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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was kind.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as NDP MP for Burnaby—Douglas (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2008, with 38% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Eliminating Pardons for Serious Crimes Act June 14th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I am disappointed as well. I think this was a very significant compromise that was proposed by New Democrats in this House to ensure the situation that is causing the immediate concern in Canada would be addressed, the situation of Karla Homolka being eligible soon for a pardon.

If we let Bill C-23 go through the normal process in the House of Commons and then through the Senate, we know we will be well into the fall before this bill could be passed through the normal legislative process of this place. Unfortunately, that means we will not be able to address the specific situation of Karla Homolka.

The motion proposed by the member for Welland, by the NDP, would have allowed that particular situation to be addressed in a very appropriate way, by ensuring it is the National Parole Board that has the ability to review that circumstance and to use the provisions where a situation would bring the administration of justice into dispute, but also where a pardon would shock the conscience of Canadians.

I think those are very important criteria.

I also think that the National Parole Board is absolutely the right place for that decision to be made. Those are the people who have the experience with the criminal justice system, with the end of the criminal justice process in Canada. They are the ones who know best about how that part of the system functions. They have the experience and they do excellent work on behalf of Canadians.

I think we forget how hard those folks work and how dedicated they are to that process, and how important their work is to all our communities. Sometimes they take criticism for decisions that were made, and sometimes that criticism is left to stand, to tarnish the whole reputation of the National Parole Board and the folks who work there. I think that is often extremely unfair. These people do great work on our behalf. If we could have expanded their jurisdiction to deal with those very particular cases, that would have been a responsible step to take.

Then, we would do the review. We are not saying to not review the pardon system. We agree that Canadians must have confidence in that system. Canadians must trust that system. We think that they should trust that system, given its incredible record of success.

Both of those things that were proposed could have been done. Unfortunately, that idea was shot down this afternoon.

Eliminating Pardons for Serious Crimes Act June 14th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak in this debate at second reading on Bill C-23, An Act to amend the Criminal Records Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

This is a very important bill that I believe needs a thorough debate in the House of Commons. I think it is a very significant piece of legislation.

The bill would rename pardon as record suspension. I think that is a very significant action in the bill. I know there has been some opinion in debate already that it may be an inconsequential change, but I believe it is an extremely serious change in the legislation and in our overall perspective on what the pardon system is about.

The bill would also increase the ineligibility period that must pass before a pardon application can be submitted from the current five years to ten years for indictable offences and from the current three years to five years for summary offences. The bill would also prohibit those convicted of four or more indictable offences from ever receiving a pardon. It would prohibit anyone convicted of one or more offences from a designated list of sex offences from ever receiving a pardon. With respect to pardon applications for indictable offences, it would say that the Parole Board would be required to deny a pardon if granting it would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.

Therefore, there are very significant changes to our current parole system included in the bill. I think it is something that we need to very carefully consider and proceed with caution with regard to changing the system, which I believe has served us well.

I want to talk a little about what our pardon system is actually about. To do that I have gone to the website of the National Parole Board and pulled up its fact sheet on our current pardon system.

It has a frequently asked questions page which poses various questions and provides information about the system. In response to the question, what is a pardon, the Parole Board notes that a pardon allows people who were convicted of a criminal offence, that have completed their sentence and demonstrated that they are law-abiding citizens, to have their criminal record kept separate and apart from other criminal records.

Under the current Criminal Records Act, the National Parole Board may issue, grant, deny or revoke pardons for convictions under federal acts or regulations of Canada.

Another question posed is, what is the effect of a pardon? It notes in its answer that all information pertaining to convictions will be taken out of the Canadian police information centre, CPIC, and may not be disclosed without permission of the Minister of Public Safety of Canada.

The CRA applies only to records kept within federal departments and agencies. However, many of the provincial and municipal law enforcement agencies co-operate by restricting access to their records once notified that a pardon has been granted or issued.

The Parole Board also notes, in this answer, that the Canadian Human Rights Act forbids discrimination based on a pardon conviction. So that includes services a person needs for the opportunity to work for a federal agency. It also states that no employment application from within the federal public service may ask any question that would require an applicant to disclose a pardoned conviction. That also applies to a crown corporation, the Canadian Forces or any business within federal authority.

