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36th Parliament, 2nd Session

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 34

CONTENTS

Friday, December 3, 1999

VGOVERNMENT ORDERS

. 1005

VCRIMINAL CODE
VBill C-18. Second reading
VHon. Don Boudria
VMr. John Maloney

. 1010

. 1015

VMr. Eric Lowther

. 1020

. 1025

VMr. Michel Bellehumeur

. 1030

. 1035

. 1040

. 1045

. 1050

. 1055

VSTATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
VVIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
VMr. Yvon Charbonneau
VVIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
VMr. Inky Mark
VPARLIAMENT HILL
VMr. Sarkis Assadourian

. 1100

VPHILIPPINES
VMr. Rey D. Pagtakhan
VINTERNATIONAL DAY OF DISABLED PERSONS
VMr. Ian Murray
VINTERNATIONAL DAY OF DISABLED PERSONS
VMr. Eric Lowther
VINTERNATIONAL DAY OF DISABLED PERSONS
VMr. Maurice Dumas
VLANDMINES
VMr. Andrew Telegdi

. 1105

VFREEDOM OF SPEECH
VMr. Jason Kenney
VTHE GREAT LAKES
VMr. Brent St. Denis
VREPUBLIC OF PALAU
VMr. Odina Desrochers
VJOB CREATION
VMr. Robert Bertrand
VRACISM
VMr. Gordon Earle
VEMPLOYMENT
VMr. Tony Ianno

. 1110

VSMALL BUSINESS IN PORT-CARTIER
VMr. Ghislain Fournier
VFIREARMS ACQUISITION CERTIFICATE
VMr. Gerald Keddy
VHANUKKAH
VMr. Jacques Saada
VTEMPSDEM DANCE COMPANY
VMr. Yvon Godin
VWORLD HOCKEY CHALLENGE
VMr. Peter MacKay

. 1115

VORAL QUESTION PERIOD
VNATIONAL UNITY
VMr. Grant Hill
VHon. Herb Gray
VMr. Grant Hill
VHon. Herb Gray
VMr. Grant Hill
VHon. Herb Gray
VFUNDRAISERS
VMr. Grant McNally
VHon. Don Boudria
VMr. Grant McNally

. 1120

VHon. Don Boudria
VREFERENDUMS
VMrs. Suzanne Tremblay
VHon. Herb Gray
VMrs. Suzanne Tremblay
VHon. Herb Gray
VCANADA ELECTIONS ACT
VMrs. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral
VHon. Don Boudria
VMrs. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral
VHon. Don Boudria

. 1125

VTRADE
VMs. Bev Desjarlais
VMr. Bob Speller
VMs. Bev Desjarlais
VHon. Lloyd Axworthy
VAIRLINE INDUSTRY
VMr. Charlie Power
VMr. Stan Dromisky
VMr. Charlie Power
VMr. Stan Dromisky

. 1130

VTAXATION
VMr. Ken Epp
VMr. Roy Cullen
VMr. Charlie Penson
VHon. Herb Gray
VCHECHNYA
VMrs. Francine Lalonde
VHon. Lloyd Axworthy
VMrs. Francine Lalonde
VHon. Lloyd Axworthy

. 1135

VABORIGINAL AFFAIRS
VMr. Jim Gouk
VHon. Robert D. Nault
VMr. Philip Mayfield
VHon. Robert D. Nault
VAIRLINE INDUSTRY
VMr. Stan Dromisky
VMr. Stan Dromisky
VABORIGINAL AFFAIRS
VMr. Darrel Stinson

. 1140

VHon. Robert D. Nault
VMr. Gurmant Grewal
VHon. Robert D. Nault
VORPHAN CLAUSES
VMrs. Monique Guay
VHon. Claudette Bradshaw
VLANDMINES
VMr. John McKay
VHon. Maria Minna
VFISHERIES
VMr. John Duncan
VHon. Harbance Singh Dhaliwal

. 1145

VMr. Bill Gilmour
VHon. Harbance Singh Dhaliwal
VNATIONAL DEFENCE
VMr. Gordon Earle
VMr. Robert Bertrand
VMr. Gordon Earle
VMr. Robert Bertrand
VHEALTH
VMr. John Herron
VMr. Yvon Charbonneau
VMr. John Herron
VMr. Yvon Charbonneau

. 1150

VNATIONAL DEFENCE
VMr. David Pratt
VMr. Robert Bertrand
VAGRICULTURE
VMr. Rick Casson
VMr. Bob Speller
VROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE
VMr. Yvan Loubier
VMr. Jacques Saada
VTHE ENVIRONMENT
VMs. Judy Wasylycia-Leis
VMr. Yvon Charbonneau
VFISHERIES
VMr. Mark Muise

. 1155

VHon. Harbance Singh Dhaliwal
VCENSUS
VMr. Mac Harb
VHon. John Manley
VPRISONS
VMr. Myron Thompson
VMr. Jacques Saada
VPCB CONTAMINATED SOILS
VMs. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold
VMr. Stan Dromisky
VPORT OF BELLEDUNE
VMr. Yvon Godin
VMr. Stan Dromisky
VSEARCH AND RESCUE
VMr. Mark Muise

. 1200

VHon. Harbance Singh Dhaliwal
VPOINT OF ORDER
VOral Question Period
VHon. Herb Gray
VMr. Michel Bellehumeur
VHOUSE OF COMMONS
VThe Speaker
VROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
VCOLUMBIA RIVER TREATY
VMr. Brent St. Denis
VCOMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE
VProcedure and House Affairs
VMs. Marlene Catterall
VBANK ACT
VBill C-391. Introduction and first reading
VMr. Mac Harb

. 1205

VCANADA SEAT BELT ACT
VBill C-392. Introduction and first reading
VMr. Mac Harb
VCONSUMER CREDIT INFORMATION ACT
VBill C-393. Introduction and first reading
VMr. Mac Harb
VDEFICIT PREVENTION ACT
VBill C-394. Introduction and first reading
VMr. Mac Harb
VPROTECTION OF PRIVACY (SOCIAL INSURANCE NUMBERS) ACT
VBill C-395. Introduction and first reading
VMr. Mac Harb
VINCOME TAX ACT
VBill C-396. Introduction and first reading
VMr. Mac Harb
VPETITIONS
VAdoption
VMr. Eric Lowther

. 1210

VQUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
VMs. Carolyn Parrish
VGOVERNMENT ORDERS
VCRIMINAL CODE
VBill C-18. Second reading
VMr. Michel Bellehumeur

. 1215

. 1220

. 1225

VMr. Gordon Earle

. 1230

. 1235

. 1240

VNISGA'A FINAL AGREEMENT ACT
VBill C-9—Notice of time allocation
VHon. Don Boudria
VCRIMINAL CODE
VBill C-18. Second reading
VMr. Peter MacKay

. 1245

. 1250

. 1255

VMr. Michel Bellehumeur

. 1300

. 1305

VMr. Mark Muise

. 1310

VMr. John McKay

. 1315

. 1320

VMr. Eric Lowther

. 1325

VMr. Myron Thompson
VMr. Darrel Stinson
VPRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

. 1330

VCANADA LABOUR CODE
VBill C-212. Second reading
VMrs. Monique Guay

. 1335

. 1340

. 1345

VMr. Steve Mahoney

. 1350

. 1355

VMr. Gurmant Grewal

. 1400

VMr. Yvon Godin

. 1405

. 1410

VMr. Charlie Power

. 1415

. 1420

VMr. John McKay

. 1425

VMrs. Monique Guay
VAppendix

(Official Version)

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 34


HOUSE OF COMMONS

Friday, December 3, 1999

The House met at 10 a.m.



Prayers


GOVERNMENT ORDERS

 

. 1005 +

[English]

CRIMINAL CODE

 

Hon. Don Boudria (for the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada) moved that Bill C-18, an act to amend the Criminal Code (impaired driving causing death and other matters), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. John Maloney (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, with Bill C-18 of the present session and Bill C-82 of the previous session, the government has responded positively to every one of the 10 recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for specific amendments to Criminal Code provisions related to impaired driving.

[Translation]

In October 1997, the House of Commons directed the standing committee to review the impaired driving provisions of the Criminal Code. On May 25, 1999 the committee tabled its report entitled “Toward Eliminating Impaired Driving” with an appended draft bill.

Within two weeks of receiving that report, the government introduced Bill C-82, which was fast-tracked and given royal assent, as amended, on June 17, 1999.

[English]

As tabled, Bill C-82 followed very closely the draft bill which the standing committee had appended to its report.

In order to achieve speedy passage, the provision raising the maximum penalty for impaired driving causing death to life imprisonment was removed from Bill C-82 and placed in Bill C-87.

Bill C-82 came into force on July 1, 1999. With prorogation, Bill C-87 died on the order paper. The government committed itself to reintroducing in this session the provision that was found within Bill C-87.

Bill C-82 amended seven penalty provisions and one investigation provision as follows. It increased the minimum fine for impaired driving offences to $600. It raised the minimum driving prohibitions for all impaired driving offenders and increased the maximum driving prohibitions for second and subsequent offenders. The bill specified that judges must consider a blood alcohol concentration reading above 160 milligrams per cent as an aggravating factor in sentencing. It specified that a judge may make a probation order for assessment and treatment in relation to addiction in a jurisdiction that has such a program. The bill also specified that a judge may make a probation order for ignition interlock use in a jurisdiction that has such a program. It introduced a new maximum penalty of 10 years of imprisonment for leaving the scene of an accident knowing that someone was injured. It also introduced a new maximum penalty of life imprisonment for leaving the scene of an accident knowing that there was a death or an injury and not caring whether death ensued and death did ensue. It raised the maximum penalty for driving while disqualified to five years of imprisonment where the crown elects to proceed by indictment. Finally, the bill extended the period from two hours to three hours during which an officer with reasonable grounds to believe an impaired driving offence had occurred can demand a breath sample.

 

. 1010 + -

Bill C-18 follows through on the government's commitment to reintroduce the provision found in Bill C-87. It would raise the maximum penalty for impaired driving causing death from 14 years to life imprisonment, as recommended by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in its report. This maximum penalty would equal the maximum penalty for the offences of manslaughter and for criminal negligence causing death.

A maximum penalty is reserved for cases involving the worst offender in the worst factual circumstances. However, even when considering the appropriate sentences for offenders who are not sentenced to the maximum penalty, the courts can consider the fact that the maximum penalty for an offence has been raised and adjust the penalty accordingly. This amendment will contribute to the message that still needs to be sent: society will not tolerate impaired driving.

There is another amendment in Bill C-18 that implements the positive response by the government to a recommendation made by the standing committee in its report “Toward Eliminating Impaired Driving”. This is an amendment that would add drugs to section 256 of the criminal code as a basis upon which a peace officer may seek a warrant to obtain a blood sample. Currently, the warrant may only be sought where the officer reasonably believes that a driver committed an impaired driving offence involving alcohol, in circumstances involving an injury or a death, and where the driver is unable to consent to the taking of a blood sample. This will add to the tools that peace officers may use in investigating certain drug impaired driving offences committed in violation of paragraph 253(a) of the criminal code.

Besides meeting commitments for specific legislative changes made by the government on October 22, 1999, when it tabled its response to the report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, Bill C-18 also contains two provisions that are technical in nature.

One of these would amend the French definition of a motor vehicle found in section 2 of the criminal code to accord with the English definition, which excludes vehicles propelled by means of muscular power.

The other technical amendment will delete the offence of driving while disqualified from the list of indictable offences found in section 553 of the code that come within the absolute jurisdiction of a provincial court judge. This is necessary because Bill C-82 raised the maximum penalty for driving while disqualified from two years to five years of imprisonment where the crown proceeds by indictment. The charter provides the right to a jury trial for an offence carrying a maximum penalty of five years or more. Therefore, the amendment in Bill C-18 will ensure that section 553 is in compliance with the charter.

The government did not naively believe when it put forward the amendments contained in Bill C-82 that criminal code changes by themselves would eliminate all incidents of impaired driving. Nor was the standing committee naive in makings its proposals. The criminal law must do its part in the struggle against impaired driving; however, other systems must also fulfill their important parts. Governments, many public and private organizations, families and individuals have contributed to a real shift in public attitudes toward impaired driving over a period of time.

However, despite significant reductions over the past decade in the percentage of fatally injured drivers who have a blood alcohol concentration exceeding the legal limit, the remaining extent of impaired driving is still an enormous problem. The government will continue to work with other governments and organizations to combat impaired driving.

In addition to continuing work in the field of criminal law, prevention and educational work related to impaired driving is carried out by Health Canada as part of Canada's national drug strategy. Improving road safety measures to fight impaired driving is an important aspect of work carried out by Transport Canada. If we have learned anything from the standing committee's review of the impaired driving provisions, it is that individuals and organizations are working with various levels of government and police agencies to develop a combination of countermeasures that will eliminate impaired driving. It has been a pleasure to observe parliamentarians of all political stripes laying aside partisan politics and working together in order to address the serious problem of impaired driving. I wish especially to thank all members of the standing committee for their hard work in writing a report and drafting legislation to meet a common goal.

 

. 1015 + -

It is also gratifying to see the extent of public interest and participation in the development of criminal law responses to impaired driving.

While we may not all agree on every measure that has been proposed to eliminate impaired driving, together we have taken some important steps which improve the criminal law and contribute to the combination of measures aimed against impaired driving.

I ask that members of the House give their support to Bill C-18 which responds to the standing committee's remaining two recommendations for specific criminal code amendments.

Mr. Eric Lowther (Calgary Centre, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-18. I heard the member opposite applaud the standing committee and the work it has done. I too concur that the work that has been done on this particular bill is very positive and serves to protect the lives of Canadians from the tragedy of harm and death that can come from impaired driving.

This particular bill, as the member opposite has just stated, is intended to increase the maximum penalty for impaired driving causing death to life imprisonment, providing for the taking of blood samples for the purposes of testing for the presence of a drug and making a number of other amendments as detailed here.

I want to draw attention to the excellent work of my colleague from Prince George—Bulkley Valley on this particular initiative and the long persistent road that he has been on to bring this forward to the House of Commons. The very reason that this issue was even before the standing committee was largely due to the result, effort and the determination of one particular member of the Reform Party, the member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley.

Let me allow the House to reflect, and those watching today, on the long road it has travelled to actually get this bill to the House here today. It was more than three years ago, February 1996, that a private member's bill was put forward by the member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley with the Reform Party, Bill C-201. It was an act to amend the criminal code to provide for a seven year minimum sentence for those convicted of impaired driving causing death. At that time there was no minimum jail term. The maximum sentence was unclear. The bill was defeated in the House by a margin of 31 votes.

Mr. Speaker, you might think that might be the end of the story, that the hon. member might have quit there after having finally got his bill to the floor and votable, which is not an easy thing to do in the House. There is a long series of lotteries, in effect, that one has to go through to get to that point. He got his bill to the floor with great public support and yet it was defeated in the House.

That was not going to deter the member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley. On December 2, 1996, because of the great public support for what he was doing, he proposed a private member's motion, M-78. The motion read that pursuant to Standing Order 68(4)(a), the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights be instructed to prepare and bring in a bill to amend those sections of the criminal code which deal with impaired driving in order to (a) enhance deterrents and (b) ensure that the penalties reflect the seriousness of the offence.

He did not give up on the bill and he went ahead with a motion. That motion then was unanimously adopted by the House of Commons on February 7, 1997, a year after he had started this initiative.

That started the ball rolling in a sense here in the House of Commons. On October 30, 1997, another motion, M-78, was introduced as an opposition day motion. Nothing really happened on the first motion but to keep the pressure on, this member again brought it forward in our caucus. He brought it forward as an opposition day motion. The member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley proposed Motion No. M-78, which again asked for the unanimous consent of the House and with further instruction that the justice committee carry out a review and report back to the House of Commons with legislation by May 15, 1998. Unfortunately, the government took no action at all even though that motion was given unanimous consent. Nothing happened even though it was approved by the House of Commons. There was no movement by the government opposite. There may be a variety of reasons for that.

 

. 1020 + -

The main thing here that was important to people who supported this initiative of the Reform Party member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley was that they wanted to see some action and there was none. It was not until the fall of 1998 that an extension to the deadline was agreed to just to keep it alive until November 30, 1998.

It was because of not wanting to let this die, because we wanted to keep it alive, the member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley negotiated to extend the deadline to May 15, 1999. More than three years from when he started this initiative he would not let go of this much needed legislation to protect the innocent from the damaging and sometimes life terminating effects of drunk driving.

The committee conducted hearings throughout February and March, 1999 and tabled its report in the House in late May. The resulting legislation, Bill C-82, which was part of a package, was passed by the House and came into effect on July 1, 1999. It was a long road to see a good section of what was called for by the member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley. It was strengthened, admittedly, by the committee and was adopted by the House.

On December 1 the bill we are debating today was introduced, Bill C-18. It deals with some sections that some members of the House were not comfortable having included in Bill C-82. We are moving ahead today on Bill C-18. We are hopeful that Bill C-18 will be passed by the House and this will complete the long road that the Reform Party, led by the member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley, has championed.

This whole persistent determination to see good legislation brought forward to protect Canadians and the lives of Canadians by a member of the Reform Party reminds me of other pieces of legislation that this party has brought forward in the House and has caused changes to occur that have subsequently been adopted and championed as their own by the Liberal Party opposite. I do not begrudge that. I suppose that is part of the dynamics here. But today I want to reflect on some of the other impacts the opposition has had on positive legislation in the House.

For example, some of the changes to the Young Offenders Act that have occurred recently in the new youth criminal justice act were largely brought about by members of our party. I know there are many members opposite who would agree with that. The requirement to have parents in the courtroom when juveniles are being sentenced is an initiative of the Reform Party. The requirement to have some degree of accountability for parents when a charged youth is released into their custody was an initiative of the Reform Party that has been adopted in the youth criminal justice act. There are many other initiatives as well. I suspect we would not even have seen the changes to the youth criminal justice act that are being proposed had it not been for the pressure that was put forward by members of the Reform Party responding to the concerns of the public, of grassroots Canadians.

We are all celebrating a balanced budget but I can remember back in 1998 looking at the information put forward by the Reform Party that showed a huge debt hole that had been dug by previous Tory and Liberal administrations. Just as Bill C-18 and Bill C-82 were initiatives of members of the Reform Party, so it was that it was the Reform Party responding to the deep debt that had been incurred by these previous governments that pressured for balanced budgets which today we have.

 

. 1025 + -

I had a bill that was designed to better protect children from sex offenders, particularly when those sex offenders want to work for an institution that cares for children, allowing these institutions or volunteer organizations to better do a complete assessment if there was any record of this person who wants to work with that organization.

That bill was passed by the House twice, made it through committee and, in fact, went on to the Senate. Unfortunately, after prorogation I do not believe that bill has been resubmitted by the Liberal government into the Senate and it now floats in the ozone. However, that does not mean we are going to give up on it. Again, a particular initiative brought forward by the official opposition to better protect children.

Again, another member of our party brought forward the whole initiative on organ donation, organ transplants and saving of lives through appropriate legislation to allow for that activity. Once more the Liberal government has responded to another good idea from the Reform Party and the official opposition.

One I know we will all remember, it is recent, is the call right across the country from families calling for fair family taxation. Last year we had a public outcry from those tired of tax policies that discriminate against certain family choices of child care. There was a call by single income parents across the country for fair family taxation so that the dollars and the choices are left in the hands of parents. What happened with that was it forced the subcommittee of finance to actually look at this whole issue. A report came out of that committee that contained a number of good recommendations.

Again, that whole issue was brought forward and brought to light in the House through the Reform Party responding to public pressure from across the country.

Let me return to Bill C-18. I want to conclude my comments by applauding again the Reform Party member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley who met with the Mothers Against Drunk Driving from coast to coast and attended many of their meetings. He brought forward their issues in the House during question period and during statement time as well as their petitions from across the country.

There are a lot of things that demand our time here in the House of Commons. He could have chosen to do other things, but he responded to the outcry of parents who have had children killed or spouses maimed by drunk drivers. He said “No, I am not going to let this go”.

He persisted until today we have legislation in the form of Bill C-82 that has been passed by this House and is going on to be made law, and now Bill C-18 to complete the package. It makes me proud to stand among my peers in the Reform Party. We are responding to the concerns of the grassroots. We are bringing forward issues and getting them into committee where they can be heard by committee members and witnesses can be brought forward. In effect it demonstrates that, collectively, in the House when we can get a good idea into committee and the members opposite hear the witnesses, it can result in excellent legislation.

Again, I applaud the member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley and the Reform Party for the leadership shown on this particular issue.

