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42nd PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 074

CONTENTS

Thursday, June 16, 2016




House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 148 
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NUMBER 074 
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1st SESSION 
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42nd PARLIAMENT 

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Speaker: The Honourable Geoff Regan

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayer


  (1005)  

[Translation]

Message from the Senate

     I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying), with amendments to which the concurrence of this House is desired. Copies of the amendments are available at the table.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Should you consult with the other parties, I believe you will find unanimous consent that notwithstanding any standing or special order or usual practice of the House, when orders of the day are called later this day, a minister of the Crown be authorized to move without notice a motion relating to Senate amendments to Bill C-14, an act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other acts, medical assistance in dying.
    Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

Information Commissioner of Canada

    I have the honour, pursuant to Section 38 of the Access to Information Act, to lay upon the table the report of the Information Commissioner for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2016.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(h), this document is deemed to have been permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

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 response to four petitions.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2015 annual report of the RCMP's use of the law enforcement justification provisions. This report addresses the RCMP's use of specified provisions within the law enforcement justification regime, which is set out in section 25.1 to 25.4 of the Criminal Code.
    This report also documents the nature of the investigations in which these provisions were used.

[Translation]

National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act

[English]

Interparliamentary Delegations

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association respecting its participation at the second part of the 2016 ordinary session of the Council of Europe and its mission to the next country to hold the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union held in Strasbourg, France, and Bratislava, Republic of Slovakia, from April 18 to April 28, 2016.

Committees of the House

Public Accounts 

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the twelfth report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, entitled “Public Accounts of Canada 2015”.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109 the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics entitled “Review of the Access to Information Act”.
    This report was agreed to unanimously by all members of the committee who worked together cordially and produced an excellent report. We are expecting comprehensive legislation from the government forthwith.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Transport, Infrastructure and Communities  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, entitled “An Update on Rail Safety”. This report was intended to underscore the need for safety on Canada's rails.
    From Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, to Richmond, British Columbia, the committee heard the common theme that people and communities support commerce and recreational rail travel, but they do so with the expectation that it is safe and reliable.
    The members of the committee submit the report with the hope that the recommendations will help to positively move the bar when it comes to safety on the rails. I also want to thank all the committee members for their great work.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109 of the House of Commons, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to the report.

  (1010)  

Government Awareness Day Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to introduce this bill, an act respecting government awareness day. I would like to thank my hon. colleague, the hard-working and excellent member for Courtenay—Alberni for seconding the bill.
    The bill would have Parliament establish July 8 every year as government awareness day. The purpose would be that there be a day for Canadians to reflect on and celebrate our democracy. July 8 was the first day that Parliament ever sat in our country. That is the significance of that day. It would encourage citizen engagement, a celebration of our democracy, and education. It would encourage all citizens to use that day to contact any representative they wish, municipal, provincial, or federal, and make their views known to that representative as a way of showing that democracy is about government by the people for the people.
    I hope that all members of the House will join with me in establishing such an important day, which we do not have now in the country, to celebrate, respect, and enhance our democracy.

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

Canada Elections Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, once again I would like to thank my hon. colleague, the member for Courtenay—Alberni for seconding the bill.
    As all Canadians and this House know, we are about to embark on a very important exercise in electoral reform. This gives us and all Canadians a chance to reflect on and discuss our democracy and our democratic practices and make improvements.
    What the bill would do is expand voting hours in British Columbia and across the country from 7:00 in the morning until 10:00 at night. The idea is to expand the opportunities for Canadians on election day to cast their ballots. Research shows that, when polls are closed at 7 p.m., as they are in B.C., or at 8 p.m., there are Canadians who work and cannot get to the polls. Therefore, by increasing the length of time on the day Canadians go to polls, we would increase voter turnout. That, after all, is the essence of democracy.

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

Canada Elections Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, once again, I would like to thank my hon. colleague from Courtenay—Alberni for seconding the bill.
    This bill emanates from constituents of mine in British Columbia who have pointed out that the current practice of having voting hours in British Columbia on election day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. is not optimal for encouraging voter turnout. The bill would make a slight adjustment to open the polls at 8 a.m. and go to 8 p.m. on the theory that there are far more Canadians who will go to vote after work and are shut out at the polls because they get there after 7 p.m. than there are people who can get up and be at the polls from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m.
    This is another way to encourage democratic involvement, to increase the rate of voter participation on election day. I hope all members of the House will join me in supporting the bill.

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

[Translation]

     Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and I believe you would find the unanimous consent of the House for the following motion: That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, Bill S-1001, An Act to authorize La Capitale Financial Security Insurance Company to apply to be continued as a body corporate under the laws of the Province of Quebec, be deemed to have been read a second time and referred to a committee of the whole, deemed considered in committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage, and deemed read a third time and passed.

  (1015)  

    Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Speaker: There is no unanimous consent.

[English]

Criminal Code

    Mr. Speaker, I wish to state that the completion of Bill C-14 is an urgent matter because a legislative framework is needed to protect our most vulnerable in society and establish clear and consistent practices for medical professionals, while providing access to assisted dying pursuant to the Supreme Court of Canada ruling.
    Therefore, pursuant to Standing Order 53, I move:
    That, notwithstanding any Standing or special Order or usual practice of the House, when Orders of the Day are called later this day, a Minister of the Crown be authorized to move, without notice, a motion relating to Senate amendments to Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying).
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's arguments with respect to the urgency of this issue. However, he may be aware, and I think should be, that provincial guidelines have already been proposed with respect to this, and provinces are bringing in a framework to deal with this at the provincial level.
    That does not negate the possible arguments for or against having a federal framework, but I think it is important to acknowledge, in the context of a claim to the alleged urgency of this issue, what the reality is at the provincial level, because if we look at the various guidelines, it actually seems fairly clear to me that a number of provinces have done a much better job of protecting the vulnerable than the framework the federal government has put in place.
    I have raised concerns repeatedly in this House about the lack of protection for the vulnerable in this legislation. It is important that we separate out two different issues. There is the issue of the eligibility criteria, which has been fairly contentious in terms of whether it should be terminal, whether it should simply repeat the language of the Supreme Court, and whether it should use other types of language, as the government does in the somewhat ambiguous term of death being “reasonably foreseeable”, but then there is the separate question with respect to safeguards.
     I think, especially in this legislation, whatever Canadians and members of this House think of the provisions in terms of eligibility criteria, that there is an absence of safeguards. If we look at what the provinces have put in place, they have, in many cases, done a much better job of providing important safeguards.
    One of the models I would like to draw to the attention of members of the House is the law in place in Manitoba. The law put in place there has actually been praised. It was welcomed as a welcome development, even by someone involved in assisting people accessing assistance in dying, with an understanding of the real benefits of this law.
     The system that was set up in Manitoba was that it allowed individuals seeking assistance in dying, euthanasia, or physician-assisted suicide, whatever we want to call it, to have their cases reviewed by government lawyers. It did not require judicial review, which has many advantages but is something that some members have claimed is unduly onerous. It instead created a procedure by which government lawyers would review the eligibility criteria and would be able to, in the context of their legal expertise and knowledge, rule on whether the person in fact met the criteria.
    The government's legislation contains absolutely no mechanism for advance legal review by competent authority, and we proposed an amendment to that effect in hopes of seeing the government bring it in. Unfortunately, it would not agree to that.
    I think the Manitoba law strikes a good compromise. It does not require judicial review, but it does have some kind of apparatus whereby we have review by competent legal authority. Certainly in the case of Manitoba, the vulnerable in Manitoba are better off under the provisions of the existing standards in Manitoba than they would be under federal legislation.
    Let us talk about some of the other provinces. In general, the provinces I was able to look at use language around attending physicians. They have protections in terms of conscience, but they are rooted in this idea of an attending physician being in some way involved in the process.
    The federal legislation, Bill C-14, makes no reference to attending physicians. It does not require the involvement of the attending physician at all. It simply says that any two physicians can sign off. We could have two physicians in the country that see a particular case one way and every other physician in the country seeing the case a completely different way. That person would still be able to access euthanasia or assisted suicide.
    The guidelines, which in their wisdom most of the provinces, at least most of the ones I have had a chance to look at deal with, have a specifically carved out role for an attending physician. I would argue that involving, in the guidelines, specifically the attending physician provides significantly greater safeguards than we would have otherwise.
    This speaks very much to the motion the government House leader put forward, because he is claiming that there is some urgency to passing this legislation on the basis of the protection of the vulnerable. However, if we look at the rules that are in place in the various provinces, it is very clear that they may, so far, in terms of the interim guidelines they have put in place since June 6, have a somewhat more liberal interpretation of the eligibility criteria, but on the issue of safeguards, on the issue of the protection of the vulnerable, they are actually doing a much better job.

  (1020)  

     I have stated before concerns about The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario's policy with respect to conscience. It is evident in its interim policies that it has introduced, as well, a requirement for effective referral, requiring someone to be complicit or to refer for euthanasia, which is gravely concerning to physicians as well as to many other people within the province of Ontario. However, that would not change with the federal legislation, because the legislation would not provide the necessary protections for conscience.
    In other provinces, though, we see a better job in terms of understanding processes that can be put in place which protect the vulnerable and also protect conscience. Therefore, generally speaking, they make reference to this issue of having the attending physician involved, but they do not specifically require the participation or an effective referral. In my home province of Alberta, there has been a system constructed whereby there is a sort of central hub where people would go directly, or where someone might be pointed, in order to have their situation addressed or adjudicated in some way.
    These systems prevent what I think is one of the very pernicious aspects of Bill C-14, which is the possibility of doctor shopping. It is where a person, or even a member of their family, could shop the case around, and 10 or 20 different doctors could say absolutely not because the person does not meet the ambiguous criteria. It is somewhat ambiguous under Carter, but no less ambiguous under the provisions of the new government legislation.
    What is important in this debate is that people have raised the spectre of a legislative vacuum, in that there will be no legislation, no rules in place whatsoever. Well, June 6 has come and gone, and provinces were ready to respond in a way and to an extent that the federal government simply was not. The government proposed the legislation fairly late. It did not seek to get our buy-in on the substance of the legislation. Instead, the government pushed this forward at a late stage and said that we have to pass it now because it is urgent.
    Well, provinces have done a much better job here. Now June 6 has come and gone, and we are not in a vacuum. Provinces have developed standards, policies, and procedures, some of which may be better than others; some of which I may agree with more or less. However, if we look at the substance of these, I think we see that there is not at all a legislative vacuum. In fact, the provinces have in some cases been more effective.
    The central issue of doctor shopping, the issue of whether or not someone meets the criteria, needs to be adjudicated. It needs to be adjudicated, hopefully once, and may be subject to appeal or review by someone else. However, there needs to be one person or a group of people who have the expertise, legally and medically, who make the assessment, and then that decision is made.
    This fearmongering from the government about the absence of a law or a vacuum, I think really misses the point. We have these bodies, colleges of physicians and surgeons at the provincial level, that have the competency and have come up with guidelines, that have recognized, unlike the government, the concerns about doctor shopping that we have raised repeatedly in the House. They have recognized the problems with conscience and said they could try to construct, using their expertise and authority at the provincial level, a system that works better and that provides real protections for the vulnerable.
    Whenever we think about the eligibility criteria, and in some cases the interpretation of the eligibility criteria is different at the provincial level, let us provide the safeguards.
    One thing I want to briefly mention is that the federal legislation provides immunity from prosecution for someone who has a “reasonable but mistaken belief” that the standards have been met. Therefore, someone could take the life of a person who did not meet the criteria and still avoid prosecution. That is not a protection for the vulnerable. However, in the absence of the legislation, we do not have that exemption. The vulnerable are better protected because there is not an exemption for those who take life without the consent of the patient and without the proper criteria being met.
    In looking at the reality of what is in place at the provincial level, it is not correct at all to talk about a legislative vacuum. Therefore, the motion does not have the urgency that is claimed.

  (1025)  

    Questions and comments. Resuming debate.
    Is the House ready for the question?
    Some hon. members: Question.
    The Deputy Speaker: Will those members who object to the motion, please rise in their places.
    [And fewer than 10 members having risen:]
    The Deputy Speaker: Fewer than 10 members having risen to object, the motion is adopted.

    (Motion agreed to)

Petitions

Justice  

    Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to present three petitions on two different topics today.
    The first petition is with regard to victims of violent crimes, that is unborn children being victims of violent crimes, and the fact that our law does not currently recognize them as victims. There is currently a private member's bill, Cassie and Molly's law, and the petitioners call on all of us to support that law.

  (1030)  

Religious Freedom  

    Mr. Speaker, the other two petitions are with regard to religious freedom and the fact that religious freedom is probably one of the first freedoms at risk when freedoms are attacked around the world. The petitioners call on the government to restore and renew the mandate of the office of religious freedom.

Volunteer Service Medal  

    Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to present to the House of Commons an electronic petition initiated by veteran David Palmer, calling on the Government of Canada to re-establish a Canadian military volunteer service medal, which was previously awarded but cancelled in 1947. The petition has garnered almost 3,600 signatures from every province and territory in the country, and thousands more in hard copy.
    At this time, I would like to commend Mr. Palmer for his many years of dedication and commitment to veterans and to his efforts to re-establish this medal.

[Translation]

Home Mail Delivery  

    Mr. Speaker, as I said recently, I have never seen a more popular petition than this one, which calls on the government to restore home mail delivery and reminds the Prime Minister that he made a promise during the election campaign to do so. Once again, I have the honour to present a petition to restore home mail delivery.

Impaired Driving  

    Mr. Speaker, today I am presenting a petition that arises out of the death of 22-year-old Kassandra Kaulius, who was killed by a drunk driver, and all the other Canadians, including many in my riding of Richmond—Arthabaska, who have suffered the same fate. A group of families who have lost a loved one to impaired driving, called Families for Justice, believes that our impaired driving laws are too lax. It is calling for mandatory sentences in such cases and wants those offences to be recognized for what they are: vehicular homicide. Impaired driving continues to be the leading criminal cause of death in Canada. Over 1,200 Canadians are killed every year by a drunk driver. Canadians want mandatory sentences for vehicular homicide and are calling on the House to pass Bill C-226, the impaired driving act.

[English]

Blood Donation  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to present e-petition 126 to Parliament. This petition calls on the Government of Canada to implement a ban on the operation of for-profit, paid donor blood collection clinics in Canada. This is particularly apt in that World Blood Donor Day is this week.
    This initiative has received the support of thousands of Canadians from across the country. It reflects the opposition of many to the Liberal government's support for the privatization of the collection of blood plasma of Canadians. Just this week, news broke of the planned opening of yet another paid donor blood facility, this time in Moncton, in direct violation of the principles and recommendations of the Krever inquiry into the tainted blood scandal.
    I would like to thank Kat Lanteigne and other safe blood advocates who have campaigned relentlessly to defend Canada's blood supply. It is time for the government to put a stop to paid plasma and keep our system safe, public, and voluntary.

Iran  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of Canadians, requesting that the Government of Canada maintain the listing of Islamic Republic of Iran as a state supporter of terrorism, pursuant to section 6.1 of the State Immunity Act, for as long as the Iranian regime continues to sponsor terrorism.

Falun Gong  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning to present two petitions.
    The first is from constituents in my riding of Saanich—Gulf Islands from Galiano, Salt Spring, and Mayne, as well as Saanich Peninsula. The petitioners are calling for the government and in particular the Minister of Foreign Affairs to issue a statement condemning the practices of the People's Republic of China in relation to human rights and particularly the rights of practitioners of Falun Dafa and Falun Gong.
    The petitioners are further requesting that the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship list the People's Republic of China as a refugee source country to allow people to escape the oppression that occurs in that nation.

  (1035)  

Missing Persons  

    Second, Mr. Speaker, a petition from residents of Saanich—Gulf Islands calls for this House to develop a national registry for missing persons and a victims index.

Public Safety  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by Canadians from Neerlandia and Barrhead, two towns in my riding. The petitioners are concerned about the accessibility of violent and degrading sexual material online, and the implicit impact on public health, especially the well-being of women and girls. As such, these petitioners are calling on the House of Commons to adopt Motion No. 47.

Palliative Care  

    Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by many constituents of mine asking that the House of Commons specify and identify hospice palliative care as a defined medical service covered under the Canada Health Act so that the provincial and territorial governments will be entitled to funds under the Canada health transfer system to be used to provide accessible hospice palliative care for all residents of Canada in their respective provinces and territories.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns

    Mr. Speaker, if Question No. 190 could be made an order for return, this return would be tabled immediately.
    Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Text]

Question No. 190--
Mr. Larry Miller:
     With regard to the operation of the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency: what were the revenue figures for pari-mutuel wagering for horse racing conducted in Ontario, for each fiscal year from 2012-2013 to 2015-2016, broken down by (i) racetrack, (ii) year?
    (Return tabled)

[English]

    Finally, Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand at this time.
    Is that also agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Government Orders]

[English]

An Act to Amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying)

    That a Message be sent to the Senate to acquaint their Honours that this House:
agrees with amendments numbered 1, 2d, 2e, 4 and 5 made by the Senate to Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying);
proposes that amendment 2c(i) be amended by replacing the text of the amendment with the following text “sistance in dying after having been informed of the means that are available to relieve their suffering, including palliative care.”;
proposes that amendment 3 be amended in paragraph (b) by adding after the words “make regulations” the words “that he or she considers necessary”;
respectfully disagrees with amendment 2a because requiring that a person who assists to be free from any material benefit arising from the patient's death would eliminate from participation the family members or friends most likely to be present at the patient's express wish, and this would violate patient autonomy in a fundamental and inacceptable manner; and
respectfully disagrees with amendments 2b, 2c(ii) and 2c(iii) because they would undermine objectives in Bill C-14 to recognize the significant and continuing public health issue of suicide, to guard against death being seen as a solution to all forms of suffering, and to counter negative perceptions about the quality of life of persons who are elderly, ill or disabled, and because the House is of the view that C-14 strikes the right balance for Canadians between protection of vulnerable individuals and choice for those whose medical circumstances cause enduring and intolerable suffering as they approach death.

  (1040)  

    She said: Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin my comments by acknowledging the depth and quality of the thoughtful work that the other place has undertaken in its review of Bill C-14.
    The number of amendments that were presented and thoroughly debated speaks volumes, not only about the complexity of the issue at hand but also about the dedication with which members of the other place sought to improve the legislation.
    Bill C-14, as passed by the House of Commons, expressed our policy choice to address medical assistance in dying in a principled and cautious manner. This policy choice was deliberately and carefully crafted. The bill achieves the most appropriate balance between individuals' autonomy in deciding how their death will occur and protection of vulnerable individuals, as well as broader societal interests. These interests include suicide prevention, equal valuation of every person's life, and preventing the normalization of death in response to suffering. Several amendments were made to Bill C-14 in the other place.
     The most significant amendment was the deletion of the definition of “grievous and irremediable medical condition”. The effect of this amendment essentially removes the eligibility requirement that “natural death has become reasonably foreseeable”. This amendment appears to have been motivated by a concern that this criterion is unconstitutional because it does not explicitly appear in the Supreme Court Carter decision.
    Many legal experts have testified before the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in the other place. Some expressed their views that Bill C-14, as initially passed in the House of Commons, would be found unconstitutional if challenged in the courts.
    However, other legal experts and professors took the opposite view, that Bill C-14, as adopted in the House of Commons, with the requirement that natural death be reasonably foreseeable, is constitutional. In Carter, the Supreme Court was clear that it is the role of Parliament to craft a complex, regulatory regime with respect to medical assistance in dying and that such a regime would be given a high degree of deference by the courts.
    Hon. colleagues, as Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of Canada, I am confident that Bill C-14, as originally drafted and presented in this place, is constitutional. As outlined in an addendum to the legislative background paper that I distributed to all parliamentarians earlier this week, and which I am pleased to table in the House today, the question is whether the complex, regulatory regime found in Bill C-14 is consistent with the charter, not whether it exactly replicates the wording of the Supreme Court in Carter. In the dialogue that this Parliament has with the judiciary, Bill C-14 is our principled, cautious, and deliberate response.
     This is a transformational discussion, and a significant first step for our country. It is important to note that Bill C-14 is very different from the former law that was before the court in Carter. Our proposed legislation permits medical assistance in dying for the overwhelming majority of those Canadians who would seek to access it, and it is motivated by broader, new legislative objectives that do not animate the former law.
    Bill C-14 is a new law with new features, and an analysis of its constitutionality must reflect this. The Carter ruling alone is not the end of the story, nor is it the end of our national discussion. The conclusion to draw here is that there are diametrically opposed but reasonable points of view about the constitutionality of Bill C-14.
     The situation is not unique. It is normal and part of a healthy debate for legal experts to differ on the merits of a particular piece of legislation that has not yet been examined by the courts. However, I would caution that fundamentally altering the delicate balance purposefully struck in Bill C-14 solely because of the existence of these differing views is ill-advised.
    As the Supreme Court of Canada stated in Carter, “the risks associated with physician-assisted death can be limited through a carefully designed and monitored system of safeguards”. The government's policy choices, as reflected in Bill C-14, were specifically crafted to protect vulnerable Canadians from these different types of risks.

  (1045)  

    First is the protection of those who will ask for medical assistance in dying. Bill C-14, as passed by this chamber, would limit eligibility to those whose death has become reasonably foreseeable and for whom the risks can be adequately addressed by the robust safeguards found in Bill C-14. However, if eligibility is drastically expanded to all Canadians who are suffering unbearably, regardless of whether or not their death is reasonably foreseeable, as in the amendments the other place proposes, there are more risks of different types that are much harder to detect.
    These risks include the very real possibility that individuals may be motivated to request medical assistance in dying for a whole host of reasons, psychosocial, emotional, or systemic, which are separate from their medical condition but that exacerbate their suffering. People may die unnecessarily or prematurely, when other options for improving their quality of life are available. Cases from other jurisdictions that permit medical assistance in dying support these concerns. We do not believe that this is what Canadians want.
    Importantly, while the other place expanded eligibility in the bill, it did not introduce new safeguards for the very circumstances where the most caution is required. The result is that any serious medical condition, whether it be a soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder, a young person who suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident, or a survivor whose mind is haunted by memories of sexual abuse, could result in eligibility for medical assistance in dying. I raise these examples from other jurisdictions not to be sensational, but to highlight the real risks at play.
    However, beyond the risks for those who make a request for medical assistance in dying, making it available to all Canadians who are suffering would also have repercussions at a much broader level. It would alter our societal values and send the wrong message to our most vulnerable Canadians who may never even request assistance. These are risks for which there are no obvious safeguards.
    Broadening eligibility for medical assistance in dying to situations where death is not reasonably foreseeable would contribute to negative perceptions about the quality and dignity of life of people with disabilities. Organizations like the Canadian Association for Community Living and the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, among other disability rights organizations, have cautioned us about the potential devaluation of the lives of Canadians with disabilities that broader eligibility criteria would attract. They tell us that such devaluation happens when the law presumes that life with a disability could be so unbearable that death should be a state-sanctioned option.
    Broad eligibility criteria could also send the wrong message that society feels it is appropriate to address suffering in life by choosing death. This message may encourage some who are in crisis and already considering suicide to act, even privately and without assistance. Procedural safeguards would not help these individuals. The relationship between medical assistance in dying and suicide has not been sufficiently studied and we must have more information about this complex situation before we can decide what is right for Canada. I want to acknowledge the thorough and emotional discussion in the other place on this incredibly important issue.
     We recognize the important amendments to Bill C-14 adopted by the other place, namely that a person signing on behalf of the patient requesting assistance cannot know or believe that they will benefit from the patient's death. This is indeed a thoughtful amendment that improves the bill and a valuable safeguard that we are pleased to support. Ensuring that a patient is aware of all means available to relieve their suffering, including palliative care, is of course important.
    A further amendment concerning the monitoring system introduces mandatory language requiring the Minister of Health to make regulations and guidelines. The government appreciates the other place's concern that regulations to support the monitoring regime be put in place. Canadians want to know that this system will be well monitored and we support this well-crafted amendment from the other place.

  (1050)  

    Further, there was an amendment requiring that the issues to be studied in the bill, which are mature minors, advance directives, and requests where the sole underlying condition is mental illness, be completed in two years. This amendment from the other place reflects the concern that Canadians have for these incredibly complex issues, and the desire for this government to be held to account on each of them, and for that reason it is supported.
    I would also like to acknowledge the substantive work of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, whose thoughtful study of the bill resulted in 16 amendments from all parties being adopted.
    I would urge all members of the House to consider the pressing need for a federal legislative framework governing medical assistance in dying. With no such regime in place at this time, with the force and clarity of the criminal law, all Canadians face significant uncertainty.
     It is crucial to keep in mind that Bill C-14 was carefully and deliberately crafted as a cohesive and balanced regime. The balance sought in Bill C-14 would be upset by the broadening of eligibility criteria to individuals who are not approaching death without the corresponding safeguards for these specific cases.
    Since forming government, we have spent countless hours consulting with Canadians and stakeholders, carefully considering all of the evidence and diverse perspectives on this incredibly challenging issue. We are confident in the policy choices expressed in Bill C-14. The legislation represents the right approach for Canada at this important time in our country's history. I encourage all members of the House to support the government's motion, which respects the other place's contribution to this important debate and maintains the most appropriate balance for all Canadians.
    I am pleased to table, in both official languages, a document entitled, “Legislative Background: Medical Assistance in Dying (Bill C-14)--Addendum”.
    Mr. Speaker, there is no question in my mind, and in the minds' of my colleagues, that this is the most crucial issue this Parliament and any of us as parliamentarians will deal with in our lifetimes.
    One of the comments the minister made was that there is no clear relationship between physician-assisted suicide and suicide in general. I would like to point out that in one of my previous interventions I did quote Aaron Kheriaty, associate professor of psychiatry and director of the medical ethics program at the University of California Irvine School of Medicine, who stated:
The debate over doctor-assisted suicide is often framed as an issue of personal autonomy and privacy. Proponents argue that assisted suicide should be legalized because it affects only those individuals who—assuming they are of sound mind—are making a rational and deliberate choice....
    He goes on to report that in states where physician-assisted suicide has been legalized, there has been an increase in suicide of 6.3% overall, but among those over 65, an increase of 14.5%.
    It is clear that there is a direct link between authorizing physician-assisted suicide and the increase in suicide in general. That is a major concern that we should be seized with.