The next question posed is, what are the limitations of a pardon? I think this is an important feature of the current pardons regime. It notes that a pardon does not erase the fact that a person was convicted of an offence. It notes that a pardon does not guarantee entry or visa privileges to another country. It notes that courts and police services, other than the RCMP, are under provincial and municipal legislation. This means that they do not have to keep records of convictions separate and apart from other criminal records.

The Parole Board notes that the Criminal Records Act lists certain sexual offences. If a person was pardoned for such offences his or her record will be kept separate and apart but his or her name will be flagged in the CPIC computer system. This means that a person will be asked to let employers see his or her record if this person wants to work with children or with groups that are vulnerable because of their age or disability. The flag is applied regardless of the date of conviction or the date of pardon was granted or issued. We should all be apprised and reminded of this very important feature of the current legislation, that for sexual offences there is still that proviso in the existing pardon regime

The National Parole Board also notes that a sentence may have included various prohibition orders imposed under the Criminal Code, such as driving or firearms prohibition orders. A pardon does not cancel those prohibition orders.

When can a person apply for a pardon? An individual can apply when their sentence is completed; when they have paid all fines, surcharges, costs, restitution and compensation orders in full; when a person has served all of his or her time, including parole or statutory release; and, when a person has satisfied his or her probation officer.

What are the specific waiting periods for convictions under the Criminal Code and other federal statutes? It is three years for summary convictions and five years for indictable offences. For convictions under the Transfer of Offenders Act, it is five years for all convictions. For convictions under the National Defence Act, it is five years if the person was fined more than $2,000; five years if the person was imprisoned more than six months; five years if the person was dismissed from the service; and three years for all other penalties.

Other questions are posed in this information section from the National Parole Board on pardons.

Can a pardon be denied? The answer is yes, for example, if the National Parole Board finds that a person is not of good conduct. However, in that situation that individual can reapply after one year.

Can a pardon be revoked? Again, the answer is yes. The National Parole Board may revoke a pardon if the person is later convicted of a summary offence under a federal act or regulation of Canada. He or she can do it if the National Parole Board finds that he or she is no longer of good conduct, or if the National Parole Board learns that a false or deceptive statement was made or relevant information was concealed at the time of the application.

There are very explicit terms for the revocation of a pardon.

In terms of the actual process, there are two ways of dealing with a pardon: a pardon can be granted or a pardon can be issued. For an offence punishable on summary conviction, it is a non-discretionary process. The National Parole Board confirms that the necessary waiting period, three years after satisfaction of sentence, has been completed and verified through the RCMP that the applicant has not been convicted of any other offences since the last conviction. Depending on the result, a pardon may then be issued.

The other circumstance is where there was an indictable offence and the person has applied for a pardon in that situation. In assessing a pardon request for an indictable offence, the National Parole Board confirms that the necessary waiting period, five years after satisfaction of sentence, has been completed be verified through the RCMP and local police services that there have been no further convictions. They investigate the applicant's behaviour since the sentence was completed to confirm that he or she was of good conduct. In light of this evaluation, a board member will decide whether to grant or deny a pardon.

There is a very explicit process to the current pardon regime. It is important to review that because one would think that there was nothing to this system, that there was nothing there to protect Canadians, that there was no rigour to the existing system. When we actually look at the details of how the current system works, we can easily see that is not the case.

There are significant limitations to what a pardon means, to how it can be obtained, to whether or not it continues and can be revoked. This is by no means a blank cheque to someone who has committed a criminal offence in the past. It comes as a result of responsibilities having been met and kept, and it requires a long-term commitment to avoid the behaviour that put the individual in trouble in the first place.

We have to look at this system as a very successful system. We know that 96% of the people who have applied for pardons never commit another offence. That is a 96% success rate. I doubt if there are many other programs anywhere in government that are as successful as that. This is a hugely successful system.

In the past four years, 400,000 pardons have been granted and only a small number have ever been revoked. That says volumes about the importance of this system, how well it functions, and how well it has served Canadians and our communities.

This is not something that is done cavalierly. It is not something that is done without serious consideration. It is not something that is done outside of any proven track record. All of those things have been taken into account when we look at the success of the pardon system.