[Translation]

Mr. Michel Bellehumeur (Berthier—Montcalm, BQ): Mr. Speaker, once again in the area of justice we are going to play the spoiler role, because this bill is completely unacceptable.

Perhaps not the part dealing with taking samples, because I argued in favour of that, even in committee, but the provision calling for life sentences for impaired driving.

In the forty minutes available to me I shall attempt to show why. Forty minutes is a very short time, however, to try to convince the government over there on this subject, which is both truly important and extremely serious.

 

. 1030 + -

I consider it a privilege to speak on Bill C-18.

Today, what we are debating is not the seriousness of the offence of impaired driving causing death. We all agree that this is unacceptable, and ought never to happen, absolutely never.

Not one member of this House would contradict the Minister of Justice on that point. Every parliamentarian sympathizes with the victims of the horrible negligence suffered by some of our fellow citizens. This is why we must fight this unforgivable excess, which takes away too many innocent lives.

As long as there are victims of impaired drivers, something must be done. The problem must be addressed directly. There can be no hiding behind easy measures. As long as the statistics show there are victims, the Bloc Quebecois will take an interest in the issue, try to prove certain approaches and work on it.

However, today the objective of the legislation is not my problem. The objective is a good one. I support it. My problem is not with it.

We all want to reduce the number of deaths on our roads, and as quickly as possible, but the means to this end proposed by the Minister of Justice are inappropriate, unacceptable even. The minister's approach is too simplistic. I would say even that the minister's approach is quite senseless.

What the minister is claiming is not too complicated. I would say even that it is so uncomplicated as to be irresponsible. She simply says “Pass this bill. Let us impose life imprisonment and the number of highway deaths will drop”. That is magical thinking but it is pretty simplistic.

With Bill C-18, the Minister of Justice intimates that incarceration is effective in the fight against impaired driving . According to her, the threat of life imprisonment should have a direct influence on the behaviour of potentially dangerous citizens.

In her opinion—and Mr. Speaker I am sure you fully agree with me because you are a very wise man—the risk of getting life imprisonment instead of a 14 year sentence would have an impact on the behaviour of uncle Joe or cousin Pete who, for example, partied a little too hard at Christmas or New Year. The minister is saying “Let us send a clear message to the public”. One wonders whether the minister is not confusing the terms message with cheap publicity.

Either way, such a communication plan could end up costing us dearly in the long term, particularly since there is absolutely no guarantee that it will work.

Actually, Bill C-18 should trigger a substantive debate on the excessive use of incarceration by this government. We have here a government that chooses the easy way, the simple way out. The equation used by the government, particularly since the current Minister of Justice was appointed, is the following one: seriousness of offence plus pressure from the right automatically equals unjustified extension of jail terms. This is some formula coming from a Minister of Justice. Unfortunately, this is what the Liberal government has got us used to in recent years.

 

. 1035 + -

It goes without saying that those who oppose this simplistic approach are not always making friends, but I am not in politics primarily to make friends. I am in politics to get messages across, to make common sense prevail, to remind the government opposite that it is going in the wrong direction.

Those of us who oppose this simplistic approach are being accused of lacking compassion for the victims and of systematically siding with the accused, which is not the case, of course. Those who are aware of what goes on in the Standing Committee on Justice know very well that this is not the case. The opponents of the doctrine of law and order are also accused of being soft on law. If the responsible approach being taken by the Bloc Quebecois is synonymous with being soft on law, the Bloc Quebecois is only too glad to be so labelled, particularly as it is not alone in advocating a responsible approach to justice.

Recently, the supreme court had occasion to warn the public and the Liberal government in particular about overreliance on jail sentences as a means of reducing crime-related problems.

I would like to take a few minutes of my speech to quote the Supreme Court of Canada on some extremely important matters, because it is clear from Bill C-18 and all the bills the Minister of Justice is introducing lately, including the young offenders bill, that the minister and the government have not read this extremely important decision.

I am referring to the Gladue decision handed down last year by the judges of the supreme court, some of whom, including Justice Cory, put the federal government on trial for its sentencing policy.

Members might wish to make a note of the Gladue decision, and take a look at it, because it is very important and the Liberal government might perhaps change its approach to justice.

I will therefore read an important part of the Gladue decision dealing with what the court described as “the problem of overincarceration in Canada”. The excerpt I would like to read goes as follows:

    Canada is a world leader in many fields, particularly in the areas of progressive social policy and human rights. Unfortunately, our country is also distinguished as being a world leader in putting people in prison. Although the United States has by far the highest rate of incarceration among industrialized democracies, at over 600 inmates per 100,000 population, Canada's rate of approximately 130 inmates per 100,000 population places it second or third highest. Moreover, the rate at which Canadian courts have been imprisoning offenders has risen sharply in recent years, although there has been a slight decline of late. This record of incarceration rates obviously cannot instil a sense of pride.

This is not the Bloc Quebecois member for Berthier—Montcalm, but a justice of the Supreme Court of Canada who is saying that “This record of incarceration rates obviously cannot instil a sense of pride”. The decision then reads as follows:

    The systematic use of the sanction of imprisonment in Canada may be dated to the building of the Kingston Penitentiary in 1835.

I hope this has no link whatsoever with the Chair, but there was certainly something political in all of this, because if a prison was built in Kingston, it had to filled up. Therefore, people had to be sent to prison. This is not the supreme court justice talking, but the member for Berthier—Montcalm.

Now back to the decision:

    The penitentiary sentence was itself originally conceived as an alternative to the harsher penalties of death, flogging, or imprisonment in a local jail.

    Sentencing reformers advocated the use of penitentiary imprisonment as having effects which were not only deterrent, denunciatory, and preventive, but also rehabilitative.

    with long hours spent in contemplation and hard work contributing to the betterment of the offender.

 

. 1040 + -

However, things have changed since that time.

The supreme court goes on to say:

    Notwithstanding its idealistic origins, imprisonment quickly came to be condemned as harsh and ineffective, not only in relation to its purported rehabilitative goals, but also in relation to its broader public goals.

    The history of Canadian commentary regarding the use and effectiveness of imprisonment as a sanction was recently well summarized by Vancise J.A., dissenting in the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal in McDonald, supra.

This justice said:

    A number of inquiries and commissions have been held in this country to examine, among other things, the effectiveness of the use of incarceration in sentencing. There has been at least one commission or inquiry into the use of imprisonment in each decade of this century since 1914.

At this point, I would like the members opposite to listen very closely.

    An examination of the recommendations of these reports reveals one constant theme: imprisonment should be avoided if possible and should be reserved for the most serious offences, particularly those involving violence.

    They all recommend restraint in the use of incarceration and recognize that incarceration has failed to reduce the crime rate and should be used with caution and moderation.

    Imprisonment has failed to satisfy a basic function of the Canadian judicial system which was described in the Report of the Canadian Committee on Corrections entitled: “Toward Unity: Criminal Justice and Corrections” (1969)

    As “to protect society from crime in a manner commanding public support while avoiding needless injury to the offender”.

The supreme court continues its analysis and says:

    Canada does not imprison as high a portion of its population as does the United States. However, we do imprison more people than most other western democracies.

    The Criminal Code displays an apparent bias toward the use of incarceration since for most offences the penalty indicated is expressed in terms of a maximum term of imprisonment.

    A number of difficulties arise if imprisonment is perceived to be the preferred sanction for most offences.

    Perhaps most significant is that although we regularly impose this most onerous and expensive sanction, it accomplishes very little—

I repeat “accomplishes very little”. This is in reference to imprisonment.

The court continues:

      —apart from separating offenders from society for a period of time.

    In the past few decades many groups and federally appointed committees and commissions given the responsibility of studying various aspects of the criminal justice system have argued that imprisonment should be used only as a last resort.

This is important and it is the justices of the supreme court who are saying so. They go on:

    With equal force, in Taking Responsibility the Standing Committee on Justice and Solicitor General stated—

This is in 1988, not many years ago. The committee said:

    It is now generally recognized that imprisonment has not been effective in rehabilitating or reforming offenders, has not been shown to be a strong deterrent, and has achieved only temporary public protection and uneven retribution, as the lengths of prison sentences handed down vary for the same type of crime.

They go on:

    Since imprisonment generally offers the public protection from criminal behaviour for only a limited time, rehabilitation of the offender is of great importance. However, prisons have not generally been effective in reforming their inmates, as the high incidence of recidivism among prison populations shows.

 

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These are the conclusions of a House of Commons committee, which are quoted in the supreme court decision.

    The use of imprisonment as a main response to a wide variety of offences against the law is not a tenable approach in practical terms.

    Most offenders are neither violent nor dangerous. Their behaviour is not likely to be improved by the prison experience. In addition, their growing numbers in jails and penitentiaries entail serious problems of expense and administration, and possibly increased future risks to society.

    Moreover, modern technology may now permit the monitoring in the community of some offenders who previously might have been incarcerated for incapacitation or denunciation purposes. Alternatives to imprisonment and intermediate sanctions, therefore, are increasingly viewed as necessary developments.

The committee proposed that alternative forms of sentencing should be considered for those offenders who did not endanger the safety of others. It was put in this way, at pages 50 and 54 of the report:

    One of the primary foci of such alternatives must be on techniques which contribute to offenders accepting responsibility for their criminal conduct and, through their subsequent behaviour, demonstrating efforts to restore the victim to the position he or she was in prior to the offence and/or providing a meaningful apology.

    Except where to do so would place the community at undue risk, the “correction” of the offender should take place in the community and imprisonment should be used with restraint.

I now go back to the decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, which concluded thus:

    Thus, it may be seen that although imprisonment is intended to serve the traditional sentencing goals of separation, deterrence, denunciation, and rehabilitation, there is widespread consensus that imprisonment has not been successful in achieving some of these goals.

    Overincarceration is a long-standing problem that has been many times publicly acknowledged but never addressed in a systematic manner by Parliament.

As we have seen, the Supreme Court of Canada, superior court justices in certain provinces and parliamentary committees have studied this issue over the last 30 years. Recently, in the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, which includes the Department of Justice and the Solicitor General of Canada, everyone agreed that putting people in jail is not the solution. We have to find other ways of dealing with the problem.

The minister had the opportunity to show us that she had learned something from these 30 years of study, that she had understood the direction suggested by the Supreme Court of Canada in its recent judgement. She had the opportunity to show that her interpretation of that supreme court judgment led toward something other than a life sentence for someone who has committed a crime.

However, we will have to wait for another bill, because it is not the case in this one. I know justices who must be extremely disappointed in what they are hearing in this debate today. How can the minister seriously claim that a life sentence will have a deterrent effect on Canadians?

If she does not want to listen to the point of view the Bloc Quebecois, she should at least heed what the justices of the Supreme Court of Canada had to say.

I will repeat what the supreme court said about the effectiveness of incarceration. It is very important for members opposite to understand this. The supreme court justices said that incarceration was harsh and ineffective. In 1998, the members of the justice committee repeated that incarceration had no deterrent effect on the behaviour of offenders.

What is obvious to the whole legal community does not seem obvious to the justice minister. Where does the minister get the idea that imposing harsher jail sentences will affect the crime rate?

 

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The Minister of Justice may not appreciate what the Supreme Court had to say and I quote “This record of incarceration rates obviously cannot instil a sense of pride”.

Some may argue that the bill before the House is going to bolster Canada's image. Does the minister appreciate the fact that Canada will be known as one of the highest ranking developed countries in terms of the incarceration rate?

If the minister takes pride in such things, then I understand why she introduced Bill C-18, because it will only push Canada higher on that scale. Maybe our goal is to rank higher than the United States. Do we want to americanize our justice system? I do not think so; I really do not think that is our goal.

It comes as no surprise that the minister does not feel she has to follow through on the representations we regularly make to her in the House. The government always does as it pleases, without taking into account the views of the members of this House, and that is nothing new. However, it is unfortunate and even troubling to see that the minister and her government have chosen to ignore the advice of their own court of justice.

The government has no qualms about referring matters to the Supreme Court of Canada in order to put Quebec in its place and to prevent from achieving its goal democratically. It is all fine and good to listen to the supreme court in such instances, but perhaps the Department of Justice and the government should listen to and read the supreme court decisions on other cases than those referred to it in order to bring Quebec to heel and to put it in its place.

Again I invite the minister to read the latest decisions on imprisonment handed down by the supreme court. I would hope that this will convince her to backtrack on Bill C-18.

Not only has the minister not taken good note of the advice of her magistrates, but she is now overdoing it. She has introduced a bill that will certainly not result in a reduction of the incarceration rate in Canada. If the minister could demonstrate that increasing prison terms would help decrease the number of deaths caused by impaired driving, then we could view the increase of inmate population as a necessary evil.

Yet the minister is just not able to do that, because it simply cannot be done. Many studies have already found a total absence of causal link between longer prison terms and a lower crime rate.

Moreover, we must not forget to consider the adverse effects of an unwarranted increase in the inmate population. In this regard, let us recall the supreme court decision in the Gladue case, which said the increasing number of offenders in jails is causing severe cost and administration problems and may increase the threat these offenders might pose to society later on.

This is the problem that parliamentarians are too often confronted with: the excessive and systematic use of jail sentences. Not only is this excessive use of jail sentences unwarranted in the general framework of sentencing policies, but it is not suited to the nature of the specific offence we are dealing with today.

Indeed, data compiled by the Canadian centre for justice statistics show that the number of deaths caused by impaired driving has not increased in Canada. On the contrary, the numbers for 1998 are the lowest since 1989. The offence of impaired driving causing death is not rising sharply, as the minister opposite wants us to believe for political motives.

Although this statistical fact does not allow us to claim victory, it deserves some consideration during the examination of a bill that implies that the number of offences of impaired driving causing death is greatly increasing.

Indeed, we were entitled to expect that such an extension of the sentence was reflected in the statistics on this offence. As we cannot justify this hard line approach based on its effect on crime, we might have wanted to deal with a problem that was really on the rise. But this is not the case.

There is another factor that deserves our attention in the debate on Bill C-18, and it is how the courts operate. And this is very important.

 

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A dearth of legislative resources available to the courts might perhaps have justified increased sentences. But, the statistics show that the courts have never handed down a jail sentence of more than 10 years for the offence of impaired driving causing death.

The courts, which are the best placed to evaluate the circumstances of each offence committed, have never seen fit to impose the maximum sentence now available in the Criminal Code, which is 14 years. The question then arises as to what real effect adopting the sentence of life imprisonment would have on the practice of our courts.

As well, imposing life imprisonment for impaired driving might result in some ridiculous situations. For instance, a drunk driver who was clearly negligent could receive a stiffer sentence than a hired assassin who deliberately set out to kill someone and who receives a reduced sentence for being an informer. Consideration should also be given to certain sentencing statistics having to do with other offences similar to the offence of impaired driving causing death.

In the Criminal Code, impaired driving causing death carries a life sentence of 14 years. Since 1985, the average sentence handed down by Canadian appeal courts for this type of offence is 19 months. How can the minister justify a shorter sentence for someone who cold-bloodedly kills someone while driving recklessly than for someone driving under the influence of alcohol?

Let us not forget that incarceration is a last resort.

Mr. Speaker, will I have time to complete my speech?

The Speaker: Yes, indeed.

Mr. Michel Bellehumeur: I will therefore resume after question period. I still have much left to say.

The Speaker: The hon. member still has twelve and a half minutes remaining. He will have plenty of time to continue his speech.

As it is now almost 11 o'clock, we will proceed to Statements by Members.



STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Translation]

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

Mr. Yvon Charbonneau (Anjou—Rivière-des-Prairies, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, next Monday is the national day of remembrance and action on violence against women. This is not just an occasion for reflecting on the past; it is also one for looking ahead to the future.

Canada holds the enviable title of the best country in the world to live in, but we know that some people here are living better than others. As a rule, for example, we know that the women of this country are economically and socially disadvantaged and that some groups of women are particularly vulnerable to discrimination: older women, young women, disabled women, aboriginal women, immigrant women.

Violence against women is the most extreme form of discrimination, for this is a violation of their basic rights. Violence has enormous economic and social costs to the individual, their families and the community as a whole.

If we want to see Canada remain the best country in the world, we must renew our commitment to—

The Speaker: I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member.

The hon. member for Dauphin—Swan River.

*  *  *

[English]

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

Mr. Inky Mark (Dauphin—Swan River, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, on Monday, December 6, we will mark the 10th anniversary of one of the most unfortunate events in Canadian history. Marc Lepine's malicious act gunning down 14 young women in Montreal will never be forgotten.

Although the Montreal massacre was the height of violence against women, it is important to remember that women live daily with the threat of violence and deliberate acts of violence.

That is why education and ongoing initiatives to curb these attitudes must continue. Vigils are being held across the country on Monday. In my home riding of Dauphin—Swan River the Parkland Status of Women has led the way on action to combat violence against women.

Several events will take place across Canada, including here in Ottawa. The third annual candlelight vigil across the Internet will also help to share thoughts and feelings surrounding the entire issue.

We must all think and act on ways to end violence against women as the dawn of the year 2000 and a new century approaches.

*  *  *

PARLIAMENT HILL

Mr. Sarkis Assadourian (Brampton Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in past years the beautiful display of colourful lights that illuminates Parliament Hill were unfortunately turned off on January 3 before many Orthodox Christian communities have a chance to celebrate Christmas.

 

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I am delighted that when the lights on Parliament Hill and across Canada were illuminated last night they will remain on until January 8, 2000 and every year thereafter.

Many thanks to the Speaker for his co-operation in response to my initiative last year to have the lights remain on. The recognition of Canada's multicultural heritage that this extension symbolizes will be greatly appreciated by millions of Canadians who celebrate Christmas after December 25.

Mr. Speaker, merry Christmas and a happy new year.

*  *  *

PHILIPPINES

Mr. Rey D. Pagtakhan (Winnipeg North—St. Paul, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, 50 years ago tomorrow, Canada opened its first consulate office in the Philippines, starting the bond of goodwill that has since grown to full diplomatic relations; a bond that has seen Canada's involvement in the Philippines and the immigration of Filipinos to Canada, contributing to the well-being and fabric of the two nations.

As an offspring of this relationship, I am at once filled with pride and humility. Pride with gratitude, because Canada has given me the opportunity to pursue my medical career and raise my family on her nurturing soil, and now to serve fellow Canadians as a member of parliament. Humility, because I know I could not have done it alone for I will continue to owe part of myself to my roots.

I share the joy I feel as I stand in the House today and note the 50th anniversary of enduring relations between the country of my birth and the country that adopted me as a son.

Mabuhay. Vive le Canada et les Philippines.

*  *  *

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF DISABLED PERSONS

Mr. Ian Murray (Lanark—Carleton, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, today marks the seventh anniversary of the United Nations International Day of Disabled Persons. This day provides an opportunity to recognize the many accomplishments of Canadians with disabilities and to reflect on the contributions they make to society every day.

In 1998, the Prime Minister accepted the Franklin Delano Roosevelt International Disability Award in recognition of the Government of Canada's efforts toward enabling people with disabilities to achieve equality.

To mark this day, various federal departments have formed partnerships with agencies and representatives of people with disabilities. Today's celebration at the headquarters of the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton includes the presentation of several community awards and features displays to increase public awareness of programs and assistance available to people with disabilities.

I encourage all hon. members to support persons with disabilities as the various levels of government work with the private sector to encourage equality in the workplace and in society.

*  *  *

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF DISABLED PERSONS

Mr. Eric Lowther (Calgary Centre, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, today is the last International Day of Disabled Persons for the 20th century.

According to statistics, more than half a billion people in the world are disabled as a result of mental, physical or sensory impairments. Today is the day to recognize the contribution that those with disabilities have made to our society and the dignity and value of each and every person.

We have seen the incredible spirit and character of those in the Special Olympics, and they can be proud of their example to us.

People like Terry Fox and Rick Hansen have been an inspiration to millions, but we must also not forget all those with disabilities who strengthen the meaning of human life and make our country a better place to live.

Today, I and my colleagues salute our friends, families, neighbours and co-workers with disabilities and we thank them for the joy and inspiration they bring to the lives of us all.

*  *  *

[Translation]

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF DISABLED PERSONS

Mr. Maurice Dumas (Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, BQ): Mr. Speaker, today is the International Day of Disabled Persons.

With the year 2000 mere weeks away, we are forced to admit that we are still very far from giving anything more than lip service to their right to a full-fledged role as citizens.

In Quebec, it is estimated that close to one million persons are living with a handicap, and there are close to half a million in the workforce. Of those, many would like very much to be employed.

A 1996 study pointed out that the incomes of the disabled could be raised by academic upgrading, skills training and access to certain categories of employment.

The society in which we live can no longer turn a blind eye to this situation. Given the indecently large budget surpluses of the federal government and the crying needs of the disabled, how could we not be willing to give concrete recognition to their right to work, their right to independence and respect?

