House of Commons photo

Elsewhere

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was code.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe (New Brunswick)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 22% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Incorporation by Reference in Regulations Act June 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the federal government is jealously guarding its power to decide what each parliamentarian gets to examine.

However, when it comes to techniques for developing expertise, the organizations themselves are the ones developing the expertise. By using their expertise and dynamically adopting frequent changes to standards, Canada and Canadians benefit from their expertise, and standards become standard in law as they do in everyday life.

Incorporation by Reference in Regulations Act June 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, today, I would like to talk about an important aspect of Bill S-2, the incorporation by reference in regulations act. In particular, I would like to address how incorporation by reference in regulations can assist regulators in designing regulatory schemes that ensure access to the expertise of the leading standards development bodies in Canada and throughout the world.

As we know, Bill S-2 would amend the Statutory Instruments Act to make it clear in law when the technique of incorporation by reference can be used in federal regulation. Incorporation by reference allows material to be referenced and then incorporated into the regulation without being reproduced word for word. There are two types of incorporation by reference: ambulatory and static.

When incorporation by reference is ambulatory, the reference material forms part of the regulation as it is amended from time to time. When this material is incorporated on a static basis, then only the version as it exists on that particular day is incorporated, unless the regulation is amended.

There are many advantages to incorporation by reference. For example, it reduces needless duplication or repetition of material such as provincial legislation when the federal and provincial legislative regimes need to be harmonized. It can be an effective way of working with other jurisdictions.

Lastly, incorporation by reference is an effective tool that gives the government access to a broad range of expertise developed in Canada and around the world in a variety of fields that have an impact on our economy and our daily lives. This last advantage is something I want to talk about in the House today.

When the legislator grants the power to make regulations, parliamentarians expect the regulator to be able to respond to a variety of complex, evolving issues associated with the areas in which the regulations are developed.

The fields now requiring regulation are complex: electric vehicles, cloud computing, leading edge medical devices and nanotechnology are just a few examples.

Federal regulators must be in a position to effectively and efficiently respond to requests for regulation in complex sectors. To that end, incorporation by reference makes it possible to quickly and effectively meet demand in these constantly evolving sectors.

By enacting this law, the legislator will give regulators the explicit legal authority to incorporate by reference any national and international standards developed by expert bodies. Although standards are not the only type of document for which incorporation by reference would be authorized under this bill, they merit special attention.

There are many kinds of standards that are already incorporated by reference in the federal regulations, including standards written by the International Organization for Standardization and other recognized international standards organizations. A recent review of existing references in federal regulations revealed almost 400 references to these standards established by expert bodies.

Canada is one of the countries at the forefront of standards development. There are hundreds of standards developed in Canada as part of the national standards system in Canada and then incorporated into federal and provincial regulations, such as standards developed by organizations such as the Canadian General Standards Board, and that which is most likely the most recognized name, the Canadian Standards Association.

Standards developed by these organizations have already become key to the way that sectors are regulated in Canada. There are over 275 different standards produced by the Canadian Standards Association alone that are referenced in federal regulations. Added together, there are already more than 400 references in federal regulations to various types of standards, both internationally developed and developed as part of our national standards system. These are important components of our current regulatory programs.

This legislation seeks to confirm that regulators can continue to rely on these standards in implementing their regulatory initiatives in an effective manner by allowing ambulatory incorporation by reference of such documents. The incorporation of standards by reference allows the government to draw on national and international expertise. It allows government to effectively rely on the work being done by external expert bodies, to which it has often contributed based on its own expertise.

In many cases, effective, responsive regulation demands that when changes are made to these standards, regulators must respond immediately. Ambulatory incorporation by reference is the most effective way to achieve this.

When a standard is incorporated in the regulation on an ambulatory basis, it means that when a standard body updates a standard to respond to a new technology, new approaches or new innovations in the area, the changes are automatically incorporated into the regulation. The regulatory text does not have to be amended.

Why is it essential to incorporate by reference standards as they are amended from time to time? There are three good reasons: expertise, responsiveness and efficiency.

First, the ability to adopt standards as part of federal regulations when it is appropriate allows the government to access technical expertise right across Canada and right around the world.

Second, the ambulatory incorporation of these standards ensures that when changes are made by these expert bodies, federal regulators are immediately responsive, which is a significant advantage of modern regulation.

Third, reliance on standards development organizations of this nature allows for the efficient use of government resources. It would neither be expected nor efficient for the government to attempt to develop and house the wide range of expertise already found in these committees that develop these standards.

