessments and makes recommendations to decision bodies. Those decision bodies are the three orders of government that have control over land and resources in Yukon, so federal, territorial, and first nation governments....

We have 10 years of experience conducting environmental assessments on projects, from very small projects to very large [ones]. We have flexibility now in timelines that we have established under our rules, which for the most part, I feel, work fairly well.

Certainly there are areas in which things can be improved. We have proponents. We have first nations. We have other groups with sometimes different interests who feel there could be improvements made. I'm unsure until I see how these changes would play out or be implemented whether they would accomplish that or not.

Ms. Allison Rippin Armstrong, vice-president, Lands and Environment for the Kaminak Gold Corporation, stated:

—Kaminak is concerned that the process through which YESAA is being amended is creating increased distrust between governments and uncertainty in the assessment and regulatory process for current and future projects in Yukon.

I have shared the voices of Yukoners of Yukon first nations who have stood up against Bill S-6. They are standing up against the government's agenda.

As a proud northerner myself, I stand with them, along with my colleagues in the NDP, in solidarity against Bill S-6.

I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:

“this House decline to give third reading to Bill S-6, An Act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act and the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act, because it:

(a) was developed without adequate consultation with Yukon First Nations, as per the government of Canada's constitutional duty, and without adequate consultation with the people of Yukon, as per the government's democratic duty;

(b) provides the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development with authority to unilaterally issue binding policy direction on the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board, which undermines the neutrality of the environmental and socio-economic assessment process;

(c) provides the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development with authority to delegate powers to the territorial minister without the consent of First Nations;

(d) provides broad exemptions for renewals and amendments of projects; and

(e) includes proposed timelines on the assessment process that will affect the thoroughness of environmental and socio-economic assessments and opportunities for First Nation input on major projects.

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

We are out of time for debate at this point. The hon. member for Churchill will have 10 minutes of questions and comments when we resume debate.

St. John AmbulanceStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Susan Truppe Conservative London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, St. John Ambulance is one of the world's oldest humanitarian organizations. It was established in Canada in 1882, and now more than 100 branches serve over 300 communities across the country, training 550,000 Canadians in first aid each year.

On June 3, members from both sides of the House received a great lesson in first aid from volunteers at St. John Ambulance. Members had the opportunity to register for CPR and AED training and meet some of the 25,000 volunteers from St. John Ambulance who were on the Hill.

On behalf of all members, I would like to thank St. John Ambulance for all of the work it does to keep Canadians healthy and safe.

World Environment DayStatements By Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, June 5, is World Environment Day, which was established by the United Nations in 1972. This year's theme is “Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care”, which will be celebrated in over 100 countries.

People around the world are encouraged to undertake any number of environmental initiatives, whether as individuals or with others in their communities. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness about overconsumption and the finite nature of resources, because what happens tomorrow depends on what we do today. Together we can make a difference. For instance, we can reduce water consumption, limit our use of cars and recycle our old electronic devices, because every action counts and forms good habits.

In the NDP, we believe strongly in innovation for a sustainable economy based on renewable energy, because we respect future generations. That is what an NDP government will be committed to in October 2015. Happy World Environment Day to everyone.

Doors Open OntarioStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, this weekend, the community in my hometown of Whitchurch-Stouffville will be participating in Doors Open Ontario. It is an opportunity for the residents of our community to see the important buildings and heritage buildings that have helped to build our community and that are so important to our community.

At the same time, I want to recognize a local resident by the name of Fred Robbins. Fred is the unofficial town historian who has been a major force in helping to bring Doors Open Ontario to our Whitchurch-Stouffville community. He has won awards for the work that he has done in helping to promote and preserve the history and heritage of our community.

I want to highlight Mr. Robbins because although he may never receive the Order of Canada, he makes great contributions to our community, just as hundreds of other people do in communities across the country, who do what they do not for recognition but because they know it is right.

I want to salute Fred Robbins and all of the people who are participating in Doors Open Ontario in my hometown of Whitchurch-Stouffville.

Raymond PaquinStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Emmanuel Dubourg Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to acknowledge in the House the contribution of Raymond Paquin, a prominent figure in the riding of Bourassa, which I have the honour to represent in the House. This year, his dedication earned him the Governor General's Award.

Raymond Paquin is very involved in the Montreal North borough, where he created the Fondation de l'hôpital Marie-Clarac in order to raise money for developing the hospital. As secretary-treasurer, he successfully grew the foundation in Montreal North by surrounding himself with business people who were ready to work with and support the hospital's executive director, Sister Pierre-Anne Mandato, and her team. Mr. Paquin spearheaded a $35 million fundraising campaign in 2011 and 2015 to build the new Mother Anselme Marie wing, which opened in early November 2014. My riding is better for his contribution. I want to congratulate and thank him.

Parliamentary StaffStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Maurice Vellacott Conservative Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, I pay tribute to good staff that I have had over the past 18 years.

I want to thank Al, who was my very first staffer. We learned a lot of things together.

I express my gratefulness to Beth, who was a diligent worker and a very gifted writer.

I acknowledge John, who was my first research assistant on Parliament Hill, and a very thorough one.

Edna was my 15-year administrative assistant on the Hill, a very capable, committed staffer who made not more than a handful of mistakes in all of those years.

Wanda stepped in to effectively fill the role of administrative assistant in the constituency office during a couple of pregnancy leaves.

TV did an admirable job of relating to constituents and providing me with valuable feedback from his spring and fall mobile office tours.

Lori is efficient and remains chipper even in the face of difficult constituent cases.

AJ is firm and sensible in serving my constituents.

TJ is a good adviser and confidante and an astute legislative assistant.

Susanne has filled a gap in a reassuring way for me in the significant bookkeeping and financial aspects of this role.

Lastly, Barb has been a tremendous aid in research and in collaborating with me on pro-life issues.

I thank these staff members because I could not have done the job without them. Only eternity will tell the impact of what we have accomplished together. I thank each one.

La Pointe-de-l'ÎleStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to thank the people of La Pointe-de-l'Île for putting their trust in me four years ago. These past four years have been some of the best years of my life. During that time, I have been able to meet and work with people and organizations in Mercier-Est, Mercier-Ouest, Pointe-aux-Trembles and Montreal East, all of whom love their community and are dedicated to the well-being of others. I greatly admire them.

I would also like to celebrate and thank all those who work and fight, day in and day out, to build a fairer, greener and more united society. It is an honour for me to work beside them so that together we can build a society that lives up to our expectations. There is still much to be done to accomplish that goal, and I intend to work diligently so that the government finally makes meaningful investments in rail safety to keep all Canadians safe, so that everyone has an affordable place to live, so that our seniors can have a happy retirement and live in dignity, and so that sustainable development and environmental protection are finally priorities, for the sake of future generations.

Let us continue. We can achieve this goal together.

Orléans Para AthleteStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Conservative Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with emotion that I pay tribute to Kevin Frost of Orléans, who contributes to the immense richness of our community.

Kevin proves each day that one can be blind and deaf and still serve others.

In the last 15 years, Kevin has competed as a speed skater and was twice blind long-track champion and three times world blind short-track champion. He holds nine world records and has been awarded 18 gold medals and one silver.

Kevin has also competed with the Canadian development para team for rowing and the para track team in running, and this year he has made the para tandem cycling team.

Kevin has done missions to help 28 Mexican and Nicaraguan children hear again with new hearing aids.

In 2012, Kevin, a recipient of the 2010 United Way Community Builder Award, established the Impaired Speed Skating Association of Canada in order to help hearing impaired and visually impaired skaters.

Member for Calgary EastStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, 18 years ago this week, a major milestone for my family occurred. On June 2, 1997, I was elected as the member of Parliament for Calgary East.

This would not have been possible without the support of my family, friends, and, most of all, the constituents of Calgary East.

It has been an honour to be their representative. During this incredible journey, I have been humbled by the support and friendship of Canadians from across the country and the opportunity to represent Canada on the world stage.

My heartfelt thanks go to my immediate family: my wife Neena, my daughters Priti and Kaajal, my son-in-law Robin Martin, and my son Aman, as well as my grandchildren Devin and Evasha and, of course, my extended family.

I would also like to thank my staff, my friends, my local electoral district association, my supporters, and my colleagues in the House of Commons.

I look forward to seeking the trust of the constituents of the new riding of Calgary Forest Lawn in the next election.

Sherbrooke AirportStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, on April 29, my Motion No. 553 was adopted unanimously by the House. I would like to thank all members once again for their support. The House sent a clear message to the Minister of Transport, asking her to do her job and present, as soon as possible, the mechanisms promised two years ago.

When this motion was adopted five weeks ago, it gave a great deal of hope to the people of Sherbrooke. Unfortunately, this hope is fading because this government has yet to take action. My region is clearly at the bottom of the Conservatives' list of priorities, and that is deplorable. That is a shame, a real shame.

The people of Sherbrooke deserve a government that listens to them and moves quickly to meet their needs. That is exactly what we are going to give them after the next general election, when the first NDP government takes power.

TaxationStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians can trust only this Conservative government to give them the ability to keep their hard-earned money to spend on their priorities.

Last month we learned that the Liberal leader wants to bring in a mandatory expansion of the Canada pension plan. This is absolutely unacceptable to the people of my riding of Mississauga South. His plan would kill jobs and hike taxes on hard-working Canadians. My constituents understand that this would mean that an individual earning $60,000 would have to pay $1,000 more in taxes.

Our government rejects this, the people of Mississauga South reject this, and on this side of the House we cut taxes, we do not raise them.

National DefenceStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Craig Scott NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Defence seems to be in denial. He pretends to be unaware of the existence of my Motion No. 517, tabled one year ago, on discriminatory discharge of Canadian Forces LGBTQ personnel, despite correspondence with me on Motion No. 517 back in February and March.

In the House the minister talks only about the lawful presence of LGBTQ men and women in the military since 1992. He ignores the long period when they were treated as subhuman under a Canadian Forces administrative order entitled “Sexual Deviation - Investigation, Medical Examination, and Disposal”.

Disposal is what we do with garbage, not human beings. My motion calls on the government to issue an official apology and to revise service records to reflect the honourable service of those LGBTQ men and women discharged from or forced out of the military during this period.

I want to recognize and thank members of the We Demand An Apology Network for their perseverance, especially Darl Wood and Gary Kinsman. I join the network's members in calling on the government to finally apologize and acknowledge this period of cruel discrimination.

TaxationStatements By Members

June 5th, 2015 / 11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are starting to notice the high-tax, high-debt policies of both the NDP and the Liberals. It is really only our government that they can count on to keep taxes low and their hard-earned money in their pockets.

I will give an example. An average family of four now keeps $6,000 more in their pockets. That is to spend on their priorities. Whether their child care needs are different or whether they want to save for their retirement, it is for them to make the decision.

It also important to point out the recent addition to the Liberal leader's high-tax agenda. That is the expansion of the Canada pension plan. That would see an individual earning $60,000 pay $1,000 more in taxes. As we are starting to see in Ontario with Premier Wynne, taxpayers and job creators reject this plan, and so do we.

Canadian Middle ClassStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, when the Prime Minister took power, he declared, "You won't recognize Canada when I'm through with it." I wish he was joking, but that would require a sense of humour.

Over 10 long years, the Prime Minister has done his best to undermine Canadian values and to make us less unified, less compassionate, and less committed to a fair society.

That is why I am so proud to be on the Liberal team, where our focus is on fairness for the middle class and for those seeking to join the middle class. Our middle-class tax cut and Canada child benefit would mean more money in the pockets of the Canadians who need it most.

The Prime Minister thinks Canadians are out for themselves, but Liberals know we are all in this together. Our country does best when every Canadian has the opportunity to prosper.

Come October, Canadians do not just get a different government. We deserve a better government. I stand with Liberals because Liberals stand for fairness for the middle class.

71st Anniversary of D-DayStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Conservative Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow is the 71st anniversary of D-Day, the day that Canadian and Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, in their campaign to liberate Europe from tyranny and oppression. The successful landing on D-Day allowed the Allies to gain a foothold in France and would come to mark what many consider to be the turning point of the Second World War, leading to the defeat of the Nazi forces and an end to their occupation of Europe.

We proudly pay tribute to our veterans. We remember their service and the sacrifice they made in demonstrating their unmatchable courage. We also thank the men and women in uniform around the world today who carry on the fight to ensure that the horrific events of World War II are never repeated.

We know evil still exists in the world and we remember that our country will always stand for what is good, what is right, and what is just. To our veterans and to those who made the ultimate sacrifice, their nation is truly grateful.

EthicsStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

John Rafferty NDP Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are finally starting to get a better picture of the Conservative and Liberal corruption that has taken hold in the Senate. It is not pretty.

Thirty current and former senators have been caught misusing taxpayer funds. Some cases are serious enough to warrant police investigations. Top-ranking Liberals and Conservatives have been implicated, including the Senate speaker, the leader of the government, and the leader of the Liberal opposition. The Speaker was appointed by the Prime Minister less than a month ago.

It also seems that once they were informed the Auditor General had them in his sights, they actually decided to concoct a whole new appeals process so they could disagree with the auditor's findings. To be clear, senators named in the Auditor General's report have put themselves in charge of creating an appeals process to use on themselves. It is outrageous and it is sad.

For too long Canadians have been asked to look the other way and ignore the rot in the undemocratic and unelected Senate. In October, Canadians can vote for the change they want, and actually get it.

Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Parm Gill Conservative Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals only have one plan for the economy, and it is to increase taxes. Recently, the Liberal leader talked about implementing the tax proposed by Kathleen Wynne, Liberal premier of Ontario. That would cost each person earning $60,000 a year $1,000 a year in a tax hike. Small and medium-sized businesses, which are the backbone of our economy, would also be subject to the same $1,000 tax hike per year. That would kill jobs and be very costly for Canadian families.

We are doing the opposite, and we are cutting taxes.

EthicsOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians woke up this morning to new revelations about the Senate corruption scandal.

Appalling details are emerging: thirty violated spending rules, nine referred to the police for investigation; four others already facing charges, including Conservative appointee Mike Duffy, who is now on trial; Conservative and Liberal leaders in the Senate and the Conservative Speaker all implicated.

The Prime Minister appointed the new Senate Speaker less than a month ago. Was he aware at the time that the Speaker was implicated in the Senate corruption scandal?

EthicsOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, obviously, any abuse of taxpayer dollars is completely unacceptable.

It was, of course, the Senate that invited the Auditor General in to review all of their expenses. We understand that they have received the report, and the Senate is responsible for responding to that.

EthicsOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is sure becoming clear why Conservatives and Liberals were so desperate to make up attacks against us in a kangaroo court, but one kangaroo court is not enough for them. It seems that after learning they were named in the report, the Senate Speaker, the Conservative government leader, and the Liberal opposition leader in the Senate actually concocted a whole new appeals process so that they can disagree with the auditor's findings.

Was the Prime Minister aware of this when he appointed Mr. Housakos to be the most powerful person in the Senate?

EthicsOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, of course, it was the Senate itself that invited the Auditor General in to review all of its expenses.

Again, it is my understanding that the Senate has received this report, and it will be tabled on Tuesday. We eagerly await its response.

EthicsOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, so Conservatives are just fine with an appeals process that ends with a secret decision at a committee actually chaired by the Senate Speaker himself.

Media reports indicate that some cases could involve hundreds of thousands of dollars and more sitting senators under RCMP investigation.

The unelected, unaccountable, and under-investigation Senate has had its day. When will the Prime Minister stop covering up for Senate scandals and start working with the NDP to get rid of it?

EthicsOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, this government did bring in a number of potential reforms to the Senate, which included electing senators and term limits for senators.