*  *  *

[English]

LANDMINES

Mr. Andrew Telegdi (Kitchener—Waterloo, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, two years ago, Ottawa hosted a conference whereby over 120 countries agreed to ban anti-personnel landmines. Those hidden killers that maimed or killed over 20,000 women, men and especially children each year are now being destroyed throughout the world.

Our Minister of Foreign Affairs led the world to this goal. Today he is honouring the creation of the Canadian Landmines Foundation whereby individual Canadians can contribute to the cause of ending hidden killers.

When I left Hungary as a child, I walked through those killing fields. Let other children today forever lose those fears that I felt that night.

*  *  *

 

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FREEDOM OF SPEECH

Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, three journalists arrested and carried away in a paddy wagon for photographing a peaceful protest; a grandmother handcuffed and hauled off by the police for staging a silent, solitary vigil; a peaceful citizen arrested for displaying a sign quoting from the UN charter on children's rights.

Where did all these gross violations of freedom of speech occur? In China? In Cuba? No, right here in Canada. What do they have in common? They were all perpetrated on Canadians speaking out for their belief in the sanctity of human life.

A variety of injunctions and laws have sprung up across Canada prohibiting Canadians who oppose abortion on demand from expressing that view. Consequently, attacks on their right to peacefully speak have become widespread, from citizens arrested for displaying signs in Sturgeon Falls to students attacked for handing out pro-life literature at the campus of UBC last week.

John Stuart Mill told us that if the right to freedom of speech exists for one person, it exists for all and that unpopular opinions much be protected as much as popular ones. It is time for society to consistently defend freedom of speech.

*  *  *

THE GREAT LAKES

Mr. Brent St. Denis (Algoma—Manitoulin, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, much of my riding borders on the beautiful Great Lakes of Huron and Superior, world famous, as hon. members will know. Many of my constituents enjoy sport fishing, commercial fishing, swimming and recreational boating in these waters. We are lucky to have this resource in our midst.

However, some of my constituents have expressed concern about the possible damage bulk water removal would cause the environment should it be allowed.

Our government has acted to address these concerns. Very recently the foreign affairs minister introduced amendments to the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act to prohibit bulk exports of water from Canadian boundary waters, including the Great Lakes.

I am pleased to see that our government is committed to ensuring that our freshwater resources, especially the Great Lakes, are there for future generations.

*  *  *

[Translation]

REPUBLIC OF PALAU

Mr. Odina Desrochers (Lotbinière, BQ): Mr. Speaker, on November 9, 1993, in their eighth referendum, the people of the Palau Islands, a former U.S. protectorate, chose sovereignty by majority vote.

The question put to the Palau people was as follows: “Do you approve of free association as proposed by the free association pact?”

On the ballot, along with the question was the information that the majority required was 50% plus one.

On October 1, 1994, the pact of free association was signed with the United States, and, on December 15 of the same year, the Republic of Palau joined the United Nations.

The Prime Minister and his acolyte in intergovernmental affairs, rather than deny the commitments they made in 1995 and propose positions that are undemocratic, should realize that sovereignty partnership is the way to the future for Quebec and Canada, and the threat to twist the principle of voter equality will simply damage Canada's reputation abroad.

*  *  *

JOB CREATION

Mr. Robert Bertrand (Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this morning, spectacular economic news was revealed by Statistics Canada on the country's job situation.

The unemployment rate has dropped by .3% to 6.9% nationally, the lowest rate in 18 years.

What is more, over half of the new jobs created are in Quebec. The strong growth in employment has resulted in a drop in the unemployment rate to 8.4% there, the lowest level in Quebec since April 1976.

Finally, climate of business in the private sector seems even better, since the number of employees increased by 42,000 in business in November.

Such encouraging results lead me to ask a clear question: Should Quebec separate with such good results? Certainly not.

*  *  *

[English]

RACISM

Mr. Gordon Earle (Halifax West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, racism is an odious and infectious disease which continues to thrive in our world. Unfortunately, we see racism here in Canada, even in places where we would least expect it.

The United Nations has recognized the urgency of eliminating racial discrimination with its convention for the elimination of racial discrimination. This convention has received the support of many countries, including Canada. However, while other countries supply annual reports providing information on actions taken against racism, the Government of Canada has failed to make submissions to the United Nations for the past two years. Just what is this government hiding?

I call on the Liberal government to file a report for Canada before the end of 1999 outlining initiatives to combat racism, but more than that, to go beyond filing a report and take real action to fight racism in our communities. Let us enter the new millennium with something to show on fighting racism in Canada.

*  *  *

EMPLOYMENT

Mr. Tony Ianno (Trinity—Spadina, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to stand here today and state that the unemployment rate is the lowest since August 1981. From a high in 1993 before we took office at 11.6%, to today at a rate of 6.9%, a decrease of approximately 4.7% in six years. In 1993, 13 million Canadians were working. Today close to 1.9 million more Canadians have joined the workforce, bringing the total to 14.9 million.

 

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Our Liberal government has achieved this through a balanced approach. We put a strategic plan in place, working with many sectors of our economy to ensure that we put jobs and Canadians first. We will continue to help Canadians achieve a higher standard of living through the dignity of work, while always trying to ensure that no one is left behind.

*  *  *

[Translation]

SMALL BUSINESS IN PORT-CARTIER

Mr. Ghislain Fournier (Manicouagan, BQ): Mr. Speaker, every entrepreneur and business owner will tell you that being a businessperson is not always easy.

One must juggle many things, and this on a daily basis. However, when our work is publicly recognized, it is the best present and reward that one could think of. This is what happened to seven businesses in my riding, which all won awards at Port-Cartier's business of the year gala.

Congratulations to Boutique Marie-Fleur, Ébénisterie Concept-Plus, Auberge Étoile du Nord, FMS Usitech and Clinique Physio-massage. All these businesses won awards in various categories.

Congratulations also to Boucherie Margil for its 20 years of existence and to Clinique Physio Massage Santé et Forme, which won the public's award for the quality of its products, services and hospitality.

*  *  *

[English]

FIREARMS ACQUISITION CERTIFICATE

Mr. Gerald Keddy (South Shore, PC): Mr. Speaker, a South Shore constituent, who volunteers for senior's literacy, recently wrote to me concerning a police record check. He understands this process is meant to filter out unsuitable applicants but he resents the administrative bureaucracy.

After hand delivering his request to the local RCMP for a police record check, he realized he did not have his birth certificate but he did have a current Firearms Acquisition Certificate which has a scanned photo and a birth date on it. However, this card is not accepted by the RCMP to do a police check.

In order to obtain his FAC, he is required to submit his birth certificate so that a police and background check could be carried out as a prerequisite to its issuance. Logic would dictate in the circumstances described that the Firearms Acquisition Certificate is a verification of one's birth. Surely even this government could figure that out.

*  *  *

[Translation]

HANUKKAH

Mr. Jacques Saada (Brossard—La Prairie, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, today is the first day of the Jewish festival of lights called Hanukkah.

It is a great celebration for the Jewish community, because today millions of Jewish people will remember the injustices done to them not so long ago.

It is especially important to point out the great sense of solidarity of a people that was able to turn the page in order to live and set down roots in a country as open and welcoming as Canada.

[English]

This festival has a rich tradition and history of its own. Observed by millions of Jews around the globe, it commemorates the victory of faith over tyranny.

[Translation]

I therefore invite the hon. members to join in the celebrations of this community, my community, whose courage and perseverance are an integral part of its values.

*  *  *

TEMPSDEM DANCE COMPANY

Mr. Yvon Godin (Acadie—Bathurst, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I rise today to draw attention to the considerable accomplishments of the Acadian dance company Tempsdem, which has developed a worldwide reputation in recent years.

As ambassadors of Acadian culture, they touch us deeply with their imaginative choreography and remarkable talent. In 1998 they showcased Acadian culture in Ottawa on Canada Day. Now they are headed to Nice for its Carnaval, where they will proudly represent Canada and Acadie.

The high calibre of their performances reflects the long hours of practice that lie behind them. I congratulate the members of the dance company, their parents and the organizers. You are the pride of the Acadian peninsula.

*  *  *

[English]

WORLD HOCKEY CHALLENGE

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, I am thrilled to inform the House that Pictou county, in another sporting triumph, will be welcoming the world to our community in January 2001 when it hosts the under 17 World Hockey Challenge.

This tournament brings together the best 16 year old hockey players in the world, many of whom will go on to star in the NHL. Joe Sakic, Pierre Turgeon, Mike Recci and Wade Redden, to name a few, are all former participants of the tournament.

 

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The talents of these young men will be showcased at the New Glasgow stadium, which in 1998 hosted the Air Canada Cup and this summer raised to the roof the sweater of Stanley Cup champion John Sim.

They will be participating in the Under 17 World Hockey Challenge and will be surfacing again representing their country at the world junior championships and, quite possibly, the Olympic Games.

My congratulations are extended to those who have worked so diligently to bring this winning bid in the first ever world hockey championship to be hosted by the province of Nova Scotia. As any Nova Scotian will tell us, this province is no stranger to hosting these types of tournaments.

On behalf of the PC Party, I extend our support and encouragement to all participating teams.



ORAL QUESTION PERIOD

[English]

NATIONAL UNITY

Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, yesterday the official opposition presented a clear unity plan for everybody to see. On one side we have issues that will improve the federation and on the other side clear rules on the issue of secession.

Why, after the government has been in power for six year, is there not more than one clear unity plan on the table for Canada?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have a clear unity plan. Its good results are shown by the fact that the unemployment rate is lower than at any time in the past 20 years.

Our plan is based on balanced budgets, low interest rates, low inflation, lower taxes, strategic investments and a strong social safety net.

We have a plan. It is working.

Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, our unity plan is focused on fixing the way the federation works, working on the democratic processes, working on the way this parliament works and fixing things like the supreme court.

Why, after the government has been in power for six years, is there only one clear plan A on unity in this country?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have a clear plan A. It is exemplified by the evidence of the lowest unemployment rate in 20 years, and especially lower unemployment in Quebec.

The Reform Party is whining, but Liberals are working in the interests of Quebecers and all Canadians and we will keep doing that to maintain the unity of our wonderful country.

Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, our unemployment rate is down in spite of the policies of the government.

Our plan has a strong position on the issue of secession. If in fact a province decides to leave the country there needs to be a two-pronged question, for surely if Canada's borders are divisible, so are a province's borders divisible.

Why, after six years in government, is there only one clear position on secession in this country?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I recall the clear position of the Reform Party when it had those shocking ads with the Xs across the faces of Quebecers, saying that they were not supposed to be ministers. Now Reformers have the nerve to talk about a better plan for Canada. It is to laugh. Mr. Speaker, it is to laugh.

*  *  *

FUNDRAISERS

Mr. Grant McNally (Dewdney—Alouette, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the Reform Party is the only party that has had a plan in place for five years.

On another topic, the chairman of the National Battlefields Commission spent $1,700 of taxpayers' money at Liberal Party fundraisers. Mr. Juneau claimed he was actually saving taxpayers' money because it would be cheaper for him to attend the fundraiser to talk to Liberal cabinet ministers than to fly to Ottawa.

In March the government issued a policy directive to prevent this kind of thing from happening. Why has the Liberal government broken its promise and allowed this kind of thing to happen?

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the exact opposite is the reality.

The hon. member knows that on March 5 I issued a statement on behalf of the government. On March 19 we put the rules in place. The government acted right away on this issue.

I would remind the House that when the Reform Party talked about crown corporations donating to the Liberal Party in March, it had received some of those contributions itself.

Mr. Grant McNally (Dewdney—Alouette, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, there we go. The Liberals are trying to deflect their own record once again rather than taking responsibility for their actions.

The policy directive that the minister talks about has forbidden agencies and boards from donating to political parties. How can the government possibly justify spending taxpayers' dollars on Liberal Party fundraisers?

 

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Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, again the hon. member is factually incorrect. The funds were given back. The hon. member knows that the individual paid for it himself. I just hope that the Reform Party has itself reimbursed funds that it may have received from contributions it was not entitled to receive.

*  *  *

[Translation]

REFERENDUMS

Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski—Mitis, BQ): Mr. Speaker, according to this morning's Globe and Mail, the government's real objective is to introduce legislation that will justify in advance its refusal to negotiate, regardless of the results of any future referendum in Quebec.

Will the government confirm that its bill has but one purpose: to keep Quebec in Canada forever, regardless of the irreproachable democratic process Quebec has adopted to decide its future?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I think I should quote what the Prime Minister said yesterday. He said: “Mr. Speaker, the government intends to introduce an initiative in the House of Commons, and it is the House of Commons that will reach a decision. All members will have the opportunity to speak out”.

I suggest that the hon. member wait for the Prime Minister's initiative.

Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski—Mitis, BQ): Mr. Speaker, we understand that this government has already made up its mind that Quebec will never leave Canada.

I remind the House, however, of something Robert Bourassa said when he was premier: “Canada must understand very clearly that, whatever is said and done, Quebec is and always will be a distinct and free society, able to assume responsibility for its own destiny and development”.

Will the government promise that its bill will respect the rules of democracy that must prevail in any modern society?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this government introduced a bill to confirm that Quebec was a distinct society and the Bloc Quebecois voted against—

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

Some hon. members: That was not a bill.

Mr. Michel Bellehumeur: Liar.

Hon. Herb Gray: Raising this issue shows a lack of credibility.

Mr. Michel Bellehumeur: Liar. It was not even a bill.

The Speaker: Order, please.

The hon. member for Berthier—Montcalm used the word “liar”. I would like him to withdraw that word immediately, please.

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

Mr. Michel Bellehumeur: Mr. Speaker, I will withdraw that word if the member gives a—

The Speaker: Order, please.

I simply ask that the hon. member withdraw that word, and we will leave it at that.

Mr. Michel Bellehumeur: I will withdraw that word, Mr. Speaker.

*  *  *

CANADA ELECTIONS ACT

Mrs. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral (Laval Centre, BQ): Mr. Speaker, on March 5, 1999, following a question by the Bloc Quebecois, the government leader in the House of Commons was reported in Le Devoir of March 6 as saying “The government or government agencies should not give money to political parties”.

If the minister really wanted to prohibit government funding of political parties, why did he not include this prohibition in Bill C-2?

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, a directive to prevent this sort of thing was issued by the Treasury Board. This is precisely what the Treasury Board did on March 19.

Bill C-2 has not yet even been passed by the House of Commons at final reading, although it likely will be, I hope, in the next few days.

Mrs. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral (Laval Centre, BQ): Mr. Speaker, in the same paper, the minister said he intended to include a ban in this area “to make doubly sure that there will be no more gifts of this sort”.

Why today is the minister content with an empty order preventing only organizations other than Crown corporations from contributing to election campaigns, unless it is because the order has limited scope, may change and gives parliamentarians no control?

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, what the hon. member has said is incorrect. What she has said does not reflect reality.

The ban by Treasury Board has been established. A subsequent order has been adopted and published in the Canada Gazette. The member knows that as well.

The prohibitions exist, and the statements by the political parties are all made public at the end of the year. It is all transparent at every level.

*  *  *

 

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[English]

TRADE

Ms. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP): Mr. Speaker, U.S. President Clinton is pushing for enforceable core labour standards at the World Trade Organization. Core labour standards are the most basic rights: the right of workers to organize, no slave labour, no child labour. The Americans support core labour standards in trade agreements but Canada opposes them.

The trade minister even said that the American move calls for damage control. Why has the trade minister become the new poster boy for sweatshop labour?

Mr. Bob Speller (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member likes to quote President Clinton. Let me also quote him. He said “We know that countries which have opened their economies to the world have also opened the doors to opportunity and hope for their own people. Where barriers have fallen, by and large, living standards have risen and democratic institutions have become stronger”.

The hon. member should know that the Canadian government supports core labour standards. The Canadian government at every opportunity at the ILO stands very forcibly on this issue. The fair rules of the WTO are good for Canadian jobs, good for Canadian labour and are certainly good for the Canadian economy.

Ms. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP): Mr. Speaker, nobody contests that trade with different countries is good, but we also know that labour standards are good as well and they have to be enforceable. Canada used to fight for social justice. Now we lag behind the Americans. The member has to quote President Clinton because he cannot quote this government.

I ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs, why is Canada's trade minister choosing to fight for sweatshop owners instead of fighting for children and adults who are trying to survive in the global economy?

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is distorting the facts and misleading the Canadian public. The fact of the matter is that Canada has taken the lead at the ILO to implement a protocol to protect against abusive labour and to protect child labour. We have taken to trade forums the need to bring the ILO and the WTO together in a co-operative way to share those issues. Canada was taking a leadership position long before President Clinton ever thought about it.

The Speaker: I would ask hon. members to stay away from the word misleading.

*  *  *

AIRLINE INDUSTRY

Mr. Charlie Power (St. John's West, PC): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transport.

Today there is a transportation crisis in Atlantic Canada and Quebec. On August 13 the Minister of Transport said there was a crisis in the airline industry. The direct and immediate result of the minister's comments was the demise of InterCanadian. Its bookings quickly dropped by over 30%.

Today there are over 700 employees who will not be paid and there are thousands of Atlantic Canadians who are having difficulty making travel plans. The situation will only get worse as we approach the Christmas season.

Will the minister tell us what he proposes to do to end this Atlantic Canada transportation crisis?

Mr. Stan Dromisky (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the member and the House that the Government of Canada is monitoring closely the situation with InterCanadian. We are aware that the company is making its best efforts to come to an arrangement with its major creditors that would allow services to restart in the next few days. We know the company is keeping its employees and its representatives informed on these efforts. We can understand the effect that the uncertainty of the situation may be having on InterCanadian employees and their families, and we hope there will be a resolution to the problem as quickly as possible.

Mr. Charlie Power (St. John's West, PC): Mr. Speaker, that answer is simply not acceptable either to the travelling public or the employees of InterCanadian.

The minister was prepared to get involved in a multimillion dollar foreign takeover of Air Canada. The minister declared a national emergency and suspended the Competition Act. Now that there is a real national transportation crisis, created by the government and the minister, will the minister show the same level of concern and involvement? Will he get involved to save the 900 jobs at InterCanadian and give the people of Atlantic Canada reasonable travel services?

Mr. Stan Dromisky (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, first I would like to clarify one of the positions that the hon. member has taken, that is, that the government has interfered and the minister has taken an active role. We are talking about private concerns, private business, and the minister has constantly informed the House that he is at arm's length from this whole process and operation.

*  *  *

 

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TAXATION

Mr. Ken Epp (Elk Island, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, it is a tribute to the ingenuity of Canadian businesses that in spite of the government's record tax hikes they have managed to create jobs. Most of those jobs have come from Ontario and Alberta which are stimulating growth with tax cuts. One hundred thousand Canadians are off the unemployment lists because they have found jobs in the United States.

Why does the government not give Canadians a tax break so that we can get closer to the 4% unemployment rate south of the border?

Mr. Roy Cullen (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for the compliment about the unemployment rate and the creation of jobs.

There were 16,000 new jobs created in British Columbia in the month of November and this is the lowest unemployment rate in a generation. The government is continuing to cut taxes. A family of four with an income of $50,000 has had their federal tax bill cut by 16% in the last two or three budgets.

Mr. Charlie Penson (Peace River, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, there are no congratulations due to the government. The congratulations and the celebrations should be for Canadians and Canadian businesses which have managed to prosper despite the government's policies. They have managed to prosper despite the government's high tax regime, one of the highest in the industrial world.

What might Canada achieve? We might achieve something like the United States with 4.1% unemployment. How could we do that? We could listen to what some of the CEOs of Canadian major companies are saying. The CEOs of CN Rail, Nortel and the Chamber of Commerce say cut taxes. Why will the government not listen to these prominent Canadians and take action?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is pushing on an open door. We began cutting taxes years ago.

First we had targeted tax reductions for the disabled and students and in the last two budgets we had general tax reductions for all Canadians. These tax reductions are worth billions of dollars. We said in the throne speech and in the finance minister's fiscal update that we are going to move to broad based, multistage, multiyear tax reductions. We have begun the move to tax reductions. We are going to continue. As a result the good effects on the Canadian economy are going to continue in spite of the whining. Canadians—

The Speaker: The hon. member for Mercier.

*  *  *

[Translation]

CHECHNYA

Mrs. Francine Lalonde (Mercier, BQ): Mr. Speaker, last Saturday, the Managing Director of the IMF said that financial assistance to Russia could be put on hold if that country continued its war with Chechnya.

This comes close on the heels of comments by Russia's former minister of finance, who estimated the cost of the war in Chechnya at $600 million U.S. so far.

