House of Commons Hansard #74 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was citizenship.

Topics

Message from the Senate

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying), with amendments to which the concurrence of this House is desired. Copies of the amendments are available at the table.

Message from the Senate

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Andrew Leslie Liberal Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Should you consult with the other parties, I believe you will find unanimous consent that notwithstanding any standing or special order or usual practice of the House, when orders of the day are called later this day, a minister of the Crown be authorized to move without notice a motion relating to Senate amendments to Bill C-14, an act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other acts, medical assistance in dying.

Message from the Senate

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?

Message from the Senate

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Information Commissioner of CanadaRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I have the honour, pursuant to Section 38 of the Access to Information Act, to lay upon the table the report of the Information Commissioner for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2016.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(h), this document is deemed to have been permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary 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 four petitions.

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Regina—Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2015 annual report of the RCMP's use of the law enforcement justification provisions. This report addresses the RCMP's use of specified provisions within the law enforcement justification regime, which is set out in section 25.1 to 25.4 of the Criminal Code.

This report also documents the nature of the investigations in which these provisions were used.

Act to Establish the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians and to Make Consequential Amendments to Certain ActsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalMinister of Fisheries

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-22, An Act to establish the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians and to make consequential amendments to certain Acts.

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

Reports From Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

John Oliver Liberal Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association respecting its participation at the second part of the 2016 ordinary session of the Council of Europe and its mission to the next country to hold the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union held in Strasbourg, France, and Bratislava, Republic of Slovakia, from April 18 to April 28, 2016.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the twelfth report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, entitled “Public Accounts of Canada 2015”.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109 the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Access to Information, Privacy and EthicsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics entitled “Review of the Access to Information Act”.

This report was agreed to unanimously by all members of the committee who worked together cordially and produced an excellent report. We are expecting comprehensive legislation from the government forthwith.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Transport, Infrastructure and CommunitiesCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal Humber River—Black Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, entitled “An Update on Rail Safety”. This report was intended to underscore the need for safety on Canada's rails.

From Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, to Richmond, British Columbia, the committee heard the common theme that people and communities support commerce and recreational rail travel, but they do so with the expectation that it is safe and reliable.

The members of the committee submit the report with the hope that the recommendations will help to positively move the bar when it comes to safety on the rails. I also want to thank all the committee members for their great work.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109 of the House of Commons, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to the report.

Government Awareness Day ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-296, An Act respecting a Government Awareness Day

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to introduce this bill, an act respecting government awareness day. I would like to thank my hon. colleague, the hard-working and excellent member for Courtenay—Alberni for seconding the bill.

The bill would have Parliament establish July 8 every year as government awareness day. The purpose would be that there be a day for Canadians to reflect on and celebrate our democracy. July 8 was the first day that Parliament ever sat in our country. That is the significance of that day. It would encourage citizen engagement, a celebration of our democracy, and education. It would encourage all citizens to use that day to contact any representative they wish, municipal, provincial, or federal, and make their views known to that representative as a way of showing that democracy is about government by the people for the people.

I hope that all members of the House will join with me in establishing such an important day, which we do not have now in the country, to celebrate, respect, and enhance our democracy.

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

Canada Elections ActRoutine Proceedings

June 16th, 2016 / 10:10 a.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-297, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (voting hours).

Mr. Speaker, once again I would like to thank my hon. colleague, the member for Courtenay—Alberni for seconding the bill.

As all Canadians and this House know, we are about to embark on a very important exercise in electoral reform. This gives us and all Canadians a chance to reflect on and discuss our democracy and our democratic practices and make improvements.

What the bill would do is expand voting hours in British Columbia and across the country from 7:00 in the morning until 10:00 at night. The idea is to expand the opportunities for Canadians on election day to cast their ballots. Research shows that, when polls are closed at 7 p.m., as they are in B.C., or at 8 p.m., there are Canadians who work and cannot get to the polls. Therefore, by increasing the length of time on the day Canadians go to polls, we would increase voter turnout. That, after all, is the essence of democracy.

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

Canada Elections ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-298, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (voting hours—Pacific time zone).

Mr. Speaker, once again, I would like to thank my hon. colleague from Courtenay—Alberni for seconding the bill.

