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42nd PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 153

CONTENTS

Monday, March 20, 2017




House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 148 
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NUMBER 153 
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1st SESSION 
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42nd PARLIAMENT 

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Monday, March 20, 2017

Speaker: The Honourable Geoff Regan

    The House met at 11 a.m.

Prayer



PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

[Private Members' Business]

  (1105)  

[Translation]

Railway Safety Act

     moved that Bill C-322, an act to amend the Railway Safety Act (road crossings), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    She said: Mr. Speaker, my bill is very straightforward. At present, the Minister of Transport has the power to order the closure or modification of a railway crossing, level or otherwise. However, the minister does not have the power to order the construction of a new crossing around rail lines.
    The people of Laurier—Sainte-Marie are leaders in active transportation. A lot of people use public transit, bike, or walk in order to get around. This is true throughout the island of Montreal. We do have one problem, however: a rail line runs right through the centre of the island and cuts off connecting corridors.
    Although not used extensively, this rail line is nevertheless extremely important. However, all the infrastructure around it was built to accommodate cars. As I just said, active transportation is very common in my area, which is densely populated and very walkable. In fact, the city grew around the rail line, and this is creating some serious problems.
    I will give an example. I know that I am focusing a lot of my attention on Montreal, but I will talk about other places later. In Montreal there is a place near the offices of corporations such as Ubisoft where people have to take a detour of 800 metres, nearly a kilometre, to get to the metro station on the other side of the tracks. People tend to cross the track where there is no crossing, which is extremely dangerous. In Canada, there are twice as many fatal accidents at illegal crossings compared to safe crossings.
    The other day near that location, I saw a mother pushing a stroller across the tracks illegally. This is not uncommon. That is why businesses, municipalities, and citizen groups have long been calling for the construction of crossings at suitable or strategic locations to be given due consideration.
    I mention Laurier—Sainte-Marie a lot, but in Montreal this problem also affects the people of Outremont, Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, and Papineau. I hope the people of Papineau will share their concerns about this with the Prime Minister. For 20 years, citizens, municipalities, private companies, and elected officials have been calling for action on this, but to no avail.
    When I looked at this issue because of what was happening in Montreal, I discovered a few things. I realized that this was a problem not just in Montreal, but also in Toronto and Saskatoon. This problem exists all across the country, and not just in urban areas.
    My colleague will probably talk later about a very good example of this problem in British Columbia, where a railway runs along the shore of Kicking Horse River. People, including employees of rafting companies, used to cross the railway to access the river. CP closed people's access, blocking the way to the river, which is one of our natural resources, to the detriment of rafting companies. They are now required to use helicopters, which increases the cost of their operations.
    In short, this is a very common problem. The systems in place do not work. Since I was talking about British Columbia, I will quote the Minister of Jobs, Tourism, and Skills Training, and Minister Responsible for Labour for the province of British Columbia:
     From the moment the Province heard about the challenges facing the rafting season, staff have worked to find a way rafters can continue to safely cross the CP tracks in Golden. Staff have been on the ground and at the table in Golden with suggestions and solutions. CP has made it abundantly clear that it is unwilling to be a reasonable partner, despite its earlier commitment to work...to find a solution.
    What can the minister do in the face of such obstinacy? Nothing. He is completely powerless, as I said earlier. He has the power to order a closure or modification, but he has no power to order the construction of a new crossing. This bill simply gives the minister that power. The bill does not dictate that a crossing should be built in any particular location. It simply gives the minister the same power to create a crossing as the power to close one. It seems very reasonable to me. The minister and the appropriate bureaucrats could examine each request and each file and then make a decision based on the safety of our citizens. There are places where, some mornings, up to 500 people cross railroad tracks unsafely. The last thing we should do is wait for an accident to happen before taking action.
    That is why the bill is so important for enhancing safety, including for cyclists and pedestrians. As I was saying, most of the network was built with cars in mind. The bill has received and continues to receive much support. It has the support of Canada Bikes, Citizen for Safe Cycling, in Ontario, Walk Toronto, Cycle Toronto, Ontario By Bike, Glacier Raft Company, Golden, B.C., Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition, BC Healthy Living Alliance, Saskatoon Cycles, Jane's Walk, in Ontario, Vélo Québec, Piétons Québec, Collectif pour les passages à niveau, and the Association of Pedestrians and Cyclists of Outremont, and other municipalities, cities, and businesses. If any of my colleagues are interested, I have a letter from Ubisoft in Montreal calling for the same thing. Again, many people and the City of Montreal have been calling for this for over 20 years.
    Given all this support, I hope we will also have the minister's support. It would be surprising, to say the least, if the minister said he did not want to provide the tools to ensure public safety. We are providing him with a tool. We are giving him a gift on a silver platter. I hope he will graciously accept this gift and use his new powers wisely. This is essentially a matter of ensuring public safety.
    In closing, I would like to read a joint statement issued by Piétons Québec, Vélo Québec, and Collectif pour les passages à niveau, which sums up the situation very well:
    Rail lines...create urban boundaries that seriously inhibit active movement in inhabited areas...Measures taken in the past ten years or so to control and restrict access are ineffective because of the high number of users without satisfactory alternatives.
...The problem of illegal crossings can be solved by developing infrastructure suitable for the urban environment [such as level crossings]....To that end, the regulations governing railway crossings must be updated to meet the specific needs of urban areas and allow people to use rail crossings safely.

  (1110)  

    I would like to add that in the greater Montreal area, on the south shore among other places and in Toronto as well, there are crossings for pedestrians and cyclists that work very well. They do not have a problem.
    The last quote I read to the House mentions urban areas. However, as I mentioned earlier in my speech, there are also problems in rural areas. A Conservative member told me about the problems in Alberta.
    As I was saying, the only thing my bill will do is restore the balance between the minister's ability to close, change, and open grade crossings and provide him with a new tool that he will be able to use, as he sees fit, to improve the safety of Canadians.

  (1115)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to start by thanking the hon. member for her initiative and her speech this morning. I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak about Bill C-322, which would amend the Railway Safety Act to provide the Minister of Transport
    I just want to indicate that there are five minutes for questions and comments, so this should be a question or a comment to the member who just spoke.
    Questions and comments. The hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable.

[Translation]

    First of all, Madam Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the excellent work that my colleague has done on Bill C-322. Indeed, she has asked the right questions and raised a major issue for the people of her riding.
    As the MP of a riding where there was a railway tragedy, I am very sensitive to the issue of railway safety. Could my colleague elaborate on the potential risks of adding new crossings to the rail system?
    I believe this is one of the issues of the bill. We had the opportunity to discuss it together. I will raise this issue again this morning because every new crossing added to Canada's rail system presents risks as well. Therefore, the solution put forward may be creating new risks.
    I would like to know whether my colleague has thought about this and what she is proposing in that regard, because the current bill does not seem to take such concerns into consideration.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question; perhaps I could have talked about it more in my speech.
    I actually believe the bill will serve to reduce potential risks rather than increasing them. The numbers are very clear about fatal accidents as a result of trespassing, and that is what we are seeing. Every morning, there are several hundred trespassers in one single place in Montreal, and this is not counting all the other places in the country. Fatal accidents as a result of trespassing are twice as high as those at crossings. However, a lot of crossings have been set up across the country in the past 10 to 15 years in Canada, according to the data from the Department of Transport.
    It will be up to the minister to do his studies and analyses. If trespassing occurs frequently in some places and it becomes clear that it is not sustainable, the solution to reduce the risks will be to provide safe crossings, which is easy to do.
    Madam Speaker, I must admit that I am surprised to see that the minister does not have the right to set up new crossings, but he is able to remove or modify them.
    I also understand why private companies might be interested in this sort of bill. The member mentioned Ubisoft and gave us a concrete example. Does she have other concrete examples of private companies affected by this kind of issue so that we truly understand the importance of such legislation?
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Hochelaga for her question. Indeed, there are examples from all over the country.
    I will again use Montreal as an example, since that is the one I am most familiar with. Many companies like Ubisoft have expressed concerns about the safety of their employees and are asking for crossings. Several companies in the area have joined forces and are working with civil society and local elected officials to come up with a solution to this problem.
    Some companies have even adopted temporary solutions. For instance, if I remember correctly, Ubisoft rented a minibus to shuttle its employees between the subway station and the office. Personally, I think that is ridiculous. Small businesses cannot afford such things and are worried.
    Another example is the whitewater rafting companies I mentioned. In British Columbia, five rafting companies are threatening to shut down because their access to the river has been blocked.

  (1120)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-322, which would amend the Railway Safety Act and provide the Minister of Transport with an authority to order a railway company to construct a road crossing. I will explain the reasons why the government will not support the bill.
    The Government of Canada does have a mandate to oversee the safety of federally regulated railway operations in Canada. Dating back to its inception in 1989, the Railway Safety Act, administered by Transport Canada, gives the current Minister of Transport direct jurisdiction over railways that fall within the legislative authority of Parliament, as well as the authority to oversee their safety.
    Transport Canada's role is to monitor regulated entities, such as federal railway companies, local railway companies, provincial railways that operate on federally regulated track, and road authorities, which can include municipalities, provinces, and band councils, for compliance with the rules, regulations, and engineering standards under the Railway Safety Act through a robust oversight program.
    Transport Canada also monitors for safety and has the authority to act to address threats and immediate threats to safe railway operations through various means, including ordering corrective actions. In fact, the Railway Safety Act provides both the Minister of Transport and Transport Canada railway safety inspectors with several authorities to address railway safety issues when there is a risk, threat, or concern caused by a railway operation to the safety of the public, as well as railway personnel, and the protection of property and the environment.
    In addition, the Grade Crossings Regulations, which came into force in November 2014, contain a number of provisions that set out roles and responsibilities at federally regulated grade crossings, fostering collaboration between railway companies and road authorities toward improving safety.
     Allow me to describe the existing authorities and mechanisms that are currently in place.
    The Railway Safety Act provides inspectors with direct authority to conduct inspections and audits and to address safety threats. The act provides authority for an inspector to issue a notice to inform a company that a threat to safety has been identified. The notice is provided to the company identifying the threat and the company must provide a response as to how it will address it. Where a threat is deemed immediate by an inspector, the Railway Safety Act also provides authority to include an order in the notice restricting the company's use of railway equipment, infrastructure, or railway operation creating the immediate threat, or allowing that operations can continue but under terms and conditions specified by the inspector until the company mitigates the immediate threat on a more permanent basis.
    In June 2015, the Safe and Accountable Rail Act was passed, which amended the Railway Safety Act and provided a series of broader authorities for both the Minister of Transport and railway safety inspectors to better address rail safety threats, risks, and concerns. These new authorities allow inspectors to issue notices, in the event of a threat to safety, to any person or entity that has responsibility in relation to that threat, including railways, road authorities, and municipalities. Furthermore, in the event of an immediate safety threat, an inspector may issue a notice and order to any person or entity, again including railway companies, road authorities, and municipalities, and order them to take specific corrective actions to remove the immediate threat.
    These broadened inspector authorities complement a similar authority for the Minister of Transport. If the minister considers it necessary in the interests of safe railway operations, the minister may order the company, road authority, or municipality to stop any activity that might constitute a threat to safe railway operations, or to follow procedures, or to take corrective measures specified in the order, including constructing, altering, operating or maintaining railway work, which includes crossings. Another key consideration, in addition to these existing authorities under the Railway Safety Act, is that a process for opening new road crossings already exists.

  (1125)  

     Whereas Transport Canada is responsible for the safety oversight of railway operations, the Canadian Transportation Agency, an independent quasi-judicial tribunal, sets the ground rules that establish the rights and responsibilities of transportation services providers and users, and resolves disputes.
     Rest assured that these responsibilities are complementary to addressing both safety and economic concerns with respect to rail crossings in Canada. Both organizations promote a collaborative approach for road authorities and railway companies to work together to determine whether to open a road crossing. Should discussions be unsuccessful, proponents can access services, such as mediation and adjudication, through the Canadian Transportation Agency.
    It is important to note that agency decisions made through adjudication are legally binding and can include where crossings should be located, conditions the crossing must meet, and apportionment of the costs. In the exceptional circumstances that the minister orders the construction, alteration, operation, or maintenance of a railway work, the proponent may, if there is another beneficiary of the work, refer the allocation of liability and costs to the Canadian Transportation Agency for a determination.
     In either instance, once a road crossing is to be opened, the road authority and railway company are responsible for the safety of the crossing and Transport Canada is responsible for monitoring compliance to the standards and regulations.
    Moreover, Transport Canada takes appropriate enforcement action when safety concerns or instances of non-compliance to the regulations and standards are identified. In addition to the tools already mentioned, inspectors can use administrative tools, such as letters of concern sent to railways and road authorities, in order to mitigate safety concerns. In the event of non-compliance, Transport Canada's actions may range from a letter of warning to a fine through an administrative monetary penalty to prosecution and finally to the suspension or cancellation of the company's railway operating certificate, essentially shutting down its operations.
    To be clear, when all other avenues have been exhausted and when there are exceptional threats to safety, the Minister of Transport already has the authority, under section 32.01 of the Railway Safety Act, to order a company, road authority or municipality to, among other things, take corrective measures to address a threat to safe railway operations, including constructing a road crossing.
     We understand that certain communities living in close proximity to railway operations are struggling to combat willful trespassing on railway property. I believe the intention of the bill is sincere and is a way to address these trespassing issues. While the government fully understands the importance of this issue, the bill looks to amend the Railway Safety Act. However, doing so would duplicate existing authorities already in place.
    As I have mentioned, under the Railway Safety Act, the Minister of Transport has the appropriate tools and authorities to respond to safety concerns or threats to safe railway operations. I know the Minister of Transport and Transport Canada will not hesitate to exercise these delegated powers when necessary.
    It is for these reasons that the Government of Canada does not support Bill C-322.

  (1130)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would first like to thank the sponsor of the bill, the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie, for her work on this file.
    I am very sympathetic to the intentions of my NDP colleague. I know that she has worked very hard and has sought the support of several stakeholders. I am convinced that she is acting for the well-being and safety of residents in the greater Montreal area.
    As I mentioned earlier, as the representative of the municipality of Lac-Mégantic, the location of a great tragedy familiar to everyone, I pay close attention to the issue of rail safety. I am sure that many members of the House share the concerns of the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie regarding the safety of people who have to cross railway tracks to travel between their places of work and their homes, for instance, or other users of the public roadways.
    In short, the bill before us proposes to amend the Railway Safety Act to give the Minister of Transport the power to order a company to construct a road crossing and to authorize the payment of subsidies in this regard. This bill, as I mentioned, is designed to address a particular problem in Montreal, but there are some weaknesses that I would like to discuss.
    The bill does not entirely eliminate the risk of accidents. It seeks to reduce the risk and the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie acknowledged that. It does however give absolute and total power to the minister and imposes no framework on the minister's powers. I have some problems with that. For example, the bill does not propose using overhead rail crossings, which are a much safer solution for those who have to cross the tracks.
    I wonder whether Bill C-322, in its current form, was necessary. Is this the solution to the illegal crossings that my colleague was talking about earlier? The Canada Transportation Act includes some provisions on rail crossings. Section 100 of the act defines crossings as follows:
    
road crossing means the part of a road that passes across, over or under a railway line, and includes a structure supporting or protecting that part of the road or facilitating the crossing.
    The member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie says that she wants to increase the safety of those affected, and I believe her approach is sincere in that respect. I do not doubt her commitment either. However, I have some questions about the method she has chosen with this bill in its current form. In my view, when we want to correct at-risk situations, we try not to create new ones.
    Clearly, Bill C-322 first and foremost seeks to solve a serious problem in the Montreal area, but if it is passed, it will be pan-Canadian in scope. If we turn to the current Canada Transportation Act, section 101 of Part III provides instructions to that effect and certain prerogatives to the Canadian Transportation Agency. The act also provides for situations where, like in Montreal, there is no agreement between the parties.
    In the event of an agreement, the act states:
    
    101(1) An agreement, or an amendment to an agreement, relating to the construction, maintenance or apportionment of the costs of a road crossing or a utility crossing may be filed with the Agency.
    We do not talk about what happens when there is an agreement, but what happens when there is no agreement? Subsection 101(3) states the following:
    
    101(3) If a person is unsuccessful in negotiating an agreement or amendment mentioned in subsection (1), the Agency may, on application, authorize the construction of a suitable road crossing, utility crossing or related work, or specifying who shall maintain the crossing.
    The act also stipulates that section 16 of the Railway Safety Act applies if the parties do not reach an agreement. Subsection 16(4) states the following:
    
    16(4) Where a matter is referred to the Agency under subsection (1), the Agency shall, having regard to any grant made under section 12 or 13 in respect of that matter, the relative benefits that each person who has, or who might have, referred the matter stands to gain from the work, and to any other factor that it considers relevant, determine the proportion of the liability for construction, alteration, operational and maintenance costs to be borne by each person, and that liability shall be apportioned accordingly.
    In short, the current legislative framework stipulates that, if a municipality or local entity and a railway company cannot agree, the Canadian Transportation Agency may take over and assume responsibility. It can authorize the construction, and determine how the costs will be shared between the parties, both for construction and maintenance.

  (1135)  

    My understanding is that the minister can already help the parties to find common ground through the various existing programs that would mitigate the financial consequences for the stakeholders. As we know, money is often the sticking point in those kinds of negotiations.
    The member told us about her work with the various stakeholders who support her proposed legislative amendment. I would like to share a contrary opinion that must also be considered, namely the opinion of the Montreal Port Authority.
    The Montreal Port Authority is against the bill. The rail line affected by the member's initiative serves the port. Setting up new crossings would probably disrupt port operations. Given that a train cannot stop at a grade crossing, the port authority says that the company would have to uncouple and re-couple the trains in order to carry out those daily operations. Those operations could significantly increase the risks for company employees and the general public, not to mention the higher levels of air pollution that those handling operations could generate.
    The situation in my colleague's riding is quite specific. Since 2013, the City of Montreal has wanted to add six level crossings on a section of the CP rail line located in the northern part of downtown Montreal. Montreal filed an application with the Canadian Transportation Agency, which is authorized to deal with such matters, as I mentioned earlier. The City of Montreal and CP were unable to reach an agreement, and the negotiations broke off a long time ago.
    The Minister of Transport might try to call the mayor of Montreal to potentially resolve the situation by trying to find a solution or becoming involved in the matter and thus avoid having to make legislative amendments. This solution is available to the minister. In her speech, the parliamentary secretary mentioned the authorities that allow the minister to intervene at present. Does the minister intend to do so? In my opinion, he already has the authority and the minister could intervene and take action.
    To go back to Bill C-322, we have to look at the basic issue, the safety of Canadians and their families. At the moment, there are certain shortcomings in the bill. Clearly, we encourage people to comply with existing laws and regulations. Pedestrians must not cross railway tracks where they are not allowed to do so, because it is dangerous and puts not only their own lives but those of others at risk. Unfortunately, statistics show that level crossings are not risk free.
    I really must provide my colleague with some recommendations. Statistics show that railway and road crossings are equally dangerous for Canadians. At the end of October 2016, data from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada indicated a total of 89 accidents at road crossings, including 16 fatalities and 20 severe injuries. Our colleague talked about the high number of accidents outside road crossings. In other words: Canada's entire railway system. These are not specific locations we are talking about, but about a very large area. It is impossible to put road crossings everywhere and anywhere in Canada where there are railway lines.
    We do not see how Bill C-322 in its current form could help to improve and solve the problem once and for all. In our view, a broader approach to road crossings is needed. I agree that specific measures must be taken to improve the situation in Montreal, and thus the safety of the people crossing railway lines illegally in Canada. We should come up with a framework within which the minister could use this new power to authorize new road crossings.
    I offer my colleague my co-operation in the coming weeks; let us keep discussing the bill and see whether it is possible to make any improvements that would result in our being able to support it. Unfortunately, at the moment, we cannot support Bill C-322 in its current form.

  (1140)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, this is an important issue. Canada's railways play an important part in our nation, not only for their value of moving goods and people, but as part of our cultural identity.
    We all know the story of the last spike and how the government worked with the Canadian Pacific Railway to build our first transcontinental railroad in 1885. That silver spike was driven into the railbed in Craigellachie, just a few kilometres west of my riding of Kootenay—Columbia. At that time, rail was the most efficient way to transport goods and people from one end of the country to the other. That is why the government played an important role in funding and building the railway.
    Sir John A. Macdonald's government was brought down due to his accepting bribes from CPR for helping with the railway, and he was re-elected in part due to his promise to complete the railway. After it was completed, it became popular to take the train across the country to see its sights, staying at many of the fantastic hotels that the rail company built to house wealthy guests, including Glacier Hotel in my riding.
    At that time, safety may not have been as important as it is today. It is said that Agnes Macdonald, wife of then Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald, was so thrilled with the sight of the mountains that she road the train's cowcatcher all the way through. That must have been a “mooving” experience, for sure.
    Today we have a very different situation. The railroads are privately owned, but responsibility for their safety lies with the Government of Canada and the federal Department of Transport. However, that responsibility is currently one way. The government can order a railway to close or alter a crossing, but it cannot order the railway to create one, and that is what this legislation is about.
    Bill C-322 would grant the Minister of Transport the powers to require the construction of crossings on a rail line. Why is this important? It is important because the situation right now is untenable. Canadians, including individuals and businesses, have demonstrated that they sometimes have legitimate requirements to cross railways at locations other than currently regulated road crossings. However, the rail companies refuse to allow the crossings and they refuse to make them safe.
    This is especially true where rail lines run along rivers and lakes. In order to reach the waterway, people are sometimes given the choice between taking an extremely long detour or crossing the tracks illegally and unsafely. In my own riding of Kootenay—Columbia, we have a situation like this. The Kicking Horse River is an offshoot of the mighty Columbia River. It gets its colourful name from an incident in 1858, when Dr. James Hector, a member of the Palliser expedition that was exploring the area, was kicked and knocked out by a horse while trying to lead it across the fast-moving water.
    Whitewater rafting in the Kicking Horse River outside of Golden, B.C., is some of the best in the world. Every summer, as many as 40,000 people, assisted by a number of successful companies, load onto rafts to challenge the rapids. The sport brings valuable ecotourism dollars into Golden and provides dozens of jobs, particularly for our youth. To get to the water, rafting companies carefully lead groups across the railway tracks to the lower canyon. They have been doing so for over 40 years without a single accident. Last year, CPR told them that their activity was illegal and stopped rafters from crossing the tracks, citing safety.
    I will read to the House a statement from CP issued in early June 2016: “CP cannot support rafters accessing the Kicking Horse River at this location...as it poses a significant risk to their own safety as well as the safety of CP crews and the freight they are transporting.” Subsequently CP put up a metal gate barricading the crossing, and threatened to charge anyone who “trespassed”, their word, to get to the river.
    Let me repeat: rafters have been crossing the tracks there for 40 years without a single accident, and now millions of dollars are potentially being lost to this rural seasonal economy because the company has decided not to create a safe crossing.
    Last summer, two companies began helicoptering people across this newly closed access, adding hundreds of dollars to the cost of family rafting vacations. There was nothing that the federal government or provincial government could do about that, until now. Bill C-322 would allow the minister to order CP and other railways to create safe crossings in special situations like this. If rail companies are concerned about safety, the solution is not to ban crossings but rather to make them safe.

  (1145)  

    Now, one may wonder why CP would not create a safe crossing to allow access to the Kicking Horse River. Initially it said it would—but only if the federal or provincial government paid for it. That is right. This company, which earned over $6 billion in 2014 and made a profit of almost $540 million in the first quarter of 2016, said the taxpayers should be on the hook for it to build a crossing over its own tracks. This is unacceptable, and it is worrisome.
    Level crossings must be built in strategic locations so that pedestrians, cyclists, and even whitewater rafters can move around safely. The improvement of active transportation and the mobility of people are important priorities across Canada. It should be a no-brainer for every member of the House to support this legislation.
    Unfortunately, the government is hiding behind obsolete regulations that prevent the minister from ordering the construction of new crossings, while he already has the power to order them closed. The government seems to be unwilling to take on the responsibility to give Canadians freedom of movement, to save Canadian lives, to force some companies to act in a way that favours small communities, to provide safe access to Canada's rivers and lakes across railroad tracks, which surely should be a fundamental right for every Canadian.
    I do not want to encourage anyone to illegally cross railway tracks. That is what government inaction would have people do. We want to make sure such crossings are legal and safe where they are needed.
    Across Canada, unregulated crossings cause twice as many accidents and fatalities as regulated crossings, and in some places hundreds of people cross railway tracks every morning. Of course, decades ago, kids in Saskatchewan would walk the railroad tracks to get to school. That may happen to some degree today as well.
    By one count, on May 15, 2012, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., 289 pedestrians and 81 cyclists crossed the railway right-of-way in Mile End between Saint-Dominique and Henri-Julien streets in Montreal. Every one of these Canadians could have been fined a minimum of $287 under the Railway Safety Act. Under current laws, these were trespassers, and what they were doing is dangerous.
    The lack of safe crossings jeopardizes public safety and causes mobility issues in our communities. New Democrats have introduced this bill because we want to improve security for all Canadians, whether they are walking, cycling, driving, whitewater rafting, or just trying to access rivers and lakes near their homes.
    Who else is supporting this legislation? There have been a number of groups, of course. They include whitewater rafters in British Columbia, the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition, BC Healthy Living Alliance, Saskatoon Cycles, Canada Bikes, Citizens for Safe Cycling, Walk Toronto, Cycle Toronto, Ontario By Bike, Jane's Walk, Vélo Québec, Piétons Québec, the Outremont Pedestrians and Cyclists Association, and a variety of municipalities, cities, and businesses.
     I invite members to join me in supporting this legislation, which simply gives the transport minister powers to create safe crossings where they do not already exist. It is in the interest of communities, in the interest of Canadians, and in the interest of safety.
    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be here today to speak to issues surrounding Bill C-322, an act to amend the Railway Safety Act in relation to road crossings.
    While the government recognizes the complexity of railways and municipalities having to coexist, I would like to explain why the government cannot support the bill.
    Essentially, the bill would introduce inconsistencies into the Railway Safety Act, which is the subject of a comprehensive statutory review that has been moved up to start in 2017 rather than 2018. This was announced on November 3, 2016, by the Minister of Transport. It will provide an opportunity for our government and parliamentarians to consider rail safety in a more comprehensive way than through private members' bills designed to address one-off situations.
    This is very significant. I have the experience in my riding of Nickel Belt. It is very important that these issues related to rail safety be addressed in partnership with communities and all levels of government. Together we have the responsibility to improve rail safety across Canada, and this private member's bill seeks to address only one specific situation.
    As members of Parliament, we all need to provide leadership in our communities to gather all levels of government to improve rail safety. Round table discussions with various communities—federal, provincial, municipal, and indigenous communities, the private sector, and Transport Canada—are crucial.
    The statutory review of the Railway Safety Act that has been moved up by a year to 2017 is a move in the right direction.

  (1150)  

[Translation]

    First, in addition to a rigorous and robust rail safety regulatory framework, there are well-established, existing measures and processes in place, which ultimately makes the proposed bill redundant.
    I will illustrate this redundancy by detailing the existing process for the central issue of the private member’s bill: opening or constructing new grade crossings.
    To begin, the Grade Crossings Regulations clearly define the responsibilities of the railway company and the road authority with respect to grade crossings.

[English]

    Understandably, with approximately 14,000 public grade crossings along more than 48,000 kilometres of federally regulated railway tracks across Canada, the regulations recognize and entrench the shared responsibility for rail crossings. Railway companies, road authorities, municipalities and band councils in provinces, and private crossing owners are each responsible for managing safety at grade crossings. This is why Transport Canada encourages rail companies and communities to consult with each other to seek solutions through collaborative approaches.

[Translation]

     Likewise, the existing process under the Canada Transportation Act encourages road authorities and railway companies to work together to agree whether or not to open a road crossing, where to open a crossing, and how to apportion the costs.
    When the railway company and the municipality agree, the agreement may be filed with the Canadian Transportation Agency, which is an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal that makes decisions on a wide range of matters involving federally-regulated modes of transportation, including rail.