Knowing that this IMF loan is being used indirectly to pay for the war in Chechnya, will the Minister of Foreign Affairs undertake to bring pressure to bear on the IMF to withhold the payments promised Russia until there are signs of a negotiated peace?

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, next week, there will be a meeting of the G-8 ministers of foreign affairs.

There will certainly be serious discussions with respect to Chechnya at that time. I prefer to work with the other countries, particularly those who are strongest economically, to determine the next step with respect to the war in Chechnya.

Mrs. Francine Lalonde (Mercier, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Agence France Presse reminded us this morning that Moscow has curtly dismissed western pressure for a political solution to the conflict.

The minister should know, and perhaps he could respond to this, that if he is not in favour of the war in Chechnya, he cannot agree to finance it.

[English]

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have deplored very directly. The Prime Minister raised the matter at the meetings in Turkey. I have had the occasion to have a direct meeting with the Russian foreign minister.

The member was not exactly accurate when she said that Russia is spurning these efforts. In fact, Mr. Vollebaek, who is the chairman in office for OSCE, met just this week in Russia to determine the role of the OSCE. We are working on getting proper access for humanitarian organizations so they can bring support for those displaced persons inside that country.

I can tell the hon. member that we are working very actively to make sure that civilian—

The Speaker: The hon. member for Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan.

*  *  *

 

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ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS

Mr. Jim Gouk (Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the Gitanyow testified before a parliamentary committee that their hereditary lands were being given to the Nisga'a. The Nisga'a got to vote on accepting these lands, but the Gitanyow did not get to vote on giving them up.

This Nisga'a treaty has an impact on aboriginal and non-aboriginals alike throughout B.C., including ranchers in the Okanagan, fishermen on the west coast and loggers everywhere. Why is the government refusing to allow all affected British Columbians the vote in a province-wide referendum on this precedent setting treaty?

Hon. Robert D. Nault (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as has been said in the House many times before, the commitment that the government made when we first started negotiating the Nisga'a was that we would enter into discussions and negotiation, then it would go from that negotiation to approval. There would be a referendum with the Nisga'a people, then it would go to the legislature in British Columbia, then to the House of Commons where we are now. That is the commitment we made. We are not about to change course as the opposition tends to do whenever it sees a poll. We are going to continue to honour our commitments.

Mr. Philip Mayfield (Cariboo—Chilcotin, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, in a letter dated November 1, 1999 to a native woman in British Columbia, the Secretary for State for Multiculturalism and the Status of Women acknowledges a so-called legislative gap in the protection of native women's property rights. Yet, the secretary of state supports the Nisga'a treaty saying that this gap can be addressed later by aboriginal communities.

Is it the government's position that non-native women should be protected under the charter of rights and freedoms, but that native women should have to fight for their rights as stated by the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and the Status of Women?

Hon. Robert D. Nault (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there they go again. The fact remains that if these members would read the treaty that deals with the Nisga'a, they would find that we are not dealing with the Indian Act. We are dealing outside of the Indian Act which allows aboriginal women to be treated the same as any woman in British Columbia through provincial legislation. So, there we go, the charter does apply as we have said over and over again.

I want the member to know that we do agree with him that the Indian Act is silent on aboriginal women's rights. We have every intention of correcting that. I will be making that announcement for him very soon.

*  *  *

[Translation]

AIRLINE INDUSTRY

Mr. Michel Guimond (Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans, BQ): Mr. Speaker, nearly 500 InterCanadian employees are in Ottawa at the present time protesting the monumental fiasco in which the Minister of Transport has plunged regional air travel since his announcement this past August 13.

Will the minister agree to organize an emergency meeting with all parties concerned, in order to ensure that InterCanadian gets its flights back up and running as quickly as possible?

[English]

Mr. Stan Dromisky (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the House that the hon. member has used just as much enthusiasm and drive ever since the month of February at the transportation committee to address the concerns we have about the restructuring and competition within the airline industry. He has attended meetings and he knows the facts. If he would now just be objective and not only be concerned about Quebec, but take a look at the whole process as we deal with the whole air industry in this wonderful country called Canada.

[Translation]

Mr. Michel Guimond (Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans, BQ): Mr. Speaker, what an incredible answer.

Does the parliamentary secretary realize that this shutdown of operations has left the regions of Quebec and the Maritimes without airline service, as well as throwing 900 employees out of work? That is irresponsible.

[English]

Mr. Stan Dromisky (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that the union and the hon. member feel they need to blame the government for a situation that they dislike at InterCanadian.

The fact is that we do not control the private sector. InterCanadian has made a business decision, in fact, a whole series of business decisions which led to the suspension of service in a particular market with particular circumstances.

The union's and the member's energy would be better served in examining all these factors from the beginning of the creation of this InterCanadian airline company to the present time.

*  *  *

ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS

Mr. Darrel Stinson (Okanagan—Shuswap, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, in 14 different instances self-government rights in the Nisga'a treaty provide “In the event of an inconsistency or conflict between the Nisga'a law and federal or provincial laws, the Nisga'a law will prevail”.

 

. 1140 + -

How can the government award the Nisga'a or anybody else the right to make laws which are superior, not just to provincial laws, but also superior to the laws of Canada?

Hon. Robert D. Nault (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is pretty obvious the member did not read the treaty. I think he should read it. I do not know which treaty the members opposite are debating. The debate they are having must be some sort of mystical treaty.

The reality of it is those 14 areas we are talking about relate to language, culture and custom of the Nisga'a people, nothing really to be concerned about as it relates to Canada's sovereignty.

Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, with the Nisga'a treaty the Liberals are creating the third tier of government, based on ethnicity. By trying to amend the constitution through the back door this weak Liberal government is creating permanent inequality. It is disenfranchising non-Nisga'a people. It insists on segregating our aboriginal people with agreements based on race.

Is this the reason it is trying to shut up the people of B.C. by not holding a referendum?

Hon. Robert D. Nault (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the party here that is at 9% nationally does not have to give us any lessons about representing Canadians. That is the first thing. If it was at least a party that knew what its name was, we could have a serious debate.

Let me make it very clear to the hon. member. We have a position as a government as it relates to negotiation and dealing with rights of aboriginal people. I am still waiting, as I did yesterday in the House, for this party to tell us what its position is as it relates to dealing with aboriginal rights that are in the constitution under section 35.

*  *  *

[Translation]

ORPHAN CLAUSES

Mrs. Monique Guay (Laurentides, BQ): Mr. Speaker, today, the Bloc Quebecois will debate its Bill C-212.

The purpose of this bill is to eliminate any provision in a collective agreement that discriminates against newcomers on the labour market, and to ensure that employees hired after a specified date enjoy the same benefits, wages or conditions of employment as the other employees.

My question is for the Minister of Labour. What concrete measures does she intend to take to prohibit discriminatory orphan clauses, and when will she do it?

Hon. Claudette Bradshaw (Minister of Labour, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, all collective agreements are put together by management and the union. Therefore, it is up to them to include appropriate clauses in these agreements.

*  *  *

[English]

LANDMINES

Mr. John McKay (Scarborough East, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this is the second anniversary of the signing of the land mines treaty. People are being killed and maimed at a terrible rate even as we sit here in question period.

Canada takes great pride in successfully concluding that treaty, but I would ask the Minister for International Cooperation what financial resources has Canada actually put on the table in the execution of this treaty.

Hon. Maria Minna (Minister for International Cooperation, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, less than a year after its entry into force the land mines treaty process has created a new international arm against this weapon and its impact is significant. Victims' rates are falling. The use, production and trade of AP mines are all declining. Over 14 million Thugfeld mines have been destroyed.

In addition, I announced a $3.4 million contribution to help Kosovo, Colombia and regions of Africa to reduce the threats of land mines.

*  *  *

FISHERIES

Mr. John Duncan (Vancouver Island North, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, yesterday RCMP and fisheries officers seized 30 tonnes of Fraser River sockeye from a business. This is not the first time. These fish were caught under a native food fishery supposedly for consumption by the Sto:Lo, Musqueam and Tsawwassen band members, this in a year when there was no commercial fishery on the Fraser for conservation reasons.

Is the minister going to take control of the west coast fishery, or wait until we no longer have a fishery?

Hon. Harbance Singh Dhaliwal (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, illegal fishing is a serious problem. We at fisheries are investigating. This shows us the example where fisheries officers, with the RCMP, are investigating and, if they have to be, charges will be laid against anybody who is fishing illegally.

 

. 1145 + -

Mr. Bill Gilmour (Nanaimo—Alberni, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, due to gross mismanagement DFO has destroyed the Atlantic cod fishery and, according to the auditor general, is about to do the same with Pacific salmon.

The auditor general states that the Pacific salmon fishery is in trouble and the sustainability of the fishery is at risk. He warns that the Pacific salmon fishery may face a five year closure to allow stocks to recover.

When will the fisheries minister do as the auditor general suggests and actually manage the west coast fishery?

Hon. Harbance Singh Dhaliwal (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, that is not what the auditor general said. Let me read to the hon. member what he said, that the department had already taken the first steps to address the challenges it faces. It has affirmed conservation as its primary objective to protect existing salmon stocks. The hon. member knows that is what the auditor general said. Unfortunately it is very convenient for him to leave that out.

The auditor general also said we had to reduce capacity, and that is exactly what we are doing in the buyback licence. He said as well that we had to work together with the provinces, and that is what we are doing as well. We are already taking the necessary steps to make sure that we have a sustainable fishery on the west coast.

*  *  *

NATIONAL DEFENCE

Mr. Gordon Earle (Halifax West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, regarding alternative service delivery the auditor general said that the Department of National Defence had real problems identifying baseline costs for projects, CFB Halifax being a case in point.

The report also clearly showed that in-house bids met all the criteria of the good business case while outside industry bids fell short of the requirements.

Would the minister ensure that an in-house bid would be welcomed and considered for supply chain projects?

[Translation]

Mr. Robert Bertrand (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the department is really committed to this program, which helps us do our job much more effectively by freeing up resources that can best serve and support our operational capacity.

To improve the program, we followed up on all the recommendations made by the auditor general.

[English]

Mr. Gordon Earle (Halifax West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the auditor general said projected savings from alternative service delivery may have been overstated.

The first supply chain business case projected a 15% to 30% saving, but the second revised case projected only 4% to 14% savings, and even that would not start to accrue for seven years, a lifetime in business terms.

Will the minister tell the House exactly what the expected savings will be?

Mr. Robert Bertrand (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have so far saved $68 million and we expect to increase those savings in coming years.

*  *  *

HEALTH

Mr. John Herron (Fundy—Royal, PC): Mr. Speaker, this week the Ontario College of Family Physicians and the Canadian Environmental Law Association released a damning report on the effects of pesticides on Canadian children.

Pesticides are now assessed based on adult exposure and sensitivity to a product, ignoring the vulnerability of children and pregnant women. In the U.S. a similar report requires its new legislation to re-examine pesticides by looking at their effects on children and fetuses.

We now know the draft legislation that has been ready since 1997 does not include this scientific criterion. Why is the Minister of Finance willing to actually risk the health of Canadian children?

[Translation]

Mr. Yvon Charbonneau (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the issue of pesticides is currently being reviewed, both by the Standing Committee on the Environment and by the appropriate authorities at the Department of Health.

The necessary amendments will be made when the time and expertise become available.

[English]

Mr. John Herron (Fundy—Royal, PC): Mr. Speaker, we heard just last week that the pest management advisory council has seen draft legislation that has been ready since 1997. Claire Franklin of the PMRA stated that the legislation had been sitting there for essentially three years.

Why do we not have legislation tabled that has been ready for three years? The minister told me last week in question period that he was still consulting individuals, but the pest management advisory council has not met since June. If the minister is still consulting, who is he consulting and why will he not table a bill?

[Translation]

Mr. Yvon Charbonneau (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health is still reviewing the situation and meeting with the appropriate stakeholders. He will bring in amendment proposals in due time.

*  *  *

 

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[English]

NATIONAL DEFENCE

Mr. David Pratt (Nepean—Carleton, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, last year the defence committee produced a report about the significant quality of life problems faced by Canadian forces members, problems with pay, housing and support for families.

Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence explain what action has been taken to implement these important recommendations from the defence committee report and whether or not the Canadian forces have the resources to proceed with the quality of life improvements?

Mr. Robert Bertrand (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for that very important question. Last year when we brought out the report there were 89 recommendations. We have acted on 24 of them so far. There have been improvements in pay, housing and welfare for veterans.

The report was extremely well received. It was almost unanimously voted on. Four parties voted for it but one party voted against it, the Reform Party, and it has the gall to stand up here—

The Speaker: The hon. member for Lethbridge.

*  *  *

AGRICULTURE

Mr. Rick Casson (Lethbridge, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, we will get a real question now. Despite the fact that Canada has taken agriculture subsidies away from our farmers, the government has failed to get any commitment from our trading partners to eliminate their trade distorting policies.

Canadian farmers from every region of the country are under constant threat of illegal trade actions by our closest trading partners. Our producers need quick action by the government to resolve these disputes.

Why does the government not use the same ruthless determination it used when slashing support for our farmers when it is dealing with our trading partners?

Mr. Bob Speller (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, that is somewhat funny, coming from the Reform Party which is the only party in the House that did not support the united position of all farm groups across the country on a strong united front for Canada to stand up to the European Union and for Canada to stand up to the United States in terms of export subsidies.

In Seattle today the Minister for International Trade and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food are in very important meetings doing exactly that.

*  *  *

[Translation]

ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE

Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, BQ): Mr. Speaker, a few days ago in the House of Commons, the members of all political parties, including the party forming the government, unanimously passed a Bloc Quebecois motion giving the Standing Committee on Justice a mandate to study in the coming year all the ways to fight organized crime more effectively.

In view of this, could the solicitor general promise that no positions at the RCMP will be cut until the Standing Committee on Justice has completed its deliberations?

Mr. Jacques Saada (Parliamentary Secretary to Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I understand this question is a very emotional one for my colleague, and we all share this emotion.

As regards his very specific question, I do not think it is appropriate to impute motives to the government. The solicitor general has not received any official document recommending anything relating to such cuts. The government has indicated neither intent nor decision in this regard.

The situation is clearly totally unchanged at the moment, and I want to confirm that officially.

*  *  *

[English]

THE ENVIRONMENT

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North Centre, NDP): Mr. Speaker, in June of this year the government was forced to acknowledge that there had been a potentially lethal spill at the virology lab in Winnipeg, a facility designed to handle the world's most deadly viruses.

After understandable public outcry, the government and the health minister promised on August 10 to set up a community liaison committee. Today it is December 3 and there is no committee and no community accountability. Only word is that the government is prepared to open this facility early in the new year.

When will the committee be struck? Will the citizens of Winnipeg be assured by the government that level 4 operations at the lab in Winnipeg will be put on hold until a committee has reviewed safety protocols and made recommendations—

The Speaker: The hon. parliamentary secretary.

[Translation]

Mr. Yvon Charbonneau (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I thank our colleague from the NDP for having raised this issue once again, and I will pass it on to the Minister of Health without fail.

*  *  *

[English]

FISHERIES

Mr. Mark Muise (West Nova, PC): Mr. Speaker, paragraph 17 of the supreme court decision clearly indicates that aboriginal treaty rights do not belong to any individual but to the community and can only be exercised by registered persons of the local band.

Could the minister of fisheries tell the fishermen of West Nova what he is doing to prevent aboriginals from distant communities from fishing in LFA 34?

 

. 1155 + -

Hon. Harbance Singh Dhaliwal (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows there was an agreement between commercial fishermen and aboriginals. There were some problems in terms of that agreement. Our officials are out there speaking to the Acadia band and consulting with fishermen.

As I said yesterday we feel that situation will be resolved. We are very confident that it will be. Meanwhile the judgment is pretty clear as to who the beneficiaries are of the Marshall decision. The member should go back and read it again if he has any questions about it.

*  *  *

CENSUS

Mr. Mac Harb (Ottawa Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, many of my constituents have written to my office requesting that Statistics Canada release census information dating back to 1911. What is the Minister of Industry planning to do to respond to these requests?

Hon. John Manley (Minister of Industry, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this is actually a very difficult question. On the one hand there are very legitimate interests on the part of historians and genealogists in obtaining this information. On the other hand the census data were obtained from Canadians on the basis of a law that did not anticipate it ever being released to the public.

In order to try to deal with these really conflicting, diametrically opposed interests, I have asked a panel of experts, chaired by Dr. Richard Van Loon, president of Carleton University, to review the situation to see whether they can give us a recommendation that might balance these two interests and report back to us by the end of May of the coming year.

*  *  *

PRISONS

Mr. Myron Thompson (Wild Rose, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, they are going to have to give their questions a day earlier if they are too tough. I now have in my possession a stack of e-mails from prison guards in Edmonton max. They are begging to be armed properly as escorts of dangerous high risk offenders.

At minimum they need guns, bullet proof vests and unmarked vehicles. Because of the high degree of gang related events at this prison, this is the least we could do and the least we could provide to them.

Will the solicitor general and his officials stop predicting human behaviour and truly and fully protect our guards at Edmonton max before someone is seriously hurt or killed?

[Translation]

Mr. Jacques Saada (Parliamentary Secretary to Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, everything to do with the operations of the corrections service, as you know, is governed by the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.

If my colleague has recommendations, since this bill is currently under consideration, why does he not contact his own colleague and recommend to him that the problem be brought to the Standing Committee on Justice, instead of trying to make a show out of something that is of as much concern to us as to him?

*  *  *

PCB CONTAMINATED SOILS

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold (Jonquière, BQ): Mr. Speaker, twice now, Public Works and Government Services Canada has postponed a call for tenders to decontaminate soils containing PCBs at Dorval airport.

By its actions, it is delaying the elimination of PCBs, while Récupère Sol, the only company in the running which is certified by Quebec's Department of the Environment, has the necessary expertise and is ready to proceed.

Does the Minister of the Environment think he will take action in this case, and assume responsibility for setting the deadlines for storage of PCBs, a responsibility that he himself took on when the Canadian Environmental Protection Act was passed?

[English]

Mr. Stan Dromisky (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, that is a very valid question to be presented in the House.

I would like to inform the member, as well as everyone else, that the Ministry of Transport and other government agencies are examining the situation and are on top of it because safety is an extremely important factor in the country.

*  *  *

[Translation]

PORT OF BELLEDUNE

Mr. Yvon Godin (Acadie—Bathurst, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the port of Belledune is essential for the economic development of northeastern New Brunswick. The federal government has already written off the debts of several ports in Canada, including the port of Saint John.

Will the government now ensure equal treatment for all ports in Canada and write off the $43 million debt of the port of Belledune?

[English]

Mr. Stan Dromisky (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, again I inform the member that a great number of variations regarding deals with various ports under the Canadian Ports Authority have been established.

Much negotiation is ongoing. Some of it is just about complete. Much of it has been completed and negotiations will continue.

*  *  *

SEARCH AND RESCUE

Mr. Mark Muise (West Nova, PC): Mr. Speaker, the federal government sent a Labrador search and rescue helicopter to Yarmouth to patrol the opening of the lobster fishery.

Unfortunately, like most of our Sea Kings, this helicopter broke down and was unavailable to rescue four victims of a sinking fishing vessel. This simply highlights the need to maintain the emergency coast guard helicopter service in Yarmouth. Will the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans make this commitment today, yes or no?

 

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Hon. Harbance Singh Dhaliwal (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, search and rescue is extremely important. We take our responsibility very seriously as a government both in coast guard and DND. We work together to ensure that we provide expeditious service to all Canadians whether on the east coast, the west coast or on the Great Lakes to make sure that we provide search and rescue as quickly as possible.

*  *  *

[Translation]

POINT OF ORDER

ORAL QUESTION PERIOD

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, when I answered a question during Oral Question Period, instead of a bill on distinct society I should have said a motion on distinct society passed by the House, which the Bloc Quebecois opposed anyway. They did vote against it.

Mr. Michel Bellehumeur (Berthier—Montcalm, BQ): Mr. Speaker, during Oral Question Period you asked me to withdraw something I said, which I did.

I appreciate the fact that the Deputy Prime Minister is correcting the answer he gave me, because it is his answer that caused me to use the word I then had to withdraw. He had mislead the House with his answer. I recognize that he has now corrected his answer.

The Speaker: So the matter is closed.

*  *  *

[English]

HOUSE OF COMMONS

The Speaker: I have the honour to lay upon the table a report entitled “Building the Future—House of Commons Requirements for the Parliamentary Precinct”, October 1999.



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[English]

COLUMBIA RIVER TREATY

Mr. Brent St. Denis (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Natural Resources, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the annual report of the Columbia River Treaty Permanent Engineering Board to the Government of the United States and the Government of Canada for the year ending September 30, 1997.