This bill emanates from constituents of mine in British Columbia who have pointed out that the current practice of having voting hours in British Columbia on election day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. is not optimal for encouraging voter turnout. The bill would make a slight adjustment to open the polls at 8 a.m. and go to 8 p.m. on the theory that there are far more Canadians who will go to vote after work and are shut out at the polls because they get there after 7 p.m. than there are people who can get up and be at the polls from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m.

This is another way to encourage democratic involvement, to increase the rate of voter participation on election day. I hope all members of the House will join me in supporting the bill.

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

Canada Elections ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Joël Lightbound Liberal Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and I believe you would find the unanimous consent of the House for the following motion:

“That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, Bill S-1001, An Act to authorize La Capitale Financial Security Insurance Company to apply to be continued as a body corporate under the laws of the Province of Quebec, be deemed to have been read a second time and referred to a committee of the whole, deemed considered in committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage, and deemed read a third time and passed.”

Canada Elections ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

Canada Elections ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Canada Elections ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

There is no unanimous consent.

The hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I wish to state that the completion of Bill C-14 is an urgent matter because a legislative framework is needed to protect our most vulnerable in society and establish clear and consistent practices for medical professionals, while providing access to assisted dying pursuant to the Supreme Court of Canada ruling.

Therefore, pursuant to Standing Order 53, I move:

That, notwithstanding any Standing or special Order or usual practice of the House, when Orders of the Day are called later this day, a Minister of the Crown be authorized to move, without notice, a motion relating to Senate amendments to Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying).

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's arguments with respect to the urgency of this issue. However, he may be aware, and I think should be, that provincial guidelines have already been proposed with respect to this, and provinces are bringing in a framework to deal with this at the provincial level.

That does not negate the possible arguments for or against having a federal framework, but I think it is important to acknowledge, in the context of a claim to the alleged urgency of this issue, what the reality is at the provincial level, because if we look at the various guidelines, it actually seems fairly clear to me that a number of provinces have done a much better job of protecting the vulnerable than the framework the federal government has put in place.

I have raised concerns repeatedly in this House about the lack of protection for the vulnerable in this legislation. It is important that we separate out two different issues. There is the issue of the eligibility criteria, which has been fairly contentious in terms of whether it should be terminal, whether it should simply repeat the language of the Supreme Court, and whether it should use other types of language, as the government does in the somewhat ambiguous term of death being “reasonably foreseeable”, but then there is the separate question with respect to safeguards.

I think, especially in this legislation, whatever Canadians and members of this House think of the provisions in terms of eligibility criteria, that there is an absence of safeguards. If we look at what the provinces have put in place, they have, in many cases, done a much better job of providing important safeguards.

One of the models I would like to draw to the attention of members of the House is the law in place in Manitoba. The law put in place there has actually been praised. It was welcomed as a welcome development, even by someone involved in assisting people accessing assistance in dying, with an understanding of the real benefits of this law.

The system that was set up in Manitoba was that it allowed individuals seeking assistance in dying, euthanasia, or physician-assisted suicide, whatever we want to call it, to have their cases reviewed by government lawyers. It did not require judicial review, which has many advantages but is something that some members have claimed is unduly onerous. It instead created a procedure by which government lawyers would review the eligibility criteria and would be able to, in the context of their legal expertise and knowledge, rule on whether the person in fact met the criteria.

The government's legislation contains absolutely no mechanism for advance legal review by competent authority, and we proposed an amendment to that effect in hopes of seeing the government bring it in. Unfortunately, it would not agree to that.

I think the Manitoba law strikes a good compromise. It does not require judicial review, but it does have some kind of apparatus whereby we have review by competent legal authority. Certainly in the case of Manitoba, the vulnerable in Manitoba are better off under the provisions of the existing standards in Manitoba than they would be under federal legislation.

Let us talk about some of the other provinces. In general, the provinces I was able to look at use language around attending physicians. They have protections in terms of conscience, but they are rooted in this idea of an attending physician being in some way involved in the process.

The federal legislation, Bill C-14, makes no reference to attending physicians. It does not require the involvement of the attending physician at all. It simply says that any two physicians can sign off. We could have two physicians in the country that see a particular case one way and every other physician in the country seeing the case a completely different way. That person would still be able to access euthanasia or assisted suicide.

The guidelines, which in their wisdom most of the provinces, at least most of the ones I have had a chance to look at deal with, have a specifically carved out role for an attending physician. I would argue that involving, in the guidelines, specifically the attending physician provides significantly greater safeguards than we would have otherwise.