  (1055)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the hon. colleague's comments on the crucial nature of Bill C-14 and pursuing a national regime for medical assistance in dying in this country, necessarily so in response to the Supreme Court of Canada's direction. I recognize, as stated in my comments, the importance of ensuring that we proceed with caution with respect to medical assistance in dying, recognizing that there is a link, as articulated by my friend, and that we do everything we can to study this particular issue and proceed with caution on the next steps of this debate in this country.
    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice said, in introducing the motion, that she respectfully disagrees with amendments 2(b) and 2(c) because they would remove the criterion of reasonably foreseeable death and undermine the objectives of Bill C-14. As the House knows, the amendments would make sure that the legislation would be consistent with the constitutional parameters of the Carter case, in the words of the Supreme Court. Professor Hogg said that if the bill was amended in this way it would be consistent with the parameters set out in the Carter case, and if it were not the bill would be unconstitutional.
    I would like the minister's reaction to the comments of Dr. Douglas Grant, the chair of the Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada, who said that the criteria in the unamended Bill C-14, in other words, the “reasonably foreseeable” language the minister would propose to retain would involve language that is “too vague to be understood or applied by the medical profession and too ambiguous to be regulated effectively.”
    I would like the minister's comments on that quote.
    Mr. Speaker, I certainly acknowledge my friend across the way for the work and the commitment he has made with respect to Bill C-14 and this discussion.
    While I acknowledge the quote that he conveyed from Douglas Grant from the regulators, I would like to counter that discussion with a comprehensive response that we have received from the Canadian Medical Association and physicians across the country who look at the language of reasonable foreseeability and the further definition that we provided in terms of eligibility around “grievous and irremediable” as providing clarity, as providing medical practitioners across the country with the ability, based on their direct relationships with their patients, to determine whether or not a patient is eligible for medical assistance in dying.
    We believe that flexibility is the most appropriate response and the medical practitioners have confirmed that with us.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the minister. I would say that this was not her best argument in defence of Bill C-14.
    She seems to be confusing the concepts of being suicidal and assisted suicide. She also claims that adopting the definition in Senator Joyal's amendment and the terms in the Carter decision would put us on a slippery slope, giving people who are suddenly suffering access to medical assistance in dying.
    We are talking about medical assistance in dying. Does she think that health care professionals would consent to assist someone who is suicidal? Since they would not give their consent, does she think that a suicidal person under the care of our health care system would not find the help they need to reverse their suicidal state? How does she distinguish between being suicidal and medically assisted suicide, other than by citing the fact that the latter is medically assisted? Does she trust the health care system?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, certainly I acknowledge my colleague across the way for his ongoing commitment and discussion on this important issue.
    My words today were in speaking to a motion to the other place in terms of their thoughtful considerations with respect to Bill C-14.
    The member opposite speaks to the risks, speaks to the broadening of the criteria in terms of one of the amendments that was sent back. What I was expressing in my comments were the serious concerns that we have. If we were to broaden the eligibility criteria, there would not be the necessary safeguards in place to account for that broadening of the criteria.
    What I sought to articulate in my comments were examples highlighted from other jurisdictions, factual examples where a broad criteria has resulted in patients accessing medical assistance in dying in the cases that my colleague across the way speaks to, in terms of individuals who are suffering from mental illness alone. Recognizing that there are other remedies, certainly, we trust medical practitioners to perform their duties responsibly in servicing their patients in the best and most appropriate manner.

  (1100)  

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Minister of Justice for her very carefully considered and very appropriate and thoughtful review of the Senate's amendments.
    I want to come back to the issue of “reasonably foreseeable”. The minister recognized that in the event that “reasonably foreseeable” were to be removed from the law, we would be changing the law in such a manner that different people who were never intended to be covered by the law would suddenly have grievous and irremediable illnesses.
    One example might be someone who recently became a paraplegic, whose mental process, whose acceptance of their new circumstances, may be very different if they waited a year. The waiting period in the bill is 10 days. As such, does the minister not believe that if we were to change “reasonably foreseeable”, we would need to drastically extend the waiting period for some categories of people?
    Mr. Speaker, around reasonable forseeability and expanding the eligibility criteria with respect to medical assistance in dying, there are any number of situations that could arise with a broad eligibility criteria such as the member suggested, for example, looking at persons who have recently become disabled in a car accident and have become quadriplegics.
    We have considered all of the different machinations in what safeguards should, and need to be in place, and the risks associated with a broadening of an eligibility criteria. For a recently disabled person, I would submit that a 10-day reflection period is not a substantive reflection period to respond to such a circumstance. We need to proceed with caution.
    We will have a continuing conversation as a country, and we will ensure we continue to have these discussions.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister puts a great deal of stock in the reasonably foreseeable provision. “Reasonably foreseeable” in this context is not a recognized legal term or medical term. The minister herself has said in previous debates that it does not mean terminal. Therefore, given the alleged significance of this criteria, this safeguard, so to speak, could the minister tell us what “reasonably foreseeable” means?
    Mr. Speaker, in the compressed timeline I have to respond, I have spoken to reasonable foreseeability in the chamber.
    Reasonable foreseeablity is something that has been used quite regularly in the Criminal Code. We placed it in the legislation to inject what we feel is a necessary flexibility to provide medical practitioners with the ability, based on their direct relationship with their patient, to determine when that patient would be eligible for medical assistance in dying. In other words, they would determine when their patient's death has become reasonably foreseeable.
    Resuming debate, the hon. leader of the opposition in the House.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I believe Standing Order 62 provides for the member who rises first to be recognized.
    I would have to check the standing order that the hon. member references. At the time of resuming debate, members rise in their place to be recognized, and we do have a list, as the member understands quite well. I recognized the hon. opposition House leader as he was rising in his place. That is the customary way that we proceed.
    Therefore, I recognize the hon. opposition House leader, and he will begin his remarks now.

  (1105)  

    Mr. Speaker, I suppose I caught your eye first. That is the way it normally works.
    Before I begin my remarks, under the parameters of the debate, I have an unlimited time slot. I wonder if I could get the unanimous consent of the House to be deemed to have a normal 20-minute speaking slot and I would share that time with another colleague.
    Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed
    The Deputy Speaker: The hon. opposition House leader.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
    I will be brief. I want to speak to a few of the amendments the government has chosen to accept and also express a few words of caution.
    I want to thank the minister for keeping the language as tight as possible. “Reasonably foreseeable” is a much better situation than “grievous and irremediable”. As this is such a fundamental change to our society, we do not want to open the door to assisted suicide in such a manner that a large number of people who may be suffering from physical or mental ailments would have access it.
    I understand the slight wording change on the palliative care amendment. It is important that any patient make an informed decision, whether it is about something as simple as a normal medical procedure, but certainly in a situation like this of such a grave and serious matter. In essence, as this may be the last decision some people make, making an informed decision is critically important. Knowing what other options there might to alleviate of pain as well as palliative care are also so important.
    I hope the government will work with the provinces in the coming months and years to establish a robust palliative care regime so this type of decision is not made without having real and practical options to extend life in as comfortable a manner as possible, while understanding the significant challenges that are often placed on family members.
    I wish the government had included the amendment that dealt with beneficiaries of estates or insurance policies not being able to participate directly in the act of assisted suicide. That is an important amendment to keep. This is going to be a new thing in Canada and we do not know how it will unfold, so having some kind of safeguard in place to avoid pressure being put on people to make this decision is important.
    Many members may be familiar with the Terri Schiavo case in Florida. It was a bitter dispute with a lot of allegations all around. One of the facts that came out was that one of the family members pushing for end of life care to be withdrawn from Terri Schiavo was a beneficiary of an insurance policy. That conjures up gloomy images of what might happen to people who do not wish to end their life and are not able to either grant consent or put up opposition to it and have those decisions made for them.
    I want to touch on a few comments that are troubling to me. I have heard comments made by government members and the minister about how this is a first step and that this could be expanded in the future. Those types of things very much concern me. The House is taking this decision because of a court decision. The Supreme Court of Canada reversed its original decision that upheld the laws against assisted suicide and has thrown this on to Parliament.
    I understand the need that the government had to fill in this legal vacuum, and I commend it for using the language “reasonably foreseeable” and not “grievous and irremediable”. However, I am wary about what might be coming down the pike. It really worries me when people talk about this being a first step. I shudder to think where this might go. If this type of regime is opened up more, people who may be going through difficult times in their life, maybe temporary difficulties, both physical and mental, will access it.
    I hope we have created a tight box that will not be expanded. I will be watching in the future and will do everything I can to ensure that this is not expanded, and I hope many of my colleagues will do the same. I do not want to go down the road of what has transpired in some European countries where this is used in a much more aggressive and expanded way. Many times it involves vulnerable people or people with severe disabilities who are not able to communicate their desires and other family members or other caregivers make that decision for them.
    Canada could be going to a very dark place if this is a first step. If it is filling in that legal void and we have created a strict enough and a tight enough box around it, then I hope this is as far as it goes. I will be doing everything I can to ensure that is the case.

  (1110)  

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments from the member across the way.
    Could the member provide some thoughts on the number of individuals who were involved? We can talk about the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada, and the preliminary work that was done last summer on the issue of assisted dying? We had a joint committee of the House, including the other place. We have had ample opportunity through consultation, even at committee stage with individual members of Parliament. This is a very emotional issue for all of us as we try to deal with the passage of Bill C-14.
     Could the member provide any personal insights on the legislation, or about the issue at hand, or provide comment in regard to the amount of individuals who have had, directly or indirectly, an opportunity to participate?
    Mr. Speaker, I have voted on this subject a couple of times in the House. It came up through private members' bills. I think a member of the Bloc Québécois, in the 39th Parliament, proposed a bill to remove the restrictions around assisted suicide. It was not as comprehensive as the bill before us. I think it just deleted a clause. This obviously is a more robust response to the issue.
    I do take the hon. member's points. Once the House came back after the election, there was a great number of opportunities for members to weigh in on what direction it should take. There was the special committee before the legislation was drafted, obviously debated in the House, the standing committee, and now over to the Senate.
    However, none of that kind of matters when we are dealing with the original principle that the Supreme Court hoisted it back on to us. Several times in the last decade or so the elected representatives have voted against legalizing assisted suicide. The Supreme Court, in my lifetime, has upheld the rules and laws against assisted suicide and now has reversed itself. This is my beef with the whole question.
    It was quite clear, through the will of the elected by Canadians, that Canadians were comfortable with assisted suicide being illegal, that the sanctity of life being upheld all the way through to natural death was an important principle, and that Canadians were afraid of where this might lead to. However, the court, having reversed its decision, has now placed it back on the lap of Parliament, so there are limited options for parliamentarians to take.
    The bill is not perfect. I voted against it at second and third reading. I would have liked to have seen more protections for conscience rights for medical practitioners. I wish we had talked more about that. It is not in the amendments that we are dealing with today, so I cannot speak to that. However, it would have been easier for me to support the bill if those types of protections for medical practitioners to reflect their conscience were in it.
    Mr. Speaker, I have listened with great interest to the hon. member's comments about what Canadians think. Perhaps he might want to actually contact the governments, including the Government of Alberta. It actually took the time to survey Albertans. It also worked with the College of Physicians and Surgeons, as it has across the country. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta has issued guidelines consistent with the Supreme Court of Canada.
    On the survey of Albertans, 60% of respondents want to support the safeguards put in place by the College of Physicians and Surgeons, which is immediately consistent with the Supreme Court of Canada.
    How is it that the member, and frankly the Minister of Justice, keep saying that we should rely on a political body that lobbies on behalf of medical interests in Canada as opposed to the colleges of physicians and surgeons that support the Supreme Court of Canada guidelines?

  (1115)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am not familiar with the steps the Government of Alberta took to survey people in Alberta. If it was not a referendum, then I do not know how accurate a reflection of the people it could be. I would not look to the current Government of Alberta to inform basically any of my decisions, especially about something as serious as this.
    Let us be honest. We are talking about very complex legal principles. We are talking about medical terminology that touches on many different aspects of different kinds of care.
    The will of Canadians was reflected through the House, which is a pretty fundamental principle. Political parties and MPs come here to represent their constituents. We did vote on this several times in my life here as a parliamentarian, and every time we rejected the call to legalize assisted suicide, and rightly so.
     I have had people in my family reach the end of their lives and go through very tough medical conditions. However, upholding the principle of the sanctity of life is our job, and it is the medical industry's job to protect life, to extend life. That is a fundamental principle, and if we lose that anchor, I worry a lot of unintended consequences will come down the pike in the foreseeable future.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise for what will probably be my last time speaking to this particular bill, though I am sure not to this issue in general.
    I am going to give a fairly disparate speech addressing a number of different issues that have been raised and loose ends in this conversation.
    First, it is important to underline that we do not exist in a legislative vacuum at the present time. The government has, in my judgment, created this sort of artificial sense of fear, this artificial timeline that says we have to pass its bad legislation, in my judgment, just because if we do not do it, there will be no legislation.
     June 6 has come and gone. There are provincial guidelines in place. I do not dispute the fact that a better version of a federal framework would have many desirable things about it. I have not certainly opposed the principle of the federal government legislating in this area. We are, after all, talking about the contours of an exception to the Criminal Code. However, in the absence of the federal government having done the detailed work, in terms of actually coming up with a system of checks and balances, a system of safeguards, it may well be—and in my view, it is the case with the present legislation—that we are better off to defeat it, perhaps to bring back a better bill in the future. I will talk specifically about why that is and what a better bill would look like.
    However, I think it is fundamental that we recognize the reality that there is not a legislative vacuum. It is not as if people are being killed without some kinds of systems, checks and balances, and safeguards in place. Provinces were ready in a way that the federal government simply was not.
    I think we have a failure of process here. I will just briefly outline what that process was.
    We had a Supreme Court decision at a time when the Conservatives were in government. We created this expert panel to review and report back, and it would have reported back after the election. It would have been difficult for politicians to be involved in a government consultation process in the immediate lead-up to and during an election. However, we had this external expert panel that was consulting Canadians and that was ready to report back the results of its consultation, as well as make policy recommendations.
    When the new government came in, it removed the power of that expert panel to make recommendations with respect to policy. It only reported on its consultation. When we hear the government talk about this timeline, somewhat misleadingly, it will say that the previous government did nothing to advance this, when it was its decision to remove that essential power of the expert panel to make policy recommendations.
    Then we had a motion in this House, in December, to create a joint committee of the House and Senate to review this issue. That panel could have sat during the Christmas break, but it did not. It faced a time crunch when it came back. Then we waited months before seeing any kind of federal legislation. The failure of process was that in every case, in as much as a year and four months is not that much time, we faced a time crunch toward the activities of the committee and toward the activities of the House and certainly the Senate, because we did not more effectively use the panel that was put in place by the previous government. That panel consulted far beyond what the special committee did, far beyond what the justice committee did—in the case of the justice committee, not for any ill intention, I am sure. I was concerned about the process of witness selection with the joint special committee. There were many people who were even intervenors in the Carter case who were not able to participate in those hearings. In any event, the point is that we had this artificial time crunch that was created, and we see it happening again today.
    Again today, the government is trying to create this artificial urgency instead of delving into this substantive conversation. Quebec did this in six years. I am not saying we should, or could, take six years, but having the prudence to have introduced legislation earlier and to have drawn on the wisdom of the expert panel would have been much better because we are in this seeming time crunch. However, I think we need to reject the time crunch the government is creating and, instead, do the diligent work that we need to do to fix some of the big problems in the bill.

  (1120)  

    We see sloppiness in this legislation, especially around this discussion of reasonable foreseeability. The justice minister just spoke, and I actually share many of the concerns she raised about leaving this wide open, but I think what she neglects is that reasonable foreseeability is not clear enough to be, in any sense, a meaningful safeguard.
    I have listened to the minister speak repeatedly about reasonable foreseeability, and I understand that in response to my short question, she did not have enough time to define it fully, even if she had wanted to. However, having listened to her speak many times on this subject, I am not at all clear—and maybe subsequent speeches will provide some clarity—what that term actually means.
    Obviously, death is reasonably foreseeable for all of us. This is part of the human condition. We are born and we die. There was certainly nobody on either side of this debate who suggested that natural death is abnormal, bad, or something to be feared. It is a part of life and reasonably foreseeable for all of us. That does not mean that we should not be concerned, though, about policies that would artificially cut short the process of natural life and death.
    However, if “reasonably foreseeable” is so important, then we should actually have a definition. There should be some clarity about what that means. Liberals have said they are not talking about imminent natural death, but at some point in the future. I have quipped before that, when I was learning to drive, my mother thought death was reasonably foreseeable every time we got in the car, but the central point is that death is reasonably foreseeable for all of us. It is part of the human condition.
    Therefore, this is very sloppy. It is not a safeguard. We need real, meaningful safeguards. I suggest that the federal government should contemplate safeguards along the lines that the government of Manitoba has brought in, whereby some competent legal authority reviews cases to ensure that legal criteria were met, not a model of judicial review but government lawyers designated for this purpose.
    Other provinces have put in place systems that necessarily involve the attending physician, or if the attending physician is a contentious objector, a different attending physician can assess the situation. However, it does not allow someone to just find any doctor anywhere who agrees that someone meets the criteria, but involves the physician or somebody actually involved in providing the person with care to make the assessment. If we look at what the provinces have already done in terms of safeguards, we see these are things that the federal government could adopt.
    It is disappointing for me, frankly, as a member of Parliament, to see the government not doing the diligence that provinces have shown is possible when it comes to finding meaningful safeguards within a relatively compressed timeline. The government's approach has been to emphasize sort of an artificial timeline of urgency, but then not actually do the diligent work in advance. It created this time crunch by leaving it until the last minute and then said that it has to be passed or there is a legislative vacuum. There is no legislative vacuum, and again, the important work has not been done in terms of clarifying the safeguards.
    I will make a general comment. I find myself repeatedly asking the government for definitions of things. On this issue and a range of other issues, it repeatedly uses words without actually clarifying what the words mean. It is true of the provisions of this bill, but more broadly, it is true of the underlying philosophy of this bill. So much of the motivating arguments for this legislation come from the concept of human dignity, human rights founded on an idea of human dignity. I think we would all agree that human rights have their foundation in human dignity. We give rights to people on the basis of what they are, intrinsically. Yet the government, in the context of talking about dying with dignity, has not told us what it means by dignity.
    I believe in the idea of intrinsic human dignity. Dignity is present in all of us. I know that one member of the other place who was criticizing me in the media suggested that young people cannot understand this issue because they do not spend enough time in nursing homes. I have volunteered regularly in nursing homes for a very long time and, recently, my grandfather passed away in a care facility. It is important for me to believe, but more than that, to know, that he had dignity in spite of his suffering.
    Many of us here have seen or been with people as they suffered and died. It is important that we know and believe that people, regardless of their circumstances, regardless of their suffering, have dignity.

  (1125)  

    Dignity is not conditional on circumstance. Dignity is intrinsic. If the government disagrees with that, if it has a different concept of human dignity, then it should at least define the term.
    This work is sloppy, the philosophy is sloppy, the legislation is sloppy, and I encourage members to defeat this bill in every way possible.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to address the issue raised by the member opposite when he talked about an artificial time crunch and a failure of process.
    The Carter decision was handed down on February 6, 2015. Between February 6, 2015, and the federal election, there were was the elapse of eight and a half months in which the Conservatives were in power, eight a half months of the 12 months allotted by the Supreme Court of Canada.
    The member opposite said that it was difficult for politicians to be involved in the lead-up to the federal election. My question is why. The politicians in this place, during those eight and a half months, were denied an opportunity for debate in any sort of a parliamentary process, they were denied an opportunity for debate or discussion before a parliamentary committee, and they were denied an opportunity for debate in this chamber.
     All the while, it was the Conservative government that was denying that opportunity, specifically by voting against a motion to establish such a process that was brought in March by the Liberals—
    You only have five minutes for questions and comments.
    The hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for his work on this, although he knows I think there is some sleight of hand involved in that question.
    I certainly did not say that politicians could not be involved in the discussion in the lead-up to the election. What I said is that it is difficult for politicians to undertake a formal government consultation in the midst of an election period. I think that is fairly obvious. The approach we took was a responsible approach, where there was an expert panel that was conducting consultations and reporting after the election.
     This member and the government have to explain why they cut that process off. It is simply not true to say that members were denied an opportunity for debate in this place, as the member knows, and he in fact alluded to it. There was a supply day discussion of the issue. Supply days are a process and a part of the debate.
    The reason there was no government-orders debate at the time was that there was no government legislation. It would have been irresponsible for the government to try to bring forward and pass legislation in the spring of last year, that shortly after—

  (1130)  

    Order. Questions and comments.
    Mr. Speaker, I have a very brief question.
    I put the same question to another of the member's colleagues in the Conservative Party. I would think it is important, as representatives of certain regions, to pay attention to what the people of our region are saying.
    The Government of Alberta took the time to do a survey of Albertans to see what their view was on the various opportunities to legislate in this area, and 60% of respondents replied that they wanted to support the safeguards put in place by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, which as the member knows, is the regulatory authority. Those are the guidelines adopted by the Supreme Court of Canada.
    My question to the member is this. There has been a lot of discussion on that side about how we cannot do anything until we provide palliative care. In the decade that his party was in power, it did not put any additional dollars into providing palliative care to Canadians.
    What would the member like to say to that question?
    Mr. Speaker, I will resist the temptation to offer some comments on the Alberta government in the context of that question. I have a great working relationship with my local MLAs, even if we do not agree.
    I do want to specifically address the question in terms of surveys. One of the concerns I have with many of the surveys that are done on this issue is that people often misidentify, and questions can poorly identify, the distinction between the withdrawal of treatment and active euthanasia or assisted suicide.
    It is regular and supported by everyone here that in a medical environment there would be certain cases—many cases, frankly—where extraordinary measures would need to be withdrawn and the natural process allowed to take its course. That is something that is fundamentally different from the act of killing associated with euthanasia or assisted suicide.
    One of the problems we routinely see with these surveys is that they often fail to identify the distinction. I would be interested in looking at the back data and the questions in the survey to which the member refers. However, having been in the polling business myself, I have an understanding of those issues.
    With respect to palliative care, there are members on our side who can speak to it in greater detail than I can. I simply disagree with the premise of the member's question. Significant actions were taken on palliative care. Yes, there is more work that needs to be done. I and others have called for more work to be done.
     However, we supported an initiative to have a national palliative care strategy. I think that was supported by many parties in the last House. The work was begun and needs to continue.
    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise to address the government's motion on a response to the Senate regarding the amendments it has made to Bill C-14. My personal involvement in this process began in January when I had the honour to serve on a special all-party and Senate committee. My colleague, the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, was a very important member of that committee as well. Our mandate was to advise the government on a response that would respect the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Carter, respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and respect the priorities of Canadians.
    I have told the House before how very proud I was of the work that we accomplished together, and the spirit as well with which we worked in that place. We knew that the government would not accept all of our recommendations, but each was based on the evidence and faithfully respected the testimony that we heard, testimony of experts who came to us from across this country and reached out to others in the process.
    Since Bill C-14 was introduced in the House, I, like many others, have focused great attention on its most surprising feature. That feature was the decision of the government to narrow the declaration of the Supreme Court of Canada to a much smaller circle of eligibility, and it could have proved to be a fatal flaw.
    That was the testimony, after all, of the Canadian Bar Association, the Quebec Bar Association, Jean-Pierre Ménard, Joseph Arvay, and later the testimony of Canada's foremost constitutional scholar, Professor Peter Hogg. That was the conclusion, as well, of the courts in Ontario and Alberta. That flaw was important, not only because it fatally weakened the bill against the charter challenge, but also because it would force suffering Canadians to launch a court battle. That flaw was so important and so glaring that it overshadowed much of what was good about Bill C-14. Colleagues who have grown tired of hearing me warn about charter challenges and infringed rights will be pleased to hear little of that from me today, because that fatal flaw has been erased from the bill that is now before the House.
    The bill as amended now combines a clear and faithful implementation of the Supreme Court ruling with a system of stringent medical safeguards to individually screen every request for assistance in dying. Those safeguards are based on the evidence received by the all-party committee. They reflect the best practices of other jurisdictions as well as made-in-Canada provisions, which members of all parties have helped shape over the course of this debate.
    Without the amendment that came to us from the other place, as Peter Hogg has testified, the bill would not be consistent with the decision in Carter. That was his clear testimony. It also would remove a victory that would be taken from those individuals in Canada who could not comply with the very narrow, and frankly inexplicable restriction, of reasonably foreseeable death. Those individuals have that right as of today until Bill C-14 is enacted. Those rights will be taken away should the motion by the government be passed.
    However, I am happy to say that the bill before us today, which contains the language of the Supreme Court decision, would of course be compliant with that decision and with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As Professor Hogg has said in the clearest possible terms, if it is not fixed as per the amendment that comes to us today, it will be struck down in the Supreme Court of Canada.
    When I speak of Mr. Hogg and I hear the government saying we have different experts in different places, I suppose it is important to remind the House of the accomplishments of that individual. His decisions and his book have been cited over 200 times in the Supreme Court of Canada. By my reckoning, it has been cited 1,627 times in the courts of Canada. To suggest that this professor is just another person with an opinion is really quite disturbing, because the government itself, the Department of Justice, has retained that individual on countless occasions.