*  *  *

COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE

PROCEDURE AND HOUSE AFFAIRS

Ms. Marlene Catterall (Ottawa West—Nepean, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the 13th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding its order of reference of Tuesday, October 19, 1999 in relation to Bill C-2, an act respecting the election of members to the House of Commons, repealing other acts relating to elections and making consequential amendments to other acts.

[Translation]

The committee studied Bill C-2 and is reporting it with amendments.

*  *  *

[English]

BANK ACT

 

Mr. Mac Harb (Ottawa Centre, Lib.) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-391, an act to amend the Bank Act (definition of infant).

He said: Mr. Speaker, the bill is to ensure compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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

*  *  *

 

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CANADA SEAT BELT ACT

 

Mr. Mac Harb (Ottawa Centre, Lib.) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-392, an act to provide that all vehicles under federal jurisdiction must be equipped with seat belts and to require the Minister of Transport to consult with the provinces to maximize the use of seat belts in school buses.

He said: Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what this bill will do, as you have said.

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

*  *  *

CONSUMER CREDIT INFORMATION ACT

 

Mr. Mac Harb (Ottawa Centre, Lib.) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-393, an act to require federally regulated financial institutions, credit bureaus and federal corporations to advise consumers before giving any information on their financial history to a credit grantor or credit bureau and to allow for correction of a record following an objection by a consumer.

He said: Mr. Speaker, this bill will do just that.

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

*  *  *

DEFICIT PREVENTION ACT

 

Mr. Mac Harb (Ottawa Centre, Lib.) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-394, an act to prevent deficit budgets.

He said: Mr. Speaker, the bill will ensure that there is no deficit incurred by the House or any government in the future.

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

*  *  *

PROTECTION OF PRIVACY (SOCIAL INSURANCE NUMBERS) ACT

 

Mr. Mac Harb (Ottawa Centre, Lib.) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-395, an act to protect personal privacy by restricting the use of social insurance numbers.

He said: Mr. Speaker, this is also to restrict the use of the social insurance number except by an agency or organization authorized by law.

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

*  *  *

INCOME TAX ACT

 

Mr. Mac Harb (Ottawa Centre, Lib.) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-396, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (donors to food banks).

He said: Mr. Speaker, the bill will allow somebody who makes a contribution to a food bank to receive a tax receipt.

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

*  *  *

PETITIONS

ADOPTION

Mr. Eric Lowther (Calgary Centre, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I am presenting today a number of petitions with thousands of names of people who draw the attention of the House to the significant contribution that adoptive parents make.

 

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The petitioners call on the House to recognize the contribution and costs that are often incurred in adopting children. They are seeking House support for a private member's bill that I put forward, Bill C-505, that would recognize the costs to adoptive parents and allow them a tax deductible expense.

*  *  *

QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER

Ms. Carolyn Parrish (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

The Deputy Speaker: Is that agreed?

Some hon. members: Agreed.



GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Translation]

CRIMINAL CODE

 

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-18, an act to amend the Criminal Code (impaired driving causing death and other matters), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Michel Bellehumeur (Berthier—Montcalm, BQ): Mr. Speaker, before oral question period, I was trying to show that Bill C-18 should not be passed because it is not in keeping with what the justices of the supreme court and provincial superior courts, some legal scholars and all justice committees have said in the last few years about prison terms being useless in reducing the crime rate.

According to the justices of the supreme court, there are way too many prison terms handed down in Canada. Offenders are often sent to prison when other measures could have been better for them and, in particular, could have protected society better. I was just beginning to give examples to show that Bill C-18 is not consistent with the Criminal Code structure we have be using for years.

I gave several examples, one of which I will repeat so that the Liberals can understand that something is wrong with this bill.

Here is the example I gave. I talked about a drunk driver, who was clearly negligent, who had decided to drive after having a drink and who hit and killed someone. This is extremely serious. This is a crime. However, this person could receive a stiffer sentence than a hired assassin who deliberately set out to kill someone. The hired assassin could receive a reduced sentence for becoming an informer; he will often be accused of a lesser and included offence and get off with a shorter sentence than the drunk driver who has killed someone.

There is a principle of law called mens rea, whereby it must be established the individual acted with the intent to kill. It is not the case here. He did not intend to drive off while under the influence and kill someone. I realize, however, that some recidivists should get harsher sentences, but the Criminal Code already provides a 14-year prison term in such cases.

The judges have already tried recidivists, individuals as they are referred to in the lingo of lawyers, who have a criminal record one mile long. There was one case in Canada where the judge handed down a 10-year prison sentence for impaired driving causing death. There is only one such case in all of Canada. Judges therefore have the necessary leeway to hand down sentences of up to 14 years.

The other example I gave had to do with reckless driving causing death.

 

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The Criminal Code provides a 14-year prison term for reckless driving if the same driver kills someone while deliberately driving recklessly. He was not impaired, but drove recklessly. He is not accused of impaired driving, but of reckless driving causing death. The maximum sentence provided by the Criminal Code is 14 years.

Having reviewed the jurisprudence concerning this section as well as the sentences handed down for reckless driving causing death, we find that the Canadian appeal courts imposed prison sentences averaging 19 months for this type of offence.

How can the minister justify the fact that an offender who killed somebody in cold blood by driving a car dangerously will receive a lesser sentence of imprisonment than a driver who was impaired by alcohol? I want the minister to give a logical response to that. I want her to tell me how that makes sense.

Moreover, let us not forget that imprisonment is a last resort solution to any delinquency problem. Again, the Supreme Court, whom I quoted extensively in the first part of my speech, was very clear on that subject.

I will quote once again what the justices of the supreme court said. They said this:

    In the past few decades many groups and federally appointed committees and commissions given the responsibility of studying various aspects of the criminal justice system have argued that imprisonment should be used only as a last resort and/or that it should be reserved for those convicted of only the most serious offences.

The Minister of Justice has not demonstrated that she has exhausted all the means available to her to deal with the issue of impaired driving to protect the public.

Instead, she decided to choose the easy solution by proposing to drastically increase the term of imprisonment set out in the Criminal Code. She opted for a Reform policy when she could have acted differently. To win a few easy votes, she decided to play with the criminal justice system and upset its balance. This shows a lack of courage on her part.

We must look at the whole picture. It is an extremely serious problem. What is the main objective of any legislation on impaired driving? To try as much as possible to make people understand that impaired driving is a criminal offence a serious one.

We did this last June through a series of amendments. Let us wait and see the results before amending the Criminal Code again.

While impaired driving is a serious offence, there are other effective alternatives to incarceration that can minimize its impact, including the use of alcohol-ignition interlock devices. There are two provinces where this device is in use, Alberta and Quebec.

At the committee stage, it was the Bloc Quebecois that sold the idea of this device and convinced the committee members that it had to be included in the legislation so that provinces wanting to offer such a program could do so.

The Bloc Quebecois won its case for a first offence. The first time an individual is arrested for impaired driving he can, in order to reduce the period of his driving license suspension, have his car equipped with an alcohol-ignition interlock system.

However, in terms of prevention and education and especially in terms of reaching the first objective, namely changing the driving habits of drinkers, we would have liked, in the case of a repeat offence, the driver or the repeat offender to be compelled to have his car equipped with an ignition interlock device.

The government took the easy way out by proposing these amendments.

 

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I could go on all afternoon about impaired driving and the implications of the changes the minister wants to make through Bill C-18. I am sure whoever was in the Chair would pay as much attention as you are now, but my time is limited.

I think I have demonstrated to everyone that the justices of the supreme court and of superior courts, legal experts, psychologists, chairs of parliamentary commissions and committees who studied the issue all found that incarceration does nothing to change bad habits and lower the crime rate. Education and prevention as well as effective and active measures the provinces can implement the answer.

Members also know what the Bloc Quebecois thinks of this bill. I checked to see what reporters and columnists covering Quebec courts thought about this issue.

In June 1999, La Presse, which surely cannot be called a separatist newspaper, ran an article with a catchy headline “The Bloc is blocking”.

For once, Mr. Pierre Gravel was of the opinion that we were doing our work by creating a filibuster to stop Bill C-82 in its tracks, because, among other things, the bill provided life sentences for impaired driving causing death. He agreed with us that this was absurd.

He said this about the Bloc Quebecois. “On the contrary, it is its”—meaning the Bloc Quebecois'—“firm attitude that put a damper on the over-zealousness of the proponents of zero tolerance”—meaning the Liberals.

Today, there is another editorial, by Mario Roy, entitled “Drinking and driving: let's not lose our heads”. It is clear he is talking about the minister, because she lost her head a long time ago.

What does Mr. Roy say in this editorial? He says that the minister is making a mistake. He also says that, having consulted legal experts and watched what goes on in court, he can tell her bill makes no sense. He gives several examples. I will read this one because it is a good one.

    Those who follow court proceedings know the real purpose of the Criminal Code provisions dealing with manslaughter.

Members opposite explained that they chose the life sentence because the Criminal code provides for life sentences in the case of manslaughter, and killing someone when driving under the influence is just as serious as manslaughter.

Speaking of what those who follow court proceedings know about what the Criminal Code provisions dealing with manslaughter stipulate, Mr. Roy added:

    The crown prosecutor and defence counsel often resort to plea bargaining, sometimes with the approval of the jury, even in cases of horrible, cruel and premeditated murder.

Manslaughter is a lesser and included offence as compared to premeditated murder.

The Liberals equate an impaired driver who hits and kills someone with a murderer who planned the crime. The driver did not plan to kill. Unfortunately, he had one drink too many, and what he did was criminal, I agree, but those opposite are comparing him to a murderer who planned his crime in advance. This journalist finds that unacceptable, and justifiably so, especially after consulting those who am familiar with the courts.

I was reading in Le Droit this morning that certain Quebec lawyers are critical of the minister's approach in this matter. Worse yet, the chief of police in Aylmer is opposed to it and says it makes no sense. He wonders whether it will be applicable and applied by the courts.

 

. 1225 + -

I know that the minister, and especially the government House leader made a deal with some of the opposition parties in June to let the bill pass. I also know that a number of members on the government side oppose this bill.

I know that the member for Brome—Missisquoi, a former president of the Quebec bar association, does not support giving a life sentence to an impaired driver who has caused death. I would hope he will be man enough to rise and criticize the Minister of Justice's backward approach, which, clearly, will never achieve the objectives sought.

Stiffening the sentence and putting people in prison for life is not going to change the habits of drinkers who get behind the wheel at the end of an evening.

The holidays—Christmas and New Year—are coming. They should think of their relatives, friends and colleagues at the office party. Some of them will be driving while impaired. If they kill someone, should we treat them as criminals? Perhaps, but not in the same way as a hired killer.

[English]

Mr. Gordon Earle (Halifax West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to this subject. I know I speak on behalf of my constituents when I stand to address the issue of drunk driving.

I would like to begin by commending the work of one of my constituents, Geraldine Dedrick, who is a very active member of Mothers Against Drunk Driving for the Halifax region. Geraldine faced the terrible tragedy of losing a son to an accident related to drunk driving. I am honoured to stand here to support her efforts and those of countless others who are working today so that people tomorrow may be spared this tragedy.

The whole issue of impaired driving causing death is a very important issue in the province of Nova Scotia. The current president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving is Mr. Pat Dutton, who heads the Halifax, Annapolis Valley and Digby chapters. I commend him for his very important work in this area.

Every day people living in the riding of Halifax West face a very real and possibly fatal threat. Every day in my riding people are concerned about someone they know who may be drinking and driving. I am sure it is the same throughout the province of Nova Scotia and across Canada.

Since the criminal code was amended to deal with persons who drink and drive, it has been estimated that 20,400 Canadians have died at the hands of those who choose to drink and drive. At the same time, up to 1.5 million Canadians have been injured during the time span since these laws were enacted. The death and casualty numbers read like those of war. The government has the tools at hand to reduce this carnage.

I and my colleagues of the New Democratic Party support the review and enactment of legislative measures to enhance deterrents and to ensure that we use the tools of legislation to do what we can to put in place laws to reduce these accidents.

When we talk about this issue, we are not talking about people who have sacrificed their lives for our country or for any higher ideal; we are talking about people who have had their lives or their good health ended because someone chose to drink too much and subsequently turned their vehicle into a terrible weapon out of control.

Even while I am speaking, it is likely that a Canadian will lose his or her life due to drunk driving. An average of more than one Canadian every five minutes is injured due to drunk driving. An average of one Canadian is killed every six hours. This is simply obscene.

While clearly the loss of life and limb is paramount, let us not ignore the incredible toll that this takes on our health care system and the ripple effect on other costs to taxpayers. This is not only an issue of death and injury, it is an issue of responsibility in so many ways.

Clearly the responsibility lies at many levels. There is the level of the individual. We all have individual responsibility in this matter. I have chosen not to drink at all. I know several others who have made this choice. I know there are many other responsible social drinkers who would never climb into a vehicle with anywhere near the legal blood alcohol limit. Then there are others who are social drinkers who occasionally make the wrong choice about drinking and driving. This wrong choice is estimated to be responsible for a death every single day in this country.

 

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Then there are the repeat offenders, many with serious drinking problems who cause much of the carnage.

Then there is the responsibility of the community. More and more communities are banding and working together to change the laws. It is largely due to their efforts that the backwards social philosophy of “one for the road” is increasingly becoming a thing of the past, and we are very thankful for that.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving and many other organizations have become very sophisticated and involved and have done much of our homework in this particular area. It is good to have such community-responsible citizens who are taking up their responsibility to make sure this tragedy does not persist. This enables us as legislators to help address the problems.

There are many small business owners who serve alcohol who are undertaking initiatives in their businesses to curb irresponsible drinking and to reduce the incidence of drunk driving. I commend them for their efforts.

It is foolish to think the entire problem can be legislated away. It is no more than criminal not to make every change we can as parliamentarians to address the loss of life and health through drunk driving accidents. The government should have no fear of addressing this issue if it is concerned about the polls because nine out of every ten Canadians believe this is a problem for the government to address.

Almost three of every four Canadians support lowering the blood alcohol concentration level from 0.08 to 0.05. We would not be breaking any new ground here. Many countries are ahead of us. Australia, Belgium, Finland, Greece, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and France have all lowered their legal levels to 0.05.

Some provincial governments have taken the lead on this issue. Newfoundland has implemented a 24 hour licence suspension with a $100 licence reinstatement charge if a person's level is over 0.05.

I am pleased to inform the House as to what Nova Scotia has done in this area. As of the beginning of this month, new legislation is in place that has been approved by all the parties in the legislature in Nova Scotia. These new drinking and driving laws taking effect include the immediate 24 hour suspension of a driver's licence for someone pulled over with a blood alcohol level of between 0.05 and the legal limit of 0.08. For the first conviction there is a one year revocation of driving privileges. A second conviction warrants a three year suspension, up from the current two years. Three time offenders will lose their licence for at least 10 years. A fourth time offender will never drive again. These are very important changes under the motor vehicle act of Nova Scotia. They underscore the significance of the whole issue that we are talking about.

Mr. Pat Dutton, president of the Halifax, Annapolis Valley and Digby chapters of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, compared these new laws to a Christmas list being fulfilled. He said: “Today all the things that are being put in place are things that are on our list”.

It is very important to see this kind of involvement by communities, to see the changes that are taking place in various provinces and to see that all this is working together to try to ensure that lives are protected and that people do not suffer needlessly as a result of impaired driving.

The last time I spoke on this matter I indicated the concern among my constituents of Halifax West that there should be the capacity under provincial legislation to confiscate cars involved in these offences. That is a very important issue.

Let us explore in committee the possibility of automatically requesting from drivers breath and/or blood samples in crashes resulting in serious injury or death. Let us review the current two hour presumption limit to obtain a breath or blood sample. Let us review all these things with a view to trying to improve this situation. Let us not be afraid to examine the code, to expand the reasonable or probable grounds on which law enforcement officers can investigate crash scenes that involve death or serious injury.

One of the big concerns in my riding of Halifax West is the extent to which we are able to determine the role alcohol plays in accidents causing death. Let us look at ways to ensure that we know if alcohol has played a part in someone's death or injury due to a traffic accident.

The policy statement Mothers Against Drunk Driving includes this very important phrase: “While an individual's decision to consume alcohol is a private matter, driving after consuming alcohol or other drugs is a public matter”.

 

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I would like to just comment briefly at this point on the impact the whole matter of drunk driving can have upon the lives of families and on the lives of people who are affected.

We need not lose someone through drunk driving to know how serious it is and how much pain one can feel when a loved one is lost. I lost a nephew a number of years ago. He was aged eight. It was as a result of a serious vehicle accident. The young fellow was driving his bicycle on his way home and was crossing a busy highway when a truck hit and killed him. We do not know in that case whether there was alcohol involved, but whether there was alcohol involved or not, the pain is still the same when we lose a young life like that.

I remember this young fellow when I was actively involved in karate. He wanted me to break some boards for him. Sometimes in karate we have a technique where we break one inch boards. He said, “Can you break a board for me, Uncle Gordon?” and I said, “I suppose I could”. He ran down to his basement and came back with a big 2x4. I looked at it and said, “I think maybe I will have to do this on another occasion”. Sadly, the other occasion did not arrive. I did not have the opportunity to break a board for him because his young life was cut short at the age of eight due to the accident.

When we add to that the loss of a loved one through drinking and driving, we can imagine how much more pain and suffering we go through knowing this life did not have to be lost.

Turning to Bill C-18 which deals very specifically with the whole issue, it is an act to amend the criminal code and to deal with the issue of the penalty. This legislation amends the criminal code in order to strengthen impaired driving provisions to ensure a sufficient deterrent effect on potential offenders and that the sanctions to be imposed for offences involving impaired driving reflect the gravity of the offence as well as the degree of responsibility of the offender. Bill C-18 would raise the maximum penalty for impaired driving causing death from 14 years imprisonment to life imprisonment.

The amendments implement recommendations of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in its report, “Toward Eliminating Impaired Driving”. The committee's recommendations on the provisions of this bill are in response to public pressure spurred by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, police associations, victims groups and members of parliament from all parties.

The NDP fully supports the legislation. The criminal code amendments strengthen the penalties and increase the deterrent values of the impaired driving provisions in the code. The legislation addresses the seriousness of impaired driving in our society by both strengthening the penalties for offenders and increasing the options and powers available to the police and the courts to more effectively combat drunk drivers.

We believe that passing legislation to ensure swift implementation of the new provisions will save lives. It sends a very important message that impaired driving is an avoidable criminal act which carries unacceptable risks of injury and death. In 1985 parliament added the offences of impaired driving causing bodily harm and impaired driving causing death to the criminal code with maximum penalties of 14 years imprisonment where the result is death and 10 years imprisonment where bodily harm is caused.

To the extent that penalties can discourage those who might leave an accident to evade getting caught for impaired driving, the changes to the offence of leaving the scene will send the message that running away from a collision where someone is injured or killed is a very serious behaviour and it carries a serious penalty.

Estimates found there were roughly 1,300 deaths due to impaired driving in 1997. Information from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation study in Ontario suggested impaired drivers comprised 55% of the driving fatalities. The 1999 report by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia indicated that in each of the years 1995, 1996, 1997 more than 80% of the impaired driving deaths in British Columbia were comprised of impaired drivers and their passengers.

The NDP would like to see zero tolerance on drinking and driving on our streets and that these horrible statistics be greatly reduced or eliminated so future generations of Canadians need not suffer the horrible losses of this terrible crime.

 

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It is incumbent upon all of us as individuals to do what we can to try—especially as we approach this holiday season when we know a lot of people engage in frivolity, in celebrations and quite often in drinking too much—to exercise due care and responsibility to ensure that lives are not needlessly lost on the highways.

*  *  *

NISGA'A FINAL AGREEMENT ACT

BILL C-9—NOTICE OF TIME ALLOCATION

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. An agreement could not be reached under the provisions of Standing Orders 78(1) or 78(2) with respect to the report stage and third reading stage of Bill C-9, an act to give effect to the Nisga'a final agreement.

Under the provision of Standing Order 78(3) I give notice that a minister of the crown will propose at the next sitting a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at the said stages.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments.

Mr. Peter MacKay: Mr. Speaker, are these questions and comments for the government House leader or for the previous speaker, because I would like to ask how many times the government has invoked closure at this point in the parliament.

The Deputy Speaker: We are not getting into a question period on a point of order. The government House leader got up on a point of order. He made his point of order and I am afraid that is the end of the matter.

If the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough and the hon. government House leader would like to have a discussion about this, I suggest they do it in the lobby.