[English]

    These agreements usually include rates to be charged for work performed and specify which parties are responsible for paying for the work, as well as maintenance and liability. The filed agreement becomes an order of the agency authorizing the parties to construct or maintain the crossings, or to apportion the costs, as provided for in the agreement.
    If a rail company and a road authority agree on a grade crossing but disagree on who should pay for the work, either party can ask the Canadian Transportation Agency to apportion the costs of that project. When an agreement cannot be reached, the parties have access to mediation services through the Canadian Transportation Agency.
    In most cases, the agency first tries to resolve first complaints through facilitation or mediation. Mediators assist the parties in negotiating a mutually satisfactory settlement among themselves.
    When mediation is unsuccessful, the next step is for one of the parties to approach the agency in question. Adjudication can take up to 120 days, depending upon the complexity of the case. The agency's ruling under adjudication is legally binding and can include where crossings should be located, how many are required, conditions that the crossing must meet, and apportionment of the costs.
     Whether through mediation or adjudication, when crossings are required, Transport Canada provides safety-related advice to agencies before making its decision. All new crossings authorized by the agency must comply with the safety requirements of the Railway Safety Act and associated regulations, such as the Grade Crossings Regulations.
    Under the act, the proponent for a new grade crossing must give 60 days' notice to other parties involved. When all other avenues have been exhausted and where there are exceptional threats to safety, the Minister of Transport already has the authority under section 32.01 of the Railway Safety Act to order a company, road authority, or municipality to, among other things, take corrective measures to address a threat to safe railway operations, including construction of a road crossing.
    As members can understand, the process in place is a rigorous one even before construction of a grade crossing begins. It goes without saying that the next steps in this process are just as rigorous.
    The grade crossings standards referenced in the Grade Crossings Regulations set out the safety criteria for the construction, alteration, maintenance, inspection, and testing of grade crossings. These standards uphold safety at federally regulated crossings by promoting consistency and bring all federally regulated crossings in Canada under one common standard.
    Transport Canada's role includes monitoring railway companies through audits and inspections to verify that they meet safety standards under the Grade Crossings Regulations. To do so, the department conducts regular monitoring of rail works and operations, informs railways and road authorities of any safety deficiencies, and, if required, takes appropriate action.
    In addition, as previously noted, the Railway Safety Act was amended in June 2015 to provide broader ministerial authorities to address safety risks, threats, or concerns. If the minister considers them necessary in the interests of safe railway operations, specific measures may be ordered, such as constructing, altering, operating, or maintaining a railway work, and a crossing would be included.
     While the impetus for Bill C-322 to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists to cross railway tracks is certainly worthwhile, road crossing issues are complex and multi-jurisdictional, requiring the involvement and co-operation of multiple players: the federal government, rail companies, road authorities, municipalities, and members of the general public. The relationship between Transport Canada and the Canadian Transportation Agency strikes the required fine balance between road safety and the needs of the communities. Ultimately, the government is confident that the regulations and processes in place have the necessary rigour and flexibility to address the interests of this proposed bill.

  (1155)  

    Before we continue, I just want to remind the member that I will have to cut off the debate on the private member's business because the time will have expired, but she will have time to finish that at a later date.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek.
    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to join with my friend and colleague, the deputy critic for transport, to discuss Bill C-322, an act to amend the Railway Safety Act with regard to road crossings. If passed, this legislation would give the Minister of Transport the power to order the owner of a rail line to build a grade-level crossing across the track and to authorize the payment of a grant for that purpose.
    My understanding is that this legislation is principally designed to address a challenging circumstance in the sponsor's riding, where, according to the sponsor, there are not enough rail crossings, and therefore pedestrians are crossing the rail track at multiple uncontrolled locations.
    As the issue at hand is a lack of pedestrian crossings along the Canadian Pacific Railway Outremont spur, and as it is common practice by the current Liberal government, one wonders why the Minister of Transport has not called his former caucus colleague, who happens to be the mayor of Montreal, to come up with a suitable plan to build grade-separated overpasses and underpasses for pedestrians to cross the track. However, as per another common practice by the government, it is easier to declare that rail safety for the middle class is a priority for the current minister than to do something about it.
    It need not be said that rail safety is a priority for all Canadians, regardless of their personal financial circumstances.
    While the intent of Bill C-322 is to address a local issue, it will be national in its scope and should be judged on that basis. Federal legislation already provides municipalities and local authorities with the ability to get a railroad to the table to get a crossing built. Section 101 of the Canada Transportation Act states that if a municipality or the relevant local authority and a railway are unsuccessful in negotiating an agreement to build a crossing, the Canada Transport Agency may, first, authorize the construction of that crossing; second, determine what percentage of the construction costs each party will be responsible for; and finally, determine who will maintain the crossing. This current process puts the onus on each individual local authority to determine whether a new railway crossing is required; where the crossing can and should be built, taking into consideration its development plans; and how much they are willing to contribute financially to see that crossing built.
    Municipalities have the primary responsibility for their infrastructure, so it makes sense for them to be the ones determining if and where a railway crossing should be built. It should not be up to the Minister of Transport to determine whether a crossing must be built; it is up to the local government to determine whether it would like to see the rail crossing built.
    While Transport Canada does have the ability to close a crossing if it is considered unsafe, this power exists in the interests of safety.
    When people cross the track at an uncontrolled location, they are in effect trespassing on private property. The sponsor of this bill in effect is saying that because people are trespassing and putting themselves at risk, the minister needs to build more level-grade crossings.
    To be clear, if pedestrians would use existing crossings instead of trespassing on busy railway spurs, the safety of the tracks would not be compromised in this respect. As cities grow around historic railway-owned rights-of-way, the kind of situation we are seeing in Montreal, where there may not be enough grade-separated crossings, will only become more common. Unfortunately, and on too many occasions, pedestrians are cutting holes in fences and taking shortcuts to wherever they need to go rather than walking to existing crossings.
    In 2015, accidents between pedestrians and trains resulted in 31 fatalities. The dangers for pedestrians cutting across the track without knowledge of whether a train is coming are obvious, but they are not heeded enough.
    I consider it a heavy burden to place on rail operators to have to contend with trespassers as part of their job, when they are already operating heavy equipment under challenging circumstances. I believe that the mental welfare of train operators should be considered in this debate on how to handle the densification of areas around rail lines in cities.

  (1200)  

    My issue with the bill is that increasing the number of pedestrian crossings that are not grade separated will only increase the opportunities for trespassing on private lands. This will in turn increase the opportunities for pedestrians to find themselves in fatal accidents or to stumble and fall.
     I will be opposing the bill, because it proposes the wrong solution to the problem in Montreal and other densely populated cities that have rail lines crossing through them. There will never be a crossing at every single location that is most convenient for all pedestrians. The issue here is that pedestrians are trespassing on private property, thus exposing themselves to major danger.
    Governments and railroads share a combined responsibility to ensure that pedestrians stay off the tracks to the greatest extent possible and to make that an ongoing priority in infrastructure initiatives.
    I see that my time is coming to an end, so I will leave it there and resume the debate when the bill is next taken up.
    The hon. member will have three and a half minutes to finish her speech when the issue is before the House again.
    The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Government Orders]

  (1205)  

[English]

National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act

Bill C-22--Time Allocation Motion 

    That in relation to Bill C-22, An Act to establish the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians and to make consequential amendments to certain Acts, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration of the report stage and one sitting day shall be allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill; and
     That fifteen minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration of the report stage and on the day allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

[Translation]

    Pursuant to Standing Order 67.1, there will now be a 30-minute question period.
    It is at this time that I invite hon. members to rise in their place to give an indication of the number of members who would wish to participate in the 30-minute question period.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, very simply, the hon. House leader knows full well that the hon. Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, as well as other members of her caucus, have been on the record decrying this very parliamentary motion when they were on this side of the aisle, when they were in opposition. Indeed, I am quite concerned that it is being used on a measure that relates to the national security of our country and the parliamentary oversight that is being proposed by the bill. Certainly we have not debated it long enough. There have been a number of meaningful amendments by the government. I would like to know how she can square the Liberals' opposition to these kinds of motions when they were in opposition with what they are doing today in the House.
    Madam Speaker, the hon. member and I, as well as the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, have been working closely together. We know that it is always better when we can work together.
    I believe that our government has been very reasonable in providing the opposition time to debate this bill at second reading, in committee, and at report stage. Let us consider the stats. We have had more than 40 speakers express their views on the bill, and we look forward to hearing more members speak today and at third reading. Moreover, after we include today's debate, we will have debated this bill for more than 17 hours.
    The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security also had the opportunity to study this bill extensively. The committee held eight meetings to study this bill and heard from 41 witnesses. The work the committee did was appreciated and was very much considered.
    We have to take our responsibility to Canadians very seriously. It is important that we have meaningful debate and advance legislation. I regret that we have to bring ourselves to this. I think we need to ensure that members have time to speak and that the government can also advance important legislation such as this.

  (1210)  

    Madam Speaker, I join with my colleague from the Conservative Party, the official opposition, in registering serious concern about the government's actions today.
    The experts we have talked to on security and intelligence issues are frustrated by the fact that these amendments, done at the last moment at report stage, weaken the oversight that is available. That we would proceed with only government support for such a critical initiative on national security and intelligence is a matter that should disappoint all Canadians. This is the government's sole response to the controversial Bill C-51, which the Liberal government, while in opposition, supported. They agree that these amendments would weaken the job parliamentarians would be asked to do.
    Why is the government not willing to allow time for all parties to try to seek consensus on this bill? My colleagues and I are standing ready to work with the hon. House leader and with these experts. Why is the government refusing to work with us?
    Madam Speaker, I have appreciated the opportunities to work with the member as well. The member has to understand that as a government, we have a responsibility to have meaningful debate as well as to advance legislation.
    When it comes to the important work the committee did, the government has more than considered the recommendations. This government actually has advanced legislation that is different from what was introduced at committee, because we took the work of the committee very seriously. The committee had eight meetings and 41 witnesses. Within this place, we have had more than 17 hours of debate.
    It is important to note that this was an election promise that we are delivering on. Witnesses at the public safety and national security committee were all pleased to see us moving forward with this committee of parliamentarians and made some suggestions to improve it.
    The committee made some of these changes to improve the bill. We have accepted many of them. During clause by clause on Bill C-22, the following amendments were made and included by the government: the Liberal amendment to broaden the committee's mandate in section 8, further sub-amended by the NDP and agreed to by all parties; the removal of the chair's double-vote from clause 19, ensuring that the chair would only cast a deciding vote in the event of a tie; and a whistle-blower clause that would require the committee to inform the appropriate minister of any activity it discovered that was not conducted in compliance with the law, proposed by the NDP and accepted by the government.
     When it comes to a commitment to work together, this government is being very reasonable. I believe we can continue working together, and I encourage the members opposite to really consider these amendments seriously.
    Madam Speaker, in the context of this debate, it seems that the Liberals continue to use time allocation to drive through their agenda. Obviously, it is our job as members of Parliament to hold the government to account and to ask questions in regard to this.
    This same hon. minister has put forward a discussion paper that would basically pre-program these kinds of time allocation motions so that the government would not have to stand up and say why it needs to push forward its agenda. I would like the member opposite to explain why she feels that limiting debate in this place, particularly in the area of time allocation, is in this House's interest and is in the interest of the Canadian people.
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise and respond to the hon. member's questions. He was part of the previous government, which really abused the time allocation tool.
    Time allocation is the only tool that exists for a government to advance legislation when there is a stalemate. We have a duty to ensure that all legislation is brought to a vote. This piece of legislation has had a lot of debate and many members have spoken to it in the House. All members of Parliament are elected to represent the voices of their constituents. This government is elected to ensure that the voice of Canadians is advanced, and this was a campaign commitment.
    It is important to note, since the member referenced it, the importance of modernizing this place when there are limited tools that do not allow us to work better together in a more modernized way. I look forward to working with the member opposite to modernize this place, and I am sure he can agree that we can work better together. I appreciate his reading the discussion paper, and I look forward to his being part of the conversation.

  (1215)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, the Leader of the Government in the House has talked at length about the number of witnesses we heard in committee. Beyond the substance of the bill, one of the points that kept coming back was mentioned in a Globe and Mail column by a number of those experts: the importance of having a non-partisan committee along with the process that leads to its formation and the subsequent work.
    Several parties must support it so that it has the highest possible legitimacy. Actually, one of the reasons why the government committed to creating such a committee during the campaign is the erosion of public confidence in our national security agencies and the need for mechanisms to be in place to ensure that Canadians can rebuild their trust.
    How can the Leader of the Government believe that using time allocation and preventing us from debating the fact that the government is discarding a substantial number of amendments carried in committee can help us create a body that will restore public trust in the national security agencies?
    Madam Speaker, time allocation is the only tool that enables the government to move a bill forward when an impasse is reached. We are duty-bound to ensure the bill is passed. We do not make these decisions lightly, and we remain committed to ensuring all members have a sufficient and reasonable amount of time to debate the bill in the House of Commons.
    Furthermore, we also recognize our responsibility to deliver on our promises to Canadians. We need to work together. We have heard from the committee, and we are proposing a bill that we think is good for Canadians. It is a necessary step. We must work together, and we will continue to work with the opposition.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the comments from the government House leader. Could she expand on why it is so important that we act on the legislation, given the fact that it was part of an actual election platform?
    This is something that the Prime Minister committed to do for Canadians. The member made reference to the fact that there have already been a significant number of hours of debate. I will highlight the fact that since the Prime Minister made the commitment, there is an obligation on the House to see the legislation ultimately come to that final vote. Could she provide some comment on the importance of that commitment?
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to remind Canadians that we have had over 17 hours of debate and over 40 speakers. The committee held eight meetings and heard from 41 witnesses. These conversations continue, and we are engaging not only with members, but also with Canadians.
    When it comes to the national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians, it will respond to the government's commitment to achieve two objectives simultaneously: to keep Canadians safe while respecting and safeguarding their rights and freedoms. The committee's mandate and powers go further than those of any other Westminster country, in some respects, by including the review of all national security intelligence committees across all departments and agencies, as well as broad access to classified information.
    The committee will act with full independence from the government in deciding which matters to review and in reporting its findings and recommendations. Its mandate and powers will be legislated and cannot be altered by the government.
    This is important legislation. It is good for Canadians, and it is important that we advance it so that we can have this oversight body. This is unlike anything else that this country has ever done, and it is about time that we get it done.
    Madam Speaker, while I appreciate that the Prime Minister made some campaign promises, he also promised openness and transparency. He also made a promise about a $10-billion deficit, but we will put that aside.
    I sit on that committee. The minister overruled the committee through a number of amendments that all of us put forward, to remove the tools. A lot of those tools have been removed, so I find it very interesting that we go through a whole process, hear from expert witnesses, put the amendments forward, do the work, and go across the country only to have the bill gutted. Therefore, when I hear that these are campaign promises, and we have time allocation to shut down debate, I am curious whether the House leader can comment on the waste of time of the committee and all the work the committee did going across the country and hearing the experts, if the government is not even going to pay attention to the recommendations.

  (1220)  

    Madam Speaker, I am not surprised to see a Conservative standing up in this place and referring to the important work that a committee does as a waste of time. I entirely disagree with her in this case. I know that the work the committee did was very important. It heard from 41 witnesses, held eight meetings, and did very important work. The legislation that was introduced—
    I sit on that committee, and you ignored it.
    Madam Speaker, now we see the member chirping rather than listening to a response that I believe is important for Canadians to hear.
    When it comes to the legislation that was introduced and given to committee versus the legislation that has come out of committee, even after this government's amendments, we see that the work the committee did was taken very seriously. There were seven exemptions. The committee chose to remove all seven. The government has chosen to remove three.
     We can look at the exemptions we have kept. One is cabinet confidences. I am sure Canadians will not be surprised, and they understand cabinet confidence. With respect to information described in the Witness Protection Program Act, why we would need the name of an individual who has already been given witness protection is beyond me. We will have access to the information, just not the details about the individual. What the individual looks like and the name of the individual should not matter when we make a decision. We have suggested that the exemptions about confidential sources and “information relating directly to an ongoing...law enforcement agency that may lead to a prosecution” be kept.
    We have kept the removal of FINTRAC, the removal of the Investment Canada Act, and the removal of information respecting “ongoing defence intelligence activities supporting military operations”.
    This is a step in the right direction, and we will continue working hard—
    It is a committee under the PMO, and the member knows that.
    I want to remind the member for South Surrey—White Rock that she was afforded the respect of asking the question without interruptions, and I assume that she would want to do the same so that everybody can hear the answers.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Hochelaga.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, first I hear that there had been no impasse in committee. Then I learn the all of the committee's recommendations were rejected. The report was not accepted as my colleague said.
    The Liberals promised during the election campaign that they would lessen the negative effects of Bill C-51. They had also promised more transparency. However, in addition to gutting the bill, they are imposing time allocation. They are trying to sweep everything under the rug and make the issue disappear as quickly as possible. Twice, the people were let down. We call that a double whammy. It is very disappointing to Canadians.
    How can Canadians trust a government that breaks so many promises? It is no surprise that people are so cynical about politicians.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I rise once again in this House to encourage all members to really consider the amendments that have been put forth by the government. It really is a middle ground. We have taken seriously the work that the committee has done, and we have accepted many of the amendments. For example, the whistle-blower amendment that was proposed by the NDP has been accepted by the government. Members will recognize that there is no amendment to remove that provision. It was suggested by the NDP, and it came with great information. We have accepted it, and it remains a part of the current legislation in front of the House.
    We can look at the chair. In the original legislation, the chair had two votes. After the committee's hard work, we recognized that the chair should have only the tie-breaking vote, if a tie exists. We have accepted that amendment and we have more than worked with committee members, as well as all members in the House.
    This is important legislation for Canadians. It is the first of its kind. It is important that we have a committee of parliamentarians. We are the only country in the Five Eyes that does not. We are starting at a step that is way further ahead than any other country. It is important legislation, and I encourage all members to really consider the amendments rather than assume that everything has been changed when this is not the case.

  (1225)  

    Madam Speaker, I have been listening carefully to the debate on the time allocation motion that was moved this morning, and I am a little confused. Well, I am not so much confused as bothered by the characterization of time allocation that the government House leader made in response to the question from my colleague from Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola. In the same sentence, she characterized the invocation of time allocation by a Conservative as abuse of Parliament while at the same time lamenting its being the only tool available when the government needs to advance important legislation. It does not make any sense, other than to say that when a Liberal wants to allocate time, then it is, regrettably, the only tool, but if anybody else does it, it is abuse.
    Is simply fulfilling a campaign promise, when you have broken countless other ones, an acceptable excuse for limiting the parliamentary prerogatives of members, when nine out of 10 members have not yet been able to speak on this bill?
    I want to clarify that I certainly have not broken any campaign promises. I would ask the member to address his comments to the Chair.
    The hon. government House leader.
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity, once again, to rise in this place and correct the record. Over 40 members have spoken to this piece of legislation and have expressed their views, and more members will have the opportunity to speak at report stage, as well as at third reading. There have been over 17 hours of debate on this legislation. When we look at the number of hours we have to debate important pieces of legislation, 17 hours is more than a reasonable amount of time. This is important legislation, and we will advance it. The committee had eight meetings and heard from 41 witnesses.
    The member speaks about time allocation and the fact that he is bothered by it. This government has more than tried to work with members on the opposite side. I am comparing what we have to do with the fact that the previous government moved time allocation over 100 times. Sometimes legislation would be introduced with a motion for time allocation. That is not the approach this government is taking. We will not take that approach, because we believe we can work better together.
    When it comes to campaign commitments, we know that we need to have meaningful debate as well as advance legislation. We committed to lowering taxes for middle-class Canadians, and we delivered. We committed to increasing taxes for the wealthiest 1% of Canadians, and we delivered. What did the Conservatives do? They voted against it every time.
    Madam Speaker, it is quite interesting to hear the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader talk about how the House is obliged to pass government legislation. I guess the Liberal caucus members did not get the memo the last sitting week when they voted against the government, twice. I guess that is why they have to have two caucus meetings this week, because the caucus does not feel that cabinet is consulting it.
    It is not just opposition members; it is the Liberal caucus as well that is fed up with the notion that the Liberals promised to do better and are well on their way, I would argue, to doing even worse at this point. While we knew where the Conservatives stood, I suppose the Liberals like to say they are going to do better and then stab us in the back with a knife on these issues, because that is exactly how we feel, having worked hard at committee.
     My colleague from Victoria worked hard to try to get some of those amendments passed. While the government House leader will brag about the three or four that are still there, there are some critical pieces that are missing, such as what information the committee gets access to. We can just look at the issue of ongoing investigations. This means that the Air India inquiry and Afghan detainees, issues that are now decades old, would not be looked at by this committee.
    It is great to have whistle-blower duty, but what good is that if the committee does not actually get the information it needs? I would add that this is exactly the kind of information the member for Vancouver Quadra wanted a similar committee to get in a piece of legislation she proposed in the last Parliament, supported by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
    I want to understand. If the member has so many great things to offer about which amendments the Liberals picked, why not have that debate and discussion over a proper period of time?
    Madam Speaker, I am a little surprised that a member of the NDP would be disturbed that a federal government would encourage its members to vote openly and freely. We committed to doing government differently, and we will. For the member not to understand what democracy looks like is, unfortunately, what has been the culture of this place for far too long. We allow our members to have opinions. We allow and encourage our members to be part of the debate. We do not randomly whip votes, unlike what the members on the other side have to deal with every single day. Our members are free to represent their constituents, advance democracy, and have these tough conversations.
    What the member cannot understand is that we had tough conversations and meaningful debate. This piece of legislation is way more robust than what any other country started with. What the member cannot fathom is that he did not get everything he wanted. However, the reality of working together in this place is that there is going to be a middle ground. It is okay to work together; it is okay to have differing opinions. When delivering for Canadians, we need to have many opinions. It is important that we advance in a meaningful way so that we can protect Canadians' rights and freedoms, as well as national security. That is what we will deliver on.

  (1230)  

    Madam Speaker, with all due respect to the hon. government House leader, it is not that members over here cannot fathom things, but that we do not agree that we are working together when we are looking at legislation that still needs to be as robust as it can be and respect the role of parliamentarians on the committee.
     For instance, parliamentarians on the committee would lose parliamentary privilege and are assumed somehow to be not trustworthy, yet the government has done nothing to create the same kind of restrictions for the other review agencies, such as SIRC, on which the previous prime minister put a known fraudster in charge. Arthur Porter had access to all state secrets. Under Bill C-22 as now drafted, senators and members of Parliament would have even more restrictive access than a civilian who is the head of SIRC. There are substantive issues of concern here.
    I would quickly like to note a historical record. The hon. government House leader is absolutely right that the Conservatives used closure 100 times in the 41st Parliament. However, the problem here is that what they did, which was egregious, seems to have normalized a practice that should not be seen as normal at all. In the early part of the 20th century there was a 40-year period in which closure was used exactly seven times. I do appreciate that the Liberal government is using it less, but it should be using it far less so that we could go back not just to a bar set by what Harper did, but to a bar set by normal parliamentary practice when debates did not face so many time allocations.
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the important work the member does in this place but I have to remind her that this will not be a parliamentary committee. It will be a committee of parliamentarians, the first of its kind. It will start with a scope unlike that in any other Westminster country. It will start further ahead.
    The legislation that was sent to the standing committee has now been approved because of the important work the committee did. The government has a responsibility to Canadians and this is a first step and it is a substantial first step. There is a review mechanism in place so that we can revisit this legislation and ensure that we either have it right, that we need to go further, or pull back. Members of Parliament will have the opportunity to do that.
    To say that I take time allocation lightly is a disservice, because I take it very seriously. It is a tough decision to make.
    We have had over 17 hours of debate in this place on this legislation. The standing committee had eight meetings and heard from 41 witnesses. We need to understand that the government has a responsibility not only to have meaningful debate but also to advance legislation.
    I look forward to working with the member. She raised this question when I spoke in the House on this legislation, and at that time I offered that I would welcome the opportunity to answer any questions or concerns that she has.
    I believe we are taking a meaningful step and we need to keep working harder together.
    Madam Speaker, we all recognize the important work that committees do on behalf of us as parliamentarians as we explore legislation that is tabled in the House. I am wondering if the minister could talk about the amendments that were accepted and the collaboration that did take place in committee with respect to this legislation.
    I wonder if she could talk about how we work in committees to make sure that we fix legislation, improve legislation, and review legislation in a collaborative way and not simply pursue legislation as it is presented with no questions, no amendments, and no alterations as it moves forward. Perhaps she could also comment on how that differs from the previous government which never listened to committees whatsoever.
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate that question because it is important to highlight the amendments that were accepted. The committee made substantial changes to improve the bill and I would agree that the committee's work did improve this legislation. During clause-by-clause study on Bill C-22, amendments were made, including some by the government.
    The Liberals amended the bill to broaden the committee's mandate in clause 8 and this was further amended by the NDP. It was agreed to by all parties and accepted.
    The chair's double vote was removed from clause 19, ensuring the chair would only cast a deciding vote in the event of a tie. The committee advanced that amendment and the government accepted it.
    Clause 21 was amended so that if anything is redacted from the committee's report, the revised version must be clearly identified as revised and must indicate the extent of the revision. The amendment was accepted.
    A whistle-blower clause that would require the committee to inform the appropriate minister of any activity to discover that may not be conducted in compliance with the law was proposed by the NDP and was accepted.
    Clause 14 and clause 16 in the original bill included seven automatic exemptions. The committee removed all of them. The government has reinstated those that are needed to protect individual privacy and rights, so the witness protection program and human intelligence sources for the government directly related to the ongoing investigations carried out by law enforcement agencies. The committee removed and the government has agreed to remove ongoing defence activities, the Investment Canada Act, and FINTRAC.

  (1235)  

    Madam Speaker, how can the hon. government House leader justify watering down the government's own bill when promising in an election to have a meaningful parliamentary oversight process?
    Madam Speaker, once again I am not surprised that a Conservative member would rise in this place and say that agreeing to amendments would actually water down legislation. It is something the previous government was not able to do.
    This government believes that we can find a middle ground. This government believes that the work the committee does is important. When the committee hears from witnesses, we have a responsibility to take that testimony seriously. That is why this government has accepted many amendments proposed by committee members. This government is advancing legislation that is in the best interests of Canadians. We will continue working hard for Canadians because that is what we were elected to do.
    It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings at this time and put forthwith the question on the motion now before the House.

[Translation]

    The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes): All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
    Some hon. members: Yea.
    The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes): All those opposed will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.
    The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes): In my opinion the nays have it.
    And five or more members having risen:
    The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes): Call in the members.

  (1315)  

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

(Division No. 213)

YEAS

Members

Aldag
Alghabra
Alleslev
Amos
Anandasangaree
Arseneault
Arya
Ayoub
Bagnell
Bains
Baylis
Beech
Bennett
Bibeau
Blair
Bossio
Bratina
Breton
Brison
Caesar-Chavannes
Carr
Casey (Cumberland—Colchester)
Casey (Charlottetown)
Chagger
Champagne
Chan
Chen
Cormier
Cuzner
Dabrusin
Damoff
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Di Iorio
Drouin
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Dzerowicz
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Ellis
Erskine-Smith
Eyolfson
Fergus
Fillmore
Finnigan
Fisher
Fonseca
Fragiskatos
Fraser (West Nova)
Fraser (Central Nova)
Freeland
Fry
Fuhr
Garneau
Gerretsen
Goodale
Gould
Graham
Grewal
Hardie
Harvey
Holland
Housefather
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Joly
Jordan
Jowhari
Kang
Khalid
Khera
Lametti
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Lauzon (Argenteuil—La Petite-Nation)
Lebouthillier
Lefebvre
Lemieux
Leslie
Levitt
Lightbound
Lockhart
Long
Longfield
Ludwig
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Maloney
Massé (Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia)
May (Cambridge)
McCrimmon
McDonald
McGuinty
McKenna
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod (Northwest Territories)
Mendès
Mendicino
Mihychuk
Miller (Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs)
Monsef
Morrissey
Murray
Nassif
Nault
O'Connell
Oliphant
Oliver
O'Regan
Ouellette
Paradis
Peschisolido
Peterson
Petitpas Taylor
Philpott
Picard
Poissant
Qualtrough
Ratansi
Rioux
Robillard
Rodriguez
Romanado
Rota
Rudd
Ruimy
Rusnak
Sahota
Saini
Sajjan
Samson
Sangha
Sarai
Scarpaleggia
Schiefke
Schulte
Serré
Sheehan
Sidhu (Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Sikand
Simms
Sohi
Sorbara
Spengemann
Tabbara
Tan
Tassi
Trudeau
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Vaughan
Virani
Whalen
Wilkinson
Wilson-Raybould
Wrzesnewskyj
Young
Zahid

Total: -- 162

NAYS

Members

Aboultaif
Albas
Albrecht
Allison
Anderson
Arnold
Aubin
Barlow
Barsalou-Duval
Beaulieu
Benson
Bergen
Berthold
Bezan
Blaikie
Blaney (North Island—Powell River)
Block
Boucher
Boudrias
Boulerice
Boutin-Sweet
Brassard
Brosseau
Brown
Carrie
Choquette
Christopherson
Clarke
Clement
Cooper
Deltell
Diotte
Dreeshen
Dubé
Duncan (Edmonton Strathcona)
Dusseault
Duvall
Eglinski
Falk
Fortin
Gallant
Garrison
Généreux
Genuis
Gill
Gladu
Godin
Gourde
Hardcastle
Harder
Hoback
Jeneroux
Johns
Kelly
Kent
Kitchen
Kmiec
Kwan
Lauzon (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Laverdière
Lebel
Lobb
Lukiwski
MacGregor
MacKenzie
Maguire
Malcolmson
Marcil
Mathyssen
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McLeod (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo)
Motz
Mulcair
Nantel
Nater
Nicholson
Nuttall
Paul-Hus
Pauzé
Plamondon
Rankin
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Ritz
Saganash
Sansoucy
Saroya
Schmale
Shields
Shipley
Sopuck
Sorenson
Stanton
Ste-Marie
Stetski
Strahl
Stubbs
Sweet
Thériault
Tilson
Trudel
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vecchio
Viersen
Warawa
Warkentin
Watts
Waugh
Webber
Weir
Wong
Yurdiga
Zimmer

Total: -- 116

PAIRED

Members

Foote
Moore

Total: -- 2

    I declare the motion carried.