  (1135)  

    For him to say, as he did in the other place, that the bill, without the amendment before us today that would fix the problem, is somehow unconstitutional, that it is just another expert, that lawyers differ, economists differ, whatever, is simply misleading.
    Canada's leading constitutional scholar has said in the clearest possible terms that without the amendment that happily is now in the bill before us for debate, it has to be fixed. I termed that testimony a game-changer, because I wondered how on earth a government that has retained this gentleman dozens of times could now turn around and say, as the minister did this morning in her speech, that constitutional scholars just differ and that is how it works.
    Happily we have in front of us a bill as amended in the other place that we can support, and that is the good news for Canadians. Some amendments come before us to deal with things like palliative care, an amendment that would require all patients considering medical assistance in dying to get a full briefing on palliative care options.
    Another amendment would deal with restricting people who help a person in assisted dying, tightening the rules around what role a person who could materially benefit from the death could do.
    Another amendment that comes from the other place would compel the Minister of Health to draft regulations around death certificates and provide greater clarity on what information is collected by medical practitioners.
    Another amendment calls for a report to be issued to Parliament within two years on issues that have arisen from the provision of physician-assisted dying. Finally, there are some minor language amendments.
    The safeguards in the bill reflect many things. They provide the high degree of care, caution, and scrutiny that is necessary to match a court ruling that was broad in its compassion for the right of suffering Canadians to choose. They reflect the confidence that Canadians have in the skill and judgment of our health care professionals, and they reflect the realities of our vast and diverse country, and the principles of equity that undergird our public health care system, of which Canadians should be so proud.
    Much has been said in this chamber about the need to balance respect for the autonomy and protection for the individual. We have heard that so often. The Supreme Court of Canada was unanimous in its analysis of our charter, and it ruled definitively on the question of whose autonomy must be respected on this deeply personal matter of choice.
    It was for us, as legislators, then to choose what combination of safeguards might be necessary to screen out from that group those who, by virtue of diminished capacity or external pressure, must be denied this option for their own safety. We consider this question carefully, knowing that excessive caution would have its costs. Excessive barriers would not protect the vulnerable. Rather, they would condemn competent, autonomous, adult Canadians to intolerable suffering by wrongly denying their right to choose.
    Neither could the solution be to presumptively deny the autonomy of a whole class of persons granted their right to choose by the Supreme Court of Canada. No matter the rhetoric, to presumptively deny people's autonomy, to assess them not as unique individuals, but to dismiss them blindly as a group, to me, is as deeply patronizing and offensive as it is unnecessary.
    The Supreme Court expressed faith in us as legislators that we could devise what they called “a carefully designed and monitored system of safeguards” to address the risks associated with offering the compassionate choice of medical assistance in dying. I, for one, believe the court's faith was not misplaced.
    We remember what the Supreme Court of Canada said in Carter:
     We have concluded that the laws prohibiting a physician's assistance in terminating life...infringe Ms. Taylor's s. 7 rights to life, liberty and security of the person that is not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice, and that the infringement is not justified under s. 1 of the Charter. To the extent that the impugned laws deny the s. 7 rights of people like Ms. Taylor they are void by operation of s. 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

  (1140)  

    Here is what the court went on to add:
it is for Parliament and the provincial legislatures...should they so choose, by enacting legislation consistent with the constitutional parameters set out in these reasons.
    There are two key points that came out of the Supreme Court's pronouncement. The first is that we did not have to do this at all. The court decision could have stood on its own, as in fact it is doing now, along with the safeguards that the provincial and territorial regulators have put in place. We did not need to do what we have done, but we did, in the words of the court, choose to do so.
    The second point, though, is equally important: that we could only do so if what we enacted as legislation was “consistent with the constitutional parameters set out in [our] reasons”.
    Here is what Professor Hogg testified in the other place. He said, “In my opinion, [the bill] is not consistent with the constitutional parameters set out in [the Carter reasons].”
    The amended bill before us would fix it and be possible for all of us to work in the spirit of collaboration, as we did so effectively in the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying and the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. We wrapped our hands around something that would make Canadians proud, wrapped our arms something that would show the compassion that the Supreme Court of Canada showed in the Carter decision, rather than dividing us on party lines or other lines.
    All that the amendment the government announced today it wishes not to follow would do is to ensure that it is consistent with the Supreme Court of Canada and the charter. Much has been said about the fact that we need not follow and put into legislation the precise words of a court judgment. Of course, that is right. The simple path was to put the actual language of the decision into the legislation because that was clear and obvious, and certainly no one could say it would be unconstitutional to do so. Rather, the government wishes to use the words “reasonably foreseeable” natural death, which people on all sides of this place have demonstrated is ludicrous language.
     Dr. Douglas Grant, head of the regulatory body for all medical regulatory authorities across the country, has pointed out that the language is vague and unworkable from a medical point of view. The government proposed to take the words of the Supreme Court of Canada, though it did not need to, but at least no one can say they are bad, and substitute words that are incomprehensible to the people, physicians and health care providers, who are being required to implement them.
     I cannot understand that. I particularly cannot understand it when to do so would be to take away the rights of Canadians that were hard fought for and won in the Supreme Court of Canada. Why? What do I tell those people who call me and say they have to decide whether to take their own life now, because after this bill comes into force that may not be an option available to them? They won that right in the Supreme Court of Canada. In no way do they feel they are near end of life. They may have 30 more years of excruciating pain and suffering, and how dare we say that they do not have that autonomy as a Canadian individual? However, now the government purports to take away that right.
    Please understand that as of June 6, the Supreme Court decision stands alone, carefully governed by rules that apply to health care practitioners from coast to coast to coast. It is not the wild west, as colleagues have already pointed out. We have rules in place that are being enacted and carefully followed. If this motion passes, the moment the current government takes away those rights by saying that people have to have a reasonably foreseeable natural death, they will lose that right.
    How can the Liberals possibly argue that this somehow would not deprive Canadians of rights that they won in the court? These are real people. This is real suffering. The government says no, that it has this delicate balance right, and it calls it a public policy choice. Some Canadians think that the government goes too far and some Canadians say it does not go far enough, so it will come right down the middle. That frame is wrong. We are here because we chose to implement a unanimous Supreme Court of Canada decision.

  (1145)  

    We are not here to say we will pick and choose what we like about this issue.
     Can we add additional safeguards? Absolutely, and I am proud of what we did. Can we deal with palliative care? Yes. Can we deal with conscience rights? Of course, and we did, and I am proud of what we achieved.
    The elephant in the room is that an entire class of successful litigants have had those rights deprived in this place.
    The good news is that we can fix that. We have a path to do that, which comes from the other place. It is language we tried to get through the House before. I do not care where it comes from. I am on the side of suffering Canadians who want the rights that they had before.
    It is worth reminding ourselves of a very simple fact. We are not called upon to legalize medical assistance in dying. That was already done by the Supreme Court of Canada and is now the law of the land. Instead, we were invited, if the government chose to do so, to offer the broader framework necessary to give clarity and comfort to all Canadians.
    I believe that balance has been achieved in the bill that we have before us, as amended. The words of the Supreme Court are there to speak to whose autonomy must be respected, and the work of all parliamentarians is reflected in the system of safeguards before us. The onus must now be on the government to explain why it proposes to cut the words of the Supreme Court judgment out of the bill we have received from the other chamber.
    I know that many of us share a common belief that no one can ever make this difficult choice of medical assistance in dying for another. but by rejecting the ruling of the Supreme Court and removing its words from the bill, that is exactly what the government suggests that we do. I cannot accept that, and on a free vote, it is up to all members to decide whether they can accept that.
    I would ask all members in this place to consider the alternative; that is, to accept that what we now have is a balanced bill that bears the marks of the Supreme Court, of Parliament, and of thousands of Canadians who participated in consultations and town halls along the way.
    I feel we have in our hands, now, what the special all-party committee set out, in January, to produce; that is, a bill that respects the Supreme Court ruling, respects the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and respects the priority of Canadians.
    We do not need to reopen the debate and cut out the words of the Supreme Court. We do not need to reject the charter fix, which was proposed in this chamber, adopted by the other chamber, and confirmed as constitutional by a most respected scholar on the charter.
    I move:
That the motion be amended by:
a) Deleting the paragraph commencing with the words “respectfully disagrees with amendments 2b, 2c(ii) and 2c(iii)”; and
b) Replacing the words “agrees with amendments numbered 1, 2d, 2e, 4 and 5” with “agrees with amendments 1, 2b, 2c(ii), 2c(iii), 2d, 2e, 4 and 5”;

  (1150)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his passionate intervention. His participation at every stage of this debate has indeed been thoughtful. Although we do not always agree, there is no denying the comprehensive and heartfelt nature in which he addresses the debate.
    I want to ask the member a question about the speech that was put forward by the Minister of Justice.
    The Minister of Justice indicated that when we take out the words “reasonably foreseeable” and leave the bare words of the Carter decision, we are left in a situation, and we draw this experience from the most permissive regimes in the world, where it is possible that a soldier with PTSD, a sexual assault victim, or a young person with a spinal cord injury, under those permissive regimes and without the reasonable foreseeability language, will be able to avail themselves of medical assistance in dying.
    The member talked about us bringing forward something that would make Canadians proud. Therefore, my question for him is whether he agrees with what the Minister of Justice has said, that we owe a responsibility to those individuals in the legislation that they be protected under Canadian federal law. My question is whether he agrees that this is a responsibility that we hold, and whether we will be maintaining that responsibility by defeating the motion before Parliament.
    Mr. Speaker, I will start by thanking the parliamentary secretary for the nice things he said and to say right back to him that it has been a pleasure to work with him on this difficult issue. I know that all members of the House know how sensitive and difficult this topic is for all of us. I just want to acknowledge the very respectful way in which he has conducted himself throughout this process.
    I do accept that responsibility to be mindful of the sexual assault victims, PTSD victims, and the like. I would say, however, that I agree with the Supreme Court that we can do that. It heard the evidence and came up with the test that is before us in the Carter case, which would be in the legislation should we insert that language in it. The safeguards, such as a reflection period, which is in the bill, would address the issue in part.
     However, I have to remind the hon. member that we have as well the very intricate safeguards that each of the provincial regulatory authorities have suggested need to be in place. We cannot look at this bird with just one wing. I would agree with Dr. Douglas Grant that the reasonably foreseeable language is “too vague to be understood or applied by the medical provision”.

  (1155)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend for his speech. He knows that we have some substantial disagreements about this issue, but it is interesting to find myself agreeing at least with the parts of his speech where he talks about how “reasonably foreseeable” is ridiculously ambiguous. I know that he wants a more open regime and I want it to be clarified in perhaps a more restrictive direction, but for us to have a phrase in the legislation that is largely meaningless, and to act as if that is a safeguard, is clearly a problem.
    I would ask the member what he thinks about the Manitoba structure in place, where government lawyers would review every case. There is no requirement of judicial review, but there is a process by which a competent legal authority, not just medical authority, is involved in looking at every case.
    That seems to me to be a good model. It is one that has been put in place in Manitoba. Is that something the member would see as an improvement to the legislation?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge the contribution the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan has made throughout this process in both committees.
    The idea that the Manitoba regulators have of interposing a prior judicial restraint, if you will, or the process that the member described, could constitute an effective barrier to access. Canadians accept that their doctors look after them in life, and I believe, with the safeguards that are in place to deal with conflict of interest, a reflection period, and the like, we can trust the same physicians to look after us in death.
    I worry about barriers that would impose, particularly in non-urban areas, the notion of finding a lawyer and the like. In Nunavut or northern Manitoba for that matter, it is somewhat troubling. Therefore, I think that would be an effective barrier. I do not think it is required.
    I think we have it right in Bill C-14. I just wish the test of eligibility would embrace all Canadians and allow those who won the victory in Carter to not have to march back to the Supreme Court in a few months to be told that.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by expressing my admiration and respect for the commitment and sense of responsibility that my colleague from Victoria has demonstrated in this complex and sensitive issue. I have benefited from his expertise in constitutional law on a number of occasions.
    This week, as a way of justifying the provision on reasonably foreseeable death, the Minister of Health said that it is not just Canadians' rights that are at stake here. She said that we must also consider the challenge for doctors to carry out the requests for medical assistance in dying.
    Like me, my colleague heard representatives from the medical profession when they appeared before the special joint committee or the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. Naturally they said that their profession has changed dramatically since February 6, 2015. How are they dealing with these new requests?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, let me say at the outset what an absolute pleasure it has been to get to know and to work with my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot. She has been an extraordinarily effective member of those committees.
    The question involved reasonably foreseeable and the effect on doctors of that test, as well as on patients. Should we be concerned about the doctors and health care practitioners who will be called upon to implement this bill?
    It troubles me greatly when I hear the head of the regulatory body for all doctors say that this is unworkable. For the life of me, I cannot understand how the government can bull ahead and no doubt get this bill passed in the face of that opposition. We have a top constitutional lawyer saying that it is not consistent. We have the head of the regulatory body for all doctors saying that they do not know what it means. Now we have before us the chance to fix it by accepting the amendment before us. I urge the House to do so.

  (1200)  

    Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for Victoria for his passionate speech and his incredibly dedicated work on this file. It has been an honour to work with him.
    I want to say that the Canadian Medical Association differs with what he just said. There have been many doctors' associations testifying before our committee that disagree.
    However, I have a different question with respect to the waiting period. The member mentioned, and I appreciate, that in the other place they removed reasonable foreseeability. Then we run into this debate about people who have a traumatic injury, become a paraplegic, and suddenly have an emotional change that they cannot adjust to. Does the member believe that the safeguards in the bill, which we have applied to people near the end of life, really would not be changed and be different had we intended to deal with people who have suffered recent paraplegic injuries?
    Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Mount Royal for his superb leadership as chair of the justice committee, which I have the honour to work with him on.
    I understand that the Canadian Medical Association agrees with the bill. I have heard from so many doctors in my office who call constantly saying that they do not understand it. Frankly, the CMA is a trade organization for doctors. It is not the regulatory body that has to decide what to do when doctors run afoul of the professional standards being implemented in each of the territories.
    I think that the constitutional constraints on us, under a criminal law power, to do some of the things that provinces can better properly do will address some of the very concerns that the member raises, such as whether we have an adequate reflection period, and the like. I am proud to see that, although these rules are not unanimous from coast to coast to coast, they are fairly consistent. I think taken with Bill C-14, they will provide the kinds of safeguards that Canadians expect.
    Madam Speaker, I want to say before I begin that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Montcalm.
    I am pleased to be here today to continue our important discussion on Bill C-14 concerning medical assistance in dying.

[Translation]

    We have seen the serious thought and deliberation that hon. senators have put into this bill over the past few weeks. It is now up to us to carefully examine the amendments that the Senate has presented.

[English]

    Medical assistance in dying is only available in a very small number of jurisdictions around the world and it is brand new to Canada. What we are talking about with this bill is a fundamental change to social policy in this country. We are pursuing transformative change at the same time as we are facing incredible time pressure to put federal legislation in place. It is, therefore, critically important that we move forward with great care.
    There are a number of paths that we could choose to follow with respect to medical assistance in dying in this country. I believe that the choice we have made with Bill C-14 represents the approach that is most appropriate and responsible for Canada, and here is why. It strikes a careful balance between respecting the autonomy of patients seeking assistance in dying and protecting vulnerable people. It would protect the conscience rights of providers and support those who choose to participate. It would put measures in place to study the legislation over time as we understand and gather further data to deal with the issues.
    I would first like to bring to the attention of hon. members the ways in which the bill respects the autonomy of patients. Under this legislation, eligible patients approaching the end of their lives would be able to choose a peaceful medically assisted death. This represents a significant shift in the way we approach suffering at the end of life in this country. It provides patients with greater autonomy over their decisions.

[Translation]

    The bill also improves access for patients. By allowing nurse practitioners to administer medical assistance in dying, the bill recognizes Canada's unique geographic and demographic realities. Nurse practitioners often work alone to provide vital health care services in underserved regions.

  (1205)  

[English]

    In addition to supporting access and autonomy, Bill C-14 also takes care to protect patients who may be vulnerable. When changing social policy, we must proceed with great caution if there is a chance that those who are most vulnerable among us may be negatively affected. Without appropriate safeguards, the availability of medical assistance in dying could pose threats to marginalized people and those who may lack access to adequate familial, social, or economic supports. This bill would establish robust safeguards and procedures to protect vulnerable persons from being encouraged or coerced into seeking medical assistance in dying.
    It is important to recognize that there has been significant support in this piece of legislation from the health care sector, including the Canadian Association for Community Living, which includes 40 individual advocates and 50 organizations. It includes various medical associations, both provincially and federally, the Canadian Nurses Association, the Canadian Association of Advanced Practice Nurses, the Canadian Pharmacists Association, the Canadian Psychiatric Association, the Canadian Association of Social Workers, and many more.
    This legislation also complies with the vulnerable persons standard, which I believe sends a strong message to all Canadians about our support for those among us who need most protection.

[Translation]

    The bill recognizes that medical professionals have the right to follow their conscience and choose whether or not they want to participate in medical assistance in dying. For those who do choose to participate, the bill ensures that the doctors and nurse practitioners who administer this assistance will not be prosecuted. It also exonerates those who may assist, such as pharmacists and authorized nurses.

[English]

    Finally, it outlines criteria to help support providers in assessing patients. It is important to keep in mind that health care providers are required to assess the condition of their patients on a regular, if not daily, basis. Assessing the level and type of suffering is already part of medical practice and it is very common in all end-of-life care. It is, for example, a crucial element in determining the best approaches to alleviate suffering in palliative care.
    Our eligibility criteria and safeguards offer providers direction and flexibility within their field of expertise and scope of practice to make an assessment about the condition and circumstances of a patient seeking medical assistance in dying on a case by case basis.
    Given the complexity and often personal nature of this issue, there is significant debate in terms of the correct approach from many different perspectives. What we have with Bill C-14 is an approach that would put a cautious assisted-dying framework in place while leaving the door open to adjust as we better understand more challenging issues. In the legislation, there is a commitment to independent studies on challenging issues that need to be investigated further before determining what policy considerations the government should make.
    One thing is certain, these are issues that present real risks to people in vulnerable circumstances and highlight the complicated nature of balancing autonomy against the protection of vulnerable patients. There is also, of course, a mandatory parliamentary review of this legislation after five years.
    I would be remiss if I did not reaffirm here today the importance of improving access to high quality palliative care for all Canadians. Our government has committed to investing in this area. I continue to work with provinces and territories to help support access to all options for care at the end of life.
    The motion today has given thoughtful consideration to the work of the upper chamber. I thoroughly appreciated the opportunity to take questions for a two-hour period at the committee of the whole, in addition to the time that I appeared before the committee's pre-study.
    There are two amendments made by the upper chamber where we respectfully disagree. As captured in the motion today, we as a government reviewed and sought a path forward that encompasses the Senate's amendments where possible, resulting in our agreement with the five remaining amendments. There is alternative text proposed to reflect the upper chamber's desire to recognize the vital importance of palliative care options for patients. As I have said repeatedly, this is a positive outcome if the result of this legislation allows tangible improvement to access palliative care in Canada.
    We also have a responsibility to provide language in the legislation that health care professionals can understand in order to provide access to assisted dying. As is stated in the proposed message to the Senate, removing the criterion of the reasonable foreseeability of natural death would undermine the objectives of Bill C-14 to recognize the significant and continuing public health issue of suicide, to guard against death being seen as a solution to all forms of suffering, and to counter negative perceptions about the quality of life of persons who are elderly, ill, or disabled. Bill C-14 strikes the right balance for Canadians between protection of vulnerable individuals and choice for those whose medical circumstances cause enduring and intolerable suffering.
    In conclusion, I would like to underline to my fellow parliamentarians that the approach set out in Bill C-14 is the result of tremendous thought and deliberation over the course of many months. There have been extensive consultations over this past year on the issue of medical assistance in dying with Canadians, stakeholders, and relevant experts. The findings have been reviewed carefully to inform the legislation.
     I hope both the House and the Senate are able to support the motion. I would like to thank, from the bottom of my heart, all the parliamentarians from both the upper and the lower chamber who have professionally and thoroughly debated this issue. It is a transformative social policy that governments debate once in a generation, and this piece of legislation is one of those remarkable debates. Make no mistake, this will be a dramatic change for Canada.
    In the Carter decision, the Supreme Court acknowledged that it was up to Parliament to craft an appropriate regime. I believe we arrived at the best approach for our country.

  (1210)  

    Madam Speaker, the minister mentioned fundamental change and transformative change. Certainly, I think we agree that it is. Where we disagree is on whether it is a positive or a negative transformative change.
    She referenced, different times, vulnerable persons in her comments. I just want to remind Canadians that in the preamble of the bill it clearly is looking at the possibility of extending physician-assisted suicide to those where mental illness is the sole underlying medical condition. I do not know if there is anyone more vulnerable. Another group of vulnerable people are those who might be coerced by relatives who may be beneficiaries. I cannot understand why the Liberal government would reject this amendment that was passed in the Senate.
    Finally, she assures me that no doctor would be coerced into participating in physician-assisted suicide. Could she assure me that no medical doctor or health care institution would be forced to either participate or refer for physician-assisted suicide?
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for the time that he has committed to being here to debate this important matter.
    I share his concerns over the protection of people who are facing mental illness. This is one of the fundamental reasons why we hope that he and his colleagues will support the motion that we have put forward in the House today. We are concerned with the Senate's recommendation for the removal of the clause that recommends that this be considered only in the face of natural death being reasonably foreseeable because of the fact that people with mental illness, among others, would not be adequately protected.
    The member also talked about other safeguards that were suggested by the Senate. This piece of legislation was drafted in totality. The safeguards that are in place to recognize that no one would be coerced need to be seen in totality so that one piece or clause in particular does not adequately put those safeguards in place. My colleagues and I who have worked on this—
    I am sorry to interrupt the member but I need to allow time for other questions. Maybe the minister could finish her thoughts on the next question.
    Questions and comments. The hon. member for South Okanagan--West Kootenay.
    Madam Speaker, we have over the last few weeks heard reports from many experts that Kay Carter, whose case before the Supreme Court of Canada brought this important issue to us, would not be eligible for physician-assisted dying under Bill C-14 as it now stands.
    I would like the minister to comment on that. Does she disagree with that position? Does it not reflect on the confusion that the bill as it has been crafted has caused in the debate?
    Madam Speaker, my colleague's question gives me an opportunity to reiterate again, as my colleague the Minister of Justice and I have said on numerous occasions, that we are absolutely clear on the fact that the two cases that were reviewed in the matter of Carter v. Canada are cases of people who would absolutely have been eligible under the legislation that is before the House today.
     If the Carter decision is read carefully one will understand that it was clearly speaking to people who were facing end-of-life decisions. We are fundamentally affirming today that the people in question in that case would have met the criteria of Bill C-14 for medical assistance in dying.

  (1215)  

    Madam Speaker, my question is more open-ended. The minister is attempting to bring forward good, solid legislation that reinforces the fact that it will stand the test of time. It sets up a wonderful framework and enables us to deal with an important issue that Canadians want us to deal with.
    I wonder if the minister could give us some concluding remarks.
    Madam Speaker, this legislation would change the social fabric of this country. We need to think about how this legislation would affect the lives of individual Canadians as they face the end of their life. We are pleased to put forth a piece of legislation that we believe is the right approach for Canada.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would first like to thank the Minister of Health for sharing her time with me. This clearly demonstrates that she believes in fair play and democracy, since she knows that I am opposed to the motion and the bill.
    That being said, I am wondering how I will say everything I have to say in 10 minutes.
    I will begin with the heart of the issue. The premise of the fundamental debate relates to our understanding of the principle of self-determination. Here are the main questions that the Department of Justice and the two ministers should have asked themselves. Why and on what grounds would we take away people's right to self-determination throughout their lives? When, even in urgent medical situations, no medical intervention can happen without a patient's free and informed consent, why and on what grounds would we take away people's right to self-determination at a time when they are enduring intolerable suffering, when they are about to die, when they are their most vulnerable?
    The government says that it is in order to strike a balance, but that has never been proven, and the Supreme Court thought it was futile. Had it been referred to the Supreme Court, the bill would have been amended and considered unconstitutional. I imagine that is why the bill was never referred to the Supreme Court. It said that three rights had been violated by the total prohibition.
    If we carefully study the Morgentaler ruling, we see that the court agreed to strike down the law that allowed abortions under certain conditions on the basis of just one right: the pregnant woman's right to security of the person. How can anyone seriously believe that the security of the person who is enduring intolerable suffering from a grievous and irremediable illness, disease, or disability would be protected by section 1 of the charter, which states that any limits must be reasonable in a free and democratic society?
    It is quite unreasonable for a person who is among the most vulnerable in our society, the one who is suffering, to have to bear the burden of proving to the courts that he or she meets this criterion of reasonably foreseeable natural death or, as we saw recently, to have to go on a hunger strike in an attempt to meet the criterion.
    I remind members that this criterion discriminates on the basis of age. The motion states “...to guard against death being seen as a solution to all forms of suffering, and to counter negative perceptions about the quality of life of persons who are elderly, ill or disabled...”. Whose negative perceptions? Where are these negative perceptions coming from, exactly? As far as I know, when someone has a degenerative disease, and this will come as no surprise to the Minister of Health, medical practitioners follow their patients' cases.
    Is she assuming that medical practitioners, doctors, nurses, and health care professionals have a bias against their patients because of their age or social condition? Is she assuming that health care professionals have bad intentions?

