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View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-11-20 16:14 [p.15331]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address the motion that proposes to send Bill C-59 to committee before second reading, something that has not been done thus far in this Parliament. Debate, of course, is crucial when we are discussing something as significant to Canadians as their safety insofar as national security is concerned, as well as their rights as citizens in this country. I want to use my time to ask my colleagues and Canadians who may be watching, with respect to national security, what kind of country do we want to be? How can we strike the appropriate balance, giving our national security agencies the powers they need to do the job to protect us and at the same time protecting Canadian values? The first question is a little broad for a 10-minute speech, but my answer to the second one is very simple. We have to approach this task with great caution and open debate.
Bill C-51 was brought in by the Harper Conservatives, the former government. It was nothing short of disastrous. Bill C-51 provoked the largest demonstrations in my riding of Victoria in recent history. There were town halls with people spilling out into the streets, and anxiety on behalf of people from all walks of life in our community. The consensus was clear that the legislation was open to abuse and was far too wide. The language was vague and permissive. People were unsure where they stood as Canadians and what their rights would mean under that new legislation. The Liberals did nothing, except to say that they liked part of it, they did not like other parts. They refused to go along with the NDP's request that the bill be repealed in its entirety, and promised to repeal the problematic elements. Therefore, what we have before us is a 138-page statute with nine parts, which is a comprehensive attempt, after two years of consultation, to get it right. The question is on whether they have.
It is our contention that this poorly conceived bill should not be supported in the first place and needs to be repealed. That is not a new position. My colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke introduced Bill C-303, which simply asked that Bill C-51 be repealed. That continues to be our view on what should occur in this situation. We think that the bill is not in the interests of Canadians and should be rejected outright.
Since the Liberals voted in favour of Bill C-51, instead of scrapping it and beginning anew, they created Bill C-59, which was supposed to correct the numerous deficiencies of the former legislation. They brought in a green paper and consulted for two years. That green paper was criticized for its lack of neutrality and for favouring the national security side as a preoccupation over civil liberties concerns and the right for peaceful protest, freedom of speech, lawful assembly, and dissent. The Liberals assured Canadians that the most problematic areas would be repealed. I am afraid that the resulting bill has not done that, and several problematic elements remain.
However, there is much in the bill that I wish to say is right. For example, the creation of the super SIRC, the expanded oversight committee, is an excellent step. There are many other things, however, that are deeply problematic, and which, if time permits, I would like to talk about.
There are some elements, in particular involving the Communications Security Establishment, the shadowy agency that Canadians know from U.S. TV to be our counterpart to the National Security Agency in that country, the NSA. There are problems, for example, with its new cyber-ability to modify, disrupt, and delete “anything on or through the global...structure”, which sounds a little Orwellian. It would seem that the mandate blurs the line between intelligence gathering and active cyber-activities, as has been pointed out by Professors Forcese and Roach as well. It is under the national defence department, as it has been for many years, and the bill would deal with national defence matters such as CSE, and other areas as well.
The bill would do nothing to address the ministerial directive on torture. The directive needs to be acknowledged. It is not part of the bill, it is merely a directive. A new directive was introduced only last year, and it failed to forbid the RCMP, CBSA, or CSIS from using information that was largely extracted through overseas torture. The new instruction amounts to only semantic changes and would not do anything to ensure our public safety, because it is notorious that information obtained through torture is unreliable. The government did nothing to address that in a meaningful way in this legislation. It could have, and chose not to. This legislation does not go far enough in addressing the glaring omissions and problems of Bill C-51.
Michael Vonn, who is with the BC Civil Liberties Association, has also spoken about the misguided process of amending this flawed legislation. She said, “The bill does several things to try to reign in the unprecedented surveillance powers created by [the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act]...”. That is one of the parts of this new legislation. She went on to say that as there was “no credible justification for [that act] that was ever made, it would have been much better to repeal it and introduce any clarifying amendments required in the federal Privacy Act.” Again, that was another opportunity lost. Her comments highlight that measures and policies were brought into effect without any demonstrated justification that they were needed to keep Canadians safe.
We are in the strange position of rushing through the appropriate steps of amending practices that may not be necessary in the first place. After Canadians have waited two years for badly needed action on national security, why has the government not used its time appropriately to ensure that we had legislation that, in the words of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, “gets it right”. I implore my colleagues in government to think differently than the government before it. If there is truly a commitment for openness, transparency, and accountability, let us debate the bill at second reading and work together to fix the half measures that are in it.
A procedural issue is before us as a result of this unusual move by the government to move the bill to committee before second reading. As I understand it, the motion before us would send the bill to committee before the usual debate at second reading. Therefore, the Standing Orders will not necessarily apply to enable the Speaker to break out the nine parts of this lengthy legislation so we could vote in favour of some and oppose others. Surely, the Liberals are better than this.
Rather than resorting to the Stephen Harper trick of saying we voted against this omnibus legislation to keep Canadians safe, which generally was done in all the other Conservative omnibus bills, why would the government not allow this to be broken out the way that the Speaker has the authority to do? There are some parts of the bill that are worthy of support. However, the Liberals' trick, following in the footsteps of Mr. Harper, would require those of us who are opposed to some of the very contentious issues to vote against it all. That is a trick that is unworthy of the minister and his government. Measures that compromise our charter rights and our privacy rights do our country harm, and those are the reasons we called for the repeal of Bill C-51 more than two years ago.
In speaking about privacy, in the fall of 2016, a Federal Court ruling took CSIS to task for storing sensitive metadata on Canadians who were not suspected of anything. The court found that for 10 years, CSIS had been illegally storing information derived from some of its wiretaps. The data involved metadata such as source information, emails, phone numbers, and the like. This legislation would not change that. It would allow it to continue.
By way of conclusion, we have to ask ourselves whether we want a country where our security services have a lot of information about many citizens, with a view to detecting national security threats, but for which there is no demonstrable harm caused by any of those citizens. The powers with respect to the charter are extremely complicated. I would invite people to look at clause 98 and figure out whether or not the courts would be able to limit our charter rights in a warrant. It is very problematic. We must do it better, and we need to have that opportunity as quickly as possible.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-11-20 16:26 [p.15332]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands for her thoughtful perspective on part 5. There are nine parts to this omnibus bill, and part 5, as she pointed out, is the amendment to the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act.
This morning the minister was proud to speak about Craig Forcese and Kent Roach as validators of this great initiative, but when they gave their report card it was indeed this part, as the member suggested, that caused them the most concern. While they liked parts of the bill, they graded part 5 as a bare pass, as they put it, because it simply did not address the concerns that people like Professor Galloway have addressed from the start. This is one of the areas that needs a considerable amount of work.
The other one, of course, is the need for judicial warrants. It is so unclear just what the courts' powers are in light of the charter. We certainly need to get that right as well, because to suggest that our courts can somehow be in favour of what would be the promoters of charter violations is hugely problematic in a system that is governed by the rule of law.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-11-20 16:29 [p.15333]
Mr. Speaker, the ability to consider the scope of the bill in broader terms is welcome. What is concerning, and I may be mistaken and would welcome clarification on this point, is that because of this unusual procedure to send it to committee before it goes to second reading, I am advised that it would not necessarily allow the Speaker to break this omnibus bill into separate parts. I would like to vote in favour of the part that creates a national security and intelligence review agency, for example, but might not be in favour of part 5, as we have just been discussing. I understand that it is not going to be possible, and I find that regretful.
It allows the government to characterize members on this side of the aisle politically as simply being opposed to national security, or whatever else it wants to characterize us doing. I find that very regrettable. I hope I am mistaken in that interpretation.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-11-06 11:15 [p.14994]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by congratulating my colleague from Malpeque for shepherding this initiative from the other place through this place.
In particular, I was drawn to the member's reference to Confederation being a story of building relationships, so I congratulate the member for also including in those relationships that of the indigenous members in Canada.
I have two questions for the hon. gentleman. First, would he support as part of this initiative including the Mi'kmaq population in and around Charlottetown in developing heritage and tourism materials to talk about their participation in this relationship of which the member speaks? Second, would he support the call to action number 45 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that asks for, “Reconcil[ing] Aboriginal and Crown constitutional and legal orders to ensure that Aboriginal peoples are full partners in Confederation”?
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-11-06 11:28 [p.14996]
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of Bill C-236 but with some significant caveats I would like to propose to members.
While I accept the premise that Charlottetown is the birthplace of Confederation, we in the NDP think it is imperative that Confederation be framed as a process and not as a finite, singular event. The relationship of which the member for Malpeque spoke is among Canadians, among provinces, among territories, and among indigenous communities that make up this amazing country. It is an ongoing process, therefore. We are in this marriage together, and we must continuously work on improving that relationship, which is the foundation of our country.
Yes, the process of Confederation began in Charlottetown, and that is indeed worthy of celebration, yet there were several vital steps that occurred and must therefore be part of this narrative as well. Other steps and other places deserve credit in the creation of our country. Specifically, Quebec and New Brunswick both played important roles in this process, and one would be remiss not to mention that fact. This legislation may give the impression that Confederation was conceptualized and executed all in Charlottetown. That was definitely not the case.
I would also like to spend some of my time speaking about the way indigenous people were so wrongfully ignored during this process. We are all aware of the colonial context in which our country was created a century and a half ago. Just as each of us as individuals is a product of our historical context, so too is Canada. I implore the government to ensure that recognition of Charlottetown does not lead to a sort of celebration of colonialism.
Including indigenous people, especially the Mi'kmaq population in and around Charlottetown, in developing heritage and tourism materials for the cradle of confederation is a critical component of this celebration and this understanding. A better understanding of our history is one important step toward reconciliation. The glaring omission in our historical narrative of the essential contribution of indigenous peoples must be redressed. A celebration of the birthplace of Confederation must include them going forward as part of our country's narrative.
We must be careful to acknowledge indigenous peoples' presence in the concerned territory prior to this particular agreement. We must acknowledge that they were not included in the negotiations about their future and the future of the very lands they had occupied from time immemorial.
It is also important to support indigenous people as they represent their own historical narratives. Confederation is not the Canadian story; it is a Canadian story, one of many that represent our collective history. Let us not make the same mistake those who came before us made by ignoring other cultural historical narratives.
With this in mind, let me return to the matter of Charlottetown and how to best define its role in this process. Recognizing Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation is, for many Canadians, a foregone conclusion. The province is already promoting itself as the cradle of Confederation, and most of us arrive on the island by means of what is called the Confederation Bridge.
I understand that there has been a little contention, though. A recent 2017 New Brunswick tourism campaign had the slogan “Celebrate where it all began”, so I understand the sponsor's tenacity in seeking to get Charlottetown formally recognized. If I am not mistaken, a similar bill was put forward a couple of years ago, and I am also aware of a former Liberal prime minister making a proclamation to express this sentiment.
Let me start by addressing one argument I have heard to discredit Charlottetown's role, which is that Prince Edward Island did not join the union of British North America colonies until 1873. However, the proposed bill recognizes Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation, irrespective of P.E.I.'s participation in the union, so I do not consider the province's initial withdrawal from the proposed union as grounds to oppose this legislation in any way.
I alluded to my following point in my short preamble, but I want to reiterate: with respect to this legislation, Confederation should not be considered a static event.
Complicated unions and political manoeuvrings often have many moving parts. The British North America colonies union is certainly no exception. The initial conference was held September 1, 1864, in Charlottetown, and then New Brunswick governor Arthur Hamilton Gordon was instrumental in its organization. The role Governor Gordon played in getting parties to the conference is certainly worthy of recognition in the story of Confederation, because without his insistence on the initial conference, perhaps things would not have come together as they did. However, we must remember that he had proposed the initial conference to achieve a maritime union among P.E.I., New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. Shortly after the conference began, Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir George-Étienne Cartier persuaded the delegates from the east to abandon their original proposal and consider a greater British North America colonies union with those who called themselves the Canadians, who hailed from what is now Ontario and Quebec.
Historian Shawn McCarthy, at UNB, has convincingly explained that New Brunswick governor Gordon had hoped to assemble a maritime union and invited P.E.I. and Nova Scotia to discuss the proposal. Since this was not the union that took place, he promptly withdrew from the conference and headed home. Therefore, at the Charlottetown conference, the idea of a maritime union was essentially scrapped, and the union of the British North America colonies was born.
While many items were agreed to in spirit in Charlottetown, such as the idea of creating a federation, with a federal and local or provincial government, the details were confirmed in Quebec City at the famous Quebec City conference, in October 1864. Therefore, Quebec City played no less of an important role. It just does not necessarily have the title of the birthplace of Confederation. There was a subsequent conference in London as well that undoubtedly also played a significant role in finalizing the proposed union.
The BNA Act received royal assent on July 1, 1867. I hope hon. members will see why I have asked that Confederation be considered a process instead of a singular event.
In some ways, the Confederation process is a very Canadian story. It is filled with compromises and the genius and emotional intelligence of key players drawn from various backgrounds from various parts of this land. When one considers these prominent figures and their roles in arranging both the Charlottetown and Quebec conferences, it is easy to see that both New Brunswick and Quebec played a huge role in the ultimate success of the union. It is certainly my contention, however, that Charlottetown was where the union of what we now call Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia was conceived.
Professor MacDonald, from the department of history at the University of P.E.I., states:
...the process began in Charlottetown in 1864. It was at that conference that a congruence of pressures, fear of the Americans, the colonial office wanting us to unite and the needs of Canadians came together in an agreement in principle to a confederation. This was a huge, watershed moment, and I use that term advisedly. All things flowed from that agreement in principle to a confederation
He said that everything flowed from the conference in Charlottetown, so that is absolutely critical.
There has not, however, always been a positive role in Confederation in respect of indigenous peoples. That has to be recognized as well as we try now, finally, to build a nation-to-nation relationship. We must ever be mindful of the way the first peoples were treated in our country. That is why, in the preamble of the bill before us, its talks about Charlottetown forming “part of the basis for the nation of Canada”. I strongly agree. The population of indigenous peoples, the Mi’kmaw population in particular, have to be front and centre as we celebrate this initiative.
Therefore, I call on the government to not pay lip service to the calls for action in the truth and reconciliation commission report. In particular, I draw its attention to call to action no. 45, which calls on the government to not only reconcile aboriginal and crown constitutional orders to ensure that aboriginal peoples are full partners in Confederation but also to “adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.”
In conclusion, the NDP supports Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation. We acknowledge that the long process began there, but we call on the government to recognize and acknowledge the important role indigenous peoples should have played in the negotiations and to work with them to create a new narrative for Canada going forward.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-10-30 12:19 [p.14683]
Mr. Speaker, in his remarks, the minister pointed to the fact that this legislation, Bill C-49, addresses a number of pieces of transport legislation. It deals with trade, rail, privacy, competition, and passenger rights.
However, he somehow says that that is not an omnibus bill and wants to somehow distinguish the government's performance from that of the Harper government, where time allocation was brought forward over 100 times, with that member and his party standing with us to rail against the improper use of time allocation.
Can the member tell us what has changed?
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-10-30 14:14 [p.14695]
Mr. Speaker, as Remembrance Day approaches, I rise to thank all branches of the Royal Canadian Legion across this country. In my riding of Victoria, I salute the Britannia branch, Trafalgar/Pro Patria, and Public Service Branch 127, of which I am a proud member.
Organizing commemorative services takes a great deal of effort, so let us thank the volunteers, the veterans, and their families. This year, I will not be able to attend Remembrance Day services with my legion friends. I have the honour to travel to Passchendaele, in Belgium, to pay my respects and remember those who fought and died for our country.
Remembrance Day is also a day to reflect on peace. Let us acknowledge those working to ban nuclear weapons, from local groups like the Vancouver Island Peace and Disarmament Network, to groups like this year's Nobel Peace Price winner, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.
Let us honour those who have given so much for our country by renewing our efforts to ensure that future generations never again have to make the enormous sacrifices of current and past generations of Canadians.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-10-23 16:59 [p.14436]
Mr. Speaker, as Jack Layton used to say, I rise more in sadness than in anger today and I resent very much comments that somehow the motion today involves, to quote the member from Hamilton, a “personal attack”. If one were to read the motion before Parliament today, one would understand that we are seeking amendments to avoid the situation that the finance minister found himself in.
Legislation in other jurisdictions, I will say, adds not just the term “conflict of interest” but “apparent conflict of interest”, which has been the standard, for example, in the province of British Columbia's legislation for decades. Had that section been in the act, I do not think we would be here, because most Canadians would accept that there is the perception that a reasonable person would have, reasonably well informed of the situation, that the minister has been in an apparent conflict of interest.
Whether the letter of the Conflict of Interest Act was broken, how many people could say with a straight face that the spirit of the act has not been broken? We want to avoid that in the future. Ever since the Sinclair Stevens scandal of many years ago, people have consistently sought for an apparent conflict of interest standard to be added to the legislation. When the ethics committee met in 2014 under the leadership of Pat Martin, it was accepted that there should be amendments to the legislation, and the Conservatives did none of it. After two years, the Liberals have done none of it, and here we are today.
If the finance minister had accepted the letter of the law and had simply told the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner that he would have a conflict of interest screen, then he would have had a staff member decide when he was or was not in conflict, whether that was adequate, and whether they were “controlled assets” because they were in a numbered company controlled by the member and then those shares were held by another company controlled by the member. If somehow Canadians thought that was just fine, surely the abysmal failure, error of judgment, of the minister has to be examined here today. That he is in an apparent conflict of interest that a reasonable person would have to conclude exists seems beyond doubt today.
However, even if it is wrong for a finance minister who regulates the pension industry, who gave a speech in 2013 concerning Morneau Shepell's work in New Brunswick, arguing for target pension plans instead of defined benefit plans, which clearly would benefit a company like his, and then introduced Bill C-27 in October of 2016, a bill that would make the world safer for companies like Morneau Shepell, what kind of judgment does the finance minister have in doing so? How can Canadians have confidence in the minister, even if the technical requirements of the Conflict of Interest Act, weak though everyone knows it to be, including the commissioner, that error of judgment stands apart.
That is what the NDP is saying today. It is calling for an urgent amendment to the Conflict of Interest Act. If Liberals do nothing but add what British Columbia has had for decades, that there should be an apparent conflict of interest where a reasonable person, well informed, looks at the situation and says there is a reasonable suspicion of conflict, that would be enough. Then the commissioner would be able to hold a minister to account where that standard was breached.
My province is no stranger to conflict of interest. That is the section that has been used countless times by commissioners in the past. That is the section that the commissioner and others have sought to have added for years, but yet nothing gets done. We find ourselves in this embarrassing situation today, a situation, according to Bloomberg News, where the minister himself called for legislation allowing target benefit plans in a 2013 speech on the company website of Morneau Shepell and then his shares rose 4.4% in the week after the legislation, Bill C-27, was introduced, where the benchmark TSE composite index actually went down 0.2% during that period.
Canadians get it. This was a colossal error, unless the minister recused himself. After countless efforts to have him acknowledge or explain, I do not believe today we have had an explanation as to whether he recused himself, as the act clearly requires in circumstances of that sort. That is what is at issue. That is why we are here today.
Did he divest himself of the shares? Did he put them in a blind trust? Not really. Did people believe that he had done so, including his Liberal colleagues on Twitter? Yes, they did. However, suddenly, because The Globe and Mail reported that he did not do that, he decided it was time to clear the deck.
He owns a numbered company, which, as the commissioner quite properly says, is a separate legal entity. A corporation is different from the individual minister. I understand that. However, if he owns shares of a company that owns shares of a company that he controls, and he watched his shares go up by $2 million, allegedly, during that period, after he chose, as the minister responsible for pensions, to introduce pension reform, do Canadians expect that not to be something a responsible opposition would bring forward?
The Prime Minister the other day said that this is “petty politics”. This is somehow “gutter politics”. With respect, this has to be fixed urgently. That is what the tenor of this motion is. It talks about calling on the Minister of Finance to apologize for breaking trust and about calling on the government to immediately close the loophole in the Conflict of Interest Act, as recommended by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, to prevent a minister from personally benefiting.
This is not about intent. This not about us alleging that this was or was not done knowingly. That is not what is relevant in the current conflict of interest test. The test is whether a reasonably well-informed person would think that it has caused a problem.
Professor Lorne Sossin, the dean of Osgoode Hall Law School, when he testified in 2013 before the ethics committee, talked about lots of jurisprudence on the reasonable apprehension of bias test. It seems ironic that regulators are constantly subject to that reasonable apprehension test, which is whether a reasonable person would perceive a lack of impartiality, when a minister of the crown is not. This seems to be where we are today. That is why it is argued that this legislative change is so urgent.
When he testified before that same committee, British Columbia's conflict commissioner, Mr. Fraser, said that “if there is a suspicion or if there's a taint [of conflict of interest], then that's enough for an investigation.” That, of course, has occurred on countless occasions in British Columbia, but there is no such test in the circumstances here.
This is the problem of judgment that really needs to be addressed. Should the minister have recused himself? Yes, he should have. Should he have divested before he made decisions, as the regulatory minister for pensions, that had an obvious impact that would benefit him and his company, in which he held so many shares. Yes. Knowing that, and simply saying that because we have a conflict of interest screen, that is sufficient, suggests an error in judgment that Canadians have a right to have addressed today.
In summary, the NDP is asking for the Conflict of Interest Act to be amended. It is asking for the minister to finally apologize for breaking the trust and giving politicians of all stripes a bad name. Most significantly, it is asking to get this legislation fixed so we can join the 21st century, as other provinces and jurisdictions have, so this kind of conflict does not occur again.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-10-23 17:10 [p.14438]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from Winnipeg Centre for his effort to change the channel. However, this is not in fact about the individual, as I keep saying, but about the reasonable perception of conflict. It is not necessarily impugning motives. It is simply asking, “How did this happen? How can you let yourself be the regulatory minister and then make a decision that has an immediate benefit to the tune of $2 million for a company that you regulate?”
That perception is what gives politicians a bad name. That is what we are saying that we need to amend the legislation so that this perception can be removed and we can create a standard that gives the commissioner the tools she needs to do the job. She does not have those tools. She has made 100 recommendations, and they have not been accepted. The ethics committee made a recommendation. It was the Oliphant commission in 2010 dealing with Mr. Mulroney and Mr. Karlheinz Schreiber that first recommended that apparent conflicts of interest be added to the act.
This is something that has been sought for a long time. We are hoping that this Parliament takes the job seriously and amends the law accordingly.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-10-23 17:12 [p.14438]
Mr. Speaker, the rules are the rules.
When I started my remarks, I talked about the difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law, even when a minister has a conflict of interest screen wherein the chief of staff gets to decide when a minister can or cannot engage about a company in which the minister has millions of dollars worth of assets. We need to change the rules so that the minister is not dependent upon an employee to signal yea or nay, but rather has clarity, as other legislation provides, so that when a situation arises in which the minister owns shares in a company, but the company is actually at the issue and not the individual, there is clarity about what controlled assets are directly and indirectly held.
The technical loophole that allowed the situation to occur is one that the Ethics Commissioner has frequently said needs to be addressed. We are simply saying in this motion that this should be clarified and the rules be changed so that this kind of situation is not allowed to occur again.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-10-20 10:52 [p.14353]
Mr. Speaker, nothing could be more important than the bill before the House today, Bill C-46, which deals with changes to the impaired driving laws in Canada to deal with not only drug impairment but increased sanctions on those who drive while impaired by alcohol. The NDP has long stood for improving this through legislation, smarter deterrence to deal with the tragedies taking place on our roadsides every day.
Professor Robert Solomon testified at the justice committee, which I had the honour to sit on during the testimony for most of this. He has long acted for Mothers Against Drunk Driving and put it very well. He said, “It's difficult to see how anyone can credibly make that claim”, the claim that the Criminal Lawyer's Association and others have made that mandatory alcohol testing is not necessary. He says:
...impairment-related crashes kill about 1,000 Canadians a year, injure almost another 60,000 more, a disproportionate percentage of whom are teenagers and young adults....Our current law has left Canada with one of the worst impaired driving records among comparable countries.
The enormity of the problem with which the bill is attempting to grapple is not lost upon us. However, we have great concerns about the mandatory alcohol testing to which Professor Solomon has testified.
The NDP leader, Mr. Jagmeet Singh, has been outspoken during his time in the Ontario legislature about the ability of the police to go after people simply on the basis of their race, be they indigenous, black, or Canadians of other minorities. The discriminatory police practice of carding has been central to his work in the Ontario legislative assembly. Mr. Singh says, “As Prime Minister, I'll enact a Federal Ban on Racial Profiling” to end it once and for all.
