House of Commons Hansard #167 of the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-11.


Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.


Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Madam Speaker, that is an important question.

We do already require Canadian broadcasters to make those contributions that help support Canadian content. It is just not fair that we allow the web giants to get away with not making similar contributions.

Message from the SenateGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

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 the following bill, to which the concurrence of the House is desired: Bill C-39, An Act to amend An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying).

The House resumed consideration of the motion in relation to the amendments made by the Senate on Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, and of the amendment.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.


Lori Idlout NDP Nunavut, NU

Uqaqtittiji, I am pleased to represent Nunavut in speaking to Bill C-11, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act again. I spoke to this bill before it reached the other place, and I am pleased to speak to the amendments made upon its return to this place.

I have heard some of the debate this morning, and throughout the day, I have heard the word “misinformation” used by all parties. It is really unfortunate that the bill is being used as a way to pit Canadians against each other.

I am glad to see that supports for indigenous creators will still be given in this bill so they can share their talents online. It is important that small content creators can share their art. They need to be able to reach a larger audience, as this is where they can be discovered and profit from their own talents.

Uvagut TV and Isuma TV are Inuit media channels that provide great Inuit content. Their content is made by Inuit for Inuit and can be easily watched in Nunavut and abroad. They do not have the same ability to compete with web giants such as Netflix and Disney+.

Canada's broadcasting system offers very little content that reflects Inuit lives, and even less content in Inuktitut, despite the fact that two-thirds of Inuit speak Inuktitut. Online streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+ are not required to play Canadian artists on their channels, and very little indigenous content is being added to these streaming services.

Bill C-11 would ensure that Canadian media broadcasters are obligated to produce programming that includes indigenous languages. This change would enable more indigenous people to access programming in their languages. This would also expose indigenous creators and artists to a broader viewership.

Many people in this room have never watched TV programming that is not in French or English. I want my grandchildren to see and hear Inuktitut wherever they go. I want Inuit programming on Netflix and Disney+ created by Inuit. When content is not created with and by indigenous people, mistakes will happen. We must create a better future for generations of indigenous content creators.

A way to learn about someone is through their media. Indigenous people need to be represented through mainstream media. With better funding, indigenous programming can have French and English subtitles. This bill is not perfect, but it can help create a space for small independent creators to showcase their work.

Streaming companies hold a lot of power in what we watch. They need to be pushed to be inclusive. It is not enough that indigenous programming is only shown when it is convenient to them. Indigenous creators exist in Canada, and they need our support.

Promotion of indigenous art and media is an essential part of reconciliation. Call to action 84 calls for representation of indigenous languages, cultures and perspectives. Bill C-11 could expand on this call to action and ensure that all media channels are promoting indigenous content.

I will turn back to today's debate. The use of fearmongering language is causing confusion and fear among Canadians. The Senate amendments are supported by large corporations, including YouTube and TikTok. They say that Bill C-11 would cause the CRTC to police content. However, this is not factual.

I will conclude by quoting what Alex Levine, president of the Writers Guild of Canada, was reported as saying regarding Bill C-11. He said, “We only work on Canadian content. We don't work when, for example, Netflix or HBO decides to shoot a show here.” The report goes on to say, “Without the bill, Levine says market forces mean Canadians ‘will see a world reflected back to them that is determined by studio executives in Los Angeles and not by Canadian artists.’” Like Mr. Levine, I prefer to see a world reflected back from indigenous peoples and Canadians, not studio executives in other countries.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.


Blake Desjarlais NDP Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Nunavut, who is good friend, colleague and strong member of the New Democratic Party. I want to thank her for her tremendous work in ensuring that the digital kind of media, both audio and visual work, of indigenous people is valued, heard in this place and truly funded, governed and regulated in such a way that it brings to light the incredible contributions of indigenous artists.

Would the member like to highlight some of the remarkable artists in her riding of Nunavut who are contributing to the arts in phenomenal ways?

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.


Lori Idlout NDP Nunavut, NU

Uqaqtittiji, I have mentioned two of them: Isuma TV and Uvagut TV. They highlight the great talent that exists in Nunavut. I hope that more Canadians go to their websites to watch what they can, to learn about Inuit culture and what we do to make sure that Canada is a better place.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


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

Madam Speaker, I appreciate many of the comments that the member has put on the record with regards to Bill C-11.

However, there is a certain sector of society that is starting to buy into a lot of misinformation. Somehow we have people concerned about individual rights, freedom of speech and not being able to watch what they want on the Internet, which is all based on false information. We have the Conservative Party promoting that misinformation.

I am wondering if the member could provide her thoughts in regards to how that is, from my perspective, unhealthy when we get people promoting false information.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


Lori Idlout NDP Nunavut, NU

Uqaqtittiji, to put it simply, I very much prefer to have the CRTC determine what is reflected back in what it regulates regarding online streaming as opposed to studio executives who are outside of this country, and that is what we are talking about in the bill. There has already been content regulation for TV, there has been content regulation for radio, and that content regulation needs to happen for online streaming, because so many Canadians are online every day.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


Blake Desjarlais NDP Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for highlighting some of the important organizations.