It is not just me, as a member of Parliament for Burnaby—Douglas, who believes that. In 2006, shortly after they were elected, the current Conservative government members reviewed the pardon system. The former minister of public safety, the current President of the Treasury Board, undertook that review. It came back with only minor changes to the system, because even the Conservative minister of public safety had to admit that the system was working well and serving us well.

The small change was that in the situation where a pardon was being granted for an indictable offence, two members of the National Parole Board had to be involved in signing off on that pardon. That was a very small change, perhaps a sensible change, but again, it was not a major change after a review by the current government. So one wonders why we are faced again with this significant change in the current bill we are debating, Bill C-23.

As I said earlier, one of the key elements of the legislation before us, Bill C-23, is to change the name from “pardons” to “record suspension”. Some people seem to think that is an insignificant change, but I do not happen to be one of them. I think the word “pardon” is imbued with a meaning that is very, very important in our criminal justice system. It has a very important place in the whole process of charging, convicting, rehabilitating and then ultimately pardoning someone who has shown they have paid their debt to society for behaviour that caused them to face a criminal conviction in the first place.

Moving to something that sounds much more administrative, that takes away a whole level of meaning, moving from pardon to record suspension, is a serious downgrading of the system that has served us so well. We have to stress rehabilitation. We have to stress the successful conclusion of rehabilitation. I worry sometimes that the government of the day does not care very much about that. It is very hot to trot on the punishment side of the equation, but less so on the rehabilitation side, on ensuring that people who have gone through our criminal justice system and paid their debt can then live successfully in our society.

One of the ways those people have been able to live successfully is by obtaining a pardon, which allows them to find their place again in society without being burdened by their criminal record in a way that causes problems for them as they try to make a living, as they seek housing, as they take their place back in society.

A pardon does not come easily, and it comes after a significant waiting period. People have to show they have been a responsible member of society. If we move from a word like “pardon” to a concept of “record suspension”, we are dropping a very significant piece of what has been part of the current regime.

We go to questions of redemption. We go to questions of mercy. We go to questions of responsibility. The word “pardon” conveys all those kinds of things and they are a very important part of it. We lose those meanings at our peril in this process. It is something we have to take very seriously. The concept of a pardon helps us to take this process very, very seriously and to give it the attention and the importance it deserves.

There are others who believe that the bill before us has other flaws. An interesting perspective comes from the Mennonite Central Committee. It raised the whole issue of the role of victims in the pardon process, and the bill does not deal with that situation. If we were moving toward the concept of restorative justice where we were ensuring that all those who were hurt by a criminal act were involved in the justice process to ensure that broken relationships were healed as best they could be, that the community was involved in ensuring that the persons who had committed the crime took responsibility for that crime, that they faced the people who had been directly harmed by that crime, reconciliation would be a part of the process.

Often in our criminal justice system someone is convicted. We might hear a victim impact statement at the time of conviction and they disappear into our correctional services system. They serve their time and then they are released.

There is no final act of reconciliation, no clarity around the harm that was done to society and the way that person can be successful reintroduced into the community. If we took more of a restorative justice approach that had that broader perspective on crime, on reconciliation, we would be far better served in the long run.

It is an important point that the Mennonite Central Committee raised when it looked at the current bill and felt the whole concept of the role of the victim of a crime when a pardon is granted had been ignored.

That is something that merits attention, that merits study by the House, and it should be part of any review of a pardon system.

It is very clear where the bill emerged and why it emerged at this point in time. There are concerns in our communities about pardons that were granted to Graham James and about the potential of a pardon being granted to Karla Homolka. I do not think there is anyone here, or in our communities, who believes that is a good thing, that Karla Homolka, for instance, would be granted a pardon for the very heinous crimes she committed. Somehow that would seem to be an extension of the kind of errors that were made as her case proceeded through our criminal justice system. People feel that very acutely given what happened in that horrible, horrible case.

I do not think we do justice to the legislative process when we build legislation around the worst possible case we could imagine. When we develop legislation based on the situation of Karla Homolka, I am not sure it serves those hundreds of thousands of other people who have shown that the pardon system has real meaning and has been a real benefit to them. There is real benefit when people who have committed crimes have been successfully reintegrated into our communities.