I raise this because of the potential of this mandatory alcohol screening that proposed section 320.27 of the bill would implement for the first time in Canada. We heard many witnesses at the committee, and after the break I will go back and talk about this in more detail. As long as the police have the ability to stop someone on a whim, that discretion can and will be abused.
Currently under the law as it exists, one has to have reasonable suspicion before stopping someone. If one no longer has to have that reasonable suspicion, which is what this section at issue would do, then there is the potential, indeed, the certainty that there will be disproportionate targeting of racialized Canadians, indigenous people, youth, and other marginalized groups. That is the nub of the problem and why this is such a difficult bill for the House to deal with.
I am not saying it is not as critical as the member for Niagara Falls has reminded us; it it is. I am not saying that the potential for deaths is not real, because it is there. However, we have to get this balance right. We are not convinced that it has been achieved. We are still studying it and will continue to study it before the vote takes place in the next while.
At the committee, the NDP did manage to get one amendment that would somehow address this issue. That amendment would add the proposed section 31.1 to the bill, which would require that this issue be studied and reported to Parliament within three years of enactment. The committee agreed with that, and I hope the House will accept that final amendment as well. We will see whether the concerns that so many experts have brought to the attention of the committee will prove true in practice.
I had the opportunity at committee to speak to Canada's leading constitutional jurist on this subject. He is the famous Professor Peter Hogg. He indicated that he had done a legal opinion upon which Mothers Against Drunk Driving relied. It basically says that he is in favour of mandatory alcohol testing and of the ability to stop people at random. However, I asked him, “If the evidence were that there were a disproportionate impact on racialized groups and minorities, would that not give you pause in defending this bill under section 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?”
If the evidence showed there would be this abuse, as others have predicted, would that give him pause? Professor Hogg, who of course agreed with mandatory alcohol testing, said that “It would give me pause if that were the case...but I think the pause that I would make would be to look at the administration of the law, so that it does get cleansed of any kind of racial bias or anything like that.”
Thus even a leading jurist who supports the initiative of mandatory alcohol screening is saying that it may be subject to defeat under section 1 of the charter if the evidence shows, as so many experts have said, that it would have this effect of racial profiling, that it would allow the police, on a whim, to stop people simply because of the colour of their skin, their age, or the like.
I will resume after question period, but at this stage, Canadians need to know how difficult this balance would be.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-10-20 11:24 [p.14359]
Mr. Speaker, the finance minister initially said that he was just following the recommendations of the Ethics Commissioner while ignoring what the Prime Minister told him he had to do in his mandate letter, but yesterday he announced he was going to take action to fix the situation. Even if he were following the rules, he must understand that any reasonable person would conclude that at the very least, he was in an apparent conflict of interest and certainly failed to exercise the kind of judgment one would expect from a finance minister.
Will he now apologize to Canadians for breaking their trust?
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-10-20 11:25 [p.14359]
Just blame the Ethics Commissioner, Mr. Speaker.
The finance minister says he is working for the middle class, all the while attempting to justify that his actions were ethical, showing again just how out of touch he is with the reality facing most Canadians. The minister is in charge of the country's finances and he should not be allowed to maintain control over tens of millions of dollars in personal investments in a company he regulates. That is common sense.
When will he take personal ownership that what he did was wrong and just apologize to Canadians?
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-10-20 12:12 [p.14368]
Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to raise today. The first is petition e-766, which is from about 1,300 of my constituents in Victoria. It calls upon the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food to outright ban battery cages, enriched cages, and all other cages from Canada's egg industry, making it illegal to confine a chicken in any cage, of any size, for any period of time. The petition calls for the transition to be far shorter than the 2036 timeline proposed by the Egg Farmers of Canada.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-10-20 12:14 [p.14368]
Mr. Speaker, the second petition raises a very important issue, not just from members of my riding of Victoria but for all Canadians. I want to begin by commending the Victoria Raging Grannies and the Vancouver Island Peace and Disarmament Network for collecting signatures on their petition, which calls for Canada's participation in, and ratification of, the United Nations treaty to abolish nuclear weapons. These constituents call upon Parliament to take a position independent of NATO and the United States and support the treaty to prohibit the development, production, transfer, stationing, and use of nuclear weapons.
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