House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was competition.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Pickering—Scarborough East (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 38% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Fairness at the Pumps Act October 26th, 2010

Madam Speaker, the hon. member does raise some very important points. However, he should not be swayed by what Measurements Canada says. If we look at its website today, we will find that it says “fairness at the pumps act”. That is a very political, crass, irrelevant and, I would suggest, dishonest reflection of what the bill is purported to try to accomplish. We were told by Measurements Canada that was not the title. However, if we go to its website right now, and I am sure it is probably going to take it down in the next few minutes, we will see that it says “fairness at the pumps act”. Just punch it into a Google search.

The hon. member should not be swayed or somehow led down the garden path by either Measurements Canada or the government. This really is about going after and targeting, as the minister said, chisellers, chisellers who do not exist and are a figment of the government's imagination.

It is also important to know that with a compliance rate of 93% or 94%, it means the other 6% or 7% may in fact be favouring consumers, but through no deliberate attempt. Things can and do break down. If we find out there is an inspection process, it is in our interest to ensure that it is correct. If the inventory is lost or off, it can mean terrible consequences for the people who have throughputs or gas stations across the country, where they have hundreds of thousands of litres every year. If they are off by 1%, that is a lot of money at the end of the year.

The question is about private or public inspection. The issue is the NDP has a reason on this, and I do not disagree with it. There has to be absolute concern. One of the amendments I wanted to see was to ensure that our officials were in fact governed by, adhered to and are sworn in as public servants. It is important for the Crown to demonstrate due diligence.

One thing the Liberals did in committee was to ensure absolute due diligence by the minister to ensure those people were held to the highest account, that there was accuracy in their testing, in the various methods that they use. It is very difficult to test these things. There is not one universal way in which we test.

Because the government did not get rid of temperature compensation, it means we lose 4% or 5% of the amount of volume of gasoline we buy because we are at 15° Celsius. Fifteen degrees Celsius assumes that we have had over a year of that temperature. It is 6° in Canada. In Hawaii it is 15°. Therefore, the public is being ripped off by 5% or 6%. Again, the government wants to go after retailers who, through no fault of their own, are struggling to make ends meet. That is disgusting. That is an outrange.

Frankly, I hope the media is looking at this. I want to talk to it about its lack of understanding and precision on this issue. What I see is a target of an industry that has done very well, has done its best and is still the whipping post of the government.

Fairness at the Pumps Act October 26th, 2010

Madam Speaker, for obvious reasons, I am comfortable with this subject. I cannot support a bill that promotes petty treatment of small gas retailers across the country. I thought that the government was trying to help at a time when rising energy prices cannot be explained by supply and demand. This is a real problem that the government does not want to hear about or deal with.

I am very concerned about Bill C-14 for a number of reasons, which I will be permitted to expand on at some length. Hon. colleagues will know that this is an issue that I have spent a considerable amount of time on. I have devoted my time. I thank the people of Pickering—Scarborough East for indulging me over the years, as well as the people of Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge and the people of Ontario riding, all three ridings over time representing a good chunk of Canadians, or well over half a million Canadians in that period of time.

I am concerned because this bill suggests, lends itself to or gives the impression that it is doing something which is patently false. The government is not going to give the public any reassurance whatsoever that prices they will pay at the pump, or in fact the measurement, are going to be accurate.

I mentioned earlier the concern I had with respect to how the government is portraying this particular issue. To suggest that somehow it is achieving fairness at the pumps, or as the Minister of Industry lamentably, and I would suggest slanderously, suggested that retailers in this country are chiselling people is simply not only incorrect; it is misleading and it is wrong. The minister ought to have apologized.

Given that the minister has not, he has constructed a body of regulation, which in my view and I think in the view of Measurement Canada, in and of itself will do very little if anything except to undermine the integrity of what is left of competition at the retail level in the gasoline industry in Canada.