[English]

Report Stage  

     The House resumed from March 10 consideration of Bill C-22, An Act to establish the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians and to make consequential amendments to certain Acts, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.
    I wish to inform the House that because of the proceedings of the time allocation motion, government orders will be extended by 30 minutes.
    Question and comments, the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.

  (1320)  

    Madam Speaker, the New Democrats have moved forward a number of amendments. Concern has been expressed with regard to the idea behind Bill C-22 and the exemptions provided. Earlier today we heard the government House leader talk about the amendments that were accepted.
     It is important to recognize that when it comes to the whole idea of exemptions, Canada's legislation is very robust. In fact, to compare us with other countries of the Five Eyes, I would bring New Zealand's act to the attention of members. It allows the government to inform the committee that certain documents or information cannot be disclosed, because in the opinion of the chief executive of the relevant intelligence and security agency such documents contain sensitive information. This is the difference between exemption in New Zealand, which has had a system in place for years now, compared to what we are putting in place for the first time.
    Would my colleague not agree that the legislation before us today is one of the most robust pieces of legislation to ensure Canada has one of the best parliamentary oversight committees in the world?
    Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to take a question from the member for Winnipeg North. I agree with him completely.
     It is very important to have a robust system. Bill C-22 offers a very robust system. There are immense challenges. Our intelligence agencies do very interesting things all over the world and somebody needs to oversee them, see what they are doing, ensure they make sense, are within the rules, and have the power to do that without putting any of the operations into jeopardy. What they are doing is a very good, and I am very much supporting this.
    Madam Speaker, as we look at Bill C-22, does the member believe it is appropriate for the Prime Minister to appoint the chair of a committee a year in advance before the legislation is even tabled?
    Yes, Madam Speaker, I do.
    As a member of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, I had the privilege to closely examine the legislation over the course of eight meetings. I also want to note that the committee concurrently undertook a study on Canada's national security framework. Because a significant amount of the expert testimony we heard was so relevant and crossed over to both of those studies, the committee passed a motion to include all that was heard to be included in both studies and ultimately in both final reports.
     This is significant. I want to highlight the amount of work and effort that was done to examine the legislation, to hear from numerous expert witnesses, and to ensure the House was best positioned to pass the best possible legislation.
    We heard from witnesses who came before the committee in Ottawa and as well from Canadians across our country during our cross country tour. We heard from experts in the morning sessions and we heard from the general public in the evening through public hearings in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, and Halifax.
     We heard from academics, from experts working in the national security and intelligence fields, from Canada's Information and Privacy Commissioner, from Canada's national security agencies, from the existing oversight bodies, and from groups representing different religious and ethnic communities throughout Canada. The overwhelming testimony was conclusive.
    Experts agreed that while Bill C-22 was a good start, it needed several amendments to make the proposed committee truly independent, accountable, and effective. Therefore, when it came time to propose amendments to the bill, most members of the committee listened to experts and attempted to ensure the independent national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians would have the right tools to do what would be intended and what it would be required to do.
    Several amendments were proposed from committee members of all parties: the Liberals, Conservatives, and the NDP. While not all amendments were agreed to, several were.
     The committee amended the legislation significantly to ensure the proposed oversight committee had subpoena powers for documents and witnesses, would be able to access all necessary information, would not grant the minister discretionary veto powers, and would be able to clearly identify whether the Prime Minister had requested that a report be revised before submission to Parliament and, if so, why the Prime Minister had requested such revisions. We as the official opposition also attempted to ensure the proposed committee's composition would be non-partisan and that its chair and members would not be appointed by the Prime Minister. However, this amendment was rejected by the Liberals.
     All these amendments were aimed at making Bill C-22 more effective, more accountable, and more transparent to Canadians. However, the Liberal government had decided to reject the majority of the amendments that were adopted by the committee, therefore gutting Bill C-22, which took it back to its original form.
    The Liberals promised Canadians that national security oversight would be transparent and that it would be accountable. However, Bill C-22 in its current form proposes an oversight committee that has little review powers, that is not transparent, and is not accountable to Parliament. In short, the Liberals are proposing a committee that is an extension of the Prime Minister's Office.

  (1325)  

    The Prime Minister appointed the chair of the committee, the member for Ottawa South, in January 2016. This was a full six months before Bill C-22 was even tabled before Parliament.
     It has now been over a year since his appointment, and we are still debating the legislation. Well, we were debating it until the time allocation today. This is a key example of the Liberal government's unwillingness to be open to any changes or to strengthen the level of transparency and accountability. In spite of what the Liberals may say in this House and to Canadians, the Liberal government has decided to ignore the changes made by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, a committee made up of a majority of Liberal MPs I might add, and proceed with a version of the bill that very closely resembles the original one.
    The Prime Minister will still appoint the chair of the committee; the minister will still be able to decide what information the proposed committee receives and what it does not; and the committee will continue to have no powers to subpoena information or witnesses, even though this is a privilege currently enjoyed by other parliamentary committees. In short, the committee will continue to be controlled by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Safety. It will not be transparent, not be accountable, and it will not have the tools necessary to do its job.
    Furthermore, the Liberal government does not want to discuss or have debate on this issue. Prior to my speech, the House voted on time allocation as put forward by the Liberals to shut down any and all debate on Bill C-22. This means that not only does the Prime Minister not want to have a national security oversight committee that is accountable to Canadians, that is transparent, and that is effective, but now he also wants to make sure that the House has as little time as possible to debate it. The Liberals are shutting down debate on this legislation because they decided over a year ago, when they appointed the chair, that they wanted this committee to be controlled by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Safety.We need to ensure that an appropriate structure and review process of our national security agencies is in place, and we also need to make sure that it is accountable to Canadians.
    The public safety committee, including the five Liberal members, made significant changes to Bill C-22. We heard from experts and the general public. We did our job. However, these amendments were not what the Liberal government wanted, because it had already predetermined the outcome of what it wanted in the bill. It is not listening to experts, and it is not listening to the public safety and national security committee. It is insulting the parliamentary process and Canadians by extension.
    I urge my colleagues in this House to vote against the changes proposed by the Liberal government, which ignore expert testimony, ignore the committee, and gut the legislation. Independent oversight of Canada's national security agency is critical, and Canadians deserve better from the Liberal government.

  (1330)  

    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for her comments this morning, as well as for her work on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. I had the honour of serving with her on that committee.
    In the context of those deliberations on Bill C-22, I am proud of the work that the committee did to ensure there was a broad mandate for this committee of parliamentarians to investigate any matter of national security; to ensure there was robust access to disclosure, the absence of which would trigger the committee's opportunity to use the bully pulpit to hold the government to account; and to be sure there was an appropriate composition of this committee. There will be nine parliamentarians, which is an increase of nine from the number zero. Why do I say that? It is because for 10 years, on the subject of openness and transparency, the last government did nothing to significantly advance that matter. This government has taken concrete steps.
    I wonder how the hon. member can reconcile this government's action with the absence of action from the last government.
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the work that my colleague did on the committee.
    There is oversight on some of the national security agencies. It has been in place for 20 years. It is not in the form as is proposed in Bill C-22. As we have heard, and as I said in my speech, this is a starting point, and that is all it is.
    If the committee does not have the tools to do its job, it will not succeed, it will fail.
    Madam Speaker, my colleague pointed out quite well that the bill leaves all of the cards in the Prime Minister's hands. Not only does he appoint the chair, but he appoints all the members of the committee. There is nothing in the legislation to require that someone be appointed, for example, from the official opposition. It says that up to a certain number of members can be appointed from the government. This is a smokescreen. This is the government maintaining all of the cards in its own hands while pretending to expand oversight. We see across the board great claims of transparency, but the devil is always in the details.
    I wonder if the member could comment on just how deceptive this legislation is and the total failure of the government to respond to our legitimate concerns about it.
    Madam Speaker, when we heard from so many witnesses about the independence of this committee, about the tools that the committee should have, the committee did do its work. We incorporated those into the amendments. Unfortunately, one of the Liberal members of Parliament was removed from the committee. However, to have the government now gut the legislation when we were in agreement with so many of the amendments takes it back to square one. It does not reflect what the expert witnesses and the Privacy Commissioner put forward in testimony.

  (1335)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I now have the pleasure of being a member of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security with my colleague, and her current position surprises me.
    The existing committee is proposing a solution based on consultations and several years of experience, primarily in Great Britain. The formula currently before the House is therefore an improved version in terms of powers as well as the committee, and the committee's needs are clear. I would like to understand how the bill in its current form is a weaker version of the solutions already in place.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I enjoyed my colleague's input at the committee. We looked at different models that have been up and running and that have been changed over the years as well. The most important piece was around independence. When we have the Prime Minister appointing the chair—as I said, it has been a year now—when the minister has veto powers and can determine what the committee will hear and will not hear, this is not openness, this is not transparency. It is incumbent upon all of us, and if we want to do the job right, we need to make sure the tools are in place and the framework is in place.
    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity once again today to address the House on Bill C-22, legislation that will at long last establish a parliamentary body to scrutinize the work of all our national security and intelligence agencies. This is something that has been called for by parliamentarians, academics, other experts, commissions of inquiry, by the Auditor General, and many others, going back for more than a decade.

[Translation]

    The committee that will be created by this bill is key to our efforts in ensuring that our national security framework keeps us safe while protecting our rights and freedoms.

[English]

    When the initial version of this legislation was introduced last June, experts such as Professor Craig Forcese from the University of Ottawa noted that it would put in place “a stronger body than the UK and Australian equivalents”, and that it would be “a dramatic change for Canadian national security accountability”. Since then, the public safety standing committee of this House has studied the bill extensively and proposed a number of amendments. I thank the committee for its work and support many of its amendments to help ensure that the mandate, authorities, and access of the new national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians will be extensive, effective, and appropriate.
    Let me pause here to note that the title of this new entity is quite a mouthful, so during my remarks today, to save time, I may well use the acronym NSICOP.
    With respect to the amendments that have been proposed by members of Parliament, the government has agreed to add a whistle-blower clause in clause 31 of the bill, requiring the committee to inform the appropriate minister, as well as the attorney general, if it uncovers any activity that may not be in compliance with the law. We also agree on a change that would restrict the chair of the committee to voting only in the event of a tie rather than having the chair vote as a matter of course.
    We agree on amendments that would deal with the NSICOP's annual reports. MPs on all sides of the House have concluded that the Prime Minister should have the authority to redact certain sections of those annual reports if necessary, to safeguard vital national security interests or solicitor-client privilege. However, it would be mandatory for these reports to indicate the extent of and the reason for any such redactions. This is a reasonable and responsible approach, and I thank committee members for putting it forward. In essence, it mirrors the practice in the United Kingdom.
    We are also agreed on amendments to the section dealing with NSICOP's mandate. Accordingly, the authority of a minister to determine that an examination would be injurious to national security and therefore fall outside the mandate of the committee would apply only to ongoing operations. What is more, the minister would have to explain that determination to the committee, and would be bound to alert the committee as soon as the determination changes or as soon as the operation is no longer ongoing.
    We are also supporting several big amendments to clause 14, which is the section that lists the type of information to which the NSICOP would not have access. We have removed from this exclusions list, information about ongoing defence intelligence activities supporting military operations, privileged information under the Investment Canada Act, and information collected by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada. All of these areas would have been excluded from NSICOP under the initial version of the bill. Those three blanket exclusions are now gone.
    As we can see, the legislative process on Bill C-22 has been unfolding in a constructive manner. The government put forward a bill, the bill was studied in committee, amendments were proposed, and the government, after careful reflection, has agreed to accept a majority of what the standing committee requested. However, in all fairness and candour, there are also certain points on which we disagree with the committee, which is why the government House leader introduced amendments at report stage on Bill C-22.

  (1340)  

    For one thing, the government sincerely believes that giving blanket access to information about the personal identity of human intelligence sources and people in witness protection, as well as ongoing police investigations, is wrong. It could put lives at risk.
    Certainly I do not expect parliamentarians to be indiscreet with this kind of information, but the risk grows each time we widen the circle of those who know the identity of a protected witness or intelligence source. The NSICOP is certainly able to do its job of scrutinizing the work of security and intelligence agencies without personally identifying individual protected witnesses or sources.
    With respect to ongoing police investigations, I have two primary concerns. One is the simple importance of avoiding the perception of political interference in criminal investigations, which could appear from having politicians oversee police work in real time. The other is the potentially harmful impact of requiring law enforcement to divert resources from operations on the ground in order to keep parliamentarians apprised of their work while that work is actually happening.
    On this point, the CSIS director gave the standing committee the very good example of last year's police operation in Strathroy, Ontario, in which a possible terrorist attack was effectively thwarted. In that kind of fast-paced, resource-intensive situation, requiring resources to be assigned to send information to the committee of parliamentarians “would have been a distraction from the operation in progress” and could have constituted a public safety risk.
    We are also proposing to reinsert clause 16, which allows a minister to determine that certain information, narrowly defined, should be withheld from NSICOP on security grounds. I would point out that this is entirely in keeping with the way that these kinds of committees work in other countries, in the U.K., New Zealand, and Australia specifically.
    In the U.K., for example, a minister may prevent information from being shared with the committee on the grounds that it is too sensitive and should not be disclosed.
    In New Zealand, a witness may decline to provide information on the grounds that it is sensitive and that disclosing it would not be in the national interest, and then it is up to the prime minister to overrule the witness and force disclosure. Incidentally, in New Zealand, it is the prime minister who chairs the committee.
    In Australia, ministers can issue certificates preventing witnesses from giving evidence to prevent disclosure of “operationally sensitive information”.
     Therefore, as members can see, clause 16, as we have proposed, is very consistent with the best practices of our allies. Their ability to share information with Canada could be jeopardized without clause 16.
     However, in other ways the NSICOP to be created by Bill C-22 would go well beyond the scope that exists in other countries. The British committee requires a memorandum of understanding with the prime minister in order to examine anything beyond the work of three specific agencies: MI5, Ml6, and GCHQ. In Australia, the committee is limited to conducting statutory reviews of legislation and examining the administration and expenditures of particular agencies. A parliamentary resolution or ministerial referral is required for the Australian committee to even look at any other issues related to those agencies. The Canadian committee, by contrast, would be able to look at any activity carried out by any government department or agency that relates to national security and intelligence, and it would be able to follow the trail throughout the federal government. That is a far broader scope than exists in most other countries.
    In other words, the national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians created by Bill C-22 would have more access and more teeth than its counterparts elsewhere in the world. That was true even before the amendments made by the House standing committee, most of which the government is accepting, and it is certainly more true with those amendments now in place.
     Finally, with the passage of Bill C-22 we will fix an anomaly in our security architecture and have a form of parliamentary scrutiny that this country deserves.

  (1345)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. minister for his interventions, but I also want to remind him about some of the other testimony we heard at the committee stage from people Liberals like to call experts and like to defer to. I am thinking of Professor Roach, for example, and others in the privacy realm, who said that this bill—and it is only reinforced by the amendments the Liberals are proposing—actually creates a triple lock on the ability of the committee to do its job properly. It is a lock that is dictated by the Prime Minister's Office and is further dictated by the minister, and it prevents the committee from gaining access to information in a timely manner to do its proper job of oversight.
    Would the minister care to comment on that?
    Madam Speaker, the expert witnesses who either appeared before the committee or made comments in public made the very strong point that a piece of legislation like Bill C-22 is long overdue in the country and that it does represent a major step forward in improving the oversight, review, and scrutiny architecture within the Canadian national security and intelligence system. They made a number of recommendations for making the provision even better, and a number of those recommendations have been accepted by the government. They are being embodied in Bill C-22.
    Bill C-22 was a major step forward before the amendments. The amendments have made it better, and the end result is that we have a more successful piece of legislation now, thanks to the representations of the expert witnesses and thanks to the hard work of the parliamentary committee. I thank both for their contributions.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I have a question for the minister. He mentioned ongoing investigations as an example and the fact that it would be inappropriate for parliamentarians to have access to that information. However, all through the committee testimony, two investigations that this committee would not have the right to oversee kept coming up. They were Air India and the Afghan detainees. Those two files are extremely important; the investigations are technically still open and, in our view, this committee would be required to verify them in order to ensure the necessary oversight of national security agencies.
    In the previous Parliament, his colleague, the member for Vancouver Quadra, introduced Bill C-622, which was the same kind of bill, but one that created a committee that would have had much more access to information, even after the amendments that the government is proposing today. The Prime Minister and the minister himself voted for that bill, not to mention all the other Liberal members who were present at the time.
    Can the minister tell us why he has changed his mind?

  (1350)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, as has been universally stated by expert observers, both in the parliamentary process and beyond the parliamentary process in the public media and elsewhere, Bill C-22 is a major step forward. Thanks to the amendments that are being accepted in dealing with some of the issues that were raised by hon. members in the last two questions, the bill is stronger now than when it began, and it will be a major innovation in our national security architecture.
    I would point out that many of the experts we consulted, both here in Canada and around the world, said it was very important to ensure that the new committee would have the time and opportunity to earn the trust and confidence of the very agencies it would have to oversee and scrutinize, as well as the Canadian public. According to many of these expert advisers, it would therefore be prudent to start in a cautious manner, learn from experience, and then make the appropriate changes when we in Canada have gained that experience.
    That is the reason there is a provision in the bill to require the legislation to be reviewed in five years. It is so that we will have the chance to learn from that experience and in five years will have the obligation to make the appropriate upgrades and updates to the legislation to keep it in the forefront of such legislation around the world.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, normally I would say that I am pleased to rise in the House to take part in the debate on Bill C-22, a bill that the NDP supported at second reading. However, under the circumstances, with the rejection of most of the changes that were made in committee, contrary to what the minister claims, and only one hour after the adoption of a time allocation motion, I am far from pleased to take part in the debate on this matter.
    Bill C-22 is important, especially for the Liberals, considering it is central to the intellectual backflips they have been doing for three years now to justify their support for Bill C-51, passed in the last Parliament under the Stephen Harper government. The Liberal government has been in power for almost a year and a half now and we have barely completed this stage. It is worth mentioning, even if this is an issue for another debate on another day, that there is still no legislative measure on the table to right the wrongs created by Bill C-51 regarding rights and freedoms.
    That said, this is still a very important matter. Since Bill C-51 was passed and, I would venture to say, even before, many commissions of inquiry have been formed after various incidents in connection with the work of national security agencies. There is one very clear finding: Canadians have lost a great deal of confidence in our national security agencies. This issue obviously affects our rights and freedoms, as well as our privacy, given the rapid advances in technology. However, this is also a matter of national security because, after all, if the public has no confidence in its agencies, it is difficult for them to do their work effectively and appropriately.
    In principle, Bill C-22 is a good first step, and I can say that the minister is right about that. It is something that we should have had for a very long time. That said, very serious problems with the bill were raised in committee. A number of amendments would have gone a long way—even though they would not have made the bill perfect—to at least allowing parliamentarians to do their work better and to start off on the right foot.
    We can see that, and we have often heard the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons come back to one point. They say that this is new for Canada, that other countries have had more time to learn, and that we have to give ourselves some time. We are already some way ahead compared to other countries, but there is a problem. For example, look at how the chair of the committee is elected. In Great Britain, the committee chair is not only elected, but he is also an opposition member. As justification for not electing the committee chair, we are told that, in Great Britain, the committee has existed for a number of years now and that they decided to make changes only after a certain period of learning and becoming used to it. Here, clearly, as we have just heard, the minister is relying on a legislative review that will take place in five years.
    However, why not apply now what we learned from our allies? Why relearn the lessons of the past? I have a theory, without wanting to spread conspiracy theories. When this nice job, which comes with a salary on top of an MP's salary, is announced a year in advance, it is difficult for the Prime Minister to break his promise to the Liberal member who had the good fortune to secure this great position. Therefore, I would say that this is why we were not listening to the opposition amendments or the testimony of the chair of the British committee who offered this extremely important point for the credibility of the committee. All the technical issues on the form could be addressed, but credibility is also very important, to get back to the point I made at the outset, which is the public trust in our national security agencies.
    It is not just me saying this. I want to come back to the column in The Globe and Mail, co-written by professors Wesley Wark, Kent Roach and Craig Forcese, professors the minister likes to quote to talk about the importance of this first step that has been completed. In speaking of the amendments passed in committee, they said:

  (1355)  

[English]

    Should the government choose to force a return to the restrictive original bill, it risks potentially undermining a new and historic Parliamentary ability that it has enthusiastically championed. Failure to reach agreement with Parliament
    —not the Liberal caucus, but Parliament—
on this issue also imperils non-partisan support for future national-security reforms and changes to other elements of the review system for national security.
    When we hear that and with the majority of the amendments having been thrown out and a time allocation motion having been thrown in to boot, it is difficult to see a path forward that would allow the committee to have that credibility and non-partisan environment it so desperately needs. The committee needs that not only to do its work, but also, as I said and it is worth repeating, in order to gain the public's trust so the public can begin trusting the work that is being done by the national security agencies. This is a key element and the government is clearly failing on that front.

[Translation]

    I want to come back to the two examples I mentioned in the questions I have asked the government since the debate began this morning, specifically regarding the time allocation motion and the bill itself. The issue of ongoing investigations has often been raised. That is one of the restrictions we tried to lift through our amendments.
    Indeed, the two most striking examples of investigations into human rights violations that are worthy of examination by a body such as the one this bill proposes are the Air India inquiry and the Afghan detainees investigation.
    These are still open investigations, so technically, they are still ongoing. Under this bill, however, the committee of parliamentarians will not have the authority or the power to gather intelligence or conduct investigations. Thus, various pieces of information revealed in the media recently and many questions raised in the House for many years now could never have been raised. That is problematic, because it undermines the committee's mandate.
    Once again, this brings us to the public's confidence in the committee and its work, and by extension, in the work of our national security agencies. That is the theme of my speech, as members will soon see.

[English]

    When the government talks about some of the other issues that we raised in committee, it is important to note that for us, one point that has been clear is the restriction on access to information and the obvious solution is to limit it to cabinet confidence. With respect to everything else, we have to trust these parliamentarians, and the minister alluded to that issue. These parliamentarians will be sworn to secrecy and could potentially face jail time if any of this information is leaked.
    The government's approach seems to be one of not trusting the parliamentarians who will sit on this committee and who will literally never be able to talk about any national security issues in the public space. When the government House leader or the Minister of Public Safety stand and tell us not to worry because the committee can use the bully pulpit if ever it feels it is unable to do its work behind closed doors, that is just not true. It is critical for Canadians to understand that.
    Moreover, we talk about compromise and the importance of this being a non-partisan process. We hear the government say, “Well, the NDP proposed 13 amendments. The Liberals proposed 16. The Bloc proposed nine. The Green Party proposed two. We adopted two of those amendments so we are in the clear and everything is all right.” It is critical that the government look at the broader picture and the public trust.

  (1400)  

[Translation]

    I move, seconded by the member for Jonquière:
    That Motion No. 3 be amended by deleting paragraph (a).

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[Translation]

Martine Ouellet

    Mr. Speaker, on Saturday, the Bloc Québécois elected its first female leader. She is here on the Hill as we speak. Martine Ouellet became the leader of the Bloc Québécois by acclamation.
    I can say that she was acclaimed to thunderous applause. Allow me to quote our new leader:
    I truly believe this is the dawn of something great, legitimate, and important. [We are both building on the work of those who came before us, and creating something new, something different.] We are breaking the mould in order to better reinvent ourselves...with all the environmental, social, economic, and political challenges around the world, Quebec needs to be independent.
    Our adversaries describe us as closed-minded, but it is quite the opposite. [We are open and we have so much to bring to the world stage.]
    With Martine Ouellet, the Bloc Québécois is making a strong comeback. That is bad news for federalists, believe me. Welcome to the Bloc, Martine.

[English]

Operation Unifier

    Mr. Speaker, a decade ago, Russian ambassador to Washington Sergey Kislyak visited Ottawa as Russian deputy foreign minister. Back then, I confronted Kislyak about Russia's cyber-attacks on Estonia and its use of gas supply cut-offs to intimidate Ukraine. Ten years of diplomatic resets and the result is Russia is exponentially more belligerent. Then, Russia's cyber-attacks shut down Estonia. Today, they undermine the integrity of the U.S. presidential elections. Then, Russia punished Ukraine for its pro-western policies with gas shut-offs. Today, in Russia's war against Ukraine, 10,000 have been killed and two million have been displaced.
    Diplomatic engagement must include the strength of military conviction. Renewed Operation Unifier is a clear geopolitical deterrent to Russia's revanchist imperial intent.
    We are proud of our 200 Canadian soldiers serving in Ukraine.

Raising Hope

    Mr. Speaker, last year, students from Eastend School committed to a We project. Because area families had relied on Ronald McDonald House in the past, they decided to fundraise so others could stay there as well. Their goal was to raise $30,000.
     A core group of students, headed up by Janise Michel, organized the Raising Hope Gala for their small town. They sold tickets and tables. They rounded up 180 auction items. Area restaurants and caterers volunteered their cuisine. Local entertainers and an auctioneer donated their talents.
    The auction alone raised $30,000, with more than $35,000 coming from sponsors, tickets sales, and donations. The goal was $30,000, but the total was nearly $66,000.
    Last week, the group went to Ronald McDonald House not just to deliver the cheque, but to serve once more. They served supper to clients of the house.
    There are places and people in this world who give more than they take. I am so proud that southwest Saskatchewan is still one of those places.
    Check it all out at Raising Hope RMH.

Nowruz

     Mr. Speaker, today marks the Persian new year festival of Nowruz, which is celebrated by Persian, central Asian, Kurdish, and Ismaili Canadians. Nowruz has been celebrated since ancient times and serves as a testament to the longevity of the millennia-old Persian culture.
    This is a wonderfully colourful occasion when community members come together to mark the first day of spring, an annual victory of the spirit of the sun over cold and darkness and a time when nature renews its vows with life.
    The ancient Persians saw this as a symbolic moment that in the constant struggle between good and evil in all dimensions--physical, emotional, moral, and spiritual--good will always prevail.
    I hope the community in Vancouver Quadra and Canadians across the country enjoy their gatherings with family and friends around the haft seen and I wish them the greatest of blessings in the new year.
    [Member spoke in Persian as follows:]
     Noruzetan Pyruz.

  (1405)  

[Translation]

International Day of La Francophonie

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday in Trois-Rivières we kicked off the fifth International Day of La Francophonie in Mauricie.
    This evening, at the Ordre de la Pléiade ceremony, Ottawa will recognize the importance of promoting French and the dialogue of cultures. Today, March 20, the francophonie is celebrated around the world. Having 274 million French speakers is good, but having 274 million French speakers who organize themselves and set up institutions to support their development is better.
    The Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie, the Agence universitaire de la Francophonie, and TV5, are just a few of the institutions that come to mind.
    The francophonie provides opportunities for cultural exchanges and, increasingly, for economic growth and sharing scientific knowledge, which allow us to envisage an even brighter future.