To conclude, enactment of this legislation is a necessary step to securing access to valuable technical expertise developed here in Canada and around the world. I therefore invite all members to support this important bill.

Respecting Families of Murdered and Brutalized Persons Act June 2nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to have this opportunity to take part in today's debate on Bill C-587, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (increasing parole ineligibility).

This private member's bill was introduced by the member for Okanagan—Shuswap on April 7, 2015. I support this bill because it will provide a higher level of protection to the families and loved ones of victims, in the sense that murderers will be prevented from applying for parole. That is why the short title of this bill is the respecting families of murdered and brutalized persons act.

I will come back to this aspect of BIll C-587, namely, that it puts the needs of families and loved ones of murder victims first. It will be especially important that I emphasize that point during my speech on this bill given that this House is also examining another bill that also aims to protect the families and loved ones of victims. I am referring of course to Bill C-32, An Act to enact the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights and to amend certain Acts, better known as the Canadian victims bill of rights. The measures outlined in that major piece of legislation will transform our criminal justice system by rebalancing the scales of justice in favour of victims' needs.

Bill C-587 is consistent with Bill C-32, and I suggest that we consider the proposed measures in light of those contained in the Canadian victims bill of rights.

I am sure we all agree that these are very serious offences, morally and legally, and that they should be treated seriously.

The second important amendment is that Bill C-587 would authorize the sentencing judge to replace the minimum parole ineligibility period of 25 years with a longer period of up to 40 years, based on the character of the offender, the nature of the offences, the circumstances surrounding their commission and any other recommendation made by the jury.

In exercising this power, sentencing judges would use these criteria, which already exist in similar provisions in the Criminal Code, to ensure that this measure is applied to the most sadistic, hardened murderers who have already been convicted of offences in the kidnapping and sexual offence categories.

Murder is the most serious crime and it must be strongly condemned. This principle has been recognized by this country's highest courts. For example, in 1987, the Supreme Court, in Vaillancourt, pointed out the extreme stigma attached to murder, as a result of the moral blameworthiness of deliberately taking another person's life.

This moral blameworthiness justifies the harsh sentences imposed on murderers: life in prison without parole for up to 25 years in the case of first degree murder.

Safe and Accountable Rail Act May 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, perfection should never be the enemy of the good, and yes, there is more to do, but these are complex issues.

We know that Canada has a vast railway system, and we know the issues will vary from region to region. Obviously, more study and attention to detail and getting it right the first time is what would be paramount in the mind of this government, of course, while ensuring safety of the public in Canada.

Safe and Accountable Rail Act May 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, obviously no system is perfect, but certainly the user-pay principle is one that is tried and true. There have been increased issues with regard to compensation and liability, which this government has put in place to protect the public. We will continue to go in that direction. Obviously, we will continue to strengthen the system as we see fit.

Safe and Accountable Rail Act May 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, obviously any direction or order taken by the minister would be contingent upon the minister's departmental staff doing the proper inspections. We all know that we have increased our capacity to make such inspections. We have doubled down on the safety as a result of tragedies that have occurred. Obviously, we are going to put our utmost attention to ensuring that tragedies and accidents in the future are minimized through careful scrutiny of all safety regulations.

The minister would be able to make directions when shortcomings are noticed. Certainly, that is the full intent of this act: to make the railway safer for all Canadians while enhancing Canada's economy.

Safe and Accountable Rail Act May 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to the bill before us, the safe and accountable rail act. The bill would fulfill this title by strengthening safety in our efforts to further improve safety management systems in the rail transportation industry. This is especially vital for addressing safety risks before they become bigger problems and before accidents occur.

Railways are a vital part of Canada's transportation system and keeping them safe is everyone's concern. The railway industry and the government need to work together to protect the health and safety of Canadians and to secure the conditions for a prosperous economy.

In the past, railways and many other safety-critical industries pursued safety through compliance with prescriptive rules and regulations. As safety research progressed during the 1990s, however, it became clear that compliance with rules and regulations alone was insufficient to ensure the highest possible levels of safety. What companies needed for a truly effective safety regime was a proactive system approach to safety that allowed them to identify hazards and to mitigate risks in order to prevent accidents. This approach also allowed lessons learned from minor incidents and day-to-day operations to be included in the system, thereby creating a sea of continuous safety improvement with more likelihood of avoiding accidents.

When the railway safety management system regulations first came into force in March 2001, they were the first of their kind in the federal transportation sector. They were created with significant industry input and emphasized the railways' responsibilities for safe operations. The regulations were established to encourage the development of a safety culture throughout all levels of an organization and to ensure that safety is considered as a factor in all decisions.