Just before the Prime Minister provoked an election, breaking his own word, the industry committee had an opportunity to look at one of the major reasons why energy prices were going up in 2008. It had everything to do with a loophole created that allowed a lack of oversight to the commodities industries around the world. We can recall that energy prices in July 2008, as far as oil was concerned, reached $150 a barrel virtually. The price at the pumps went up substantially. There were a number of other causes and effects, including commodity costs for food and other forms of energy.

The industry committee had one day to look at this before the Prime Minister pulled the rug out from under us in order to obtain an election. Rather than looking at the issue that was confronting Canadians and undermining their standard of living and undermining, as it continuously does, their issue of balancing the cost of living, the government instead chose to pick an article that appeared in May 2008 in the Ottawa Citizen and give it some credibility by talking about it without any actual verification of the numbers, to allow wild extrapolations in terms of the number of pumps that are askew.

Rather than dealing with the fact that we have lost a significant number of refineries in this country due to mergers and acquisitions, rather than dealing with the fact that wholesale prices now move up in lockstep in most provinces and most large communities across this country, rather than dealing with the unfairness of temperature compensation, and I will explain that in a moment, the government chose to narrowly go after the odd gas retailer.

All this would be correct if in fact we learned that the government knew full well that 94% of all the pumps it tested over a rigorous years' period proved to be accurate. Of the 6% that were found to be inaccurate, 2% actually gave consumers more product, and while 4% may have been askew, one would really have to make an argument, both in court and in the public domain, to suggest that somehow gas retailers were involved with chiselling the public.

If the hon. members in the government who proposed this bill had taken the time to actually learn how a pump works, they might find, as we see in so many other instances, that there is obviously a duty of care but retailers may not know that a pump is broken, they may not know that the pulser, which is part of the electronic process, may have malfunctioned, they may not know there is a mechanical problem even after they have tested and even after they have calibrated.

Why is that important to know? It is because they may realize there is a problem, through no fault of their own, and they will test that. Why do they want to test that? It is very simple. No reasonable retail gas retailer in this country is going to want to have a gas pump that malfunctions. The reason is that their volumes will be out, and their logistics and inventory report, which they have to make day in and day out to ensure accuracy for their own economic reasons, are there.

The incentive to do something wrong is certainly not there, but more importantly, there has been no jurisprudence here. There has been no case, to my knowledge, where someone has been convicted of deliberately defrauding someone. If that is the case then I want to hear about it because I have not heard a single cogent argument coming from the government to justify this. It is in fact a solution in search of a problem.

We know that it can lend itself and head toward some very unintended consequences, including penalizing and skewing an industry whose representatives, mom and pop gas station retailers and other people, are working day in and day out, 24 hours a day, seven days a week to try to make a living. The government has the audacity of penalize them and call them chisellers and suggest somehow it is going to remedy the situation with a magic wand saying, poof, we now have new effective fairness at the pumps. This is misleading to Canadians. This is telling Canadians that something is going to happen that does not. I am surprised to see in a few media reports that somehow they have bought this line. It is not going to do anything to help Canadians. Let us understand that when we target a particular industry we had better back it up with facts.

The facts we have before us are very simple, and I suggest this to the member for Burnaby—New Westminster. I have measurement compliance rates from 2005 to 2009, which will take in the period of the Ottawa Citizen article and all the other little things the government says it has done, through Measurement Canada by sector. I have about 30 of them here, which includes sectors where there are less than five data points, where there is not a lot of oversight and inspection, but it has a number of areas: hardware stores, retail rubber products, general merchandise, laundries, cleaners, piece goods, precious metals and stones, alcoholic beverages, honey and apiary, non-metallic minerals, quarries and sandpits, waste collection, transportation, metal scrap, fruit and vegetable, fur and skin, retail gasoline, dairy farms, dairy products, textiles, chemical products, food and beverage manufacturing, electricity, livestock, poultry and there are a few others.