International Day of La Francophonie

    Mr. Speaker, today we are celebrating the International Day of La Francophonie.
    As my colleague mentioned, more than 276 million people speak French and are celebrating their culture and their language today.
    In Canada, French and English are on an equal footing, and I have spent much of my career in education defending linguistic rights.
    The strength of our francophone and Acadian minority communities truly resides in education and early childhood programs.
    I would also like to point out that the Conseil jeunesse provincial de la Nouvelle-Écosse has created a very interesting initiative entitled “J'aime RIGHT ton accent” to inspire linguistic pride. It plays such an important role in educating the next generation.
    I can say that the next generation of French speakers in Nova Scotia and right across the country is exceptional.

[English]

World’s Greatest Horseman

    Mr. Speaker, I am proud to represent the riding of Foothills, the heart of cattle country where pioneers settled the west relying on work ethic, ingenuity, family, and horsemanship. I am proud to say that this character remains true in Alberta today.
    Today I rise in the House to pay tribute to an incredible Albertan who epitomizes that character. A Foothills resident with determination and amazing skill has accomplished what no other Canadian has done before. Earlier this year, Millarville's John Swales made history when he was named the world’s greatest horseman.
    Swales and his mount, Heza Diamond Spark, bested the top competitors on earth to earn the title of best in the world at the National Reined Cow Horse Association's Celebration of Champions in Fort Worth, Texas.
    Albertans know what it takes to be a champion: heart, tenacity, and talent. John Swales is no exception. It is with great pride that I congratulate Alberta's renowned Swales family and, of course, John, on being the first Canadian ever to be named the greatest horseman in the world.

Nowruz

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to welcome Nowruz, the Persian new year and arrival of spring.
    Recognized by the Parliament of Canada, Nowruz is a 3,000-year-old tradition celebrated by Iranian, Afghani, Azeri, Turkish, and other cultures rooted in central and western Asia. This festival embodies a wealth of ancient traditions and is a time when families and friends join together at the haft seen table to celebrate new beginnings, exchange gifts, enjoy traditional delicacies, and signify hope for the year ahead. It is an opportunity to renew our collective commitment to harmony, acceptance, and understanding.
     This year, Nowruz takes on special meaning as we also celebrate Canada's 150th birthday.
    Mr. Speaker, through you, I say to all Canadians celebrating Nowruz:
    [Member spoke in Farsi as follows:]
     Har Ruz etan Nowrouz, Nowruz etan Pyrouz.

  (1410)  

[Translation]

French Language

    Mr. Speaker, the 22nd Dictée Lavalloise was held on Saturday.
    I rise today to congratulate those who participated in this family activity. As a former teacher, I am delighted with the success of this dictation, administered simultaneously in Quebec and in France.
    I also rise to mark the International Day of La Francophonie and to highlight the language that binds us together around the world and here at home from coast to coast to coast.
    I am proud that Canada is committed to promoting the French language and the values of La Francophonie. I am proud to be part of a government that recognizes the importance of the French fact to this day. I am proud to be a francophone.
    Have a great and happy International Day of La Francophonie, everyone.

[English]

GlobalMedic

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring the attention of the House and Canadians watching at home to the work of the GlobalMedic organization. GlobalMedic's mandate is to save lives by providing short-term, rapid response in the wake of disasters and crises, both here at home and abroad.
    I actually participated in an event last December put on by GlobalMedic where we packed “welcome to Canada” kits for newly arrived Syrian refugee families. I want to note that the executive director of GlobalMedic, Rahul Singh, also spent some time in Niagara working with our amazing EMS personnel.
    GlobalMedic is now one of the top 10 finalists for Google.org's Impact Challenge contest. It is competing for a $750,000 Google grant. If successful, the GlobalMedic team would use the money to expand its innovative RescUAV program in disaster zones to help coordinate humanitarian responders and save lives.
    I want to wish the GlobalMedic organization the best of luck in this challenge and great success in all of its future endeavours.

Holi

    Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to speak about the Holi festival. My colleagues and I recognize the importance of Holi every year on the Hill.
    Holi is a festival of colour and love. During the Holi festival, people are drenched in colours while playing Holi with each other. We will often hear the phrase, “Don't mind, because it is Holi.” Holi shows thanksgiving and the victory of good over evil. While some choose to worship for spiritual reasons, others have fun, loudly, through music, song, and dance. On that day, they forget their worries and pursue forgiveness. The end goal is sharing love and happiness with friends, family, and the community.
    I wish my colleagues, family, and the community a colourful Holi.

Hepatitis C

    Mr. Speaker, hepatitis C is a contagious viral infection that ranges in severity from mild illness lasting a few weeks to serious lifelong liver disease. NWT has the highest rate of hepatitis C in Canada. About 250,000 people are infected with the virus in Canada, but most are unaware that they are infected. Many patients do not experience any symptoms until their liver becomes so damaged that they develop cirrhosis, liver cancer, or liver failure.
    I encourage the development of a national hepatitis C strategy that includes voluntary testing for everyone born between 1945 and 1965, who make up the majority of cases in Canada, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Like many diseases, if caught early, there are much better outcomes for patients. If we work together, we can limit the impact of this virus and protect the health of all Canadians.

Nowruz

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to wish Canadians of Kurdish, Persian, Ismaili, and Central Asian heritage a very happy Nowruz, as this week marks the start of a new year. Coinciding with the launch of spring, Nowruz symbolizes hope for peace, for an end to violence, and for reuniting with friends and family and marks a new beginning for people around the world.
    Nowruz is celebrated through a variety of traditions, including by the Kurds, who gather in the countryside to light bonfires, which represent passing from the darkness of the previous year into the light of the next; the Persians, who set the haft-seen table and exchange gifts; and the Central Asians, who plant trees and attend festivities marking the occasion.
    I wish a joyful celebration and sweet, sweet success in 2017 to all Canadians observing Nowruz.
    [Member spoke in Persian as follows:]
     Noruzetan Pyruz.

  (1415)  

Come From Away

    Mr. Speaker, last week we braved a nor'easter to celebrate the people of Gander on Broadway with the musical Come From Away. The show moved our Prime Minister and the entire delegation to laughter and tears with the incredible and true story of how people from my province welcomed thousands, with open arms, as a town of not 9,000 people nearly doubled when 38 aircraft landed in just hours on 9/11.

[Translation]

    We all know that Canada and the United States have a strong cultural and trade connection. Last Wednesday evening, people from around the world and politicians from the two countries reaffirmed this connection. This magnificent Broadway production reminded us of the importance of acceptance, of kindness, and of welcoming people in need.

[English]

    A Canada Council grant gave the writers support in creating this magical production of the world coming to a small town, and it was workshopped at Sheridan College.
     I congratulate the cast and crew on their success. I encourage everyone in the House to see it, and most of all, to visit Gander and Newfoundland and Labrador, of course, for a taste of our hospitality.

Veterans Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, Canada's veterans are not getting the support they deserve. I heard this loud and clear at the Nanaimo Legion 10 town hall earlier this month. Vets said that both past Conservative and Liberal governments are poisoning patriotism and the desire to serve our country. They said that dealing with Veterans Affairs with PTSD is like being given a jigsaw puzzle and turning out the lights.
    These young vets want a navigator to help them manage the tangled bureaucracy of PTSD treatment and to make sure that no vet is discharged without medical benefits and a pension in place. They want the lifetime pension for wounded vets restored, as the Liberals promised. The Canadian Forces ombudsman reinforced this in withering testimony to the Senate on March 8, when he said that Canada is not living up to its bargain.
    This week's Liberal budget must make this right. Our veterans deserve so much better.

[Translation]

International Day of La Francophonie

    Mr. Speaker, today is the International Day of La Francophonie. During the week of March 6 to 12, I took part in a leadership workshop and meetings of the Association parlementaire de la Francophonie with other French-speaking women parliamentarians from around the world at the Quebec National Assembly. This was also an opportunity to note just how much the French language acts as a common link across the five continents.
    Many French Canadians, including Céline Dion and Xavier Dolan, have proven that it is possible to be successful internationally in French, just as Alain Bouchard, the founder of the Couche-Tard convenience store chain, has done in the business world.
    It is the duty of all parliamentarians to ensure that the French language is respected, maintained, and continually protected. We all need to rise above party politics on this matter.
    To the francophones of Quebec, of Canada, and the entire world, and to everyone who choses to speak French, I say happy International Day of La Francophonie.

International Day of La Francophonie

    Mr. Speaker, as the chair of the Standing Committee on Official Languages, I wish everyone a wonderful International Day of La Francophonie.
    I would like to point out the importance of the Francophonie in Canada and the world. Canada is the second-largest French-speaking member of the international Francophonie with almost 10 million Canadians who speak our beautiful and rich language in every province.
    Yves Duteil said it so well in his song La langue de chez nous:
    

It is a beautiful language with splendid words
whose history can be traced in its variations
...
It built bridges across the Atlantic
It left its home for another land
And like a swallow transported by the spring
It returns to sing of its sorrows and hopes

It tells us that in that far off country of snow
It faced the winds blowing from all directions
To impose its words even in the schools
And that our own language is still spoken there

It is a beautiful language to those who know how to defend it
It offers treasures of untold richness
The words we lacked to be able to understand one another
And the strength required to live in harmony


ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

  (1420)  

[Translation]

The Budget

    Mr. Speaker, when we spend more money than we are taking in that is called a deficit in both of Canada's official languages.
    This government has lost control of spending and now it needs to create new revenues or cut credits for families. I can hardly wait for Wednesday's budget to see what cuts Canadian families will have to endure after losing their tax credits for sports and culture.
    What new cuts will we see? What will these families be in for when they wake up Thursday morning after the budget is brought down?
    Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday, we will present a budget that will create growth for the middle class, which has been our focus from the beginning. Last year, we lowered taxes for the middle class and we increased them for the wealthiest 1%. My colleague's party voted against that tax cut for the middle class.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we have voted against a deficit. That is what we have done.
    We see that the new American administration will lower taxes on small businesses. On this side of the border, it will create new challenges for our Canadian small businesses. Can they stay competitive under the new circumstances?
    Will the Prime Minister lower taxes on Canadian small businesses, exactly like he promised, in order to keep them competitive in the American economy and with our American neighbours and to help them create jobs?
    Mr. Speaker, a common challenge we face in North America is to create growth for the middle class. That is what we have been focused on for a year and a half. That is how we put more money in the pockets of the middle class—by lowering taxes on the middle class and raising taxes on the wealthiest 1%.
    I would remind you, Mr. Speaker, and all others in the House, that the Conservative Party voted against lowering taxes on the middle class and raising them on the wealthiest 1%. It is a shame.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, just for that alone, the cost was $2 billion more than what they had planned. This goes to show to what extent they failed to anticipate how much it would cost, and it is just one example.
    To avoid losing face, they have reached the point of wanting to sell airports. It is as if a family were to sell their fridge and stove to pay off their credit card. That makes no sense.
    Will we see this in Thursday's budget? Will we be selling off Canadian airports at a discount so that the Prime Minister can save face?
    Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday, the hon. member, like all Canadians, will see that, with this budget, we will be promoting the growth of the middle class and investing in the future of our country. That is what Canadians expect.
    We made the choice to invest in our communities, to invest in infrastructure and to invest in the growth of the middle class. We rose to the occasion by implementing the Canada child benefit, which gives more money to nine out of ten families, while eliminating benefits for the wealthiest families. The Conservative Party voted against the Canada child benefit.

[English]

Standing Orders of the House of Commons

    Mr. Speaker, we are seeing a troubling pattern established with these Liberals. They are shutting down debate, they are ramming through legislation, and we have a Prime Minister who does not want to answer questions directly on his ethical lapses. Now we find out that he only actually wants to be here one day a week to answer questions. That is not accountability.
    Does the Prime Minister commit that no changes will be made to the Standing Orders unless he has agreement from all parties in this House?
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians elected a government with an ambitious plan for change, for investing in the middle class and for investing in the future of this country, and that is exactly what we are busy delivering.
    We are putting forward legislation that lowered taxes on the middle class and raised them on the wealthiest 1% and put forward a Canada child benefit that gives more money to nine out of 10 Canadian families.
     We have an awful lot we need to get done for Canadians to grow the middle class after 10 years of neglect by the previous government, that wanted to give tax benefits to the richest Canadians. That is why Conservatives voted against the Canada child benefit and lowering taxes on the middle class. Unfortunately, that is more of what we are going to see—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

  (1425)  

    I would remind hon. colleagues that one person at a time has the floor. Now the hon. opposition House leader has it.
    Mr. Speaker, I was asking the Prime Minister about the Standing Orders changes. If he wants to be accountable, he needs to answer some of these questions directly.
    We now find out that the Liberals want to shut down this House and only have it open four days a week. Canadians have to work five days a week. The Liberals should as well.
    Again, does the Prime Minister commit that if any changes are to be made to the Standing Orders, he will have agreement from all parties in this House? Yes or no.
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians elected a government with a big idea of how we were going to help Canadians. That is exactly what we are going to do. We are always looking for ways to make the workings of the House more efficient, better able to serve Canadians, both in their ridings and in Ottawa. We are happy to open a discussion about whether we should make Fridays a full day of work, instead of the half day that the Conservatives seem to want.
    We are happy to do more work for Canadians. Let us just figure out the best way to do it.

Infrastructure

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals' plan for infrastructure includes a massive privatization bank that could double the cost of infrastructure to Canadian taxpayers. Their plan also seems to include the privatization of Canadian airports. I am wondering if the Prime Minister could show Canadians exactly where in the Liberal election platform this was ever mentioned.
    Since he has no mandate to do so, will the Prime Minister guarantee that he will not privatize Canadian airports?
    Mr. Speaker, the infrastructure bank was a campaign commitment that we campaigned on to demonstrate the fact that we understood there was room for global investment of private capital in Canadian infrastructure. It is a way of leveraging more money to build things like public transit, like power grids, the kinds of things that Canadians need more of. These are investments we are willing to make.
    As for more details, we are looking forward to sharing those with all Canadians on Wednesday when we present our plan to continue to grow the middle class in the country.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has not answered the question because he cannot do so. He does not know where to find this answer in his election promises.
    Where in their platform did the Liberals promise to privatize airports? Nowhere. They never talked about it. Airport privatization is no small detail. It will increase fees for airline passengers across Canada.
    Either the Prime Minister is making it up as he goes or he always intended to privatize airports. Which one is it?
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member will know, as all Canadians will, how we are going to create growth for the middle class by investing in our future and in training.
    The hon. member will see just how willing we are to invest in the future of this country by giving more money to the middle class, which the hon. member voted against when he refused to vote for our bill to increase taxes for the wealthy and lower them for the middle class.

Indigenous Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, that is not true and he knows it. We voted for that.

[English]

    The Prime Minister also committed to a nation-to-nation relationship with indigenous peoples and to right historic wrongs. The term “nation-to-nation” is not a political slogan. It must mean dealing as equals and an awareness of past betrayals. However, the Liberals argue that they are not even bound by the decisions of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.
    How can the Prime Minister claim to believe in a nation-to-nation relationship when he refuses to end discrimination against first nations children and when he continues to fight them in court?
    Mr. Speaker, no relationship is more important to this government than the one with indigenous peoples. That is why we put forward historic amounts of money, $8.4 billion in last year's budget, to start the long work of reconciliation.
     We agree that there is much more to be done, but we know that whether it is eliminating long-term drinking water advisories, boil water advisories, or making sure that thousands of indigenous Canadians started school last September in new schools, we are making concrete differences in the lives of indigenous Canadians, young and old.

  (1430)  

Finance

    The truth is that he is fighting first nations children in court, Mr. Speaker. That is what he is doing.

[Translation]

    The Liberals also promised that they would put an end to the tax loophole involving stock options for CEOs, which benefits only the rich.
    Two weeks ago, the Liberals voted for an NDP motion that specifically called for that loophole to be ended. If the Liberals are refusing to do so now, they will have misled the public and the House.
     Can the Prime Minister therefore guarantee that, in this budget, he will put an end to this tax loophole that benefits only the wealthiest in our society?
    Mr. Speaker, our first act in government was to lower taxes for the middle class and to raise them for the wealthiest 1%.
    The hon. member and his party voted against that measure that was designed to reduce taxes for the middle class. The fact is that, on Wednesday, everyone will see a budget focused on the growth of the middle class and on the assistance that Canadians so sorely need after 10 years of Conservative government.

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, 10 years of Conservative government resulted in a budget surplus of $2.9 billion. I would like to thank the Prime Minister for giving me the opportunity to remind the House about this truth that is so dear to Canadians.
    Speaking of numbers, the government will table its budget 50 hours from now. People are worried because they do not trust the government, especially the Prime Minister. We have questioned the Prime Minister non-stop about whether he would be increasing taxes on health and dental insurance plans. He finally said no, and six days later, he voted contrary to his own words.
    Can the Prime Minister assure Canadians that they will not have to pay—
    Order, please.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.
    Our government is committed to investing in the middle class, in people, and in the economy. It was this government that lowered taxes for the middle class. That is the first thing we did when we took power. We also increased taxes for the wealthy.
    We also created the Canada child benefit, which has helped nine out of ten families to raise their children. We have a plan, and we will continue to move forward. We are pleased.
    Mr. Speaker, many will recall the sad day barely two years ago when the current Prime Minister said that, as far as he was concerned, small businesses were a way to avoid paying taxes. Perhaps that is true for him. However, for those who are creating jobs and wealth, our entrepreneurs, small businesses are everything but that.
    The reality that comes with the new American administration is that American business owners are going to pay lower taxes.
    Will the Prime Minister commit, through the upcoming budget, to ensuring that our entrepreneurs can compete with their American competitors on a level playing field?
    Mr. Speaker, once again, I thank my colleague for his question. Canada is well positioned on the global stage. We have a very competitive tax environment compared to the United States and other OECD countries.
    People looking to invest in Canada also benefit from a very skilled and well-educated population. We will continue with our plan to invest in skills, innovation, and productivity in order to ensure that we can preserve and develop these advantages here in Canada.

[English]

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, in the first year alone, Liberal “deliverology” has failed to deliver good-paying jobs, and it was not for lack of funds. The Liberals have shot past their $10 billion modest deficits and they have no credible plan to get us back to black. Worse yet, the term “balanced budget” has now become a dirty word for the Minister of Finance, who refuses to ever use it. Why is that? Why has the Liberal government abandoned its promise to return to a balanced budget in 2019?
    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House today to speak about the wonderful things our government has done. Since we formed government, in the past six months we have created over 220,000 full-time jobs. When we look at the unemployment rate, it has gone down from 7% to 6.6%.
     Our plan is working and we are going to continue to move forward.

  (1435)  

Small Business

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has said that small businesses are just there to help rich people avoid taxes. Clearly, he has never met the hard-working entrepreneurs who actually own small businesses across our nation. It seems he will continue the attack on these middle-class families in the upcoming budget.
     When will the Prime Minister end his attack on small businesses?
    Mr. Speaker, this government recognizes the important work that small business owners do and the contributions they make to our economy. Our endeavour will always be to help them be more productive, more innovative, and export oriented.
     This government will continue to take a whole-of-government approach to ensure that we open up markets for 99% of businesses, which are small businesses. We will continue to work very hard for them.

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has lived his first year in office like the son of a Monaco billionaire. He has travelled. He has partied with celebrities and thrown money at everyone and everything. It all has gone on the national credit card.
    Now, to pay the bill, he is nickel and diming small businesses and working people, with higher taxes on work, hiring, kids sports and fuel, name it.
    In this week's budget will the Prime Minister finally stop the binge before he runs out of other people's money?
    Mr. Speaker, our government will continue to build on the commitment to help middle-class Canadians and those working hard to join it.
    The first thing this government did when we came to office was lower taxes for middle-class Canadians and we increased them for the wealthy 1%.
    The other action this government took was putting in place a very generous Canada child benefit program to help hundreds and thousands of children get out of poverty.
    We have also taken some steps to help our seniors by increasing the guaranteed income supplement for low income seniors by 10%.
    Our focus is on middle-class Canadians, and we will continue to work for them.

Social Development

    Mr. Speaker, will the Liberals admit that they do not know what the middle class is? However, this week the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development produced a diagram full of laser beams to clarify. In it, growth beams inclusive to the middle class, which returns an engine back to growth that is transformed into expectation/mobility that is sent over to trust, which reciprocates with investment/human and physical capital. Finally, trust feeds the middle class that beams support over to trust.
    Do the Liberals need Fridays off so they can continue to “deliverologize” more synergistic laser beams like these ones?
    Mr. Speaker, I think all members of the House are proud to notice the interest of our colleague in real facts: facts around the decrease in middle-class income taxes, while increasing taxes for the top 1% of Canadians; facts around 900,000 seniors getting up to $1,000 more in guaranteed income supplements because we care about vulnerable seniors; and facts around the major impact that the Canada child benefit is having across the families of six million children in Canada.

Financial Institutions

    Mr. Speaker, hard-working Canadians are struggling to eke out a living, worried about growing household debt, but now we know our own banks are working against us by pressuring Canadians into even more debt and services they do not need.
    How did the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada fail to notice this behaviour by the big banks? Why have we heard nothing from the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions? Will the minister direct a joint investigation into the marketing and sales practices of Canada's banks, yes or no?
    0Mr. Speaker, Canadians deserve strong financial consumer protections that meet their needs. Our government expects that all financial institutions adhere to the highest standards when it comes to their consumer protection obligations.
    The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada is launching an industry review of the matter of all sales of banks' practices. I have full confidence that the review will be thorough and that the agency will use all tools at its disposal to investigate and to address any non-compliance with the law.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the evidence and the stories keep piling up; something is indeed rotten in the state of Canada's banks.
    High-pressure sales, toxic financial products, lack of consent, no disclosure, and even lies: that is how our banks are treating us, as household debt rises to a peak. Shareholders rule and to hell with the customers!
    Is the Liberal government going to respond? Is the Liberal government going to support the NDP motion asking for a parliamentary inquiry on the questionable practices of Canadian banks?

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, my thanks to my colleague for his question.
    Canadians deserve the strongest consumer protection legislation and fiscal plans. Our government expects all financial institutions to conform to the highest standards. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada is launching an investigation into the banks' sales practices. I have complete confidence that the agency will use its tools to deal with the situation.

[English]

Standing Orders of the House of Commons

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are scheming to dramatically change the rules of the House to serve their own partisan interests. They want to shut the place down on Fridays, taking a day off at the same time as thousands of Canadian workers have been laid off. The Prime Minister only wants to have to show up here once a week for question period. These changes will diminish Parliament and greatly reduce government accountability.
    Will the Liberals respect parliamentary precedent and only proceed with those changes that all parties will agree to, or will they ram through these changes to rig the system in their favour?
    Mr. Speaker, this government recognizes the important work that the members of Parliament do in the House and in their constituencies. As the member of Parliament for the riding of Waterloo, I can assure all members that when I return to the riding, I continue working hard for my constituents. I cannot speak for the member opposite, but I am sure that most members would be doing the same thing, and I would encourage that to be the case.
    We have released a discussion paper, a discussion, a conversation, to ask the committee to actually broaden the scope of the study to consider modernizing this place, as we committed to Canadians.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it is shameful to cast doubt upon my colleague's work.
    The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons has, on the sly, released a document containing proposals for modernizing the work of the House. Shortly thereafter, a notice of motion along the same lines was introduced at the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
    Can the chair of the committee, the hon. member for Yukon, inform us when that study will take place? Can he assure us that the committee meetings will not be held in camera? Will he abide by the Prime Minister's notions of transparency and sunny ways?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, the committee is the master of its own destiny. It has a subcommittee that decides the procedure and the timing. The member knows what is in the motion on the timing for improving the operation of the House, and it will be up to the committee to decide how it arranges the meetings to do that.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a long-standing practice that no major changes to the Standing Orders be adopted without the consent of all parties. To pick one example among many, the Chrétien government established a special committee on House of Commons procedures. That committee produced six unanimous reports over its two-year lifetime. Therefore, can the chair of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs tell the House, will his committee accept the principle of unanimity with respect to changes to the Standing Orders?
    Mr. Speaker, the committee, as I said before, is in charge of its own procedures, in charge of its own precedents, in charge of its own way of dealing with different motions. The committee will decide that and proceed in that manner.
    Mr. Speaker, less than two hours after the proposals and Standing Orders were made public, a Liberal MP put forward a motion to, one, force the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to treat the proposals as a single omnibus measure, and two, impose draconian deadlines in reporting back to the House--in other words, to impose closure.
    It appears the Liberals are trying to ram through this motion at a secret in camera meeting planned for 11 a.m. tomorrow. My question is for the chair of the committee. Will the closure motion be scheduled for discussion at tomorrow's meeting, and will that meeting be held in camera or in public?
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. If members want to hear the answer, they ought to listen, or perhaps we will go on to the next question.
    Let us hear the answer then. The hon. member for Yukon.

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, the member is very experienced in committee operations and knows that the committee itself makes those decisions.

[Translation]

Indigenous Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls was launched last year. However, I believe that actions speak louder than words. To date, the commissioners have not even met with the families of the missing and murdered women. Today we learned that the commission has the names of only 90 participants. Why?
    Why has the process not been announced yet? Why do the victims' families have to find the information themselves? The minister must ensure that all victims' families will be heard.
    Mr. Speaker, our government is absolutely determined to address this national tragedy. We have provided the commission with many resources, including a database that contains hundreds of names.
    We are also actively working with the commission to ensure that it has the necessary tools to contact these people and organizations.
    Our government will continue to provide information and advice to the commission with respect to its current commitments—
    The hon. member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the families of murdered and missing indigenous women and girls want justice, but they also want to be heard. Shockingly, the inquiry commission only lists 90 victims, and the government is refusing to provide additional names. The Native Women's Association of Canada has identified 4,000 victims, and we know that might be only the tip of the iceberg. With hearings scheduled in just eight weeks, is the government blocking information to the inquiry? Why is it not doing everything in its power so that all families can be heard?
    Mr. Speaker, in fact, we are absolutely not blocking anything. We will be doing everything in our power to get it the information. The Native Women's Association, the AFN, ITK, and all of the organizations are working in close collaboration with the commission, and the families will be heard.

[Translation]

Infrastructure

    Mr. Speaker, since the start of 2017 our government has announced many drinking water and waste water treatment projects.
    As a result of the bilateral agreement signed with Quebec last summer, I have announced 12 different projects in 10 municipalities in the Lower St. Lawrence worth more than $20 million.
    Can the Minister of Infrastructure provide us with details of the program?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all of my hon. colleagues from the province of Quebec for their hard work in advocating for infrastructure projects for their communities. Over the last month, we have announced 89 clean water and waste water projects worth over $390 million in combined investment funding in four regions across Quebec. These projects will ensure that Quebec residents have access to a clean and reliable water source. We look forward to sharing similar good news with other regions of Quebec very soon.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, we now know just how disastrous the Liberals' decision to cave to pressure from their corporate friends and lift the Mexican visa requirement actually was. Last month saw a 2500% increase in refugee claims from Mexico. The cost to taxpayers of false refugee claims from Mexico was the reason our Conservative government implemented the visa requirement in the first place. With so many people out of work, when will the Liberals reinstate the visa requirement?
    Mr. Speaker, it is very rich for that member, that government, and that previous party to bring up the Mexico visa lift. They considerably damaged our relationship with Mexico, which we are responsibly rebuilding and strengthening. The Mexican visa lift will lead to lasting economic benefits for Canada, with more tourists and more legitimate travellers. We have already seen that impact, with triple the number of legitimate travellers into Canada. This will continue to create economic benefits for our country. We will work closely with Mexican officials to address any risks to this issue, and we will ensure its success.

  (1450)  

    Mr. Speaker, our government responsibly prevented taxpayers from paying a quarter of a billion dollars in false refugee claims. Therefore, with taxpayers on the hook for this giant increase in refugee claims and a flood of illegal migrants at the American border, the public safety minister's response last week was, “Maybe we should line up the RCMP at the border, they should all link arms and shoo people away, or maybe [use] fire hoses or whatever...” I am serious. When are the Liberals going to stop treating this like a joke?
    Mr. Speaker, if the member opposite and the party opposite are against a threefold increase in legitimate Mexican travellers to Canada, then they are welcome to express that sentiment.
    We are working very hard to strengthen and continue to expand on the strong bilateral relationship with Mexico, which was damaged considerably by the party opposite when it was in government. We have mechanisms in place and we are working very closely with Mexican officials to address any risks related to the visa lift. We have already witnessed lasting economic benefits from the visa lift.