That was referred to the Supreme Court of Canada, which in its wisdom decided that any changes to the makeup of the Senate had to be done with the unanimous support of all of the provinces.

We are not going to get involved in protracted constitutional negotiations. We are going to continue to be focused on jobs and economic growth.

EthicsOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's Office continues to be rocked by the Senate scandals.

The Auditor General's report was received yesterday, and there are questions about the expenses of about 30 senators, including the Speaker of the Senate, the Leader of the Government and the Liberal opposition leader. Let us just say that the entire institution has lost its credibility.

How can the Prime Minister still have confidence in the Senate after such revelations?

EthicsOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as I have already said, any abuse of taxpayer dollars is completely unacceptable.

The Senate invited the Auditor General to review expenses. We have received the report and are waiting for the Senate's response.

EthicsOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General's report shows that half of the senators are facing charges regarding claims for inappropriate expenses. The total of these expenses is apparently around $1 million.

Among those identified was Senator Boisvenu, appointed just five years ago by the Prime Minister. The allegations against him are considered serious, and his file will be passed on to the RCMP.

Will the Prime Minister strongly condemn the actions of the Conservative senators he himself appointed?

EthicsOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it was the Senate that invited the Auditor General in to examine their expenses.

The senator in question is no longer a member of the Conservative caucus. We have said all along that anybody who is clearly under police investigation needs to step out of this caucus.

TaxationOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, Liberals have a plan for fairness for hard-working Canadian families. We are going to simplify the complex system of child benefit payments into one monthly payment for families that need the help, and we are going to make these payments bigger and tax free. A single mother earning $30,000 per year and raising her four-year-old daughter will get an extra $1,100 per year under our plan. Conservative income splitting will do nothing for her.

Why are the Conservatives fighting so hard to keep that money from single parents who need the help?

TaxationOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeMinister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals admit that they would get rid of the universal child care benefit, that they would cancel income splitting, that they would get rid of the child tax benefit, and that after they do all of those things, they would still come at least $2 billion short. That $2-billion hole will have to be put on the backs of taxpayers through yet higher taxes.

Then last week, the Liberal leader announced that he would impose a $1,000 payroll tax hike on every single worker earning $60,000 and on the small businesses that employ them.

We will never take that approach. We will continue to lower taxes.

TaxationOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, under the Liberal plan for fairness, every family earning less than $150,000 will get a bigger monthly cheque. For example, a couple struggling to raise three kids on $70,000 per year will get an extra $380 every month from our plan.

Compare that with the Conservatives, who are giving less money to struggling families and more money to the families who do not need the help, the wealthier families.

Why are the Conservatives fighting so hard to keep the money from struggling, middle-class families who need the help the most?

TaxationOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeMinister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals have now admitted that they support Kathleen Wynne's payroll tax. That would raise taxes by at least $1,000 on every single worker, regardless of their income, and it would raise equal amounts of taxes on the small businesses that employ those workers. Those businesses tell us that they would be forced to cut wages and lay people off to pay this new Liberal tax.

We are taking the opposite approach. We have cut taxes for small businesses that create jobs, and we have lowered taxes for families to help them get ahead.

TaxationOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Liberal Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that the minister does not want to talk about the Liberals' Canada child benefit, since he knows that under this program, 9 of 10 Canadian families will get bigger cheques. That is what will happen and he cannot deny it. That is what all the experts are saying. The Conservatives deny this, and the minister's bad faith is becoming increasingly evident.

Do the Conservatives not see that a typical family earning $90,000 with two children will receive $2,575 more under the Liberal plan, starting in the first year of a Liberal government, an amount that is indexed and tax free?

Will the minister admit this and stop acting in bad faith?

TaxationOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeMinister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals already admitted wanting to eliminate the universal child care benefit. They will eliminate income splitting by increasing taxes for families and seniors.

After all that, there would still be a $2 billion hole in their plan, which will force them to increase taxes for families even more.

We are doing the opposite by lowering taxes and giving benefits to all families, regardless of income and regardless of their choice in child care.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, as the national chief said, we cannot move toward reconciliation when far too many aboriginal communities are living in desperate conditions.

Despite that, now we have learned that the Conservatives preferred to leave $1 billion just sitting there in the coffers of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs instead of funding essential services like education and access to clean water and housing.

How can the government justify this gross negligence?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

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

Of course, Mr. Speaker, that member knows that is not true. Lapsed funding is not lost funding, and in the last five years, over 97% of what was marked as lapsed funding in the public accounts has been carried forward to future years and spent on a wide range of programs, programs that member and that party voted against.

The delay in spending of these funds is not uncommon, because actually spending this money often involves negotiations with other parties or community votes from first nations memberships.

We will continue to make concrete investments in aboriginal peoples, and we would like the opposition to actually get on board and support that.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, the question is this. How can these Conservatives look at themselves in the mirror every day when indigenous peoples live in this country in third world conditions, in mouldy homes and in schools that are falling apart, and without safe drinking water? We find out that the Conservatives have lapsed $1.1 billion returned to their coffers, money that was allocated to them. How can they stand in this House and justify to indigenous peoples in this country this gross negligence?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, of course that member knows that is not true. She knows that 97% of those lapsed funds were spent on aboriginal programming in the following year. She knows that it takes time to negotiate and get community votes for first nations spending. She also knows that she voted against water treatment plants in first nations reserves. She voted against matrimonial property rights for women on reserves. She voted against the Canadian human rights being brought onto reserve.

The New Democrats always vote against aboriginal people when they have the chance here in the House of Commons.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are ignoring our duty to first nations just like they are ignoring our duty to act on climate change. A new UN report slams Canada today for pulling out of our international efforts to fight climate change. The report points out that Conservatives are way off track to meet even their weak 2020 emissions target. Canada is going to show up at the G7 meetings with no credible plan.

For the sake of our international reputation and for the sake of future generations, will the Conservatives finally take the threat of climate change seriously?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, in Canada we have seen a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since we started recording and we will continue to take actions.

Canada was the first country in the world to ban traditional coal-fired electricity, which is one of the largest contributions to greenhouse gas emissions. We will continue to take actions. We just recently announced that we are going to move forward to reduce emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, and we will continue to take a balanced and responsible approach. We announced further actions in three sectors within Canada: reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, reductions of chemical nitrogen fertilizers and regulating emissions from the natural gas sector.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg NDP Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to fighting climate change, Canada is being increasingly singled out by its international partners because of its failure to act. A UN report published by the Africa Progress Panel highlights Canada's disengagement when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Canada will not be proposing any concrete measures at the upcoming G7 summit.

When will the government stop lagging behind on this issue, which is so crucial to our future generations?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, our government has announced a fair and ambitious target for Canada, and it is in line with international industrialized countries. We plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below the 2005 levels by 2030, and will continue to take actions.

We recently announced three sectors that we will continue to regulate: reduce the methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, regulate the production of chemical nitrogen fertilizers and regulate emissions from natural-gas-fired electricity.

This is in addition to the actions that we took in the traditional coal-fired electricity sector and in the transportation sector.

EthicsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and his office are embroiled in one of the biggest scandals in the history of the Senate. The upper chamber has become a real embarrassment for the Conservatives and the Liberals. Canadians are fed up with paying for all these illegal expenses. The Conservative champion of law and order, who was appointed by this Prime Minister, is now under investigation by the RCMP. We know that the PMO staff are up to their necks in this scandal.

What happened to the promise this Prime Minister made 10 years ago to clean up Parliament?

EthicsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as I just said, it was the Senate that actually invited in the Auditor General to review its expenses, and we expect that senators will continue to co-operate in that process.

At the same time, we know that it is the New Democrats who owe $2.7 million to the Canadian taxpayers. In fact, this member herself took $30,000 that was meant for her riding and redistributed it to an illegal office in Montreal, against the rules of this House, and now refuses to pay back the taxpayers. I hope that she and the other 67 members will do the right thing and pay taxpayers back.

EthicsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, a few weeks ago, the Prime Minister appointed Senator Housakos as Speaker of the Senate, but today, he and his colleagues, Senator Carignan and Senator Cowan, have just been singled out by the Auditor General's report.

They took charge of the Senate committee that deals with the report and will be the ones to set up the arbitration process. This is an absolute farce. The foxes have been put in charge of the henhouse.

How can the minister be okay with this abuse of power?

EthicsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as I said, the Senate invited the Auditor General in and we expect all senators to continue to participate in this process. It is unfortunate that this member refuses to participate in reimbursing the Canadian taxpayer the over $30,000 that the member owes to the taxpayer.

For some reason, this member, along with 67 other members of the NDP caucus, took money out of their ridings, money meant for their constituents, and redirected it to an illegal partisan party office in Montreal, and now they are refusing to pay back the taxpayer of Canada. They should do it. Repay.

EthicsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is no wonder these Conservatives have to recreate reality.

We are talking about repeated abuse of taxpayer dollars. With Conservative and Liberal senators submitting travel claims that were not really all about Senate business, these expenses were for partisan and personal events, where senators were campaigning on the public dime. Canadians are sick and tired of these appointed party cronies treating the Senate like an election slush fund.

Why are the Conservatives covering up for this dysfunctional institution?

EthicsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it was the Senate that invited in the Auditor General to review all expenses.

At the same time, we know that the NDP caucus members, 68 of them, owe the Canadian taxpayers $2.7 million. The Leader of the Opposition himself owes $400,000 to the taxpayers. This summer the 68 of them are going to be squished into the defendant's box in the court trying to explain to the taxpayers why they refuse to pay back the money they owe them. Pay the $2.7 million back.

EthicsOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Oh, the desperate need for a smokescreen, Mr. Speaker.

The Prime Minister's Office has been on the inside of the Senate expense scandal from the beginning. The coverup of the Duffy spending scandal was orchestrated by the PMO. The Conservatives knew full well what their Senate cronies were up to because they were the ones who invited these senators to partisan fundraisers. The Conservative MPs here enabled the corruption of Conservative senators over there.

How can the Prime Minister continue to maintain he is innocent when all the evidence points back to his office?

EthicsOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs

Again, Mr. Speaker, nothing could be further from the truth. The only person who has done enabling is the actual Leader of the Opposition, who hatched a scheme out of the office of the Leader of the Opposition to take funds of the Canadian taxpayers, funds meant for 68 members' ridings, and funnel them to an illegal office in Montreal. Now they owe the taxpayers $2.7 million. They are refusing to pay that money back. I hope they will do the right thing and pay back the taxpayers.

Do not spend your summer in court defending why it is that you refuse to pay them back. Just simply pay the taxpayer back.

EthicsOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

I would remind the parliamentary secretary to direct his comments to the Chair and not to other members across the floor.

The hon. member for Toronto—Danforth.

EthicsOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Craig Scott NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Senate is in total disrepute. Even former Conservative prime minister Mulroney agrees that the Senate is facing an unprecedented crisis.

The Auditor General's report will confirm just how deep the rot runs. It has never been clearer that it is not only possible but it is necessary to abolish the Senate. The Supreme Court has told us how, so will the Minister for Democratic Reform tell us whether the Conservatives will finally let Canadians get rid of this thoroughly discredited institution?

EthicsOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeMinister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, we went to the Supreme Court to find out how we could get rid of the Senate, how we could abolish it, and, in fact, NDP provincial governments argued against doing so during those very same proceedings. The court has now said that it would require the unanimous approval of all 10 provinces and so far, that consensus has not come from the provinces, but if the provinces do bring that forward, then we will support it.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, every year, the Conservative government intentionally underspends in excess of $200 million. This is now five years in a row that has taken place.

Every member of this chamber, I am sure, is aware of the many reserves that rely on boiling their water in order to have drinking water. Many reserves are on an advisory. Every member is aware of the deficiencies in education within the reserves.

How does the Conservative government justify stealing over $200 million a year in the past five years when the needs are so great in Canada's first nations—

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

Order. I remind all members that they have 35 seconds to ask their questions and not a minute.

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, of course, that member does know that lapsed funding is not money that has disappeared. In fact, 97% of that funding was carried forward to future years and spent on a wide range of programs.

Every time we spend money on aboriginal programming or aboriginal infrastructure in this House, whether it is for waste water treatment, water treatment, education, or to give women on reserve the same rights as women living off reserve, we can count on the Liberal Party to vote against it.

Government AdvertisingOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, $30 million could provide 300 affordable housing units, one million bus passes to seniors on a pension, summer jobs for 9,000 students, and 20 million breakfasts in our elementary schools to children who go hungry, as well as reopen nine veterans' service centres. How does the Prime Minister explain spending $30 million on 10,000 blue Conservative vanity ads?

Government AdvertisingOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeMinister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, we are informing parents about the benefits that we are providing them. In fact, the Prime Minister just increased the universal child care benefit by nearly $2,000 for each child under 6 and $720 for each child 6 through 17.

The Liberals want to take that benefit away from families. In the meantime, the Liberal leader just announced that he wants to add an extra $1,000 to every worker's tax bill through a pension scheme proposed by Kathleen Wynne, in Ontario. We are against that idea and we will keep reducing taxes.

Government AdvertisingOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, here is what $30 million can buy: 15 MRI machines; 500 registered nurses or 900 personal support worker salaries for one year; 10,000 hip, knee and cataract surgeries; 4,250 insulin pumps for our kids coping with type 1 diabetes; 15,000 doses of chemotherapy drugs for cancer patients; 46,500 injections to treat osteoporosis.

In the face of so many needs, how can the Prime Minister justify spending $30 million on 10,000 obscene Conservative blue vanity billboards?

Government AdvertisingOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeMinister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, we communicate with Canadians about the benefits that the government is providing. For example, the Prime Minister has recently increased the universal child care benefit to almost $2,000 a year for each child under 6 and $720 for each child 6 through 17.

The Liberals have not only announced that they would take the universal child care benefit away, but just last week the Liberal leader announced a plan to increase taxes by $1,000 on every worker who earns $60,000. The small business employing that worker would also have to pay the same $1,000 payroll tax. That will kill jobs and set families back, and that is why we do not support it.

InfrastructureOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, many Canadians face long commutes made worse by overcrowded transit and crumbling roads and bridges. Liberal and Conservative governments have left our cities with a staggering $170-billion infrastructure deficit. They downloaded costs and failed to keep pace with the funding needs.

This week, mayors from across the country are coming together to demand real federal investment in our cities; funds to cut commute times, boost local economies and make our cities more livable.

New Democrats are ready to partner with our municipal leaders to invest in our cities. Why are the Conservatives not?

InfrastructureOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Kitchener—Waterloo Ontario

Conservative

Peter Braid ConservativeParliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Communities

Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government is making record investments in infrastructure under the ten-year new building Canada plan. We will invest $80 billion over the next decade. We are making record investments in federal infrastructure. We are providing unprecedented support to municipalities and provinces to help them meet their infrastructure needs.

These investments will renew infrastructure, create jobs, and enhance the quality of life for Canadians.

InfrastructureOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Denis Blanchette NDP Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, decades of negligence by the Conservative and Liberal governments have led to a $172 billion deficit in municipal infrastructure. That is not trivial. Our cities, such as Quebec City, need investment in order to improve the quality of life of their citizens. The best example is the Quebec Bridge, a file that has been dragging on for far too long.

By increasing transfers, in a stable and predictable way, the NDP is committed to being a reliable partner to our cities.

Why do the Conservatives keep ignoring the real needs of our cities?

InfrastructureOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Kitchener—Waterloo Ontario

Conservative

Peter Braid ConservativeParliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Communities

Mr. Speaker, under the leadership of our Prime Minister, Canada has consistently led all G7 countries with respect to investments in infrastructure as a rate of GDP.