That is a very serious problem with this legislation. If we go to the worst case, then we somehow forget or downplay the importance of all those other cases, the more ordinary, the more regular cases. They are significant but they do not raise the same issues that a Karla Homolka or a Graham James would raise. So we have to be very cautious when we proceed on this.

The NDP put forward a very helpful proposal in this regard. When the hon. member for Welland spoke as debate began on this legislation, he made the proposal that we take out that section of the bill that would deal with a situation like Karla Homolka. He suggested that we debate it separately, that we ask the government to bring in legislation that would deal with that specific situation and that we would try to facilitate it going through the House with great speed so we could address that very particular situation.

We do not suggest an overhaul of the pardon system in light of that specific need and that specific case, but we do suggest we also move to a full study of the pardon system to make sure it is the best possible system we could have.

Earlier today the member for Welland sought unanimous consent in the House, and unfortunately that was denied. I want to remind members of the motion he presented earlier this afternoon in the House. He said, “That, in the opinion of the House, urgent changes to the Criminal Records Act are required to prevent pardons from being granted that would bring the administration of justice into disrepute, and therefore the government should immediately introduce legislation with the specific purpose to empower the National Parole Board to deny pardons in cases where granting a pardon would bring the administration of justice into disrepute, with cooperation and support from all parties to move such legislation swiftly through the House and Senate before Parliament rises for the summer...”.

That was an excellent suggestion coming from New Democrats in the House. I am disappointed that did not go anywhere. I hope there may be reconsideration given to that.

We need this system in place, and I am very concerned that we would dismantle it in light of these particularly heinous cases.

Questions on the Order Paper June 14th, 2010

With regard to nuclear disarmament, what is the government planning to do to ensure Canada’s participation in verification efforts in preparation for multilateral verification of nuclear disarmament processes?

Canadian Human Rights Act June 14th, 2010

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-536, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act (genetic characteristics).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act, genetic characteristics. I thank the member for Hamilton Mountain for seconding the bill.

The bill would add the term “genetic characteristics” to the list of prohibitive grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act. It is an updated version of a bill tabled by my former colleague, Judy Wasylycia-Leis, earlier this year. At the time she tabled it, she said that this bill would stop Canadians' personal genetic information from being used against them. Employers, insurance companies and others have already begun to discriminate against people based on their genetic makeup. People are being punished in fundamental ways, like being prevented from earning a living or buying a house for something they have no control over. That is unfair, and this bill would update the Canadian Human Rights Act to deal with this 21st century problem.

She also pointed out that health conscious Canadians were increasingly testing for genetic clues so they can take steps to avoid diseases or conditions to which they may have a genetic predisposition. Their reward should be better health but the information is increasingly being used to exclude people from job opportunities and limit access to mortgages and insurance benefits. There is currently nothing to prevent insurance companies and others from demanding test rests and basing decisions on them.

This issue was brought to my attention by Kristina Vandervoort of North Vancouver and it is supported by the Canadian Coalition for Genetic Fairness, whose members include the Huntington Society of Canada, the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Muscular Dystrophy of Canada, the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics, the Parkinson Society of Canada, the Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus Association of Canada, the National Ovarian Cancer Association, the ALS Society of Canada, the Alzheimer Society of Canada, the Osteoporosis Society--

Eliminating Pardons for Serious Crimes Act June 14th, 2010

Madam Speaker, does my colleague believe that the change in the bill from using the word “pardon” to using the words “record suspension” is a significant issue? In my way of thinking, this is a very significant issue in the legislation.

I know there is divided opinion in the House. Some members think that is not a very significant issue, but to me the word “pardon” has a depth of meaning that cannot be encompassed in the term “record suspension” and an important meaning in terms of the end of the rehabilitation process and the successful conclusion of that, and the conclusion of someone paying their debt to society for a mistake they made earlier in their life.

I wonder if the member might comment on that change in language which I believe is a very significant issue in this legislation.

Harmonized Sales Tax June 9th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, Conservatives can still do the right thing on the HST. British Columbians are united in our opposition to the HST. We have mobilized in communities in every corner of the province and are sending a clear message to Conservative and Liberal MPs who supported this tax that they must reverse their position and stop it now. There is time for them to repent.

The Prime Minister and the premiers should sit down immediately, reverse course and stop the HST. The Conservatives thought that they were finished with the HST after they enabled it and rammed it through Parliament back in December, but people in B.C. remember what they have done.