  (1220)  

    If they have bad intentions, we should get rid of them. This rationale shows a bias against health care workers. Is she saying that seniors need to be protected from the people who care for them? This bill is a bad cut-and-paste version of the Quebec law.
    We were able to move somewhat quickly here because Quebec has already gone through this, and its focus was the area of palliative care. Quebec achieved an amazing feat by not pitting euthanasia against palliative care and by ensuring that patients have access to a wide range of palliative care options.
    Why would the bill limit itself to this one aspect or even to a degenerative disease like ALS? The idea is that death is reasonably foreseeable in this case, and this is where there is discrimination among degenerative diseases.
    Who are we to pass judgment on someone's quality of life? It is not up to the doctor to pass judgment on a patient's quality of life or compare one life to another. These are basic principles of ethics.
    We trust the health care workers who provide care, and obviously, they will see their patient's quality of life change over the course of a year. If the patient says he cannot take it anymore, the request can be made.
    Quebec's law is not a response to the Supreme Court's directive. Why? Because the Carter decision came afterward. Quebec's lawmakers sought to comply with the Criminal Code and respect each authority's prerogative in its own jurisdiction.
    Now we have the Carter decision and this bad bill. Quebec's minister of health and social services was right when he told his doctors that this approach is unworkable and asked them to be prudent because this government lacked the courage to respond when the Supreme Court ordered us to create a framework for assisted suicide.
    I read the motion and asked the minister a question today. The government is rejecting Senator Joyal's amendments, which are also those of the Bloc Québécois, the Green Party, and the NDP, who are calling for the elimination of this utterly vague criterion and a return to the terms in Carter, to what really matters for people who have a grievous and irremediable health condition that causes them persistent and intolerable suffering.
    The motion says we struck the right balance and want to reject these amendments “to recognize the significant and continuing public health issue of suicide”. What is that all about? No one working in suicide intervention would ever confuse the two states.
    As far as I know, a suicidal state is reversible. It is not irremediable, but indeed remediable. There are treatments for suicide. However, something like Alzheimer's is irremediable, as far as I know. Such is the confusion that was created here this morning, and the argument that was made.
    That is the only argument that the Department of Justice is going to make at the Supreme Court and patients will have the burden of going to court in order to have access to medical assistance in dying. I will weigh my words carefully and say that I find that to be indecent.

  (1225)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for weighing in on this issue and for his involvement in the discussion.
    The Quebec legislation has, effectively, a terminal requirement. This federal legislation intervenes in an area that at least the Quebec government has called Quebec jurisdiction by changing the criteria.
    I wonder if the member would agree with me that it would be more respectful to that particular sense of Quebec jurisdiction to include a clearer terminal requirement in the federal legislation?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, a consensus has emerged in Quebec that does not involve changing the federal legislation or the Criminal Code.
    Clearly, any legislation that allows a range of end-of-life care and choices regarding end-of-life services and care must eventually be brought in line with the Carter decision, since there may be no legal vacuum.
    However, I found it a little strange that my colleague said that there is no legal vacuum and we do not need to reach a decision on this today, when the guidelines provided for these situations are based on the Carter decision, which he opposes.
    At this time, if Quebec wants to legislate on assisted suicide, if nothing happens here and all we have are the guidelines based on the Carter decision, Quebec would have to rely on those guidelines and what has been done.
    It is not a question of imposing the Quebec law and trying to say that it solves all the problems. That is definitely not the intention.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, during this whole debate around assisted dying, there has been a great deal of emphasis, justifiably so, put on the issue of palliative care. This is something that the national government, through the budget and a commitment toward a new health care accord, is trying to focus more attention on, that we do need to spend more energy and more resources on trying to develop a national palliative care system, in fact.
    I realize it is a bit off topic as opposed to the specific bill, but it is something that has been debated quite extensively, and I am very much interested in the Bloc's thoughts on a health care accord and the importance of that and coming up with a national palliative care program.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, any health care accord that respects Quebec's prerogatives would be most welcome. Since the devil is always in the details, we would have to see what it says.
    Getting back to the debate, I would say that palliative care does not address all the problems associated with the end of life. That is why, in some circumstances, people who are dying ask for an assisted death because there is no way to relieve their pain. Certain illnesses and certain cancers are impervious to pain medication.
    In that regard, we wish that the Liberal Party would have had the courage to bring forward legislation that properly addressed that whole issue, in the same way that Quebec has a well-defined framework for end-of-life care and assisted suicide, while not confusing that with a suicidal state.

  (1230)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
    I have had the privilege of following, from a distance, the proceedings in the Senate over these last days. I am disappointed that a number of the options that were given to the Senate were not adopted.
    Senator Plett's amendment to make it a criminal offence for anyone to compel an individual, organization, or medical practitioner to provide medical assistance in dying or to refer was rejected by the Senate.
    I wish I could share the optimism of our Minister of Health when she assured me a few minutes ago that no one would be compelled to participate in this. I do not share that optimism. I am hopeful I am wrong on that. I am hopeful there will never be a case where a medical professional, a health care worker, a health care institution will be obligated to participate or to refer for this practice when they find it morally objectionable.
    The other amendment Senator Plett put forward was adopted by the Senate, however, rejected by the government today in its response. That is the amendment relating to not allowing a beneficiary of a person who is seeking medical assistance in dying from assisting that person.
    It seems quite clear to me that if we are to protect vulnerable people, this was one of the key points that needed to be adopted. By rejecting this amendment that was passed by Senate, we are actually increasing vulnerability. That is a sad result of rejecting this amendment.
    It goes without saying that this is a very sad day, a disappointing day for me. This is a day when choices will be made that will affect generations to come, and it is without question the most important choice that I and most of my colleagues will make in our parliamentary careers.
    It is disappointing on two points. First, it is disappointing to see the activism of the Supreme Court. I mentioned earlier in my comments on this topic that it was unfortunate the Supreme Court of Canada had taken it upon itself to force legislation to be written which would overturn hundreds of centuries of our understanding of the intrinsic value and dignity of every human life. The Supreme Court has done this, completely rejecting the fact that as elected members of the House, we have rejected initiatives to legalize physician-assisted suicide on at least 15 occasions since 1991, the most recent one in 2010 by a vote of 59 to 226.
    The other reason this action is disappointing for me is because of the many years I have worked on the issue of suicide prevention. I have worked with people who have been left to suffer the aftermath of suicide, parents who have lost children, children who have lost parents, and more. To know there are groups across Canada today that are working very hard to prevent suicide, to save lives, and to see we are now, in a way, normalizing suicidal behaviour is disappointing.
    Bill C-300 was an initiative that the House passed almost unanimously, calling on the federal government to initiate a federal framework for suicide prevention. Just a few weeks ago, the Minister of Health indicated that the bill was almost ready to be fully implemented by the Public Health of Canada.
    On one hand, we are working as hard as we can to prevent suicide, which I applaud and will continue to give my efforts to. On the other hand, it appears that we have given up and we are allowing those who are losing hope to actually access assisted suicide.
    Ten Canadians each day lose their life to suicide. In Canada, groups are working hard on the ground to prevent suicide. Mental health care workers, experts, are providing safe talk training so front-line workers, such as teachers and our volunteers in our minor sports programs, can observe these first signs of suicidal ideation, and intervene with the intent of restoring hope to that person who has lost hope and is now in despair. Their motivation has always been to save lives.
     Now, to turn 180 degrees and begin the path towards normalization of suicide, is a tragic course, a tragic course of action for all of Canada.

  (1235)  

     Again, I want to quote from an expert in this field. Aaron Kheriaty, an associate professor of psychiatry and director of the medical ethics program at the University of California, Irvine school of medicine, states:
    The debate over doctor-assisted suicide is often framed as an issue of personal autonomy and privacy. Proponents argue that assisted suicide should be legalized because it affects only those individuals who — assuming they are of sound mind — are making a rational and deliberate choice to end their lives. But presenting the issue in this way ignores the wider social consequences.
     What if it turns out that the individuals who make this choice in fact are influencing the actions of those who follow?
    Professor Kheriaty goes on to report that in states where physician-assisted suicide has been legalized, there has been an increase in suicides of 16.3% overall, but among those over 65 an increase of 14.5%. He further states:
     [These] results should not [be surprising to] anyone familiar with the literature on the social contagion effects of suicidal behavior. You don’t discourage suicide by assisting suicide....
...Aside from publicized cases, there is evidence that suicidal behavior tends to spread person to person through social networks, up to three “degrees of separation” away. So my decision to take my own life would affect not just my friends’ risk of doing the same, but even my friends’ friends’ friends. No person is an island.
    Finally, it is widely acknowledged that the law is a teacher: Laws shape the ethos of a culture by affecting cultural attitudes toward certain behaviors and influencing moral norms. Laws permitting physician-assisted suicide send a message that, under especially difficult circumstances, some lives are not worth living — and that suicide is a reasonable or appropriate way out. This is a message that will be heard not just by those with a terminal illness but also by anyone tempted to think he or she cannot go on any longer.
     Debates [around] physician-assisted suicide raise broad questions about our societal attitudes toward suicide. Recent research findings on suicide rates press the question: What sort of society do we want to become? Suicide is already a public health crisis. Do we want to legalize a practice that will worsen this crisis?
     I believe life is to be chosen over what some would call “death with dignity”. There is nothing dignified about deciding someone's life is not worth living. If a patient has a need, let us address it. Our goal should be to eliminate the problem, not the patient.
    It is my firm belief that the House and the current government should be invoking the notwithstanding clause in order to protect Canadians. For thousands of years, all caring societies have agreed that it is not okay to kill another human being. We can try to soften that language. We can call it physician-assisted death. We can call it medical assistance in dying. We can use any euphemism we want, but the reality does not change.
    Today, we are intentionally throwing away the wisdom of our faith foundations and the wisdom of centuries of civilization. My fear is that in a few short years, we, our children, and our grandchildren will live to see the folly of allowing physician-assisted suicide.
    Madam Speaker, I indicated to the member earlier that he was fairly persistent in dealing with this issue over time. I respect his comments although I do not necessarily agree with them.
     At the conclusion of the member's remarks, he made reference to using the notwithstanding clause. We need to recognize that we did get a Supreme Court of Canada decision in which all nine Superior Court judges recognized we needed to bring in legislation. That should also be factored into this. I know there have been petitions, even a petition in my own area, regarding the notwithstanding clause. The minister did a fantastic job in explaining why we needed the legislation and how it would establish the legal framework. I believe it will stand a charter test.
    My question for the member is with respect to how the notwithstanding clause could be used. In this situation, I do not necessarily believe it is warranted.

  (1240)  

    Madam Speaker, I hope my colleague heard my opening remarks when I referred to the unfortunate activism of the Supreme Court of Canada. We have seen it on this issue. We saw it just a few days ago in relation to some sexual behaviour with animals. All of these things are not the job of the Supreme Court. This House is elected to represent the Canadian population. It is up to us to decide societal norms. It is not up to the Supreme Court to make that decision.
    However, as it relates to this specific situation, many times in the House we have referred to the fact that we are under a time crunch. Invoking the notwithstanding clause would simply have given Parliament up to five years. It did not need to take that long if it did not want to, but Parliament would not have been rushed into making a decision in three months, a decision that takes much longer.
     In the end, we are going to be sorry for the decisions we are making. In spite of the attempts to get this as good as we can, it is still a bad law.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech. I had the privilege of sitting with him on the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying. This committee's meetings were marked by respect and a willingness to listen, and I was able to better understand my colleague's reasoning with respect to his conscience.
    However, for me, medical assistance in dying is a choice. I believe that if someone is not comfortable with it, they simply do not have to ask for it.
    My colleague finished his speech by talking about the wisdom of centuries of civilization. I have been dealing with this issue since January, and my fellow Canadians have been telling me that civilization is at the point that individuals can make decisions about their own lives.
    Does my colleague not believe that we must let Canadians make decisions about their own lives?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I remember serving on the committee together. I agree we had very respectful although diametrically opposite points of view, but there was a large degree of respect.
    As it relates to choice, it comes back again to the fact that no man is an island. When I have the right to ask for someone to help me to assisted death, it automatically implies someone else has been asked to participate in that. It is not a matter of just individual choice. That is why I have been relentlessly calling for better protections for health care workers and health care professionals who have been professionally trained and have no interest.
    I have a letter from a palliative care physician, who indicates, “In addition, all palliative care providers are dually trained. We have clearly told the Canadian Medical Association and others that we will quit palliative care and do other jobs if we are forced to participate”. That is why I have been relentless on this. We cannot simply say this is a choice of mind. It is a choice that will impact another person who will be implicated in either actually carrying out the physician-assisted suicide, or referring to someone who will.
    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the NDP amendment, as well as to the underlying issues raised by Bill C-14, and to address some outstanding issues.
    The first thing I want to do is pick up on a question that my colleague from the NDP just asked with respect to choice. Many of the arguments in favour of this legislation have been framed around this idea of choice. However, at the same time we have to acknowledge that this bill is designed to impose significant limitations on choice as well. It does not legalize suicide in every case. Clearly, I think it suggests that there still ought to be limits on choice. That is a good thing. However, those limitations do not at all protect the vulnerable. They do not go nearly far enough. We would understand the limits of choice in that choice is shaped by values and social norms, and my colleague touched on this as well. The stigma and social acceptability around something shapes the kinds of choices that are made.
    In light of the Supreme Court decision and the fact that we have to respond to it, I am very concerned, and I think many of my colleagues at least on this side of the House but perhaps in other corners of the House are concerned that suicide remain a socially unacceptable choice, and that maybe it should be allowed in certain narrow circumstances as required, but that we do not allow ourselves to shift in a direction where we remove the fundamental stigma around taking human life, and that we maintain a fundamental respect for the intrinsic value and dignity of all human life. It is my belief that going down that road only a little bit is very difficult and perhaps even impossible. In the debate around this issue, we have already seen that, as soon as the can of worms is opened a little bit, there is a major push for expansion to all kinds of other different situations.
    The language used, and the language that some members and the NDP amendment want to limit this to, is “grievous and irremediable”. It seems to me that people who take their life do so because they consider themselves to be facing grievous and irremediable suffering. Clearly, there is no one who takes his or her life who does not think that. Therefore, it is not at all a simple matter, as some members have suggested, to clearly demarcate suicide; and then, on the other hand, what is covered by this issue? Choice always has limits. It must have limits, especially when choices may impact the broader social architecture of choice under which other people operate. I think that is an important point that is underlined here, that we need to try, as much as possible, to preserve that underlying concept of the value of human life. I do not think that Bill C-14 has nearly the safeguards to do that. What we could have had, and what we should have at the very least, is some kind of clear legal criteria.
    It has been interesting in the discussion today that we have the minister really highlighting the importance of the “reasonably foreseeable” criterion. I do not support the NDP amendment. All things being equal, I would still like “reasonably foreseeable” to remain in the bill, although I agree with the NDP that it is not at all clear what that means. Then the minister talks about the importance of this criterion and how the entire bill, the system of safeguards, was developed with that criterion in mind. She said that, clearly, if we did not have that aspect in the criteria, we would need additional safeguards. Therefore, she is putting a very large amount of weight on those two undefined words. She said that the Liberals would not want “reasonably foreseeable” to apply to a young person who had some kind of an accident and became permanently disabled. They would not want “reasonably foreseeable” to apply to somebody with just a mental health challenge. However, without meaning to those words, without some kind of clarity, it is not at all clear that those cases that the minister has identified are even excluded by this legislation. Therefore, in a sense, she defeats her own argument by saying that this legislation has limited safeguards because of the narrowing of the criteria, such as only a 10-day waiting period, but given that there was no meaningful, well-defined, narrowing of the criteria, then she acknowledges effectively that the safeguards in this bill are inadequate.

  (1245)  

    If this legislation were written with a tighter narrowing of criteria in mind, then perhaps we should have actually had some definition of what constituted the new criteria. We should have had some kind of definition of what this means. Of course, Conservatives proposed an amendment to add the word “imminent”. We can say that death is reasonably foreseeable for all of us, but death is not imminent for all of us. That would have at least provided some metric for establishing a distinction between some cases and other cases. The lack of criteria is a huge problem.
    It is important, in recognizing the absence of clear criteria, that we again investigate putting review criteria in place. We have seen what the provinces have already done. The reason I say we are not in a legal vacuum is that there is no federal legislation but there are provincial rules in place, so we are not in a legal vacuum, as such, strictly speaking. There are policies and procedures in place at the provincial level. The provinces have introduced many very good safeguards that are not in this federal legislation, and it is important to say that those safeguards, in many cases, would not apply after the federal legislation passes.
    Provincial guidelines, in most cases that I have seen, refer to the involvement of the attending physician. They do not just say any two physicians. They say there is some role for an attending physician and a consulting physician, implying that the person involved in adjudicating the case should be, in some ways, involved in the care of the patient and not be some doctor somewhere else who has agreed to sign all the forms for almost anyone. The involvement of the attending physician is important. It could have been included in the federal legislation, but if the federal legislation passes saying any two doctors, then the requirement for an attending physician being involved would no longer apply, because it would be prescribed a certain way in the Criminal Code.
    I would encourage the government to take the experience and wisdom of the provinces seriously on this, recognizing that there are no effective legal criteria up front, there are only undefined legal criteria, and we should add in some of the more effective review mechanisms to ensure that, however ambiguous the criteria are, the legal criteria are being met, in fact, such as they are.
    I have advocated for the Manitoba model, or some element of it, to be incorporated into the federal model, which involves government lawyers looking at each case. I asked my friend from Victoria about this, and he said that could pose an unnecessary barrier, such as if there are no lawyers available. The model that the Government of Manitoba has put in place includes government lawyers available to review each case. It is not as if one has to go out and find someone, and it is not a process of needing to make an application to the court, although there are, frankly, plenty of cases in the world where someone might need to make an urgent application to a court and there are provisions to allow that to happen.
    Therefore, it is not at all true that this is sort of an impossibly onerous barrier, but the Government of Manitoba has done something much less than requiring judicial review. It has simply put in place a system where there is advanced legal review by government lawyers. Recognizing the value of that model, that review process, the government should think about incorporating that into federal legislation or, at the very least, ensure it is not proceeding in a way that interferes with or overturns that provincial set-up.
    In conclusion, I want to speak briefly to the issue of protecting the vulnerable. There has been some discussion here about what constitutes vulnerability and who is vulnerable. We can understand “vulnerable” as referring to people who probably, in ideal circumstances, would not choose death, but are in some way in not ideal circumstances, which limits them and propels them toward a choice they would not otherwise make. This can happen often, whether it is a person who does not have perspective because of his or her situation, or whether someone is sort of the victim of suicide contagion and is responding to other things and situations happening in his or her life. It could be someone who is influenced more by social than physical circumstances. We need to be attentive to these things, and that speaks to the importance of robust safeguards.
    I hope we can, as a House, still at this last stage, try to bring in some meaningful definitions and safeguards that would protect the vulnerable and protect Canadian society.

  (1250)  

    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan for his third intervention today on this issue. I appreciate his passion and commitment to the cause he is trying to defend.
    The member brought a number of amendments to committee, I think probably in the dozens. Many of them were not even supported by members of his own party at committee, but they were all fairly debated and fairly defeated.
    I want to get back to the premise at this point of needing a law in place. I disagree with the hon. member that the provincial regulatory bodies are sufficient. I think we need national standards in place.
    Does the hon. member not agree that, if it is the will of the vast majority of this House to get a law in place, we should do our best and utmost to get a law in place today?

  (1255)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his good work as chair. He might remember that I proposed a mere one dozen amendments, or thereabouts, and I actually got three amendments passed. They were not substantive enough to address the major problems that remain in the bill, but I figure that is not a bad record for a member of the opposition in a majority Parliament.
    With respect to the issue of national standards, I would be happy to see national standards that would provide meaningful safeguards. My concern with the legislation is that we have some of this ambiguity, the lack of safeguards, which I have discussed in my small number of interventions on this subject.
    Also, the effect of the federal legislation would be that it undermines the existing safeguards that are at the provincial level. It would have the effect of changing the way that those operate. Therefore, the requirement that an attending physician be involved under provincial criteria would be negatively affected by the federal criteria, and that is pretty clear in the guidelines that have been put forward. They are put forward as interim guidelines, because the provinces do not want to be in the situation of legislative conflict.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his third speech today. I had the opportunity to listen to him at the special joint committee, which helped me better understand his position.
    I think that no human being makes light of asking for medical assistance in dying. It is impossible to take this issue lightly.
    Organizations representing the disabled appeared before the committee and told us about the importance of respecting the rights of the disabled because the Supreme Court talked precisely about rights and about recognizing them as persons.
    I am concerned when I hear my colleague say that we must not give people too many choices. Even a vulnerable person, a person who is suffering, can make a decision.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I certainly would not have it suggested that I accuse anyone of taking this issue lightly, either people in this place or the people who are involved in health care. However, I think it is pretty clear that different interpretations of these criteria will exist.
     I have raised a concern about doctor shopping, that people could go from physician to physician under the framework established by this law to find someone with a more liberal interpretation of the criteria. In effect, we would end up with a race to the bottom, with people getting adjudication by doctors with the most liberal criteria. That is not to suggest that they do not take it seriously but that, if the criteria are to be meaningful, then there has to be some consistency in the adjudication.
    I am sure the member would agree that in certain cases, in certain situations, there have to be limits on choice. We might disagree on exactly where those limits are, but I think all members of the House agree that there are certain cases where suicide should not be allowed and that we should not let just anyone and everyone who wishes to take their life do so. We have to then come up with a metric for adjudicating that on the basis of perhaps vulnerability or perhaps how they are affected by other social factors that make that choice a meaningful expression of their autonomy or not.
    These are the things that I think we have to take into consideration regardless of our broader perspective.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, it is a privilege for me to rise again in the House to speak about the sensitive and complex issue of medical assistance in dying.
    This morning, I had the honour of seconding the motion of my colleague, the member for Victoria. I would like to reiterate how much I admire and respect the commitment and sense of responsibility he has shown throughout the process that has brought us here today.
    I have had the opportunity to learn from his great expertise in constitutional law on many different occasions. I am a new member who was elected on October 19, 2015. The Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying was the very first parliamentary committee that I have ever been a member of. It was a great privilege for me because all the members of the House of Commons and the senators who worked on that committee did so in a spirit of co-operation in order to achieve the best possible outcome. We did not always agree, but we had a lot of respect for one another and we listened to what everyone had to say. We wanted to ensure that we made the best possible decisions and recommendations for the benefit of all Canadians, while respecting their rights. The 21 recommendations that we did make reflect that desire. One of our main goals throughout our discussions was to ensure that no one was discriminated against.
    Naturally, Bill C-14 could not include all 21 recommendations. As I said after our report was released, I think it will continue to be useful for years to come.
    My colleague from Victoria and I felt it was important to augment the committee's work with a supplementary opinion. The one thing all of the witnesses agreed on is that medical assistance in dying is linked to palliative care.
    We also felt it was important to write a supplementary opinion to connect this issue to all other social determinants. It is important to say that we all have equal rights. However, because of certain social constraints, we must ensure that social determinants are taken into account in implementing medical assistance in dying.
    As a member of the committee, I was astounded at the level of expertise we have in Canada on this issue. We heard from more than 60 witnesses, and we read thousands of pages before drafting our report and recommendations. I have a great deal of admiration for many of the witnesses who appeared before us because they put a lot of careful thought into this sensitive issue.
    Our thinking on medical assistance in dying has changed in this country. The Supreme Court's Carter decision is proof of that. The witnesses talked to us about the change that has taken place in society. Looking back at the Rodriguez ruling from 20 years ago, it is clear that our society's thinking on end of life has changed.
    I believe that our report and recommendations attest to that, and that is why it is so important to me that the bill we pass in the House reflect our constituents' thoughts on this matter. The witnesses, particularly groups representing people with disabilities, put a lot of careful thought into this matter and came to share their ideas with us.

  (1300)  

    I found it particularly hard when some of these groups told us that a few of their members had had friends or loved ones commit suicide prematurely. We currently have no measures to give these people hope that they will be able to freely choose at which point they will make a request for medical assistance in dying. That concern stuck with me.
    I was also struck by the testimony from doctors who came to tell us that the Carter decision, which was handed down on February 6, 2015, changed their profession drastically. These doctors, like the ones I met in my riding, told us that throughout their training and their careers, they have been taught to heal and, failing that, to extend life. Now, they are being told that, according to what the public wants, what the law allows, and what their rights allow, patients in our country will be able to submit a request for medical assistance in dying.
    I listened carefully to a number of speeches since we started having this discussion. During my many meetings in my riding of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, I pointed out that it is not up to us, in the House, to decide whether medical assistance in dying should be available or not. The Supreme Court has already ruled on that issue. It is up to us to amend the Criminal Code.
    I am from Quebec. The people of Quebec have had the Act respecting end-of-life care since December 2015. As many people have said in the House, that act was the result of six years of work to reach a broad consensus. Of course, in order to reach that broad consensus in Quebec, the legislation still had to comply with the federal Criminal Code. The province could only go so far within its areas of jurisdiction. Now we can pass legislation that allows us to go even further.
    The consensus that emerged in Quebec and that was confirmed in my discussions with my constituents is that we now recognize that we have reached a time in our civilization when, as citizens, we want to be able to choose. What the Supreme Court told us is that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives us the freedom to request medical assistance in dying.
    In order to deepen my reflections throughout our deliberations in the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying, I felt duty-bound to seek out people and groups in my riding, Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, who are dealing with this situation every day and meet with people who are sick or dying. This includes stakeholders and volunteers with a community organization called Les Amis du crépuscule, which provides assistance to people receiving palliative care and later to their grieving families. There are user committees for health care institutions, as well as the Hôtel-Dieu-de-Saint-Hyacinthe hospital foundation. That institution is one of the largest long-term care facilities in Quebec. Hundreds of people spend their last days on earth at the Hôtel-Dieu-de-Saint-Hyacinthe. I think it is around 500 people. That hospital has hundreds of beds, but only 12 palliative care beds.