We are seeing unprecedented support being provided to municipalities through the gas tax fund, which our government has doubled. We have extended it, made it permanent, and indexed it moving forward. Many of these commitments go specifically to public transit. We have also, in our recent budget, established the public transit fund.

There is unprecedented support from municipalities and provinces across the country.

Tourism IndustryOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe NDP Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, Tourism Week ends tomorrow, as Montreal welcomes thousands of tourists for the Grand Prix. However, it is disturbing to note that, since 2002, Canada has fallen from 7th to 16th when it comes to the number of international visitors we get each year. The Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism was proud of the fact that he cut $22 million from the funding allocated to Destination Canada, the organization that promotes Canada abroad.

Why are the Conservatives abandoning our tourism industry and businesses?

Tourism IndustryOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Cambridge Ontario

Conservative

Gary Goodyear ConservativeMinister of State (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario)

Mr. Speaker, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, marketing investments by Destination Canada, formerly the Canadian tourism commission, are paying off. Since January 2014, overnight trips to Canada have increased by over 10%.

As announced by the Prime Minister on May 22, the government is investing another $30 million over three years to Destination Canada's connecting America marketing plan. This kind of funding is needed, but the NDP votes against it every time.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe NDP Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, on another disturbing subject, we have learned that the Canada Border Services Agency is still deporting Burundians who do not have residency permits. The political situation in Burundi is getting worse. To date, nearly 100,000 people have fled the violence. The Canadian Council for Refugees is calling the situation catastrophic. The Minister of Foreign Affairs said that he is deeply concerned and advised Canadians to leave Burundi immediately.

That being the case, how can the minister justify deporting Burundians to a country in crisis?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Richmond Hill Ontario

Conservative

Costas Menegakis ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, these decisions are made by highly trained officials. We have a very diligent system of evaluating cases. I hope that the member respects the fact that we have a very comprehensive way of evaluating whether somebody needs to be deported or not.

The safety of Canadians comes first for our government. I wish that the member would come on board with that.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, various media outlets are reporting that Vladimir Putin has broken the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian President Poroshenko is warning against a possible full-scale invasion from Russia.

I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs to provide Canada's official reaction to these serious events.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and for International Human Rights

Mr. Speaker, Canada strongly condemns any and all violations of the INF treaty. This is further proof of Vladimir Putin's outdated and misplaced cold war mentality.

We will continue coordinating with our NATO allies to respond to Russia's military aggression. Canada has led the way when it comes to sanctioning individuals and entities with ties to the Putin regime.

Whether it takes 5 months or 50 years for liberation, Canada will never recognize the annexation of a sovereign Ukrainian territory. Canada stands with Ukraine.

International TradeOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, many agricultural businesses in Quebec and Canada have designed their business models around supply management. That is what enables them to supply quality foods while ensuring their own financial stability.

However, when we try to find out exactly what is happening with supply management in the trans-Pacific partnership free trade negotiations, nothing is clear.

Can the Minister of Agriculture assure us that supply management will not be sacrificed during the trans-Pacific partnership negotiations?

International TradeOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Brampton—Springdale Ontario

Conservative

Parm Gill ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, our government will continue to promote Canadian trade interests across all sectors of our economy, including supply management. That has never prevented us from successfully completing other free trade agreements, such as free trade with the European Union and South Korea. We make no apologies for ensuring that any deal reached must be in Canada's best interests. As always, we will only sign trade agreements if it significantly benefits Canadian businesses, workers, and families.

International TradeOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, they can reassure us all they want, but the Conservatives are sending us mixed signals.

The Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec is telling farmers that they will have to make concessions, and the Conservative member for Edmonton says that supply management in Canada simply has to go.

Can my colleague tell us what the Conservatives have in store for supply management? Are they going to sacrifice it, yes or no?

International TradeOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Brampton—Springdale Ontario

Conservative

Parm Gill ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, there is no other government that has done more for Canadian farmers than this Conservative government right here. Our government understands and has expanded trade as the key driver for future economic growth in Canada. We are participating in the TPP negotiations in order to open up new trade and investment opportunities for Canadians in the regional market of close to 800 million consumers. Our goal is to secure balanced outcomes that benefit all sectors of our economy across all regions of our country.

Public ServiceOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' mismanagement has reached new heights: they are no longer even capable of paying all the government employees on time.

Some employees in a number of departments and agencies have not been paid in two months. They have not received a paycheque in two months. It makes no sense and it is all the result of the Conservatives haphazard budget cuts.

Does the President of the Treasury Board consider this to be good management?

Public ServiceOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Dan Albas ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, the President of the Treasury Board works with all departments to make sure that our employees have a safe, and obviously good work environment. We also make sure that they are paid. This is something that the Treasury Board president will look into, and I do appreciate the member opposite raising his concerns in this place.

Public ServiceOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, one of the most basic responsibilities of any employer is to actually pay their employees, and we have a government that is not able to do that. These are hard-working public servants who make us proud every day. However, the government has fumbled the ball on actually being able to pay them. It brought in the centralized pay system that is inefficient and has not figured out how to work out the kinks to pay our public servants.

People are counting on their pay to pay their bills. They cannot wait for months without getting paid. Conservatives get their pay. We get our pay. Why do the public servants not get their pay? What are they going to do to fix this problem?

Public ServiceOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Dan Albas ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I have already mentioned that we want to make sure that all employees of the Government of Canada have a good work environment and we treat our employees with respect. We also want to ensure that our employees are treated fairly. I have already mentioned that some of the concerns that have been raised today will be looked at. If the members are serious about actually helping to improve our workers, I sincerely hope that they would meet with me after question period and give more details on their concerns, and I will look into it as well.

Public SafetyOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, daily now we hear reports of how the government continues to fail the RCMP rank and file. Government claims of proper funding ring hollow when RCMP members are saying they are bringing their own weapons and ammunition to work. Lack of funding is now so serious that the RCMP has been charged under the Labour Code for not providing a safe workplace due to lack of training, proper equipment, and supervision.

When will the minister accept responsibility, stop the spin, act, and provide the proper resources for the RCMP rank and file?

Public SafetyOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Scarborough Centre Ontario

Conservative

Roxanne James ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, the facts are that the government has actually increased resources to the RCMP by one third since forming government.

We have also increased those resources seven times during this period, and seven times that member, the member for Malpeque from the Liberal Party, has voted against those measures.

I also want to remind the member that training and procurement matters fall directly under the purview of the RCMP itself. The RCMP has taken action following the report regarding the events and will continue to take those types of actions.

This matter is before the courts, and it would be inappropriate for me to comment on that particular case.

Public SafetyOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, first the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness ordered the RCMP to break the law by destroying gun registry documents subject to the Access to Information Act. Now the minister is using legislation to retroactively cover up this crime and stop the ongoing police investigation into the issue. This cover-up is so serious that the Information Commissioner has filed a preservation order in the Federal Court.

How can the minister justify legislation that will retroactively nullify this criminal act?

Public SafetyOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Scarborough Centre Ontario

Conservative

Roxanne James ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, I reject the premise of that question.

We also firmly reject any claim that the RCMP did anything wrong when it destroyed the data from the long gun registry. It did it at the will of this Parliament. In fact, it was this Conservative government that finally ended the ineffective and wasteful long gun registry.

On this side of the House, to law-abiding hunters and sports shooters, we will make no apologies for ensuring that the will of Parliament is followed.

Mining IndustryOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Ryan Cleary NDP St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, hundreds of pensioners from Wabush Mines in Labrador had their health and life insurance benefits cancelled this week.

The previous owner of the iron ore mine has begun debt restructuring, and, as usual, the first to suffer are the retirees. Many of these people worked for the company for decades. They have been left with nothing. Their pensions may be next. They deserve to be treated better than this.

What will the Conservatives do to help these pensioners?

Mining IndustryOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from the hon. member. Again, if he will meet with me after question period, I would be delighted to look into this matter for him.

Mining IndustryOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain NDP Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, three generations of my constituents worked at the Wabush mines, but now hundreds of retirees are no longer covered by the company's life and medical insurance, effective June 1, while the Wabush group is placed under the protection of the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act. Some of my constituents spent their life working hard in the mine only to end up with nothing, not even medical insurance.

What is the government doing to protect these workers?

Mining IndustryOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Cambridge Ontario

Conservative

Gary Goodyear ConservativeMinister of State (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario)

Mr. Speaker, we always work very hard on this side of the House to protect Canadian workers.

We have created jobs, 1.2 million net new jobs. In fact, by reducing taxes across the board some 180 times, we are helping businesses survive and the workers get the funding they need.

We will continue to support Canadians. The opposition wants to raise taxes. That is not only going to kill businesses, it is going to kill jobs, and it is going to hurt a lot of Canadians.

PensionsOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Pat Perkins Conservative Whitby—Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, our government believes that all Canadians should be given as many options as possible to save for a comfortable and secure retirement, how they want and when they want.

Can the Minister of Employment and Social Development please inform the House on our government's approach to helping Canadians save for their retirement?

PensionsOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeMinister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, last week, the Liberal leader said, “We are looking at an expansion and a mandatory expansion of the CPP of the type that Kathleen Wynne put forward in Ontario”.

This would mean a new $1,000 payroll tax on every middle-class worker and the small business that employs them.

According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, that would kill jobs and force businesses to cut wages.

Our plan, by contrast, is a low-tax plan for a secure retirement. By providing tax-free savings accounts, lower taxes for families, we allow Canadians to set aside more money and grow it, tax free, for a brighter retirement.

TelecommunicationsOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, in a residential area of Charlottetown, very close to West Kent Elementary School, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has struck a private deal to allow for the installation of a cell tower atop a range lighthouse it owns.

People in my community want to know why taxpayers will be paying for the upkeep on a public structure to benefit a private company. Parents are rightly concerned about the health impacts on their kids.

Will the government put the public interest first and halt this project?

TelecommunicationsOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the approach of our government has been to engage communities constructively on these decisions. We have, in fact, changed the rules affecting the location of cellphone towers in such a fashion that there was heavy reliance upon community. In fact, in 99% of the cases that come forward, the approach of the government was to rely entirely upon the decisions made by the communities.

I do not know the particulars of the case. They have not been brought to my attention before. However, that certainly has been the policy and practice under this government when it comes to location of cellphone towers. We work together with and co-operate with communities.

EmploymentOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Conservative Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, though the global economy remains very fragile, the strong leadership of this Conservative government has steered Canada in the right direction.

Could the hard-working, dedicated Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance please tell the House what new steps the government is taking in this year's budget that would create more jobs?

EmploymentOral Questions

Noon

North Vancouver B.C.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Oxford for his hard work as well.

Canada saw a boost of 59,000 new jobs created in May. The vast majority of these new jobs were created in the private sector. Our low-tax plan is working. Since the depths of the recession, 1.2 million net new jobs have been created, nearly 90% full-time jobs and two-thirds in high-wage sectors.

While we are focused on creating jobs, the Liberal leader is pushing dramatic payroll hikes that would kill jobs and the NDP is pushing a $20 billion carbon tax that would hurt Canada's economy.

Canadians can count on our Conservative government.

Public SafetyOral Questions

Noon

Independent

Maria Mourani Independent Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, former Alpine Canada ski coach Bertrand Charest is facing sexual assault charges involving 11 minors he once supervised. We recently learned that there are other victims. We know that Alpine Canada was informed of the situation and that it allegedly contacted the RCMP. However, there seems to have been no investigation for at least 15 years.

Will the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness appoint an independent investigator to shed light on this entire matter?

Public SafetyOral Questions

Noon

Scarborough Centre Ontario

Conservative

Roxanne James ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, it is this government that has brought in more than 30 tough-on-crime and public safety measures to protect Canadians, including many bills that deal with sexual assault and crimes against children, which are the most horrific crimes of all. It is unfortunate that the member has not supported a single measure.

International TradeOral Questions

Noon

Independent

Manon Perreault Independent Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government is raising fears about our supply management system among farmers in Montcalm, Quebec and Canada. Negotiations are being held behind closed doors. The people most affected, the farmers, are being kept in the dark. This could mean the loss of thousands of farms. In Quebec, that translates to 3,500 farms and billions of dollars in economic fallout.

Can the minister reassure us that the trans-Pacific partnership will not jeopardize another segment of our economy by eliminating supply management?

International TradeOral Questions

Noon

Brampton—Springdale Ontario

Conservative

Parm Gill ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, our government will continue to promote Canadian trade interests across all sectors of our economy, including supply management. That has never prevented us from successfully completing other free trade agreements, such as the free trade agreement with the European Union and South Korea.

We make no apologies for ensuring that any deal reached must be in Canada's best interests. As always, we will only sign a trade agreement if it significantly benefits Canadian businesses, workers and families.

Statistics CanadaOral Questions

Noon

Independent

André Bellavance Independent Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Union des municipalités du Québec warned the government five years ago that eliminating the long form census would have a negative impact on municipalities because the quality and reliability of data would not measure up to that collected previously. We have learned that 1,128 municipalities, including almost 200 in Quebec, no longer have data about themselves. Statistics Canada was forced to wipe them off the map.

Will the government correct its mistake and make it possible for municipalities to better plan their development and efficiently meet their citizens' needs by reintroducing the detailed questionnaire?

Statistics CanadaOral Questions

Noon

Cambridge Ontario

Conservative

Gary Goodyear ConservativeMinister of State (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario)

Mr. Speaker, Statistics Canada has said that the long form census, the national household survey, has yielded high quality data that covers 97%. The Chief Statistician says that the data is robust and contains valuable information.

I encourage the member to speak to Wayne Smith, the Chief Statistician of Canada, who has in fact said that the way we are now doing this form provides quality data and information that is quite useful.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

Noon

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 34 petitions.

Georges Bank Protection ActRoutine Proceedings

Noon

Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-64, An Act to amend the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the 10th report of the Standing Committee on Finance in relation to Bill C-59, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 21, 2015 and other measures.

The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House without amendment.

Animal WelfarePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House today and present hundreds of petitions from the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals.

The petitioners point out to Parliament that every year hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats are brutally slaughtered for their fur in a number of regions. They say that Canada should join the U.S., Australia and the European Union in banning the import and sale of dog and cat fur. They point out that we are the only developed country without such a ban.

I congratulate and thank this group for its hard work and diligence in collecting the thousands of petitions, which I have presented over a number of years in the House. I hope Parliament will pay attention to this issue and take action.

Tobacco ProductsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg NDP Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition from Canadians across the country who are calling on the government to ban fruit-flavoured cigarettes because they encourage young people to start smoking.

Firearms RegulationsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize the efforts of Shawn Bevins and Canada's National Firearms Association for their efforts in presenting this petition signed by 29,470 Canadians.

The petitioners request and call upon the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada to repeal part 4(3) of the schedule to the regulations prescribing certain firearms and other weapons, components and parts of weapons, accessories, cartridges, magazines, ammunition and projectiles as prohibited or restricted.

Lac-MéganticPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, I am presenting a petition signed by dozens of people from Lac-Mégantic who are calling on the Government of Canada to set up an independent commission of inquiry, and I stress the word “independent”. The purpose of this commission of inquiry would be to shed light on the tragic events that occurred on July 6, 2013 in Lac-Mégantic, leaving 47 dead.

Feminine Hygiene ProductsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today.

The first petition is from the last group of Canadians who were concerned about the tax on feminine hygiene products. I present this petition to let the House know how very determined and how very grateful these Canadians are that the tax is finally gone.

Canada PostPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from citizens who are very concerned about the situation regarding door-to-door delivery.

The petitioners believe that the post office provides an important link in our country and that the lack of delivery will unfairly impact seniors and persons living with mobility issues. There are 8,000 jobs at stake. It will negatively impact small business, charitable organizations and families.

The petitioners ask the government to stop these devastating cuts to our postal services.

AgriculturePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Réjean Genest NDP Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition on behalf of several hundred people from the Eastern Townships who are calling on the government to respect the rights of small family farmers to store, trade and use seeds.

Child PovertyPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of hundreds of Canadians from across the country who are calling on the House to adopt Motion No. 534 to eradicate child poverty in Canada.

I want to thank all of the petitioners for their hard work and thank the House for supporting the motion. I hope we will be able to move forward to actually create an action plan to end child poverty in this country.

Tobacco ProductsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin NDP Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to present.

The first is a petition signed by youth and adults who are calling for the government to ban the flavouring of tobacco products as it leads to increasing addictive behaviour in young people. This is something the petitioners are not in agreement with.

Consumer ProtectionPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin NDP Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition that I am presenting is signed by Canadians who want life to be more affordable. More specifically, they are calling on the government to eliminate pay-to-pay fees, curtail the activities of payday lenders and set limits on the price of gas.

Labelling of ProductsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin NDP Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, the final petition is signed by a number of individuals across the country who are calling for legislation with regard to the proper marking of carcinogenic materials in the products we use on a daily basis.

Maternal and Child HealthPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House to present a petition that is signed by Manitobans and many first nations across the province. They are all calling on the Minister of Health and the federal government to support maternal and child health programming in their communities and to support the work the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs has been doing in this area, work that has been recognized as being a great success and a model. We certainly hope that this work will continue to be done.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:10 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, Question No. 1166 will be answered today.

Question No. 1166Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

With regard to Health Canada’s drug review process for prescription drugs: (a) what percentage of approved prescription drugs currently on the market had a double-blind study conducted as part of their submissions to Health Canada; and (b) what percentage of prescription drugs approved in 2014 had a double-blind study conducted as part of their submissions to Health Canada?

Question No. 1166Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose ConservativeMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, part (a) of this question cannot be answered definitively. There are currently 8121 marketed human prescription drugs by drug identification number, DIN, as of April 30, 2015. This number includes both innovative and generic drugs. Many of these various drugs, vaccines and prescription medications were authorized decades ago using a paper-based system. As such, Health Canada databases do not capture detailed information on the evidence used to approve the drugs. A fact sheet on how drugs are reviewed is available at: www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodpharma/activit/fs-fi/reviewfs_examenfd-eng.php.

With regard to (b), the defined scope for this response was all submissions that received a notice of compliance, NOC, in calendar year 2014 that met the criteria for the summary basis of decision, SBD. Please see: www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodpharma/sbd-smd/index-eng.php. This includes all new active substances, all priority-new active substances and all subsequent entry biologics that received an NOC in 2014. A total of 27 submissions were within the scope for calendar year 2014. Of these 27 submissions, 63% contained double-blind clinical studies to support efficacy. Submissions that fall outside the scope of the summary basis of decision project are difficult to search by clinical study due to database and IT limitations.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 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, if Questions Nos. 1159, 1161, 1174, 1176, 1177, 1178, 1179, 1180, 1183, and 1186 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 1159Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

With regard to Canadian policy concerning nuclear weapons: (a) has the government of Canada communicated or consulted with any other governments about the so-called Austrian Pledge on nuclear disarmament, that was issued following the 2014 Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, and, if so, which governments; (b) for each such communication or consultations, was it done by the Canadian government alone or in collaboration with other states, and, if the latter, which other states; (c) has the government encouraged other states to join the Austrian Pledge, and, if so, which states; (d) have other states encouraged Canada to join the Austrian Pledge, and, if so, which states; (e) what preparation has the government undertaken for the 2015 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) Review Conference; (f) what steps has the government taken to implement the parliamentary motion adopted by unanimous consent on December 7, 2010, which “encourage[d] the Government of Canada to engage in negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention”; (g) does official Canadian policy concerning nuclear weapons refer explicitly to the motion cited in (f); (h) has the government explicitly referenced the motion cited in (f) in any formal démarches to other countries regarding its policy on nuclear weapons; (i) as a NATO member state who has attended all three international meetings on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, has the government shared the findings of these meetings with other NATO members; (j) how has the government contributed to NATO efforts to reach its stated goal of a world without nuclear weapons; (k) for what reasons did the government refuse to endorse the Joint Statement on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons, as delivered by New Zealand at the United Nations General Assembly on October 20, 2014; (l) does the government agree with the statement that “[i]t is in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances”; (m) under what circumstances does the government consider that the use of nuclear weapons would be appropriate; (n) how does the government reconcile the role of nuclear weapons in Canada’s security policy with Canada’s commitments under international humanitarian law and the NPT; (o) what is the government assessment of the sustainability of deterrence as a pillar of Canada's security policy; and (p) what steps has the government taken to implement the agreement of all states party to the NPT at the 2010 Review Conference, under action 5e of the Outcome Document, to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons for security?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 1161Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

With regard to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program: (a) how many applications were received for Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIA) in 2015 year-to-date, in total and broken down by (i) month, (ii) province; (b) how many applications for LMIA were approved in 2015 year-to-date, in total and broken down by (i) month, (ii) province; (c) how many applications for LMIA were received for high wage temporary foreign workers in 2015 year-to-date; (d) how many applications for LMIA were received for low wage temporary foreign workers in 2015 year-to-date; (e) how many applications for LMIA were approved for high wage temporary foreign workers in 2015 year-to-date; (f) how many applications for LMIA were approved for low wage temporary foreign workers in 2015 year-to-date; (g) since June 2014, how many employers, with fewer than ten employees, have been granted positive LMIA, broken down by year; (h) since June 2014, how many employers, with more than ten employees, have been granted positive LMIA, broken down by year; (i) how many tips have been received on the confidential tip phone line since its creation, broken down by month; (j) how many tips have been received through the online tip portal since its creation, broken down by month; (k) what is the process for dealing with tips once they have been received and what criteria are used to determine whether an investigation is warranted; (l) how many investigations have been conducted as a result of tips received; (m) how many investigations have been the result of multiple tips; (n) how many investigations have resulted in employers being found non-compliant; (o) how many investigations have resulted in penalties being imposed on the employer; (p) how many employers have been required to take corrective action in order to be found compliant as a result of an investigation; (q) how many employers using the Temporary Foreign Worker Program have been subject to an inspection from 2013 to 2015 inclusively, broken down by (i) month, (ii) province; (r) how many inspections were conducted because an employer requested a new Labour Market Opinion or LMIA between 2013 and 2015, broken down by month; (s) how many inspections occurred at a time when the employer was not requesting a new Labour Market Opinion or LMIA between 2013 and 2015, broken down by month; (t) how many inspections have revealed non-compliance by employers between 2013 and 2015, broken down by (i) month, (ii) issues identified, (iii) industry of the employer; (u) how many employers have had to take steps to be considered compliant between 2013 and 2015, broken down by (i) month, (ii) type of actions required, (iii) industry of the employer; (v) how many employers have received penalties for non-compliance as a result of an inspection between 2013 and 2015, broken down by (i) month, (ii) type of penalty, (iii) industry of the employer; and (w) how many inspections conducted between 2013 and 2015 have involved an on-site visit, broken down by month?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 1174Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

With regard to both the Agricultural Innovation Program and the AgriInnovation Program: (a) what were the successful projects, broken down by applicant, date of application, stream, amount of funding requested, amount of funding allocated, and amount of funding provided; (b) what were the unsuccessful projects, broken down by applicant, date of application, stream, amount of funding requested, amount of funding allocated, and amount of funding provided; (c) how many successful Agricultural Innovation or AgriInnovation Program applicants used any part of their project funding to fund work undertaken by Agriculture Canada employees; (d) for each project in (c), who or what entity was the applicant; (e) for each project listed in (c) what was the (i) date of application, (ii) stream, (iii) amount of funding requested, (iv) amount of funding allocated, (v) amount of funding provided; (f) for each project listed in (c), how much funding was allocated to fund work undertaken by Agriculture Canada employees; (g) does or did the application to the programs named above ask applicants to name employees or contractors that they intend or intended to hire, by name, position, or organization; (h) does or did Agriculture Canada seek to learn which employees or contractors will be hired if an applicant is successful and, if so, how; (i) what impact does or did the applicant's answer to questions in (g) have on their application; and (j) if an applicant declares or declared an intention to hire Agriculture Canada employees, what impact does or did that declaration have on their application?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 1176Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Chambly—Borduas, QC

With regard to government grants and contributions in the riding of Chambly–Borduas, from fiscal year 2006–2007 to the present, what were the amounts provided, broken down by (i) year, (ii) amount, (iii) recipient?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 1177Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

With regard to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), as of April 15, 2015: (a) has the Governor in Council given its approval for the new Maison de Radio-Canada building project in Montréal, a public-private partnership (PPP) that must be approved by the Governor in Council in accordance with section 48(2) of the Broadcasting Act and from which securities transactions may arise; (b) if the answer to (a) is negative, what steps must be taken for the Governor in Council to give its approval; (c) what has been the CBC's cost-benefit analysis for each aspect of this project, namely (i) design, (ii) financing, (iii) construction, (iv) rental, (v) maintenance, (vi) management; (d) what documents has the CBC submitted in support of its PPP to the (i) Minister of Canadian Heritage, (ii) Treasury Board Secretariat, (iii) Cabinet; (e) what has been the cost-benefit analysis carried out by any governmental authorityfor each aspect of this project, namely (i) design, (ii) financing, (iii) construction, (iv) rental, (v) maintenance, (vi) management; (f) has the Canada Lands Corporation (CLC) been involved in this transaction and, if so, what has been the CLC's cost-benefit analysis, for each aspect of this project, namely (i) design, (ii) financing, (iii) construction, (iv) rental, (v) maintenance, (vi) management; (g) for each negative answer in (f), what were the reasons given by the government for not involving the CLC; (h) which experts and professional associations did the CBC consult with respect to this real property transaction; (i) what are the maintenance costs for the Maison de Radio-Canada in Montreal for the year 2014-2015, broken down by (i) mortgage, (ii) property taxes; (iii) maintenance, (iv) renovations; (j) what is the CBC’s inventory of photo archives, broken down by city; (k) what is the total value of the CBC’s photo archives; (l) what is the CBC’s inventory of audio archives, broken down by city; (m) what is the total value of the CBC’s audio archives; (n) what is the CBC’s inventory of video archives, broken down by city; (o) what is the total value of the CBC’s video archives; (p) what is the inventory of paper-based archives (books, music scores, etc.) held by the CBC, broken down by city; (q) what is the total value of the CBC’s paper-based archives (books, musical scores, etc.); (r) what is the CBC’s inventory of technical equipment, broken down by city; (s) what is the total value of the CBC’s technical equipment; (t) who are the bidders who acquired CBC assets since January 1, 2008, broken down by (i) year, (ii) type of asset purchased, iii) transaction value?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 1178Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

With regard to government funding in the riding of Essex, for each fiscal year since 2007-2008 inclusive: (a) what are the details of all grants, contributions, and loans to any organization, body, or group, broken down by (i) name of the recipient, (ii) municipality of the recipient, (iii) date on which the funding was received, (iv) amount received, (v) department or agency providing the funding, (vi) program under which the grant, contribution, or loan was made, (vii) nature or purpose; and (b) for each grant, contribution and loan identified in (a), was a press release issued to announce it and, if so, what is the (i) date, (ii) headline of the press release?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 1179Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

With regard to government funding in the riding of Windsor—Tecumseh, for each fiscal year since 2007-2008 inclusively: (a) what are the details of all grants, contributions, and loans to any organization, body, or group, broken down by (i) name of the recipient, (ii) municipality of the recipient, (iii) date on which the funding was received, (iv) amount received, (v) department or agency providing the funding, (vi) program under which the grant, contribution, or loan was made, (vii) nature or purpose; and (b) for each grant, contribution and loan identified in (a), was a press release issued to announce it and, if so, what is the (i) date, (ii) headline of the press release?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 1180Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

With regard to government funding in the riding of Windsor—Tecumseh, for each fiscal year since 2007-2008 inclusive: (a) what are the details of all grants, contributions, and loans to any organization, body, or group, broken down by (i) name of the recipient, (ii) municipality of the recipient, (iii) date on which the funding was received, (iv) amount received, (v) department or agency providing the funding, (vi) program under which the grant, contribution, or loan was made, (vii) nature or purpose; and (b) for each grant, contribution and loan identified in (a), was a press release issued to announce it and, if so, what is the (i) date, (ii) headline of the press release?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 1183Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

With regard to government funding in the riding of Vancouver East, for each fiscal year since 2007-2008 inclusive: (a) what are the details of all grants, contributions, and loans to any organization, body, or group, broken down by (i) name of the recipient, (ii) municipality of the recipient, (iii) date on which the funding was received, (iv) amount received, (v) department or agency providing the funding, (vi) program under which the grant, contribution, or loan was made, (vii) nature or purpose; and (b) for each grant, contribution and loan identified in (a), was a press release issued to announce it and, if so, what is the (i) date, (ii) headline of the press release?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 1186Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Wai Young Conservative Vancouver South, BC

With regard to government funding in the riding of Vancouver Quadra, for each fiscal year since 2007-2008 inclusive: (a) what are the details of all grants, contributions, and loans to any organization, body, or group, broken down by (i) name of the recipient, (ii) municipality of the recipient, (iii) date on which the funding was received, (iv) amount received, (v) department or agency providing the funding, (vi) program under which the grant, contribution, or loan was made, (vii) nature or purpose; and (b) for each grant, contribution and loan identified in (a), was a press release issued to announce it and, if so, what is the (i) date, (ii) headline of the press release?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill S-6, An Act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act and the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act, be read the third time and passed, and of the amendment.

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

There are 10 minutes for questions and comments for the member for Churchill.

The hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster.

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is very simply this. The member for Churchill always speaks very eloquently about consultation, discussion, talking with the public, and consulting with indigenous peoples and all Canadians on issues of the day. In her opinion, how has the government consulted on this particular bill?

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, our House leader, for that important question, because it really gets to the crux of what we are talking about here today.

Bill S-6 has been a complete failure from the beginning. The fact is, first nation positions were not respected in the deliberations that led up to Bill S-6. There were some discussions, but they do not qualify as appropriate consultation. Certainly when the amendments were made, including the four amendments that are deemed totally unacceptable by Yukon first nations, who said that they are not what they said in their meetings, the government failed to go back to the drawing board and work with first nations to find a solution.

What is clear is that the government fails when it comes to its duty to consult. It fails when it comes to working in the spirit of reconciliation we have been talking about so much over the last few weeks. Fundamentally, it is a failure when it comes to working in partnership with first nations in this country to do nothing more than create certainty and protections that could help support economic development that would benefit first nations, all Yukoners, and all Canadians. This is what is shameful about what we are seeing from the Conservative government on Bill S-6.

As I pointed out in my speech, we have already heard that Yukon first nations, as a result of this failure to consult, are ready to go to court. They are ready to take this to the courts. It did not have to be this way. Unfortunately, this is where the current Conservative government has brought Yukon first nations.

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Scarborough Centre Ontario

Conservative

Roxanne James ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, what I think is shameful is that this member from the NDP voted against giving women living on reserves the same matrimonial property rights that everyone else has across this country, including every single woman in this chamber.

I would like to ask that member how she could vote against a bill that actually put in place equality for women living on reserves.

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very disappointed that government members, instead of actually owning up to their failure when it comes to Bill S-6, their failure to stand up for Yukoners, and their failure to stand up for Yukon first nations, try to change the channel.

Since the Conservatives have raised this issue of matrimonial property rights, speaking of consultation, they also failed to consult when it came to developing that legislation they put forward a few years ago.