New Democrats continue to stand in solidarity with British Columbians on the HST. We opposed it then, we voted against it at all stages, and we, too, want it stopped now. Conservatives and Liberals imposed the HST on B.C. in perhaps the most notorious action of the only active coalition in this Parliament, the one between Conservatives and Liberals.

Canadian Human Rights Act June 8th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to conclude the second reading debate on my private member's bill, Bill C-389, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity and gender expression).

This bill would add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act and to the hate crimes and sentencing provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada. This would ensure full human rights protection in areas of federal jurisdiction for transsexual and transgender Canadians.

The bill had its first hour of debate on May 10 and its second hour tonight. I would like to express my appreciation to all those who participated in the debate for their thoughtful comments, and I do mean everyone. Everyone who participated in the debate did so respectfully. I know that folks in the transgender and transsexual communities appreciate the participation of all members who chose to speak, just as they appreciate the 12 seconders of the bill.

Two concerns were raised in the debate that I would like to address.

The first was that the terms “gender identity” and “gender expression” were not defined in the bill. This is true, but it is also entirely consistent with the Canadian Human Rights Act which does not define other listed prohibited grounds of discrimination. That is no accident. It was deliberate. These terms are widely used here in Canada and around the world, and Canada, including the current government, has supported international agreements and statements where they are used. They are accepted terms, defined both in practice and in jurisprudence.

The second concern was that explicit coverage in the Canadian Human Rights Act and in the hate crimes and sentencing provisions of the Criminal Code was redundant, given the fact that decisions had already been made supporting the full human rights of transsexuals and transgender Canadians and the fact that the provisions of the Criminal Code were open-ended. This, too, is true, but a strong argument can be made for the importance of adding to the existing list.

Those who are subject to discrimination and prejudice in our society need to see themselves clearly in our laws. This confirms their place in our society. It confirms that they are valued members of our society. Without explicit recognition, the lives and struggles of transgender and transsexual people remain invisible and their issues remain unaddressed.

Accessing these protections through a convoluted process using other possibly related categories, usually the categories of sex and disability, diminishes the protection and limits our understanding of the causes and effects of the particular discrimination. A right that has to be explained is not a particularly effective right.

Clarity is also helpful in terms of public education. The clearer the law, the easier it is to explain who is protected and why.

Both these issues could be fully explored at the standing committee should the bill pass second reading. Needless to say that while I believe they are reasonable issues to raise during this first round of debate, I know that they would be completely and satisfactorily answered in any study of the bill by the standing committee, and I look forward to that opportunity.

This has been a historic debate. For the first time, this House has considered the situation of transsexual and transgender Canadians, the prejudice and discrimination and violence they face as they live their lives, and one of the most important remedies to those circumstances. There can be no doubt that trans Canadians face significant challenges and that they do not yet enjoy full equality in our society. Progress is being made. Some jurisdictions have acted to explicitly protect the human rights of trans Canadians. Some employers have acted to prevent discrimination. Some landlords, some health care providers, many unions, institutions, organizations and religious groups have acted. Many families have come to know and love their trans children, siblings, and parents in ways they would never have imagined.

However, there is more to be done. This bill would ensure full and explicit human rights protection in all areas of federal jurisdiction.

A word to members of the transgender and transsexual community: no matter what ultimately happens with this bill, they should know that there are many in this place and thousands--no, millions--across Canada who love them and know them as they are, who recognize their experience, their gifts and their full humanity. We stand in solidarity with them until our goals of justice and equality are achieved.

June 3rd, 2010

Madam Speaker, the question still remains. What is Canada's position on the negotiation of a nuclear weapons convention, a convention that would ban outright nuclear weapons?

We have done this before. We have done it in terms of a chemical weapons convention. We have done it in terms of a biological weapons convention. Both of those conventions presented significant challenges. Both of them saw other measures taken before the conventions were adopted. However, we still managed, as an international community, through multilateral negotiations, to come up with conventions that banned both chemical and biological weapons outright.

Sadly, we are not taking the same path toward banning nuclear weapons. We know that there are over 23,000 nuclear weapons on our planet today and that those constitute a significant threat to human life, that they can result in, as the NPT conference talked about, catastrophic human consequences.