I want to mention that corporations, particularly American-owned corporations like Disney+, Netflix and some of the other major producers and streaming services, would seek to ensure that they are not regulated and would not have to contribute to our existing art scene here in Canada. However, this legislation would give that regulation to ensure that Canadian content is present on those services. It is an important piece of Canadiana. It something we see on our cable television, something that is required for our radio, but it is not something that is required on our streaming services. We also see Conservatives continuously defend these corporations, which otherwise would see finances derived from their profits go to the small producers and artists across the country.

Could the member speak to how important it is to support artists on the ground, grassroots artists, and to ensure that they have the financial ability to do that?

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


Lori Idlout NDP Nunavut, NU

Uqaqtittiji, to respond to the great question from the member, the bill would help make sure that those major corporations like Netflix and Disney+ do share their profits. They are making huge profits by helping to entertain Canadians. Not only should they be allowed to hire and ensure that there is indigenous content, they should also be contributing some of their profits back to indigenous broadcasting in Canada as well, making sure that, as Canadians, we are proud of our heritage, which is founded on indigenous people's lands, and showcase why it is important to recognize Canada as a place of indigenous peoples.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Madam Speaker, the Yiddish proverb will then have to wait until after we resume. I am saving it for next time.

In addressing Bill C-11, which is in fact a censorship bill, I want to go into the legislation. I am going to start with clause 7 of the legislation that is being proposed, which would amend section 7 by adding a “for greater certainty” clause after subsection 7(6). Generally, I like these types of clauses, but not this one. It says:

For greater certainty, an order may be made under subsection (1) with respect to orders made under subsection 9.‍1(1) or 11.‍1(2) or regulations made under subsection 10(1) or 11.‍1(1).

Since I am not burdened with a legal education, I had to go back to the Broadcasting Act to discover what exactly we are amending. With respect to policy directions, the cabinet would be able to order any of the objectives of the broadcasting policy set out in subsection 3(1) and any of the objectives of the regulatory policy set out in subsection 5(2). Licensing, fees and access would all be determined, if the cabinet chooses to direct the CRTC on what it can and cannot do when it comes to licensing content creators, who gets to be a content creator in Canada and what gets to be Canadian content.

In fact, let me go on to regulations generally, which is section 10 of the actual Broadcasting Act. It goes into quite a bit of detail on what the cabinet would be able to order the commission to do. When members of this House are getting up and saying “No, no, this is not what it does”, they are saying that people like Michael Geist are wrong. He is a professor who is renowned in Canada as the leading Internet law expert. The government is saying to ignore the experts because they are all wrong. In fact, in the House committee—

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The hon. member will have 18 minutes to finish his speech the next time this matter is before the House.

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's Order Paper.

The House resumed from October 19 consideration of the motion that Bill C-289, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (identity verification), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Scarborough—Rouge Park Ontario


Gary Anandasangaree LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Madam Speaker, let me begin by acknowledging that we are gathered here on the traditional lands of the Algonquin people.

I am pleased to join this debate on Bill C-289, an act that would amend the Criminal Code regarding identity verification, which was introduced by the member for Simcoe North on June 16, 2022. I want to congratulate the member and thank him for all his work.

Although this bill proposes only one change, it seeks to address an important and topical issue in Canada: combatting the serious crime of money laundering. The bill aims to discourage money laundering through the provision of false identity information to certain financial institutions and business professions. It would amend the Criminal Code to add an offence of knowingly providing false or misleading information to these regulated entities when they collect and verify the identity of their clients under the rules set out in the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act.

Money laundering is a serious challenge faced by all countries. It compromises the integrity of the financial system and represents a threat to global safety and security. By its very nature as unlawful activity, the scale and scope of money laundering are difficult to measure. Nonetheless, a 2020 study entitled “Estimating money laundering flows with a gravity model-based simulation” estimated that $37.8 billion U.S. may be laundered annually in Canada, which represents over $50 billion Canadian.

As highlighted a moment ago, the bill proposes one change to address the provision of false information to regulated entities. It is important to consider that an entity responsible for verifying identification under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act may face significant administrative monetary penalties or criminal prosecution if it fails to carry out its regulatory requirements to identify and verify its clients.

Another important consideration in examining this bill is that there are already offences in the Criminal Code that address the activity and its target. The offence of uttering a forged document can apply when a person opens a bank account or purchases real estate for the purpose of money laundering and knowingly uses forged identification documents. The offence of fraud can only apply when a person provides false or misleading identification or other information to a real estate agent or other regulated entity and that entity faces economic loss as a result.

Of course, laundering the proceeds of crime itself is a criminal offence. That offence consists of any dealing in proceeds with the intent to conceal or convert those proceeds while knowing or being reckless as to whether all or part of the proceeds were derived from the commission of an offence. An important feature of the offences I mentioned is that they are broad in scope and can apply to a wide range of conduct.

We are aware that money launderers continually shift their methods and approaches to evade regulation and law enforcement. The final report of the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, known at the Cullen commission report, highlighted the nature of the problem of money laundering in that province in the casino, real estate and luxury goods sectors. It also considered less well known but equally serious aspects of the problem, such as trade-based money laundering, and it examined the fast-growing options for money launderers, including the use of cryptocurrencies, private exchanges and cryptocurrency ATMs.