*  *  *

CRIMINAL CODE

 

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-18, an act to amend the Criminal Code (impaired driving causing death and other matters), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

[Translation]

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, it is always with pleasure that I rise in this House, and particularly now to address this bill. I believe it is critical that the minister recognize this important issue and have this legislation introduced before Christmas.

[English]

I am very pleased that after months of delay the government has come forth with legislation that will reintroduce the life imprisonment clause for impaired driving causing death. This is a very timely introduction of the bill.

The life imprisonment provision was originally part of Bill C-82, the act to amend the criminal code with respect to impaired driving, which came into law and into effect in the last parliament.

Bill C-18 will allow a judge the discretion to invoke a life sentence for impaired driving, in essence strengthening the existing provisions of the code. Obviously it is contemplated for the worst of all case scenarios, most aggravated circumstances, repeat offenders, high readings and the like.

This simply raises the ceiling for this type of offence. Vehicular homicide is murder, let there be no doubt. When it comes to the result of a reckless and negligent act, the intrusion that this places upon the victims of these types of offences, the harsh reality is that a person killed by a car is just as dead as a person killed by a gun.

These imprisonment provisions came in exchange for speedy passage in the House. Some of the parties in opposition backed away from this particular provision at the justice committee when the legislation was to be introduced. Now they have recapitulated and come forward in support and I am hoping that support will continue throughout this debate.

The Conservative Party felt that these provisions were very important and thus assurances were received from the Minister of Justice that these clauses would be reintroduced as separate legislation. I congratulate the minister for having had the integrity and foresight to follow through with that.

The Conservative Party does support Bill C-82 but felt that there were areas for improvement, this being one of them. Bill C-82, without a doubt, improves upon the current outdated legislation and introduces tougher sanctions in the areas of fines and suspensions. But the bill itself did not give police sufficient powers to protect society from hard-core drinkers resistant to charges of impaired driving, nor did it allow for automatic breath and blood samples to be taken from those who were involved in impaired driving related accidents.

Tragically, most people have experienced or know a person directly or indirectly whose life was affected due to careless and negligent acts of a drunk driver.

 

. 1245 + -

Criminal offences involving drunk drivers have declined 23% since 1994. However, this is a bit of a misleading statistic. In 1997, we know that the statistics started to level off again. It is misleading because many individuals involved in this type of activity simply do not get caught. We know that with the cuts to police forces across the country, detachments are often understaffed and officers simply do not have the sufficient equipment and patrol cars to be out on the roads to combat this most serious problems.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving released a press release in November 1999 in which Carolyn Swinson dealt with the stats over the last 15 years. The press release stated:

    Jurisdat (did the statistics) reports that 103 people were charged with impaired driving causing death. Yet Transport Canada reports that 1,350 were killed due to impaired driving. Jurisdat reports that 886 were charged with impaired driving causing bodily harm. According to 1996 figures, there were approximately 46,000 Canadians seriously injured in alcohol related crashes...in some cases, police are opting to suspend an impaired driver's licence with provincial administrative sanctions rather than lay a federal criminal code charge.

This is because provincial governments proceed quicker through the courts when a code section is invoked under those provisions. As well, provincial governments do not collect statistics that reflect this. Therefore, to suggest that the statistics are truly indicative of the numbers of impaired drivers on the highway is quite wrong.

British Columbia does collect statistics of provincial licence suspensions that arise from these types of problems, and these do increase proportionately to the same number that are showing up in the federal statistics.

The problem itself is quite clear. Hard core drinkers continue to get behind the wheel irregardless of efforts that are made either through federal or provincial statutes. We should not be content until we have tightened up both federal and provincial legislation to deal with this problem in every way possible. Where we can accomplish the saving of lives, it stands to reason and is a statement of the obvious, that we as legislators and elected persons should be putting every effort into the task of ensuring safety on our roads and highways.

Positive steps that do come from this legislation include provisions that would increase the time limit for breathalyzers and approved screening devices in the testing of impaired drivers to three hours, and also encouraging and strictly enforcing the over .08 provision of blood alcohol concentration. All these amendments will assist police officers in the performance of their duties.

The previous speaker from the NDP spoke about the province of Nova Scotia and the efforts made there to toughen its impaired driving legislation. Nova Scotia Premier John Hamm has just introduced and ushered in legislation that would suspend drivers for 24 hours if .05 trace of alcohol was found in a person's blood while operating a motor vehicle.

Premier Hamm and members of his administration, like Jim DeWolfe, Bill Dooks and Ron Chisholm, are all working very hard for all Nova Scotians and their constituents in this particular legislative area. Yet, sadly, the problem persists. It does not only persist with young people, which is another misnomer about this particular problem. The Canadian Automobile Association, CAA, says that its message to drunk drivers and the dangers that flow from this is getting through to the age group of 16 to 25, but impaired driving remains a stubborn problem with respect to those in the age group 35 and older.

In 1997 in Ontario, more than 300 people were killed on the roads as a result of drunk driving. If all of these drivers were caught, that would hopefully stem the problem. However, it does not stem the problems for the victims of these related accidents. We know that lifetime suspensions that can result are one way to deal with these particular drivers as an after the fact approach.

 

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However, drivers do have the provision and option now to install interlock devices that will get them back on the road sooner. These are very encouraging steps that the government, in co-operation with the opposition, has worked toward bringing into fruition.

Fines can be increased to at least $2,000, with judges being given the option of imposing higher fines if the circumstances dictate.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada says that over a two year period an impaired driving conviction costs at least $5,000 in terms of additional premiums to consumers. There are obviously spinoff costs that relate to this problem as well. It is surely not to suggest by any means that this is just a fiscal problem, because the cost in human life and limb is the most prevalent and serious aspect of the issue.

Yet even with financial hardship, embarrassment, publication of names and this type of information, there are still individuals who take the chance or stubbornly refuse to give up this type of lifestyle and activity. The message has to be sent and sent clearly.

There is often reference in the criminal code and in the court rooms across the land to deterrents and denunciation. However, the seem to be, in many instances, bad words or words that are not quickly embraced by the justice system in the country. They are noticeably absent from the new youth criminal justice act. However, deterrents, both general and specific, still very much have a role to play when judges and our criminal justice system are attempting to send a message to individuals. That is to be coupled with all sentencing provisions and all of the considerations that judges must take in when crafting a sentence.

To combat the problem itself, we must assist police officers. Police on average indicate that it takes two hours and forty-five minutes to process a criminal code charge relating to impaired driving. Police need better access to mobile breathalyzers, physical sobriety testing and passive alcohol sensors to make their job more efficient and to enable them to assist the public in this battle against impaired driving.

Police officers do an amazing job with the tools that they have but they are faced with fiscal undermining and a very complicated and ever-increasing active criminal element in the country. The police do the best they can to the best of their abilities but they are increasingly frustrated. Warnings and fines do not work on hard-core drinkers. The police need to have their powers enhanced in some instances to get that message across.

As I indicated earlier, the Minister of Justice is to be commended for reintroducing the legislation. I hope, and the previous speakers have indicated that there will be broad support for the legislation. I hope it will receive swift passage through the House.

When it comes to the age of majority and the age of drinking, one has to recognize that with privileges come responsibility. Some consider a driving licence to be more of a right, than a privilege, but it is in fact a privilege. It is incumbent upon the legislators in this place to remind Canadians that there is responsibility associated with that. Giving additional powers to police officers to demand breath and blood samples whenever an accident occurs would also be a welcome inclusion in the criminal code when the accident that results from an impaired driver leaves a person dead or injured.

I understand that the demand for a breath or blood sample without sufficient evidence raises problems in the legal community. There is a strong argument to be made about the violation of an individual's rights, the presumption of innocence and the charter implications, but on balance the need for these powers to gather evidence and protect society from impaired drivers, and because of the prevalence of this particular type of offence, I suggest it is justified. This minor infringement is certainly in the public interest. Currently an officer is allowed to request a roadside breath sample based on reasonable suspicion.

Based on an accident, this, in and of itself, is a suspicion that an officer should and could rely on for the demand for a blood or breath sample. In the confusion of an accident, it stands to reason that officers are often very much concerned with assisting injured individuals and evidence is simply lost. Instead of forcing police officers to make sometimes very tough judgment calls, everyone should be subjected to a breath or blood sample within the discretion of the officer when the circumstances arise. This eliminates the judgment calls and relies on technology to determine the guilt or innocence based on an approved screening device.

 

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Inevitably there is a lengthy and legal wrangling that will result over the admission of this type of evidence and the police are very often put on trial in these types of criminal code offence prosecutions.

This will allow a police offer to better do his duty. I also suggest that it would free him up to be back on the street sooner doing the job that he or she is entrusted to do.

I am suggesting that the strengthening of impaired driving legislation will help the country. It will help all citizens in improving the safety on our highways. It certainly will strengthen the criminal code in its approach to this type of offence. Bill C-18 is but a part of the puzzle. I am hopeful that the House will also consider future changes to the criminal code in this particular area.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other such administrative arms have done a terrific job in raising the profile of this issue. We can do a great deal more in terms of educating people about the problem itself. We do have to do more to send a message to habitual offenders who continue to endanger lives on the highways.

Judge Clyde MacDonald, in my hometown of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, often used to say that an impaired driver under the influence of alcohol driving down the Trans-Canada highway, pointing the vehicle at innocent oncoming traffic, was no different than pointing a gun at a person. That is the type of realistic approach that we are hoping judges will take when combating this problem.

We hear time and time again from the government, and hopefully with all sincerity, that public safety has to be the number one concern. I encourage all Canadians to support and embrace Bill C-18.

I would like to recognize all members of the justice committee who participated and worked extremely hard on this legislation. I also want to thank the numerous witnesses who appeared before the committee and gave their expertise and insight into this issue, many of whom had been affected directly and gave heartbreaking stories about how their lost loved ones had been taken from them by impaired drivers.

For these people and for all Canadians, we have to send a message that impaired driving will not be tolerated. As they did with Bill C-82, I am hopeful that all members of the House will put aside partisan politics and work together in this public interest and vote in favour of Bill C-18.

Mr. Speaker, I want to take the opportunity to wish you and all members of the House the best for the holiday season, a healthy and safe holiday season.

[Translation]

Mr. Michel Bellehumeur (Berthier—Montcalm, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I work regularly with the Progressive Conservative member who just spoke. I know that he is very attentive, knows his issues very well and is a lawyer by training. He did practise law and, if I am not mistaken, he was a crown prosecutor. The hon. member is therefore very familiar with the whole structure of the Criminal Code.

He also knows that some offences are more or less comparable to impaired driving causing death. I know that the hon. member has read several studies—if he has not, I would invite him to do so, but I believe he has— regarding the impact of imprisonment on an individual.

If a prison term is imposed on a person, what will be the real impact of that measure on the individual when he gets out of prison? Will that person have understood? Are there studies showing that an offence that can lead to life imprisonment is a deterrent to such a person?

Earlier I made a speech and I quoted justices from the supreme court and the superior court. I also quoted some reports from parliamentary committees. After studying the same subject nearly every year for the past 20 years at least, we have come to the conclusion that imprisonment will not help lower the crime rate.

 

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In this case, the possibility of life imprisonment will not deter an impaired driver from getting behind the wheel of his car.

My question is very simple. A reading of the supreme court decisions shows that it feels that there are far too many prison sentences handed down in Canada, that Canada is one of the countries that hands down prison terms the most in the western world. Committee reports say imprisonment is useless. In their reports, the legal experts say that it is not the right way to deal with those who have drinking problems.

By increasing the present 14-year sentence for impaired driving causing death, no longer even imposed by judges, to life imprisonment, does the member really think that it will effectively reduce the number of offences of impaired driving causing death? Does he really believe that it will have an effect on those who drink and drive?

Mr. Peter MacKay: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague who is a member of the Standing Committee on Justice for his question. The hon. member for Berthier—Montcalm has worked very hard.

[English]

The hon. member makes a very good point about rehabilitation. There is no question that a person with an alcohol addiction problem will not be cured out and out by a lengthy prison sentence. However I spoke about the issues of deterrence and denunciation that are required when it comes to the taking of a human life.

The simple short answer to his question is that yes, sadly there are occasions when a person has repeatedly taken a chance by getting behind the wheel. As remarkable as it might sound, there are occasions when four, five, six or ten convictions are racked up and even after having spent time in prison the person will still take that chance. If one life can be saved by a lengthy period of incarceration, why would we not want to give judges the discretion to impose that type of deterrent sentence?

My hon. friend is also a practising member of the Quebec bar. He is intimately familiar with the criminal code, speaks in a very erudite way about criminal law matters and shares my passion for criminal law. However he knows that even the imposition of a 14 year sentence, or potentially a life sentence, does not mean that the person will serve that amount of time in prison.

Time and time again we have seen corrections and the parole board release individuals one-third, one-sixth or one-fourth into their sentences. If a judge decides that an individual offender has taken liberties and has jeopardized human life or human life and limb, the person deserves a sentence in the range of a life period of incarceration, which in Canada does not mean life. We know that means at a maximum 25 years and usually much less. If a judge can get the message out to the community, the small communities that are willing to take the risk, then let us put the tools in the hands of our judiciary to send that message.

Mr. Eric Lowther: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I did not want to interrupt the previous speakers, but earlier this afternoon the House leader gave notice that there would be closure on the debate on the Nisga'a bill. I am not clear on this so I just want to ask the Speaker whether after one day of debate it is appropriate to invoke closure.

There are 469 amendments. I do not see how we will be able to deal with them in one day. Can I have some advisement from the Chair in this regard? It seems inappropriate.

 

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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bryden): I thank the member for Calgary Centre for his intervention. The government only gave notice and that really is not subject to debate.

[Translation]

Mr. Michel Bellehumeur: Mr. Speaker, I have a question. It is rare that we have the opportunity to ask another a question after an answer, but I think that we must not confuse the issue.

In the case of someone who has a drinking problem and who drives while impaired and is arrested four, five or six times, the Criminal Code, as amended last June by Bill C-82, allows for stiffer sentences, and I applaud that.

If there had been better follow-up on that person, and if participation in certain programs had been required—and I made proposals in this regard in committee, but the government did not respond—we might have been able to rehabilitate that driver. It is a criminal offence, I repeat, to drive while impaired.

My question is more technical. I know that the member was a crown prosecutor, so he will be able to shed light on this question for the House. He knows that the Criminal Code contains the offence of dangerous driving. The maximum penalty is 14 years for hitting and killing someone.

Under the bill, if that person were hit and killed by an impaired driver, there is a possibility of life imprisonment. Does the hon. member find it logical to put that in the Criminal Code?

[English]

Mr. Peter MacKay: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the question. I agree that there are other sections of the criminal code that address similar types of situations.

Impaired driving could also be prosecuted as criminal negligence causing death. I personally favour the insertion in the criminal code of a section that recognizes vehicular homicide. Perhaps that might satisfy the hon. member in terms of having a code section attached to that provision when there is a degree of negligence coupled with the presence of alcohol.

With the greatest respect to my colleague from Quebec, we have a difference in philosophy in terms of the rehabilitative process. We also have a difference in philosophy on the vision of the country. There is no question that we can do more about rehabilitation when it comes to alcohol and drug related problems, but the money has to be available.

Currently that is not the situation. The government has not put the money forward for these types of programs to protect society. Sometimes these individuals have to be incarcerated for lengthy periods of time.

Mr. Mark Muise (West Nova, PC): Mr. Speaker, I was very interested in the interaction between my two colleagues. Having heard of deaths caused by impaired drivers in my riding and how devastating it is to families, and also touching on the work that organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving have done, I think this piece of legislation is worthy of debate. I find it quite interesting to hear my hon. colleague from Quebec say that we should not be imposing a life sentence.

I would ask my hon. colleague from Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough if there is any difference between driving a car and killing someone while impaired or taking a gun while impaired and pointing it at someone and shooting? If it is good for one, why would it not be good for the other?

Mr. Peter MacKay: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question of my colleague from West Nova. I know that he and all members of the House are very concerned about this type of scenario. He poses a very practical question.

 

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Earlier I referred to the commentary by Judge Clyde F. MacDonald in Pictou county when he made that exact analogy. I suggested that the current criminal code provisions spoke to murder and manslaughter when alcohol was involved. Oftentimes that is the case, particularly in domestic situations. It seems in those cases it is only an aggravating circumstance. Or, sometimes defence lawyers use it as a mitigating circumstance as to the state of mind of the individual who committed the murder.

Surely impaired people, who voluntarily put alcohol in their systems and get behind the wheel and go out on the highway and kill someone, have to be dealt with very harshly under the current provisions of the criminal code.

Mr. John McKay (Scarborough East, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I congratulate you on your ascension to the chair. You do indeed look quite comfortable up there.

It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-18, a bill with which I am quite familiar as a result of sitting on the justice committee for the last two years. Originally the bill saw the light of day as Bill C-82. The genesis of Bill C-82 was in fact in this parliament. Parliament instructed the justice committee to draft a report and a bill and then report back to parliament.

The committee listened to extensive testimony and became quite familiar with the issues surrounding drunk driving in the course of the testimony. The committee did in fact draft a report and then the bill. Both the report and the bill were adopted unanimously by the committee. It then successfully persuaded the Minister of Justice to sponsor the bill back into the House, and she was gracious enough to do that.

When the bill returned to the House, the Bloc Quebecois refused to let it proceed unless the clause with respect to life imprisonment was deleted. This was after unanimous agreement among members of the justice committee on both the draft report and the bill. The House leaders agreed that the clause would be dropped and reintroduced. The balance of the bill was proceeded with and proclaimed on July 1.

I have done very few things in parliament for which I have received more compliments than the bill we introduced on July 1. Constituents were thrilled with parliament and the government's response to drunk driving. Frankly they were quite disturbed when they later learned that we had not retained the provision with respect to life sentencing.

They were very pleased with the committee's initiatives. It is one of the most satisfying experiences I have had as a member of parliament. It was quite a non-partisan experience as members on both sides of the House worked very carefully. To quote one of the members, we all put “a little water in our wine” to achieve unanimity.

As I was saying, the clause with respect to life imprisonment has been referred back to the House in the form of Bill C-18. The issue in the bill is quite simple. If a drunk driver causes the death of another person, that drunk driver is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for life. Presently the maximum is 14 years.

The other difference is with respect to the authority of the justice of the peace to issue a warrant for the taking of a sample if an accident has caused death as a result of the consumption of alcohol or a drug. We heard some testimony in this regard and I am pleased to see that the minister has taken the opportunity to reintroduce that issue.

The issue of which I wish to speak is with respect to imprisonment for life for causing death while one is impaired. I would like to take this opportunity to bring before the House certain pieces of testimony that we heard and which were very persuasive to the committee.

The first was the testimony of Sharleen Verhurst and Jennifer Dixon, both of whom are from British Columbia. Jennifer's background is in the faculty of medicine at the University of British Columbia. Sharleen's background is in the faculty of law and criminal justice at the University College of Fraser Valley. Sharleen is involved with the local RCMP detachment as a crime prevention co-ordinator and speaks personally and with great passion about these issues as her life has been affected.

I will take this opportunity to read into the record the testimony because it gives reasoning to the debate, something that is not always present here. It compels one to reach the conclusion that the committee came to after listening to the testimony. It reads:

    In keeping with the need to view impaired driving as the serious and deadly crime that it is, maximum sentencing requirements should be aligned with that of a crime involving a weapon, as a vehicle operated by an impaired driver is just that, a weapon.

 

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That point was mentioned by my hon. friend from Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough:

    Minimum sentencing considerations should account for the sad fact that though the offender receives jail time, family members and friends receive “life sentences” without their loved ones. There is simply no reason for an impaired driver not to deal with the consequences of their own selfish actions.

It would seem that a maximum sentence for impaired driving causing death should follow criminal code section 220(a), causing death by criminal negligence using a firearm, as in both cases a type of weapon is used to cause death.

She went on to recommend two things, one of which was imprisonment for life for someone who kills while impaired.

The second piece of testimony that impressed the committee was that of the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba and the Winnipeg Police Services in a joint submission. Again I will read from the record:

    Present inconsistencies in sentencing give a message which suggests that death or injury resulting from impaired driving is somehow less serious or the driver is less responsible than death or injury from other acts of irresponsible behaviour. The drinking driver is no less responsible, having made the decision to drive after drinking or by failing to make other arrangements for transportation prior to drinking.

The simple message out of both of these testimonies is that if a person causes the death of another human being by virtue of drinking and being impaired, that person should be criminally responsible for their behaviour and the penalty should be the same as if the person caused the death of another person by means of a weapon or by means of criminal negligence causing death.

If we think about it for a moment we will come to the conclusion, as did the committee, that there is really no logical counter argument. Whether the individual is dead by virtue of the discharge of a firearm, a stabbing incident or a drunk driver, the penalty should be parallel.

Think of the legal absurdity. If I am found to be guilty of criminal negligence causing death while driving my car, but I am stone sober, I am exposed to a life sentence, but if I kill somebody while I am impaired in exactly the same circumstances, my maximum exposure is 14 years. Should I therefore go out and become impaired to reduce my liability? It does not make a great deal of sense.

It makes no sense to give a life sentence for a form of behaviour while sober and a lesser maximum while impaired and engaging in similar behaviour. If I can get life imprisonment for criminal negligence causing death or manslaughter, there is really no compelling reason why a driver should not be given life imprisonment for drunk driving.

Paragraph 54 of the committee's report states:

    Because neither criminal negligence causing bodily harm or death, nor manslaughter offences provide for a mandatory minimum prison term, it would be inappropriate to do so for impaired driving convictions, at this time.

The committee did not go with the minimums:

    Otherwise, there could be a very great incentive to an accused person to offer a plea to criminal negligence or manslaughter, and a similar incentive to a crown attorney to accept it. The same concern militates against increasing the 10-year maximum penalty for impaired driving causing bodily harm, since the maximum penalty for criminal negligence causing bodily harm is also currently 10 years. However, because the maximum penalty for both manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death is life imprisonment, the committee is persuaded that the maximum penalty for impaired driving causing death should be the same.

That recommendation was made after several months of testimony which we heard all across the country and it was a unanimous recommendation of the committee.

Therein lies the reasoning of the committee, and it is reasoning supported by the testimony that has a logical symmetry so that there is a parallelism and a balance in the criminal code with other forms of behaviour which cause the death of an innocent person. It really should not matter whether this death was caused by manslaughter, was caused by criminal negligence or was caused by impaired driving. The result is the death of another human being and therefore the punishment should be similar.

Therefore, the committee was persuaded that a judge should be able to sentence an individual to life imprisonment if the facts and circumstances warrant that kind of sentence. It made no sense to the committee to permit a judge to sentence someone to life imprisonment if the death was caused by criminal negligence or manslaughter but would be limited to 14 years if it was caused by an impaired person driving a motor vehicle. Therefore I think the reasoning of the committee is sound. It is based on the evidence. Therefore I urge all members to support the bill.

 

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I have heard a number of extraneous arguments in opposing the bill. May I say that really many of those arguments have nothing to do with the reasoning of the committee. It had nothing to do with whether this is a rehabilitable offence or issues such as that. It had everything to do with needing a logical consistency and symmetry in the criminal code. If we do not have that we will have other sets of logical inconsistencies which will make absolutely no sense to the public.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for this opportunity to speak. I would appreciate any opportunity to respond to questions.

Mr. Eric Lowther (Calgary Centre, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I generally appreciate the comments from the hon. member opposite. He made many very good points that were agreed upon by people in the committee.

There is one area on which I have a bit of an issue with him. We need always to try to apply credit where credit is due when it is possible. I think the committee did a good job but I think there are the yeoman's efforts that were put forward by the member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley that were largely responsible for bringing this issue forward.

I heard the member opposite say that the Liberal government has shown much strong initiative on this. Yet I am reminded, and would be curious to hear his comments on this, there was a motion on this put forward by the opposition led by the member just mentioned back in 1996 that was unanimously adopted by the House and no action was taken. We brought it forward again in 1997 and it was adopted by the House. There was no action by the government and then again in 1998. Finally we got some agreement to get some action on it if we would delay the deadline until 1999. Now finally we have some legislation before us.

I see this largely driven by the Reform Party and the member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley. The justice committee did eventually respond. But I would just like to hear the member opposite recognize the contribution made by the member mentioned.

Mr. John McKay: In the context of recognizing the contribution made by the member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley, I would also like to recognize the contribution of the member for Berthier—Montcalm, the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, the member for Scarborough—Rouge River, the member for Sydney—Victoria. I would say to the hon. member this was an all-party initiative, that it did come from the House, that it was referred by the House to the committee. The committee did ask for and did receive an extension in time because as one got into the issues, one started to realize that the issues were fairly complex. We were rewriting the criminal code.

For a lawyer, it gets no better than that, to dive into the code and rewrite the code in accordance with testimony that we heard. We heard testimony from literally all over the country, some of it initiated by the member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley. But there are other areas where the member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley was off in directions to which the committee would not and could not go when they were logically inconsistent and could not be supported.

For instance, the issue in this bill was minimums. If we think about it for a few minutes, putting minimums in on this would create another level of absurdity much like the member for Berthier—Montcalm, who was concerned about the individual who goes to a Christmas party, drinks one too many and kills an individual. His argument was that takes the offender up to a life sentence.

It would be even worse if we went to a minimum of seven years because it may well be that a judge would say in the circumstances that this is not an individual who is a habitual drunk driver and that this was a mistake and even though there was a very tragic consequence that the sentence should not be a minimum of seven years. That is one of the reasons we did not go that way. The member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley would have gone that way.

There was much give and take in the committee. It was a period of time of the committee which made me proud.

 

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There was a minimum of partisanship. After we got into the bill, after we heard the testimony and after we drafted the report we recognized that it was hard to take partisan positions because it did not make a lot of sense. I thought it was a great moment for the committee, and that member along with a number of members of the House made significant contributions to the committee.

Mr. Myron Thompson (Wild Rose, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I realize it is difficult for a Liberal to give credit where credit is due, particularly if that credit goes to a Reform member. I want it to be publicly known that through his private member's initiative the whole thing came to light. I applaud the member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley on his efforts.

Does the member for Scarborough East believe that this law should apply equally to persons under the age of 18?

Mr. John McKay: No, Mr. Speaker. It is fairly simple. We treat individuals differentially when they engage in criminal behaviour under age 18. I commend Bill C-3 to the member's attention. That is not one of the recognized offences. I appreciate the opportunity to answer the question.

Mr. Darrel Stinson (Okanagan—Shuswap, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I have more of a comment to make than a question. When lawyers talk about that what they live for is rewriting the criminal code, I want the member to know that they scare the living daylights out of ordinary citizens. I say that in all honesty.

I cannot see why those under 18 would not be charged the same. A life is a life. When one is old enough to drive one is old enough to take responsibilities. An impaired driver who drives a vehicle is actually handling a weapon. It is the choice that one makes when one decides to drive impaired.

Mr. John McKay: Mr. Speaker, the committee is not composed of only lawyers. We did not receive a great deal of testimony from lawyers. The only two lawyers' organizations that made representations were the Canadian Bar Association and Barreau du Québec.

The testimony that we received was from police officers and a variety of other witnesses from across the country. My thought on it was that it was actually good testimony which helped us to think about it.

My comment with respect to writing it was that as a practising lawyer it literally gets no better than having an opportunity to open the criminal code and arrive at a legally sound and a reasoned position so that the imposition of certain kinds of penalties on certain kinds of criminal behaviour is consistent with other parts of the code, because one can arrive at legal absurdities which other lawyers will quickly exploit.

With respect to the issue of under 18, as far as I am concerned people under 18 are still not adults. They are held criminally responsible for their activities pursuant to the Young Offenders Act, which is about to be changed pursuant to Bill C-3. If the hon. member feels compelled that it should be brought before the committee, that drunk driving should be included in category 6 offences which can receive adult sentences, I am open to the idea. On the face of it, it strikes me as not a particularly good idea. It strikes me as diminishing the whole concept and philosophy of youth justice.

The Deputy Speaker: It being 1.30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's order paper.



PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

 

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[Translation]

CANADA LABOUR CODE

 

Mrs. Monique Guay (Laurentides, BQ) moved that Bill C-212, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Staff Relations Act (prohibited provision in a collective agreement), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

She said: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today in the House to speak to Bill C-212, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Staff Relations Act.

What this long title means in fact is that Bill C-212 would render any provision in a collective agreement concluded under these acts, excluding a provision based on the seniority principle, of no force or effect where employees hired after a specific date do not receive the same employee benefits, wages or conditions of employment as those received by other employees covered by the collective agreement.

Thus, if such a provision is contained in a collective agreement signed on or after the coming into force of the act, it will be declared of no force or effect.

Also, if such a provision is contained in a collective agreement signed before the coming into force of this enactment, it will be of no force or effect on a day that is two years after the day on which this enactment comes into force.

In short, as a responsible political party, the Bloc Quebecois would like to do away with orphan clauses, or discriminatory clauses if you prefer, in all collective agreements under federal jurisdiction.

Let us be clear. The labour minister and the federal government absolutely refuse to admit there are orphan clauses in a number of collective agreements under their jurisdiction. But, later on in my remarks, I will prove that there are some.

Before going any further, we should agree on a definition of orphan clauses. These are clauses in collective agreements under which employees hired after a specified date do not receive the same employee benefits, wages, or conditions of employment as those received by other employees who have been hired before that date.

Let us examine the direct and indirect impact of such clauses on our society.

In Ottawa, the Bloc Quebecois has always been the only party to care about this issue. But just in Quebec, we have over 100,000 workers who come under federal labour legislation, and are not covered under the Quebec labour code. This is true not only for Quebec workers, but for all workers in the rest of Canada.

Discriminatory clauses are the source of a lot of frustration and create a rift between older and younger employees, generating tensions within businesses where they are in use.

They greatly contribute to social inequality. Several studies have shown that income inequalities in Canada are linked to salary inequalities between young workers and more experienced ones.

Between 1981 and 1993, the salaries of men aged 18 to 24 dropped by 20%, while the salaries of men in the 45 to 54 age group increased by 20%.

The orphan clauses are a problem that must be fixed. They prevent young couples from providing their children with decent living conditions from a very early age. The Canadian Institute of Child Health explains the financial difficulties young families are facing, and I quote:

    Economically, today's young families with children are worse off than were those of their parents' generation. In 1976, a single parent with one child needed to work 41 hours a week at minimum wage to bring the family up to the poverty line; in 1993, this had increased to 73 hours per week.

The federal government, especially the Minister of Labour, must recognize the long term effects of this kind of short term solution, which badly penalizes young people.

 

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What is even more absurd, is that the labour minister and the federal government do not recognize that these provisions are discriminatory. A hundred thousand workers from Quebec who are subject to the Canada Labour Code are not protected against these discriminatory provisions.

When will the government understand that the opposition to these orphan clauses has nothing to do with a generation gap, but rather that these discriminatory provisions are what divide the generations?

Discriminatory provisions hurt the younger workers and that has significant social consequences on our society. The goal here is not to make victims out of our youth, but to take the time to consider the facts that seem to go against the values of solidarity and fairness which are necessary to social cohesion.

Orphan clauses in collective agreements can make members of some generations feel they are being treated unfairly. Unfairness at a time when people are not as wealthy as they used to be is totally unacceptable. In this period of austerity, we have to stick together.

In order to decry and fight against the unfair treatment handed out to the poor, the young, the elderly and so on, generations absolutely have to stand united.

Why does the federal government not do as the province of Quebec did and create a parliamentary committee to consider the issue of discriminatory provisions in federal collective agreements?

Are the labour minister and the federal government scared of facing the truth? Why not give the various stakeholders and parliamentarians the opportunity to go before a parliamentary committee and discuss this issue? Holding a social debate throughout Canada, would that not be a healthy and democratic way to address such an important issue as the orphan clauses?

The federal government would rather stay mute, turn a deaf ear and not take responsibility for a social problem that is all too real.

In Quebec there is a strong consensus among a number of different stakeholders against the so-called orphan clauses. Opponents include the Bloc Quebecois, the national executive of the Forum Jeunesse du Bloc Quebecois, the Conseil national du Parti Quebecois, the Conseil des jeunes du PQ, the Jeunes libéraux du Québec, the CSN, the FTQ, the CERQ, to name but a few.

Moreover, a Sondagem survey carried out from March 20 to 24 found that 59.6% of the population of Quebec was opposed to unions signing collective agreements which imposed working conditions and salaries on new employees that were less advantageous than those of existing employees, and 41.7% of respondents reported that they would accept a cut in salary in order to make it easier for young people to enter the work force.

Given these survey findings, it is inconceivable that the federal government continues to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear. If it really intends to put an end to these orphan clauses, let it pass legislation along the lines of my Bill C-212.

When will the federal government finally have the courage to speak out against orphan clauses as the people of Quebec have?

I can assure hon. members that the Bloc Quebecois will keep on the federal government's case until it abolishes these clauses.

As I have said, certain federal collective agreements do indeed contain discriminatory clauses. I will give some examples.

Let me start with the CBC. The Syndicat des techniciens et artisans du réseau français de Radio-Canada has negotiated an agreement with an orphan clause. Article 31.1 of that agreement reads as follows, and I quote:

    Job guarantees, employees hired prior to December 1983.

    When the Corporation makes a decision to significantly reduce operations at a given location, there will be no layoffs, terminations or salary reductions for STRF and NABET employees who were on strength as of December 31, 1983 and who are still employed on the date of signature of this collective agreement, provided they have completed their probationary period.

 

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And article 31.2 reads as follows, and I quote:

    Unprotected employee (hired after December 1983).

    An employee who has completed a probationary period but is not personally protected under article 30.1.1 above or article 31.1 below, may be laid off, have his employment terminated or have his salary reduced if the workforce reduction is for reasons other than those set out in article 29 (section 9), pursuant to article 33 (section 9).

Obviously, a worker who joined the CBC after December 1, 1983 may be laid off, have his employment terminated or have his salary reduced.

But workers who joined before December 1 have job and pay guarantees.

Here is concrete proof that there are indeed orphan clauses in federal government agreements. So the minister should stop telling us otherwise, because it is not true.

Orphan clauses are not restricted to collective agreements. They are probably one of the most discriminatory clauses in Canada and can be found in the EI legislation.

The EI clause, introduced in 1993, goes a long way towards explaining why the rate of coverage for young people between the ages of 20 and 24 has dropped from 49.1% in 1993 to 26.6% in 1998.

This provision affects approximately 56,000 young people annually. The clause that discriminates against young people can be found in section 7, Part 1, of the Act.

The eligibility criteria for new entrants and re-entrants to the labour force are different. This is a clause similar in every respect to the one found in certain collective agreements. But, in this case, we are talking about the federal government's most important social safety net. This clause potentially affects every young person in Canada. Not only does it create two classes of workers, but it also creates two classes of citizens.

Bill C-212 seeks to put a stop, by eliminating any legal loophole, to any form of discrimination based on the use of orphan clauses, and should thus punish any violation of the principle governing intergenerational solidarity, without which a just and fair society cannot exist.

The fight of the Bloc Quebecois against discriminatory clauses is a quest for equity. All workers in Quebec and in Canada are entitled to the protection that will be provided by Bill C-212. This fight is about ensuring a more just and fair society.

On February 9, the hon. member for Charlesbourg introduced Bill C-470 which, like Bill C-212, sought to prohibit discriminatory clauses.

At the time, the federal government refused to debate the proposed measure. Today, I am coming back with Bill C-212. I do hope that the government will finally open its eyes and recognize that the use of orphan clauses creates social inequalities, something which must be condemned.

I hope the other opposition parties will support the Bloc Quebecois legislation. We should not engage in petty politics, as the Liberals really enjoy doing, when we are dealing with such an issue.

I also ask those Liberal members who have a social conscience to break ranks with their party and to support my bill.

The evolution of society must not be viewed strictly with the present generation in mind. We must look further ahead and think about the future generations that will ensure our social, economic, political and cultural development.

Bill C-212 seeks to give hope to young workers in Quebec and in Canada who work in a federally legislated business, and who are entitled to the same benefits as their elders.

With its Bill C-212, the Bloc Quebecois wants to send to the rest of Canada a clear message that young workers, and those who are trying to join the workforce or are preparing to do so, must be considered full-fledged citizens, like all the other citizens of Canada.

 

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[English]

Mr. Steve Mahoney (Mississauga West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a couple of points with particular regard to the comments by the hon. member who just spoke in support of her private members' bill.

First of all, I would take some exception that this is about having or not having a social conscience. Frankly, this is very clearly an issue about labour relations. To suggest that because a member on this side of the House, or of another party, does not support this means that somehow we do not have a social conscience is not an acceptable remark.

This is clearly about the relationship between Canada and the provinces. The Minister of Labour in the province of Quebec has introduced a bill that this one mirrors. In fact, this one is drawn primarily from that bill. It is Bill 67 in the province of Quebec. I understand the minister in that province held a number of public consultations where people, including young people, gave their advice and opinions on this bill.

The minister has admitted that she was unable to arrive at a consensus within her own province of Quebec, yet she is going ahead with introducing it into the national assembly. I presume that is because there are fundamentally only two parties of strength in the legislature and it will carry. I assume that Mr. Bouchard's government will pass this into law. This is a provincial labour issue they are dealing with and they have every right to do that within the rights and the boundaries of their particular jurisdiction.

I find it strange though that a member of the Bloc would stand and say that because this is good for her province that this should necessarily expand to be good for all Canadians. It is quite an unusual day to see a separatist defending anything outside the borders of the province of Quebec. I have some difficulty with the rationale that somehow this should be good for all of Canada. In fact, this is gerrymandering and political manipulation with the socialists who are obviously chirping away and who are obviously in bed with the separatists. So we have the socialists and the separatists, the separatists and the socialists, together once again. Philosophically I understand that. I know where they come from. They believe that all the collective bargaining and contracts should be done by mother state as opposed to allowing the collective bargaining process to work.

That is fundamentally the difference of philosophy between this side, the government, the NDP, and in this case the Bloc. The Bloc members are fundamentally socialists.

I will talk about my dad who the member went on about. My father, when he was national director of the United Steelworkers of America, in all of Canada by the way, negotiated an agreement with Inco in Sudbury. He negotiated a seven year collective bargaining agreement, the longest collective bargaining agreement in history. That agreement put into place the protections that were necessary for the employees of the day and for new hires who came along as the seven year process expanded.

I wonder what people like Bill Mahoney or Larry Sefton would say about the parliament of Canada telling the unions and the union leaders, who are duly elected by the rank and file of their union, who have a mandate given to them by the men and women who are in that union, what they should do to protect the men and women in their union. Not only people like my father and Larry Sefton, but I think of old time, hard working union leaders like Joe Morris, Dennis McDermott and Johnny Barker from Sault Ste. Marie, who had a great saying. The socialists will love this. Johnny used to say, “Don't let your bleeding heart run away with your bloody head”. I always thought it was a classic. Johnny understood that if there was not a plant in Sault Ste. Marie that was functioning and creating steel products, there would not be jobs for the members. Johnny understood that this was not a sector of society where the government should be sticking its palmy, greedy little fingers. Allow the union leaders and the executives who work in the industrial part of this country to come together and to work out agreements that make sense.

 

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While I am on that subject, the labour movement is big business. We think about it in terms of being a union. Let me tell the members it is big business.

When I was 16 years old I drove the getaway car for my dad when we went to Sudbury with the steelworkers leading the raid on mine mill. Why? We wanted to get the communists the heck out of the labour movement. There were too many of them infiltrated in the mine mill and we wanted to get them out. We needed a getaway driver because it was dangerous stuff.

It was scary stuff. They attempted to assassinate him on a couple of occasions. There were brawls in the hall of the President Hotel in Sudbury. There were police in the streets. It was violent stuff, and I did not understand. I said “Dad, what the heck are you doing this for?” I did not understand what he was doing. I thought this was a lot of scary stuff and I would rather be back home in Toronto, in Etobicoke, in my comfortable home than up here with all these tough mine workers and steel workers and all the fighting and everything else.

Do the hon. members know what it was about? It was about money. Let me tell the members why. I did not know it then, but the mine mill people were paying monthly dues into their union and so were the steelworkers. We had two unions, both negotiating directly with the company in Sudbury. They were negotiating. One would get a deal, then the other one would come in and say “I want a better deal” and the other one would come in and say “I want to one-up those guys”. There were conflicts. There were more fights between the unions in Sudbury in those days than there ever were between the company and the union.

It is really interesting to hear the NDP members going on. They have no understanding of the relationship, the positive, the pragmatic relationship that could be developed between a pragmatic labour leader representing the constituents, not walking around saying “I am vice-president of the New Democratic Party. Hear me roar”. What a bunch of nonsense.

NDP members should ask themselves a question. If all people in the labour movement are socialist, how come those guys never get any votes? How come the New Democratic Party does not form a government? How do we elect federal Liberals in Sault Ste. Marie and Oshawa? How do we do that? How do we elect, God forbid, provincial Tories in places like that?

The NDP have to get elected somewhere. NDP members have to get a job somewhere. I understand that. We know that they are in trouble. They have gone from two, and what are they up to, half a dozen or a dozen or whatever it is. Joe who? Joe what?