In looking at Measurement Canada's own guide of these 30 or so industries, we find that retail gasoline is the second highest most compliant in the country. So we are going after an industry whose reputation is very good by our own analysis and yet we have a government that wants to target them. With a 93.11% compliance rate, it is only slightly behind honey and apiary at 93.33%. That surprises me because if it is not an admission that the government has this terribly wrong and is targeting the wrong industry, why for goodness' sake has it not gone after the quarries and sandpits industry with a 47.42% accuracy rate? Why has it not gone after the electricity industry? The government says that we use gasoline. Well the last time I checked, this place was lit up by electricity. Its compliance rate from Measurement Canada is 74.19%. One-quarter of what we are buying may not be accurate, and industries and consumers use it day in and day out. Our country is driven by this and yet Measurement Canada, through the direction of the government, decided we are going to target the good guys here.

We are going to go after them because we do not want the public to know that currently energy prices are being manipulated through a lack of oversight both in terms of the trading platforms at NYMEX and around the world. We do not want to let people know that there have been a number of strategic withdrawals of refineries in Canada, removing supply and as a result artificially bumping up the price of gasoline. We do not want to talk about a Competition Act, written in 1986 by the oil industry at the invitation of the then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney to go and rearrange the Competition Act in such a way that it would be the first time that a western country has allowed its very act of policing the commercial industries to be policed by the very people it is meant to police.

It seems to me that we have missed the point here and the government has done something that is classic smoke and mirrors. This is a distraction. This is to give people the impression that somehow when they are pumping gasoline in fact they are not getting what they pay for.

There are probably in excess of 130,000 pumps in this country. There are about 70 billion litres of gasoline and diesel dispensed. I was able to get this document finally from Measurement Canada after three and a half months of requests. They finally gave it to me with one week's notice to review this in advance of this debate and of course for our presence in committee. I was surprised to learn that the $20 million from Measurement Canada, which the government is trotting out as being the annual average rip-off of Canadians, actually turns out to be $8 million, because it recognizes that $12 million of that could have actually gone in favour of the consumer.

That being the case, we know the government is somewhat challenged when it comes to statistics. We know it has a problem with Statistics Canada as it relates to the census, but that should not be surprising, given how it extrapolates its views with respect to statistics and data that it tends to trot out, which it knows to be wrong, which it knows to be false.

Let us put that into context. The average skew of gasoline in Canada is 0.018. That pales in comparison to what is occurring today, which the government does not want to talk about. I am not sure whether it believes that this is acceptable. We have not heard much from it. I have put forth changes to the Competition Act and suggested that we have a petroleum price monitoring agency, for which the Liberal government advocated and implemented and which the Conservative government killed as its first act upon taking over in Parliament in 2006.

Canadians would have what Americans and others around the world have, a better understanding of the inventory picture in the country, but no, Conservatives do not want Canadians to have that. They want Canadians to believe that 0.018% of the time, there might be a skew and they might not actually get what they pay for, but they say nothing of the fact that in Toronto today, there is a 5.3¢ ripoff. In Vancouver it is 9¢. In Montreal it is 6.3¢. In Ottawa today it is 6.1¢.

This is ludicrous. We are worried about 0.018% on a litre of gasoline, but we do not think that 5.5¢, 7¢, 8¢ or 9¢ is a problem. Do the math, and for the media that happens to be watching this, maybe they could do the same as well because, frankly, this is unacceptable. It is in fact not only false; it is a fraud. I cannot, in all good conscience, support something like this, which is meant to do something that it will not do, that is, to give false expectations to consumers who rightly ask the question, “Why has Ottawa failed us?” I could go into substantial detail of why that is, but let us talk about the bigger picture.