Responses to the challenge of money laundering may be more effective if they are sufficiently flexible to respond to a variety of situations. New offences are likely to be more effective if they come from the numerous ancillary tools in the Criminal Code that are available to investigators and prosecutors. Relevant examples include the use of wiretaps in appropriate circumstances or the ability to rely on copies of stolen identity documents in a court proceeding so the originals can be returned to the rightful owner or destroyed, if appropriate.

Bill C-289 does not propose any amendments that would enable the use of these tools for the investigation or prosecution of the offence proposed in this bill. This undermines its effectiveness.

Money laundering can compromise the integrity of financial institutions, businesses across the economy and the investment climate. When states fail to take concerted and coordinated action, the risks are clearly significant. Rightly so, the government has made concerted efforts in recent years to address the risk of money laundering and has been active in international forums.

I am aware that it works to advance international anti-money laundering initiatives through the G7 and the G20, as well as the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, which is an international organization that facilitates co-operation and intelligence sharing between national financial intelligence units, and through its leadership role in the Financial Action Task Force, of which Canada was a founding member.

Not only that, but Canada's anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist fundraising measures are regularly reviewed by its peers through the FATF. I am pleased to have learned that, in October 2021, a follow-up review by this body placed Canada amongst the best-performing jurisdictions of the world. The FATF recognized the impact of the government's ongoing commitment to address the problem of money laundering in Canada.

The government has continued to step up its efforts. A few important examples of its efforts since 2020 include new regulations that apply to virtual currency service providers, including foreign providers operating in Canada, and new rules that apply to virtual currency transactions, which entered into force in 2020.

Furthermore, to assist in strengthening Canada's response to financial crime, the Financial Crime Coordination Centre, or FC3, was established as a five-year pilot initiative led by Public Safety Canada in 2019. It brings together anti-money laundering professionals from across jurisdictions with the aim of enhancing inter-agency collaboration and capacity building through a number of means, including training and expertise development, legislative and policy initiatives, partner support, and best practice resources.

Another example includes the commitment of approximately $28 million over four years, and $10 million ongoing, to create a multi-disciplinary fraud and trade-based money laundering centre of expertise at the Canada Border Services Agency to strengthen our capacity to tackle this borderless crime.

The government also committed $98.9 million in 2020 to support the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in strengthening its federal policing capacity. This investment included $19.8 million to establish new integrated money laundering investigative teams across Canada. These teams include police officers, lawyers, forensic accountants and other specialized experts, led by the RCMP. They investigate crimes that are using capital markets to harm the economic interests of Canada.

Mostly recently, in the budget tabled on April 7 of last year, the government accelerated its earlier commitment to implement a public and searchable beneficial ownership registry, which would now be accessible before the end of 2023. The government also committed to working with provincial and territorial partners to advance the national approach to a beneficial ownership registry of real property.

Finally, the government has committed to establish a new Canada financial crimes agency, which was also announced in the most recent budget. This agency would respond quickly to complex and fast-moving cases of financial crime and is intended to become Canada's lead enforcement agency in this area.

I share my colleague's concern about the serious challenges of money laundering in Canada. However, this bill risks duplicating existing offences in the Criminal Code. For this reason, I oppose this bill. It risks being a less effective option for law enforcement and prosecutors, therefore weakening the administration of justice. The government has shown and continues to show through its actions that it is committed to adopting its strategies and responses to the significant and rapidly evolving crime of money laundering.

I look forward to continuing our efforts to respond to this important societal challenge. I want to thank the member for Simcoe North for bringing this forward.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.


Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Madam Speaker, first of all, I want to say that I cannot believe the Liberal government's stance on this bill and how weak the arguments are. I find it unacceptable. What a joke.

I am pleased to speak this afternoon to Bill C‑289, introduced by my friend and colleague on the Standing Committee on Finance, the member for Simcoe North. As my colleague from Rivière‑du‑Nord said last October, the Bloc Québécois is in favour of this important bill.

This bill will amend the Criminal Code to make it an offence to give false or misleading information to a financial institution requesting that information in accordance with the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act. As we know, the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act currently asks financial institutions to verify their clients' true identity and the source of funds under certain circumstances. Financial institutions must also report transactions they deem suspicious to the government, so the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, or FINTRAC, can carry out the necessary verifications, prevent laundering of the proceeds of illegal activities and prevent such funds from being used to finance illegal activities, such as terrorism.

The problem with the current situation, which the Liberals do not seem to understand, is simply a lack of vigilance. I see this bill as a step in the right direction to increase everyone's vigilance. The government's lax attitude and lack of vigilance are a problem right now, even though the tracking of dirty money is one of the most important areas of action.

The problem with the current situation is that if a client makes a false statement to their bank, they may get away with it because there is minimal verification. It is important to do more to combat money laundering.