I spent the morning in this House, and I find it passing strange that the Conservatives choose to talk about matrimonial property rights when we raise the issue of the $1.1 billion they left unspent on aboriginal issues, when we raise Bill S-6, when we raise missing and murdered indigenous women, fire safety in communities, and boil-water advisories. It is a long list.

It is time for the Conservatives to realize that, frankly, the vast majority of indigenous people, certainly the ones I have heard from, cannot wait to get them out of government. They are an obstruction to indigenous people in our country moving ahead, and Bill S-6 is a perfect example of that.

Yukoners and Yukon first nations have come up with a solution that works for them and works for their territory, and Ottawa is once again waging its patriarchal, paternalistic force to impose its approach, an approach that does not work, that will only lead to further litigation, and that will stall economic development in this territory.

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin NDP Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, my esteemed colleague took the words right out of my mouth. I was going to ask her to comment on the blatant paternalistic attitude of the Conservative government in terms of its dealings with our first nation brothers and sisters, especially in light of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report about coming together.

I would ask the member if she would comment further on how Bill S-6 flies in the face of the spirit and meaning of the Truth and Reconciliation report.

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for that important question and for bringing it back to a sentiment that has inspired many of us this week, certainly on our side of the House. It is the idea that now Canada is ready to embark on a journey of reconciliation. However, what is clear is that the partner that is certainly not there and not willing to embark on that journey is the government.

Bill S-6 is a perfect example of how the government is willing to impose legislation that will only lead to it being taken to court by Yukon first nations. It is essentially forcing first nations in the Yukon to spend money they surely could be using on other important priorities to litigate the government, along with the other maybe 95 first nations that are in court right now with the government.

We have heard from members of the government on Bill S-6 that there are only four recommendations first nations take issue with, that basically the government knows best, and that this is about moving forward and supporting resource development. These are the kinds of mistakes of the past made by this government and previous Liberal governments. It is the Ottawa knows best approach. It is the federal government imposing its will on first nations rather than consulting and working in partnership and collaboration where necessary.

At the end of the day, it is Yukon first nations and Yukoners who are going to pay the price. Hopefully, it will not be for too long, because soon there will be a new government in Canada, one that stands with first nations and respects first nations rights and that can truly build a brighter future for all of us in this country.

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about one of the four contentious amendments, and it is on the issue of policy direction.

As the member will know, there are four examples of policy direction having been used in the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board under the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act in the Northwest Territories. In each case, policy direction was used to clearly communicate expectations, based on interim measures, with first nations. It was not this government or a previous government. The minister of aboriginal affairs gave policy direction to protect and advance the rights of first nations. When we brought this up at committee when we were in Whitehorse, the member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing said that for a minister to advance the rights of first nation people was actually paternalistic. Those were her words in the committee hearing.

I am wondering if the member could clarify. She is the lead critic for the NDP. Does she believe that the minister protecting the rights of first nations groups through policy direction is paternalistic, as her colleague does?

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, while I am in the House I want to end off by saying that what is paternalistic is what we are seeing in the House today, which is a government that is focused on bringing forward a bill, Bill S-6, that we know is opposed by Yukon first nations, many Yukoners, members of the environmental community, industry partners, and people who know what is best in their community. These are people who have been part of building YESSA, a made-in-Yukon solution. Yet Ottawa, with the support of the member for Yukon, swoops in to basically stifle all of that progress and place barriers that are about to set Yukon first nations and Yukoners back.

I am proud to stand here with my NDP colleagues in opposition to Bill S-6. I stand along with first nations in the Yukon and with Yukoners as well in saying that Bill S-6 has to go.

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have a number of thoughts that I would like to share with the House this afternoon in regard to Bill S-6.

I will start off by reflecting a little bit about the process that we again find ourselves in. Over the last number of years, ever since the government achieved a majority, we have seen a different attitude in the manner in which legislation is passed through the House of Commons. We have had numerous time allocations. I believe it is somewhere around 95, 96, 97 times the government has seen fit to invoke time allocation in order to pass its legislative agenda. Typically, when we invoke time allocation, we limit the number of individuals who would be able to contribute to the debate on a bill. Quite often we will see a very limited amount of time even afforded to members to address important pieces of legislation.

Bill S-6 is an important piece of legislation. We now have the government using that tool to get it through the House of Commons, which I find is most unfortunate. If we look at the manner in which Bill S-6 came into existence to where it is today at third reading, we have seen the government adopt an attitude of “our way or the highway”.

There is no sense that the government has tried to get consensus. Whether it is inside the House of Commons or in Yukon itself, in the committee meetings that have taken place, in the different types of discussions, the government has demonstrated its inability to build a consensus that would ultimately see the type of support that we would argue is necessary when we are passing legislation such as we are in regard to Yukon territory and the impact of the legislation.

I challenge the government. The Conservatives will say they have consulted. When we posed the question to the minister responsible for the legislation, he said that they had the full support of the Yukon legislature. We know that was not the case. I had the opportunity to be in a provincial legislature when something is decided here in Ottawa. If the government has done its homework, quite often there will be unanimous support from a provincial or territorial entity. However, the government was not able to get that unanimous support from the Yukon legislature, which is one thing in itself.

We talk about first nations. The first nations of Canada are of great importance. We in the Liberal Party have argued for that for many years. The way in which governments should be approaching first nations in Canada is one of government to government, of respect. We should look at ways we can better enable the leadership at all different levels to try to achieve the compromises and build on a consensus that would have a far more positive outcome.

Earlier this week we had the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report. It has been a long time coming. Let us apply Bill S-6 and what the government is attempting to do to that particular report. How would Mr. Sinclair have responded to the treatment of first nations by the manner which Bill S-6 has been brought forward? I would suggest that the government has once again failed the first nations community.

We could talk about the stakeholders, environmental groups and individuals who live in Yukon who are very disappointed with some of the actions within the legislation brought forward by the government.

The minister talks about wanting to promote growth and jobs, wanting to improve the standard of living. These are words that he has used, and I suspect that the principle of promoting growth and jobs is something that all of us want to see. We all want to see an improvement in the standard of living. Just yesterday, I stood in my place talking about the northern food program and how it was of critical importance that the government get it right, not only putting money into an envelope but getting that money delivered or getting the fresh produce into the hands of the people who need it.

We saw that the Auditor General of Canada was pointing out deficiencies, yet the government tended to close its eyes or put its head in the sand and ignore some of those recommendations, or at the very least deny them in debate yesterday when we had the opportunity to focus attention on that program. There is so much more that government can do.

The Conservatives talk about improving the standard of living in northern Canada. We can do more and we should be looking at how we can work with the many different stakeholders from the north in terms of implementing good, solid programs, ensuring that we have good federal legislation, that we are respectful of treaties and so forth. That is something that should be a far higher priority of the current government, and we should not be settling.

I had the opportunity to do a bit of reading on this issue, and I came across a comment over the Internet. It was by Kirk Cameron, and I would like to share, in his words, some of the thoughts he has in regard to Bill S-6. This is a post from December 5, 2014. In reading this, I believe that Mr. Cameron has encapsulated a great deal of the concern that is there in regard to Bill S-6. I appreciate Mr. Cameron's taking the time to post this article. I like the headline, “When is a Government not a Government?”

He said:

Yukon First Nation Chiefs met with the federal Minister of Aboriginal Affairs this week in Ottawa. They discussed with the Minister their concerns with Bill S-6, legislation that will change a number of critical sections of the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act (YESAA).

YESAA is the acronym. We have heard a lot of reference to YESAA, not only here in third reading but also in second reading. If we get a really good appreciation of what YESAA is all about, we get a better sense of why so many people feel that the government has let them down in regard to Bill S-6. However, I will get back to the posting:

This Act is one of the comprehensive pieces of federal legislation necessary to implement chapters of the Treaties agreed to in the 1990s between the majority of Yukon First Nation governments and the two public governments, Canada and Yukon.

These Treaties are a big deal; they are recognized and protected as an expression of Aboriginal rights through s. 35 of the Constitution of Canada, the supreme law of our land. YESAA gives presence and authority to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board, one of the co-management bodies that were agreed to in the Treaties. The Board conducts assessments on all lands in Yukon, First Nation, Crown and even lands within municipalities.

I will pause there for a moment and just reflect on how important it is that we recognize the role that YESAA has played in the past. We want to recognize the manner in which it was able to carry itself, building on consensus, contrary to what we have witnessed over the last number of years here in Ottawa.

It goes on to say that:

....the changes in Bill S-6 were never discussed with the Yukon first nations despite the status of YESAA as a legal instrument required to implement the tri-party treaties. The first nations view, as I understand it, is that they’re partners to a Treaty that is supposed to build relationships among all three levels of government (federal, territorial and First Nation), and part of that relationship is an understanding that we are equal partners in the co-management of the territory’s resources.

When we think of resources, it is important to recognize how the mining industry plays such a strong role in terms of the development of Yukon, and also the development of Canada. We can think of gold, zinc and lead as commodities that are mined in Yukon. I am not 100% sure, but I believe it is somewhere in the area of 35% in terms of the overall economy affected by those three products.

What comes with this co-management relationship is full discussion and agreement to any measure that changes the legislative foundation to these Treaty bodies.

Imagine how you would feel as a Chief of a self-governing First Nation to be told that you do not represent a “real government”. Just such a comment was made by a federal Minister. As such, Canada does not have to treat you as an equal participant in the process to amend legislation required to implement your Treaties.

And, this is not just any federal Minister. It is the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, Canada’s representative with the lead responsibility to look after the “Honor of the Crown” where First Nations interests are concerned (oh and let’s not forget, one of the parties to the tripartite Treaty with Yukon First Nations). You have been elected Chief to represent the interests of one of those First Nations whose government is now in place to honor that Treaty relationship and work for the betterment of your Citizens within a partnership of governments, and you hear this shocking declaration from one of your supposed “partners” in Treaty.

I think the author of this posting really encapsulates one of the biggest concerns in regard to Bill S-6. I have had the opportunity to talk to very strong advocates in Yukon, one of them being my former colleague, Larry Bagnell, who has done a phenomenal job in making sure the Liberal caucus is aware of what is taking place in Yukon so that members will be in a better position to hold the government to account for their actions or lack thereof.

This is a fairly long story and I am not going to read it all, but I do want to comment on the last paragraph of the posting. It says:

Often in the past Yukoners have complained of a distant and uncaring Ottawa interfering in our lives. It is unfortunate that we have this recent experience to reconfirm this suspicion!

This is a genuine concern that has been expressed.

I have had the opportunity today and at second reading to pose a number of questions of the government regarding Bill S-6. The government genuinely believes that it has done its homework on the issue; I do not believe that it has. When we hear the minister say that they have worked on consensus and done the proper consultation and then we hear first nations and other stakeholders say that the government has not done what it says it has, we see there is good reason that the government has not been able to achieve the support that one would like to have when passing legislation of this nature.

As I indicated at the beginning of my comments, the government says that it wants to promote growth and jobs in the north. It says it wants to improve the standard of living. If the government is sincere about that, why has it not garnered the support that it could have been able to acquire prior to the introduction of Bill S-6?

If the government had not used a closure motion to prevent members of the House from debating Bill S-6, this bill would be far from passing. The government might not even have had the support necessary to get it passed before we break. The government has intentionally chosen to use time allocation in order to force this bill through in what could be the dying days of this regime.

I know that many Canadians in all regions of our country are hoping for change. I suspect that change is on the horizon, but the government's determination to pass Bill S-6 in this fashion is most unfortunate.

Whether it is through education in our public school system, through nature programs, or from talking with individuals who are very keen on travelling throughout Canada, Yukon comes to the minds of many Canadians as a great place to visit. For a good percentage of the population, it would be a great place to live as well. Yukon as a territory is vast in size. It has the highest mountain, Mount Logan, and there are beautiful rivers and all sorts of wilderness. The tourism industry has great potential, and when we look at the high demand for commodities throughout the world, we see that Yukon's mining industry could play a critical role in meeting some of those demands.

Whether it is in relation to tourism, mining, or industries that are evolving and developing, we should be creating and encouraging growth and improving the standard of living for the people of Yukon by allowing true consultation to take place. We should strive to get consensus and respect the treaties that have been signed off on. It is an issue of respect.

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12:45 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I find it a bit humourous that this member, who speaks more than any member in the House, is complaining about time allocation. Certainly his right to speak is never curtailed.

However, I want to talk about something he did not talk a whole lot about, which is the bill before us today, Bill S-6. The amendments that really are the crux of the opposition to this bill involve policy direction, delegation of authority, and a significant change in timelines. Every single one of those amendments, all of which were requested by the Yukon government, are envisioned in the Umbrella Final Agreement. The member referred to treaties as kind of an abstract thing, but there is actually a document, the Umbrella Final Agreement, and each one of those amendments complies fully with the Umbrella Final Agreement.

The minister has asked those who oppose the bill to please show him where these amendments contravene the Umbrella Final Agreement. To date, no one has been able to do so. Perhaps the member, in his consultations, has finally discovered the answer to where these four amendments contravene the UFA. Up until now, I have not seen any evidence that they do.

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12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that the parliamentary secretary has been here for virtually all of the debate, and that is admirable.

I want to make reference again to the article that was published. When amendments are brought forward at the committee stage, there is a bit of apprehension among different stakeholders, in particular among the chiefs, councils, and local governments. The parliamentary secretary stated that the Yukon territorial government was in support of the amendments, but the issue, as I really tried to emphasize in my remarks, is whether there was any sort of co-operation or consultation with the other partners. On the surface, it appears as if there was none.

I again quote from Mr. Cameron's article, which said:

Ironic that a day after Justice Ron Veale of the Supreme Court of Yukon brought down a ruling on the Peel Watershed calling on the public government to read the Treaties generously as long-term vehicles to bring about reconciliation with First Nations, the federal Minister treats Yukon First Nations so disgracefully!

When the member makes reference to the amendments and even if he believes he has good support for the amendments, how were those amendments worked into what has been suggested in the quote I just shared? How were our first nations consulted? What were their thoughts? Does the government actually feel any obligation to work with first nations, in this case with regard to Bill S-6?

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12:45 p.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his speech in the House on Bill S-6. He spoke at length about real consultation.

In committee, the people of Yukon asked for meetings, hearings and more consultation. Obviously, senators failed to listen and did not ask the committee to go to the Yukon to hold real consultations.

According to my Liberal colleague, why did senators not hold more consultations with the people of Yukon?

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12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am a bit disappointed that the member would pose a question of that nature in the sense that in the House I have argued, as have other members, particularly from the Conservative side, that there was a need for the aboriginal affairs standing committee to go to remote communities. It was the New Democrats, because they had a bit of a tiff on some issue that was relatively minor, who prevented the standing committee from travelling and doing a lot of the consultation, so they are not all that pure on the issue of leaving Ottawa to conduct consultations. One would want to be consistent.

She emphasized the Senate repeatedly. My understanding of the NDP position is that whether Canadians want it or not, the NDP is committed to abolishing it, even though it is unconstitutional to do that. There would have to be constitutional hearings in order to convince a number of provinces to give in to the NDP's demands, who knows at what cost. Given the current leader's flip-flop on different issues, I do not know if that is in Canada's best interest.

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12:50 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the member on Bill S-6, the Yukon and Nunavut regulatory improvement act.

As the member well knows, Nunavut was created on April 1, 1999. For many years Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated was frustrated with the lack of implementation of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement under the Liberal government. The result of that was a lawsuit against the federal government for the lack of implementation of the land claims agreement in Nunavut.

Recently our government has worked very hard under the leadership of Minister Valcourt to settle that land claim agreement so that the Nunavummiut can move forward—

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12:50 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

Order. The minister should be aware that she is not to use the first or last name of another minister or member of Parliament.