We know this morning that commodity prices on food, particularly corn, have skyrocketed. This may be in response to certain economic conditions around the world. The media seems to be focused on potash, but the bigger question is this. How do prices get manipulated? How is it possible that we have abandoned regulatory oversight of how trading on these markets, the energy markets above all, is avoided? Why do we not understand or care in this country, and why do we hear nothing from the finance minister, or anybody on that bench, about what the Americans and many other parts of the world, particularly Europe, France and Britain, are saying? They are saying that it is time to get control of the derivatives, the swap dealers. These are dealers that were created in light of a loophole created in 2000.

Some colleagues here in the House will remember that the year 2000 was the famous year in which the 262-page report of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act took place that allowed energy traders to establish their own exchanges in which to trade contracts and then of course be exempted on exchanges in their entirety from government regulation. That has led to the direct impoverishment and to the consequences of the 2008 period of time in which energy prices spiked.

We could talk about collusion and conspiracy, which is always a convenient argument that is brought out, but I have to remind colleagues that we have to have competitors who would otherwise have different prices, meeting in the dark of night under little lamps, conspiring to bring prices together. That era of competition at the retail level and, more importantly, at the refinery level, is gone. It is over.

Wholesale prices by city are established usually by a leader. In Canada, nominally that tends to be Imperial Oil, at about 3:30 or 4:00 p.m. every day. That wholesale price is simply followed within a microsecond, and whatever that price is, it is traded publicly. It is available to most Canadians if they want to see it. It is not, as a result, price-fixing but rather a distinct, severe and almost pathetic lack of competition in Canada at the wholesale level.

We had very little discussion recently regarding the affect of declining suppliers on the Canadian market. In eastern Canada the Shell refinery closure in Montreal has meant that a once slack supply situation throughout eastern Canada, particularly the Maritimes, Quebec and part of Ontario, is now affected. How is it affected? Let us look at it this way.

Three months ago, wholesale prices in Montreal and Toronto were on average a penny and a half below Toronto. As of last night, those wholesale numbers have changed rather dramatically. They are now a penny and a half above Toronto. As a result of the closure of the refinery in Montreal, Canadians, not the industry, not its apologists or those who ignore it in the media, pay the freight.

Canadians will have to pay more. Looking at that difference of 2.5¢ a litre in the past three months added to the bill of every ordinary Canadian, who uses 100 litres a week, winds up being $2.50 to the average family multiplied by 52 weeks. Canadians have now been told they can pay another $250.

The fact that we cannot look at this issue more intently means Canadians will continue to suffer. It means Canadians will continue to realize just how irrelevant Parliament, and more important the Conservative government, is with respect to coming up with solutions.

I know of no jurisdiction, particularly the United States or Europe, that would tolerate the exit from the market of a player. It would not tolerate the level of concentration in our country. It would it accept that the Competition Act, written by the very people it is meant to police, would ultimately be chaired by somebody who worked for the industry.

We all recall the issue in 2000 of Superior Propane. I brought a bill before the House to prevent a monopoly to occur in the propane industry, and it passed. Our friends in the other place, many of whom sat on the boards of directors of many of these companies, decided they would not allow the bill to go through. I was surprised to learn that the current Competition Commissioner, with all due respect, was counsel for Superior Propane, which obtained that monopoly. Talk about the fox marching into the chicken coop.

Nothing has amazed me more than this industry because money talks. We have been woeful in our ability to address the real substantive dollar and cents issues that Canadians want us to tackle. I am not against this industry. I want the industry to flourish. I want energy markets to behave in a way that responds to the fundamentals of supply and demand. However, what I have is thin drool and dribble coming from the government by it saying that it will target the very people who have been targeted for years.

The people who have lost in our country are hard-working independent gas retailers. Day in and day out they try to eke out a living with very skinny margins and are often subject to predatory pricing created by a Competition Act that has been decidedly in favour of one thing, and that is intensification of monopolization.

If I have done anything in 17 years as a member of Parliament, it is to try to illustrate the economic injustice that is occurring. I will not lend my name to this bill. I will not support this bill. I encourage members of Parliament to look at the bill, look at the bigger picture, look at the real issues and vote it down.