The only way to secure human safety and security is to find a way to ban outright all of those nuclear weapons.

Sadly, it appears that Canada is not willing to play a role in that process. Canada could be a leader in all of this and yet it has not endorsed the secretary-general's five-point plan and it has not endorsed the model treaty that is currently in circulation. Canada could do more.

June 3rd, 2010

Madam Speaker, back on April 23, just prior to the start of the five year review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference at the United Nations, I asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs the following question:

...there is a treaty banning chemical weapons and one banning biological weapons. However, so far, no similar effort has been successful to ban nuclear weapons. The danger they pose cannot be under-estimated.

Over 500 members of the Order of Canada continue to press the government in their campaign for the elimination of nuclear weapons. They have joined the UN Secretary-General in calling for the negotiation of a treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

Will Canada support a nuclear weapons convention? Better still, will Canada seek a leadership position in its negotiation?

I have to say that I was disappointed in the minister's response, which ignored the key point of the question. The minister said:

...Canada indeed has played a leadership role. In fact, last week the Prime Minister was at the nuclear summit that was convened by the President of the United States in which Canada played an important role. We will also be participating quite actively in the nuclear non-proliferation discussions that will take place in a short time at the United Nations. This is the five year review plan.

Canada indeed has assumed its responsibility. I am very proud to see that we are taking that leadership role about which the member is talking.

The question that I posed remained unanswered. What is Canada's position on the negotiation of a nuclear weapons convention banning all nuclear weapons?

If we look for clues as to Canada's position on this issue, we can look to the now concluded Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference .

Canadian observers at the conference, including Ernie Regehr and Douglas Roche, noted that Canada played a modest role. Perhaps they were being generous. Canada did apparently make an important suggestion for institutional reforms to the NPT process, which was opposed by the United States and which was eventually limited to the approval of a dedicated staff officer to organize NPT meetings, a small step when we consider that this important treaty has no office of its own.

However, Canada made little reference to disarmament and no reference to the negotiation of a nuclear weapons convention in its statements or work at the NPT Review Conference. While the convention was, for the first time, a subject of discussion, it did not make it into the action plan arising out of the meeting. Canada addressed two of the three pillars of the NPT in its opening statement, barely mentioning the third and key pillar of disarmament.

It should be noted that one of the key decisions arising from the NPT Review Conference was a commitment to a Middle East nuclear weapons-free zone conference in 2012. This recognizes the great success of the nuclear weapons-free zone movement around the world. Sixty-seven per cent of the world is currently covered by nuclear weapons-free zones.

Sadly, Canada is a laggard in this aspect of the disarmament movement. Canada is one of only two members of the Francophonie that is not party to a nuclear weapons-free zone, France being the other, and one of only two countries in the Americas, north, south and central America, the U.S. being the other, not party to a nuclear weapons-free zone. Canada could begin to rectify this situation by starting talks on an Arctic nuclear weapons-free zone.

There was a time when Canada was seen as a leader on questions of nuclear disarmament. Canada's decision to not develop nuclear weapons, when we clearly had the capacity, put us clearly at the forefront of this movement.

In the past, Canada's ambassadors for disarmament played prominent advocacy roles on this issue here at home and around the world. Sadly, their mandate has been diminished. Canada is now seen as making only modest contributions to this process. Perhaps that is why Canada's assessment of this year's NPT Review Conference was that it was a modest proposal.

The question remains: Does the Government of Canada have any enthusiasm for this important project, the negotiation of a nuclear weapons convention?

Jobs and Economic Growth Act June 3rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am glad that the member has raised that important question about the environmental assessment process.

The member is right. In most situations the idea is not to prevent development. The idea is to ensure that development is sustainable, that it respects both the environmental needs and the economic needs of communities in our country. We want to make sure that happens. We want to do that in a way that takes into consideration all of the factors that are part of those kinds of decisions.

People in my own community realize that the Chevron refinery is an important employer in our community. It produces products that we all use. Even though we are seeking ways to reduce our dependence on those kinds of products, right now we do depend on them. At the same time we want to make sure that it functions in a way that respects the neighbourhood it is in and respects the environment where it is located. That means we have to have the participation of government and the leadership of government to ensure it is done in a way that respects people and the environment.