  (1305)  

    That is why it has been important from the start of this debate on medical assistance in dying to talk about developing and implementing a real national palliative care strategy. For medical assistance in dying to be a real choice, palliative care also has to be offered as a choice. Unfortunately, many people have limited access to palliative care.
    In Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, people have access to Maison Victor-Gadbois, a home for end-of-life care for those with cancer. This home receives 800 applications a year, but can house only 200 people.
    Doctors have told us that we have developed a health care system based on hospitals and healing. When I met with Monsignor Lapierre, bishop of the Saint-Hyacinthe diocese, to talk about this issue, he made a comment that was full of wisdom. He told me that we should be just as concerned about aggressive treatment as we are about medical assistance in dying. He is sometimes called to the bedside of people who tell him they have had enough.
    We must vote on this issue of medical assistance in dying here in the House with a sense of the responsibility we have to represent our constituents who are living with a serious and irremediable illness and intolerable pain.
    Every time I rise in the House to speak to this issue, and during each meeting of the joint committee and the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, which studied this bill, I think about the people who are suffering. They are the ones who are at the heart of our discussion on Bill C-14. There are people who are suffering now, and they have high expectations for the bill we are going to pass. When the Supreme Court rendered its decision in Carter, people who were suffering had hope that their right to request medical assistance in dying would be respected.
    The amendments in the motion by my colleague from Victoria say that we must not disappoint these people who are suffering and awaiting our decision. They hope that we will allow them to make this request for medical assistance in dying soon and that their rights will be respected.
    These people who are suffering need not go to court. I was touched by the testimony given by members of the Carter family, who spent many years before the courts with their mother. When Bill C-14 was introduced, they came to tell us that the bill would not even give their mother the right to request medical assistance in dying. I cannot rise in the House and vote in favour of this bill, knowing that I am leaving people who are suffering to their own devices because they are not in the right class to be eligible for medical assistance in dying.
    This week, the Minister of Health told us that we need to think not only about the rights of Canadians, but also about the work of doctors. Since I began thinking about this issue, I have realized how much respect I have for all health care professionals. I also have a lot of faith in their judgment.
    The doctors who testified in committee said that, while requests for medical assistance in dying are a new part of their reality, they have been dealing with difficult requests from patients that require them to use their judgment every day since they became doctors.

  (1310)  

    The difference since the Supreme Court ruling in Carter is that now they must deal with requests for medical assistance in dying. These decisions will be difficult for some. Fortunately, the bill gives them the right to conscientiously object and tell the patient that they are not comfortable complying with their request. We think it is important for the health care system to ensure that patients will not have to find a new doctor in the yellow pages. They must have support in order to exercise their right to ask for medical assistance in dying.
    We also believe that sufficient safeguards have been put in place. I was really moved by the representatives of organizations for the disabled who asked us not to be paternalistic or treat the disabled like children. The fact that they have an incurable disease or are living with a degenerative disease or suffering a great deal is no reason to treat them like children. They are autonomous and can provide informed consent.
    The Supreme Court talked about suffering that an individual deems intolerable. Nobody can judge another person's suffering. We all react differently to illness. That respect for individuality must permeate the medical assistance in dying law we implement. We must ensure that each individual, each citizen of this country, has the freedom to make that choice if the situation arises.
    Nobody in this country wants to be in the position of having to make this request. Nobody wants to face the choice of whether to request medical assistance in dying. Nobody wants to support a loved one in making a choice about requesting medical assistance in dying. Nevertheless, we all hope that, when that day comes, every person will have all the resources they need to give free, informed consent. We hope that every person will feel their rights are being respected and will not be told that, unfortunately, they belong to a small class of people who are not eligible because it is felt that their death is not reasonably foreseeable.
    Many, including the Barreau du Québec, the Collège des médecins du Québec, and Quebec's health minister, came and told us that “reasonably foreseeable natural death” does not mean anything and is impractical. In my opinion, we are putting doctors in a position where they cannot reasonably use the flexibility we are trying to give them in a fair and equitable manner because this criterion has no clear meaning for a doctor.
    We must ensure that the legislation we pass is consistent with the Supreme Court's decision in Carter and with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We must ensure that once this legislation is enacted people who are suffering will not be required to ask a lawyer to go before the courts to uphold their right to seek medical assistance in dying. At the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying, we heard that the provinces are ready to continue their work to enact provincial legislation. Quebec's health minister said that he was pleasantly surprised at the work of his colleagues from the other provinces.
    Today we must pass legislation that is consistent with the Supreme Court's decision in Carter, that is consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and that allows every Canadian to request medical assistance in dying.

  (1315)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I have heard, not only during this particular debate, whether it is at second or third reading stage, a great of expression with respect to the reasonably foreseeable issue in the definition.
    I am wondering if the member would acknowledge that if we were to check with the legal community and the medical profession that there are differing opinions on this issue.
    I really and truly believe that this legal framework we are establishing will in fact be constitutional, and because we have one or two opinions to the contrary does not necessarily mean that it is not. I wonder if she could pick up on the point that there will always be differing opinions.

  (1320)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I understand that when the Canadian Medical Association does a poll, doctors might say that they need to work through a process before they are fully prepared. Palliative care doctors even told us that there is not enough training in palliative care. Few physicians are trained to support people at the end of life. Clearly, physicians have some challenges ahead of them. The various professional associations from different provinces, for they are the ones directly involved, not the Canadian Medical Association, told us that they have given their members very clear directives and that they are there and ready to support their members to ensure they can get prepared and are able to meet their patients' requests for medical assistance in dying.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, we hear a lot from the NDP about the importance of palliative care, so I want to ask her a question about how palliative care fits into this.
    I moved an amendment, supported by our caucus, to require that patients receive information about palliative care options. That would be one of those fairly minimal safeguards that I think could have improved the bill. However, she and her caucus voted against the amendment that would have simply said that people need to receive information about palliative care options before receiving euthanasia or assisted suicide.
    I want to ask why she voted against that amendment, and why New Democrats would not support these simple safeguards that do not create a real burden but simply ensure that patients have access to information about other options.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I disagree on the point that it does not add anything to the burden. Every time we add excessive safeguards and put anything else between a request from a patient and a response to that request, we impede the process unnecessarily.
    We need to bear in mind that we are talking about people who are experiencing suffering that they deem intolerable, day after day after day, every minute of their lives. We must not add any obstacles. We must not say that the patient should have access to this or the patient should be able to get more information. No, the process needs to be simple and clear to anyone who is suffering.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot for her informative speech. I always like listening to what she has to say.
     She mentioned that the medical profession, by definition, has had to change because it is paternalistic. Progress has been made in the practice of medicine by various disciplines, such as bioethics, which has been working to counter paternalism by placing more emphasis on the patient's right to self-determination.
    Right now, many doctors are having a hard time understanding that the practice of medicine will have to continue to progress and change. Medicine is not just about curing diseases; it also about caring for people. End-of-life care falls under provincial jurisdiction.
    Does the member agree with me that doctors will have to be trained so that they are properly prepared not only to cure diseases, since some diseases cannot be cured, but also to care for patients, including those who are at the end of their lives or who have—

  (1325)  

    The hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question. I appreciated his expertise in bioethics when we were working on this issue.
    Doctors' associations testified in committee that most of their members were prepared to adapt to changes in our health care system. However, it is clear that the government needs to give the provinces the funding necessary to make these changes in our society.
    In the past, the federal government provided up to 50% of funding for provincial health care. However, in recent years, it has been providing only 17% or 19%. It needs to contribute a minimum of 25%. The decision that we are going to make on medical assistance in dying must go hand in hand with assistance and funding for the provinces so that doctors are properly trained to respond to these requests.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate my hon. colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot for her excellent speech and her contribution to this debate. Together with my colleague from Victoria, she has worked very hard on the issue of medical assistance in dying. I tip my hat to them because it is not an easy subject.
    My sister works at Hôtel-Dieu-de-Saint-Hyacinthe and so I am somewhat familiar with this subject. She tells me about all kinds of things that happen there. It is not always easy. It takes a lot of energy. At present, there is a shortage of resources for and a lack of commitment to palliative care. In my riding, people are working very hard on the issue.
    Can my colleague explain why the government's recent budget did not include the money needed to invest in palliative care?
    Madam Speaker, that was the big disappointment with the budget. Since tabling its budget, the government has repeatedly promised to invest $3 billion in palliative home care, and people believe that it is in the budget.
    In my riding, people told me that the government had finally kept its promise, which is not the case because it is not in the budget. The government continues to make that promise, but we do not know when it will materialize.
    My colleague spoke about the Hôtel-Dieu. I met a nurse who has worked in palliative care for 20 years. She said that some doctors do not have any palliative care training, and in order to alleviate patients' suffering they would prescribe two aspirins or something like that. She knew from experience that that was not enough to relieve the pain.
    Therefore, we need a framework and support to provide appropriate palliative care across the country.

[English]

     Madam Speaker, perhaps the member could provide further comment on how important it is that the different stakeholders, in particular the federal government, work with the different provincial governments and indigenous people to ensure we have the type of palliative care that Canadians want. I would like to provide her with the opportunity to comment on the issue of collaboration with the provinces.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I was a municipal councillor for several years and I worked as a public servant for the Government of Quebec, so I have a huge amount of respect for the jurisdictions of all levels of government.
    Palliative care does indeed fall under provincial jurisdiction. Quebec worked very hard on this when it passed a law on end-of-life care. At the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying, we considered this issue and heard from a panel of provincial and territorial experts who had studied it.
    I think that the provinces are ready and that the territories and indigenous communities are on board.
    Madam Speaker, I will share my time with my hon. colleague from Winnipeg North.
    I rise today in the House to speak to Bill C-14, for the last time, I hope.
    Although it was sometimes quite heated, I think that the debate on Bill C-14 brought out the best in us as parliamentarians. All parliamentarians showed a great deal of respect, even though we all have different perspectives on a very sensitive and emotional topic.
    Today, I will talk about the amendments that were proposed by the other chamber. I support the motion by the Minister of Justice to accept some amendments and reject others.

  (1330)  

[English]

    The palliative care amendment that was brought in by the Senate is a good amendment. We had a lot of discussion at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and here in the House on the balance between access to medically assisted dying and the importance of ensuring quality palliative care. The fact that the Senate has once again reinforced the importance of ensuring that information be provided on palliative care before someone has access to medical assistance in dying is something that we should accept. I am pleased that we are going to accept that as amended by the Minister of Justice.
    I am also pleased that the Minister of Health will be required to set out guidelines for death certificates within one year. We made amendments at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to require the Minister of Health to work with her provincial and territorial counterparts to set standards to include coroners. This amendment falls well in line with what the House has already accepted.
    It is entirely legitimate for the Senate to ask for a deadline with respect to the studies that will be done on advance directives, mature minors, and psychological illnesses, and to require them to be delivered back to Parliament within two years from the time the studies begin. We in committee amended this to say “must commence within six months”, which is also a reasonable requirement.
    What is also eminently reasonable and strongly follows the will of the House of Commons is the minister rejecting the amendment to remove the criteria of death being “reasonably foreseeable”. Removing that requirement entirely changes the bill from applying to someone who is near the end of his or her natural life to encompassing people who may have 30 or 40 years left to live. It may encompass people who have purely psychological illnesses, which was not the intention of the bill, because we have specifically stated that we are doing a study about people who have psychological illnesses.
    However, if we look at the definition of “grievous and irremediable” and take out subsection (d) on reasonable foreseeability, then we fall into a situation where someone who has a psychological illness may meet the criteria of subsections (a), (b) and (c), thus completely changing the position of the bill on whether people with purely psychological illnesses can have access to medically assisted dying.
    I want to emphasize from a public policy perspective that this legislation took a prudent approach. We can argue back and forth about what medical doctors and lawyers and law professors have said. I sat in committee and listened to well over 40 witnesses. I also had the pleasure of periodically glimpsing in on the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs and listening to its witnesses.
    Doctors, lawyers, professors, distinguished people came down on all sides of this issue. There are those who say that the bill is not Carter-compliant or charter-compliant and there are just as many, if not more, who say that the law is Carter-compliant and charter-compliant. In my view, it is the role of Parliament to determine what we believe to be charter-compliant. It is the role of Parliament to determine the best public policy within a charter-compliant law.
    Medically assisted dying to me is meant to help people who are suffering intolerably but have an illness that will extinguish their life at some future date.
    The court, in Carter, talked about Gloria Taylor and people like Gloria Taylor. Gloria Taylor had ALS. Gloria Taylor was undisputedly going to die from the illness she had.
    I believe that ensuring that death is reasonably foreseeable falls entirely in line with public policy guidelines that we expect. Doctors and nurses, many of them, came before us and said that they did not go to school for many years to end people's lives. They went to school to try to help people who were suffering, to try to prolong life as long as possible within the framework that we currently have in the profession. They did not go there to be told that someone who comes to them and who may have many years left to live, and who has an illness that we may find a cure for in four or five years, should have their life extinguished.
    As such, I do believe the minister is making the right decision to reject that Senate amendment. I also believe the government carefully researched what was being done in other jurisdictions. There are only nine jurisdictions in the entire world that have legally regulated medical assistance in dying. In all but three of them, there is a requirement that the person's life be near its end.
    Whether it is Colombia, or the four United States' states that have these rules, or whether it is Quebec, which adopted its own end-of-life framework, which I understand is different and was pre-Carter, all of them require that a patient be dying, at the very longest, within the next six months, under reasonable medical certainty.
    Only in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg do we allow people to have their lives taken by medically assisted dying if their natural life is not close to an end. What kinds of situations have we seen in those jurisdictions? We have seen people who I believe many of us in this House would believe should not have access to medically assisted dying being given medically assisted dying.
    We saw twins in their 40s, who were blind and starting to go deaf, for example, but had no other conditions that would end their life. Those people needed help, real help, psychological help, help to live their lives, not being told, yes, they should go die together now. People who were purely psychologically ill, who could not get over traumas related to sexual assault. These may be incredibly traumatic psychologically, but there are ways of helping those people that do not involve medically assisted dying.
    I do not think Canadians, when we are talking about all the opinion polls that are being cited, where there is support of over 70% for medically assisted death, are contemplating those situations. They are contemplating situations where someone is nearing the end of their natural life and is in intolerable pain.
    For me, if we removed reasonable foreseeability, we would be asking the medical profession in Canada, the nursing profession in Canada, other medical practitioners in Canada to be participating in medically assisted death beyond where they decided to do, and even more importantly, we would be doing so without the safeguards that would have been put in the bill had we intended that that class of people be covered. There is no way that a 10-day waiting period suffices when somebody could have 40 years left to live.
    In conclusion, I want to say that I support the motion from the Minister of Justice, and I will be voting in favour today.

  (1335)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank my friend for his speech and for the work he did as chair of the justice committee. Of course we do not always agree, but I thought he was a very fair-minded and very effective chair of that committee. I want to commend him for the work he did.
    Now, listening to his speech, it sounded as if he was motivating the idea of a terminal requirement within the legislation, or a requirement for imminent natural death, and yet the provisions that the government is defending, the language “reasonably foreseeable” is not at all clearly pointing us to terminal or to some kind of imminent situation.
    I proposed an amendment at report stage, as he knows, that inserted the word “imminent”, and I believe he and all of his colleagues on that side of that House voted against adding that kind of clarity to the bill.
    It seems to me that there is a bit of a disconnect between some of the very real issues and concerns he raises with there not being an imminent requirement, and yet the government's opposition to in any way clarifying that imminence is what reasonably foreseeable means. Without that clarification, that is not what it means.

  (1340)  

    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, for the very strong contributions he made, both in the debate in the House and at committee. I also appreciate working with him.
    With respect to those comments, I think that what I am saying is that “reasonably foreseeable” means, as the minister has stated, that someone is on the path toward their natural death.
    What we heard at committee was if we used the word “imminent”, it means the death is going to happen within the next month, and I do not believe that it would be the best public policy approach to take such a restricted term, nor would it necessarily be charter-compliant, in my view.
    I believe that while I personally would have been comfortable having a longer time frame, such as a year, in the bill, I also understand the reasons there is not that time frame. I am comfortable with the concept of “reasonably” in assisted death knowing that means that, based on someone's overall medical condition they are on that—
    Questions and comments. The hon. member for Edmonton Strathcona.
    Madam Speaker, I, too, would like to thank the member. I know he has been working hard, along with my colleagues, on the bill for quite some time. We would all like to have some legal clarity for Canadians.
    What troubles me and troubles both of my colleagues is the result of the bill tabled by his party in now rejecting the very amendment from the other place. The exact effect will be to exclude this option to the very people who have now been allowed that option by the Supreme Court of Canada because it is their charter right. The result of the bill will be that the very people who happen to be 45 years old and are suffering from this grievous and irremediable disease will not get this assistance but somebody perhaps who is 99 will.
    I fail to understand, and the member can explain to me, why they would exclude my constituents who have had to go to court for exactly those kinds of situations and would now be prohibited from getting that medical assistance.
     Madam Speaker, in my view, the Supreme Court spoke to Gloria Taylor and people in the same class as Gloria Taylor. I do not believe the Supreme Court was speaking to someone whose death was not naturally foreseeable. We disagree as to what the terms of the Carter decision are. We actually completely disagree.
     As I mentioned in my speech, I do not believe that the Carter decision requires us to encompass the class of people of which the hon. member is speaking. We have defined “grievous and irremediable” as being someone whose death is naturally reasonably foreseeable within the context of their overall condition, and I believe that will be both Carter-compliant and charter-compliant.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Mount Royal, who is always such a gentleman. How could he be otherwise, with a name like that?
    Nevertheless, I do believe he is exaggerating somewhat. He talked about Ms. Taylor, but he said very little about Kay Carter. According to the reasonably foreseeable death criterion, Kay Carter would not have had the right to medical assistance in dying unless she argued on the basis of age discrimination.
    Is that what we want? Do we want a law that condones discrimination on the grounds of age or illness? Ms. Taylor had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It is as though this bill were designed—
    If the member wants an answer, he has to give his colleague time to answer. The answer must be very brief because time for questions has run out.
    Madam Speaker, I very much appreciate my colleague's question. He has made a tremendous contribution to this debate.
    Yes, I believe that Kay Carter would have qualified based on the criteria in the bill, as our Minister of Health said.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, what a debate this has been. Bill C-14 has been at times a very emotional discussion, both inside the House and outside the House, whether it has been at committee or other places. I have learned a great deal from it. I really appreciated the many members on all sides of the House, no matter what their position has been on Bill C-14, who have been able to articulate and share quite candidly some real life stories, whether it was during second reading, at third reading, or at the committee stage. A number of members of Parliament were engaged in this debate and I would like to acknowledge their contributions.
    It has been an interesting process from its beginning. We can talk about the Supreme Court decision and then fast-forward it to December, when there were heavy discussions on how we could come up with a report. We had a joint committee of the House and the Senate where we saw members of both places coming together to work and get a better sense of recommendations, ideas, and thoughts through consultation to make sure we could advance to where we are today. We saw ministers of the crown, two in particular, those for Justice and Health, pull it all together into something that sets a good, solid, legal framework, but will stand up to a charter challenge. l truly believe that to be the case.
    From the ministers, to the individuals who sat on the committee, to the individuals who have spoken on this at different levels of readings, to those individuals outside of the House, people throughout our great country have been involved and engaged as much as one can expect on a piece of legislation that is so very important to each and every one of us. I have on numerous occasions stood with petitions dealing with this issue. I know other members have done likewise. I know that all members of the House have had consultations with their constituents, have received correspondence, and had telephone discussions.
    I was able to cite a very personal experience with my father and what had taken place at the time of his passing. I was only one of many who was able to share stories. I thought I would provide a highlight in terms of why we are here. As members will know, it was a unanimous decision. All nine Supreme Court judges made the decision that we had to bring in a new law. That is really what Bill C-14 deals with, a new law regarding medical assistance in dying.
    The Supreme Court of Canada made that decision and they put in a time frame. We have passed the deadline, but not by too much. It would have been nice to have achieved that deadline, but that is where we are today. If I could make reference to what this is, it is that access to medical assistance in dying would only be available to those who meet certain conditions: mentally competent adults who are in an advanced state of irreversible decline and capability; have a serious and incurable illness, disease, or disability and are experiencing enduring and intolerable suffering caused by their medical condition; and whose death has become reasonably foreseeable, taking into account all of their medical circumstances.
    Something that is not highlighted very often is the fact that after four years this whole process will be under review, which is really important to emphasize.
    Earlier today at the beginning of the debate, there was a comment that captured the essence of the bill and hopefully will put to rest many minds in regard to the issue that we have been debating. This is a quote from the Minister of Justice this morning. She said, “The bill achieves the most appropriate balance between individuals' autonomy in deciding how their death will occur and protection of vulnerable individuals, as well as broader societal interests.”

  (1345)  

    That is something the minister said earlier today, and that I concur with 100%.
    I will now go to what the Prime Minister has said, and this is a great way to conclude my remarks. He recognized that Bill C-14 does not end the national discussion that needs to take place
     We have seen a budget that has brought forward an incentive to ensure we build on a health care accord. This is something we believe is important to all Canadians, because Canadians from coast to coast to coast have told us that. We will continue to build and look toward palliative care as a part of that ongoing discussion.
    It is such a privilege to be able to stand up and share a few thoughts and words before the bill ultimately passes.

  (1350)  

    Madam Speaker, the member talked about the government's alleged commitment to palliative care. Of course, we saw nothing in the budget. It seems to be a bit of an afterthought.
     The expert panel was very clear in its report that if someone does not have access to palliative care, a decision for physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia cannot be seen as truly voluntary. If they have no other option, it cannot be seen as truly voluntary. I wonder if the member acknowledges that.
    Also, the government talks about money for palliative care and home care. I would like to know what part of that is specifically for palliative care, when the Liberals finally get around to honouring this promise.
    Madam Speaker, with the shortness of time, I can assure the member that we have had responses by both ministers with respect to the question of the technicality within the legislation.
    In terms of the issue with respect to palliative care, if he looks at the budget, he will in fact see that there is a commitment to achieving a health care accord. The only way in which we can deliver the type of palliative care that Canadians not only want but deserve is to work in collaboration with our provinces and indigenous people in order to make that happen. The way in which we can do that is, in part, to recognize the importance of achieving a new health care accord, which would in fact deliver on palliative care.
    This government has made a very solid commitment, which enters into the hundreds of millions of dollars, to be there for the future of palliative care. I think that Canadians as a whole understand and appreciate that. We will continue to move forward together on that issue.
    Madam Speaker, very soon we are going to be called upon, both here and in the other place, to vote on this piece of legislation. There are people who will undoubtedly feel compelled to vote against it, albeit for different reasons.
    I invite the hon. member to speak to the ramifications of there being no federal law. For those who are considering voting against the legislation for one reason or another, what will be the consequences if that turns out to be the majority view, either here or there?
    Madam Speaker, the first thought that comes to mind is that the most vulnerable in our society will be the ones who will have the least amount of protection.
    As parliamentarians, I would suggest that we have more than a moral obligation to understand and appreciate what the Supreme Court of Canada is asking, not only of the House of Commons but also of the Senate of Canada. Hopefully we will see the legislation achieve final approval sometime within the next few days.
    Having said that, I acknowledge the fine work that the Senate has done. It has brought forward some amendments. Ultimately, we were able to accept a number of them that, from our perspective, keeps intact the general legal framework, which is so critically important in terms of protecting our communities.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, the House must consider the people who are suffering now. Our responsibility is to ensure that they have the right to request medical assistance in dying.
    My colleague talked about the most vulnerable. Is he thinking on their behalf? Can he judge whether their suffering is tolerable or not?
    The law must enable each individual to make their own choice, to make that request.
    Some of the things he is saying give me the impression that we are here to think on behalf of our constituents. We are here to represent them and to ensure that their rights are respected. We must not talk about vulnerable people in terms of what we think is best for them.