The safety management system helps organizations better comply with regulatory requirements and demonstrate their commitment to the safety of their employees. Key elements of safety management systems include, for instance, the development of safety goals and performance targets, risk assessments, responsibilities and authorities, processes and procedures, and monitoring and evaluating. Achieving an effective safety culture is the ultimate goal of safety management systems. An effective safety culture in a company can contribute to reducing public and employee fatalities and injuries, property damage resulting from railway accidents, and the impact of accidents on the environment.

Since the introduction of the railway safety management system regulations in 2001, a lot has been done and much has changed. Our railway network is characterized and challenged by a growing user base, vast distances, new and aging infrastructure, and a significant rise in oil on rail. Regulated safety management systems have come a long way since their beginnings. They have now been implemented in rail, marine and aviation transportation modes in Canada, and have become an international standard for managing safety.

The importance of safety management systems and their implementation in Canadian railway systems was one of the most significant issues researched during the last Railway Safety Act review and a simultaneous study of rail safety in Canada undertaken by the Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. While safety management systems were generally supported, both reviews concluded that implementation among the companies was uneven and that more needed to be done by the companies and the regulator to ensure full implementation throughout the industry. As a result, Transport Canada made several amendments to the Railway Safety Act in May 2013, to increase rail safety by strengthening its oversight and enforcement capacity, and expanding safety management systems for railways. Following these amendments, Transport Canada accelerated the development of the new railway safety management system regulations, 2015, which came into force on April 1.

The new regulations improve the implementation of safety management systems by incorporating more detailed requirements to clarify expectations from both industry and the department. The new regulations also improve the overall consistency and quality of railway safety management systems by adding consistent terminology, provisions requiring evidence of implementation, requirements for the identification of an accountable executive and the creation of a policy protecting employees from reprisal for reporting contraventions, and by expanding application to local railway companies.

However, our government is not stopping there. This bill introduces an amendment that would not only make sure that railway safety measurement systems exist, but that they are also working and are effective. Under the current Railway Safety Act, the Minister of Transport can take enforcement actions, including prosecution, for any non-compliance with the railway safety management system regulations.

The minister can even order a railway company to take corrective measures, should the minister be of the opinion that the company's safety management system presents deficiencies that risk compromising safe railway operations. However, the current Railway Safety Act lacks the authority to address issues with the way the rail companies implement their safety management systems. This bill would fill that gap by introducing a new power for the minister to order a company to take corrective measures should a company's implementation of its safety management system risk compromising safety.

This new power would also allow the minister to order corrective action if a company is not following its safety management system procedures and policies to the extent of risking safe railway operations.

Fairness is also paramount to this proposed amendment, to further strengthen railway safety management systems. Similar to the current safety management systems power related to deficiencies in a company's system, an order made under this new power would be subject to review by the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada; this at the request of the company.

Together, the rail industry and government have accomplished tremendous work toward enhancing the safety of our railway network in the last decade and continuously improving company safety culture, but we still have more to do to make our railway system safer. Transportation safety is crucial, not only for the welfare of families and communities in Canada but to support Canada's long-term economic growth. We need to continue to work together to achieve our goal of giving all Canadians a safer and more responsible railway system and to assure global markets that our transportation systems are not only efficient but also safe and secure.

Business of Supply May 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, if the hallmark is that there be 100% possibility of every interview asked for being granted by a scientist, then it must be muzzling.

What I know in the instance of fisheries, with respect to interviews requested of those working on the science base, is that last year 91% of the interviews requested were commented upon by scientists working for the Department of Fisheries.

No, it is not 100%. There is a consistency of communication, there is a timeline to follow, and of course we have to protect some of our scientific developments for the betterment of Canada and Canadian society.

If they are so muzzled how is it, then, that in a 2014 report by Thomson Reuters, three environmental Canadian scientists were listed as being among the world's most influential scientific minds? There must be something they are saying out there that is observed by the rest of the world for them to have such great accolades.

Business of Supply May 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, as we sit here in the national capital, not in fantasyland, where the most talented scientists in the world work here in Ottawa in great numbers, we work with them in determining facts. Science is, of course, all about facts. Here are some interesting facts.

Fact: the Canadian federal government agencies have produced over 4,000 science publications per year.

Fact: public health agencies of Canada filled out over 3,000 media enquiries last year.

Fact: Natural Resources Canada scientists filled out over 470 media interviews last year and our scientists published, on average, 500 peer-reviewed articles in science.