The problem with the current situation is that if a client makes an intentionally misleading or incomplete statement, the consequences are not serious enough. There are virtually no consequences for these criminals, so there is every chance that they will fall through the cracks. As a result, the information that FINTRAC obtains is incomplete and its work becomes less effective. This explains the poor results in this area in Canada, contrary to what has been argued on the other side of the House.

This is how this chain of negligence results in dirty money being laundered in the real economy. Bill C-289 addresses this flaw. The bill does not fix everything, but it is one more step in the right direction to better uncover money laundering activities.

I want to provide an example connected to the sanctions against Russia. It is not a direct example of tracking dirty money, but it does illustrate the lack of vigilance at present. Early this week, two Montreal companies were sanctioned by the United States for circumventing economic sanctions against Russia. These companies are distributors of electronic components. In tracking the money, the Americans discovered that these two Montreal companies were circumventing the sanctions.

Why were Canadian authorities not able to uncover this scheme? Why were our southern neighbours doing our own institutions' job for them?

The reason may be the lack of vigilance and the lax attitude. That has to change. We must change the existing culture. We have been speaking a great deal about the Chinese government's interference. We have to figure out a better way to track illicit money in order to guarantee our independence. We must change attitudes. That is what this bill helps accomplish.

Members will recall that last May, the Italian consulate in Montreal organized an event to mark the 30th anniverary of “operation clean hands”, a vast anti-mafia and anti-money laundering operation during which two Italian judges were murdered. Retired Italian judge Roberto Scarpinato came to Montreal to give us a warning. He told us that Canada had become a haven for mafia activity and money laundering. Society needs to do something. He encouraged us to develop “antibodies” to money laundering. He said we needed to stop being naive, to be more vigilant and to not be afraid to enforce our laws to the fullest extent, because money laundering is a scourge in Canada and in Quebec.

According to Transparency International, the amount of money laundered annually in Canada could be between $43 billion and $113 billion.

This means that up to $113 billion a year in proceeds of crime, from both here and abroad, is being reintroduced into our economy, allowing criminals to reap the benefits of their crime with impunity and causing economic distortions, such as skyrocketing real estate prices. It is an appalling situation and the complacency we are seeing is pitiful. Something needs to change.

British Columbia launched a commission of inquiry into money laundering, the Cullen commission. The Cullen commission may be the most comprehensive effort ever made to understand the phenomenon of money laundering in Canada, its effects, its causes and the best ways to prevent it in future. It submitted its report in June after more than two years of work and hundreds of witness testimonies. The report points the finger at the RCMP and FINTRAC for not taking money laundering seriously enough. It excoriates the banks for looking the other way. In fact, it accuses pretty much everyone of negligence. It also provides examples of what money laundering looks like.

There is the case of Runkai Chen, a Chinese immigrant who came to Vancouver in 2006. Despite reporting about $40,000 in annual income, he built a real estate empire worth tens of millions of dollars. Mr. Chen was a straw man who laundered dirty money from China. He regularly received large transfers from foreign numbered accounts and reinvested the money in real estate. He made false statements to financial institutions here, and they did not ask questions. None of the big Canadian banks raised any red flags. Not RBC, not CIBC, not BMO.

It was actually a foreign financial institution that alerted FINTRAC, and that is how the scheme was uncovered. Foreigners are more vigilant than our institutions when it comes to finding dirty money laundered here. It is this kind of negligence every step of the way that Justice Scarpinato was talking about when he said we need to develop antibodies.

We actually already have a lot of the legal arsenal needed to deal with this problem. The Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act is a powerful tool. Banks are required to verify the identity of their clients and where the money is coming from. They have the power to freeze funds they deem to be suspicious. They are required to report suspicious transactions, large amounts of cash, and international transfers if they have difficulty determining where the money actually came from.

These requirements exist, but most of them rely heavily on the client acting in good faith and the financial institution being vigilant. By forcing clients to make true and complete statements to the banks or face criminal penalties, Bill C‑289 addresses the first step, which is to verify the identity of the client and the source of the funds. This could start off a virtuous cycle where the financial institutions themselves would be more diligent about checking and government organizations would be better informed and more likely to co-operate with their counterparts abroad. In short, we could begin to develop the antibodies needed to seriously address the scourge of money laundering. That is why we will support this important bill.

Once again, I denounce what I believe to be the spurious arguments of the Liberal Party in opposing this bill. At present, there is a lack of vigilance and rigour in the tracking of dirty money. We must take action. Bill C‑289 sets the bar. As I was saying, that is why we will support it.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.


Tako Van Popta Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Madam Speaker, Canada has a significant money-laundering problem, and corrupted money comes flooding into our economy on account of that. Nowhere is that more evident than in Vancouver. Professional money launderers have a term for it. It is called the “Vancouver model”. It usually involves a lot of foreign, corrupt money, and it is distorting our economy.

We learned a lot about money laundering in British Columbia recently, with the release of the report from retired judge Austin Cullen. He had been appointed by the provincial government to head up the commission of inquiry into money laundering in B.C.

He heard from 199 witnesses, produced a report of 1,800 pages and summed up his work succinctly with this statement: “This Inquiry explored the myriad ways in which the greedy and the devious seek to make their crime-stained money appear legitimate.”

