House of Commons Hansard #231 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was firearms.

Topics

The EnvironmentOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Brenda Shanahan Liberal Châteauguay—Lacolle, QC

Mr. Speaker, residents living on the shores of Lake Saint-Louis are concerned about the notorious Kathryn Spirit. The former government took no action with respect to this ship, which has been abandoned since its arrival in Beauharnois, and it was our government that got the dismantling process started. One year ago today, the Prime Minister announced our oceans protection plan.

Could the minister tell us how this plan will affect abandoned vessels like the Kathryn Spirit in future?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

3 p.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Marc Garneau LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Châteauguay—Lacolle for her question and for her hard work.

Our government is especially proud of what our oceans protection plan has done for abandoned vessels, not just in Beauharnois, but across the country. We are passing legislation strengthening owner responsibility and liability for their vessels. We are funding the removal of small high-risk vessels and empowering the government to address problem vessels more proactively. We take this work very seriously.

Veterans AffairsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Conservative Brantford—Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, despite promising not to do so in the last election, these Liberals took veterans back to court. Now we have learned that veterans are being forced to wait longer and longer to get the benefits they have earned.

Today the Prime Minister is hurrying off to Asia to deliver on his priority: infrastructure handouts to the world's wealthy. Can the Minister of Veterans Affairs tell us why veterans are being shortchanged while the Prime Minister sends half a billion dollars to wealthy bankers in Asia?

Veterans AffairsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne Québec

Liberal

Sherry Romanado LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, delivering timely benefit decisions is an area where we can and we must do better. In 2015-16, we saw a 25% increase in the number of disability claims, and that is a good thing, because that means more veterans are coming forward for the help they need.

To address this increase, we are simplifying the benefits process, hiring more staff, and giving the benefit of the doubt to the veterans. When it comes to veterans' care, we can always strive for excellence, and we will.

HousingOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, over 235,000 people are without a home in our country. In Canada, housing should be a right. Liberals like to talk about the right to housing but are unwilling to enshrine it in law. Maybe this explains why not a single Liberal spoke on my bill, Bill C-325, during its second hour of debate.

Are the Liberals keeping silent because they are just too ashamed to speak against the human right to housing?

HousingOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Québec Québec

Liberal

Jean-Yves Duclos LiberalMinister of Families

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to take this opportunity to say how important the right to decent housing is in Canada for everyone, and in particular for more vulnerable Canadians. We know how important housing is for life in communities and for life in a proper home to participate in the lives of everyone else around us.

I have good news to announce in a very short time. I invite our colleague to listen very carefully.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Stephen Fuhr Liberal Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canada's network of protected areas help to mitigate the impacts of climate change. They protect and restore healthy, resilient ecosystems and assist in the recovery of species at risk. Canada is committed to conserve at least 17% of our country's land and fresh water by 2020, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, indigenous peoples, and other key partners.

Can the government please update this House on the recent progress towards this target?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

November 7th, 2017 / 3:05 p.m.

Ottawa Centre Ontario

Liberal

Catherine McKenna LiberalMinister of Environment and Climate Change

Mr. Speaker, Canadians love our national parks and national heritage places, and we saw that clearly this year with record attendance at our parks and historic places with free entry for Canada 150.

On Friday, October 27, I was extremely pleased to be joined by the member for Kelowna—Lake Country as Canada, British Columbia, and representatives of the southern communities of the Syilx Okanagan Nation announced a renewed commitment to move forward together to establish a new national park reserve in the south Okanagan. After many years, we are pleased to be moving forward to protect this iconic place, and I want to thank the member for his help.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, during the last election, the Liberals made a specific commitment to support justice and reconciliation in Sri Lanka following terrible crimes committed at the end of the civil war and in light of ongoing human rights concerns for the Tamil community today. Instead of acting, the Liberals cancelled the office of religious freedom, undercutting existing initiatives to promote pluralism and human rights, and their new office has been completely absent on this.