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12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Conservative Nunavut, NU

Thank you for the reminder, Mr. Speaker.

Could the member from the Liberal Party explain whether or not Liberals see this regulatory improvement act as a further step in the implementation of our Nunavut Land Claims Agreement?

Second, our government has worked, as I said, to settle the land claims agreement, to move forward in the devolution agreement for Nunavut and put the necessary legislation in place so that Nunavummiut can move forward in making decisions on projects in Nunavut, such as whether they will proceed and under what terms and conditions. We have worked very hard.

In our view, this legislation is very supportive to the devolution agreement that we are now negotiating with the Nunavut government. Nunavummiut want the tools to make decisions for their own future, and I personally see Bill S-6 as another means for empowering northerners to make those decisions.

Do the Liberals not agree that Nunavummiut should have the tools to make decisions on projects of importance to them? Do the Liberals not recognize that this bill is in support of implementing the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement that Inuit, for over 30 years, fought so hard to get with the Government of Canada?

We are doing our part in settling the land claims agreement, which the Liberals failed to implement. We are moving on devolution. We are restoring the cuts that the Liberal government made to the territorial governments. This is another piece of legislation that would empower northerners to make decisions for their projects and set the terms and conditions for them.

Do the Liberals not support that?

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12:50 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The hon. member for Winnipeg North has a little better than a minute.

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12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, given the question, it could be a very difficult challenge to keep the answer to under a minute.

Maybe I will demonstrate the type of support that the Liberal Party has traditionally provided. Has it been perfect? No, it has not. We have not been absolutely perfect. That said, I reflect back to when Paul Martin was prime minister and the phenomenal amount of effort that he put in. In a relatively short time frame, he was able to accomplish a great deal in terms of first nations and aboriginal communities by looking at a framework for future decades to deal with issues ranging from education to financing to issues of land claim settlements.

There are different levels of government and different political entities. It is important that we recognize the priority of settling land claims and looking at ways to make a more positive contribution. I suggest the minister might want to reflect on the accord that Paul Martin had—

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12:55 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

Order, please. I gave the member a few extra seconds there, but time has expired.

Resuming debate, the hon. Minister of the Environment.

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12:55 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

I am thankful for the opportunity to speak to this bill today. As the member of Parliament representing Nunavut and the Nunavummiut, and as the Minister of the Environment and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, I am especially proud to defend Bill S-6 this afternoon.

The legislation, the Yukon and Nunavut regulatory improvement act, would drive economic growth and development across the north. In the process, it would improve the quality of life for all living in Nunavut. It would also improve the quality of life for each and every one of my constituents.

Beyond what it would do to attract investment, and create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity, this initiative has two symbolic roles. It is both the latest in a series of developments that would enable Nunavummiut to benefit more fully from all that the territory has to offer, and it is a precursor to the territory of Nunavut inheriting more political and economic independence than ever before.

On October 3, 2014, my colleague, the hon. Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, came to Nunavut, and together we announced the appointment of a chief federal negotiator, Brian Dominique, to represent Canada in negotiations toward the signing of a devolution agreement in principle.

Devolution in Nunavut will give control over land, water and resources in the territory to those best placed to make decisions about their future, the Nunavummiut. This is similar to the devolution agreement that exists in Yukon, as well as the one that our government recently signed in the Northwest Territories. The benefits of devolution are significant, and I look forward to the day when Nunavut can access these benefits, thanks to our Conservative government.

In broad terms, Bill S-6 would help Nunavut reach this goal of devolution by creating conditions within the regulatory system to allow residents of Nunavut, from Cambridge Bay to Rankin Inlet to Iqaluit, to unlock the great economic potential of their territory. Bill S-6 plays a crucial role in paving the way for devolution. It would ensure that the water management regime that would eventually be transferred from the federal government to the Government of Nunavut would encourage investment and allow the territory to fully benefit from increased resource development. Given our territory's world-class mines and massive natural resource revenues, it is clear that the economic potential of Nunavut is tremendous.

It is our duty as Parliamentarians to unlock opportunities in this region. This will be achieved by building a streamlined and predictable regulatory regime that entices investors and developers to look to the north while at the same time safeguarding our unique environment.

Along with our government's investments in roads, bridges and education, regulatory improvements will stimulate future exploration and development to the benefit of Nunavummiut and all Canadians. The Nunavut government agrees with us. My counterpart, the Nunavut minister of the environment, the Hon. Johnny Mike, has been on record saying, “the Government of Nunavut believes that this bill would make a number of improvements to the regulatory regime in Nunavut”.

I will speak more specifically to what the minister is referring.

Bill S-6 would ensure more timely and predictable water licence review processes. One of our government's objectives in the north is speeding up regulatory approvals to keep pace with the needs of business. This would allow the territories to maximize the potential of their abundant natural resources, and create conditions for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity north of 60. We were determined to improve the regulatory regimes for land and water management in all three of Canada's northern territories. We wanted to ensure modern and efficient systems for northerners, understanding the demands of a highly-competitive, global marketplace. With Bill S-6, we have the final legislative step to realize this goal and to ensure that the required work is in place for the north to flourish.

Changes to the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act would make the regulatory process stronger, more effective and more predictable. Even former Liberal Senator Graham Mitchell agrees us, who said:

It's designed specifically to enhance regulatory processes, reduce the complexity of these processes, reduce regulatory overlap and, in doing so, reduce uncertainty in the economic development process in these territories.

This would help stimulate jobs, resource development and economic prosperity throughout our great territory. Bill S-6 would provide, from beginning to end, time limits for water licence review and would give the Nunavut Water Board the ability, at its discretion, to issue water licences for the anticipated duration of the project.

These changes would make the licensing process more predictable for proponents, allowing companies to engage in better long-term planning. It would also reduce the duplication and uncertainty of unnecessary reviews. Not only would this provision streamline the regulatory process, but it would do so without undermining environmental protection.

Minister Mike indicated that he is especially pleased that increased fines would be a deterrent to unlicensed water use and applauded the introduction of administrative monetary penalties, as they would provide additional tools to ensure compliance with water licences. He added that the Government of Nunavut believed life-of-project water licences were better tailored to water use and that the timelines for board review would bring certainty and predictability to both Nunavummiut and industry.

Representatives of the Nunavut Water Board told the standing Senate committee that they were generally supportive of the legislation. For example, Thomas Kabloona, Chair of the Nunavut Water Board said, “A number of the specific issues raised by the board through its participation were considered and have been to some extent reflected in Bill S-6, so we are supportive of the amendments in general”.

Moreover, the bill would increase fines for proponents who violated the conditions of water licences and would introduce administrative monetary penalties, another measure designed to hold industry accountable to regulatory standards.

In throwing his support behind Bill S-6, Minister Mike from the Nunavut government said, “This bill will give the board and regulators important new powers that will ensure that water use in Nunavut is sustainable and environmentally safe”.

This is an example of how our government is protecting Nunavut's environmental heritage without resorting to a costly carbon tax, like the Liberals and NDP would introduce. This tax hike would make life across the north more expensive, increase the cost of everything in the north, increase the cost of food in our communities, and would result in job loss for Nunavut residents.

The success of these efforts is evident in support for Bill S-6 in the north.

Minister Mike, who have I quoted before, said that Bill S-6 would provide more flexibility and enforcement powers to regulators, more predictable timelines for assessments, and would integrate with other environmental processes in the North.

Bill S-6 is supported by Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, too. Its president, Cathy Towtongie, stated in her correspondence to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development that the organization was comfortable with the changes proposed in the bill.

The wide support that this initiative is receiving in Nunavut does not surprise me. Bill S-6 is an economic and environmental building block for my territory, and is indicative of a broader truth: that no government in Canadian history has done more for northerners than this one.

I urge all parties to join me in supporting and encouraging economic and social development in my riding of Nunavut by ensuring the swift passage of this important bill.

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1:05 p.m.

NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister's intervention focused appropriately on Nunavut. However, the other part of the bill before us is the amendments proposed to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act.

The minister's colleague, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, said that this measure was “fully supported” by the Yukon legislature. Notwithstanding, there is enormous opposition to that in the Yukon, particularly among first nations. Apparently five law firms are lined up to challenge this as soon as the Conservative government rams the bill through with another time allocation motion.

Does the minister stand by the statement that there is full support of the Yukon legislature and first nations, as the minister, her colleague, suggested earlier today?

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1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Conservative Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, as a person born and raised in Canada's Arctic, I know how important this legislation is to northerners. Northerners want to advance projects in their regions. We want to advance projects under our terms and conditions. If projects are to proceed, the terms and conditions will be set by northerners on the ground in the Arctic. They are the ones who have the tools to make decisions on whether projects will proceed or not.

I am in full support of this legislation because northerners will then have one more tool to make determinations on what they want for their future, what they want for their communities and under what terms and conditions projects will proceed.

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1:05 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am going to take advantage of the fact the Minister of the Environment has just spoken and I am going to draw a connection for Canadians who are watching between the whole question of quality of life and economic opportunity in Canada's north, for Canada's northern peoples, and the linkage with this incredibly important crisis we are facing, called climate change.

There perhaps is no more powerful force at play in Canada's north than climate change. The minister knows this. Therefore, I want to give her an opportunity to share with the House today how she and the government will do what they have promised to do. They say that they will reduce emissions by 30% from 2005—

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1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

What's this got to do with the bill?

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1:05 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

I hear on the other side that its does not understand the connection between this bill and climate change, Mr. Speaker. I will restate it again for the members, if they so desire.

However, the whole question for the minister is this. In the United States, the congressional team has put together some 400 pages in a plan to achieve its target. The European Union has a 1,200-page plan.

Could the minister table today, for northern peoples, the operational plan, in detail, to achieve this 30% reduction?

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1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Conservative Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the opportunity to speak to the Liberal record in the north. For 13 years, the Liberal government did not implement the Nunavut land claims agreement. Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated filed a lawsuit against the federal government for lack of implementation of the land claims agreement. Our government settled that dispute out of court recently, and awarded Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated $255 million for the lack of implementation from that government.

Our government is listening and moving forward. The next step we will take is to negotiate a devolution agreement. We are hoping to reach an agreement in principle in the next little while. Again, this legislation would support the implementation of that land claims agreement.

That party and that government cut transfers to the territorial government. The Liberals did not implement the Nunavut land claims agreement, which brings us here today. Northerners want this legislation. Northerners want the tools to make decisions about their future and under what terms and conditions.

As Minister for the Arctic Council, I can also say that the initiatives we undertook over two years of our chairmanship were to address the issues that were important to northerners, hence, our overarching theme: development for the people of the north by incorporating the traditional knowledge of Inuit to science in addressing climate change and by incorporating the traditional knowledge and traditional ways of life of indigenous people in policy work that is done through the Arctic Council. We moved on black carbon and methane for the north, because it was important to the north.

Under the Liberal government, nothing happened.

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1:10 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, before I start, I want to thank the Minister of the Environment for her leadership, both in the portfolio she has been given in cabinet and also for her leadership in the north. It is unfortunate that the member for Ottawa South kept trying to interrupt her while she was speaking. She passionately defends the north, her communities and her territory both in the House and at the cabinet table. We are very proud to have her as the leader of our northern caucus. She does a great job in that regard.

No government in Canadian history has done more for Canada's north than our Conservative government. One can see the legislative steps that we have taken through our northern strategy, the Northern Jobs and Growth Act.

This is the final step to improve the regulatory process in the Yukon and in Nunavut. As the minister has outlined, on the Nunavut side we are protecting the environment by increasing the ability to levy fines. We are giving the people of Nunavut more control over their own territory, which is something we believe in on this side of the House.

It is unfortunate that through this whole debate when we talked about devolution to the territories and giving more powers to the territorial governments, the NDP and Liberals fought against it. They want to keep more power here in Ottawa. We want to give more power to the people of the north and their governments because we believe that the power should be closer to the people.

What have we seen with the bill? Why is the bill necessary? We have seen through independent reports that because of the improvements that have been made south of 60 to the regulatory regime, the Yukon territory has fallen behind in its regulatory environment. It used to be number one in the world in terms of attractiveness for mining companies for resource development. It has fallen to ninth according to the recent Fraser Institute report. Also, in terms of perception of regulatory policy, it has fallen to ninth in Canada. When devolution occurred over a decade ago, Yukon led Canada in terms of its regulatory regime. It has fallen behind and we need to get it back up on par with the rest of Canada.

I want to talk briefly as well, in the limited time I have, about some of the issues that have been raised. The first was raised again by the Liberal Party. It said there has been a lack of consultation, which is demonstrably false. There have been dozens of meetings that have taken place, just on the four contentious amendments alone. There was $100,000 given to first nations groups who participated in those consultation sessions. They submitted receipts to the government saying they had consulted with us and would like to be reimbursed for that. Of course, we have paid those funds. There has been consultation. It has been paid for by the government and those consultations have been meaningful. We certainly believe they have been adequate.

Also, we have seen that this is something that is necessary for the continued economic prosperity of Yukon and Nunavut. We heard from the Yukon Chamber of Mines that said, specifically on the issues of timelines and significant change, we need to bring the regime in Yukon in line with what is happening in the rest of Canada. It is seeing investment decisions and investment dollars leaving the territory because of the uncertainty that its regulatory regime presents.

We have also seen that the bill is completely 100% compliant with the Umbrella Final Agreement. The minister has asked anyone who has a concern with that to point him to the section of the legislation that violates the Umbrella Final Agreement. No one has been able to do that.

This is the final piece of our northern agenda. It is the final legislative step that we need to take to bring about economic prosperity and growth in the north. We are proud to support the bill.

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

It being 1:15 p.m., pursuant to an order made Wednesday, June 3, 2015, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the third reading stage of the bill now before the House.

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

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

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

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

All those opposed will please say nay.

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 45 the recorded division stands deferred until Monday, June 8, at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Conservative Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, if you seek it, I believe you will find unanimous consent to see the clock as 1:30 p.m.

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

Is that agreed?

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

It being 1:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-590, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (blood alcohol content), as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

1:15 p.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.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

moved that the bill, as amended, be concurred in.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

(Motion agreed to)

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

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

Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to thank the hon. member for Lethbridge for agreeing to trade his scheduled private members' business time with me, so that I could rise before my scheduled surgery next week. It is greatly appreciated. I would also like to thank all members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for unanimously passing Bill C-590 at committee stage.

The committee amended Bill C-590 to address its concerns that the bill's very significant penalties, particularly for first offenders, could lead to many cases where the driver refuses to provide a breath sample because the penalty for refusal has only a mandatory minimum penalty of $1,000. The amendment passed by the committee classifies the offence of driving with a blood alcohol content of more than 0.16% as a hybrid offence. On indictment, the penalties would remain as proposed in the bill. On summary convictions, the mandatory minimum fine for the first offence would increase to $2,000, which is double the minimum fine for impaired driving. For a second and subsequent offence, the minimum penalty would be 30 days in prison.

The amendment would ensure in most cases where drivers have a blood alcohol concentration of over 0.16% but there is no injury or death that a $2,000 fine combined with a mandatory prohibition on driving for one year would be a sufficient deterrent. Further, very severe penalties on indictment would be reserved for the most serious cases where a motor vehicle operator's blood alcohol concentration is well above 0.16% or the driver caused significant property damage.

According to Stats Canada, almost half the fatally injured drivers in Canada had a blood alcohol content of more than twice the legal limit. This level of impairment has had a devastating impact on our youth as they make up 31% of the alcohol-related deaths.

A June 2009 report by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on alcohol use among fatally injured drivers also found that the bulk of the impaired driving problems lie with those drivers having a blood alcohol content over the current Criminal Code limit of 0.08%. Although the drivers with high blood alcohol content represent about 1% of the cars on the road at night and on weekends, they account for nearly 50% or half of all the drivers killed at those times.

My home community of Prince Albert, as most communities in our nation, has been scarred by the toll of this selfish but preventable crime.

In July 2013, Taylor Litwin and Brandi Lepine, who was pregnant at the time of the accident, were both killed when a 21-year-old drunk driver slammed into Taylor's vehicle. Brandi, who initially survived the crash, was able to give birth to her daughter Aurora before she succumbed to her injuries. The driver who took the life of these two ladies is to be sentenced this fall.

In May 2012, Prince Albert lost a strong community leader, Mr. Ben Darchuk. Ben was the owner of an auto glass business that is located next to my old constituency office location. The 22-year-old driver who pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing Ben's death received two years less a day at a provincial correctional centre for his sentence. He also received a three-year driving prohibition and was ordered to pay a $100 surcharge.

Bill C-590 would target these young drivers with high blood alcohol content by increasing specific penalties for their actions. The goal is to prevent these drivers from getting behind the wheel as they cause a greater number of fatalities and are more likely to be repeat offenders.

As time at the end of this Parliament session is quickly running out, I therefore ask that we pass Bill C-590 as quickly as we can to give the Senate enough time to deliberate and pass it before the fast-approaching summer is upon us.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I commend the member for bringing this bill forward. I wanted him to take a few more minutes of explanation, if he could, for Canadians who are deeply concerned about the question of driving under the influence, not only of alcohol of course but under the influence of other drugs, medications, prescription pills. Of course, there is some linkage as well to the whole question of distracted driving.

Could the member take a minute just to amplify a bit more on the net effect of what he is proposing in terms of how he sees it affecting potential prosecutions, convictions and penalties?

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question, and I thank the Liberals and the New Democrats for their co-operation in committee as we looked at improving and strengthening this bill.

I think every member in this House knows somebody who has been impacted, either through family members, through loved ones or through neighbours or friends, by drunk drivers. The reality is that we need to do what we can to educate our youth, when they are going through the system of learning how to drive, on the implications of drinking and driving. One of the things we would do here by having a tougher penalty is we would drive home to youth and to the people who are learning how to drive the importance of not drinking and driving, and that there are serious consequences if drivers should proceed to act that way.

The reality is, as I said, that 50% of motor vehicle fatalities are of people with over a blood alcohol content of 0.08%. If we look at the fact that there are drivers with blood alcohol content of 0.16%, these people are causing half the fatalities on the road. They need to be taken off the road.

There is no question whether they are drunk. When drivers are at blood alcohol content of 0.16% or higher, they are two sheets to the wind. They are not in a situation where they should be driving any vehicle, whether it is a car, a boat, a motorcycle or any type of vehicle that is operating. The reality is they should never be in that scenario. In this case, we would address those people and ensure that they are not going to get behind the wheel and hurt somebody else, because they tend to be repeat offenders.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Prince Albert for introducing this bill. I have a personal interest in this issue. During one of the trips I made to my riding in the last four years—I will not to say when or where—I was driving at night and a car swerved into my lane. It ended up stopping behind me and did not cause an accident, but it was clear that the driver was drunk.

This is a very important issue. It affects all of us, and especially those of us who have children.

I have a very simple question for the member. Before he drafted his bill, and even as it was being drafted, did he have the opportunity to consult with organizations like MADD Canada, which deals with these issues first-hand? The additional information these organizations could have—such as personal stories or particular cases—could enhance the bill and make it more relevant.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I did talk to different organizations like MADD. They would have liked to have seen it go even further. They would like to see a mandatory minimum sentencing of a greater degree. They would like to see even more punishment for those people who drink and drive.

As legislators, we have to balance the will of different parties in order to get legislation through the House. We had co-operation in committee, and we have ended up with legislation which is better than what we had but maybe does not quite meet what they expected or would like to see.

The reality is that if we can do anything to take these people off the road, anything to save the life of a youth or someone else hit by a drunk driver, if this bill saves one life, which is what it will do, we have done a better job and have put forward a good piece of legislation.

Should we stop here? No. Like the member from the Liberal Party said, there are other things we need to start looking at, such as prescription drugs, marijuana, and cocaine. Things like that need to be addressed. We need to find tools to address people who take those types of substances and drive.

The reality is that if people are intoxicated by any means, they should not be behind the wheel. In the next sessions, we, as parliamentarians, are going to have to find a way to deal with these other types of prohibited drugs.

As far as the people in my riding, just as the member has said, there are so many people who have had personal experiences when it comes to drinking and driving, whether it was losing loved ones or neighbours or friends, or are in the situation like Ben's Auto Glass. Not only did Ben's family lose a father, he was a business owner and his employees lost their boss. There was turmoil around that whole scenario. It was heart wrenching, and for what? It was so sad.

He had just bought a brand new boat. He was heading up to the lake to try it out for the first time. His family had gone up ahead of him to get a camping site. They never met again. It was a sad situation.

There are so many stories around Canada like that, and we need to do something to prevent this from happening again.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is truly an honour for me to rise in the House today on behalf of the people of Alfred-Pellan in Laval, whom I have represented for four years, to talk about a private member's bill, Bill C-590, An Act to amend the Criminal Code provisions on blood alcohol content.

I would like to begin by telling my colleague who introduced this bill in the House that I will support it at third reading, and I will explain why we on this side have taken this stance.

In light of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights' recent study of this bill, New Democrats believe that Bill C-590 is a step in the right direction to combat the scourge of drunk driving.

In essence, Bill C-590 amends section 255 of the Criminal Code to establish the possibility of imposing more severe penalties for offences committed under section 253 in circumstances where the offender has a blood alcohol content that exceeds 160 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, which is double the amount that now constitutes an offence. It also raises the minimum penalties that apply to convictions for impaired driving causing bodily harm or death.

As a young mother of a two-year-old little girl, as a woman and as a New Democrat, I truly believe that drinking and driving is a very important issue. I also think that all parliamentarians in the House care deeply about this issue.

I do not mean to speak on behalf of all parents here, but I am sure that every father, every mother and every grandparent cares a great deal about the health and safety of their children, their family, their fellow citizens and the general public.

I am quite confident that everyone here in the House wants to address the problem of drinking and driving, and Bill C-590 is a step in the right direction.

I am not a member of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. However, I do have some wonderful colleagues, like the member for Gatineau and the member for La Pointe-de-l'Île, who are members of that committee. I looked at their work and the work done by my other colleagues, because I am always interested in what is happening at committee, and everyone wanted to ensure that these new measures were designed to eliminate the scourge that claims too many Canadians' lives every year.

I support the bill, but I know that it has some shortcomings, which is rather unfortunate. However, as I said, it is a step in the right direction.

Although Canada has very tough laws and penalties for impaired driving, more than 750 motorists, motorcyclists, pedestrians and cyclists were killed every year between 2003 and 2005 in traffic accidents involving drunk drivers. Even one death is one too many, but this is more than two people per day. That is far too many, and we need to implement measures to address this problem.

This is a relatively conservative estimate, since in some cases it was not possible to determine whether the driver had a blood alcohol level over the legal limit. Some road safety organizations estimate that the number of victims is actually much higher.

Although the exact number of victims is in question, no one doubts that impaired driving causes a large number of injuries and deaths that could be avoided.

My colleague's bill, Bill C-590, seeks to decrease the number of injuries and deaths by amending section 255 of the Criminal Code to establish more severe penalties for offences committed under the Criminal Code in circumstances where the offender's blood alcohol content exceeds 160 milligrams of alcohol.

As I mentioned previously, the bill also seeks to raise the minimum penalties that apply to convictions for impaired driving causing bodily harm or death.

I sincerely believe that we need to do more to combat impaired driving.

The NDP examined the measures proposed by the member for Prince Albert, and saw that they were a step in the right direction towards effectively fighting the scourge of drunk driving.

However, there remain some questions about minimum sentences, even though we had already raised them. The minimum sentences in this bill are substantially shorter than the current sentences that are imposed for these offences. I mentioned a few of this bill's flaws, including these shorter minimum sentences. I will talk later about why this matters.

For example, in 2011-12, the mean length of imprisonment was 277 days for impaired driving causing bodily harm, and 959 days for impaired driving causing death. Why are the proposed minimum sentences important and why do we need to discuss them? There is a tendency for a minimum sentence to become the default sentence, except in the worst cases. In other words, the minimum sentence ends up being the norm rather than a sentence reserved for less serious crimes. Therefore, it is reasonable to expect that defence lawyers will ask for the minimum sentence, unless the Crown can prove that their client's crime warrants a special punishment.

As I said, we absolutely must do more to address drunk driving. There are a number of things we can do as parliamentarians, but also as citizens in our communities.

I want to reiterate the question my NDP colleague asked about the type of consultations that were done with regard to the bill introduced by my colleague from Prince Albert. I would have liked more details on who was consulted on the bill. I know that MADD Canada works very hard on the issue of drunk driving. Everyone acknowledges the exemplary work that it does, but it would be good to know how MADD feels about this bill. It would also be good to get feedback from the many stakeholders across Canada who work on this issue that is so very important to our constituents. This is important input if we want to have leadership and crack down on drunk driving.

This bill deals with sentences for offenders, but we cannot forget that there is work to be done before things get to that point. I cannot stress this enough, but when it comes to topics that are this sensitive, it is often important to educate people. Whether we are talking about young drivers taking the wheel, starting their classes or applying for a licence, it is preferable for parents to get them started with good habits. We need to look at everything we can possibly do. We also need to ensure that people who already have a licence understand the negative impact that drinking and driving can have as well as all the potential consequences for our society. We cannot forget that education plays an important role in this issue.

I also want to mention that I am a young mother and that I have since become more interested in these issues. I think that is how it normally works. We all want to ensure that we do a good job of raising our family. As a young mother I must say that I really sympathize with all the victims and families of victims of drunk driving. It is never an easy thing. No one can understand what it means to lose a loved one, regardless of the circumstances.

I think that a fairly funded justice system would truly help them through the process. We can never forget the families, friends and loved ones of the victims of drunk driving.

I would like to make something clear. This bill does not specifically target young people. We need to avoid stereotypes here. It is very important that we not stereotype our youth. In this case, I think we really need to be careful. We need to remember that the statistics on young people and drunk driving have improved a lot in recent years. I think that is the result of the great work being done by parents and society in general.

In closing, I would like to thank all those who worked on this bill when it was before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, as well as my colleague from Prince Albert. I also want to acknowledge the incredible work done by our justice critic, my colleague from Gatineau, and her deputy critic, the member for La Pointe-de-l'Île. They worked very hard on this issue.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-590, an act to amend the Criminal Code with respect to blood alcohol content. This bill, from the member for Prince Albert, would allow for stiffer penalties for impaired driving where the offender was severely intoxicated. Specifically, the changes would apply to convictions where an offender's blood alcohol concentration exceeded 160 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood at the time of the offence. As the justice critic for the Liberal Party, I have recommended that my caucus colleagues support this bill.

Impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death in Canada. Every life taken by a drunk driver is an avoidable tragedy. Getting behind the wheel while impaired is a reckless and selfish personal choice, and its predictable results cannot be undone.

Across the country, the number of bodily injuries and deaths caused by impaired driving continues to be unacceptably high. It has been a perennial and vexing problem in my province of Prince Edward Island, and I know that the same can be said for the home province of the member for Prince Albert.

I will say a few words later on about some creative strategies my province is trying, strategies that could be used beyond the simple solution of amending the Criminal Code, which seems to be the default tool of choice for just about everything for the government.

In spite of the inclusion of mandatory minimum sentences, I can support this legislation. By targeting drivers who are severely intoxicated, Bill C-590 would send a public message about the category of drivers who pose the greatest statistical risk.

The Traffic Injury Research Foundation has found that impaired drivers with a blood alcohol content of over 160 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood represent close to 70% of impaired drivers killed in car accidents. When we are talking about this crime, I do think stiffer penalties may be an effective deterrent, since many people who get behind the wheel while impaired would not be prone to criminality in general.

Impaired driving is a crime people have taken more seriously over the years, in large part due to the advocacy of groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving. My hope is that keeping a focus on this issue in Parliament can continue the cultural shift toward social condemnation of impaired driving. This is a crime where stigma is the real deterrent.

Far fewer people drive while intoxicated today, so we see that behaviours can change, and we see evidence to this effect. According to StatsCan, the rate of impaired driving causing death dropped 29% in 2011, reaching its lowest point in over 25 years. The number of incidents of impaired driving causing bodily harm also fell to half of what it was 25 years before. Of course, half the number of incidents is not good enough. Behaviours need to keep changing.

Everyone in the chamber understands what I am talking about. Every Canadian community has been touched by impaired driving.

Coming from Charlottetown, the way impaired driving has touched me is in the case of my neighbour, Kristen Cameron. This young lady used to babysit my children. She was a very talented and promising young hockey player who was recruited on a hockey scholarship to play in the United States. She excelled in the United States and was actually named to the all-American team for female hockey. She went on to share her talents as a coach at Mercyhurst College, one of the premier women's hockey programs in the country. During her time as a coach, she was driving her bike when she was struck by a drunk driver and rendered quadriplegic.

Unlike many stories involving drunk driving, however, this one, while it involves a tragedy, does not have a particularly sad ending. Kristen continues to inspire through her sheer determination. She is about to be named to the Canadian Paralympic rugby team. She is certainly someone who continues to make all Prince Edward Islanders proud.

Across the country, there are too many stories of lives lost or changed forever by impaired driving. Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, estimates that there are somewhere between 1,250 and 1,500 impairment-related crash deaths in Canada every year, which is 3.4 to 4.1 per day.

Then, there are the injuries. In 2010, MADD estimated that there were approximately 63,821 individuals injured in impairment related crashes. That same year, according to Statistics Canada, police reported 121 incidents of impaired driving causing death, though my understanding is that number only refers to the number of charges. According to Transport Canada, alcohol use was a factor in almost 30% of deaths from vehicle crashes during the 2003 to 2005 period. As I said, impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death in Canada.

What would Bill C-590 change? This bill would amend the Criminal Code to create higher minimum sentences and allow the imposition of more severe penalties for impaired driving where the offender is acutely intoxicated. Again, we are talking about a blood alcohol content of over 160 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood. To put that into perspective, I understand that that would mean approximately 8 drinks for a 160 pound individual.

Bill C-590 would also create minimum penalties for convictions for impaired driving causing bodily harm or death. The specific changes are as follows. Currently, if someone is caught with blood alcohol content over 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres, a summary conviction fine of $1,000 applies. With a level over 160 milligrams, it is an aggravated circumstance in sentencing. With Bill C-590, if the level is over 160 milligrams, it would be a minimum $2,000 fine, twice the current amount. In addition, the penalties on indictment would be much more severe, with a minimum fine of $2,000 and a minimum of 60 days in prison. The maximum period in prison would also be doubled, to ten years, on indictment. A second or subsequent offence would carry a minimum of 240 days in prison, which is again double the current amount.

These changes in Bill C-590 have been amended since the House last considered this bill. The change at committee was to retain a summary conviction option for acute intoxication. That change came out of concern for creating a loophole whereby drivers would simply refuse samples, which carries a lower penalty. The change that we settled on does not make for a perfect law, but it is an improvement that will affect some offenders.

I commend the mover and his colleagues on the justice committee for making amendments that have improved this bill and provided a mechanism for prosecutors to exercise discretion in such a manner as to avoid the one size fits all consequences of minimum mandatory sentences.

I would like to say a word about the situation in Prince Edward Island, where we have a chronic problem with drunk driving. That is in spite of guidelines within our provincial courts that make incarceration automatic in virtually 100% of DUI cases, regardless of the blood alcohol content reading. Along with Saskatchewan and the territories, we have one of the highest rates of impaired driving in Canada, I am sad to say.

In 2012, our provincial government did something about it, with three significant changes to the law. First, first-time offenders must have ignition interlocks installed. Second, offenders caught with children under 16 years of age in their vehicle will have to use ignition breathalyzers for two years. Third, the government introduced tougher rules for impounding vehicles. Mothers Against Drunk Driving was very supportive of those changes.

In addition, Prince Edward Island has introduced special discrete licence plates for police to recognize the vehicles of repeat drunk drivers, as well as a campaign for people to call 911 if they observe impaired driving. Again, Mothers Against Drunk Driving supported these changes.

There are potential solutions to problems other than amendments to the Criminal Code. We have seen promising results. From 2013 to 2014, the number of convictions for impaired driving decreased by nearly 20%. We need to do better, but I am pleased to see progress and I am hopeful for the future. In 2013, we had 297 convictions for impaired driving, and in 2014, we had 241. Compare that to 628 convictions in 1989, and 1,570 convictions in 1980.

I would encourage parliamentarians from all parties to take a look at these measures on the island and consider whether they could be useful in their respective regions. The parties in the House disagree on many issues, but the need to stop drunk driving in Canada is not one of them. That is why I will be supporting Bill C-590.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, as the justice critic for the official opposition, I have the honour of rising in the House on this Friday afternoon to speak to Bill C-590 on behalf of both my riding of Gatineau and my colleagues in the New Democratic Party. First of all, I would like to say that we too support Bill C-590, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (blood alcohol content). This bill seeks to establish more severe penalties for offences where the offender has a blood alcohol content that exceeds 160 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood and where driving under the influence results in serious consequences, such as bodily harm or even death.

I heard a number of my colleagues in the House mention that impaired driving is still a scourge even today in 2015. It is still a problem. People go out and they still think that they can drive a vehicle, which can actually be considered a weapon. A vehicle can cause considerable damage. Nevertheless, some people seem to think that they can get behind the wheel of their vehicle after they have been drinking, no matter how many drinks they have had.

The New Democratic Party obviously has a zero tolerance policy for impaired driving. We believe that even more can be done. Members may ask if I think that Bill C-590 will solve this problem. When members introduce a bill, they usually want to make sure that it accomplishes what it is supposed to. In this case, the member obviously wants to send a clear message, but I hope that the bill will do more than that because it does not seem that people really understand. There are many repeat drunk drivers who unfortunately do not seem to care about the Criminal Code.

Is Bill C-590 going to make every single Canadian understand the concept of zero tolerance once and for all? I highly doubt it. First of all, I doubt that this bill is that well-thought-out. Whether the Conservative member introducing this bill likes it or not, it definitely should have been fine-tuned a little more. For now, with this parliamentary session coming to an end and time running out, it is a half measure. Clearly, the person who introduced the bill had good intentions in relation to its objective, but he is not a legal expert. Few witnesses appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to talk to us about Bill C-590, so the member left many questions unanswered.

We realize, and people from the Justice Department also realize, that this bill has a few gaps in it that should have been fixed before it was introduced. This is perhaps another reason why these kinds of files do not usually come from backbenchers, but rather the government, because they involve complex policies. Certain sections of the Criminal Code can lead to disputes as well as some confusion.

The main confusion here relates to a question I asked my colleague across the way when he first introduced the bill. When most offenders are first stopped by a police officer on the side of the road, they are asked to take a breathalyzer test. Knowing the penalties for someone who has more than 160 millilitres of alcohol in their blood, would the person not be better off to simply refuse to take the breathalyzer? Of course, refusing the test carries its own penalties, but, Mr. Speaker, since you are a lawyer like me, you know that those penalties are much less harsh than the penalties that would apply under Bill C-590 if it passes.

Someone who is very drunk would certainly have greater incentive to refuse to take a breathalyzer test, rather than giving the Crown evidence that they are above the new limit that comes with this new sentence.

As justice critic for the New Democratic Party, I have always believed that when we are drafting bills it is not a matter of taking a tough-on-crime approach—as the Conservatives love to say—but a matter of taking an intelligent approach. We need to ensure that the measures we take will truly achieve what we claim they will.

For example, if Bill C-590 passes, we could see games being played. As I mentioned in committee, in January or February this year, a judge in the riding of Gatineau dismissed some 30 impaired driving cases because the cases had not been tried within a reasonable amount of time. This made the news, and many people were shocked.

On occasion I go through my riding to talk about drunk driving and how, despite all of the awareness campaigns and the harsher sentences in recent years, people still do not seem to get the message. The problem is that the Conservatives have made all kinds of amendments to the Canadian Criminal Code.

Criminal justice experts, such as crown prosecutors, defence attorneys, police forces, judges and all stakeholders, tell me that there are so many delays in these cases that the Crown and the defence end up playing games.

Since sentences are more severe, the defence is less likely to negotiate a plea bargain with the Crown and more likely to go to court in all cases to avoid certain new sentences. This creates a tremendous backlog in our courthouses. Gatineau is not alone in this. We see it all across Quebec and Canada.

This backlog should not be the one thing preventing us from taking action. However, as we in the New Democratic Party often say, if the government wants to introduce new sentences and a new way of doing things, it has to give the police the tools they need. For example, there should be more officers on the ground so that offenders can be arrested. The government also has to ensure that our justice system can handle these people and hold their trials within a reasonable period of time instead of allowing unreasonable delays due to a shortage of judges, crown prosecutors and courtrooms.

Taken together, these elements result in an extremely dysfunctional system. Courts are begging for help, but nobody is responding. All the government does is give them new laws that they have to adapt to and interpret within the context of other laws. This complicates legal situations and sometimes results in the opposite of what the Conservatives are trying to achieve. Lots of people manage to slip through the cracks in the system. How many times have I read in the paper that somebody has been caught for the fifth time and been sentenced to the equivalent of a slap on the wrist?

One serious problem that the Conservatives have not yet fixed is the fact that criminal records are not always up to date because the RCMP lacks resources. We know there is a way to emphasize recidivism before the courts, but the criminal record and the history have to be properly identified. If they are not, the Crown cannot work miracles. It cannot say that a particular conviction has not yet been entered on the record but that the individual was convicted in such and such a year. That is not how it works. Sometimes there are more basic problems to fix.

This will not stop us from supporting Bill C-590, which is well-intentioned. Unfortunately, it certainly is not the answer to all our problems when it comes to zero tolerance for drunk driving.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

2 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

I am pleased to add my voice to those of the members for Gatineau and Alfred-Pellan, who both gave very eloquent speeches.

We support the bill. However, as the member for Gatineau said so well, it has some flaws. Unfortunately, in committee, the Conservatives rejected all the proposed amendments to this bill instead of improving it.

No doubt everyone in this House understands the importance of cracking down on drunk driving. I do not think there is a single member in this House who has not had a family member, neighbour, or friend involved in these tragedies that take place far too often on Canadian highways. What we see often is that they were entirely preventable.

Someone getting behind the wheel of a car and deciding to drive while having consumed alcohol is someone who is a risk to people throughout the community. Far too often, it results in serious injury and even death.

As members know, my riding of Burnaby—New Westminster is part of the north Fraser area, and we are connected to the south Fraser area by a number of bridges, including the Pattullo Bridge. I know a number of constituents who have had family members who have died or been severely injured because of drunk driving on the Pattullo Bridge. This is something that is repeated right across the country.

There is no doubt that having legislation is helpful, but what the legislation before us lacks is somewhat along the lines of what my colleague, the member for Gatineau, just expressed so eloquently a few minutes ago. What the Conservative government has done in terms of crime prevention, cutbacks to the RCMP, and refusing to adequately fund the judicial system has caused enormous prejudice to actually putting in place a smart policy on crime.

I think the most egregious is the government's slashing of crime prevention programs. For every dollar we invest in crime prevention programs, we save six dollars in policing costs, judicial costs, and penal costs. The investment for the Canadian taxpayers is extraordinarily large if one dollar invested in crime prevention saves money in a whole variety of other spheres. More importantly, it means that there are no victims, because the crime is not committed in the first place.

The current Conservative government has completely slashed and burned crime prevention funding right across the country. Crime prevention offices that were set up to prevent crime, to stop crimes like drunk driving from being committed, and to educate the population so that what we end up with is a population that understands the ramifications of these kinds of offences and does not commit them were slashed and burned by a government that, in some bizarre way, seems to want to triumph on fighting crime when it actually undermines all of the effective programs that would actually reduce crime rates.

This is the problem. We have seen it in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia and right across the country. We can ask members of Parliament from any part of the country, and we will get the same reaction.

The Conservative government has been utterly irresponsible when it comes to taking a smart approach to crime and reducing crime at its source by putting in place education programs on drunk driving, and even more importantly, by having an overall crime prevention strategy. The elimination of all of those programs has been distinctly unhelpful. As we are seeing now in various parts of the country, it has led to a rise in the crime rate.

The member for Surrey North and the member for Newton—North Delta have been raising consistently in this House the number of shootings taking place in Surrey, British Columbia.

As members know, what has happened in Surrey occurred primarily because the current Conservative government did not keep its commitment to put more front-line police officers in place across the country. It failed to keep that commitment. Also, as members well know, what we have is a government that has also actually clawed back from the RCMP. Our front-line police officers now have fewer resources than they used to have to combat drunk driving and other offences, again because the current government seems to want to put money into other things. Maybe it is the Senate; maybe it is special conferences, such as over the last one or two days, that cost a billion dollars. The Conservatives are eager to put money there.

However, when it comes to crime prevention programs, front-line police officers, or adequately funding the RCMP, what we have seen is a woeful lack of responsibility from these Conservatives.

I think that is the reason that in poll after poll, 70% of Canadians say they are finished with these Conservatives. They want nothing more to do with them. They are eagerly awaiting October 19, when they can toss the Conservatives out of office. The Conservatives have proven to be irresponsible at the one policy they said they would be good at.

Yes, there are some bills that may help, such as the bill we are discussing today, but when they cut and slash crime prevention, when they do not keep their commitments around front-line police officers, when they claw back from the RCMP, they are undermining the institutional foundations for actually putting a smart-on-crime strategy into place. The unfortunate victims of those incredibly short-sighted policies and incredibly mean-spirited, foolish, irresponsible approaches to being smart on crime are Canadian families.

When we look at a bill like this, we say, yes, the bill may move us forward. There are weaknesses in the bill that should have been addressed, but this government does not actually accept amendments from the opposition. More importantly, it is not the bill that counts; it is the overall actions. Every single time when the Conservatives had an ability to make the right decision over the last four years, they have chosen to make the wrong decision. Slashing crime prevention was a wrong decision. Refusing to keep a commitment to put front-line police officers into communities like Surrey, British Columbia, where we have seen a marked increase in the number of shootings, was a foolish, wrong decision. Clawing back from the RCMP was a foolish, wrong decision. We have simply seen too many foolish, wrong decisions

We will support the bill today. There is no doubt. However, Canadians who feel who strongly, as I do, that we need to crack down on drunk driving—including at the source, including putting in place smart strategies to educate the public on crime prevention strategies—will have to wait until after October 19 of this year, when we will have a government in place that will do the smart thing, the right thing, in battling crime and reducing the number of victims in this country.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

2:05 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

Resuming debate.

The hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques has eight minutes for his speech.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, although it is always difficult to follow the member for Burnaby—New Westminster, I am pleased to rise in the House to debate Bill C-590, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (blood alcohol content).

First of all I would like to say that I personally will be voting for the bill at third reading stage. However, I feel the need to repeat some of the very eloquent arguments made by the member for Gatineau, the official opposition's justice critic, and the member for Alfred-Pellan. They discussed some very important points that were completely ignored by the Conservative government. That is nothing new, as we have seen this repeatedly over the past four years.

This is a pertinent bill in that the issue of drunk driving is of concern to all Canadians. I am sure that all of us here in the House, and all Canadians, can think of examples of tragic events that have affected us directly or indirectly, within our family or in the community where we live.

Clearly we need harsher penalties for impaired driving, and the offence itself needs to be a more serious one. It was not so long ago that drunk driving was considered a minor offence, simply a car accident. It was not considered a criminal offence. I think that we on this side of the House can be pleased with the progress that has been made since that type of mentality was the norm.

However, there are certain approaches that are reminiscent of the Conservative government's old way of thinking. I am talking about minimum sentences. The hon. member for Gatineau said quite eloquently that such provisions could be counterproductive. For the past four years, the government has been adding minimum sentences to just about every serious offence. When we look at the U.S. experience, it is clear that minimum sentences show a lack of confidence in the judges and the justice system, and that they also come at a high cost to the community because the judges are prevented from taking the context of the offence into account.

When we are talking about drunk driving, the context is hard to deny. Someone who simply drank too much and lacked judgment must be held criminally responsible for his or her actions. However, if we look at all the other offences that have been brought in by this government and that are now subject to minimum sentencing, we can see that minimum sentences are often counterproductive, either because they do not leave room for potential rehabilitation or because they impose a general direction that later becomes automatically adopted. In other words, the minimum sentence becomes a standard, when the circumstances and the context might call for a harsher sentence. The justice system and the judges in whom the government is showing a lack of faith, might be tempted to go with the lowest common denominator, and they do it quite often, as demonstrated, once again, by the U.S. experience.

In that sense, we are opposed to minimum sentences, not because we think that criminals should not receive punishments that fit their crimes, but because the government has repeatedly gone down the wrong track by failing to put faith in our justice system. Once again, I want to make it clear that all of us in the House, or at least those of us on this side, believe that drunk driving is a serious criminal offence that often endangers the lives of others. I imagine those on the government side agree.

I would like to comment on another point raised by my colleague from Gatineau, who knows what she is talking about. Even if we had the strictest justice system in the world, if the government does not give the forces of law and order the resources they need, it will be very difficult to ensure compliance with Parliament's intention. If the RCMP and our police forces in general lack resources, if our legal system and our courts lack resources, we will have a flawed system that does not work well and does not have the technical means to enforce the sentences that fit the crimes.

The typical example that was raised by my colleague from Gatineau is the 50 or so cases where drivers were charged with impaired driving but then let off without ever going to court. Why? Too much time had passed between the time they were arrested and charged and their trial, so the case was thrown out. Is that responsible? No. These people were charged with a serious crime and society did not even have the chance to hear the cases and impose sanctions.

It is all well and good to say that we have tough laws and we want to make them even tougher, but if the legal system does not have the resources it needs, then tougher laws will be completely useless. This looks good on paper. On the surface, we seem to be doing our job, but when it comes right down to it, society is no better off.

Like the member for Prince Albert and the other members who spoke about this bill, I realize that there need to be tougher penalties for impaired drivers and that it should be left to our judges' discretion to impose those penalties. I agree that a person's faculties can be impaired by substances other than alcohol, and that is an issue we could consider.

I truly hope that, as much as possible, the legal system will continue to consider the serious consequences and harm caused by impaired driving in our communities and that sentences for these offences will serve more and more as examples. That is why I will be voting in favour of this bill at third reading.

However, I would have much preferred this bill to come from the government. We have so many private members' bills that should be part of the government's concerted law and order strategy, and impaired driving should be included in that in order to increase prevention and ensure that the issue of sentencing and harsher penalties is part of that established strategy.

I applaud the initiative of the member in question, but I would like to see a more elaborate strategy from the government on this issue. I have not seen that so far, which is unfortunate. Since I applaud the member's initiative, I will be pleased to vote in favour of the bill at third reading.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

It being 2:18 p.m., this House stands adjourned until Monday next at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2:18 p.m.)