The Cullen commission found that, between 2008 and 2014, which were the years of his focus, billions of dollars were laundered through B.C. casinos. The report stated: “In 2014 alone, British Columbia casinos accepted nearly $1.2 billion in cash transactions of $10,000 or more, including [almost 2,000] individual cash buy-ins of $100,000 or more”. The report noted that this is an average of five per day.

At least in British Columbia, we are all familiar with the scenes that we saw on television. There were clips taken from the security cameras in casinos of people walking in with hockey bags full of money and $20 bills all neatly stacked up for easy counting and managing. Those are used to buy casino chips.

The commission found that these transactions usually happened late at night or early in the morning, when law enforcement people were not paying attention. Judge Cullen put it this way: “It should have been apparent to anyone with an awareness of the size and character of these transactions that Lower Mainland casinos were accepting vast quantities of proceeds of crime during this time period.”

This is just to state the obvious. One does not need to be a law enforcement specialist to know that this did not pass the smell test. As a matter of fact, in the words of a senior investigator with B.C.'s gambling regulator to the commission, the cash “smells like drug money”. He went on to note that it was simply not the practice of casino operators to make any inquiries of their patrons about their sources of cash. Operators would not ask, and patrons would not tell.

I do not want to be too hard on the BC Lottery Corporation. It has done a lot of things right. People have the right to go to casinos and lose money. I want to make just a couple of important points about things that they did correctly.

In February 2015, the BC Lottery Corporation called on the RCMP to investigate a number of people that it suspected of organized crime. Following that investigation, the BC Lottery Corporation put certain persons, about 600, on a watch-list, requiring them to prove source of funds.

A couple of years later, it expanded its source-of-funds procedures based on recommendations from Dr. Peter German, who had been appointed by the provincial government to investigate this. It is not that the BC Lottery Corporation did nothing, but it just did not do enough.

One of its representatives, giving evidence at the Cullen commission, put it this way: “Viewed from the lens of what we now know, everyone could and should have responded more quickly to those large cash transactions”.

I am happy to say that the B.C. government has taken this seriously. It has attempted to prosecute at least one bad actor for whom it felt that it had enough evidence about significant amounts of money-laundering activity.

The Joint Illegal Gaming Investigations Team conducted the investigation, and they recommended charges to the BC Prosecution Service. However, looking at all the evidence, the Crown counsel said that they did not have enough evidence and that there was not a substantial likelihood of conviction. That is their standard test.

The current premier, David Eby, was the attorney general at the time. This was his file, and he was not going to take that lying down. Therefore, he tried again.

He told his assistant deputy attorney general to retain the services of a special prosecutor to look at it once again and this time to, if necessary, use the exceptional evidentiary test of a reasonable prospect of conviction, so a much lower standard. Here is a political lesson. If one does not succeed the first time, try it again but lower the bar. This was a political decision and I think it was the right one. There was a very real concern in British Columbia that something had to be done in order to stop the erosion of public confidence in our justice system.

The result of the independent, special prosecutor investigation with a lower bar now, unfortunately, was still no. In his words, the critical question was whether the Crown would be able to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that this cash was itself the proceeds of crime. He concluded that they would not be able to do that. There was lots of smoke but he could not put his fingers on the fire. Just very recently, he told the provincial government not to waste its time or its human resources trying to change this, that it would be unsuccessful and that it should change the law instead. He said in his conclusions that if Canada had laws, anti-money laundering laws similar to what the U.K. and Australia have, his opinion might well have been different.

That brings me to the debate of the day, the private member's bill from my colleague, the member for Simcoe North. I want to thank him for introducing Bill C-289, which would amend the Criminal Code to make it an offence to knowingly make a false or misleading statement or to knowingly provide false or misleading information, to a person or entity listed in section 5 of the Proceeds of Crime and Terrorist and Financing Act; false information with respect to the verification of individuals. In other words, do not lie to banks, credit unions, other financial services businesses and, importantly, do not lie to casinos about whose money you are dealing with. We want to know. There needs to be transparency. It would make a difference, if we had that law, as to whether we would be prosecuting some of these cases of obvious money laundering.

It is a very serious crime. If this legislation passes, it would make it an indictable offence with a fine of up to a $1 million or jail time of 10 years, or the Crown counsel could decide to go by way of summary conviction with a possible fine of $10,000 and two years less a day in jail.

I am pleased and people in British Columbia are pleased with this type of legislation because that is exactly what needs to be done. It is a small step, but it is an important step in the right direction.

More needs to be done. I am happy to hear that the Liberal government is again saying that it is going to bring forward legislation for transparency in corporate registries. In Justice Cullen's words, we do not want “the greedy and the devious” to hide behind numbered companies as they “seek to make their crime-stained money appear legitimate.” Mr. Justice Cullen had 101 recommendations. Not all of them were for the federal jurisdiction. There are a couple that I think this Parliament needs to be paying attention to in the near future, not today but soon: fighting trade-based money laundering, closer scrutiny of money service businesses, better regulation of the mortgage industry and procedures for unexplained wealth orders. This is legislation that other countries and jurisdictions around the world have adopted against money laundering. We should be doing the same. Today, I am happy to say, we are taking a small, important step in the right direction.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.