Why has the government failed to take any concrete action to implement its commitment with respect to human rights in Sri Lanka?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, human rights is a foundational part of Canada's international work. I will correct the record, because the member knows full well that this government tripled funding to the new Office of Human Rights, Freedoms and Inclusion.

When it comes to human rights around the world, this government is taking a leadership role. We are doing this in all of our engagements. I hope the Conservative opposition will join us in helping to promote and defend human rights, as we are doing around the world.

EthicsOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Xavier Barsalou-Duval Bloc Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals say they are going after tax havens, but that is hypocritical.

For the past 30 years, nobody has done more to facilitate tax evasion than Canada. The loopholes that the Liberals claim to be tackling now were created by Ottawa in the first place. Tax evasion is actually legal. When the Bloc Québécois exposed these loopholes, all of the Liberals voted against our bill.

Why does the government hide when we ask it to change the law? Is it trying to protect its Liberal bagmen?

EthicsOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Gaspésie—Les-Îles-de-la-Madeleine Québec

Liberal

Diane Lebouthillier LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, our government is absolutely committed to fighting tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.

We have invested close to $1 billion over the past two years. We have targeted four jurisdictions per year and hired 100 auditors. Our plan is working. We have transferred 627 cases to criminal investigation, executed 268 search warrants, and obtained 78 convictions.

Nobody has accomplished as much as our government has over the past two years. Certainly not the Bloc Québécois.

EthicsOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, tax cheats must be subject to fines and prison sentences. We are fed up with the government's rhetoric. Ordinary Canadians are the ones who are suffering because the wealthy are using tax havens to avoid paying taxes.

The money that Stephen Bronfman has hidden away in the Cayman Islands is not being used to help our hospitals and schools. It is staying in his pocket, with this government's blessing. Our taxes are paying for the roads that these tax cheats are driving around on in their big limousines.

When will this government stop thumbing its nose at Canadians and put an end to the use of tax havens?

EthicsOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Gaspésie—Les-Îles-de-la-Madeleine Québec

Liberal

Diane Lebouthillier LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I want my colleague opposite to know that the issue of tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance is a priority for the Canada Revenue Agency.

Here is what I can tell him. For the last fiscal year alone, the CRA's work resulted in 37 convictions with sentences totalling over 50 years in prison and millions of dollars in fines imposed by the courts. That is on top of the $44 million in penalties that were imposed on tax advisers last year.

We are getting the job done, and we are going to see this through to the end.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of members of the Canadian Forces and the RCMP who have been chosen to participate in the 2017 Remembrance Day Sentry Program:

Sergeant Kevin Beauchemin, Leading Seaman Richard Balbuena, Corporal Michel St-Pierre, Aviator Sarah Comeau, Lieutenant Elodie Tremblay, Sergeant Mike Polegi, and Sergeant Jimmy Lavalliere.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I also draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of the recipients of the 2018 Indspire Awards:

Greg Hill, Nicole Bourque-Bouchier, Kye7e Cecilia Dick DeRose, Theland Kicknosway, Dr. Lorna Wanosts'a7 Williams, Dr. Evelyn Voyageur, Paul Chartrand, Dr. Mike DeGagné, Michael Linklater, Ashley Callingbull, Donna May Kimmaliardjuk, and Tracie Léost.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, you will find that during question period, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons seems to have inadvertently misled the House, since we know that eight out of 10 families in Canada are paying more in taxes. I am calling on the hon. member to withdraw her statement. I am seeking unanimous consent to table the Fraser Institute report that shows that Canadian families are paying more in taxes under the Liberals.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House?

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Information Provided to the HousePrivilegeOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I wanted to provide a response to the question of privilege raised by the member for Thornhill on November 2, respecting the Prime Minister's response to an oral question on Tuesday, October 31.