We love the facts. We like sharing them with the public and the rest of the world so they can see how great Canada's scientists are.

Business of Supply May 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to address the motion put forward by the hon. member opposite about government science and government scientists speaking publicly about their work. Allow me to offer a few points that are relevant to the issue.

One of the concerns suggested in the motion is that government scientists are not allowed to speak publicly about their work for the federal government.

Let me be clear. We understand and support the desire for government scientists to share their work and speak publicly about the work they do for the Government of Canada. Government scientists can do this. However, they must do so within the framework of policies and procedures that govern communications within the Government of Canada.

The Government of Canada, as we know, is large and complex as an organization. There are almost 260,000 employees in the core federal public service spread across many different departments, and like many large organizations, the federal government needs to ensure its messages are consistent and coordinated. In fact, there are best practices in large organizations, both private and in the public sector, to ensure this happens, and the Government of Canada is certainly no different.

The framework of rules in the federal government includes a number of guidelines.

For example, the Government of Canada is guided by the communications policy of the Government of Canada. This is a Treasury Board policy that applies to many government departments. In a nutshell, it sets out the protocol that departments have in place to ensure it communicates effectively.

In their roles as principal spokespersons for their departments, the ministers are supported by their aides. These, of course, can be executive assistants, communications directors, and press secretaries in the ministers' offices. Ministers can also be supported in their roles by the senior management teams of government institutions. These include deputy heads, heads of communications, and other officials. Within the institution itself, officials can also be designated to speak on behalf of ministers, and those include technical and, of course, subject matter experts. There is a protocol in place to ensure that the information being shared or communicated to the public by those designated to speak on behalf of the government is consistent and coordinated.

The communications policy of the Government of Canada provides other safeguards as well. Departmental spokespersons, at all times, must respect privacy rights, security needs, matters before the courts, government policy, cabinet confidences and ministerial responsibility.

In addition, they must also confine their remarks to matters of fact concerning the policies, programs, services or initiatives of their institution. So while the communications policy of the Government of Canada allows for designated spokespersons to speak to the media, it requires they follow the rules in doing so.

In fact, there is a whole raft of good reasons why those speaking to the media or sharing information or commenting on the affairs of government are required to follow our best practices. Canada is one of the world's leading democracies, and the ability of government scientists to talk to others and to the public about their work is one of the hallmarks of our democracy.

It is a feature of our democracy that protects both the interests and the rights of the employer, as well as the Canadian public it represents. It is just common sense to have a balanced approach like this. When individuals are employees of an organization, they are usually bound not to share details of their employer's business without permission, whether they work for Apple, Google, or the Government of Canada.

And as we all know, confidentiality is also the basis of professional integrity in fields such as law, medicine, accounting and journalism. The point is that being an employee brings with it a responsibility to those who employ you to follow the protocols that govern communications to protect the interests of all.

Another government guideline that speaks to this issue is the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector.

This code outlines the values and expected behaviours that guide public servants in all activities related to their professional duties and is a condition of employment for all public servants in the federal public sector. There is also a policy on conflict of interest and post-employment, which is also a condition of employment in the public service. It guides public servants to contribute to good government, democracy, and Canadian society through the loyal, impartial, and non-partisan support they provide to the elected government.

As dedicated professionals, they serve the public interest and uphold the public trust. Public servants must recognize that elected officials are accountable to Parliament and, ultimately, to the Canadian people and that a non-partisan public sector is essential to our democratic system. Therefore, communications by public service employees must take place within certain prescribed limits to ensure their impartiality. There is also the public interest to be protected, and our framework of policies has been created over the years to do exactly that.

All of us who are employees of the public institutions in this country have a responsibility to safeguard the interests of the Government of Canada. That is our job. It is our duty to do so. That includes, of course, ensuring information about programs and services is communicated to the public and is communicated responsibly.

Our policies on government communications are also in line with the government’s move to open government in general. Open government is, among other things, about improving transparency and accountability in public institutions. It is a way to strengthen our democratic institutions, our economy and society in the digital world.

Canada, among the world's nations, is a leader in bringing open government principles to fruition in this country. It is something we believe in very strongly and wholeheartedly, whether we are sharing government data, disclosing information on government expenses or sharing information with the public. Open government and open communications go hand in hand. We will protect, we will promote and we will practise these principles in an intelligent and balanced way. That, of course, applies to government scientists sharing their information and communications with the public as well.

I would ask our hon. friends to join us in promoting responsible open communications within the Government of Canada.