Fairness at the Pumps Act October 26th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I listened to the latter half of the speech by the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster regarding Bill C-14. He lives in a community in a province in which the wholesale price of gasoline tends to be a little higher than that in the rest of the country. He will recall that the mantra of the oil industry many years ago was to have Canadians pay world prices for fuel.

I wonder if the hon. member would care to comment on the fact that each and every day in Vancouver and region the wholesale price of gasoline and the price people pay at the pumps, ex tax, is 9¢ a litre above world prices.

I understand the member has taken some liberties with the issue of the Ottawa Citizen article a couple of years ago. I want to assure the hon. member that a 93.11% compliance rate in the retail gasoline sector, according to Measurement Canada, gives it the second highest rating of most industries in this country. It is perhaps a question of a dragon slayer in search of a dragon.

More specific to the question, I wonder if the hon. member could tell us what he thinks of the 9¢ a litre ripoff occurring in Vancouver today.

G8 and G20 Summits September 29th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, let us talk about the recent facts. The minister authorized $27 million on a command centre that stood in Barrie for just 72 hours. Just a few hours ago, this minister told reporters he was not even aware of it. Talk about ministerial irresponsibility.

If the minister wants to talk about police, that kind of money could have been used to purchase 400 police cruisers, or to hire 225 RCMP front-line officers. It is enough to run the entire Barrie Police Service for over nine months.

Canadians cannot afford the government's egregious waste. How can this Conservative government be so incompetent? How can it be so derelict with taxpayers' money?

G8 and G20 Summits September 29th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, this party does not need a lesson from the member on standing up for Canadians abroad or maintaining our international reputation.

The Conservative government spent 40 times more on security than the U.S. did at the Pittsburgh G20 summit. Incredibly, the Minister of Public Safety approved a $27.5 million RCMP command centre that could have been bought for $3 million. Instead, it was rented for $1.5 million, incurred another $24 million in operational costs, and then, after just 72 hours, cost another $2 million to tear down.

Would the minister not agree that this high-priced farce is a threat to Canada's economic security?

Business of Supply September 28th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, members will recall that in my speech, which obviously was not listened to, or perhaps understood, by some members of the Conservative Party, I said that there may be constitutional questions related to the importance, or rather the requirement, of having an accurate and proper census to take evidence of what this country is.

I am not surprised to hear some grumbling from the benches on the government side. This is the same grumbling we heard after the government pushed a number of significant people out of their positions because they happened to challenge it.

We have to ensure the integrity of the system.

I wish my Conservatives colleagues on the other side would recognize that there is a difference between their own ideological peccadilloes and the importance of maintaining credible information for the country. There is a difference between the two. They ought to be separated. My hon. colleague from Mississauga South is indeed correct. They must be separated.

Given the track record of the current government of damaging, destroying, and removing things that are valuable to this country, I think the time has come to ensure that there is independence for statisticians in this country.

Business of Supply September 28th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I would gladly take up the opportunity for the hon. member, who has not yet spent the necessary time on this topic, but soon will, I hope, as a new member of the industry committee. I wish him well there. But I am more than willing to give him the evidence.

I am pleased to present for the hon. member's perusal documents from 355 organizations, groups, and individuals from across this country who speak with great breadth and integrity on this matter. I would have no difficulties in providing the hon. member a copy. In fact, I will be so generous as to suggest that we provide it to all members.

However, let me remind the hon. member that he knows, statisticians know, the evidence is clear, what he is proposing derives from his fear of what exists. The question is, why does the member for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale believe it is important to throw away good information? Does he not believe in an honest, factual version of what Canada looks like?

Business of Supply September 28th, 2010

The hon. member quite rightly pointed out firefighters.