I submit that the matter is a dispute as to the facts, and therefore does not meet the criteria for finding a prima facie question of privilege. Page 86 of the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition, sets out the criteria for establishing whether a member has deliberately misled the House. It states:

it must be proven that the statement was misleading;...it must be established that the Member making the statement knew at the time that the statement was incorrect;...that in making the statement, the Member intended to mislead the House.

I submit, these criteria have not been met. On October 31, 2017, in response to an oral question from the member for Edmonton—Strathcona, the Prime Minister stated the following:

...two ministers had controlled assets held indirectly. The finance minister has announced that he is moving forward, going above and beyond what was originally asked. In the case of the other minister, those assets were divested 18 months ago.

The Ethics Commissioner has confirmed that there is no difference of opinion on this issue between her and the Prime Minister. In fact, on November 2, 2017, the Ethics Commissioner released a statement that refutes the allegation that the commissioner is at odds with the statement made by the Prime Minister.

I agree with the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley who intervened on this issue. “Now the reasons she has as Ethics Commissioner to keep the number somewhat vague, as less than five but more than one, is something that is at her discretion. That is not for us to judge.”

Allegations of breach of privilege are often dismissed as disputes as to the facts. There are numerous precedents in support of this. Most recently, on May 5, 2016, the Speaker ruled:

As members can appreciate, the threshold is very high, purposely so given the seriousness of the allegation and its potential consequences for members individually and collectively. From this, it stands to reason that a finding of a prima facie case of privilege is an exceedingly rare occurrence in cases with respect to disputed facts.

I submit that the matter is a dispute as to the facts and therefore does not meet the conditions for a prima facie question of privilege.

Information Provided to the HousePrivilegeOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I thank the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader for his arguments on this point. I will come back to the House on the matter. I will take it under advisement for now.

Omnibus Bills—Speaker's RulingPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on October 31, 2017 by the hon. opposition House leader concerning the applicability of the new Standing Order 69.1 to Bill C-56, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Abolition of Early Parole Act.

I thank the hon. Opposition House Leader for raising this matter, as well as the hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby for his contributions.

The opposition House leader contended that Bill C-56 contains two parts that should be separated through the application of Standing Order 69.1. One part amends the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to address issues relating to the use of administrative segregation. The other part aims to amend the Abolition of Early Parole Act in relation to accelerated parole for certain offenders. She argued that these two matters were unrelated and therefore invited the Chair to divide the question on the bill.

The hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby agreed with these arguments, and indicated that dividing the question on the bill would better allow members to represent their constituents.

éAs members will recall, the House adopted a series of changes to the Standing Orders on June 20, 2017. Since this is the first time I have been asked to render a decision using this new Standing Order, I would like to elaborate on certain aspects of its application. New Standing Order 69.1 provides as follows:

In the case where a government bill seeks to repeal, amend or enact more than one act, and where there is not a common element connecting the various provisions or where unrelated matters are linked, the Speaker shall have the power to divide the questions, for the purposes of voting, on the motion for second reading and reference to a committee and the motion for third reading and passage of the bill. The Speaker shall have the power to combine clauses of the bill thematically and to put the aforementioned questions on each of these groups of clauses separately, provided that there will be a single debate at each stage.

The power of the Chair to divide a complicated question has long existed in our parliamentary practice, though it has only rarely been exercised. The second edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, at pages 562 and 563, describes this power and enumerates the few examples of it being used. It also makes clear that this power had never traditionally applied to bills, but only to motions.

In her presentation, the hon. opposition House leader elaborated on several of these examples. In the Flag Debate of 1964, Speaker Macnaughton divided a motion into two questions, the first concerning the establishment of a new Canadian flag and the second concerning the continued use of the Union Jack.

In 1991, Speaker Fraser divided a 64-part motion to amend the Standing Orders into three separate questions.

In 2002, Speaker Milliken divided a lengthy motion to reinstate certain items of business into two questions, while ordering that another portion of the motion be considered separately.