Christine Normandin Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Madam Speaker, like my colleagues, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-289. I think my colleagues beat me to the punch, but I will say again that the Bloc Québécois will support Bill C‑289 at second reading. For one thing, we want to be able to suggest amendments and improvements when it goes to committee and perhaps cast the net a little wider, so to speak, in terms of the bill's scope. I will come back to this a little later.

What is the context surrounding Bill C‑289?

The reality is that money laundering is unfortunately reaching alarming levels in Canada. Several institutions have conducted analyses and reached that conclusion. It is estimated that approximately $100 billion is being laundered, and it is often the proceeds of drug trafficking and human trafficking. That is $100 billion that comes into Canada every year to be laundered, to enter the legitimate economy and to disappear. That is the principle of money laundering.

This has repercussions on the local population, on everyday people who, for example, live in places with a very low vacancy rate and where people are trying to become property owners. As we know, real estate is used as a way of laundering money by buying different buildings through nominees, which puts upward pressure on the price of housing. This has an adverse effect on everyone.

We also know that, unfortunately, Canada does not have a particularly good record when it comes to anti-money laundering legislation. Canada is at the back of the pack internationally. Our laws are relatively limited and rather lenient, and they do not make it easy to go after offenders and money launderers. That is basically what Bill C‑289 tries to do. It is not going to fix the whole problem in one fell swoop, but at least it is a step in the right direction. It may help stimulate the debate on what more could be done beyond what Bill C‑289 proposes.

It is always fun to read what is in the bill. This one is relatively short. I will just read the main clause, which is actually the only clause. It would add subsection 462.311(1) to the Criminal Code. As an aside, so many new sections have been added to the Criminal Code over the years that it might be time for consolidation. That is for my criminal law colleagues to say.

The addition reads as follows:

Everyone commits an offense who knowingly makes a false or misleading statement or knowingly provides false or misleading information, including by omission, whether directly or indirectly—

This casts a pretty wide net for what constitutes a lie. It goes on to say:

—to a person or entity referred to in section 5 of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act respecting the identity of a person or entity to be verified under section 6.‍1 of that Act, including with respect to the ownership, control or structure of the entity.

Who are we referring to when we talk about section 5? Who are these people who have an obligation to verify identity? We are referring to pretty much every existing entity that deals with money transfers. We are talking about banks, both local and foreign. The list set out in section 5 is very long, so I will not go through the whole thing. I will just do a quick overview. We are talking about banks, cooperative credit societies, savings and credit unions, caisses populaires, life insurance companies, trust companies regulated by a provincial act, loan companies, companies that provide portfolio management services, companies dealing with foreign exchange, and even those dealing in virtual currencies. If money is being transferred somewhere, the entity that takes care of it has an obligation to verify the sender's identity. The problem is that there are absolutely no sanctions for providing false information.

Bill C-289 remedies that. It adds an obligation to provide truthful information or face one of two fines, depending on whether the person is found guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction or an indictable offence. The penalty for an indictable offence is a fine of up to $1 million and up to 10 years in prison. The penalty for an offence punishable by summary conviction is a fine of up to $10,000 and a maximum prison sentence of two years less a day.

There are some good things in this legislation. One aim of the bill is to discourage the use of nominees. Currently, there is absolutely no penalty for a person who is used as a nominee for the purpose of money laundering. The new obligation would provide authorities with additional tools so they can secure convictions for money laundering activities. The bill does not limit itself to the obligations of financial institutions. It seeks to ensure that there are penalties for false statements.

We also want to give authorities a little more flexibility to use the threat of conviction. That is the deterrent effect. This would allow authorities to gather information on large-scale money laundering cases and perhaps catch criminals with a lot more money than the small-time money launderer at the local pizza parlour, for example.

It also sets the stage for other steps that could be taken in the future, such as introducing a beneficial ownership registry that would require corporations governed by the Canada Business Corporations Act to disclose the identity of their actual owner. We hope legislation to that effect will be introduced in the House sooner rather than later.

I want to go back to the responsibilities of the financial entities that I mentioned, which are named in section 6.1 of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act.

Pursuant to section 7, these entities are responsible for the following:

Subject to section 10.1, every person or entity referred to in section 5 shall, in accordance with the regulations, report to the Centre every financial transaction that occurs or that is attempted in the course of their activities and in respect of which there are reasonable grounds to suspect that

(a) the transaction is related to the commission or the attempted commission of a money laundering offence; or

(b) the transaction is related to the commission or the attempted commission of a terrorist activity financing offence.

There has been a lot of talk lately about Chinese interference. In this context, it seems to me that there is one thing that could, at the very least, be discussed by the committee that will be studying the bill, and that is the use of money that is not necessarily the proceeds of criminal or terrorist activities, but that is earmarked for an election campaign, for example.

I am wondering if certain witnesses would suggest that we add, not to the current bill but to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, a paragraph (c) to section 7 to cover the conveyance of money with a view to making an illegal donation under the Canada Elections Act. That could be one approach.