  (1355)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, we are here to respond to what the Supreme Court of Canada has done in this situation, and what we have done is that we have established a legal framework with this legislation.
    With respect to the other issue, let us not underestimate just how important the different stakeholders are, such as our health care professionals, who understand the importance of palliative care. We only need to go to a patient inside a hospital or go into a personal care home facility, or other institutions, private facilities, homes, and so forth, and what we will find is that there is an immense amount of dedication to assisting people in dying in the best way they can.
    What the legislation would ultimately do is establish a very basic framework that would assist people in doing something that I believe is really important. I speak of that not only from my personal experience, with respect to the passings of my father and grandmother when I was at their bedsides, but also from the consultations that I have had over the last number of months and I would even suggest years, going well back into the 1990s, if we factor in the importance of palliative care. At one point I used to be the health care critic for the Province of Manitoba, and I can say that Canadians are genuinely concerned and want to see further collaboration from the different levels of government to ensure that we have the best palliative care.
     As the Prime Minister has said, the great discussion on this issue has not ended today. Rather, it will be ongoing as we all try to do the very best in dealing with this very important issue to all of us.
    As there are no further speakers, is the House ready for the question?
    Some hon. members: Question.
    The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes): Shall I dispense?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    [Chair read text of amendment to House]

  (1400)  

    The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes): The question is on the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes): All those in favour of the amendment 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:
    Madam Speaker, I would ask that the vote be deferred until later today at the end of the time provided for oral questions.
    Accordingly the recorded division on the amendment stands deferred.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[Translation]

Energy East Project

    Mr. Speaker, the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador has come out formally against the energy east project. This new voice, which represents 43 indigenous communities, really tips the scales. It adds to the chorus of voices in Quebec that oppose the project, including 300 cities and towns, Montreal and the surrounding area, environmentalists, the Union des producteurs agricoles du Québec, representatives of civil society, and people all across Quebec.
    In short, it would be faster to name those who support the project than those who oppose it.
    The Quebec nation and indigenous nations are speaking with one voice. Serge Simon, grand chief of Kanesatake, sums it up nicely: “No to energy east, period.”
    The federal government needs to pull its head out of the oil sands and come to its senses once and for all.

Escuminac, New Brunswick

    Mr. Speaker, this weekend marks a sombre anniversary for the people and families of the villages of Escuminac and Baie Sainte-Anne in my riding.
    On June 19, 1959, the worst maritime disaster in New Brunswick's history struck the region, killing 35 local fishers, men and boys as young as 13 who died in a violent coastal storm. None of the boats were equipped with radio, and the storm came up without warning for these fishers, who faced winds of 120 kilometres an hour and 15-metre seas. Twenty-two boats were reduced to shreds and this small community was left with 24 widows and 83 orphans, many of whom are still alive today.
    A monument called The Fishermen was erected near the Escuminac wharf, as a lasting reminder of this great tragedy that swept through this small coastal village in my riding.

[English]

Williams Lake Stampede

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House to speak about a significant event happening in my riding of Cariboo—Prince George.
     Every year, during the Canada Day July 1 long weekend, my hometown of Williams Lake rolls out the welcome mat, with visitors flocking from far and wide to enjoy several days of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association action at the world famous Williams Lake Stampede. It just so happens that this year is the 90th anniversary.
     Top rodeo stars from across North America will compete in premier rodeo events such as bull riding, saddle bronc, steer wrestling, team roping, tie-down roping, barrel racing, and of course the exciting mountain race. However, most important, it is an opportunity for visitors from all over the world to witness the can do, never accept no, pioneering spirit of the Cariboo.
     I am so proud to call the riding of Cariboo—Prince George home. I look forward to taking part in this year's 90th anniversary festivities at the world famous Williams Lake Stamped. Yee-haw.

New Denmark

    Mr. Speaker, Canada is a country that boasts Danish Canadian communities from coast to coast to coast. As the member of Parliament for Tobique—Mactaquac, I am proud that the oldest Danish community in Canada is in my riding in New Denmark, New Brunswick.
    On June 19, known as Founders Day, New Denmark will be celebrating its 144th year as a Canadian community, a rural community of rolling hills and potato fields that line the St. John River Valley.
     I am pleased to be invited as a guest at the celebration, not just to take in the traditional live Danish music, folk dancing, and ice cream but because I will have the opportunity to delve into the rich history of this charming village and recognize the community on behalf of the Government of Canada.
    I congratulate the community of New Denmark.

Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act

    Mr. Speaker, later today my Bill C-221 will be debated in the House of Commons for the second time before going to a vote. I would like to thank the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley for his support for this bill.
    This bill would allow single-event sports betting, which is critical for the Canadian economy. Most important, it would take away $14 billion of money to organized crime and unregulated offshore betting taking place right now in a market that induces our youth. The money it supplies to organized crime can be rerouted to public infrastructure, health care, education, gaming addiction, and a number of different priorities that Canadians want.
    Sports analysts across the world are coming to the conclusion that regulation is necessary for this activity. This bill, to be clear, would allow the provinces to do this if they so choose. It would not make them do anything. Why would Liberals be opposed to the province of Ontario? Are they listening anymore?

  (1405)  

West Island Youth Symphony Orchestra

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to congratulate the West Island Youth Symphony Orchestra on its 30th anniversary. This is a proud milestone for maestro Stewart Grant, the musicians and parent volunteers who have fashioned the orchestra into the musical force it is today.

[Translation]

    The orchestra is a pillar of cultural life on Montreal's West Island that gives young musicians the chance to develop their talent and residents an opportunity to attend top-notch classical music concerts.

[English]

    I have personally enjoyed the orchestra's performances on many occasions. Each time I have been impressed and inspired by its passion, virtuosity and commitment to musical excellence.
    In keeping with its mission of providing its young musicians with opportunities for personal and musical growth, the orchestra has many times toured both at home and abroad.

[Translation]

    I call on hon. members to join me in wishing maestro Grant and the West Island Youth Symphony Orchestra much success in the future.

[English]

High School Graduations

    Mr. Speaker, it is graduation season and I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the grade twelve graduates in Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek
     There are 32 high schools in my riding, and l look forward to attending as many ceremonies as possible over the next few weeks.
     Finishing high school is an accomplishment of which to be very proud. Graduation offers graduates the opportunity to reflect on the friendships and memories made, the personal goals achieved and successes earned. It also offers them the opportunity to envision their future and all the dreams to which they aspire.
     I encourage all grads to not only dream big, but to pursue those dreams. Their future is filled with hope and promise and I am excited for the contributions they will make, not only to our province but to our great nation.

Brampton

    Mr. Speaker, since I was a little girl, Brampton has been my home. As I grew, so did Brampton. It is now the ninth largest city in Canada. I am honoured to be the MP for Brampton North.
    However, like so many youth in Brampton, I pursued post-secondary education, first in Hamilton and then in Michigan. This is because Brampton is the only city among the top 10 cities in Canada that does not have a major university campus.
    A new university campus in Brampton would deliver post-secondary education to a community that is under served, while also reducing the burden on students and creating massive economic benefits for all Bramptonians.
    I will work with my fellow Brampton representatives at the municipal, provincial, and federal level to ensure that Brampton can serve its growing demand for a university.
     I encourage the Ontario provincial government to release the second targeted call for proposals.

William Carlos Tull

    Mr. Speaker, as the school year comes to an end, I think it is safe to say that summer vacation is on everyone's mind. Memories of summer camp are usually filled with joyous moments spent with friends, but for citizens of my riding, this time comes with a heavy heart.
    This year is the 35th anniversary of the passing of William Carlos Tull, who passed away at CFS Lac St. Denis in 1981. What should have been a fun swim for cadets on the beach turned to tragedy as Billy Tull jumped into the water and never came back up. His best friend Alex Zenetsis, who had also jumped in, rushed to his rescue, risking his own life in the process.
     Billy was a proud member of the 1979 Centennial Cadet Corps in my riding, and a loving brother, son and friend who will not be forgotten.
     I would like to take this moment to invite the House to join me in commemorating the life and legacy of Billy Tull, and honouring the bravery of his friend Alex Zenetsis.

  (1410)  

Children on the Hill

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a very important group of employees on the Hill, those who work at Children on the Hill day care.
    They have provided care for children 18 months to five years of age since 1981. Their dedication, organization and care for all the children is extraordinary and very much appreciated.
    My son Tristan has been going to the Children on the Hill since September 2013. They deserve a special thanks for taking tremendous care of the children during the horrible events that unfolded on October 22, 2014. Their courage, care and commitment to ensuring all were happy and secure at the day care will always be remembered, and we are very grateful for all their efforts.
     It is with a heavy heart that my wife and I will be taking Tristan out of the day care as he heads to school.
     Thanks to those who work at Children on the Hill for all they do and for making our son's first learning years unforgettable. We will miss seeing them all. What they do is the most important work out there.

Syrian Refugees

    Mr. Speaker, the theme of this year's World Refugee Day in Waterloo region is “Waterloo region celebrates refugees”.
    Indeed, Waterloo region does celebrate refugees. We have a long history of welcoming refugees, including Russian Mennonites in the 1920s, and Vietnamese refugees in the 1970s.
    Over the last six months, different levels of government, settlement agencies, and other service providers in Waterloo region have come together to welcome and resettle over 1,000 Syrian refugees. The collaboration has been key to the successful resettlement of refugees in our region.
    I want to thank the immigration partnership of Waterloo region, Reception House Waterloo Region, Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre, the YMCA Cambridge, and Kitchener-Waterloo immigrant services, and all those other organizations and associations that make our region an amazing place to live.

Ballet B.C.

    Mr. Speaker, I stand in the House to brazenly boast about a dance company in my riding of Vancouver Centre.
    Ballet B.C. ranks among the top three companies in North America, just ending tours in England and New York to rave reviews. Ballet B.C. is a progressive company that pushes the limits of classical ballet to new and dazzling heights. Experimental and daring, it challenges the human body to extraordinary feats of endurance and interpretation through dance.
    What is remarkable about Ballet B.C. is the exclusive partnerships it has with talented Canadian choreographers across the country. I recently witnessed these partnerships in action, as Ballet B.C. performed three dynamic and progressive pieces at Ottawa's NAC during Canada Dance Fest, one with in-house choreographer Emily Molnar, and the other two with choreographers from other provincial ballets. Each piece received sustained standing ovations.
    Ballet B.C. has put Canadian dance on the map, and in their tours are stellar ambassadors for Canada's creative sector.

Langley Environmental Awards

    Mr. Speaker, Langley's 2016 environmental heroes were just honoured in beautiful Fort Langley. The winners were in three categories: individual, group, and youth.
    An apple tree was planted in their honour in the heritage Hudson's Bay orchard. Ann Blaauw won the individual category for establishing Blaauw Eco Forest in north Langley. The family has donated millions of dollars in memory of Thomas Blaauw, with a covenant agreement with Trinity Western University to preserve the forest for education, research, and community engagement.
    The winner in the group category was the Coastal Painted Turtle Project, for its efforts to return the turtle's population to sustainable levels.
    Desiree Chek-Harder won the youth category. The Langley fine arts student spoke about the community garden and the importance of educating people to engage in the environment.
    This is the 10th anniversary for the Langley Environmental Hero Awards. Congratulations to this year's Langley environmental heroes.

  (1415)  

Russell Charles Goodman

    Mr. Speaker, I wish to bring to the attention of the House the passing of Russell, Rusty, Charles Goodman, of Kelowna, British Columbia.
    Mr. Goodman was an accomplished artist, designing and installing over 1,000 stained glass windows in private and public buildings across the country. He was also the founder of the Goodman Zissoff Glass Studio, which has created stained glass windows for the House of Commons, and most notably in the Senate foyer commemorating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
    Recognized widely for his work, Russell Goodman has been awarded the Order of Canada, the Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts, and the Queen's Jubilee and Diamond Jubilee medals.
    Our thoughts are with his wife Nancy, and sons Mark, Scott, and Christopher, who is also a stained glass artist. Russell Goodman's beautiful art will live on in many places throughout our country, including Parliament. Rest in peace, Rusty.

Jo Cox

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to the life of Jo Cox, a mom of two beautiful children, a friend, a dedicated labour MP, and a long advocate of human rights in Britain and around the world, who was murdered today.
    Jo used her voice for those who have none. She dedicated her passion to those who needed it most, and she harnessed her limitless love, even and especially for those who allowed hate to consume them.
    Her husband, Brendan said it beautifully. “She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her.”
    To Brendan and to Jo's beautiful children, we express our deepest condolences.

Veterans

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is the member of Parliament for Papineau, a riding named after Joseph Papineau, one of the most significant figures in Quebec history. Papineau's great-grandson was World War 1 hero Talbot Papineau, a PPCLI officer, Military Cross winner, and a writer called the soul of Canada. Ironically, the Prime Minister, when he was an actor, portrayed Talbot Papineau in the CBC movie The Great War.
    In 1917, in a speech to soldiers near the front, Papineau made this pledge to Canada's injured veterans, “For those who have been disabled, who cannot carry on the good fight—it is certainly for us to see that they want for nothing.”
    This statement by Papineau is yet another expression of the tremendous obligation Canada owes to its injured veterans, an obligation that this week the member of Parliament for Papineau is denying in a courtroom in Vancouver.
    Talbot Papineau died a century ago at Passchendaele, but the Prime Minister has the power today to fulfill the pledge that Papineau made. I ask that the Prime Minister, the member for Papineau, once again act like Talbot Papineau and stop the court fight with our veterans.

[Translation]

Gilles Lamontagne

    Mr. Speaker, the honourable Gilles Lamontagne passed away last Tuesday evening.
    Mr. Lamontagne had a full life. He was the mayor of Quebec City from 1965 to 1977, Liberal MP from 1977 to 1984, national defence minister in the Pierre Elliott Trudeau government, lieutenant-governor of Quebec until 1990, Officer of the Order of Canada, Chevalier de l'Ordre national du Québec, and Chevalier of the French Legion of Honour.
    Mr. Lamontagne was a Royal Canadian Air Force pilot in World War II. The bomber he was flying was shot down, and he was detained as a prisoner of war in a concentration camp for almost two years. Mr. Lamontagne was a hero, a builder, a statesman, and for all of us in Quebec, he will always be “Mr. Mayor”.
     I did not know Mr. Lamontagne personally because I am too young and I only entered politics very recently. However, I do know that, like everyone who believes in serving others and who is committed to the Quebec City region, the province of Quebec, and Canada, we are all his successors.
    As he takes his last flight, I want to tell him, on my behalf and on behalf of all my colleagues, “Thank you, Mr. Mayor”.

  (1420)  

[English]

Jo Cox

    Following discussions among representatives of all parties in the House, I understand that there is agreement to observe a moment of silence in honour of Ms. Jo Cox, United Kingdom member of Parliament for Batley and Spen. I now invite the House to rise to observe a moment of silence.
    [A moment of silence observed]

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[Translation]

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, a United Nations report includes details of the mass killings and sexual slavery of thousands of Yazidis by the so-called Islamic State. “The genocide of the Yazidis is on-going,” the report concludes.
    Now that the UN has joined the European Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom in recognizing that the self-proclaimed Daesh is committing genocide, will the government finally call this campaign of extermination what it really is, genocide?
    Mr. Speaker, as I have said many times in the House, we strongly condemn the horrendous atrocities committed by the so-called Islamic State.
     Today for the first time, an independent report by the UN commission has concluded that genocide was committed by the so-called Islamic State against the Yazidis in Sinjar. Given this evidence, our government believes that genocide against the Yazidis is currently ongoing.
     That is why we are once again calling on the UN Security Council to take urgent action, as I did last month.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that it took this stubborn minister so long to realize the facts that have been staring the world in the face.
    While I appreciate his reflection on today's UN report with respect to the Yazidis, his statement today is simply insufficient because this genocide affects more than the Yazidis. It affects the other indigenous minorities of Mesopotamia. It affects the Assyrians, the Chaldeans, and the Armenians.
    Will the minister not join the U.S., EU, U.K., and the opposition in recognizing the broader genocide of Daesh?
    Mr. Speaker, in fact, our position is exactly the same as the one of the government of Britain and the administration of the United States.
    The difference, though, is that we are taking the lead in asking the Security Council to be sure that they will prosecute the perpetrators of these atrocities and investigate in order to understand very well what is happening on the ground.
    In the meantime, we have tripled our effort to help fight ISIL on the ground, because we need to rescue this population. This is the priority.
    Mr. Speaker, I find it disturbing that the Minister of Foreign Affairs is so profoundly misinformed on a matter of such great moral importance.
    In fact, the United States, the U.K., and EU, in their motions recognizing this genocide, apply that term to what this terrorist death cult is doing to the Chaldeans, the Assyrians, the Armenians, the Christians, and to other indigenous minorities, not only the terribly benighted Yazidis.
    Will the minister not again follow that international lead, follow Canada's natural moral conscience, and recognize the broader genocide happening—?
    The hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs.

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague is wrong. The government of Britain and the White House have the same approach as us. However, that is not the main point.
     The main point is that we need to rescue these populations. It is why we have tripled our effort to train the peshmerga guards, which gives the fighters the best situation to rapidly rescue this population that is in danger. That is the priority we have, and it is why we are taking the lead.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, since the Minister of Foreign Affairs has declared the content of the UN report today to be valid, my question is to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.
    One of the recommendations of this report is to immediately accelerate the asylum applications of Yazidi victims of genocide. Will the Minister of Immigration finally accept this recommendation, which the opposition has been making for many months, including the Leader of the Opposition, and tell the House how he immediately plans to accelerate these applications?
    Mr. Speaker, as I have said many times, we deplore and condemn these atrocities.
    I understand that a number of Yazidi families will be arriving in Winnipeg within a few weeks, coming in under a privately sponsored refugee program. I understand that the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration only today voted unanimously to study the situation of people in terrain that is difficult to get to. Those are good steps.
    Mr. Speaker, the number of Yazidi cases the government has processed is nine, and that is not acceptable. This report calls for the immediate acceleration of these applications. The government has not done that. With one stroke of a pen, the minister can sign an order under section 25 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, with one stroke of his pen, and bring thousands of Yazidis here to safety.
    Will he commit to doing that today?
    Mr. Speaker, to say one can do something with one stroke of a pen is a bit far-fetched, when the individuals are in an extremely dangerous territory that it difficult to arrive at.
    We take this situation very seriously. We are studying it, we are welcoming a number of Yazidis into Canada in coming weeks, and we will work very hard to do more, not just for Yazidis but for other endangered groups in difficult-to-reach territories of the world.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, Canada is now the second largest exporter of weapons to the Middle East, behind only the United States, but when it comes to arms sales to Saudi Arabia, not only has the Minister of Foreign Affairs contradicted himself repeatedly, but Liberals also rejected a proposal from the NDP's foreign affairs critic to establish parliamentary oversight for all international arms sales.
    Will Liberals drop the excuses, embrace accountability, and agree to our proposal for better parliamentary oversight of weapons sales?
    Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, it is the party of my hon. colleague that contradicted itself. In order to have the seat, it said something, and after the election it said something else.
    We are very consistent. It is very clear that I have the power, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, to stop export permits if weapons are poorly used, regarding our national interests, the interests of our allies, or human rights. The Prime Minister asked me to exercise this power with a lot of rigour and a lot of transparency.

National Defence

    The minister is confused, Mr. Speaker.

[Translation]

    A secret document dated May 2011 showed that half of Afghan detainees had no connection to Taliban insurgents.
    Yesterday, an open letter signed by Canadian military police asked, “How and why did this disregard for our Canadian laws and values occur?” The government needs to provide an honest and comprehensive answer to that question so that this sort of thing never happens again.
    Will the Liberal government finally face up to its responsibilities and hold an independent public inquiry?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, this issue had been subject to some considerable inquiry over the last number of years. These are policies and procedures that the Canadian military takes very seriously. The previous inquiries have included the vice chief of the defence staff in 2010, an investigation by the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service in 2011, a public interest hearing by the Military Police Complaints Commission over four years in 2012, and there is a continuing investigation that commenced in 2015.

  (1430)  

[Translation]

Physician-Assisted Dying

    Mr. Speaker, the amendments to Bill C-14 are now before the House. We have another chance to pass a bill that respects the right to medical assistance in dying.
    Will this government accept our amendment to make this bill constitutional, instead of forcing Canadians who are suffering to fight for years in court?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I have said many times in the House that I am confident that this bill is constitutional. We have worked hard on an extremely complex issue to find the right and necessary balance between personal autonomy and protecting the vulnerable. There are multiple objectives contained within Bill C-14. It is the right approach for Canada right now, and we look forward, hopefully soon, to having our legislation in place.
    Mr. Speaker, the fact is that the Liberal government is being stubborn and intransigent, rejecting the evidence and advice of Canada's top experts in both medicine and law. Liberals are choosing to narrow charter rights instead of expand them, as a truly progressive government would do.
    If Liberals really are so allergic to compromise and if they really believe that they are correct in law, will they agree to refer this bill to the Supreme Court? Why are the Liberals so afraid to ask the Supreme Court to review this bill?
    Mr. Speaker, we take our responsibilities incredibly seriously. The Supreme Court of Canada said two things in the Carter decision: it said that an absolute ban on medical assistance in dying is unconstitutional; and it left it up to Parliament to determine what the appropriate national regime is for medical assistance in dying. We have heard from a vast majority of people. We are taking the responsible approach. We are legislating for all Canadians, and I look forward, hopefully soon, to having legislation in place on medical assistance.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, today's UN report is unequivocal, that genocide against Yazidis has occurred and is ongoing and, as important, that there must be no impunity for these crimes.
    The Liberals have spent months, until today, making excuses for refusing to recognize this as genocide, but every state—and this includes Canada—has an obligation to act to prevent and to punish genocide.
    Now that the minister has finally spoken the word, will Canada restore the combat mission?
    Mr. Speaker, as I said, in fact, we have tripled our capacity to train the peshmerga, who are the fighters in the best situation to rescue these populations. We have a strong plan. Canadians must be proud of what Canadians are doing in Iraq and in Syria, with our allies. We improved the plan precisely because we need to act to protect these populations.
    Mr. Speaker, we have heard a litany of blatantly implausible excuses for the Liberals' genocide denial. One of the early excuses was that, if Liberals acknowledged the horrifically obvious, Canada would be obliged to do something. We have not heard that excuse for a while. The minister has been hiding, until today, behind process.
    Is that the real reason? Have the Liberals denied genocide to avoid restoring and extending Canada's anti-Daesh combat mission?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague is wrong. In fact, we acted with a lot of strength to be sure that we will eradicate this awful terrorist group, which is the so-called Islamic State. That is why we have tripled our capacity to train the peshmerga in order to be sure that we will be rescuing these populations. That is the goal. I call upon all my colleagues to support the plan that Canada is making on the ground to help these populations.

Pensions

    Mr. Speaker, the finance minister is trying to strong-arm the premiers in this country to support his plan to increase CPP by over $3,000 a year. That is a tax nobody can afford. Customers will pay higher prices for everything. Employees will be taking home less in their pay. We have already seen small businesses, this morning, begging the Minister of Finance to stop.
    Why will he not listen?
    Mr. Speaker, we made a promise to Canadians that we would enable them to retire in dignity. We have started down that path in budget 2016. We improved the guaranteed income supplement for single seniors. We changed the old age security to ensure people could get retirement security when they needed it. Now, we are working in collaboration with the provinces to make sure we can come up with an enhancement to the Canada pension plan that would enable the next generation of Canadians to retire in dignity.

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, we want the minister to actually listen to Canadians. He does not want to hear how his plan is going to cost Canadian families. He does not want to hear how his plan is going to force businesses to fire employees. He does not want to hear how, actually, families will go home with fewer paycheques. Even his own advisers have told him that 83% of Canadian households do not face a pension crisis.
    When is the minister going to stop taxing Canadians in order to pay for his social engineering?
    Mr. Speaker, we know that investments in the future of Canadians are just that: investments in helping people to have a better retirement. We are focused on ensuring that we actually help those Canadians who are in need of more saving for retirement. That is exactly what we are trying to do, by working together with provinces to make sure they have a way to save appropriately for a dignified retirement and then do it in a way that is gradual so that people and businesses can get along that path in an appropriate way.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are worried, and for good reason. On Monday, the Minister of Finance will meet with his provincial counterparts in Vancouver to talk about the pension plans of Canadians.
    Canadians are worried because, since the Liberal Party came to power, everything it touches turns into higher taxes or, worse yet, a deficit. Canadians are worried. I have a simple question for the Minister of Finance.
    Can he assure us that there will be no increase to pension plan premiums?
    Mr. Speaker, we made a promise to Canadians during our election campaign. We promised to enhance our retirement system to ensure that Canadians can retire with dignity.
    That is exactly what we have started to do. We started by increasing the guaranteed income supplement. Now, I am working with our provinces to ensure that, in the future, Canadians will be able to have a dignified retirement.
    Mr. Speaker, I would remind the Minister of Finance that he promised Canadians that changes to taxation would be revenue-neutral. However, those changes resulted in a $1.7-billion deficit. That is why Canadians are worried.
    Our job creators, our wealth creators, small businesses, they are the ones who foot the bill for the pension fund. If, God forbid, the government were to follow the lead of its Ontario friends, employers could end up paying $3,000 more per employee. That makes no sense.
    I will ask the minister again: can he assure us that premiums will not go up, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, investments in the future are true investments. These investments will secure a dignified retirement for Canadians. That is exactly what I am doing with the provinces. We are working together to enhance the Canada pension plan. That is good for Canada's future and good for the future of Canadians.

Veterans

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals promised to take a different approach when it comes to their relationship with our veterans. However, what the Liberals are calling “real change”, we would call “more of the same”.
    Not only is the Liberal government carrying on with the court case against our veterans, but now we have learned that too many veterans are finding it hard to access long-term care facilities, when those facilities are not being threatened with closure.
    Will the government promise to reinvest in order to ensure that all veterans have access to long-term care when they need it?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, our government supports veterans in more than 1,500 long-term care facilities across this nation. We support veterans at whatever care level they need, and we pay for that care, and of course, we work with our provincial government partners to ensure they have access to these long-term care facilities. We are committed to veterans and the long-term care that they need and that they get.
    Mr. Speaker, just like the Conservatives before them, the Liberals are shamefully denying benefits to veterans. Care is downloaded to the provinces while federal facilities close beds or shut their doors.
     Peter Blendheim is a decorated 94-year-old war veteran, but he has been refused space at Camp Hill veterans hospital in Halifax. This is simply a disgrace.
    Will the Liberals change course and agree to start investing in long-term care so that all veterans can have access to the care they need and deserve?

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, Veterans Affairs supports allied veterans, including those from Norway, nationwide. We pay for their long-term care in 1,500 community facilities. We can also help them remain in their homes by providing a comprehensive home care service that includes personal health care, housekeeping, as well as yard work.

Oil and Gas Industry

    Mr. Speaker, the downturn in the oil and gas sector has left many western Canadians without work. Shamefully, the Liberals want to increase taxes on job-creators and keep the industry down indefinitely. They continue to ignore a ready-made solution, which is to clean up decommissioned oil and gas wells. Cleaning up these wells would put unemployed Canadians back to work, retain expertise, and create economic and environmental benefits.
    Will the Liberals stop their attack on oil and gas workers and help get them back to work?
    Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, it is the responsibility of those who created the problem in the first place to clean it up. If the premier of Alberta or the premier of Saskatchewan believe it is a top priority for infrastructure investments in their province, then I am sure the government would be interested in considering their request.

Access to Information

    Mr. Speaker, we have learned that, in November, the Prime Minister's own department asked Google to remove dozens of public documents from government websites. This happened 51 times. The Prime Minister's website is not his own website to do with what he pleases; it belongs to the Canadian people. It cannot just be changed at the whim of the Liberals.
    Who in the Prime Minister's Office ordered this deletion, and will they reverse this?
    Mr. Speaker, all of the previous prime minister's archived web content can be accessed by Library and Archives Canada, along with other archived government material. Canadians expect government websites to reflect the most up-to-date and accurate information when they are searching on these sites.
    The fact is, and I assure my friend opposite, that our government hopes that the memory of the former Conservative prime minister lives in the minds of Canadians for a very long time.

Democratic Reform

    Mr. Speaker, last weekend journalist and noted electoral reform advocate Andrew Coyne criticized the Liberals' schedule for the committee on electoral reform. He stated, “The very tightness of the timeline feeds suspicions the Liberals are trying to rig the process in favour of their own allegedly preferred reform model“.
    Nonetheless, the short timeline does give the Liberals enough time to conduct a national referendum in 2017, after they introduce their final proposal. Keeping this in mind, will they use the available time to hold a national referendum and give Canadians the final say?
    Mr. Speaker, let me quote the member opposite in 2014, when the unfair elections act was being rammed through with no consultations, when the opposition parties were not being engaged at all, and expert witnesses were not being listened to. I am sorry, he did not say anything.
     I am glad there is a change of heart and that we want to see Canadians be engaged. There is a process for that. We have a committee working with the member opposite. I hope he will take the opportunity to hear from Canadians and ensure that process is as valid as it can be.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, for eight months now, the official opposition has been asking legitimate questions about electoral reform.
    Every time, the minister's reply sounds like the same broken record. We all know that the minister is not listening to journalists, political scientists, three-quarters of Canadians, analysts, or even her colleague, the Minister of Foreign Affairs. I have a very simple question to ask her.
    Why is the minister so determined to dismiss out of hand everyone who is calling for a referendum? Is it because she does not trust them?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, quite the contrary. In fact, it was the party opposite that said it was going to support a motion from the NDP on the change of the committee to make it one of the first, and maybe the first ever, committee that a majority government allowed to be controlled by minority parties. The Conservatives made that suggestion, we listened, and then they voted against it. The point of the matter is that we are ready to work with them, and with all parties, including on the issue they mentioned. A committee hopefully will begin its work next week and examine these issues, engage Canadians, and, in the process, improve our democracy.

  (1445)  

Indigenous Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the Northlands Denesuline, Athabasca Dene, and Sayisi Dene first nations have been in land claims negotiations with the federal government for over 16 years. An agreement is close, but the Liberal government is refusing to move forward on the next steps towards ratification. If the government is really committed to reconciliation and a nation-to-nation relationship, will the minister instruct her officials to stop stalling and move forward immediately on the next steps toward ratification?
    Mr. Speaker, as the member well knows, this is not just an agreement between the federal government and the first nation or the land claim. It requires the co-operation of the provinces and territories that are involved in this. We are working with those other jurisdictions to try and find a resolution to this.
    Mr. Speaker, what is missing here is federal leadership. The fact is that some progress was made on this file under the previous government, but the Liberals are stalling.
     The Sayisi Dene and Northlands Denesuline have worked for 16 years to resolve this land claim, and they are waiting for the federal government to step it up.
    This is about reconciliation, and reconciliation includes resolving land claims, like the Denesuline claim. Will the minister instruct her officials to work with the Denesuline to resolve this land claim as soon as possible?
    Mr. Speaker, I reassure the member that the new approach of our government in terms of trying to resolve these land claims, the approach of creative solutions and working together, is happening now. We will do everything in our power to offer that leadership to be able to resolve this claim.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, in the previous Parliament, and during last year's election campaign, we committed to keeping Canadians safe while ensuring that our national security framework complies with the charter and reflects Canadian values. This morning the government upheld an important part of that commitment by introducing legislation to establish a committee of parliamentarians that will provide a new review and scrutiny for departments and agencies with national security responsibilities.
    Can the Minister of Public Safety please tell the House what else he is doing to protect both Canada's national security and the rights and freedoms of Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, on national security, we will provide new scrutiny by the committee of parliamentarians and a new office for community outreach, careful compliance with the charter, a more precise definition of terrorist propaganda, repairs to no-fly appeals, full protection of the right to advocate and protest, and a statutory review after three years. For the first time ever, Canadians will be honestly consulted on what other steps are necessary to keep Canadians safe and to safeguard our values, rights, and freedoms.

[Translation]

Veterans

    Mr. Speaker, during the election campaign, the Prime Minister said that no veteran would have to fight their own government to get the support and compensation they deserve.
    Now we know that those words were nothing more than empty rhetoric, given that the Prime Minister and his party took veterans back to court instead of concluding the settlement negotiations initiated by our Conservative government.
    Why are the Liberals distancing themselves from their election promises by turning their backs on veterans?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to our sacred obligation to Canada's veterans, and this is outlined in the strong mandate given to me by the Prime Minister to repair the relationship with those men and women who have served this great nation.
    We made a commitment in our platform to restore the option for a lifelong pension for veterans, and that is what we will do. Budget 2016 took historic steps getting financial security to veterans and their families by investing $5.6 billion.
    I committed to work with all veterans and stakeholders to make this happen. We will fulfill our mandate commitments to our veterans.
     Mr. Speaker, veterans are sick and tired of hearing the same old story all the time.
    However, it gets worse than that. In mail-outs to the riding of Winnipeg Centre, the Liberals deliberately misled Canadians when they said that they have reinstated lifelong pensions for aging veterans. Such a statement is clearly false. People now expect the Liberals to break promise after promise, but it is a totally different story to directly mislead veterans.
    When will the Liberals begin to tell the truth to our veterans?

  (1450)  

    Mr. Speaker, in the election, we made strong commitments to veterans to heal the relationship that was sadly broken under the previous Conservative government over the last 10 years. We made great steps in budget 2016, delivering $5.6 billion in financial security to veterans and their families.
    We will continue to work on our mandate letter, restoring options for a lifelong pension, and building up opportunities for them in education and retraining to see them fit their new normal and get to civilian life in a dignified, refined fashion.
     We will deliver on what we said we would do in the election.
    Mr. Speaker, veterans are not buying the minister's excuses. Our Conservative government expanded the permanent impairment allowance and created the retirement income security benefit to provide lifetime financial support to injured veterans.
     We struck an agreement with the Equitas Society upon its lawsuit. Now the Liberals have broken their word and have taken the veterans back to court.
     Who made the decision to abandon the previous government's agreement? Was it the Minister of Veterans Affairs or was it the Minister of Justice?
     Mr. Speaker, as the member knows full well, the lawsuit started under the previous administration. The Conservatives merely kicked the can down the road for our government to deal with, and that is exactly what we are doing.
    We are delivering on our commitments to veterans. We are going to fulfill our mandate letter, and we are going to return an option for veterans on a lifelong pension.
    I will remind the member that, in budget 2016, we expanded the community impairment access. We expanded opportunities for the earnings loss benefit.
    We are delivering on behalf of veterans and we will continue to do so.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has allowed an agreement in the Equitas Society veterans lawsuit to fall apart, and his lawyers are back to attacking veterans.
    The Prime Minister promised to uphold the sacred obligation to our veterans, and his minister quotes this obligation today in the House, yet lawyers this week in Vancouver are denying this sacred obligation.
    When will the Prime Minister and the silent veterans in his caucus finally stand up, take this court case out of circulation, and keep their promises to our Equitas veterans?
    Mr. Speaker, we understand on this side of the House that we do have a sacred obligation to our veterans, and we are doing that daily.
    We are fulfilling our mandate commitments. We are fulfilling our obligations to increase financial security for our veterans and for those who are most severely disabled. We did that in budget 2016, and we are going to continue to work on our mandate items, including an option for a lifetime pension.
     I would ask the member to understand that what he did was merely kick this problem down the road, and we are actually dealing with it at this time.

Pensions

    Mr. Speaker, seven out of 10 Canadians have no workplace pension, and many have inadequate savings to retire. The Liberals promised to expand the CPP, but on the eve of the meeting with the provinces, the Liberals have still not said what they are trying to achieve. The complete lack of leadership from the federal government jeopardizes any progress at all.
    Will the Minister of Finance publicly commit to pushing for expanded CPP benefits so that all Canadians can retire in dignity?
    Mr. Speaker, yes I will. I will make a public commitment right here and now that we are looking to work with the provinces to expand the Canada pension plan to ensure that this plan allows Canadians today and in the future to have a dignified retirement.
     I am looking forward to a meeting this coming Sunday night and Monday where we will be talking with representatives from the provinces and working together. I hope to have something positive to report to this House in the coming days.

[Translation]

Air Transportation

    Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the City of Longueuil, the people of CAPA-L, and the flight schools in Saint-Hubert on reaching an agreement to improve the residents' quality of life. Under this agreement, new noise suppressors will be installed on the planes. The problem is that we have been waiting for three months for Transport Canada to approve the noise suppressors that could resolve the problem.
    Can the minister please demand that Transport Canada approve the noise suppressors without delay? Does it really take three months to approve a noise suppressor?

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, when it comes to noise caused by aircraft, we always encourage people in the region to talk with the airport authorities to come to a conclusion.
    There are rules, and I encourage the two parties to sit down and talk.

[English]

Fisheries and Oceans

    Mr. Speaker, the offshore northern shrimp fishery employs hundreds of Maritimers. Despite the importance of the northern shrimp fishery to communities in the Maritimes, three of the four members of the so-called independent advisory panel are from Newfoundland and Labrador. However, one panel member is married to the chief negotiator for an organization that appeared before the committee to oppose the offshore fishery. When will this part-time Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard admit that the panel is rigged and does not represent the interests of Maritimers?
    Mr. Speaker, we are certainly not going to admit such a thing because it would not be accurate. The member knows very well that the panel was set up to provide independent advice to the government. It was a commitment we made in our campaign platform to review LIFO.
    We understand the importance of the northern shrimp fishery to coastal communities and to businesses that have invested considerably in this fishery. We are looking forward to receiving the recommendations of the independent panel next week, and then I will have the responsibility of making a decision.
    Mr. Speaker, the panel was set up with not a single member from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, or P.E.I. The offshore northern shrimp fishery is worth $131 million a year to Nova Scotia companies alone. Despite the importance of this industry to Nova Scotia, the minister's so-called independent advisory panel is all but ignoring the province. Of the seven public hearings that were held, only one meeting took place in Nova Scotia.
    Why is this part-time Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard ignoring the concerns of Nova Scotians; and, why will Nova Scotia Liberal MPs not stand up for their province?
    Mr. Speaker, I can assure my colleague that all members of the Liberal caucus from Atlantic Canada have spoken to me forcefully about the importance of the northern shrimp fishery. We have heard from the Government of Nova Scotia. We have also heard from other provincial governments, including my own in New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Government of Prince Edward Island.
    Once we have the report of the independent panel, of course I will be consulting with my caucus colleagues and many others in this sector, and then I will have the responsibility of making the right decision.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, last night the Liberals had the opportunity to support a bill that would have helped save hundreds of Canadian lives. Canadians were shocked that the Liberals defeated Bill C-223, which would have established a national organ donor registry.
    The Liberals should be ashamed that they chose to play petty politics over the well-being of those who need an organ transplant. Can the Liberals explain why they chose to defeat a bill that would have saved so many lives, for absolutely no reason other than partisanship?
    Mr. Speaker, our government works alongside Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec. We are fully in support of ensuring that organ and tissue donations are done well in this country. There is a Canadian transplant registry to which we have already committed $64 million in recent years to develop.
    This is a matter that is under provincial jurisdiction, and it is for that reason that the bill was unsupportable. We encourage all Canadians to consider going online now and committing to being an organ donor.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order, please. I know the hon. member for Edmonton Manning feels strongly about this, but he needs to restrain himself, not react when someone else is speaking, and wait until he has the floor.
    The hon. member for Pitt Meadows.

Infrastructure

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities has been mandated to invest $120 billion in infrastructure to promote economic growth and job creation.
    Budget 2016 commits $3.4 billion to public transit. Provincial and territorial governments are key partners in successful infrastructure projects, and the minister is expected to align his efforts with existing provincial, territorial, and municipal priorities.
    My question is for the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. Could the minister provide an update on the status of such efforts to collaborate and forge bilateral agreements?
    Mr. Speaker, we are proud to deliver on our long-term infrastructure investment commitment. Today the Prime Minister announced our first bilateral agreement, investing $460 million in public transit in British Columbia, leveraging more than $920 million altogether.
    This funding will support projects that will create jobs immediately, grow the economy and reduce traffic congestion, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help build strong and inclusive communities.

  (1500)  

Canadian Heritage

    Mr. Speaker, closing Canada's only museum dedicated to Confederation, cutting Confederation out as the theme of the 150th anniversary, writing the War of 1812 out of the citizenship guide, rejecting the donation of John Diefenbaker's birthplace, the Liberal government is engaged in an all-out work on Canadian history.
    Now the Liberals are shutting down proposals for a commemorative medal for the 150th anniversary of Confederation.
    Why do the Liberals want to mark this anniversary by killing a tradition as old as our country, that of recognizing worthy citizens with a commemorative medal? Why this Liberal war on history?
    Mr. Speaker, our government will not take any lessons from a past government that forgot to include indigenous perspectives, and their own way of seeing our country's history. In that context, we will ensure that 2017 is a very inclusive celebration.
    I would like to point out for my colleague that this morning I had the chance to announce $5 million to Ottawa for the 2017 celebrations for the national capital region to celebrate.

Fisheries and Oceans

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals promised to make evidence-based decisions. They promised to respect the Cohen Commission. However, Justice Cohen said we must address the dangers fish farming posed to wild salmon. Yet the Minister of Fisheries has actually extended the licences for open net fish farms from one year to six. He did so with no public consultation and no environmental assessment.
    Will the minister now stand up for the wild salmon fishery, respect Justice Cohen's recommendations, and rescind this decision?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague knows very well that all of the decisions our government will be making on issues like this and allocations and quotas with respect to Canada's fisheries on all three coasts will be made based on scientific advice and the rigorous scientific standards that are required.
    We thought it was unfortunate that the previous government did not respond formally at all to any of the Cohen Commission recommendations.
    We think it is an important exercise for British Columbia and a critical industry. I look forward to being in British Columbia and publicly responding to all of the Cohen Commission recommendations.

[Translation]

Seniors

    Mr. Speaker, today, one in seven Canadians is over the age of 65 and seniors represent a growing segment of our population. In 2036, it is expected that seniors will make up 24% of our population. This government has taken practical measures to support our seniors.
    Can the minister responsible for seniors, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, tell us about the additional measures this government is taking to help seniors across the country?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe for her excellent question and the outstanding work she does for seniors in her riding.
     Today, I am very pleased to announce that we are launching a call for proposals for community-based projects under the new horizons for seniors program. This program is extremely important to the social security and social involvement of our seniors.
    I invite all members of the House to actively promote this important program for seniors.

[English]

Persons with Disabilities

    Mr. Speaker, the House has unanimously changed copyright laws to implement the Marrakesh Treaty, freeing up over one-quarter of a million braille audio and large print books for Canada's blind at no cost to taxpayers or users. The Senate is likely to pass the same bill this month. The CEO of the World Blind Union calls the Marrakesh Treaty the biggest development for blind literacy since the invention of braille.
    We need two more countries to sign on for it to take effect. What is the Minister of Foreign Affairs' plan to recruit two additional countries to the Marrakesh Treaty so we can bring over 270,000 books for the blind?
    Mr. Speaker, we are working very hard for a-whole-government approach, too, as we go into the world and restore Canada's reputation internationally to ensure that countries around the world will also implement the Marrakesh Treaty.
     We have opportunities later this month and later this year to work with our colleagues at the UN level to ensure that other countries ratify so we get to 20 and we all work on Marrakesh.

  (1505)  

[Translation]

Official Languages

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday, at the meeting of the Standing Committee on Official Languages, the CEO of Air Canada was extremely angry. He could not get over the fact that MPs dared to demand explanations as to why Air Canada is not fulfilling its legal obligation to provide services in French.
    His arrogant reaction is understandable since the federal government has been looking the other way while Air Canada has broken the law for 45 years.
    The Minister of Canadian Heritage agreed to change the law and help Air Canada run roughshod over Aveos workers, so when does she plan to change the law so that Air Canada can do the same to francophones?
    Mr. Speaker, Air Canada must comply with the Official Languages Act, and I understand that the president of Air Canada testified in committee yesterday.
    I will be speaking to my parliamentary colleagues who sit on the committee to hear their recommendations, and I will take those recommendations into consideration.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, there is a desperate need for health care services and Ottawa is not doing its part.
    Its transfers are woefully inadequate and well below what it could be providing. Its lack of commitment is threatening the viability of the public system and putting unbearable pressure on the finances of Quebec and the provinces.
    There was nothing in the last budget to correct the situation. The government said that it would talk to Quebec and the provinces about this. However, the finance ministers are getting together next Monday and Ottawa does not even plan on addressing the issue.
    Can the Minister of Finance confirm that the pseudo-discussions he talked about when he tabled the budget are essentially a load of rubbish?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as I stated in the House earlier this week, I am working with my colleagues in the provinces and territories to negotiate a new health accord. Within that accord we will make new investments in health care in our country.
    I look forward to working with all of the health ministers across the country. I have already had conversations with Minister Barrette in Quebec and my other officials. We look forward to announcing a new health accord hopefully later this year.

Points of Order

Oral Questions  

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, in responding to a question for the member for Richmond—Arthabaska, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Democratic Institutions said something that could not be true, unless he was accusing me of having deliberately lied to the House.
    He said that the Conservatives stated that we would vote in favour of the NDP motion on electoral reform and then reneged. The facts as to how we were frozen out of these negotiations were related to the House by me in an S.O. 31 on June 6.
    As the member is honourable and wants to stick to the truth, I invite him to retract his comment, which I am sure was made inadvertently. I also seek the unanimous consent of the House to table that S.O. 31 in order to set the record straight.
    Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to table the document?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    Mr. Speaker, it is entirely possible that the member opposite does not monitor the Conservative Twitter account that is managed by his party. It stated that the Conservatives supported the NDP position on this issue and that it was something on which they could agree. I was referring to that.
    I would ask for unanimous consent to table that tweet stating that the Conservatives were going to support the efforts of the New Democrats in this matter.
    This is debate. I think I have heard enough, unless there is unanimous consent to table the tweet.
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Speaker: I have heard enough for now. I will consider this, and if necessary, I will come back to the House.

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Government Orders]

  (1510)  

[English]

An Act to Amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying)

    The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.
    It being 3:09 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the amendment to the motion to concur in the Senate amendments to Bill C-14.
    Call in the members.

  (1515)  

    (The House divided on the amendment, which was negatived on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 102)

YEAS

Members

Aboultaif
Angus
Ashton
Aubin
Barsalou-Duval
Beaulieu
Benson
Blaney (North Island—Powell River)
Boutin-Sweet
Brosseau
Cannings
Caron
Chan
Choquette
Christopherson
Cullen
Dabrusin
Damoff
Davies
Donnelly
Dubé
Duncan (Edmonton Strathcona)
Dusseault
Duvall
Erskine-Smith
Hardcastle
Hughes
Johns
Jolibois
Julian
Kent
Kwan
Lametti
Laverdière
MacGregor
Marcil
Masse (Windsor West)
Mathyssen
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
Moore
Nantel
Oliphant
Pauzé
Quach
Ramsey
Rankin
Saganash
Sansoucy
Ste-Marie
Stetski
Stewart
Thériault
Trudel
Weir

Total: -- 54

NAYS

Members

Albas
Albrecht
Aldag
Alghabra
Alleslev
Allison
Amos
Anandasangaree
Anderson
Arnold
Arseneault
Arya
Ayoub
Badawey
Bagnell
Bains
Barlow
Baylis
Beech
Bennett
Bergen
Bernier
Berthold
Bezan
Bibeau
Bittle
Blair
Blaney (Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis)
Block
Boissonnault
Bossio
Boucher
Brassard
Bratina
Breton
Brison
Brown
Caesar-Chavannes
Calkins
Carr
Carrie
Casey (Cumberland—Colchester)
Casey (Charlottetown)
Chagger
Champagne
Chen
Clarke
Cooper
Cormier
Cuzner
DeCourcey
Deltell
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Di Iorio
Dion
Diotte
Doherty
Dreeshen
Drouin
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Dzerowicz
Easter
Eglinski
El-Khoury
Eyking
Eyolfson
Falk
Fast
Fergus
Fillmore
Finnigan
Fisher
Foote
Fragiskatos
Fraser (West Nova)
Fraser (Central Nova)
Freeland
Fuhr
Gallant
Garneau
Généreux
Genuis
Godin
Goldsmith-Jones
Goodale
Gould
Gourde
Graham
Grewal
Hajdu
Harder
Hardie
Harvey
Hehr
Hoback
Holland
Housefather
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Jeneroux
Joly
Jones
Jordan
Jowhari
Kang
Kelly
Kenney
Khalid
Khera
Kitchen
Lake
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Lauzon (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Lauzon (Argenteuil—La Petite-Nation)
LeBlanc
Lebouthillier
Lefebvre
Leslie
Levitt
Liepert
Lightbound
Lobb
Lockhart
Long
Longfield
Ludwig
Lukiwski
MacAulay (Cardigan)
MacKenzie
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Maloney
Massé (Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia)
May (Cambridge)
McCallum
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McCrimmon
McDonald
McGuinty
McKay
McKenna
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo)
McLeod (Northwest Territories)
Mendicino
Mihychuk
Miller (Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs)
Monsef
Morneau
Morrissey
Nassif
Nater
Nault
Nicholson
Nuttall
Obhrai
O'Connell
Oliver
O'Regan
O'Toole
Ouellette
Paradis
Paul-Hus
Peschisolido
Peterson
Petitpas Taylor
Philpott
Picard
Poilievre
Poissant
Qualtrough
Raitt
Ratansi
Rayes
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Rioux
Ritz
Robillard
Rodriguez
Romanado
Rota
Rudd
Ruimy
Rusnak
Sahota
Saini
Samson
Sangha
Sarai
Saroya
Scarpaleggia
Scheer
Schiefke
Schmale
Schulte
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Shields
Sidhu (Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Sikand
Sohi
Sopuck
Sorbara
Sorenson
Spengemann
Stanton
Strahl
Stubbs
Sweet
Tabbara
Tan
Tassi
Trost
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Vecchio
Viersen
Virani
Wagantall
Warkentin
Webber
Whalen
Wilson-Raybould
Wrzesnewskyj
Young
Yurdiga
Zahid
Zimmer

Total: -- 240

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the amendment defeated.
    Resuming debate. Is the House ready for the question?
    Some hon. members: Question.
    The Speaker: 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 Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
    Some hon. members: Yea.
    The Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.
    The Speaker: In my opinion the yeas have it.
    [And five or more members having risen:]

  (1525)  

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

(Division No. 103)

YEAS

Members

Albas
Aldag
Alghabra
Alleslev
Amos
Anandasangaree
Arseneault
Arya
Ayoub
Badawey
Bagnell
Bains
Baylis
Beech
Bennett
Berthold
Bibeau
Bittle
Blair
Boissonnault
Bossio
Boucher
Bratina
Breton
Brison
Brown
Caesar-Chavannes
Carr
Casey (Cumberland—Colchester)
Casey (Charlottetown)
Chagger
Champagne
Chan
Chen
Clarke
Cooper
Cormier
Cuzner
Dabrusin
Damoff
DeCourcey
Deltell
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Di Iorio
Dion
Drouin
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Dzerowicz
Easter
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Ellis
Eyking
Eyolfson
Fergus
Fillmore
Finnigan
Fisher
Foote
Fragiskatos
Fraser (West Nova)
Fraser (Central Nova)
Freeland
Fuhr
Garneau
Généreux
Goldsmith-Jones
Goodale
Gould
Graham
Grewal
Hajdu
Hardie
Harvey
Hehr
Holland
Housefather
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Joly
Jones
Jordan
Jowhari
Kang
Kelly
Kent
Khalid
Khera
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Lauzon (Argenteuil—La Petite-Nation)
LeBlanc
Lebouthillier
Lefebvre
Leslie
Levitt
Liepert
Lightbound
Lockhart
Long
Longfield
Ludwig
MacAulay (Cardigan)
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Maloney
Massé (Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia)
May (Cambridge)
McCallum
McCrimmon
McDonald
McGuinty
McKay
McKenna
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo)
McLeod (Northwest Territories)
Mendicino
Mihychuk
Miller (Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs)
Monsef
Morneau
Morrissey
Nassif
Nault
Obhrai
O'Connell
Oliphant
Oliver
O'Regan
Paradis
Paul-Hus
Peschisolido
Peterson
Petitpas Taylor
Philpott
Picard
Poilievre
Poissant
Qualtrough
Ratansi
Rayes
Reid
Rioux
Robillard
Rodriguez
Romanado
Rota
Rudd
Ruimy
Rusnak
Sahota
Saini
Samson
Sangha
Sarai
Scarpaleggia
Schiefke
Schmale
Schulte
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Sidhu (Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Sikand
Sohi
Sorbara
Spengemann
Stanton
Strahl
Tabbara
Tan
Tassi
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Vaughan
Vecchio
Virani
Webber
Whalen
Wilson-Raybould
Wrzesnewskyj
Young
Zahid

Total: -- 190

NAYS

Members

Aboultaif
Albrecht
Allison
Anderson
Angus
Arnold
Ashton
Aubin
Barlow
Barsalou-Duval
Beaulieu
Benson
Bergen
Bernier
Bezan
Blaney (North Island—Powell River)
Blaney (Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis)
Block
Boutin-Sweet
Brassard
Brosseau
Calkins
Cannings
Caron
Carrie
Choquette
Christopherson
Cullen
Davies
Diotte
Doherty
Donnelly
Dreeshen
Dubé
Duncan (Edmonton Strathcona)
Dusseault
Duvall
Eglinski
Erskine-Smith
Falk
Fast
Gallant
Garrison
Genuis
Godin
Gourde
Hardcastle
Harder
Hoback
Hughes
Jeneroux
Johns
Jolibois
Julian
Kenney
Kitchen
Kwan
Lake
Lametti
Lauzon (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Laverdière
Lobb
Lukiwski
MacGregor
MacKenzie
Marcil
Masse (Windsor West)
Mathyssen
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
McCauley (Edmonton West)
Moore
Nantel
Nater
Nicholson
Nuttall
O'Toole
Ouellette
Pauzé
Quach
Raitt
Ramsey
Rankin
Rempel
Richards
Ritz
Saganash
Sansoucy
Saroya
Scheer
Shields
Sopuck
Sorenson
Ste-Marie
Stetski
Stewart
Stubbs
Sweet
Thériault
Trost
Trudel
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Viersen
Wagantall
Warkentin
Weir
Yurdiga
Zimmer

Total: -- 108

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.