Though not mentioned, a similar decision was rendered by my predecessor on October 17, 2013 in relation to a motion to reinstate certain items of business, where two separate votes were held.

The opposition House leader also referred to several examples of motions being divided in British practice, dating back to the late 19th century and the early 20th century.

Standing Order 69.1 empowers the Speaker, for the first time, to divide the question on a government bill both at second reading and third reading, except where the legislation has as its main purpose the implementation of a budget. In so doing, the Chair is to consider the degree to which the various provisions of a bill lack commonality.

Where a bill contains unrelated initiatives, the Speaker may group clauses thematically for the purposes of voting, maintaining a single debate. Though there may be multiple questions put to a vote for second or third reading, there remains only one bill. This is in contrast to cases where bills themselves have been divided, either as a result of a motion adopted in the House or an instruction given to a committee.

Since the analysis and division of a bill into different parts can sometimes be complex, I am grateful that the member raised her point of order as early as she did, prior to the commencement of debate at second reading.

Where members believe that the Standing Order should apply, I would encourage them to raise their arguments as early as possible in the process, especially given that the length of debate at a particular stage can be unpredictable. If an objection is raised too late in the process, the Chair may have no choice but to allow the matter to go to a single vote at second reading or third reading, as the case may be.

When the Chair finds that the Standing Order does apply and that the question should be divided on a bill, I will indicate to the House which elements will be grouped together for the purposes of voting. As I noted earlier, legislation is often complex and such divisions are not always simple. This is particularly the case when a bill contains coordinating and consequential amendments, as well as coming-into-force provisions, which impact various sections of the bill. In presenting their arguments in favour of the division of a question, members are encouraged to indicate which provisions they feel should be grouped together.

In the event that the House rejects certain provisions at second reading while adopting others, the adopted portions of the bill will be referred to committee. In such cases, I would order that the bill be reprinted for the committee’s consideration. In our current practice, reprints of a bill are generally only undertaken upon an order of a committee following the adoption of amendments or upon the passage of a bill at third reading. I believe, however, that when a portion of a bill has been rejected by the House at second reading, it would be useful for a committee to have a new version of the bill so that the measures contained in its order of reference are clear.

In the specific case of Bill C-56, after having examined the bill, I also concluded that the bill does indeed contain two distinct measures. The first part amends the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to implement a new regime for the administrative segregation of inmates. The second part, essentially clause 10 of the bill, amends the Abolition of Early Parole Act, dealing with the eligibility of certain offenders for accelerated parole reviews.

I note that the Abolition of Early Parole Act is the short title of “An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (accelerated parole review) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts”. This act was enacted in 2011 and repealed the accelerated parole review framework established by sections 125 and 126.1 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. With Bill C-56, the transitional provisions contained in the Abolition of Early Parole Act will be amended so that offenders who committed their offence prior to the law coming into effect in 2011 but who were sentenced only after that date may be eligible under the previous framework.

The hon. opposition House leader argued that, in this case, the two initiatives are unrelated and that members may well support the first and oppose the second. Members will know that many bills contain a number of initiatives on a number of policy areas, some of which members support and some of which they might oppose.

The amending process affords members an opportunity to propose changes, including the opportunity to remove portions of a bill to which they object. The question for the Chair, in applying Standing Order 69.1, is whether the matters are so unrelated as to warrant a separate vote at second and third reading.

At first glance, it may appear that the provisions in clause 10 of Bill C-56 are unrelated to the rest of the bill. However, the accelerated review process envisioned in that clause, as indicated earlier, was in fact set out in sections 125 to 126.1 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the very act which is amended by the other clauses of the bill.

Since the subject matter of the bill as a whole deals with the treatment of inmates, either in the case of administrative segregation under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act or in the application of the accelerated parole review process under that same act, it is my view that the two parts are indeed related and that, consequently, the question on Bill C-56 should not be divided.

I thank all honourable members for their attention in this matter.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-63, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee.