House of Commons Hansard #428 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was environmental.

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The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-97, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2019 and other measures, be read the third time and passed, and of the amendment.

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

It being 3:15 p.m., pursuant to order made Tuesday, May 28, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the amendment of the member for Beloeil—Chambly to the motion at third reading of Bill C-97.

(The House divided on the amendment, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #1343

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the amendment lost.

The next question is on the main motion.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

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

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

All those opposed will please say nay.

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #1344

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed)

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am kind of new to this place. It seems odd to me that so many ministers cannot be here for question period but can show up for the vote.

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

My hon. friend from Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, my in-laws' MP, is not new around here. He knows very well that members cannot draw attention to the presence or absence of members in the House.

Order. The hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands has a point of order arising out of question period.

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it arises out of the point made by my friend from Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound. We would never reference the presence or absence of a minister in the House. However, it certainly was unusual that the Minister of Environment did not rise to answer questions, which went to her parliamentary secretary instead.

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

That comment sounds pretty close to the line.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, given the uncertainty surrounding the agenda and future work of the House, can the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons tell us about the business of the House for the rest of this week and next week?

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon we will resume debate at third reading of Bill C-93, an act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis.

Tomorrow we will begin debate on the Senate amendments to Bill C-59, an act respecting national security matters.

Next week, priority will be given to Bill C-101, an act to amend the Customs Tariff and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act, and to bills coming back to us from the Senate.

There may be a few changes, but that is what we have for now.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Independent

Celina Caesar-Chavannes Independent Whitby, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order, which might be my final act here as a member of Parliament. There have been discussions among the parties, and I want to thank them for those discussions, and if you seek it, I believe you will find unanimous consent for the following motion: Whereas black communities in Canada have been established for over 400 years; whereas Canada is a signatory to the UN initiatives for the International Decade for People of African Descent; whereas the UN working group of experts on people of African descent has noted the disproportionately high unemployment rates among black Canadians, many of whom are forced to take low-paying jobs with little security and poor prospects, and has, accordingly, recommended that Canada should systematically address employment disparity for African Canadians through enactment of employment equity legislation; whereas in 20 years, the black population has doubled in size, going from 573,860 persons in 1996 to 1,198,540 persons in 2016; whereas the very first employment equity program in the federal government for black employees was in Halifax in 1973, and in 150 years of the establishment of Canada, a black person has never been appointed to or promoted to deputy minister in the federal government; whereas employment equity cannot explain the thinning out of visible minorities, particularly black employees, that happens at the assistant deputy minister and deputy minister levels; whereas employment equity cannot explain the virtual absence of black women within the executive cadre, considering over the past 30 years, women in general have come to represent approximately 50% of the population of executives in the federal public service; whereas we need to disaggregate employment equity data to understand the lived experience of black employees; and whereas there have been more than enough qualified, meritorious candidates from the black community in Canada to fill these roles; therefore this House: (1) will examine the systemic barriers which prevent members from black communities from being promoted within the federal system; (2) will review the definition of visible minority with a view to updating this language and concept in ways that are consistent with best and promising practices for effectively addressing racial inequality in Canada's federal labour market; (3) will engage in a process to understand the work lived experience of federal black public servants; (4) will consider using disaggregated data for the next iteration of the employment equity report; (5) will consider the establishment of a commissioner of employment equity; and, lastly, (6) will consider the use of equity and anti-racism training within an anti-oppression framework for all federal employees.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

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

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

The House resumed from June 4 consideration of the motion that Bill C-93, An Act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis, be read the third time and passed.

Criminal Records ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to speak once more to Bill C-93, an act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis.

I will be splitting my time with the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London.

As I said last week, this is a terrible bill. It reminds me of the NAFTA bill. However, sometimes a bill is better than no bill.

As I have said many times in the House, I was never in favour of the legalization of marijuana, Bill C-45, which was another typically ill-conceived bill brought in by the Liberal government.

I will support the Bill C-93 because there is a common-sense element to it.

Although I did not support legalization, I am not naive enough to say that it was not right to look at the whole cannabis strategy in Canada. Let us face it, we are not the only ones. Many other countries have legalized or decriminalized marijuana. We only have to look at our closest and best trading partners, the good old U.S.A.

The use of marijuana has been legalized and decriminalized in Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia, Mariana Islands and Guam. Many of these jurisdictions are looking at or have commenced programs to get rid of the old cannabis-related charges for simple possession. There are several different programs being looked at. Some are similar to this bill, Bill C-93. Some are similar to what the NDP has been pushing, which is expungement.

We have heard from many of my colleagues in the House about the injustices that have taken place with respect to Canadians who have records for simple possession of marijuana. Stories have been told about people being turned back at the U.S. border. However, in my research, I have found the same things are happening in the United States. I will provide two cases. We have heard this before with respect to our people, just not south of the border. I will not to give their names to protect their identity.

A 70-year-old retired carpenter in the United States, who once ran for the Senate, was convicted back in 1968 for simple possession. His conviction caused him to be refused entry into Canada and he is unable to purchase a firearm in the United States.

Another gentleman, a professional lighting technician, worked for Willy Nelson for a time. Because of a misdemeanour drug charge as a youth, he was unable to accompany the band on tour to Canada.

Therefore, I strongly believe we need to remove the records for Canadians who were charged with simple possession of marijuana. Clearing people's records can remove barriers to employment and housing.

Many groups in Canada have become victims because of the area they live in and the environment around them. Many are good people who made the wrong choice at the wrong time. That is why I support Bill C-93, although I feel the bill did not go far enough. It should have, and could have, looked at many minor Criminal Code offences, such as public mischief and wilful damage, offences we call misdemeanours in the Criminal Code. There is always room to fix things. Maybe sometime in the future Bill C-93 coanbe fixed.

I spoke about this last week. In California, Code for America has brought out a program called “Clear My Record”. It is a computerized program that allows for the expedient removal of simple criminal code records, such as the simple possession of marijuana.

From the list of states I mentioned previously, nearly every one has passed laws that allow people to clear or change their criminal records. Those states recognize the impact on the economy and on the lives of families when millions are shut out of the workforce or unable to fully reintegrate into their communities because of criminal records from their past. I was shocked to learn, in my research on Bill C-93, that one in three people had a criminal record in the United States.

I also discovered that those states that had a cumbersome, overly complicated system of removing one's record failed in their goals. Only a small fraction of the tens of millions of eligible Americans benefited from these laws, which was directly related to being over-complicated, costly and took too much time to do.

“Code for America”, a computerized system that was adopted by California, is a modern 21st century technology that is quick, efficient and benefits the recipients. “Clear my Record” is a free online tool that assists people in California to navigate the complicate process of clearing their records. People can fill out a short, easy to understand application online that typically takes 10 minutes to get connected to a legal authority.

Jazmyn Latimer and Ben Golder, who co-developed the program, realized there was a problem when they looked into how many people were taking advantage of getting their records expunged. They found that less than 8% of the people who qualified accomplished it, simply because the system was opaque, hard to understand and navigate and costly, both for the people with the records and for the government. Does this sound like Bill C-93? It very much does.

I made recommendations to Bill C-93 during committee that the Canadian Parole Board look at electronic means of modernizing the way we do business. We are still following 20th century technology, trying to do too much by hand. Why? I could not get an answer for that.

The state of California, which has implemented the electronic process, has plans to try to clear over 250,000 cannabis-related convictions by 2020. That is probably as many as we have in Canada, and if not, a lot more. I hope it succeeds.

As well, I hope our Parole Board looks at an electronic process for Canadians with all possession charges and to expand in the future to look at other minor Criminal Code offences. We owe it to Canadians to make this system simple and free so they can get rid of their records, live better lives and be less of a burden on society.

Criminal Records ActGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2019 / 3:45 p.m.

Charlottetown P.E.I.

Liberal

Sean Casey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries

Madam Speaker, I find it quite fascinating to hear the member for Yellowhead say that Bill C-93 does not go far enough, that it should include some minor offences and that processes should be free and easier to get at.

I invite him to comment on the measures taken by the previous Conservative government, a government of which he was a member. It jacked up application fees, increased the waiting time to the point where the backlog is substantial, as is the hardship for many of the people in the very situations he described. That is the record of the Conservative government.

How does he square that with the position he has taken on this bill?

Criminal Records ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Madam Speaker, the Conservatives' stand was that we were trying to run an efficient government, with a balanced budget. Sometimes, governments must take hard measures, realizing that certain expenses may have to be passed down to the public. It is obvious that not many people are receiving the benefits of our parole program and pardon system.

We would be naive if we did not look at ways of modernizing it. Bill C-93 tries to do that. It should have gone further. It should have been more forceful in looking at electronic means to make it simpler, less costly and more efficient for the government.