There may also be a way, through Bill C‑289, to make changes in order to make it an offence to lie about a donation to a political entity and the origin of the money that was used. This may be an idea to consider, given what is currently happening in the news. We are always a bit behind the news when we are in the House of Commons, but in this case, it may be a good idea not to lag too far behind. We might need to jump at the opportunity, at the fact that a bill is being studied, to invite witnesses who could outline a more forward-thinking vision of what could be done in terms of sanctions for making false statements about campaign donations.

In closing, I want to reiterate that we will support Bill C‑289 and there is still a long road ahead, but at least this is a step in the right direction.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.


Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and support Bill C-289 from my colleague, the member for Simcoe North. I want to congratulate him for taking on this important issue. This is a bill aimed at combatting money laundering. As we move towards the second reading vote on this bill, I wanted to share a few thoughts that reflect conversations I have had. In particular, I have had conversations with people in Canada's cultural communities about their concern over the issue of money laundering. They are especially concerned when it involves money from foreign hostile regimes, sometimes even ones that are using those resources to threaten and hurt people from cultural communities here in Canada.

I want to say parenthetically, as it is Thursday, that I have had my son Judah with me all week. He is seven years old, and it has been wonderful to have him here. I want to thank him. He has been to committee meetings and to the House. He has watched question period, and he knows the rules and procedures better than some members do.

On the subject of Bill C-289, this excellent bill that I will certainly be supporting on money laundering, I want to reflect a bit on some of the conversations I have had. When I first got elected in 2015, I had a role involving human rights and religious freedom. In that context, I spent a lot of time getting to know leaders in various cultural communities in Canada.

Right away, the issue of money laundering came up in this context: We have people who flee authoritarian hostile regimes, who face persecution. Forms of that persecution also involve having their property confiscated and taken from them in various ways. Then they have fled to Canada and sought a new life; they are working hard to prosper and succeed here. At the same time, they see or perceive agents of that same hostile regime that are bringing stolen money to Canada and trying to launder that money and to create a safe haven for agents of that regime here.

Probably most prominent in my mind in terms of these conversations are those with the folks from the Iranian community whom I have spoken to. Regularly and repeatedly, they raise the issue of how the Iranian community here in Canada is concerned about how the Iranian regime is, in their perception, laundering money in Canada. In addition, while Canada is rightly perceived as a place where those fleeing that regime and other hostile regimes can come, they see how members of that regime have been able to try to use Canada as well.

We have put forward various measures to try to respond to this. For instance, approaching five years ago, I put forward a motion to list the IRGC as a terrorist organization in Canada and effectively shut down its operations here. Unfortunately, while the government voted for that motion, it never implemented it.

If we are going to shut down the activities of hostile foreign regimes in Canada, we need to take a series of measures. Those include listing the IRGC as a terrorist organization and expelling foreign diplomats involved in foreign interference, which we have been calling for in the context of the regime in Beijing. The current government has actually failed to expel any diplomats from any country for foreign interference. It has not expelled any diplomats associated with the Chinese Communist Party, nor has it expelled any Russian diplomats or diplomats from any country.

In addition, in the suite of measures that we need to prevent hostile regimes and maligned foreign actors from operating in Canada, as part of our response, we need to combat this issue of money laundering and the financing of these regimes. This could perhaps include financing of their operations in Canada, as well as their efforts to launder money for various other purposes here.

We as Conservatives have tried to reflect these concerns that we are hearing from people in cultural communities about how they have been victims of foreign interference and about money laundering in particular as part of that victimization, as well as other areas. However, it has been striking to me that one of the government's tactics for dismissing this is to suggest that it is somehow racist to talk about the very real and obvious problem of foreign interference.

I would submit that the opposite is true. It is actually a form of racism to not respond to the serious problem of foreign interference, because the primary victims of foreign interference have often been cultural communities, where there may be family members back home, and people are threatened by the fact that their family members would be hurt if they do not cease speaking up about certain issues.

I know people personally whose family members have been negatively affected abroad because of political activities they have been involved in here in Canada. I know that those threats can be frequent and can be put forward by hostile regimes. It is generally Canadians who have those family members in potentially vulnerable situations who are most likely to be victims. They are people who are recent immigrants to Canada, who faced persecution, who faced confiscation of their property, and then they see that money laundered in Canada and they see a government that is perversely claiming it is racist to talk about this problem.

I would say it is actually a form of racism to fail to address this problem that may not be directly impacting the lives of people whose families have been in Canada for a long time, but it is much more likely to impact the lives, security and well-being of people who are relative newcomers to Canada, of course depending on the countries they come from.

There are many reasons to support this bill. This is a common-sense measure to make it easier for law enforcement to target those who are involved in criminal offences and to hold them accountable for those offences. However, particularly in a context where we are seeing this pressing issue of foreign interference taking various forms and where we need stronger measures here in Canada to combat the scourge of foreign state-backed interference, one thing we could do is support this bill. Members could at least support it through to committee for further studies if they have doubts about some of the provisions. I think it is great the way it is. In any event, it should be supported through to committee so that it could be further studied and perhaps strengthened at the committee stage.