Government Appointments

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are still waiting for answers on the logic and manner of Stéphane Dion's extraordinarily clumsy diplomatic appointments. Canada's professional diplomats, past and present, at headquarters and abroad, are dismayed and discouraged. Mr. Dion's status in Brussels will diminish the rank and the authority of the ambassador in place. Mr. Dion's status with Germany, as a still uninvited special adviser, is a diplomatic faux pas. For a ministerial housecleaning so long in the works, why this diplomatic train wreck?
    Mr. Speaker, let me remind my hon. colleague of what the leader of his party said when Stéphane left the House. She described him as a Canadian who understood the issues in minute detail and was prepared to vigorously defend his positions.
    As for the orders in council, it was a procedural step, and each appointee will receive two orders in council.
    The Prime Minister and I heard in Europe a couple of weeks ago of the highest respect for Mr. Dion. We are honoured to have him represent us.
    Mr. Speaker, the bungling of Mr. Dion's diplomatic consolation prizes reflects badly not only on the Liberal government, not only with the offended EU and German host countries, but the broader international community.
    What else have the Liberals forgotten to do? Are there loose ends as well with regard to Mr. Dion's dual citizenship?
    Mr. Speaker, speaking on behalf of our diplomats and our fine ambassadors, to be an ambassador serving Canada around the world is no consolation prize. It is one of the highest honours that we can confer on a Canadian.

Softwood Lumber

    Mr. Speaker, while the Liberals claimed that Canada would not be the target of Trump's trade policies, it is now clear that the U.S. wants to get tough on softwood lumber. Last week, the U.S. trade representative nominee said that softwood lumber is at the top of his list and that the U.S. industry wants quotas on Canadian imports. Any new deal must allow small producers to export and provide flexibility for the provinces. Without a deal, Canada's softwood lumber sector is braced for punishing duties of 25% or more.
    Will the Liberals support the sector with loan guarantees and assistance for workers and communities?
    Mr. Speaker, we realize how important the forestry sector is to Canada, to all regions of the country. We have begun to have very good conversations with our counterparts in the provinces that might be affected by American action. We are certain that we will offer a coordinated way of protecting the jobs that are of interest not only to us but to the entire country.

  (1455)  

[Translation]

Canadian Heritage

    Mr. Speaker, last week the closure of the HMV stores led to the bankruptcy of the distributor DEP, which has put an abrupt stop to the marketing of Quebec artists.
    From Vincent Vallières to the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Florence K, DEP's bankruptcy seems to be the latest sign of the collapse of Quebec's recording industry and a new source of worry about Canadian content.
    Canada must move swiftly to regulate all the new online providers, whether they are based in Montreal, Los Angeles, or some other tax haven.
    Can the minister tell us what she has done to ensure that these new players contribute to our ecosystem and to the same tax system as everyone else?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his important question and his interest in this file.
    Of course, we launched public consultations last year to consider all the repercussions that digital services have on the entire Canadian cultural ecosystem.
    In 2017, I will have the opportunity to introduce some major changes in order to address some of the issues that were raised by my colleague.

[English]

Government Spending

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has already spent five times what the previous government spent on polling, and this latest announcement of increased spending on weekly polling is just another example of the Liberal government's wasteful spending in its lust to get re-elected. Cash for access, blurring the lines between government and party business, and now weekly calls to see how Canadians are reacting to the latest broken promise, ethics scandal, and bad government policy.
    When will the Liberals quit spending taxpayers' money on polling to see if Canadians are buying their nonsense?
    Mr. Speaker, this government made a commitment to work hard for middle-class Canadians and those working hard to join them. That is exactly why we lowered taxes on middle-class Canadians and increased taxes on the wealthiest 1% of Canadians.
    This government has had unprecedented levels of public consultation to ensure that Canadians can interact and communicate with it. We will continue to listen to them and to respond to the very real challenges they are facing.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, another outrageous expense by the Liberals has come to light. Recently, the media are reporting that the Liberal government spent $2.5 million in the last year in order to find out what to do.
    Can this Prime Minister tell us why, in just 16 months, he spent more on polling Canadians than the Conservative government did in the previous decade?
    Mr. Speaker, our government uses a number of methods to better understand Canadians' views and to identify their needs and expectations.
    The research is shared with all departments and allows us to be constantly listening to Canadians on various subjects and priorities that affect their daily lives.

[English]

Privy Council Office

     Mr. Speaker, the Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner by-election took place on October 24, 2016. We know that the Prime Minister used government aircraft and government staff while he was campaigning in that by-election. Last week it was revealed that the Prime Minister also used the non-partisan Privy Council Office and its staff to support those same campaign events.
    Will the Prime Minister confirm that he is using Privy Council Office resources to again help campaign in the upcoming five by-elections?
    Mr. Speaker, it is important for members to know, and I am sure they will support, that the Prime Minister must always be in a position to carry out official government duties. The Prime Minister is always in contact with his office and is routinely provided with briefing materials during all travel, domestically and internationally, whether on personal or government business.
    The Prime Minister is prepared in advance of all events and is afforded the same support as previous prime ministers.

[Translation]

International Development

    Mr. Speaker, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen are faced with a terrible crisis affecting food and nutrition. The UN recently even declared it to be the worst humanitarian crisis since 1945. Last Friday, Canada announced funds to assist the poorest and most vulnerable of those affected by the crisis.
    Can the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie inform the House of the details of this major announcement?

  (1500)  

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle for her interest in the matter.
    Our government is indeed very concerned by the famine in Yemen, South Sudan, Nigeria and Somalia. We recently announced a contribution of $120 million to provide food, drinking water and health care for the 20 million people suffering from acute malnutrition. We are also insisting that the warring parties ensure full, unhindered access for humanitarian workers.

[English]

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, violent intentions in Ukraine are on the rise with an increase in violations of the Minsk peace agreements. Unfortunately, the Liberal support for Ukraine is on the decline.
    Extending our Conservative military mission in Ukraine is welcome, but there is more that Canada can offer. The Liberals have already cancelled supplies of radar satellite images, they refuse to sign the defence co-operation agreement, and they have backed down from their campaign promise to implement Magnitsky-style sanctions on corrupt foreign officials.
    Will the Liberals stop disappointing our Ukrainian allies and respect the request for providing lethal defensive weapons?
    Mr. Speaker, our government stands shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine. With our military planners and whole-of-government approach, we consult with our allies, the U.K. and the U.S., in making sure that we have the right support.
     Operation Unifier is just one portion of that. We also take a look at the wider support that we have provided, such as our support with Operation Reassurance; sending troops into Latvia, which sends a strong message to Russia; our air policing that we will be doing; and the frigate that we have there. In totality, this sends an extremely strong message to Russia.

Fisheries and Oceans

    Mr. Speaker, last Thursday the Liberals released the supposed recovery plan for the southern resident killer whales, but it is one that includes no action. Only 78 southern residents still remain, and even the National Energy Board report on Kinder Morgan found that extinction is the likely outcome from a major oil spill.
    Why have the Liberals failed to reinstate funding for Straitwatch, the on-the-water orca monitoring program? Why have they failed to fund or even consider proposals from stakeholders to protect this endangered species, or, on the current Prime Minister's watch, will Canadians see the extinction of B.C.'s southern resident orcas?
    Mr. Speaker, our government is fully committed to the protection and recovery of our iconic resident killer whale population, and we will continue to work to better understand the threats to this population.
    The proposed action plan for the northern and southern resident killer whale in Canada was released last summer for public consultation, and we now have the finalized report. I am happy to share that many of the recovery actions that are identified in the killer whale recovery strategy and action plan are already under way.

Air Transportation

    Mr. Speaker, aviation safety is something all Canadians care about. With Pearson airport close to my riding, recent incidents involving drones entering restricted air space and flying close to airplanes are concerning my constituents of Mississauga—Streetsville.
    Can the minister please update Canadians on the actions the government is taking in order to improve aviation safety?
    Mr. Speaker, last week we announced government measures to make recreational drone flying safer, both in the skies as well as on the ground.
    We put in place some measures that took effect immediately last Thursday. These are interim measures, until such time as we come out later this year with permanent measures to make our skies and the ground safer.

[Translation]

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, with every passing day more people are criticizing the Liberals for deciding to purchase 18 outdated Super Hornets.
    Now, Jean Boyle, a former general and the former vice president of international business at Boeing when the Super Hornet was being developed, is saying that NORAD will use its best planes, either the F-35 or the F-22, and not fourth generation jets like the Super Hornet, to protect the North.
    Why, then, are the Liberals bent on buying outdated planes at $300 million apiece if they will not be used?
    Mr. Speaker, for the first time in 10 years, our soldiers can expect to put out to sea on new vessels and to fly into the skies in new planes. We are very proud to be supplying the Canadian Armed Forces with new equipment.
    We have begun discussions with our partners in the United States and we will rise to the challenge for our Canadian Armed Forces.

  (1505)  

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, today in the Superior Court of Quebec begins the court challenge of Bill 99, the law that recognizes the right of the people of Quebec to independence.
    Forcing Quebec to defend a basic principle of democracy is where Ottawa's federalism has taken us. The federal government, under Stephen Harper, decided to involve itself in the case.
    Will the government withdraw from these proceedings and finally recognize Quebec's right to self-determination?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to upholding our constitutional values and to upholding co-operative federalism.
    Under the previous government, Canada was added by Mr. Henderson as a third party to proceedings. As such, we are obligated to appear and participate in proceedings. Our government believes that Bill 99 is constitutional insofar as it is interpreted in a way that is consistent with the Canadian Constitution and within the jurisdiction of the legislature of Quebec.
     It would be inappropriate for me to comment further, as this matter is before the courts.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, as far as I know, the current government is not bound by the commitments of the former government.
    Quebeckers from all walks of life, not just separatists, have denounced Ottawa's involvement in this case. The National Assembly even passed a unanimous motion, but it seems the Liberals do not give a damn about that, just as Stephen Harper did not give a damn. They are supporting those who question Quebec's right to independence, but they still expect us to believe that Ottawa is not trying to imprison Quebec in Canada.
    Will the federal government withdraw from the legal challenge of Bill 99, yes or no?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, again I am happy to stand up and say our government is committed to upholding constitutional values and to ensuring and upholding co-operative federalism.
    As this matter is before the court, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further.

[Translation]

Health

    Mr. Speaker, after shutting Quebec out by negotiating with the small provinces one at a time—the night of the long scalpels—and after resorting to predatory federalism, the Minister of Health and her colleagues are patting each other on the back and saying, “Way to go, man, we got Quebec.”
    Instead of arrogantly giving high-fives, will the minister apologize to the patients of Quebec, who will be the first victims of the cuts to federal contributions?
    Mr. Speaker, over the past few months, I have had very good discussions with all my provincial counterparts, including the Quebec health minister. We were very pleased to have reached new agreements last week.
    For Quebec, this means $2.5 billion in new investments in mental health and home care, which are things that Quebec wants to invest in. That is good news, and that is why we gave each other a high-five.

[English]

Presence in Gallery

    I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of His Excellency Lubomír Zaorálek, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!

Points of Order

Oral Questions  

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, during question period, the member for Outremont said that his party voted in favour of Bill C-2. I know that no member of the House would want to mislead Canadians, which is why I am tabling, in both official languages, excerpts from Hansard of September 20, 2016, which shows the member for Outremont and others from his party voting against the middle-class tax cut at third reading in the House.

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1510)  

[English]

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the treaties entitled “Amendments to Appendices 1 and II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora”, adopted at Johannesburg from September 24 to October 5, 2016; “Amendments to Appendix III of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora”, notified on February 9, 2016, August 23, 2016, and October 5, 2016; “Convention between Canada and the Republic of Madagascar for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income”, done at Antananarivo on November 24, 2016; and “Protocol Amending the Agreement on Air Transport between Canada and the European Community and its Member States, to take Account of the Accession of the European Union of the Republic of Croatia”, done at Brussels on January 27, 2017.
    An explanatory memorandum is included with each treaty.

Government Response to Petitions

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's responses to 34 petitions.

[Translation]

Committees of the House

Justice and Human Rights  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 10th report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in relation to Bill C-305, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (mischief). The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendments.

[English]

Status of Women  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 7th report of the Standing Committee on Status of Women, entitled “Taking Action to End Violence Against Young Women and Girls in Canada”.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.
    Mr. Speaker, on behalf of Her Majesty's loyal opposition, I am proud to present a supplementary opinion regarding the status of women study. Important evidence, such as the effects of violence, pornography and the normalization of violence, the models of e-safety in Canada and elsewhere, as well as strong sentencing for perpetrators of sexual assault were things we did not find, which were needed for the recommendations. They were not sought, and we did not have enough information on those, so we have put that in this.
    We are also very proud of the private member's bill, Bill C-337, put forward by our leader, which we believe will have a very positive effect on ongoing things with respect to sexual violence.

  (1515)  

Fisheries and Oceans  

    Mr. Speaker, it is my honour and privilege to present, in both official languages, the 10th report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans in relation to a motion adopted by the committee on Thursday, February 25, 2016, by my hon. colleague, the member for Avalon. It is “Newfoundland and Labrador's Northern Cod Fishery: Charting a new sustainable future”.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to the report.
    I wish to thank all members of the committee for their hard work and their spirit of collegiality, as it was a unanimous report. I also wish to extend my thanks to the dedicated staff of the committee.

[Translation]

Procedure and House Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 27th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, entitled, “A Second Interim Report in Response to the Chief Electoral Officer’s Recommendations for Legislative Reforms Following the 42nd General Election”.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

[English]

    At this time, I would like to thank Anne Lawson, general counsel and senior director at Elections Canada, and all her staff, who supported the committee with hundreds of hours; the clerk; and the researcher from the Library of Parliament.
     This report has major changes to the Elections Act. This is the second report we have put in, and it will make future elections run more smoothly. I want to compliment the members from all parties who worked very hard to come up with this unanimous report.

Excise Tax Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, I am so honoured to present in this Parliament my private member's bill. We will begin debate next month on it. I would like to thank the hard-working member for North Okanagan—Shuswap. It turned out that we were both very interested in the same important issue. The issue is that Canadians are willing to pay their fair share of taxes, but Canadians are being tricked by the government.
    The Prime Minister said that we must all pay a new carbon tax on everything. He said that the provinces and territories may make this revenue-neutral, but he said that his new tax on carbon would not create any new taxes for his federal government. However, that is not the case. It has been revealed that the federal Liberal government will be collecting billions of dollars of new taxes by charging GST and HST on top of the price on carbon, which is a tax on the tax. That is not fair. It is not what the Prime Minister promised.
    I have introduced this bill to prevent the federal government from collecting GST or HST on the carbon tax. It is a good bill. It is not fair to charge a tax on a tax. I call on all members in this House to support this excellent bill.

     (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

[Translation]

Petitions

Banking Services  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present hundreds of signatures from people calling for banking services at postal outlets.
    We know that there are more than 8,000 postal outlets across Canada. Many municipalities are in great need of this service, 600 of them requesting banking services directly in their community. I have the honour to table this petition in the House on behalf of the petitioners.

  (1520)  

[English]

Fisheries  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of standing in the House today to present a petition on behalf of constituents in Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, who recognize the fact that climate change is resulting in lower water flows in the all important Cowichan River, which is posing a threat to fish and fish habitat, both of which fall under federal jurisdiction. The petitioners also recognize that the Cowichan River is a designated heritage river and has extreme cultural and historical significance to the Cowichan people.
    Therefore, the petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to honour its promises on infrastructure spending and to immediately provide the federal funds necessary for raising the weir, ensuring that water flow rates in the Cowichan River are there not only for fish and fish habitat but for all residents who depend on this vitally important river in my region.

Diabetes  

    Mr. Speaker, today I rise to table a petition from more than 100 residents of Brampton and Mississauga who are drawing attention to an important issue close to my heart. Diabetes and pre-diabetes affect more than 11 million Canadians. This is almost one in three Canadians in Brampton. One in seven Canadians are affected by pre-diabetes and diabetes. It can result in high financial and personal costs, and it can lead to other complications. It is also a significant burden on the health care system.
    The petitioners seek to create awareness of diabetes and pre-diabetes and to show support for my motion, Motion No. 118. Motion No. 118 calls for Parliament to officially mark November as Diabetes Awareness Month, to recognize that this is a mounting public health crisis, and to ask the health committee to study this important issue.
    I want to thank and commend all who signed the petition. It is my honour, as the diabetes caucus chair, to table this petition today.

Impaired Driving  

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present this petition on impaired driving.
    Families for Justice is a group of Canadians who have had a loved one killed by a drunk driver. They believe that Canada's impaired driving laws are much too lenient. They want the crime to be called what it is, vehicular homicide. It is the number one cause of criminal death in Canada. More than 1,200 Canadians are killed every year by drunk drivers.
    The petition calls for mandatory sentencing for vehicular homicide and for this Parliament to support Bill C-226, impaired driving act, and Bill C-247, Kassandra's law.
    Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent of the House to revert to Motions.
    Is it agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Committees of the House

Industry, Science and Technology 

    That, in relation to its study of Canada-United States Cooperation in Innovation and Jobs Creation, seven members of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology be authorized to travel to Washington, D.C., United States of America, in the spring of 2017, and that the necessary staff accompany the Committee.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
     Some hon. members: Agreed.

     (Motion agreed to)

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: No. 797, 805, 812, 813, 819, 823 to 826, and 828 to 830.