This speaks very much to the motion the government House leader put forward, because he is claiming that there is some urgency to passing this legislation on the basis of the protection of the vulnerable. However, if we look at the rules that are in place in the various provinces, it is very clear that they may, so far, in terms of the interim guidelines they have put in place since June 6, have a somewhat more liberal interpretation of the eligibility criteria, but on the issue of safeguards, on the issue of the protection of the vulnerable, they are actually doing a much better job.

I have stated before concerns about The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario's policy with respect to conscience. It is evident in its interim policies that it has introduced, as well, a requirement for effective referral, requiring someone to be complicit or to refer for euthanasia, which is gravely concerning to physicians as well as to many other people within the province of Ontario. However, that would not change with the federal legislation, because the legislation would not provide the necessary protections for conscience.

In other provinces, though, we see a better job in terms of understanding processes that can be put in place which protect the vulnerable and also protect conscience. Therefore, generally speaking, they make reference to this issue of having the attending physician involved, but they do not specifically require the participation or an effective referral. In my home province of Alberta, there has been a system constructed whereby there is a sort of central hub where people would go directly, or where someone might be pointed, in order to have their situation addressed or adjudicated in some way.

These systems prevent what I think is one of the very pernicious aspects of Bill C-14, which is the possibility of doctor shopping. It is where a person, or even a member of their family, could shop the case around, and 10 or 20 different doctors could say absolutely not because the person does not meet the ambiguous criteria. It is somewhat ambiguous under Carter, but no less ambiguous under the provisions of the new government legislation.

What is important in this debate is that people have raised the spectre of a legislative vacuum, in that there will be no legislation, no rules in place whatsoever. Well, June 6 has come and gone, and provinces were ready to respond in a way and to an extent that the federal government simply was not. The government proposed the legislation fairly late. It did not seek to get our buy-in on the substance of the legislation. Instead, the government pushed this forward at a late stage and said that we have to pass it now because it is urgent.

Well, provinces have done a much better job here. Now June 6 has come and gone, and we are not in a vacuum. Provinces have developed standards, policies, and procedures, some of which may be better than others; some of which I may agree with more or less. However, if we look at the substance of these, I think we see that there is not at all a legislative vacuum. In fact, the provinces have in some cases been more effective.

The central issue of doctor shopping, the issue of whether or not someone meets the criteria, needs to be adjudicated. It needs to be adjudicated, hopefully once, and may be subject to appeal or review by someone else. However, there needs to be one person or a group of people who have the expertise, legally and medically, who make the assessment, and then that decision is made.

This fearmongering from the government about the absence of a law or a vacuum, I think really misses the point. We have these bodies, colleges of physicians and surgeons at the provincial level, that have the competency and have come up with guidelines, that have recognized, unlike the government, the concerns about doctor shopping that we have raised repeatedly in the House. They have recognized the problems with conscience and said they could try to construct, using their expertise and authority at the provincial level, a system that works better and that provides real protections for the vulnerable.

Whenever we think about the eligibility criteria, and in some cases the interpretation of the eligibility criteria is different at the provincial level, let us provide the safeguards.

One thing I want to briefly mention is that the federal legislation provides immunity from prosecution for someone who has a “reasonable but mistaken belief” that the standards have been met. Therefore, someone could take the life of a person who did not meet the criteria and still avoid prosecution. That is not a protection for the vulnerable. However, in the absence of the legislation, we do not have that exemption. The vulnerable are better protected because there is not an exemption for those who take life without the consent of the patient and without the proper criteria being met.

In looking at the reality of what is in place at the provincial level, it is not correct at all to talk about a legislative vacuum. Therefore, the motion does not have the urgency that is claimed.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Questions and comments. Resuming debate.

Is the House ready for the question?

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Will those members who object to the motion, please rise in their places.

[And fewer than 10 members having risen:]

Fewer than 10 members having risen to object, the motion is adopted.

(Motion agreed to)

JusticePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to present three petitions on two different topics today.

The first petition is with regard to victims of violent crimes, that is unborn children being victims of violent crimes, and the fact that our law does not currently recognize them as victims. There is currently a private member's bill, Cassie and Molly's law, and the petitioners call on all of us to support that law.