  (1530)  

Business of the House

[Business of the House]
    Mr. Speaker, I do not want to be presumptuous but I think it is reasonably foreseeable that this may be the last Thursday question of this session, so I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your hard work over the past few months.
     I would also like to thank all the chair occupants, the deputy speaker, and the assistant deputy speakers who make sure the chamber runs smoothly. I would also like to thank the clerks at the table. I know what a tremendous team they provide you, Mr. Speaker, but indeed all members of the House. Last, but certainly not least, we have such a great group of young Canadians every year. I would like to thank the pages for all that they have done.
    On behalf of all members of our caucus, and I am sure the same is true for all MPs, I would like to thank the staff in our offices, at our lobby desks, and in our research bureaus. They all do a tremendous amount of work to make their members of Parliament look good and sound intelligent.
    An hon. member: Oh, oh!
    Mr. Andrew Scheer: I was going to thank our spouses, but if the hon. member for Chilliwack does not want to thank our spouses, we could make note of that. However, I would like to extend a big “thank you” to our spouses back home who allow us to do our jobs.
    With that, I wonder if the government House leader would like to indicate to the House what the business of the House may be for the rest of this week and maybe next week as well.
    I would be concerned that the member for Chilliwack—Hope would be treading on dangerous ground, but he did stand up and applaud, so I think he will be okay at home.
    The hon. government House leader.
    This afternoon, we are continuing third reading consideration of Bill C-6 on citizenship. Tomorrow, we are going to debate Bill C-2, which would amend the Income Tax Act.
    If colleagues would not mind, I would prefer to dispense with the statement for next week's business if that is okay. What I will do is join my colleague from Regina—Qu'Appelle and associate myself with the very positive and appropriate comments he made.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, for you and me and many of our colleagues, the past few months have certainly been a learning experience. This is the first time in your long parliamentary career that you have served in this role that is so essential to democracy. On behalf of my Liberal colleagues, I want to say that we think you have done an excellent job, and we thank you for your service and for taking on the role of Speaker.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
    Hon. Dominic LeBlanc: Mr. Speaker, we are doing this just for the sake of your wife, Kelly. I want her to see this.
    As my colleague said, the last few months have been a learning experience as many of our colleagues here in the House of Commons have become familiar with parliamentary and constituency work. We have all made new friends.
    This has been an extremely positive experience for me, and that is in large part thanks to the co-operation of our colleagues and the friendships we have forged. In spite of some well-intentioned clashes, we have been able to laugh together. I also think that we have served the interests of Canadians and done our duty as parliamentarians.
    I will not repeat all of the tributes that we heard from the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, but my Liberal colleagues and I feel the same way.

[English]

    If it is the case that it is the desire of the House to adjourn for the summer before next Thursday at 6:30 p.m., I want to wish all colleagues and all the staff who work with us here in an extraordinary way in this magical place of Canadian democracy a healthy, safe summer and time with their families and their constituents. We look forward to seeing all of our colleagues back in September in good health, and most important, in good humour.

  (1535)  

[Translation]

    I sincerely thank the hon. member for Regina—Qu'Appelle and the hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons for their kind words. Like them, I thank all the employees of the House of Commons, the members' staff, the pages, and the list goes on. We appreciate everyone's work.
    I wish all members of Parliament a wonderful summer. The summer starts when the House adjourns.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

[Private Members' Business]

[English]

La Capitale Financial Security Insurance Company

    (Bill S-1001. On the Order: Private Members' Business:)

    June 10, 2016—Second reading and reference to a legislative committee of Bill S-1001, An Act to authorize La Capitale Financial Security Insurance Company to apply to be continued as a body corporate under the laws of the Province of Quebec—Mr. Joël Lightbound.
    Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and I believe you will find unanimous consent for the following motion.
    I move:
    That Bill S-1001, An Act to authorize La Capitale Financial Security Insurance Company to apply to be continued as a body corporate under the laws of the Province of Quebec, be deemed to have been read a second time and referred to a Committee of the Whole, deemed considered in Committee of the Whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at the report stage and deemed read a third time and passed.
    Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Speaker: 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, bill read a second time, referred to a committee of the whole, considered in committee of the whole, reported without amendment, concurred in at report stage, read the third time and passed)


GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Government Orders]

[English]

Citizenship Act

     The House resumed from June 3 consideration of the motion that Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act, be read the third time and passed.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for North Island—Powell River.
    At the Standing Committee for Citizenship and Immigration, I had the opportunity to hear witnesses from across Canada and they offered their expertise on how we could make Canada's immigration laws better.
    As a result of those important testimonies, I tabled 25 amendments to Bill C-6, an act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to another act. Significant amendments were required because Bill C-6 failed to remedy many of the problems created by the Conservatives' Bill C-24.
    One gaping hole in Bill C-6 is that it failed to address the lack of procedural fairness and safeguards for individuals facing citizenship revocation. This is because Bill C-24 eliminated the right for an independent and impartial hearing. Furthermore, Bill C-24 also eliminated consideration of equitable factors or compassionate and humanitarian factors that could prevent a legal but unjust outcome.
    The system we have defies common sense. How could it be that individuals fighting a parking ticket are afforded more procedural fairness than the person having their citizenship revoked? Yet this is the case.
    On June 9, 2014, the minister, while in opposition, stated, “We object in principle to the arbitrary removal of citizenship from individuals for reasons that are highly questionable and to the very limited opportunity for the individual to appeal to the courts against that removal of citizenship.”
    Fast-forward to today, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship has further reconfirmed that the lack of judicial appeal and review rights for those in the citizenship process still needs to be addressed, yet this concern was not corrected by the government in Bill C-6. Because Bill C-6 failed to address this, I tabled substantive amendments to ensure individuals who face citizenship revocation have the right to a fair and independent hearing and an appeal process.
    If passed, the amendments would have created a system modelled after the current process being applied to permanent residents who are subject to deportation on the grounds of misrepresentation. This system, which uses the immigration appeal division, would not only have provided the rights to an independent appeal process, but is also considered more cost effective and efficient than the old system.
    Despite broad support to achieve this goal from experts that appeared at the committee such as the Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Council for Refugees, Legal Aid Ontario, and others, the narrow scope of Bill C-6 resulted in these important amendments being ruled inadmissible.
    I have asked the minister to adopt my amendments in a government bill in the fall and I hope that happens.
    In the meantime however, the unfortunate reality is that some individuals currently in the citizenship system faced with revocation will still lack the judicial fairness provided to people in Canada fighting a parking ticket.
    On the issue of procedural fairness, Bill C-6 also failed to address the minister's ability to indefinitely suspend citizenship proceedings. The former Conservative government under Bill C-24 added section 13.1 to the Citizenship Act, which permits the minister to suspend citizenship applications and other proceedings indefinitely while additional information or evidence is gathered.
    Under this process, someone could literary die before a decision is made about their citizenship application. I know that recent Federal Court decisions demonstrate the need for a statutory time frame for making decisions to avoid inordinate and unexplained delays. Again, I had attempted to resolve this issue through amendment at committee, and again, the narrow scope of Bill C-6 prevented me from doing so, and the amendment was deemed inadmissible.
     Another misstep of Bill C-24 was to place all justice systems around the world on equal footing. This was done by barring individuals from citizenship if they have been charged with or convicted with offences equivalent to indictable offences in Canada.
    While this might sound reasonable, it is incredibly important to remember that not all justice systems in the world are equal. Most importantly, some countries deal with corruption at various or even multiple levels of the justice and political system, from local police to lawyers and judges to national leaders. This can, and does lead to unjust charges and convictions. In my view, these situations should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
     In its submission to the committee, the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic wrote:
     Implementing additional immigration and citizenship penalties for individuals being charged or with convictions is inherently dangerous in that it leads effectively to situations of double jeopardy—that the individual will be punished once by the criminal justice system and then a second time through the immigration and citizenship system.

  (1540)  

    There are many countries around the world where rule of law is underdeveloped or completely inadequate, or where individuals are charged and convicted for purely political reasons.
    While those appearing at committee used the example of Canadian citizen Mohamed Fahmy as an example of how not all justice systems reach the same verdicts as ours, I would also like to draw to the attention of this House that, in 2001, the House voted almost unanimously in favour of awarding Nelson Mandela honorary Canadian citizenship. Under the current laws, if someone like Mr. Mandela immigrated to Canada, he would have been automatically barred from applying for citizenship to Canada through the regular channels.
    At the committee, the issue of minors coming to Canada without parents or legal guardians was highlighted to members as an area of significant concern. Unless applying for citizenship as part of the application with parents or guardians, individuals must be 18 years of age or older to become Canadian citizens. While the government argued that there is already a remedy in place to address this, at issue, as explained by Justice for Children and Youth, is as follows:
    Section 5...allows for an applicant to make a request to the Minister on humanitarian grounds for a waiver of the age requirement. ...this humanitarian exemption poses a generally insurmountable barrier for children wishing to access citizenship and is not a reasonable limitation or a satisfactory solution to issues raised by the age requirement provision.... The provision in effect restricts access to Canadian citizenship for children—solely on the basis of age—who otherwise meet all the requirements. It restricts access to citizenship for the most marginalized children, i.e. unaccompanied minors, children without parents or lawful guardians, and children with parents who do not have the capacity to meet the citizenship requirements or do not wish to apply.
    My proposed amendment would have provided a pathway to citizenship for youth under 18 years of age without a parent or guardian who is, or is in the process of becoming, a Canadian citizen. Addressing this issue was supported by organizations such as Justice for Children and Youth, the Canadian Council for Refugees, and UNICEF Canada, among others. Unfortunately, the amendment was not adopted by the Liberal members on the committee.
     While we are on the subject of minors in the citizenship process, in a brief submitted by Justice for Children and Youth, it was noted that the citizenship process fails to adhere to the principles of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. It states:
    Youth criminal justice records and ongoing proceedings before the youth criminal justice court cannot and should not be considered for the purpose of citizenship applications because to do so is contrary to the Youth Criminal Justice Act..., specifically violates the privacy protections afforded to minors by the YCJA, and is inconsistent with the fundamental purpose of the YCJA.
    Once again, the narrow scope of Bill C-6 deemed this amendment inadmissible.
    On the theme of pathways to citizenship, another issue that was brought in when Bill C-24 was tabled and was not rectified by Bill C-6 is the issue of double-testing in language. There is no doubt that acquiring skills in one of Canada's official languages is an important aspect of building a successful life here. However, under changes made by the Conservatives, the knowledge test of Canada required to obtain citizenship now amounts to a double-testing of language skills.
     Prior to the Conservatives' changes, individuals had the ability to take the knowledge test with the aid of an interpreter. Due to the changes, the interpreter is no longer provided, and this amounts not only to second language testing, but to a language test that, as we heard from experts who appeared at committee, is arguably more difficult than the actual level of English or French someone must have to pass the actual language test.
    My amendment to address this problem and go back to the old system, which would have been the case had the Liberals followed through on their election promise to repeal Bill C-24, was rejected by the committee. I do think this is most unfortunate, as the current rules only serve to maintain the barriers for the pathway to citizenship.
    I am pleased that I was successful in advancing and passing two amendments to Bill C-6, which will now enshrine in the law the duty for reasonable accommodation, ensuring that the citizenship process adheres to the principles of the Canadian Human Rights Act for those with disabilities. This will make disability accommodation a right, not something provided out of mercy or on the basis of compassion, as it formerly was.

  (1545)  

    My amendment clarifies the requirement of the duty to accommodate those with disabilities as they navigate through the citizenship process. Currently, vague words of required “proof” and discretion around accommodation can lead to individuals, who would otherwise be able to become Canadian citizens, being denied due to a lack of disability accommodation.
    There is much more to—
    Order, please. The time has expired.

[Translation]

    Before we begin questions and comments, I wish to inform the House that because of the deferred recorded division, government orders will be extended by seven minutes.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague from Vancouver East for her contribution at committee and to this debate on Bill C-6, which I think is an incredibly important part of the commitment we made in the last election to roll back what we thought were many of the oppressive elements of Bill C-24 that had been passed in the 41st Parliament.
    I would like to ask, given the contributions that my friend from Vancouver East made at the immigration committee with respect to some of those amendments—and I noted that some of her amendments were not accepted by the government—whether the member will still be supporting the overall intent of Bill C-6, including some of the amendments she had proposed that were carried at committee.

  (1550)  

    Mr. Speaker, yes, I still intend to support the bill, although it could have been made a lot better had the government been thoughtful about it and incorporated some of those essential amendments that I had tabled at committee.
    The other amendment that the government did adopt at committee was the recommendation to address, in part, the issue of statelessness. Therefore, those who are found to be stateless would actually have some means for a pathway to citizenship on a case-by-case basis. Much work still needs to be done in that area. For example, those who are born second generation to Canadians in some instances will still be deemed to be stateless. That needs to be rectified. Therefore, I am really hoping that the minister, in his oversight in bringing forward those important amendments in Bill C-6, will actually bring forward a new bill in the fall so that we can rectify the many problems that were created under Bill C-24.
    Mr. Speaker, first I would like to congratulate my colleague from Vancouver East for not only an excellent speech but obviously a reflection of the work that she has put into this. I always wondered who would succeed Libby Davies, and kind of felt sorry for that person, given the fantastic parliamentarian that she was. However, the people of Vancouver East have managed to find someone who can actually fill those shoes. She brings a great depth of experience here, particularly as a senior provincial cabinet minister.
    My question to the member is in regard to something she commented on earlier, which really jumped out at me. If I am correct, it was with respect to permanent residents, although I am not sure of the subject. However, I do remember the comment, which was that, because the bill was unamended as my colleague tried to amend it, in her opinion we have a bill that gives less judicial fairness to applicants than would be given in a parking ticket situation. Therefore, I was wondering if my colleague would expand on that issue because it sounded very jarring.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my good colleague for those very kind comments. That is very encouraging.
    Indeed, Bill C-6 failed to bring forward proper due process for those who face losing their citizenship. In a normal set of circumstances, people who are given a parking ticket or a speeding ticket could appeal that process by going to court. Under this system, with the Bill C-24 changes by the Conservative government and the failure of Bill C-6 to rectify them, those who lose their citizenship would not have the opportunity to appeal this process. That is simply wrong. The Canadian Bar Association and many organizations came forward at committee to say that this needed to be changed. In fact, when Bill C-24 was debated in this House, the current Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship also said that was wrong.
     Therefore, it is a mystery to me how the government neglected to include that important change in Bill C-6. However, that is exactly what happened. I tried to advance a series of amendments related to that. Unfortunately, they were deemed to be out of the scope of Bill C-6, and therefore not before us. However, I did get a commitment from the minister that the government would rectify this, and I look forward to it bringing forward a government bill in the fall to adopt those amendments I tabled at committee.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to thank my hon. colleague for all of her hard work and dedication. It is a wonderful thing to work with people who are so dedicated to making a difference and looking after these issues that are so important to the people we serve.
    I am glad to rise in the House and speak on Bill C-6, an act to amend the Citizenship Act.
    As a former executive director of an immigrant-serving agency in my riding, I want to convey to members here the sense of betrayal that the former Bill C-24 had on our sector and on the people we served.
    In my role as executive director, I spoke at many citizenship ceremonies and worked with people as they prepared for their citizenship here in Canada. I was constantly overwhelmed by the immense sense of pride and dedication people felt as they prepared and finally became Canadian. It was events like this that really made me the proudest to be a Canadian citizen.
    However, Bill C-24 created a second class of citizen. In fact, it institutionalized systemic discrimination. It was a bill that was so unconstitutional that it had no place in our democratic foundation.
    Under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, all Canadians are equal. It will be good to see this idea begin to be reflected in our legislation again. As our leader said in the 2015 campaign, “...a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian”.
    During the last election, the NDP promised to repeal Bill C-24, and I thank so much again my colleague from Vancouver East who worked so hard to really make that happen. I was very sad when all of those amendments were not heard.
    Bill C-6 in its current form aims to rectify these missteps, but the bill does not do it entirely. After reflection, I am mindful that the bill is not ideal but it will repeal some of the harmful and unconstitutional changes to citizenship made by the previous government. Therefore, I will support its passing in the third reading.
    While this is a step in the right direction, there are also many challenges that remain for immigrants. We call on the government to take urgent action on lengthy wait times and huge backlogs, on family reunification, and on the barriers to citizenship that still remain in place.
    In the last session of Parliament, the NDP firmly opposed Bill C-24. We called on the Conservatives to withdraw it from the very beginning, but the Conservatives refused to listen.
     While some of the changes implemented by the former bill were, in some cases, overdue and addressed some of the deficiencies in the system, others were so draconian that Bill C-24 was widely opposed by respected academics and experts in the field of law, including the Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, Amnesty International, the Canadian Council for Refugees, and UNICEF.
    During the time of canvassing across my riding, and in the work I did previously, I met many members of the communities I served. I heard stories of people who were choosing to not venture toward becoming citizens, because they were very hurt about this second class of citizenship, and many parents were very concerned for their children.
     One parent told me that his children had dual citizenship. He was choosing not to get Canadian citizenship, but he had married a Canadian woman and they had children who had both the citizenship of his first country and hers. Now he is worried about how much their Canadian citizenship actually means. He said to me that his children live here, that they will be raised here, and that this will be the only country they will ever know as home. What if they do something and Canada decides to take away their citizenship? Where will they go?
    Other people said to me that it felt as if the government did not want them to become a citizen. They felt that they were a potential risk simply because they were born in another country.
    These stories illustrate the real fear that people are feeling and the total disregard for their dedication to this country of Canada.
    Bill C-6 begins to make some of those changes, but it still leaves that hesitancy. It still has so many barriers to citizenship. It still provides too many things that create fear for members.

  (1555)  

     I hope the government will listen and make the amendments in the fall that my hon. colleague suggested. Let us move forward in a positive way in this country.
    I am glad that these provisions will no longer be law. Nevertheless, I am disappointed that Bill C-6 does not go far enough. It would still allow the minister to revoke someone's citizenship without the right to a judicial hearing. No matter how good their intentions, ministers simply should not have secret discretionary powers.
    Prior to Bill C-24, individuals who were accused of fraud and risked having their citizenship revoked could request a hearing before a Federal Court judge. A final decision would be made by the Governor in Council. Bill C-24 allowed the minister to make a decision based on a review of paperwork, with no right to a judicial hearing. The Liberals' failure to address this feature in Bill C-6 means that there may still be a constitutional challenge to the Citizenship Act.
    The NDP believe that a citizen facing revocation should always have the right to a hearing before an independent and impartial decision-maker as part of a process that considers humanitarian and compassionate factors.
     I remember that the Prime Minister, during the campaign, talked about decentralizing the powers purposely accumulated in the PM's Office. The last government concentrated power in its different omnibus legislation. What happened to the right to a hearing and to due process?
    In my last job, I served many newcomers to Canada. Some of the stories I heard were sad, and the commitment to becoming Canadian, in a country seen as free and inclusive, was tangible. The fact that the minister had the power to give or take away citizenship was a level of power that many people came to Canada to escape. Having a fair, transparent process is absolutely imperative.
    When the bill was studied at the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, New Democrats proposed a total of 25 amendments. Only two of them were eventually passed, and I am so grateful that they were: the duty to accommodate for individuals with disabilities, and adding statelessness as a factor to be considered when granting citizenship based on exceptional circumstances. The remaining amendments were voted down and the Liberals did not give a reasonable rationale for opposing them.
    The Liberals need to do more. The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship has repeatedly acknowledged the considerable shortcomings of his ministry. He promised to take action on the long wait times, but we have still not seen a concrete plan.
    Now that this legislation is at third reading, let us start to have this discussion in terms of how to reform it correctly.
    The minister should disclose the reasoning for and the frequency of discretionary grants of citizenship. There must be action on cleaning up the mess at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, including speeding up family reunification, putting an end to lengthy backlogs, removing the cap on parent and grandparent sponsorship, and speeding up processing times for immigration and citizen applications, especially in light of the high fees paid by applicants who receive very poor service in return. The challenges I faced in my last job would have tested the patience of any normal human being.
    The narrow scope of Bill C-6 prevented many amendments recommended by expert witnesses, including the Canadian Bar Association, from being admissible at committee stage. The minister has acknowledged this and suggests that the Liberals will need to introduce another immigration bill in the fall to address these shortcomings. I certainly hope to see it.
    I would like to conclude today by urging the minister to work with us to table a truly comprehensive bill that will improve the Canadian citizenship process. It needs to happen, and it needs to happen soon.

  (1600)  

    Mr. Speaker, I know that a good number of members in my own caucus aggressively pursue issues such as processing times, backlogs, and restrictions. In fact, one of the first actions by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship was to speed up processing times for spouses and to double the number of parents and grandparents being accepted. We have seen huge processing time reductions for citizenship, and I think there will be a lot more to come.
    In terms of the Syrian refugees, there were tens of thousands of individuals through that one category. I think the current minister has done an admirable job, a fantastic job, of getting things done in a relatively short time.
    When this legislation went to committee, we saw that the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship actually looked for consensus, and we actually had amendments accepted. Maybe the member could comment on what she felt with respect to the amendments that passed that came from the opposition.

  (1605)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is always good to see change, but this is the reality: actions speak much louder than words. It is very good to say kind things, and it is good to have good intentions, but until the action takes place, we have to watch for it.
    I will say to the member that it has actually been shocking for me.
    There has been some good stuff. After about five years of working hard with a local member in our community, we finally received some of her family members from Syria. That was a very positive move in the right direction. I am glad to see that.
    I might also add that most of the 25,000 refugees we have graciously welcomed, and I am so glad that they are here, came from the private sponsorship stream, not the GAR stream, the government assisted refugees, which is what I was hoping to see more of.
    We also saw a huge cut in services to settlement agencies. It was about 6.5% in the area I serve. It was shocking to see that happening at a time when we need to serve these people.
    Mr. Speaker, I wonder whether my colleague would support this amendment, which failed at the committee because it was deemed to be inadmissible. It relates to people who are deemed to be second generation born.
    Effective April 17, 2009, in Bill C-37, second generation children born abroad were restricted from obtaining Canadian citizenship. By denying citizenship to the second generation born abroad, Canada is in fact creating a second set of lost Canadians and is making some children born to Canadians stateless.
    I wonder whether the member would support an amendment to address this issue, because it is an ongoing problem. It makes no sense that if an individual is second generation born abroad, he or she is actually at risk of being deemed stateless.
    Mr. Speaker, I absolutely support the amendment.
    As I said in my speech, during the campaign, our leader said, “A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian”. Regardless of where people live, if they are Canadian and they are having children, they need to have some consciousness that they will have children with a state. To leave children without one does not make sense.
    Our job is to look after Canadians and work with Canadians in a positive way and to not create different classes of citizenship.