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Question No. 797--
Mr. Gérard Deltell:
     With regard to analysis done on the rationale and cost of the Canada Infrastructure Bank: (a) what financing gaps currently exist (e.g. risk aversion of private investors, high municipal borrowing costs); (b) what financial products does the government estimate the Bank will have to provide to fill each of the gaps in (a) and on what terms (e.g. market or concessional); (c) will the Bank increase the supply of Canadian infrastructure projects that meet the scale requirements of institutional investors (e.g. above $100 million) and, if so, how; (d) will the Bank expand the number of infrastructure projects that have a revenue stream and, if so, how; (e) would the rationale for the Bank change if (c) or (d) could be achieved independently; (f) does the government have any information about whether the creation of the Bank may crowd out involvement in infrastructure projects by smaller Canadian private investors and contractors; (g) what is the fiscal cost of the Bank on a cash and accrual basis; (h) how does the government estimate that the creation of the Bank will affect the federal balance sheet and net debt; and (i) what measures does the government plan to implement in order to control and prevent high-risk lending, shield taxpayer liabilities, and ensure that investor returns are within reason?
Hon. Amarjeet Sohi (Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), governments in Canada cannot address all of the country’s infrastructure needs alone. Low interest rates mean that governments have a unique opportunity to significantly enhance their investments in infrastructure. Additionally, there is opportunity to leverage investments in infrastructure by bringing private capital to multiply the level of investment. Large institutional investors, such as Canada’s public pension funds, have a large pool of capital that the Canada Infrastructure Bank, the CIB, can help attract and leverage to meet the country’s infrastructure requirements. The Canada Infrastructure Bank will work with provinces, territories, and municipalities to further the reach of government funding in infrastructure.
    With regard to (b), the CIB will be one tool in the Government of Canada’s long-term infrastructure plan to conclude and execute complex infrastructure deals using a wide breadth of financial instruments at its disposal, including loans, loan guarantees, and equity investments. The objective of the Canada Infrastructure Bank’s participation will be to structure its financial support in order to attract private sector capital and conclude project deals.
    With regard to (c) and (d), the CIB will play a complementary role in developing innovative infrastructure financing specifically for projects that will have a revenue stream. Without the CIB, these projects may otherwise not be possible. As a result, the overall total investment in infrastructure can increase.
    With regard to (f), the CIB will make investments in revenue-generating infrastructure projects and plans that contribute to the long-term sustainability of infrastructure across the country. It will be mandated to work with project sponsors to structure, negotiate, and deliver federal support for infrastructure projects with revenue-generating potential. The Government of Canada will leverage its investments in infrastructure by bringing in private capital to the table to multiply the level of investment.
    With regard to (g) and (h), the CIB will be responsible for investing at least $35 billion on a cash basis from the federal government into large infrastructure projects that contribute to economic growth through loans, loan guarantees, and equity investments. Part of this amount—$15 billion—will be sourced from the funding announced in the fall economic statement 2016. An additional $20 billion in capital will be available to the Canada Infrastructure Bank for investments that will result in the bank holding assets in the form of equity or debt. This $20 billion will therefore not result in a fiscal impact for the government.
    With regard to (e) and (i), additional details pertaining to how the CIB will operationalize its mandate are still under development and are not yet available. A fundamental principle in this structure will be to ensure taxpayers’ dollars are protected.
    Regarding the corporate structure of the Canada Infrastructure Bank, it will be accountable to and partner with government, but will operate at greater arm’s length than a department, working with provincial, territorial, municipal, Indigenous and investment partners to transform the way infrastructure is planned, funded, and delivered in Canada.
Question No. 805--
Mr. Michel Boudrias:
     With regard to the approval to build a new airport on City of Terrebonne and City of Mascouche land announced by the Department of Transport on November 4, 2016: (a) what are the details of the analysis grid used to approve the project, including (i) the complete list of all items to be considered, (ii) the relative weight of each item to be considered, (iii) the indicators to measure the items in (i); (b) what data was compiled by the Department to evaluate the following factors related to building an airport concerning (i) safety issues and hazards associated with its operations, (ii) social and political acceptability, (iii) the environmental impacts on fauna, flora, and humans, including data shared with the Department of the Environment, (iv) economic spin-offs and consequences; (c) what data was taken into account by the Ministry to evaluate the following factors related to building a new airport on City of Terrebonne and City of Mascouche land concerning (i) safety issues and hazards associated with its operations, including those resulting from a nearby landfill, (ii) social and political acceptability, (iii) the environmental impacts on fauna, flora, and humans, including data shared with the Department of the Environment, (iv) economic spin-offs and consequences; (d) does the Department anticipate economic spin-offs from the future airport’s operations; (e) if the answer to (d) is affirmative, to what types, what contexts, and what amounts, broken down by year, do its economic spin-off evaluations correspond; (f) if the answer to (d) is affirmative, does the Department evaluate the possibility of public funds being requested or committed to (i) develop and build the airport, (ii) any type of associated future project, (iii) its ongoing operations and, where applicable, what are the amounts, broken down by source, including programs, ministries, special funds, discretionary funds, etc., of each of its evaluations; (g) did the Department incur costs related to (i) analyzing the file, (ii) taking measures, (iii) collecting existing or non-existing data and, where applicable, what is the value of these costs and the type of each expenditure; (h) when an airport development project receives approval from the Department and there are environmental impacts, does the Department anticipate compensation to offset the project’s ecological losses; (i) what improvements does the Minister of Transport anticipate making to the evaluation process and what is the anticipated timeline for these changes; (j) what is the anticipated timeline for changes to require public consultations announced for early 2017 to be held; and (k) does the Minister of Transport intend to propose changes to the evaluation process so that the consultations to be held are not overseen by the project’s proponent?
Hon. Marc Garneau (Minister of Transport, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada’s top priorities are safety and security. Transport Canada’s primary mission is to serve the public interest by promoting a transportation system in Canada that is safe, secure, efficient, and environmentally responsible.
    The minister does not approve projects. Rather he will, according to subsection 4.31(1) of the Aeronautics Act, make an order prohibiting the development or expansion of a given aerodrome or any change to the operation of a given aerodrome, if, in the minister’s opinion, the proposed development, expansion, or change is likely to adversely affect aviation safety or is not in the public interest.
    Transport Canada is aware of the concerns that can arise in relation to the development of new aerodromes across Canada, including the project that is currently being developed within the municipalities of Mascouche and Terrebonne.
    This is what notably motivated the Minister of Transport’s decision on March 4, 2016, to issue a ministerial order under the Aeronautics Act to prohibit the development of all new aerodromes in the cities of Mascouche and Terrebonne and to require the Corporation de l’aéroport de Mascouche, the Corporation, to hold a full public consultation on the project. The Corporation complied with the requirements of the order and sent Transport Canada all of the comments and documents—including the ones from the Cities of Mascouche and Terrebonne—that were submitted as part of the formal consultation process.
    The department thoroughly examined all of the documentation and arguments submitted with regard to the project, both positive and negative, as well as the mitigation measures proposed by the Corporation, in order to address the population’s concerns.
    A number of factors were considered in the project’s overall evaluation, including compliance with regulatory requirements, aviation safety, the project’s economic impact, environmental protection, and public and private interests.
    The department conducted on-site verifications, reviewed the preliminary plans and the report on the public consultation held by the proponent, as well as the obstacles, all in accordance with TP312, Aerodrome Standards and Recommended Practices, and TP1247, Land Use in the Vicinity of Aerodromes in effect.
    This thorough review of the project allowed Transport Canada to ensure that flight operations will be conducted safely, while having a significant economic impact on the region. To illustrate this last point, the former Mascouche airport’s flying schools employed over 50 people and trained some 185 students in 2016. Over the past two years alone, Transport Canada has issued 116 private pilot licences and 63 commercial pilot licences to candidates from these schools.
    There are no public funds involved in this project. The department’s work related to the matter has not incurred any additional costs beyond those for regular operations.
    It should be noted that part III of the Canadian Aviation Regulations, subpart 7(307), on consultations for aerodrome work, came into effect on January 1, 2017. Therefore, under these regulations, aerodrome proponents must now consult the interested parties and the communities before developing a new aerodrome or before making major physical changes to an existing aerodrome. No amendments to these regulations or to the department’s evaluation process are currently planned.
Question No. 812--
Mr. Pierre Poilievre:
     With regard to the government’s response to Q-575: (a) did the Office for the Coordination of Parliamentary Returns (OCPR) at the Privy Council Office (PCO) assign part (b) of Q-575 regarding analysis conducted by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour; (b) if the answer to (a) is affirmative, why was a response not provided by the Minister; (c) if the answer to (a) is negative, (i) why was that decision made, (ii) what is the title of the individual who made the decision, (iii) on what date was the decision made; (d) did OCPR assign part (h) of Q-575 regarding analysis conducted by the Department of Finance Canada to the Minister of Finance; (e) if the answer to (d) is affirmative, why was a response not provided by the Minister; (f) if the answer to (d) is negative, (i) why was that decision made, (ii) what is the title of the individual who made the decision, (iii) on what date was the decision made; (g) if the answers to either (a) or (d) are negative, did any official from either ESDC or the Department of Finance Canada contact or email PCO regarding the non-assignment to their department and, if so, what are the details of these communications; (h) did anyone from either the Prime Minister’s Office or the Office of the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons provide any advice or instruction to the PCO regarding the decision to have the response to Q-575 only come from Environment and Climate Change Canada and, if so, what are the specific details of these communications including the titles of the individuals who provided the advice or instruction and what specific advice or instructions were given; and (i) did anyone at Environment and Climate Change Canada question the PCO decision to only have Environment and Climate Change Canada provide a response?
Mr. Peter Schiefke (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Youth), Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to the government’s response to Q-575, the Office for the Coordination of Parliamentary Returns at the Privy Council Office assigns questions and parts of questions to the department or departments most likely to hold the relevant information that is requested. In the case of Q-575, given that Environment and Climate Change Canada is leading the government’s efforts and analysis with regard to climate change and pricing carbon pollution, it was determined that Environment and Climate Change Canada was best positioned to respond to the question.
Question No. 813--
Mr. David Anderson:
     With regard to the report prepared by Delivery Associates Limited, or its principals, and commissioned by the government, which provided letter grades for various Ministers in January 2017: (a) what letter grade did each Minister receive, broken down by individual Minister; and (b) what was the rationale for each letter grade given, broken down by Minister?
Mr. Peter Schiefke (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Youth), Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, no report has been produced by Delivery Associates Limited that provides letter grades or otherwise provides an assessment of the performance of ministers.
Question No. 819--
Mr. Bob Saroya:
     With regard to the trip to India, led by the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities in January 2017: (a) who were the members of the delegation, excluding security and media; (b) what were the titles of the delegation members; (c) what was the total cost to taxpayers of the trip; (d) if final costs are not available, what is the estimated cost to taxpayers for the trip; (e) what is the itemized breakdown of each expense related to the trip, broken down by individual expense; and (f) what were the contents of the itineraries of the Minister on the trip?
Hon. Amarjeet Sohi (Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to the trip to India led by the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities in January 2017, with regard to (a), the members of the delegation, excluding security and media, included Amarjeet Sohi and Michael Burton.
    With regard to (b), the titles of the delegation members are as follows: Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, and Michael Burton, Director of Parliamentary Affairs.
    With regard to (c), the total cost to taxpayers of the trip is $11,774.70.
    With regard to (d), (d) is not applicable.
     With regard to (e), the itemized breakdown of each expense related to the trip, broken down by individual expense, is as follows: air fare, $7,163.62; commercial accommodation, $2,911.48; allowance for meals and incidentals, $851.10; taxi, $245.33; travel documents, $24.85; health services, $94.65; currency exchange, $7.32; and miscellaneous transportation charges, $476.35.
     With regard to (f), Minister Sohi travelled to India to represent the Government of Canada at the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2017. In addition to attending the summit, where he delivered a keynote speech and participated in roundtables, he also met with a number of leaders and organizations, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, and Hon. Venkaiah Naidu, Minister of Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation. He toured the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation and Bombardier Transportation. He met with the Commissioner and Additional Chief Secretary, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, the India Infrastructure Finance Company, the World Bank’s country director for India, and the president of the Federal of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
    On March 31, the details of each expenditure will be proactively disclosed at the following link: http://www.infrastructure.gc.ca/pd-dp/dthe-dfva/minister-ministre-eng.html.
Question No. 823--
Mr. Charlie Angus:
     With respect to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 calls to action: (a) what is the itemized list of each of the 45 calls to action which the government believes fall under federal jurisdiction; (b) what is the itemized list of all actions the government has taken to implement each call to action under federal jurisdiction; (c) what is the itemized list of explanations for delays by the government in implementing each call to action under federal jurisdiction; (d) what is the itemized list of projected timelines for the government to fully implement each call to action; and (e) what concerns does the government have with respect to the full implementation of the calls to action within federal jurisdiction, broken down by call to action?
Ms. Yvonne Jones (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a) through (e), the Government of Canada is committed to advancing long-term reconciliation with first nations, Métis, and Inuit.
    In December 2015, the Prime Minister accepted the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report and confirmed our government’s commitment to implement the commission’s 94 calls to action. The government is creating permanent bilateral mechanisms with indigenous organizations to develop policy on shared priorities and to monitor our progress going forward. The permanent mechanisms are being created with the Assembly of First Nations, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and the four Inuit Nunangat regions as of February 9, 2017, and the Métis National Council and its governing members.
    This builds on progress the government has made since November 2015. Work is under way on the 41 calls to action outlined in the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that fall under federal or shared purview.
    INAC will be launching a website that will keep all Canadians, including parliamentarians, apprised of the government’s progress on the calls to action.
    he government is also establishing an interim board of directors to make recommendations on the creation of a national council for reconciliation consistent with call to action no. 53. The interim board will begin an engagement process to develop recommendations on the scope and mandate of the national council. The council will play an important role in advancing progress on the calls to action.
    Timing for implementation will be determined through discussions with those impacted by each particular call to action.
    More remains to be done, but the government is making real progress towards renewing our relationship with indigenous peoples.
Question No. 824--
Mr. John Brassard:
     With regard to Canada’s Innovation Agenda as published by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and “innovation leaders” titled “Innovation for a Better Canada: What We Heard”: (a) what was the total cost incurred by the government for the production of this document; (b) what are the details of the compensation for each of the ten innovation leaders; and (c) what are the costs of the consultation process with the innovation leaders broken down by (i) travel, (ii) hospitality, (iii) meals and incidentals, (iv) lodging, (v) per diems, (vi) rental space for stake holder consultations?
Hon. Navdeep Bains (Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada believes that Canada needs a bold, coordinated strategy on innovation that delivers results for all Canadians. As such, an engagement process that reflects the commitment to mobilize all Canadians to action and to foster innovation as a Canadian value was launched.
    The government invited all Canadians to share their ideas on cultivating a confident nation of innovators, one that is globally competitive in promoting research, accelerating business growth, and propelling entrepreneurs from the commercialization and start-up stages to international success.
    The government also brought together 10 innovation leaders from all walks of life. These are experienced and distinguished individuals who are acknowledged as innovators in their own right. They represented the private sector, universities and colleges, the not-for-profit sector, and included social entrepreneurs and businesses owned and operated by indigenous people.
    Over the summer, these innovation leaders hosted 28 round tables across Canada with key stakeholders, as well as in Boston, United States, and Cambridge, United Kingdom, on the six action areas. These round tables brought stakeholders from a range of backgrounds, including academia, industry associations, not-for-profits, indigenous groups, youth organizations, and other levels of government.
    With regard to Canada’s innovation agenda as published by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and innovation leaders entitled, “Innovation for a Better Canada: What We Heard”, please see the response below.
    With regard to part (a), the document was developed internally by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. The total cost of $1,990.21 incurred by the government was for its translation.
    With regard to part (b), the 10 innovation leaders were not compensated for this work. However, they were reimbursed for certain expenses.
    With regard to part (c)(i), the travel cost for the 10 innovation leaders for 26 round tables across Canada and the one round table in the United States was $10,613.99. There was one round table in the United Kingdom, but no cost was incurred. With regard to (c)(ii), the hospitality cost for 28 round tables was $10,391.64. With regard to (c)(iii), the meals and transportation cost for the 10 innovation leaders for 28 round tables was $306.22. With regard to (c)(iv), the lodging cost for the 10 innovation leaders for 28 round tables was $2,933.72. With regard to (c)(v), no additional per diems were provided to the 10 innovation leaders.With regard to (c)(vi), the total cost for rental spaces for 28 round tables was $6,185.35.
Question No. 825--
Mr. John Brassard:
     With regard to the Prime Minister and his conflict of interest screens: (a) what are the names of the businesses and organizations which are managed or run by friends or relatives of the Prime Minister, as described in Section 4 of the Conflict of Interest Act; (b) what are the names of businesses and organizations for which a screen involving the Prime Minister recusing himself from any related decisions have been established; (c) broken down by business or organization, when was any such screen established; and (d) who in the Prime Minister’s Office or the Privy Council Office is responsible for enforcing or implementing any such screens?
Mr. Peter Schiefke (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Youth), Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to the Prime Minister and his conflict of interest screens, the Prime Minister has demonstrated an unprecedented level of disclosure since becoming the leader of the Liberal Party and has filed all necessary disclosures with the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner and will always follow the commissioner’s guidance.
Question No. 826--
Mr. Jim Eglinski:
    With regard to the management fees for blind trusts set up for Public Office Holders, during the 2016 calendar year and broken down by department or agency: (a) what is the total amount of expenditures on such management fees; (b) how many Public Office Holders have set up blind trusts; and (c) how many Public Office Holders had their management fees paid for, or were reimbursed for such payments, by the government?
Mr. Peter Schiefke (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Youth), Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, in response to part (a) of the question, the Privy Council Office has no information on the total amount of expenditures on management fees for blind trusts set up for public office holders.
    The Conflict of Interest Act, COIA, provides that the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner may order reimbursement of the following administrative costs incurred by a public office holder in relation to a divestment of assets: (i) reasonable legal, accounting, and transfer costs to establish and terminate a trust determined to be necessary by the commissioner; (ii) annual, actual and reasonable costs to maintain and administer the trust, in accordance with rates set from time to time by the commissioner; (iii) commissions for transferring, converting, or selling assets where determined necessary by the commissioner; (iv) costs of other financial, legal, or accounting services required because of the complexity of the arrangements for the assets, and (v) commissions for transferring, converting, or selling assets if there are no provisions for a tax deduction under the Income Tax Act.
    In addition, the commissioner may also order reimbursement of the costs of removing a public office holder’s name from federal or provincial registries of corporations, where a public office holder is required to withdraw from corporate activities to comply with the act.
    The commissioner has issued a guideline entitled, “Reimbursement of Costs Associated with Divestment of Assets and Withdrawal from Activities”, which is available on the commissioner’s website. Inter alia, this guideline establishes the maximum amounts that the commissioner will order be reimbursed for particular expenses, as well as procedures for public office holders to submit invoices. Once the commissioner has determined the eligible amounts, she will issue an order for reimbursement to the public office holder’s department or organization.
    In her annual reports to Parliament, the commissioner provides information on divestment arrangements and other compliance measures entered into by public office holders under the act, as well as on the reimbursement of expenses. These reports are available on the commissioner’s website. The commissioner’s annual report for fiscal year 2015-16 states:
    The costs associated with the reimbursement of fees related to the establishment, administration or dismantlement of blind trusts in 2015-2016 totaled $513,119 compared to $427,913 in 2014-2015. Administrative costs reimbursed in one fiscal year may also include amounts for fees incurred in a previous fiscal year.
    The report also indicates that 37 public office holders divested by way of sale, and 25 divested through one or more blind trusts. At the end of that fiscal year, 63 public office holders’ maintained blind trusts, compared to 61 in the previous fiscal year.
Question No. 828--
Mr. Jim Eglinski:
     With regard to Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) payments to provinces: (a) as of February 1, 2017, which provinces owe money to the federal government as a result of HST overpayments; and (b) what is the amount owed, broken down by province?
Hon. Ginette Petitpas Taylor (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, Lib.):
     Mr. Speaker, in processing parliamentary returns, the government applies the Privacy Act and respects the principles set out in the Access to Information Act. In responding to questions relating to the harmonized sales tax, HST, it also respects its commitments under the comprehensive integrated tax coordination agreements, CITCAs, with HST provinces.
    With regard to the harmonized sales tax, it is a value-added sales tax imposed under federal legislation and administered by the Canada Revenue Agency, CRA, and the Canada Border Services Agency, CBSA. The tax has a federal portion that is equivalent to the goods and services tax, GST, with a rate of 5 percent, and a provincial portion, with a rate that varies by province. Currently, the combined federal-provincial rates are 13 percent in Ontario and 15 percent in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. The tax base of the HST, i.e., what is subject to the tax, is essentially that of the GST. The operation of the HST is governed by CITCAs between Canada and each HST province. Under the CITCAs, provinces are provided with certain flexibilities. Specifically, provinces are allowed to increase or decrease the rate of the provincial portion of the HST; provide provincial rebates to consumers at the point of sale, subject to an overall limit of 5 percent of the estimated GST base in a province and certain other conditions; set the rates applicable to the provincial component of the HST for rebates provided to public service bodies; and set the rate and thresholds of provincial new housing rebates, based on the general structure of the federal rebate.
    Under the HST, businesses deal with only one tax administration and remit HST using the same return that they use for the GST. When filing their returns, businesses are not required to track the HST by the province in which transactions occur or to differentiate the provincial portion from the federal portion of the tax. All GST and HST is remitted as a single amount. In lieu of collecting such detailed information from businesses, the revenues attributable to the provincial portion of the HST are paid to provinces using a revenue-estimation formula known as the revenue allocation framework, RAF. That framework is set out in annex A of the CITCAs.
    With regard to the revenue allocation framework, the RAF makes use of economic data from Statistics Canada and administrative data from the CRA and the CBSA to determine taxable consumption in Canada and the share of that consumption attributable to each participant in the RAF, i.e., the HST provinces and the federal government. More specifically, taxable consumption is estimated through five bases: consumer expenditure, approximately 63%; public sector bodies, approximately 12%; housing, approximately 17%; business, approximately 2%; and financial institutions, approximately 6%.
    There are two fundamental components in the determination of the amount of sales tax revenue that each HST province will receive: the size of the GST/HST revenue pool and the provincial shares. The GST/HST revenue pool is the sum of all GST/HST assessed by the CRA and the CBSA nationally, net of input tax credits and applicable rebates. The provincial shares are determined by measuring the revenue potential of the total of the five bases in each jurisdiction, relative to the total revenue potential of the GST/HST.
    The GST/HST revenue pool is currently on the order of $71 billion per year.
    With regard to the revenue estimation process, annual provincial revenue entitlements are the product of the assessed GST/HST, meaning the revenue pool, and each province’s share of the common tax base. Payments for a given entitlement year are first estimated in December prior to the start of the entitlement year. They are recalculated each December for five years, i.e., those five years are open. In the June that follows the fifth year, i.e., five and half years after the end of the calendar year in question, provincial payments are finalized and cannot be re-estimated. For example, in December 2016, the first estimate for 2017 was provided; in June of 2023, the final estimate for 2017 will be calculated and the year will close. Because revenue entitlements are estimated and since data comes in over several years, the amount of revenue to which an HST province is entitled for a particular year can change. As a result, a province may receive more revenue or may be required to repay revenue that it has already received, as revenue entitlements for open years are recalculated each December. In the event that a total repayment associated with prior years is greater than 7% of the estimated current entitlement, e.g., the 2017 entitlement year currently, provinces have the option of repaying the entire amount over three years.
Question No. 829--
Mr. Martin Shields:
     With regard to the current bovine tuberculosis (TB) situation: (a) was the original United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) test on the Alberta cow that tested positive for bovine TB in the United States a cultured test; (b) was the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) testing of the Canadian cows a cultured test; (c) will CFIA share the results of the USDA cultured test completed in the United States with the Canadian public and, if so, when and how will the public be able to access the results; and (d) will the CFIA release the results of the cultured tests which the agency has completed with the public and, if so, when and how will the public be able to access the results?
Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), yes, testing on the index of the Canadian cow slaughtered in the United States did include histology, polymerase chain reaction, PCR, and culture of the mycobacteria, M. bovis. Full genome sequencing of the bacteria was also performed by the United States Department of Agriculture.
    With regard to (b), testing of the samples from the five additional cattle positive for bovine tuberculosis, TB, has been completed, including culture testing and strain identification. All six positive animals were affected by the same strain that is related to a strain of bovine TB identified in Mexico in 1997.
    With regard to (c), the CFIA released these results publicly in the fall of 2016 on its website and in public messaging, indicating that the culture test result was positive for bovine tuberculosis, and the information on the strain.
    With regard to (d), as mentioned in the response to question (b), culture and subsequent genotyping on the samples from the five additional cattle found to be positive for bovine tuberculosis has been completed. The CFIA has already communicated publicly on its website and through statements that these animals are positive for bovine TB.
    With respect to other reactors and animals with lesions, tissue samples are being cultured and genotyped, and the testing will be completed this year. Culture results are released to the owner of the sampled animals as soon as available. Cases of all reportable diseases, of which TB is one, are posted on the CFIA website on a monthly basis.
Question No. 830--
Mr. Dave MacKenzie:
     With regard to the projected impact of lower taxes in the United States on the Canadian economy: (a) what are the details of any impact analyses which have been conducted by the Department of Finance, or any outside organization on behalf of the Department, on the current or proposed taxation policies of President Trump; and (b) for each analysis in (a) which has been completed, (i) who conducted the analysis, (ii) when was it completed, (iii) what areas of impact were considered, (iv) what were the findings, (v) what taxation scenarios were used for the analysis, (vi) what was the internal tracking number of the final report, (vii) what was the vendor name, (viii) what was the amount of the contract, (ix) what was the date of the contract?
Hon. Ginette Petitpas Taylor (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to part (a), the U.S. is an important economic partner for Canada. The Government of Canada has been monitoring the new U.S. administration’s tax policy plans as they emerge and analyzing the potential implications for Canada. Analysts in the tax policy branch at the Department of Finance have examined the tax proposals put forward during the 2016 presidential election campaign and by the House Republicans in a June 2016 tax plan, which relate to both business and personal income taxation.
    In processing parliamentary returns, the government applies the Privacy Act and the principles set out in the Access to Information Act. As such, related information has been withheld on the following grounds: (a) possible confidences of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, (b) advice, recommendations, deliberations (c) economic interests, and (d) conduct of international affairs and potential negotiations
    With regard to part (b), the department has analyzed proposals relating to both personal and corporate income tax.
    The tracking numbers of the final reports are 2016FIN446662 and 2017FIN448338. These reports have been partially released under access to information requests.
    Additional analysis is ongoing.

[English]

Questions Passed as Orders for Return

    Mr. Speaker, if the government's responses to Questions No. 798 to 804, 806 to 811, 814 to 818, and 820 to 822 could be made orders for return, these returns would be tabled immediately.
    The Speaker: Is that agreed?
     Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Text]

Question No. 798--
Mr. Gérard Deltell:
     With regard to government infrastructure spending: (a) how much money has the government spent on infrastructure and to what effect, with regard to announced or planned infrastructure investments every fiscal year from 2006-2007 to 2021-2022, broken down by fiscal year and program; (b) with regard to the programs and fiscal years in (a), has there been any reallocation of funds between, in, or out of these programs for the same years; (c) for each of the programs in (a), what is the actual total spent, broken down by program for the fiscal years from 2006-2007 to 2016-2017; (d) with regard to the programs and projects in (a), which of these were announced or planned before November 2015; and (e) how many jobs can be attributed directly or indirectly to each of the programs and projects in (a)?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 799--
Mr. Gérard Deltell:
     With regard to analysis that the government has conducted on the economic implications of the recent U.S. elections: (a) what information does the government have about the anticipated impact on Canada's (i) energy costs, taxes, and regulatory competitiveness, (ii) ability to attract foreign investment, (iii) export access and supply chain integration with the U.S., (iv) ability to access U.S. federally-funded infrastructure projects, (v) development of the oil sands; and (b) what information does the government have about higher interest rates and their effect on Canada’s housing market and public debt charges for federal and provincial governments?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 800--
Ms. Diane Finley:
     With regard to all the fuel consumed by the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence for each fiscal year from 2014 to present, and all organizations that are included in the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence’s mandate: what is the total (i) amount of gasoline consumed, (ii) amount of money spent on gasoline consumption, (iii) amount of diesel fuel consumed, (iv) amount of money spent on diesel fuel consumption, (v) amount of jet fuel consumed, (vi) amount of money spent on jet fuel consumption, (vii) amount of natural gas consumed, (viii) amount of money spent on natural gas consumption, (ix) amount of propane consumed, (x) amount of money spent on propane consumption, (xi) amount of high-heat coal consumed, (xii) amount of money spent on high-heat coal consumption, (xiii) amount of low-heat coal consumed, (xiv) amount of money spent on low-heat coal consumption?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 801--
Mr. Daniel Blaikie:
     With regard to the recent pay raise submitted earlier in 2015 by the RCMP commissioner to the Treasury Board: (a) when was that recommendation submitted; (b) what exactly was the amount of the pay raise recommended; (c) has the Treasury Board submission been forwarded to the Minister of Public Safety for support; (d) if the answer to (c) is in the affirmative, has this submission since been resubmitted to Treasury Board; (e) is the process of approval for the pay raise connected in any way to the status of bill C-7 and, if so, how; (f) is the process of approval for the pay raise connected in any way to the status negotiations with any other public sector salary negations or impending changes and, if so, how; and (g) is the process of approval for the pay raise pending any other process or decisions outside the normal approval process and, if so, (i) which ones, (ii) in what way?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 802--
Mr. Erin Weir:
     With regard to the federal government and the potential sale of up to 49 % of SaskTel by the Government of Saskatchewan: (a) what approval is required from (i) the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, (ii) the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, (iii) the Competition Bureau; (b) what powers does the federal government have to stop the partial sale of a provincial Crown corporation; and (c) at what percentage of shares sold would SaskTel have to pay federal corporate income tax?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 803--
Mr. Alexandre Boulerice:
     With regard to the government’s use of Challenger jets, since October 2015, and for each aircraft: (a) what are the names and titles of the passengers listed on the flight manifest; (b) what were all the departure and arrival points; (c) who requested access to the plane; (d) who authorized the flight; (e) how many flights were reimbursed; (f) which flights were reimbursed; (g) who reimbursed the flights; (h) what was the amount reimbursed for each flight; and (i) why were each of these flights reimbursed?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 804--
Mr. Alexandre Boulerice:
     With regard to departmental entities since October 2015: (a) how many individuals work for each department; (b) what cities do they live in; (c) what cities do they work in; (d) if they no longer work for the department, when they left, how much severance pay were they entitled to; and (e) how much severance pay did they receive (i) on average, (ii) in total?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 806--
Mr. Pat Kelly:
     With regard to the proposals for reforming the Business of Supply put forward in the President of the Treasury Board’s discussion paper entitled “Empowering Parliamentarians through Better Information: The Government’s Vision for Estimates Reform”: (a) what evidence does the President of the Treasury Board rely on in determining that the procedure for the Business of Supply needs modification; (b) if the changes mentioned in the discussion paper are implemented, how much time does the government plan Parliament will have to scrutinize the Estimates; (c) if the changes mentioned in the discussion paper are implemented, what acess does the government plan, if any, that parliamentary committees will have to Ministers to question them on record concerning spending for departments and agencies within their portfolios before the same is approved or denied; (d) what steps, if any, does the government plan to take to streamline internal processes for more efficient Treasury Board approval of spending initiatives in order to allow alignment of the Main Estimates and Budget release dates; (e) which steps mentioned in (d) are currently under consideration and what progress in implementation has been made thereon; (f) with the proposal to appropriate funds on a level of core responsibilities of departments is implemented, what steps does the government anticipate will be required to link approval for the same to precise spending items; (g) what steps, if any, are under consideration to increase parliamentary committees’ ability to amend spending proposed in the Estimates and what progress in implementation has been made thereon; and (h) what were the findings or results of the evidence mentioned in (a) through (g)?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 807--
Mr. Gerry Ritz:
     With regard to the Minister of International Trade authorizing supplementary import permits for all categories of dairy products, including butter and cheese between November 4, 2015, and December 13, 2016: (a) how many supplementary import permits were approved by the Minister, broken down by category; and (b) for each categorized supplementary import permit, what is the breakdown in terms of (i) the amount in tonnes, (ii) who received the allocation, (iii) the name of the exporting country or countries, (iv) the market value in Canadian dollars, (v) the duration, (vi) the date range, (vii) the expiration date, (viii) the date of the application, (ix) the date of authorization, (x) the dates the imported products entered Canada, (xi) the end users of the imported product?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 808--
Mr. Arnold Viersen:
     With regard to the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project: (a) what are the details of any consultations or meetings which have been held with stakeholders, including the (i) date, (ii) locations, (iii) attendees; (b) what are the details of any briefing notes or correspondence related to the meetings referred to in (a), including the (i) title, (ii) date, (iii) sender, (iv) recipient, (v) subject matter, (vi) file number; (c) what is the content of any information provided to the Prime Minister by (i) the Department of Natural Resources, (ii) the Department of Environment and Climate Change, (iii) the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, (iv) the Department of Finance, (v) the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, (vi) the Department of Justice, (vii) the Department of Transport, (viii) the Department of Finance; (d) what is the content of any information provided to the Minister of Natural Resources and his parliamentary secretary by the Department of Natural Resources; (e) what is the content of any information provided to the Minister of Justice and her parliamentary secretaries by the Department of Justice; and (f) what is the content of any information regarding the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project provided to the Minister of Environment and her parliamentary secretary by the Department of Environment and Climate Change?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 809--
Mr. Arnold Viersen:
     With regard to the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project: what are the details of all the consultations with First Nations, broken down by date, location, name and title of the First Nations, groups, or individuals consulted, conducted by (i) the Prime Minister, (ii) the Minister of Indigenous Affairs and the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, (iii) the Minister of Natural Resources and the Department of Natural Resources, (iv) the Minister of Justice and Department of Justice?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 810--
Mr. Pierre Poilievre:
     With regard to the government’s Ottawa Hospital Site Review, which concluded with a National Capital Commission recommendation to the Minister of Canadian Heritage on November 24, 2016: (a) when did the Environment Minister decide that she would order this review; (b) when did the Environment Minister ask that the Heritage Minister take over this review; (c) did the government estimate the cost of delaying the construction of the new hospital by at least a year, and if so, what were the costs; (d) what was the total cost of the review as of November 24, 2016, broken down by (i) employees’ salaries, (ii) contractors, (iii) consultants, (iv) land use surveys or studies, (v) other expenses incurred; (e) what will be the total cost of this review, broken down by (i) employees’ salaries, (ii) contractors, (iii) consultants, (iv) land use surveys or studies, (v) other expenses; (f) what are the precise boundaries of the property to be leased to the Ottawa Hospital, known as the Sir John Carling Site or site #11 by the National Capital Commission; (g) what price does the government plan to charge the Ottawa Hospital as rent for the Sir John Carling Site, known as site #11 by the National Capital Commission; (h) how much payment in lieu of taxes does the federal government pay the City of Ottawa for the Sir John Carling Site, known as site #11 by the National Capital Commission; and (i) what will be the costs of preparing the site for the Ottawa Hospital to be built, and which level of government or organization will pay for them?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 811--
Mr. Pierre Poilievre:
     With regard to the government’s transfer of land to the Ottawa Hospital for the future site of the Civic Campus, known as the Sir John Carling Site or site #11 by the National Capital Commission: (a) what analysis did the departments of Public Services and Procurement Canada (formerly Public Works and Government Services Canada), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the National Capital Commission, and Canadian Heritage, conduct at each of the 12 sites; (b) what did the National Capital Commission estimate the total land preparation costs of each of the 12 sites would be; (c) what concerns did the National Capital Commission raise regarding potential contamination of each of the 12 sites; (d) what are the boundaries of the Sir John Carling Site which will be leased to the Ottawa Hospital; (e) are the metal piles that were used for the foundation of the former Sir John Carling Building still present at the site; (f) if the answer to (e) is affirmative, will they have to be removed in order to accommodate the new Ottawa Hospital; (g) if the answer to (f) is affirmative, what will be the cost of removing the piles; (h) if the answer to (f) is negative, what is the government’s plan to accommodate the new Ottawa Hospital around the existing piles; (i) what is the estimated cost of preparing the site for the Ottawa Hospital to be built, and which level of government or organization will pay for them; (j) what contamination currently exists at the Sir John Carling Site, and how will it be mitigated or removed prior to the hospital’s construction; (k) what is the estimated cost of remediating any contamination, and which level of government or organization will pay for this; and (l) does the government foresee any other factors specific to the Sir John Carling Site that would increase costs or delay construction of the new hospital, and if so, what are they?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 814--
Mr. David Anderson:
     With regard to the Prime Minister's trip to the Bahamas in December 2016 and January 2017: (a) what was the total cost to taxpayers; (b) what is the itemized breakdown of each expense related to the trip, including costs related to security, transportation, accommodation, meals, per diems, and other expenses; (c) how many government employees, including exempt staff, were on the trip; and (d) excluding pilots and security personnel, what were the titles of government employees on the trip?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 815--
Mr. Earl Dreeshen:
     With regard to expenditures made by the government to unions representing federal employees, since November 4, 2015: (a) what is the total amount paid to unions for costs associated with negotiations or bargaining; (b) what is the breakdown of costs referred to in (a), by union; (c) what is the total amount paid for any other additional funding contributed by the government to unions representing federal employees; and (d) what is the breakdown of costs referred to in (c), broken down by union?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 816--
Mr. Earl Dreeshen:
     With regard to the trip to China, led by the Minister of Canadian Heritage in January 2017: (a) who were the members of the delegation, excluding security and media; (b) what were the titles of the delegation members; (c) what was the total cost to taxpayers of the trip; (d) if final costs are not available, what is the best estimated cost to taxpayers for the trip; (e) what is the itemized breakdown of each expense related to the trip, broken down by individual expense; and (f) what were the contents of the itineraries of the Minister on the trip?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 817--
Mr. Earl Dreeshen:
     — With regard to buildings leased by the government outside of the National Capital Region: what are the details of each leased building including (i) name of vendor or owner or property, (ii) complete address of property, (iii) cost of lease (i.e.: monthly or yearly rental rate), (iv) lease expiry date, (v) square footage of property, (vi) number of government employees/full-time equivalents working at each building as of January 1, 2017?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 818--
Mr. Bob Saroya:
     With regard to the consumption of alcohol and food on flights taken on government-owned Airbus and Challenger aircraft since September 19, 2016: (a) on which flights was alcohol consumed; and (b) for each flight where alcohol was consumed (i) what is the value of alcohol consumed, (ii) what was the origin and destination of the flight, (iii) what was the flight date, (iv) what is breakdown of alcohol beverages consumed by specific beverage and quantity, (v) what is the cost of food consumed on each flight?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 820--
Mrs. Deborah Schulte:
     With regards to funds, grants, loans, and loan guarantees the government has issued through its various departments and agencies in the constituency of King—Vaughn for the period of November 4, 2015, to January 30, 2017, inclusive, and in each case, where applicable: (a) what was the program under which the payment was made; (b) what were the names of the recipients; (c) what was the monetary value of the payment made; (d) what was the percentage of program funding covered by the payment received; and (e) on what date was the funding approved?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 821--
Mrs. Cathay Wagantall:
     With regard to malaria, malaria medication and the Department of National Defence, Veterans Affairs Canada, Health Canada, or the Privy Council Office, since November 4, 2015: (a) what are the details of all meetings involving the Department of National Defence, Veterans Affairs Canada, Health Canada, or the Privy Council Office where malaria, any malaria prevention treatments, Mefloquine, or Lariam was on the agenda, including the (i) date, (ii) attendees, (iii) description of meeting, (iv) contents of agenda or meeting notes, (v) location, (vi) decisions made; (b) what are the details of all briefing notes related to malaria, any malaria treatments, Mefloquine, or Lariam including the (i) date, (ii) title, (iii) summary, (iv) sender, (v) recipients, (vi) file number; (c) what is the current Department of National Defence policy regarding the distribution of Mefloquine and other malaria prevention treatments to members of the Canadian Forces; and (d) when did the policy come into effect?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 822--
Mr. Charlie Angus:
     With regard to the budgets of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and Health Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, broken down by each program and sub-program for the 2016-2017 fiscal year: (a) what amount of money has been reallocated to each program and sub-program area; (b) what amount of money has been reallocated from each program and sub-program area; (c) what are the reasons for each reallocation in (a) and (b); (d) what is the impact, actual or anticipated, of each reallocation in (a) and (b); (e) what are the identified shortfalls within each program and sub-program; (f) what amount was allocated for child welfare, broken down by where it was allocated from (i.e. Main Estimates, Budget 2016, etc.); (g) what amount of money was allocated and spent on Jordan’s Principle as of January 26, 2016; (h) what is the government’s definition of Jordan’s Principle; (i) are there any group cases for Jordan’s Principle that exist in Saskatchewan and Manitoba and, if so, which ones; (j) what process has the government used to assess that the need for implementing Jordan’s Principle is 127 million dollars per year; (k) what is the amount allocated to the First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum; (l) what amount of money has been identified as needed for the full implementation of the First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum; and (m) how many mental wellness teams have been identified as needed to reach every First Nations community in Canada?
    (Return tabled)