They are nurses, demographers, small businesses, the backbone of our economy, and municipal officials. While many of them in my province are embroiled in municipal campaigns, it is coming up as an issue. They are concerned about the ability to determine needs effectively, particularly in larger urban centres, but also in smaller urban centres. For instance, I think of my friends where my parents live, in Peterborough, Ontario. There is grave concern about what this will mean down the road.

It also means, for many people in this country, the ability to make decisions based on changes in the demographics of our country.

It may be tough news for the Conservatives, who would like to rely on information that is thought up or that perhaps some kind of pollster out there gets for them. The reality is that we are taking a perfectly good system, under the pretext that some people were intimidated into responding, and we are throwing away something that is vital and fundamentally important for understanding who we are and for planning where we are going to go.

I know that planning, forethought, and doing things down the road may be a problem for the Conservatives, because frankly, they do not want to plan ahead. They want to navel gaze and divide and conquer.

I have a question for the hon. members, and I hope that they can answer this: Why is it good enough to force rural Canada to use a long form census but not urban Canada? What is it that they have against rural Canada that they would force them into that kind of situation?

I know that this is hard for the Conservative Party to accept, and I see that they are finally animated. A simple answer would have been to create a voluntary response by removing the criminal section instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

I know that it is difficult for the Conservatives to understand this because for the first time in 17 years, I have now come to understand that no Conservative government, no Liberal government, and no provincial Liberal, New Democratic, or Conservative government I know of has ever ventured or suggested what the government has obviously done.

Against an overwhelming, absolute understanding by media and organizations across this country, the government continues to act like modern-day Luddites in the face of what is a very important document for better understanding this country.

I know that it is a problem for the hon. members over there to understand how that information is used even for the composition of this House of Commons and for understanding how programs are allocated and how small businesses make their determinations in various census areas, CMAs, across this country. If they are prepared to throw it out, I say that it is a very sad day for intelligence and the ability to come forward with information that is so vital to the country we now have.

I understand that hon. members can get animated about this, but frankly, most of them were never consulted either about the decision by the industry minister. It must be nice to be able to do the cat calling, or whatever it is that is being done over there, but the reality for us on this side of the House is that a bad policy has ensued from a very bad decision.

Why does the government not just admit that it is wrong? Why does it not have Canada's bigger, wider interests at heart? Why is the Conservative Party not prepared to stand up for Canadians and understand that we are going down a road that will have an important determination as to the policies that will be developed in the House of Commons? I am appealing to the government's sense of understanding the importance of census information. It seems to me that what has been lost is the government's concern about bringing forth proper facts and information.

Hon. members have talked about intrusion and I understand that some people are uncomfortable in answering questions on the long form census. That has happened in the past. However, the facts do not bear out the government's concern. The privacy commissioner appeared before the parliamentary committee established at the urging of the Liberal Party to review this wayward decision by the Minster of Industry. There were, if members can believe it, three official complaints in the past 10 years, and the Conservative Party is prepared to turn everything over on its head in order to make a partisan point. I am not sure what that point is.

I ask hon. members simply to consider removing the criminal sanction as opposed to destroying a perfectly good regime which not only works for Canadians, but also is the envy of the world.

For many the long form census is an important issue, but I remind colleagues in the House of Commons that it is also a constitutional obligation. It is in our Constitution. Every nation has done a census since the Roman times.

It is important and vital. Believe me when I say it is important for people to understand that if we do not have an accurate picture of the nation as it goes ahead, it is very likely that we will wind up making bad policy for the country. People are not going to be able to get reliable information to make proper, effective and responsible decisions about this country.

To the hon. members on the Conservative side of the House who are following their industry minister over the hill in this matter, I would suggest very strongly that they reconsider the position they have taken and do what they believe is necessary. If they are concerned about the criminalization of an individual, I would point out that it has never happened. I think it is very important to recognize that not one person in Canada has ever been incarcerated for not filling out a long form census.