It is really an interesting thing. Why is it that the people in the labour movement in Windsor—think about it, Windsor—why do they not elect New Democratic Party members? I do not know. They have even tried getting together to do strategic voting and they get thrown out of office. Maybe they should understand that the men and women who work in the industrial heartland of this country have the same problems that we all have. They want to put their kids through school. Their VISA bill is about to explode. Christmas is coming and they have to find the money to buy gifts for their families.

They are concerned about their future. They are concerned about their pensions. They are not concerned about political manipulating and gerrymandering by any level of government to interfere in what is a true, great democratic process in this country called collective bargaining. It works. We should support collective bargaining and we should stick to what we need to do as a government which, I would say to the hon. member opposite, is to keep this country united as the greatest country in the world in which to live.

 

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Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I rise to participate in the debate on this private members' bill brought forward by the Bloc Quebecois member for Laurentides.

This bill seeks to ban the so-called orphan clauses or grandfather clauses from being included in collective agreements bargained for under the jurisdiction of the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the federal Public Service Staff Relations Act.

These clauses allow older workers or senior workers and long time employees to keep their acquired rights and privileges such as hours or pay rates. These clauses are needed whenever a new collective agreement is reached which changes the previous conditions of employment.

The problem that is created with this is that new and mostly young workers begin a job that, for example, pays less in the new agreement than it did in the old. It could be that an employee who has been with a company for 10 years is making more money than a new employee doing the same job. This would happen if a 10 year veteran had his or her pay rate from a previous collective agreement protected in a subsequent collective agreement that applies to a new employee coming on to the job after that new agreement takes effect.

This is the problem that the hon. member is trying to address. At face value it seems a noble pursuit. She is fighting a seemingly discriminatory two-tiered wage scheme. If the workers who are generally young people start at lower rates, it can take longer for them to catch up. I believe that these things should be worked out at the bargaining table during collective agreement negotiations between the employer and the employees.

For the benefit of those who are listening, Reform Party policy on employment and labour management relations states:

      A. The Reform Party supports the right of workers to organize democratically, to bargain collectively, and to strike peacefully.

      B. The Reform Party supports the harmonization of labour-management relations, and rejects the view that labour and management must constitute warring camps.

      C. The Reform Party supports the right of all Canadians, particularly the young, to enter the work force and achieve their potential. Unions and professional bodies may ensure standards but should not block qualified people from working or from gaining the necessary qualifications.

Among other things regarding labour relations and collective bargaining, this is what the grassroots members of our party have written as our policy.

I commend the hon. member for bringing Bill C-212 before the House. She has no doubt done a great deal of work on her bill. I asked her office to provide me with further information, further to the bill itself, for my information, knowledge and use in preparing to speak today. But the member refused. She told her assistant to tell my assistant that she would not provide me with explanatory notes or any other information related to the bill. This was most peculiar. Why the secrecy?

At any rate, I did my own research on this bill. I have spoken with Labour Canada and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada. I contacted the Action démocratique Québec in the Quebec legislature and I have done research including a search of the media to find out what other people are saying about this issue and this bill.

This bill is similar to Bill 67 introduced by the Quebec separatist government.

 

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This explains why the hon. member is bringing this matter before the House. She wants the federal government to apply the same laws that the Quebec separatists are going to apply in their province.

The separatist government in Quebec tried to pass this legislation before the last Quebec provincial election but it failed. It is trying to pass it again and it is having problems again.

Consultations were held throughout Quebec. Employers were accused of not treating young people fairly and unions were accused of bargaining for less favourable working conditions for young people.

A report prepared by the Quebec labour department and tabled by the Quebec labour minister in the Quebec legislature says that if Quebec passes the law it will cost thousands of jobs. I might add that the Quebec media reported that the labour minister tabled the report without even knowing if it concluded that these jobs would be lost. Not only does this uncover the incompetence of the separatist minister, but it also points to the difficulties of accomplishing what this bill is trying to do.

It is no wonder that one is hard pressed to find any other jurisdiction that has this legislation. This legislation is not found anywhere because it is not needed. Even if we give the hon. member the benefit of the doubt and try to justify the federal government becoming involved in the collective bargaining process, we find that we would place the government in the position of micro-managing things. These kinds of policies lead to a crippled, ineffective government.

We are trying to remedy a phenomenon that took place in the 1980s. The recession caused two tier wage schemes to be adopted as a means of fighting the economic recession and saved jobs from being lost. These two tiered systems were not resorted to everywhere, and where they were, we hope they will be negotiated away by the arrival of the new millennium.

The stagnant Quebec economy, almost entirely ruined and soon to be entirely ruined by the minority separatist movement, appears to be continuing to suffer from the two tier wage scheme. This is to be lamented. Jobs in Quebec are indeed extremely valuable.

The separatists should learn from this debate. They should learn that in their economy there have been unique problems because of the political separatist movement. Their economy cannot grow because investors do not want to risk their money in a place that could plunge into turmoil and chaos at any time.

Problems that are at least 20 years old continue to persist as the separatist political leaders stubbornly continue on their mission at the expense of workers and young Quebecers. It is sad, but true.

[Translation]

Mr. Yvon Godin (Acadie—Bathurst, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to support Bill C-212 sponsored by the hon. member for Laurentides.

This bill would amend the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Staff Relations Act. It renders any provision in a collective agreement concluded under these Acts—excluding a provision based on the seniority principle—of no force or effect where employees hired after a specified date do not receive the same employee or pay benefits or conditions of employment as those received by other employees covered by the collective agreement.

In practical terms, this bill is a protection for new entrants in the workforce and for and younger workers newly hired by a business.

 

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This bill provides that these workers will receive the same pay and conditions of employment as those received by other workers.

This bill addresses the issue of what is commonly called the orphan clauses. These clauses provide for workers hired after a specified date conditions that are lower than those set out in the collective agreement for other workers, in terms of pay, probationary period, social benefits, employment security of retirement plans.

These clauses may be temporary or permanent, depending on whether or not the new workers will be able in the short, medium or long term to enjoy the same working conditions than the older workers.

There are four main types of orphan clauses.

The first ones are permanent clauses dealing with pay scales. Under these clauses, the pay of older workers and the pay of new ones increase according to different pay scales, and the new workers cannot reach the same pay ceiling as the older workers.

There are also permanent clauses concerning flat rates of pay. Under these clauses, older and new workers are paid according to a flat rate, the rate for new workers being lower than the one for older workers.

Third, there are permanent clauses dealing with both a flat rate of pay and a pay scale.

There are two possible scenarios under this scheme: either the older workers are paid according to a flat rate while the new workers are paid according to a wage scale without having the chance to ever reach the top rate given the older workers, or the older workers are paid according to a wage scale while the new workers are paid according to a flat rate which never reaches the pay ceiling granted to the older workers.

Finally, there are the temporary formulas applicable to wage scales, where the pay of old and new employees increases according to separate scales whose higher levels are established at the same rate.

It is clear that no matter what formula is applied, discriminatory clauses are causing a lot of frustration, are creating a cleavage between old and new employees and are generating tensions within businesses.

Discriminatory clauses can also affect the solidarity of union members, while undermining the credibility of unions with young people.

This bill addresses these legitimate concerns toward these discriminatory clauses that guarantee the working conditions of employees who are now in their position but that provide for reduced benefits for future employees. Discrimination toward new employees, mainly young people, is the direct consequence of these agreements.

This bill recognizes and supports the seniority principle. However, it would prevent the implementation, in a collective agreement, of other discriminatory clauses that would allow employers to fill vacant positions by giving reduced salaries or benefits.

Young people already have so much difficulty in the labour market without facing this additional discrimination. First of all, it is quite a challenge to find a job. Too often young people come out of universities and colleges, but cannot find work because they do not have the experience required.

It is a vicious circle where our young people are trying to gain experience but do not have the opportunity to enter the job market. Right now, once again, some people want to punish them and discriminate against them.

I can understand, having been a union negotiator in the past, that union representatives are sometimes pushed to the wall. They are being told that if they do not want this or that they will not have a collective agreement. Some governments have used blackmail, saying “if you do not want that, everybody will be fired”. So they did not have a choice and were caught in this war to try to keep the jobs of their employees or their members.

It is unfortunate to see that the member for Mississauga West has so little respect for unions when his brother worked for a union for years and his union salary allowed him to put food on the table. He was able to eat thanks to the steelworkers union.

He should be ashamed to rise today in the House of Commons and not be able to make a speech in all honesty and not even have respect for his own brother and for all the work he has done in this country.

 

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For those who manage to find jobs, they are always temporary contract jobs that provide no security.

Once their contract is over, these same young people are left without a job and most of them are not eligible for employment insurance because of the 910 hours rule for new entrants. Once again, this is the fault of the Liberals and the Conservatives, who just keep hammering young people. That is what happened and today they still want to hammer young people by offering them salaries that are different from those of other employees.

Right now, only 15% of young people who are unemployed receive employment insurance benefits. For young women without a job, the situation is even more precarious. Only 10% of them get employment insurance benefits. As if the situation of young workers were not difficult enough as it is, we have multiplied the number of orphan clauses according which new employees are paid lower wages and get lower benefits than their fellow workers who perform the same duties.

We must put an end to such discrimination. Our young workers deserve the same wages and benefits as their fellow workers who perform the same duties. After all, it is a matter of equity.

When I was a union representative, I even refused that a student be paid differently than another worker who had more seniority in the business. Our young people must not be discriminated against, as they are our children. Any member who is unwilling to support our children does not deserve to represent his riding.

Today, I noticed that the member for Laurentides asked a question to the Minister of Labour on this subject. The minister answered this, and I quote “All collective agreements are drafted by management and the union. Therefore, it is up to them to include appropriate clauses in theses agreements”.

How can the Minister of Labour adopt such an attitude toward our young workers?

When we talk about the Minister of Labour's duties, we are mostly talking about the public sector. Does the Minister of Labour really want the future generation to lose everything we fought so hard for for so many years?

Young people's lives should get easier from one generation to the other. However, for the current generation they are getting worse. Post-secondary education is more and more expensive even if the quality of education is diminishing.

As I have said before, jobs are more difficult to find and working conditions are getting worse. We are now faced with orphan clauses which deal directly with our young workers' wages and working conditions. The Minister of Labour says that she has nothing to do with it. If she really wants to protect the rights of young people and workers, she should support this initiative.

As parliamentarians, we should ensure that future generations will benefit from a better quality of life than what we have now. However, we often consider only the short term and in so doing we neglect the needs of our young people.

This initiative of the member for Laurentides is a good opportunity to begin to correct this situation. It is a good occasion to tell our young people “You are important to us and we will make sure that your interests are taken into account”.

I urge all my colleagues to support Bill C-212 and to end this discrimination against our young people.

And to the Reform Party, which keeps talking about separation and separatists, I say that right now, on a Friday in the month of December, Quebec has not yet separated from Canada and we should not be talking about separation. We should work together.

I commend the hon. member for Laurentides for having introduced this bill in the House. I support it.

[English]

Mr. Charlie Power (St. John's West, PC): Mr. Speaker, I too would like to associate myself with the comments of the member for Acadie—Bathurst and say, yes, I am delighted that on December 3 Canada and Quebec are still partners in this great Confederation. I am sure that this is the way it will stay for many generations to come.

 

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I want to congratulate the member for Laurentides for bringing in any piece of legislation, private members or otherwise, that tries to protect the rights of workers in this country. In this country, albeit we do have great difficulties on occasion, one of the difficulties we have is making sure our workers are treated fairly and properly in the workplace.

When we look at some of the things that are happening to the 1.3 million Canadians who are unemployed, it is a case where in many ways they are the forgotten members of Canadian society. There are 1.3 million Canadians unemployed every given day, December 3, December 4, January 3, January 4, the year 2000, the year 1999, the year 1998. It seems to make little or no difference that we have this stagnant high unemployment rate of 1.3 million Canadians, over 8% across the country. In Newfoundland, something like 17% of our workforce is unemployed. We will be more than happy to support any piece of legislation that will increase the chance of workers to earn a decent livelihood and be treated fairly in the workplace.

Being treated fairly in the workplace means that the government has to do a lot more than what it is doing now for the unemployed and the workers. If we are unemployed in Canada, we seem to be forgotten by the government. If we go work, we seem to get gouged by the government at every opportunity.

The EI fund is one example of where workers are abused and discriminated against in the country, where they are taxed above the norm and the tax goes into the employment insurance fund. The fund has a surplus in excess of $30 billion which is owned primarily by the workers and the employers of Canada. Whether people are unemployed or working in the country, they can be discriminated against in many different ways.

Our party thinks that the EI fund has to rectified. Workers' rights have to be preserved and enhanced in any way possible. Bill C-212 does some of that and we are more than happy to support it.

When people are or are not working in Newfoundland, they find that there are no training dollars. People do not realize it but the HRDC office in Atlantic Canada and in Newfoundland, in particular, continually flaunts the statistics which say that the better educated and better trained we are the more opportunities we will have to get a job.

In Newfoundland there is not one solitary cent of discretionary spending that can now be approved for training in January of this year. All of the training money that was allocated has been committed up to August. The new budget starts on April 1 and by August all the training money will be committed. This means that a large number of Newfoundlanders who are among the 17% unemployed and who would like to get into the workforce, pay taxes and contribute to Canada, have no opportunity to do so because the Government of Canada has not seen fit to put some of the money, that it is taking from the working public of Canada through the EI fund, back into the training and education programs.

Those are examples of discrimination against workers. This morning I asked some questions of the Minister of Transport, or his parliamentary secretary, about the InterCanadian employees. Today we have 900 employees whose lives are in a state of chaos because they do not know if they have a job. Of those employees, 700 in non-management have not received a paycheque this week because InterCanadian has had to cease business.

Why did it have to cease business? It had to cease business because the Minister of Transport said that the Canadian airline industry was in crisis. As a result, InterCanadian lost a significant share of the market and was not able to effectively conduct their business.

This was a crisis created by the Minister of Transport who said something and then did not get involved in finding a solution. Today there are 700 families with no paycheques coming in from InterCanadian in Quebec and in Atlantic Canada. It is a shame. This was caused by the Government of Canada saying one thing and not being willing to get involved to the same degree that it was in an earlier deal when some big shots, some very well-connected people, were going to use Onex, as a Canadian company, for a foreign-based takeover of Air Canada.

There is discrimination against workers in the workplace. We saw the same thing happen with Air Atlantic when it moved out of Newfoundland and Atlantic Canada without any warning. The Minister of Labour for the Government of Canada gave it relief from a 16 week severance package proviso that is in the labour code and had to be followed unless the Minister of Labour gave an agreement not to have it so done, which meant it took money out of the pockets of every worker who used to work for Air Atlantic.

When the member for Laurentides brings up Bill C-212, a bill that promotes equal treatment of employees within the workforce, allowing for the provisos of seniority, then we in our party are more than happy to support it. If it equalizes wages, benefits and opportunities for people in the workforce, then we are more than happy to do it.

 

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We congratulate the member for bringing forward the bill. It is one more way to make the workplace somewhat more fair. It takes into account the concerns relating to seniority which are in all workplace agreements.

The Progressive Conservative caucus will be happy to support the legislation because it makes the workplace somewhat more fair for those who are lucky enough to be in it.

Mr. John McKay (Scarborough East, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak to Bill C-212, although I cannot see myself supporting it. As far as the government is concerned the bill is not good public policy. It is an invitation to micromanage complex employment-employee relations from afar. If experience has taught us anything, it is that government is not good at micromanagement.

The bill is not consistent with the intent and philosophy of the Canada Labour Code which sets the framework and fundamental principles governing free collective bargaining in federal jurisdiction. The Canada Labour Code has served the workers of Canada for in excess of 100 years. Canada's philosophy concerning relations is based on notions of freedom of association and free collective bargaining, no micromanagement.

We believe in an approach to industrial relations that allows parties in the workplace to determine the terms and conditions that best govern their situation. The heavy hand of government should not be present in all relations between employers and employees. We do not believe government should regulate the relationship. We do not believe the Canada Labour Code should intrude unnecessarily into the collective bargaining process.

As hon. members will recall, our government brought forward amendments to part I of the Canada Labour Code last year. The legislation was passed in January of this year. Amendments improved and modernized the code, making the provisions governing collective bargaining in the federal jurisdiction more efficient.

Before bringing forward the new legislation extensive consultations were undertaken. The consultations took many forms: public consultations, written submissions, informal meetings, consultations with interested groups, academic round tables, consultations with the Canada Labour Board, and labour management consensus groups.

The consultations addressed four key issues including ways to improve the collective bargaining process, methods to ensure the effective and efficient administration of the code, ways to facilitate labour-management co-operation, and changing workplace and employment relationships.

A total of 87 submissions were received from a broad spectrum of stakeholders in the federal jurisdiction. They included employer groups, unions and labour organizations, academics, provincial governments, territories, and other interested parties. Each part of the country was represented including many organizations from the member's home province of Quebec, but none of the submissions asked for the kind of changes the member is asking for in the proposed bill. In hockey parlance, it did not make the cut.

In other words, based on such an extensive consultation process involving such a wide variety of persons there does not appear to be a widespread concern within the labour community for the changes proposed in the bill. As a member of the government party of Canada I am opposed to the bill because it is not consistent with the philosophy and objectives of Canada's industrial relations system.

I understand the Government of Quebec has introduced amendments to Bill 67 which amends Quebec's labour standard legislation. The bill has an objective that appears similar to Bill C-212. It also came to our attention that the original bill introduced by the Quebec minister of labour last June has run into some difficulties. We saw in the media, for example, that there was a growing opposition to the Quebec bill from some groups, even those who advocate change.

On balance there does not seem to be consensus on what needs to be done in Quebec. Organizations representing students and young workers have expressed concerns about a situation which according to them discriminates against younger workers who do not receive the same wages and benefits as older workers. They have pressed for a legislative answer.

 

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[Translation]

The Deputy Speaker: I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but, as he knows, our rules allow the mover of the bill five minutes to wrap up at the end of the hour provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business.

Therefore, the hon. member for Laurentides has the floor for five minutes.

Mrs. Monique Guay (Laurentides, BQ): Mr. Speaker, after having heard all the speakers, I would like to summarize the situation and say a few more words about Bill C-212.

The Liberals, the governing party, have once again buried their heads in the sand. Once again, they have ignored the problem caused by orphan clauses. It is a if it did not exist as far as they are concerned. Instead they indulged in petty politics, answering me almost rudely.

They said that all Quebec talked about was separation and that we should not get involved in the orphan clause issue. I have been sitting as an elected member of this place for six years already. I deal with federal issues, not with Quebec issues at the National Assembly; I do sit in the Parliament of Canada. The orphan clause issue is related to the Canada Labour Code.

First, I find it unfortunate that this bill got so little attention. Then, what really distressed me was the fact that the Minister of Labour, present in this House, did not even respond. She did not even dare to rise and say what she really thought or at the very least give her opinions, even if they differed. We could accept that.

What we cannot accept is having people say nothing because they are afraid, or for whatever reason, perhaps because they do not consider the matter important enough.

Tabling a bill involves a whole procedure. It takes a lot of time to move it from A to B or to C. It is a long and difficult process, worthy of the importance due it. What I saw today was a shrug of the government shoulders meaning forget that.

I was not surprised by the reaction of my colleague in the Reform Party. I know that, nothing to do with unions and employee and employer relations, excites them—and I choose my words to be kind. So, I am not surprised by their reaction.

On the other hand, I am very happy that my colleague from the NDP and my colleague from the Progressive Conservative Party understood the importance of reacting at this point. A reaction is vital, because there has long been discussion of discriminatory clauses. The government has long had its head in the sand and done absolutely nothing in this matter. It is time to move.

There are a lot of young people in the labour market who want to join big companies or the public service and who will not enjoy the same rights as their elders. Their education alone has put them in debt over their head. Nowadays, they are given jobs in areas where they will be penalized by discriminatory clauses that will prevent them from progressing as fast as their elders.

Today, one out of four children lives below the poverty line. I believe it is time to open our eyes. We have huge budget surpluses, a projected $25.3 billion, but we are unable to provide fair working conditions for our young people. The minister could act immediately, but of course, she will not. As a matter of fact, she did not even dare to speak on the bill although she was here.

It is time we give our young people working conditions equal to their elders by giving them as good a career start as others enjoyed in their youth.

Have we ever thought how rotten the atmosphere must be in a firm, a big company where there are dissimilar pay levels and working conditions?

This is utterly unacceptable nowadays. If the minister really wanted to make a difference, first she would have risen in the House today to at least face the music, and second, the Liberals would not have played politics with such an important piece of legislation as this bill on discriminatory clauses.

The Deputy Speaker: The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped from the order paper.

It being 2.30, the House stands adjourned until Monday next at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2.30 p.m.)