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, finally, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.
     The Speaker: Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

  (1525)  

[English]

National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act

     The House resumed consideration of Bill C-22, An Act to establish the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians and to make consequential amendments to certain Acts, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.
    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to once again rise in the House to discuss Bill C-22, an act to establish the national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians and to make consequential amendments to certain acts.
    We on this side of the House pride ourselves in avoiding easy absolutes and rejecting simple binaries and false dichotomies. The question before us today is not, as some would have us believe, whether we need to prioritize our security on the one hand, or our cherished values on the other hand. Rather, the question before us is quite simple: Is our national security regime working effectively and in a manner that is consistent with Canadian law and values?
    Simultaneously balancing these twin objectives, keeping Canadians safe while also respecting and safeguarding our rights and freedoms, are among the most fundamental duties that a government can perform. However, currently that duty does not contain an element of committee oversight, a glaring weakness which puts Canada at odds with accepted international best practices. To that end, in this legislation, we are confident that we have developed a model for robust and comprehensive parliamentary reviews, one that will help build the trust of Canadians in our national security and intelligence activities.
    The establishment of the national security and intelligence committee represents the realization of a key 2015 campaign promise. However, I want to stress that it is by no means the only action we are taking to strengthen Canada's national security framework.
    First and foremost, we recognize that when it comes to an issue that is fundamental to who we are as a country, it is important that the will of Canadians is reflected as much as possible. As a result, our government has engaged in an unprecedented series of consultations with experts, stakeholders, parliamentarians of all parties, and individual Canadians on issues of national security and civil liberties. These consultations remain ongoing, and as such ensure that our approach to national security remains rooted in meaningful conversation and dialogue.
    Second, our government remains committed to addressing the more problematic elements of Bill C-51, as introduced by the former government. Specifically, and largely as a result of the aforementioned public consultations, we remain committed to amending Bill C-51 so as to better protect the right to advocate and protest, and to better define rules regarding terrorist propaganda.
    Third, the ever-evolving nature of security threats, as well as the clear need to remain vigilant in defending civil liberties, require that any national security framework not be set in stone. As such, our government has committed to mandating statutory review of national security legislation.
    Fourth, our government remains committed to fighting violent extremism in all forms. The recent rise in domestic hate speech and hate crimes, for example, has served as a poignant reminder of the need for vigilance and community outreach to combat domestic violence. The goal here is to coordinate the efforts being undertaken at multiple levels to further enhance our capacity to prevent radicalization and violence, and ultimately make Canada a global leader in this field.
    Bill C-22 fits within this pattern of strengthening and modernizing our national security laws and policies. As members have already heard, this bill would establish the national security and intelligence committee, a body comprised of parliamentarians from across parties, to scrutinize all of the national security and intelligence operations of the Government of Canada. Given that there are more than 20 departments and agencies within the Government of Canada that carry out national security-related functions, it cannot be overstated how important this initiative actually is.
    The current system of security oversight, such as it currently exists, remains highly fragmented, with non-partisan review bodies, judicial oversight, and ministerial discretion all playing vital oversight roles. While these existing mechanisms will remain independent, untouched, and in place, the creation of a permanent committee will allow for a more comprehensive and reactive security oversight framework. As such, the committee's mandate will be necessarily wide ranging. It will look at not only the legislative, regulatory, administrative, and financial aspects of national security and intelligence, but also the operations and activities that departments and agencies of the federal government undertake in the name of national security.

  (1530)  

    To carry out this vital role, committee members would be given broad access to classified information with appropriate safeguards and exceptions, as well as leeway to examine matters they deem worthy of examination. Importantly, Bill C-22 would allow the committee to analyze and study laws, policies, and operations in real time, increasing the discipline, responsiveness, and accountability of our security framework. With the establishment of this committee, we would close what has amounted to an important accountability gap, one that has existed in Canada for far too long. It would also allow Canada to at long last count itself among its Five Eyes partners and other western countries that have long had parliamentary review of national security and intelligence activities. Clearly, this represents an extraordinary responsibility, and as a result would require checks and balances. I believe that the safeguards embedded in Bill C-22 strike this balance.
    Furthermore, I believe that an already strong piece of legislation has been generally strengthened by the exemplary work done at the committee stage. It is important to reiterate that the government has accepted the vast majority of amendments put forward by the public safety committee. In particular, members will recall that the second reading version of the bill said that the new committee could not have access to information about ongoing defence intelligence activities, privileged information under the Investment Canada Act, and certain information collected by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada. The public safety committee, wisely in my opinion, recommended amendments giving the new committee access to this information. The bill is stronger as a result, and I would like to thank the committee members and expert witnesses for all their hard work.
    I also believe that this legislation has been strengthened by the additional report stage amendments introduced by the government House leader. In particular, by further amending clause 14 of the bill, the government has reinstalled important safeguards designed to protect vulnerable intelligence sources and reduce the risk of political interference in security operations. Finally, the restoration of clause 16 of Bill C-22 would realign Canada's security framework with similar provisions in place among our Five Eyes allies.
    Let me end my remarks by getting back to where I started. It is vital that this esteemed institution has a clearer view into the national security and intelligence functions of the federal government. By establishing the national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians, we would finally open that window, and we would do it responsibly. This initiative would serve Canadians and our democracy well. I therefore call on all members for their support tonight.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague talked a lot about democracy in his speech.
    Sadly, however, the government invoked closure today, this time on Bill C-22, in order to prevent parliamentarians from expressing themselves and prevent each person here from saying what they want to say about this important bill concerning the safety of all Canadians.
    What does my colleague think about this decision to muzzle hon. members with regard to Bill C-22, when he had so much to say about democracy in his speech?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, of course this is an incredibly important issue. Because of that, as members know full well, as it was part of our platform, we have consulted with numerous Canadians along the way and we have consulted with experts. This is an ongoing consultation, and the reason for that is simple. It is important not only that we promote our security, but also that civil liberties are not infringed.

  (1535)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, if it is an ongoing consultation, then why were so many recommendations set aside? Why was the original bill completely gutted? They talk about the recommendations that were accepted, but there are very few compared to what was proposed.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, there were many consultations that went on. On top of that, we have parliamentary groups that looked into this issue. As I highlighted during my portion of the speech, there were many recommendations that were adopted and are very much reflected in the legislation that stands before the House. Many things were considered and many changes were made to the legislation.
    Mr. Speaker, with the passage of this legislation, we know that Canada would be the fifth country of the Five Eyes that will finally have a parliamentary oversight committee, something that has already been put in place in New Zealand, Australia, England, and the United States. It is something that will help and assist in protecting Canadians' rights and freedoms, which is very important. I am wondering if the member could provide his thoughts in regard to the historic significance of passing this legislation.
    Mr. Speaker, as I noted in my speech, there was a gaping hole, and it was incumbent upon our government to act on its platform and also to scrutinize regimes that were in place among our five allies. In doing so, we have come up with legislation which very wisely enhances our national security, provides a role for Parliament, and ensures that we are not unduly infringing civil liberties.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague very much for his presentation.
    I also thank my colleague, the hon. member for Parry Sound—Muskoka, the official opposition critic for public safety, for his outstanding work on this very important issue.
    I was prepared to speak to Bill C-22 in a perfectly normal debate in keeping with the standard procedures of the House. Unfortunately, today, we have all once again witnessed, as we have on a number of occasions, the government's willingness to shorten debate so that all those who have things to say on Bill C-22 cannot do so.
    This is surprising in the case of a bill sponsored by the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. The minister has previously had a very different view of the contribution of parliamentarians here in the House, if we go by a short article from 2013 on the website of the minister, who was then a member of Parliament. I will quote two short excerpts in English; it will be easier.
    The piece is entitled Ideas For Making Our Democracy Stronger, and the paragraph that caught my attention reads as follows:

[English]

     Ministers wanting to advance policy initiatives should be required to convince not only cabinet colleagues, but also backbenchers. They should not simply rely on the Whip to enforce support–they should earn it by merit.

[Translation]

    However, what we are seeing today is quite the opposite. Not only is the whip being used, but so is the Leader of the Government in the House to move Bill C-22 quickly through all stages in the House.
    In the same piece, when the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness was a member of Parliament, he says:

[English]

     Restrictions are needed on the use of ancient but recently-abused Parliamentary tools such as Omnibus Bills, Closure Motions to terminate debates, and Prorogation. They have their place, but should be confined to their original purpose and intent.

  (1540)  

[Translation]

    Once again, what we are seeing today is completely the opposite. Those are the very words of the minister who is sponsoring Bill C-22.
    Bill C-22 was introduced in the House of Commons last June 16, in order to establish the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians. Let us recall that the establishment of a parliamentary oversight committee was a promise made by the Liberals. Clearly, it is important to make sure that our national security bodies are properly examined. We must absolutely ensure that this committee has the tools it needs to do its work.
    However, we know that the Prime Minister has already appointed a member of his caucus, the member for Ottawa South, as chair of that committee, even though the legislation has not yet passed. A gag was used today. A committee chair was appointed. There is no legislation in place, but we already know the name of the chair of a committee that does not exist.
    The government is breaking a well-established tradition of our parliamentary system by imposing a chair the way it did. Committee chairs have always been elected by the committees themselves, not imposed by the Prime Minister's Office. The Liberals promised Canadians during the election campaign that they would form a committee of parliamentarians on national security. They said, promised and repeated that this committee would be non-partisan. Bill C-22 does not create a committee of parliamentarians. It is not neutral nor is it non-partisan. It is controlled by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
    We have to realize that the Liberal government is much better at making speeches and symbolic gestures than it is at taking real action. However, in finest federal Liberal tradition, they promise one thing in a campaign and do the opposite once ensconced on the government benches. This is called being partisan. It reeks of partisanship.
    Bill C-22 imposes many barriers on the committee's ability to access information or call witnesses. This, also, is unlike similar committees that operate effectively in allied countries, such as the United Kingdom. The official opposition presented motions to amend Bill C-22 to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security in December.
    On the issue of a non-partisan committee, we would expect some of the opposition's recommendations to be accepted, but all of the official opposition's proposed amendments were rejected. We only wanted to ensure that the composition of the committee is not partisan and that its chair and its members are not appointed by the Prime Minister.
    Clearly, as we now know, that recommendation was not accepted. The committee should be established by Parliament and be accountable to Parliament, not just to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Safety. However, the Liberal government is not listening.
    We also wanted to remove the many blocking mechanisms in Bill C-22 that limit the committee's access to information and power to call witnesses. Once again, the Liberal government has said no. We wanted to ensure the committee's annual reporting process to Parliament will be more transparent. The Liberal government has decided otherwise. This is what sunny ways look like. This government is becoming a master in the art breaking promises.
    The Liberals promised a modest deficit. If we were to give them a report card today, they would get a failing grade. The same goes for electoral reform. The Minister of Public Safety even talks about this in the fascinating piece I just read from. I quoted a few passages, but I will refrain from quoting it any further. I will have other opportunities to do so. The issue of electoral reform was a monumental failure, even though the Liberals spent hundreds of thousands of dollars consulting Canadians. They ignored the results of those consultations. They simply went ahead and did what they wanted anyway.
    There is no denying that the Prime Minister's sunny ways have also failed when it comes to transparency and accountability. If I were a teacher, I would be forced to write “fail” in big red letters on this government's report card.
    On September 30, 2016, which was not so long ago, the Liberal member for Willowdale stated the following in this House:
    In keeping with our government's commitment to evidence-based decision-making, Bill C-22 notably aligns Canada's security regime with accepted international best practices. As colleagues before me have highlighted, Canada is currently the only member of the Five Eyes alliance lacking a security oversight committee that grants sitting legislators access to confidential national security information.
    Many of my colleagues have demonstrated in the House that the government has failed to do this. It has not kept its promise to align this committee with the best practices of our allies, including Great Britain. Will the member for Willowdale vote against the wishes of the Prime Minister's Office and honour the promise he solemnly made to his own constituents?
    On September 28, 2016, the member for Montarville, who is now on the back benches but was then parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Public Safety, said the following in the House:
    The bill before us would establish a committee with nine members. Seven of the committee members would be drawn from the House of Commons, and of these seven, only four can be government members. Two members would be drawn from the other place. This committee will be different from other committees and offices established to review security and intelligence matters.
    A little further on in his speech, which was probably prepared by officials from the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and edited by the Prime Minister's Office, he added:
    Robust powers are given to this committee, its members, and its secretariat. The committee will be able to access any information it needs to conduct its reviews, subject to some specific and reasonable limits.
    The powers conferred upon the executive, meaning the ministers of the Liberal government, are huge. For instance, subclause 8(2) of the bill states:
    
    If the appropriate Minister determines that a review would be injurious to national security, he or she must inform the Committee of his or her determination and the reasons for it.
    In language that everyone can understand, that means that a minister can decide what the committee will study. I am not sure that that is what voters voted for on October 19, 2015.
    In conclusion, I invite my Liberal colleagues and all members to assert their independence with respect to the Prime Minister's cabinet and his staff. They already did so in the not too distant past when voting on Bill S-201. I believe that the members opposite are capable of doing it again if they can muster the courage.

  (1545)  

    I invite them to vote against Bill C-22 and not to renege on the promise they made to their respective constituents in the last election campaign.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, this is one piece of legislation where the Conservative Party has clearly demonstrated that once again it is out of touch with reality or, more important, it is out of touch with Canadians.
     I have listened to the debate. We have had ministers, parliamentary secretaries to those ministers, the critics of both the NDP and the official opposition, and the leader of the Green Party engage in this debate. There has been opportunity for well over 100 people to get engaged in this debate to date. In fact, 40-plus members have had speeches of 10 minutes or more on the issue.
     The Conservatives have made it very clear. Contrary to what Canadians want, they do not support parliamentary oversight. They are voting against the legislation, which is no surprise. When they brought in Bill C-51, they refused to bring in parliamentary oversight. Now, in opposition, they are asking why the Prime Minister has this kind of control.
     I would ask the member this. First, could he explain for Canadians why the Conservatives do not support a parliamentary oversight committee? Second, why do they not recognize that this is one of the most robust pieces of legislation of the Five Eyes countries to ensure a strong independence for a parliamentary oversight committee? For example, when we compare New Zealand, the prime minister is the chair of the committee, and there are many other examples I could give.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the only good thing about time allocation is that the parliamentary secretary's speeches will be shorter.
    Honestly, we are not against parliamentary oversight. However, that is not what Bill C-22 provides. In fact, the bill provides for oversight by the Prime Minister's Office, and we find that deplorable. That is not what the Liberals promised during the election campaign.
    The Liberals promised that a committee accountable to Parliament would provide oversight, and not a committee supervised by the person appointed by the Prime Minister and the PMO.

  (1550)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague has pointed out many of the concerns that we on the NDP side have, and I thank him for that. However clause 8 of the bill states that a cabinet minister can halt an investigation into his or her own department for security reasons. However, it offers no way to test whether this fact is merely covering up a sloppy management or even a scandal. In the member's view, is this adequate to ensure Canadians get all the facts with respect to the government's handling of security?

[Translation]

     Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.
    That is in fact one of our concerns. If a minister can decide what will or will not be reviewed at a committee responsible for oversight of the minister's actions, then we have a real problem. That was not what Canadians expected when they were promised that a committee made up of parliamentarians would oversee operations.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I believe it was the Prime Minister's father who said that MPs were nobodies 50 yards from the House of Commons. This is an opportunity for us to perhaps reflect on what we will be in the House of Commons if we only take our instructions from the Prime Minister's Office.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, we might draw a parallel with the Liberal Party nomination process during the election. When the Prime Minister goes against his own riding associations, if he does that kind of thing within his own family, imagine what he could do in the House of Commons, which is made up of opposition parties that do not think the way he does.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise to speak to this bill.
    There are few responsibilities more important to government than ensuring the safety of the Canadian population while at the same time ensuring the protection of its rights as enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This became a dominant theme in the last campaign, and we said that these two issues are not mutually exclusive. They are not things that are traded off against each other. They are things that must be considered equally and simultaneously, and both must be done with full force and effect.
    What we see in Bill C-22 is the beginning of an effort to finally address some major problems we have within our security and intelligence framework, the biggest one being oversight.
    I go back to my time on the other side of the aisle as critic for public safety and national security, and harken back to the reports of Justice Iacobucci and Justice O'Connor and the imperative nature of oversight in ensuring that our security and intelligence agencies are operating effectively and within the proper bounds of Canadian law. Unfortunately, over the last decade, despite many recommendations from parliamentary committees, these recommendations languished and were not acted upon, which meant that these key provisions were not put into effect.
    Why is that required? Let us look at the fact that right now the oversight for our security and intelligence, if it exists, exists in silos. For example, the RCMP public complaints commission looks at the RCMP but is not able to follow evidence as it pertains to or deals with other agencies. CSIS has SIRC. To take the other extreme, the Canada Border Services Agency has no form of oversight.
    Right now, the parliamentary committee, in an all-party way, is very effectively looking at our national security framework. A piece of the answer that we have seen in other jurisdictions and that has been talked about in many of the recommendations I spoke to earlier is the need to have a parliamentary committee made up of members of the House that would be able to follow information no matter where it goes. There may be a single incident involving intelligence that moves from the RCMP to the Canada Border Services Agency and that is also involved with immigration and many other agencies.
    This new committee would have the power to look into all corners of security and intelligence. From the government's perspective, it was incredibly important to bring it in early and set it up. I am very encouraged that the bill is before the House, and I am anxious for this new committee to get to work.
    Even before the committee saw this, experts rang in on the efficacy of what was proposed. Of course, we improved it, but it is a good idea to take a look at what some experts were saying about the state of the bill in its improvement, the leap forward that we made even prior to the amendments made at committee stage.
    Craig Forcese, a professor of law at the University of Ottawa and a renowned expert in this area, said, “this will be a stronger body than the U.K. and Australian equivalents, and a dramatic change for Canadian national-security accountability”. He went on to call it “a good bill” and gave it “a high pass”.
    His colleague Wesley Wark said, “I fully support Bill C-22”. He noted some improvements, but he basically issued a warning not to let perfect be the enemy of the good.
    The Canadian Civil Liberties Association supported the bill, saying, “This new accountability mechanism is crucial”.
    In the media, there were many positive comments. The Toronto Star said that this is “an important first step toward accountability” and that it “would provide an essential check” on the security establishment. That was before the committee made its recommendations.
    In the Commonwealth, we have gone much further. This is particularly noteworthy given the fact that the testimony the committee heard from the United Kingdom, for example, was to go slowly at the beginning because the committee, as it establishes itself and its work, needs to earn the trust of both the Canadian public and the institutions it is reviewing.

  (1555)  

    Notwithstanding that, we thought we would start aggressively, start ahead of everyone else in the Commonwealth, because we recognize, particularly with the dearth of action over the last decade, that there is an imperative nature to get these oversight mechanisms that had been ignored in place.
    In the course of testimony, the committee did what it should do. It reviewed the material, heard from expert witnesses, and made a number of recommendations. The government was happy to get behind and support a number of those recommendations which are reflected in the bill that is before the House today. I will run through some of those quickly.
    There is a whistle-blower clause requiring the committee to alert the appropriate minister and Attorney General if it uncovers something that may be illegal. There is a requirement that the annual report indicate where redactions have been made and why. The chair only votes to break ties; in other words, the chair does not have a double vote. It limits a minister's authority to determine that an examination would be injurious to national security and therefore outside the committee's mandate to ongoing operations, and requires the minister to alert the committee when the operation is no longer ongoing or when examining it would no longer pose a national security problem. Finally, it allows the committee access to information about ongoing defence intelligence activities in support of military operations, privileged information under the Investment Canada Act, and information collected by FINTRAC. That is all in the amendment to clause 14.
    It can be seen that a great number of recommendations that were made by the committee were accepted by the government and are reflected in the bill. I think they are important improvements. They certainly go well beyond the standard that we see in any other Commonwealth country. I will come to an examination of those in a minute, but let us take a look quickly at some of the clauses that were rejected.
    Reinserting in clause 14 giving information about human intelligence sources and witness protection was rejected, and I think for very sensible grounds. If somebody is in a witness protection program, as an example, we do not want to be sharing that name any more than is absolutely necessary. Even for the agencies that are sharing that information, not everybody in those agencies has access to it. We want to limit how much those names go out. That just makes prudent and good sense.
    There is also restriction around information on ongoing law enforcement investigations. This is to avoid perceptions of political interference in an ongoing criminal investigation. This does not mean after the investigation that they cannot look into what has transpired to ensure that everything was as it should be, but when that matter is ongoing and current, certainly there is cause for concern around whether or not that would constitute interference and whether or not police would have to divert resources, to pull it off a case in order to work with the committee, so retrospectively instead of while it is ongoing.
    Briefly I want to talk about some of the differences, because they are important, about Canada and some of our Commonwealth comparators. If we look at Britain, for example, in order to look beyond MI6, MI5, or GCHC, a memorandum of understanding is actually required between the committee and the Prime Minister. In Australia there is a limit strictly to statutory reviews of legislation and administration and expenses of particular agencies. It would actually be a parliamentary resolution or a ministerial referral to look at any other issue. It would require that level of depth, but that is not the case here. There are no such restrictions. There is the ability for the committee to look in every corner.
    With respect to access to information, every single one of the Commonwealth partners, and I will not list them all but I can say the U.K., New Zealand, Australia and so forth, all put in restrictions around information sharing that deal with operational sensitivity and things that pose a threat to national security.
    Much has been made of this, but the fact remains, obviously, that there needs to be the ability for the minister to protect national security when it is appropriate, and if there is a disagreement between the committee and the minister, then there is the ability for the committee to file a report of all the accumulated instances where they feel the government has not provided that information, and that could be aired publicly. Of course, that committee would have a very strong pulpit from which to speak.
    The bottom line is that the bill is the beginning, an incredibly important first step on a journey ensuring we have appropriate oversight for our security intelligence framework. I look forward to this bill passing and for the work to come that we committed to in the platform.

  (1600)  

    Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my friend and hon. colleague, who is now the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety. I certainly hope that his experience as parliamentary secretary for public safety will not be as frustrating as it was to be parliamentary secretary for democratic institutions. I highly doubt that the government plans to pull the plug on this legislation in the next 24 hours, so it is bound to be a bit more rewarding.
    All levity aside, I support this bill. It is an important piece of legislation. It is absolutely the case that when Mr. Justice O'Connor and others testified in hearings on Bill C-51 in the 41st Parliament, the failure of Canadian governments over time to have parliamentary oversight of security operations and security entities was drawn to our attention numerous times. He quoted Craig Forcese, who is one of Canada's leading experts, as is Kent Roach. They would prefer to see additional improvements to this bill, as would I, but I appreciate that important amendments were accepted at committee.
     Would the parliamentary secretary be able to give us an update on what is being done to remedy the egregious multiple affronts to security and safety in Canada that came forward in Bill C-51? I opposed Bill C-51, not primarily because it offended Canadian civil liberties, although it does, but because it created silos in the views of people like Mr. Justice O'Connor, where CSIS would have information and have no obligation to share it with the RCMP and no obligation to share it with CSEC. Really, Bill C-51 makes us less safe, and the faster we can get rid of all of its various elements, potentially other than part 2, the better off we will all be.

  (1605)  

    Mr. Speaker, I share my hon. colleague's concerns. Before I address the concerns as they relate to Bill C-51, I will speak to the bill that is in front of us, Bill C-22. It is important to note that there would be a five-year mandatory review. While we are ahead of the Commonwealth and while we think, after the committee's recommendations and the listening that we did across the country, that we have a very good bill, there is a mandatory review process to make sure we could look at how effective this committee is being and how we could improve it. We do not hold this out as perfection, but we do feel that this is the right place to start.
    On the issue of changes and when we can expect them, the committee at this very moment is considering a report on the security and intelligence framework. We want to hear from that committee. It has done incredibly important work. It has heard from witnesses across the country. That committee report is going to be a very important input into the minister's overall process on responding. We have very clear platform commitments on what we feel needs to be changed and improved to get right that simultaneous work that needs to be done to protect Canadians and also to ensure that their rights are also protected.
    The committee report is coming out. I would expect action by the government very shortly thereafter, informed by that process.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to my colleague's speech. He spoke several times about the importance of the committee. Canadians want a watchdog with sharp teeth. It is important to have a properly formed committee.
    The new committee must also have full access to classified information, have adequate resources, enjoy some autonomy, and be able, within reason, to share with Canadians its actions in an instructive and transparent manner.
    I would like to know my colleague's thoughts on this and especially on the importance of restoring Canadians' trust in our security and intelligence community. I want to know what my colleague thinks, but personally I believe that there needs to be true parliamentary oversight.

[English]

     Mr. Speaker, parliamentary oversight is essential. I certainly pushed for it as a critic. We ran on it in the last election. We are delivering it here in Bill C-22. It is a massive step forward.
    As I said, we have not held this out as the sole component of the solution. There are other pieces that are coming. I referenced the committee's work and impending legislation that the government will table as well. However, the spirit of what the member asked is dead on: the importance of oversight, the importance of rigorously maintaining that protection of Canadian rights as guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We are also ensuring at the same time that our security and intelligence apparatus has the tools it needs effectively to keep Canadians safe.
    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today in support of Bill C-22, an act to establish a national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians.
     After second reading consideration and committee scrutiny, we now have the opportunity to review the bill at report stage. The robust parliamentarian process has served us well. The bill has been carefully studied by members on all sides of the House. Advice has been heard from expert witnesses and the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security has proposed amendments.
    As the legislation stands today, it will move our country toward a more accountable and effective national security system. As many have said today and prior to today, the legislation is long overdue. We have heard stakeholders call it “crucial” and affirm that it will establish a committee in Canada that is stronger than its international counterparts. It will fill a significant gap that has existed in Canada for far too long. It will enable us to achieve our twin objectives of ensuring that our national security agencies are working effectively to keep Canadians safe and that the rights and freedoms of Canadians are protected.
    Creating a new national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians honours a major commitment of the government to Canadians. The committee will be an enormously important addition to our parliamentary landscape. It will have: extraordinary access to classified information in order to closely examine intelligence and security operations; enhanced scrutiny of national security and intelligence activities; a broader mandate than counterparts in other modern democracies; the ability to set its own agenda fully independent of government; the responsibility to report annually to Canadians through Parliament; and the power to examine activities government-wide, including ongoing operations.
    As the legislation stands now, the committee will meet the dual objectives we set long ago, which is to ensure our national security apparatus is working to keep Canadians safe and secure, while protecting the rights and freedoms of Canadians.
     When the bill was first introduced, it proposed a stronger committee than those that existed with many of our international allies. With amendments, the scope, authorities, and access we are proposing for the committee will be broadened even further. The government has indicated that it will accept most of these amendments.
    With respect to scope, for example, we agreed with the committee that the committee must be empowered to review national security and intelligence operations. As amended, that will include the operation of crown corporations. Further, as amended, if the minister determines that the examination will be against national security, his or her power to delay it will be limited to the period of time during which the operation is under way. Afterward, the committee can review the operation.
    Another important amendment is whistle-blower protection that will require the committee to inform a minister and the attorney general about any national security or intelligence activity undertaken by a department that may not comply with the law. Like my colleagues, I was pleased that this amendment was widely endorsed. I also agree that the chair of the committee should be given a vote only in the case of a tie. I also agree with many of the changes regarding access to information exemptions for the bill initially proposed.
    With the recent amendments, for example, the committee will now be able to receive information about ongoing defence intelligence activities that support military operations. It will also have access to relevant information collected by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada and to privileged information under the Investment Canada Act.
     The government has also agreed to amend the legislation so that reasons must be given for any redaction. Indeed, the government has been open to reasonable amendments throughout the parliamentary process.