Is this a policy in search of a problem? Is this a solution in search of a problem that does not exist? Is the government responding to some kind of unspecified, unnamed fringe perspective about what these long form censuses are about?

Our demographics are changing. We have an aging population. A lot of new people have come to this country. There is a shift between the rural and urban parts of this country, and a shift back. Some regions in the country are doing very well; others are not. The most important way in which we can be precise in understanding who we are as Canadians is to allow the long form census in its current form with the amendment provided by the hon. member for Westmount—Ville-Marie to simply remove what some perceive to be the offending part, and that is the criminal aspect of it.

We talked about privacy and intrusion. There are other areas where there is a requirement to divulge information and there is the promise under sanction that no one can divulge information that would lead to a potential privacy conflict. We know this, for instance, with respect to Revenue Canada. I hope the government understands that this also applies to individuals' medical records and their personal information. These things are guaranteed under law. Access to them is privileged, and it ought to be privileged.

When Canadians have an understanding of what is being proposed by the Conservative government, and to which the Liberal opposition is saying no, it is very clear that common sense will prevail.

People understand. I think it has been a horrendous summer for the government. It has taken a number of very controversial decisions. The government thought it could float this as a trial balloon, but it has seen this one shot down in flames.

I call upon all members of the House of Commons to recognize the significance of the organizations that are asking that the long form census be restored. These groups are not known to make public commentary. They are, however, the bulwark of our nation. Our nation is crying out to the Conservative government. I ask the government to listen to what these groups have to say. It should do the right thing, be reasonable and stand up for Canadians.

Business of Supply September 28th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my able colleague, the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier.

I never thought I would have to give a speech like this or have a discussion like this in the House of Commons. Obviously, in the quiet days of summer, just after Parliament ended, the Minister of Industry decided, in his infinite wisdom, to simply change what had worked for the country and was our jewel in the crown as far as the acquisition and aggregation of information goes. In one simple statement, the long form census that was so necessary to the fundamental understanding of who we are was gone, or at least it was proposed that it be eliminated.

In its place, we heard, in a rather pathetic excuse from the Conservative government, would be a voluntary form.

What we knew at the time was that the government actually had accurate, reliable, precise, honest information to suggest that what it was going to propose as an alternative was, in fact, a very poor cousin to the information it had.

I will go very quickly through this, because in the 10 minutes I have I want to come to the point of what we are really discussing here: the dumbing down of Canada by the Conservative government. What it does not want to do is provide information to Canadians and allow Canada to have a better understanding of itself.

I wish that some of the government members would understand that there is some wisdom in Yogi Berra's saying that if you do not know where you are going, chances are that you are going to wind up somewhere else.

The Conservative government, in what I consider an act of statistical vandalism, has thrown Canada into uncertainty so that people around this country will understand less about who we are. I am not talking about people who happen to support particular programs or who happen to have a political agenda to grind. I am talking about people who come from all walks of life. Mr. Speaker, you know them. They are the police associations in my riding.

International Transfer of Offenders Act September 23rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to the hon. member's very learned comments and his obvious concerns by the charter side of this. I want to ask a very specific question dealing with the consular dimension.

One of the reasons transfer offender treaties were so successful is they allowed us to do diplomatically what was often impossible to do between two nations, where Canadian citizens might in fact find themselves at the whim of an arbitrary regime in which Canadian citizens may not be treated appropriately because they happen to be foreigners and where there may be questions as to whether or not justice itself was correct.

Giving the discretion of the minister to choose based on the evidence adduced from another country creates a number of other concerns that are extra-judicial to our own sense of due process in this country.

I wonder if the hon. member could comment on how serious this situation is. He mentioned the case of Sacha Bond who continues to be in Florida, languishing without medicines.

I am wondering if the member has given any consideration to the consular dimension which is extremely important and often seen as a safety valve to ensure that Canadians mistreated abroad are, in fact, brought home as soon as possible and the threat that this legislation creates for that.