Unfortunately, while the government wants to now talk about being concerned about foreign interference, it seems intent on missing this golden opportunity to support a good piece of legislation, which would take a constructive step towards, among other things, combatting the problem of foreign interference. It underlines, again, that while the government is happy to talk tough, ultimately its talk is cheap and it is not prepared to take the measures that are required.

The government has refused to call a public inquiry into what happened in the last two elections. It is instead trying to bury this issue with fake new positions and by sending the issue to a committee that has, in fact, already studied the issue of foreign interference, but which is severely limited by secrecy rules and cannot report publicly. It must report first to the Prime Minister, and then it can only publish the information that the Prime Minister allows it to publish.

Incredibly, today on Bill C-289, the government and its coalition partners in the NDP seem intent on opposing a common-sense piece of legislation to combat money laundering.

I appeal to individual members of the Liberal and New Democratic Parties to think about what they are hearing from their constituents, to think about how many Canadians of Iranian origin, Canadians of Chinese origin, and Canadians of Russian or Ukrainian origin have seen the impact on their lives, of threats from hostile foreign powers. If we listen to those concerns, we should do all we can to combat the scourge of foreign state-backed interference. One critical way of doing that would be to support Bill C-289.

I hope we see individual members of the governing party and the NDP searching their consciences, thinking about what their constituents would actually want them to do and not blindly deferring their judgment on such critical issues to a front bench that has, frankly, been totally obtuse when it comes to crime, foreign interference and national security.

I do hope that, notwithstanding the positions of those two parties officially, we will see members have the courage to help us pass this bill, send it to committee and continue to do the work required to stand with all Canadians, Canadians of all backgrounds, in defending justice and human rights, and in opposing foreign interference via money laundering and other means.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The hon. member for Simcoe North has five minutes for his right of reply.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.


Adam Chambers Conservative Simcoe North, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to be here again with you today to talk about a very important issue.

I want to thank all members who participated in this debate, whether they agree with this piece of legislation or not, but in particular my friends from the Bloc, who spoke in favour of this piece of legislation, which I think is very important.

I would like to touch on a few things for members to reflect on.

The NDP position is that the bill is somehow not worthy of being supported because it was not a specific recommendation of the Cullen commission. The Cullen commission went to great lengths to make sure everybody knew that it did not have the resources or the ability to make recommendations with respect to federal jurisdiction.

I did my homework. I spoke to members of the Cullen commission and asked them if a bill like this would make it easier for law enforcement. The answer was yes. Therefore, I would ask the members of the NDP not to take my word for it, but to spend next week, especially those from British Columbia, asking NDP MLAs in British Columbia if they support this piece of legislation. All I ask for is a fair hearing on that point, because the Premier of British Columbia said that it is a “shocking” example of the shortfalls of federal financial crime law that money launderers cannot be prosecuted and convicted in British Columbia. That is the issue.

These cases are incredibly complex. In the United States, people are convicted for lying to the authorities or committing perjury more often than they are for the actual offence for which they are being investigated.

With respect to the position of the government, and I understand the government should meet any changes to the Criminal Code with high scrutiny, it refers to the offences of uttering and fraud, which do not carry a very significant penalty. The provision I am putting forward is one with up to 10 years in prison and up to a million dollars in fines. It is a hybrid offence. Members do not need to worry because there are no mandatory minimums in this Criminal Code provision.

The government also mentioned the laundering of proceeds of crime. I would say this. The example we just had in B.C. is the reason why we need simpler Criminal Code provisions to catch, prosecute and convict money launderers. These cases take multiple years and often yield absolutely no results.

I would like to quote Kevin Comeau of the C.D. Howe Institute, who stated:

That lack of legal accountability in our anti-money-laundering system weakens the quality of information received from clients, places our financial, commercial, and real estate markets at greater risk of money laundering, and undermines the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate money laundering and terrorist financing.

The federal government can reduce these risks by enacting legislation attaching sanctions to false reports of beneficial ownership made to persons who are legally required to collect that information.

The government is going to release beneficial ownership legislation, and this is what is going to be in it: There is going to be an administrative penalty that money launderers will view as the cost of doing business and a tax. It will not be a serious penalty, and money launderers are going to continue to view Canada as a safe haven to do their dirty business.

Therefore, I would ask and implore all members in this House to reflect on some of these comments, and I would ask NDP members in particular to go to British Columbia and ask their provincial counterparts if they support this legislation.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The question is on the motion.

If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes that the motion be carried or carried on division or wishes to request a recorded division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


Pat Kelly Conservative Calgary Rocky Ridge, AB

Madam Speaker, I would just as soon see the bill pass right now, but I would request a recorded division if there is no agreement to pass the bill at all stages.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Pursuant to an order made Thursday, June 23, 2022, the division stands deferred until Wednesday, March 22, at the expiry of the time provided for Oral Questions.

6:25 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

Rideau Hall

Mr. Speaker,

I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Mary May Simon, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bill listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 9th day of March, 2023, at 5:10 p.m.

Yours sincerely,

Ian McCowan

Secretary to the Governor General and Herald Chancellor

The bill assented to, Thursday, March 9, 2023, is Bill C-39, An Act to amend An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying).

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.