  (1610)  

    We have not only conducted a careful examination of this crucial legislation, but we have also benefited from many years of consideration in creating this committee and from long collaboration with our international partners. Every other member of the Five Eyes alliance, including Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, has a legislative body with access to classified information to oversee security and intelligence matters.
    Canada has tried to create a committee for over a decade now. It is time we give Canadians and parliamentarians the mandate to review these activities that we all want and need. Today, we are all taking one step closer to bringing this important new body into existence. We are closer to a system in which parliamentarians are better able to hold the government to account. We are closer to ensuring that concrete actions are taken when deficiencies and problems with our security framework and operations are identified.
    Having learned from some of the best practices of our allies, we are closer to a truly developing a Canadian approach to national security accountability. This is a significant step forward for Canada. The legislation before us is as bold and progressive as it is thoughtful and balanced.
    I am very proud to be part of the legislature that will, hopefully, at long last, put this critical accountability mechanism in place. I thank all members and parties for their support, advice, scrutiny, and debate in creating a better bill. I encourage all colleagues to support the passage of this important legislation.

  (1615)  

    Mr. Speaker, the reality is that this bill has more holes in it than a jar of olives. If we look at the provisions, there are so many things that are distant from the spirit about which the member talked. He talked about this providing genuine oversight, but he should know that all the power remains in the hands of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister appoints all the members of the committee and the Prime Minister has complete control over the information that goes forward.
    The bill is very clear that it is not a parliamentary committee. It is, as it happens, a committee of parliamentarians, but it is not a parliamentary committee in any of the senses in which we understand that.
    I wonder if the member could comment on some of those holes and whether he is really satisfied that this satisfies the Liberals' election commitment. I do not think it does at all.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for making the analogy to a jar of olives. As I know, he is an afficionado of olives. On our recent trip to Israel, we learned a lot about them.
    However, getting to the member's question, I want to reiterate that our government is making an historic commitment to Canadians to fulfill an election promise. However, it is not just our commitment. Other governments have tried to set up this committee, which we have needed for quite some time now, to ensure there is independent oversight over our security and intelligence. Just like our allies in the Five Eyes, every other country already has this committee. We are setting one up to ensure we protect Canadians. At the same time, we are ensuring that our rights and freedoms, which as Canadians we cherish so much, are protected.
    I truly believe in Bill C-22, and I encourage the member opposite to support it.
    Mr. Speaker, one of the issues we will vote on with Bill C-22 is an amendment I have made. As members know, and the Speaker has accepted it for a vote, it is a deletion to retain the powers of parliamentary privilege for members of Parliament on the committee. It is an attempt, even at this late stage, to have the bill respect parliamentarians and their ability, having taken the oath of confidentiality, to be responsible for the secrecy that is required of them in this very important committee for senators and members of Parliament.
    I note that the New Zealand legislation does not require its members of parliament to give up their parliamentary privileges in order to serve on their committee for security operations. Would my hon. colleague please consider voting for my amendment to delete that provision?
    Mr. Speaker, Bill C-22 and the government's commitment to setting up this committee, which is independent of government, is extremely important, especially if we look at the current security landscape in the world we live in today.
    Canadians expect their government to ensure they are protected. The first job of any government is to protect its citizens. The committee will be able to do that. It will ensure that Canadians are safe and secure, while at the same time protecting their rights and freedoms.
    I look forward to the committee being set up. I look forward to parliamentarians of all political parties serving on it and ensuring they carry out their mandate to protect Canadians.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, let me cut to the chase.
    Why are there no ways to settle certain disputes confidentially? For example, a Federal Court judge could be called upon to conduct regular assessments of the warrants for secret information. A minister can actually decide whether to retain the information or not.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the bill clearly states that the minister will have the prerogative to ensure that national security is still maintained, which is an important piece of the bill. It also states that after the national security risk has passed, the committee has the opportunity to revisit the minister's decision.
    Again, Bill C-22 and this new committee will have the balance that we are trying to achieve, which is ensuring we are keeping Canadians safe while at the same time protecting the rights and freedoms we cherish so much.

  (1620)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to join this very important debate about the structures we have in place for oversight of our intelligence and law enforcement activities. Unfortunately, we are doing so again under the gun of closure. This is at a time when the government is contemplating changes to our parliamentary rules that it would like to move forward without even working with other parties. It would in effect make closure automatic on bills that it brings forward. This is some of the context in which we see a limiting of discussion here today. At the same time, this is an important discussion that I am very glad to be able to participate in.
    In general, when we think about the oversight mechanisms that exist for our intelligence agencies, we can have expert oversight, oversight by externally appointed experts who have specific knowledge in this area, and parliamentary oversight, which is oversight by elected officials. There are pros and cons to both of these options, and certainly they can exist in tandem with one another.
    For a long time in Canada, we have had a strong system of expert oversight. What the government is doing with the legislation is bringing in something that Liberals are calling parliamentary oversight. However, in effect, and I will get into the details, this is not meaningful parliamentary oversight. It does not achieve many of the advantages of expert oversight, but it also does not achieve the advantages that might be associated with a more genuine parliamentary oversight model. This is the objection that I have to the legislation.
    If we were going to bring in a more genuine parliamentary oversight structure similar to some of the private members' bills that Liberal MPs, such as the member for Malpeque, have at different times proposed, we would find our caucus more sympathetic to those kinds of arguments. However, we are seeing something that does not at all capitalize on those advantages, because it leaves control in the hands of the Prime Minister. At the same time, it does not entail some of the advantages that exist in the structure of an executive oversight system.
    Would it not be perverse if in a bill that was supposed to be about strengthening Parliament, we actually saw a bill that created all the tools for strengthening and deepening the grasp of the Prime Minister over the direction of Parliament? That is exactly what we see here. It is legislation that tightens the control and the power of the Prime Minister's Office, nominally about parliamentary oversight, but that actually has many of the opposite effects.
    Let us review what was committed to by the party in government. The Liberals' election commitment was, “We will create an all-party committee to monitor and oversee the operations of every government department and agency with national security responsibilities.” What we had in this election commitment was the implication of all-party inclusion, meaningful review of past operations, and oversight of present operations. It would be ongoing oversight as well as a review of past operations.
    What we have, though, is nothing in the legislation to guarantee that all parties would be represented, because we do not have a committee that takes on the traditional form of a parliamentary committee. The way our committees normally function is that the leaders of parties nominate members of their parties to be members of those committees, and the committee is laid out in proportion to representation in the House. Since we are talking about a joint committee, it is probably in proportion to representation in this and the other place.
    In fact what we have is the government creating a committee where the Prime Minister gets to choose all of the members. Yes, it says that only a certain number can be members of the government, but it does not prescribe the distribution of opposition members. It does not say that the distribution should be reflective of the House.
    It is conceivable that the government could appoint independents who have recently departed from the Liberal caucus to this committee. I do not know how likely that is, but there are no protections in the legislation to ensure there is meaningful representation of all party perspectives. Even when members of opposition parties are appointed, again, those appointments are fundamentally at the pleasure of the Prime Minister, who designates the chair. In fact, long before this legislation has been passed, the Prime Minister had already publicly designated the person he is going to select as chair, which I think shows a great lack of respect for this institution.

  (1625)  

    In terms of the appointment process, in terms of the distribution process, in terms of the lack of formal consultation requirement for the Senate or any clear definition of what consultation with other parties would look like in the process of those appointments, we see legislation that is about strengthening the power of the Prime Minister over the process of intelligence review. That is not at all in keeping with what many would have thought was the spirit of that Liberal election commitment. It is, in many ways, moving in the opposite direction of what it purports to be doing.
    There are not only limitations that ensure the control of the Prime Minister in the process of appointing members of the committee, but there are also significant problems with the way in which the information is handled. Ministers, as per one of the amendments that is going to be reintroduced, as well as the Prime Minister, can choose to exclude certain information on a variety of different bases.
    What jumped out at me when I read the legislation initially, and members can look at it, is subclause 21(5), which states:
    If, after consulting the Chair of the Committee, the Prime Minister is of the opinion that information in an annual or special report is information the disclosure of which would be injurious to national security, national defence or international relations or is information that is protected by litigation privilege or solicitor-client privilege or, in civil law, by immunity from disclosure or the professional secrecy of advocates and notaries, the Prime Minister may direct the Committee to submit to the Prime Minister a revised version of the annual or special report that does not contain that information.
    In principle, I think members would be supportive of the idea that information which would be injurious for national security should be excluded from public release. However, when the section is so general as to include the possible exclusion for information that would be injurious to international relations, I would submit that almost anything that would come out of this committee could potentially be injurious to international relations. However, the adjudication of that process is not independent. It is not subject to the knowledge and expertise of the committee. It is simply up to the Prime Minister . If he says he does not want that section included because it could be injurious to international relations, perhaps this might be more an issue of “injurious to the reputation of the government”, and that would be a motivating basis for excluding that information.
    I posed this question to the House leader when we initially debated the bill at second reading. The House leader asserted at the time that the committee report would be provided to the Prime Minister for the sole purpose of ensuring that it does not contain classified information. In reality, though, the subclause is very clear, in black and white, that it allows exclusions on the basis of international relations as well as a range of other criteria, and that the determination of what would be included and excluded is solely at the discretion of the government.
    We had a concern raised today about disclosing certain information to the committee. It was raised by the Minister of Public Safety, who effectively said that there is more risk of this information leaking out if more people have access to this information, and that is why certain information should be excluded from being shown to the committee. At the same time as saying that, there is nothing in this legislation that requires the individuals appointed to the committee, or even the individual who is appointed chair, to have experience handling and dealing with classified information.
    This comes back to the central point, which is that we have a choice between expert oversight or parliamentary oversight, or some combination thereof. However, effectively this bill would not provide the advantages of either. It would not require that those appointed to the committee have some experience with the handling of classified information, which would build some expertise and experience into the question of the handling of that classified information. It would not give the committee the level of independence that it should have by leaving aspects of the appointments as well as the management of information to the Prime Minister. Effectively, it would tighten the control of the Prime Minister's Office over what really should be a parliamentary function.

  (1630)  

    It is for these reasons that I will be disagreeing with the government on amendments coming forward, and likely, unless we see what we want in the amendments, voting against the bill.
    Mr. Speaker, I have found that the Conservatives are trying to find a reason to justify their vote on this particular piece of legislation. It really does not make much sense when we listen to one member versus another member. At the core, the Conservatives appear to be in opposition of having a parliamentary oversight committee. I think the Canadian public would be best served if the Conservatives would be straightforward as to whether they support a parliamentary oversight committee today, because we know that yesterday they did not.
    The second issue that I take some exception with is that the member makes reference to the fact that we could be doing more. He used the example of the Prime Minister making appointments. In New Zealand, which is one of the Five Eyes countries, the prime minister is actually on the committee. If we look at the committee that we are talking about today in this legislation, the number of Liberal MPs that would sit on the committee would be a minority of the overall membership of the committee.
    Therefore, I ask the member this. Do the Conservatives support parliamentary oversight today? Also, what other amendments would they like to see that would make it more robust?
    Mr. Speaker, I am happy to go through the points that the member made. He said that it was about the overall principle of parliamentary oversight. We are at report stage. We are not just talking about the principle of the bill, we have to get into the details. I think it is important for members to analyze, think about, and understand some of the problems with the details. It is not good enough that in principle the government has said that it wants to move in a certain direction, because, as I have argued, the details point in a very different direction.
    With respect to parliamentary oversight, as I said clearly during my speech, I see advantages to the expert oversight model and advantages to the parliamentary oversight model. However, the legislation we have in front of us does not create a genuine system of parliamentary oversight because the Prime Minister still holds all the cards. We are not talking about a parliamentary committee, we are talking about a committee of parliamentarians.
    On the member's point about Liberal MPs forming a minority, I think that is clear sleight of hand, because the government appoints all the members and it gets to appoint some senators. Therefore, if it appoints quasi-independent senators, who we all know are perhaps not as independent as the claim might be, we are obviously still in a position of the Prime Minister holding the cards. If there were advice sought from the Senate about how to appoint if Senate caucuses had input, if Senate appointments were reflective of the distribution of the Senate, then we would not have that problem. However, this is not a typically structured joint committee of the two Houses. It is a committee of parliamentarians chosen entirely by the Prime Minister and serving at the pleasure of the Prime Minister. I think we need to dig into those details and discuss those details.
    In terms of amendments, we have amendments coming forward tonight. I think some of the amendments that we are proposing are very good, and some of the government House leader's amendments are not so good. Therefore, if the member wants to know what we are proposing, I would encourage him to vote with us this evening.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I was previously a member of an oversight committee for a labour organization, looking over the union finances. We had access to every document, namely cheques, invoices and expense claims. We got whatever we wanted.
    The subject here is national security. The oversight committee therefore will have an important role to play. Clearly, we are not talking about the exact same level of security. In this case, oaths must be taken and secrets must be kept for life. We are also talking about the highest level of security clearance. There are differences, I admit.
    However, it is still an oversight committee. The committee will need to have all the information in hand so that it can do its work properly. If the committee does not have access to all the information, how can it be assured that Canadians are really safe?
    Does my colleague feel that the country's security will be in good hands despite the shortcomings of the bill? Is he absolutely sure?

  (1635)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as I have outlined, we have concerns about the legislative framework that has been set up here. It does not provide the committee with the effective tools to do its job, and that comes in many different forms. I have spoken principally about this issue of the independence of the committee and the control the Prime Minister would have over the flow of information in and out, as well as who sits on the committee. It may well be sensible and there may well be an argument for excluding certain information from the purview of the committee, but for all of the power in terms of the control of that flow of information to be in the hands of the government does not create the kind of independence one would expect to see in oversight.
    Again, if there are concerns about information leaking out, we have made the suggestion that we have an expectation that those on the committee would have experience in handling classified information, but that was not a suggestion that was accepted by the government. We have a number of these problems because the government is unwilling to accept the constructive feedback we have provided. It speaks to the underlying reality that the government does not want to hand over control. It just wants to make it look like it is.
    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak to Bill C-22, which is legislation that would establish a committee of parliamentarians to review our national security and intelligence activities.
    This bill engages two areas of extraordinary importance to all Canadians: freedom and security. My constituents in Mississauga East—Cooksville, like all Canadians, are vitally concerned about their liberties and freedoms. They are also very conscious of the need for their security and the security of their fellow Canadians.
    The debate in these areas is often set out in terms of a zero-sum game. Supposedly, increasing security means less freedom, or that as security decreases, freedom increases. Simply put, this is not true. While on some few occasions a trade-off or balance may be necessary, in reality, most of the time, freedom and security are entirely complementary ideals. There is no real long-term freedom without security. There is no real stable security without freedom. Freedom without security is a charade. Such freedom in a security vacuum is an empty concept. It is life inside a compound or a gated community living in constant fear. Likewise, security without freedom is life in a real or virtual prison cell. This is one of the reasons that I support this bill. It advances the mutually reinforcing goals of liberty and safety.
    The need for review in the areas of national security and intelligence is now broadly recognized. Sadly, one can see many examples of failures to provide security and failure to protect liberties both abroad and in Canada. Such reviews involving classified information are particularly challenging. The U.S. 9/11 Commission found, “Secrecy stifles oversight, accountability, and information sharing”. Challenging or not, effective reviews must be done. Literally, it is a matter of life and death.
    Accepting the need for such reviews, the real and productive debate is about the appropriate mechanisms for review. When we consider the appropriate mechanisms, we must recognize that this is a marked departure from our parliamentary system of government. National security and intelligence have traditionally been the exclusive preserve of the executive branch. A review system that works within our parliamentary form of government is required.
    The first matter in this regard that one must consider is the very real problem of who is best placed to oversee these intelligence and security matters. It is the classic dilemma of who watches the watchers. Should the reviewers be experts? They have the experience and knowledge in such matters. Should the reviewers be independent outsiders, like parliamentarians? There are arguments supporting both positions.
    Certainly, experts are used in Canada's other review bodies, being the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, the Communications Security Establishment commissioner, and the Security Intelligence Review Committee. Parliamentarians are obviously independent. They do not necessarily start with the required expertise. However, if one uses experts, particularly in this somewhat closed subject area, one tends to get those who, through long association, might be considered too close to the agencies under review. This closeness can develop in complete good faith and despite genuine efforts to resist it.
    I believe it is right to use parliamentarians in this regard. As to their lack of expertise, members of Parliament are expected to act in many areas outside their common knowledge base. They deal with economics in their consideration of budgets and other financial legislation. They deal with health policy in legislation. They deal with moral issues in matters like the assisted dying law. They deal with scientific policy.
     Parliamentary oversight of security and intelligence matters is based upon the very foundations of representational democracy. Our whole democratic system assumes a faith in the people's representatives' abilities. However, many parliamentarians will start their duties in this regard without any background knowledge. This makes the support of the secretariat set out in clauses 24 and 25 essential. It is critical that non-expert parliamentarians be supported by staff with the necessary long-term expertise and corporate memory.

  (1640)  

     I further note with approval that the secretariat could contract for independent legal advice. This is not restricted to the Department of Justice for legal advice. While that advice is admirably professional, the Department of Justice advises virtually all other actors in these areas simultaneously. Independent legal advice can enhance the independence and thus the effectiveness of the secretariat. Effectively, parliamentary review and oversight simply will not work without secretariat assistance. Therefore, I urge the government to give the secretariat the necessary priority and resources.
    I note the review committee's mandate is not limited to simply protecting rights and ensuring legal compliance. The committee would be free to consider all matters, including those of effectiveness of subject organizations and even value for money, i.e., are we getting the security that we need commensurate with the resources we are expending.
    I strongly support the composition of the committee as set out in clause 5. It nicely balances the interests of all major parties within this House and within the Senate. The inclusion of senators would provide for the possibility of some beneficial continuity for the committee.
    This legislation in clause 8 would restrict the committee from reviewing ongoing matters if the relevant minister determines the review would be injurious to national security. This is an appropriate restriction recognizing the established responsibilities of the executive branch in our parliamentary form of democratic government. It is not hard to imagine the impracticalities and problems associated with such a review in the midst of an ongoing sensitive matter. The interference, distraction, and diversion of limited resources are only some of those potential problems.
    Some members might note that the provisions make clear that committee members must honour their commitment to confidentiality. These matters are dealt with in clauses 10 through 12. Sadly, parliamentarians have not been above the breach of these rules. In this regard, I remind the House that one of our colleagues, Fred Rose, a former member for Montreal—Cartier, was convicted in 1946 for conspiracy to pass on official secrets to a foreign power, i.e., the Soviet Union. He was sentenced to six years in prison.
     This legislation in clause 9 recognizes that there are other review bodies, albeit non-parliamentary, engaged in potentially related matters. Co-operation and de-conflicting are mandated and only sensible.
     This bill would provide the committee the broadest powers. Clause 13 says that the committee is “entitled to send for persons, papers and records, and to have access to any information”. Please note the words “any information”. The only information excluded is cabinet documents being confidences of the Queen's Privy Council. This slight restriction is entirely consistent with our parliamentary system of government.
    We must recognize that this legislation is a novel approach for Canada. National security and intelligence have traditionally been matters strictly of the purview of the executive, of the cabinet. The proposed review committee would be the legislative branch's first foray into these two sensitive areas. This lack of precedent is not a reason not to proceed, but a reason to recognize the limits of what we can sensibly do, predict, and provide for. This is another reason to tread carefully. Most important, to provide a mechanism to make sure that we have acted appropriately, that mechanism is the five-year review mandated by clause 34.
    In conclusion, I am proud to support this bill because it introduces necessary outside review in matters of vital concern to Canadians. These matters heavily implicate both our freedom and our security. I also support it because this review is to be in the hands of the most appropriate persons, those persons being Canadian parliamentarians. The review committee would be appropriately composed and represented with a broad mandate and strong powers. This vital committee would be supported by a secretariat and executive director, whose support, I repeat, is absolutely essential. This would allow us to ensure that we are balancing our liberties and freedoms with our security.

  (1645)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is loud and clear that my hon. colleague is very confident in how this committee is going to proceed. However, Canadians watching are very disappointed in how the government supported Bill C-51. They were promised during the election campaign that the amendments were going to be addressed. However, the bill that has come forward to address this has such shortcomings.
    It was mentioned that some experts validated this committee. I want to point out that the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Canada, the Security and Intelligence Review Committee, and the Canadian Bar Association all testified that the oversight committee must not be restricted in its ability to access necessary information. It is really confounding that this committee will move forward and that has been rejected up until now.
    Could the hon. member shed some light on why the government rejects expert evidence that access to information is absolutely necessary for this committee to function the way that is envisioned by the government?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the opportunity to speak about the good work done in committee, the many witnesses who were heard, and the amendments that came forward, which, in many cases, like adding senators, we will move forward with.
    The hon. member also talked about some of the experts from whom the committee heard. Following the introduction of Bill C-22, the expert from the University of Ottawa, Craig Forcese, said, “this will be a stronger body than the UK and Australia equivalents. And a dramatic change for Canadian national security and accountability. This is a good bill. I would give it a high pass”. Also, University of Toronto expert Wesley Wark has called Bill C-22 a very good bill.
    The committee heard from over 40-some-odd witnesses. There have been over 40 members in the chamber speak to the legislation. It strikes the right balance. We are moving in the right direction.
    Mr. Speaker, it was nice to hear the largely motherhood section on the intersection of freedom and security, and the desirability of freedom. However, this is at the same time the government has again invoked closure on a bill to which many parliamentarians wish to speak. When one says that 40 members have spoken on this bill fast enough, it sounds like a lot of people, but that is just barely 10% of the people who were elected to the House and who wish to address issues in the House on behalf of their constituents.
    Would the member care to comment on why the government needs to ram this through? Even the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics is in the midst of concluding its study of SCISA, where there were many similar issues. This would be another report that could have perhaps been taken into account when contemplating similar issues in this bill.

  (1650)  

    Mr. Speaker, I have a lot of respect for the member, but it was his party that forced closure on legislation over 100 times. It was the way the Conservatives operated.
    That is not the case with Liberals. We made a commitment to the people of Canada to address poor legislation that the previous Conservative government put forward, Bill C-51. We made a commitment to Canadians to bring a balance of freedom and liberty with security. Bill C-22 addresses that. It is imperative on the government to move forward with that agenda, because Canadians have asked for that.
    The member should look at his party's record on closure.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak in favour of Bill C-22.

[English]

    The national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians being created is incredibly important. We just have to look at what is happening right now south of the border, where congressional committees are overseeing and questioning what is happening in the FBI, the CIA and other intelligence services, to recognize that without oversight, we might well have a very unfortunate situation with power concentrated only in the executive branch.
    Up until today, the Canadian Parliament has been the only parliament among our Five Eyes partners that does not have a committee comprised of parliamentarians and legislators to oversee our intelligence department and agencies and to ensure that fairness, justice and rule of law values are imposed.
    As such, I strongly agree, as I said when I campaigned in the last election, that such a committee is needed and would be much appreciated by Canadians.
    I also want to congratulate the committee that studied the bill. The public safety and national security committee had extensive debates on the bill, which I had the pleasure of reading over the last couple of days. The debate that went on in committee was very interesting and it shed a lot of light on the amendments brought forward and the improvements that were made to the bill. The committee heard from over 40 witnesses. Members of the committee did not necessarily agree with other members of those parties. I congratulate the committee on a thoughtful review of the bill. It stands as an excellent example of how colleagues in the House can work together to make a bill better.
    Let me outline a few of the amendments at committee.
     In clause 2 and again in clause 15, the amendments made at committee will clarify that the mandate of the committee of parliamentarians includes crown corporations. This broadens the mandate of the NSICOP, and is in keeping with the intent to give that committee a government-wide review capacity.
    In clause 5, a time frame of 60 days following the general election has been recommended for the appointment of NSICOP members, and the Prime Minister will be required to consult with the leaders of caucuses and recognized groups in order to name members to the committee.
    Amendments to clause 8 to deal with the NSICOP's authority to investigate ongoing activities were made. The minister has authority to determine that an examination of ongoing activities could be injurious to national security. However, with the amendments before us, the time during which the minister can invoke this authority will be limited to the period during which the ongoing operation is injurious security. Once the review is no longer injurious to national security and once it is no longer an ongoing operation, the minister will be required to inform the committee of parliamentarians. That is an improvement to the original bill.
    The amendments to clause 14 involve exemptions to the authority to review in certain instances. The amendments would cancel those exemptions. I agree with the standing committee that the exemptions concerning ongoing defence intelligence activities in support of military operations, privileged information under the Investment Canada Act and information collected by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada should be withdrawn.
    There are, however, certain exemptions that I believe should remain in the bill.
     On the one hand, there are exemptions to individuals who are protected through the witness protection program and to individuals who are confidential sources. I do not think the committee of parliamentarians needs to know the identities of these individual in order to oversee security and intelligence. There is potentially the risk of harm to them if their identities become more widely known. Also, the committee of parliamentarians risks the perception of political interference in police matters should the exemption for ongoing police investigations be removed.
     In addition, the committee recommended that clause 16 be deleted. I do not generally support that recommendation. Clause 16 would authorize a minister to prevent disclosure of special operating information as defined by the Security of Information Act when it could be injurious to national security.
    There will be situations in which a minister will need to avail him or herself of this prerogative in the interests of national security, but the bill also places checks and balances on this authority. The proposed amendment will require the minister to explain in writing their reasons why the authority is being invoked. This will effectively make public the minister's decision and the minister will have to contemplate the public's reaction before making use of this provision.

  (1655)  

    The equivalent committees in the other Westminster Five Eyes partners face similar and indeed generally more extensive restrictions on their access to information. In fact, the access provided to the NSICOP will broadly exceed the access afforded to the committees of our international partners.
    To repeat a point made earlier, under Bill C-22, operational reviews may only be stopped for national security reasons during the period that the operation in question is ongoing, and only if the conduct of the review will be disruptive to that ongoing operation. Once the operation is complete, the committee of parliamentarians may begin or resume its review.
    When the committee of parliamentarians tables its annual report to Parliament, it will be able to cite any instances where this authority has been used. In this way, we assure a degree of transparency that will enable Parliament and the Canadian public to hold the minister and the government to account.
    One important aspect of the proposed committee of parliamentarians would be that the government would not have a majority of members on the committee. Indeed, as now agreed and amended, the chair would have a vote only in the case of a tie. By limiting the voting powers of the chair, we further ensure that the committee's work and findings will not be controlled by the government.
    The amendments to clause 21 provide a further example of how the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security has ensured greater accountability in the legislation. Should the prime minister redact information contained in NSICOP's report, the new version of the report must be clearly identified as a revised version. On top of that, the extent of the revisions must be indicated, as well as the reasons for them.
    A new clause 31 requires NSICOP to inform the appropriate minister or the attorney general if, in its opinion, it finds any activity related to national security or intelligence carried out by a department that may not be in compliance with the law. This whistle-blower provision is a significant addition to the bill before us. I congratulate the standing committee for championing this provision.
    During committee stage, a wide range of witnesses shared the benefit of their experience and advice. The amendments before us today demonstrate that the committee listened to them and that the government also listened to the committee. Committee witnesses included leading professionals and academic experts, human rights advocates, and the heads of our existing national security and intelligence agencies. I thank them for their input.
    There has been a consensus, I believe, that the bill would improve the accountability and effectiveness of Canada's national security and intelligence system. I urge all members to join me in supporting the bill. I am pleased that the government is supporting a majority of amendments that have come back from the standing committee.

  (1700)  

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my friend's reasoning in trying to justify the bill to convince us to vote for it. However, we have some problems, and I think Canadians want some answers.
   &nbs