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37th Parliament, 1st Session

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 045

CONTENTS

Friday, April 6, 2001

VGOVERNMENT ORDERS

. 1000

VJUDGES ACT
VBill C-12. Report stage
VMotion for concurrence
VHon. Don Boudria
VThird reading
VHon. Don Boudria
VMr. John Maloney

. 1005

VMr. Vic Toews

. 1010

. 1015

VMr. Gurmant Grewal

. 1020

. 1025

. 1030

VMr. Peter MacKay

. 1035

. 1040

. 1045

VMr. Keith Martin

. 1050

VMrs. Sue Barnes

. 1055

VSTATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
VBATTLE OF VIMY RIDGE
VMr. John Finlay
VMAURY VAN VLIET
VMr. Rahim Jaffer
VTHE ENVIRONMENT
VMr. Geoff Regan

. 1100

VPARA TRANSPO
VMr. David Pratt
VHEALTH CARE SYSTEM
VMrs. Marlene Jennings
VGOVERNMENT OF CANADA
VMr. Gurmant Grewal
VCHARLES DAUDELIN
VMs. Diane St-Jacques

. 1105

VBÉATRICE MORRISSEAU GAGNON
VMr. Marcel Gagnon
VCORRECTIONAL SERVICE CANADA
VMr. Lynn Myers
VMENINGITIS
VMr. Kevin Sorenson
VCANADA POST
VMr. Tony Tirabassi
VCHRONIC WASTING DISEASE
VMs. Judy Wasylycia-Leis

. 1110

VEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
VMr. Paul Crête
VSUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS
VMr. Derek Lee
VEDUCATION
VMr. Gerald Keddy
VGOVERNMENT OF QUEBEC
VMr. Yvon Charbonneau
VGUN CONTROL
VMr. Garry Breitkreuz

. 1115

VLUMBER
VMr. Stéphan Tremblay
VORAL QUESTION PERIOD
VTRADE RELATIONS
VMr. Chuck Strahl
VHon. Herb Gray
VMr. Chuck Strahl
VHon. Herb Gray
VMr. Chuck Strahl
VHon. Herb Gray
VTAXATION
VMr. Grant Hill

. 1120

VHon. Herb Gray
VMr. Grant Hill
VHon. Ralph Goodale
VPRIME MINISTER
VMs. Caroline St-Hilaire
VHon. Herb Gray
VMs. Caroline St-Hilaire
VHon. Herb Gray
VMr. Stéphane Bergeron
VHon. Herb Gray
VMr. Stéphane Bergeron

. 1125

VHon. Herb Gray
VFRESHWATER EXPORTS
VMr. Bill Blaikie
VHon. David Anderson
VHEALTH
VMr. Bill Blaikie
VHon. Brian Tobin
VHEALTH
VMr. André Bachand
VHon. Allan Rock
VMr. André Bachand

. 1130

VHon. Allan Rock
VMrs. Diane Ablonczy
VHon. Allan Rock
VMrs. Diane Ablonczy
VHon. Allan Rock
VSUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS
VMs. Francine Lalonde
VMr. Denis Paradis
VMs. Francine Lalonde

. 1135

VMr. Denis Paradis
VNATIONAL DEFENCE
VMr. Art Hanger
VHon. Art Eggleton
VMr. Art Hanger
VHon. Art Eggleton
VSUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS
VMs. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold
VMr. Denis Paradis
VMs. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold
VHon. Herb Gray

. 1140

VHEALTH
VMr. Scott Reid
VMr. Larry McCormick
VMr. Scott Reid
VMr. Larry McCormick
VPREMIER OF QUEBEC
VMr. Gérard Binet
VHon. Stéphane Dion
VFISHERIES
VMr. Yvon Godin
VHon. Herb Dhaliwal

. 1145

VHIGHWAYS
VMrs. Bev Desjarlais
VHon. David Collenette
VFRESHWATER EXPORTS
VMr. John Herron
VHon. Don Boudria
VAGRICULTURE
VMr. Peter MacKay
VMr. Larry McCormick
VTHE ENVIRONMENT
VMr. Grant McNally
VHon. David Anderson
VMr. Grant McNally

. 1150

VHon. David Anderson
VORGANIZED CRIME
VMr. Michel Bellehumeur
VHon. Martin Cauchon
VMr. Michel Bellehumeur
VHon. Martin Cauchon
VHIGHWAYS
VMr. Darrel Stinson
VHon. David Collenette
VMr. Darrel Stinson
VHon. David Collenette

. 1155

VTELECOMMUNICATIONS
VMr. Marcel Proulx
VMr. Alex Shepherd
VBILINGUALISM
VMr. Jim Pankiw
VHon. Don Boudria
VMr. Jim Pankiw
VHon. Sheila Copps
VFISHERIES
VMr. Jean-Yves Roy
VHon. Herb Dhaliwal

. 1200

VTOBACCO CONSUMPTION
VMrs. Sue Barnes
VHon. Allan Rock
VORGANIZED CRIME
VMr. Myron Thompson
VMr. John Maloney
VMARTIN LAVOIE
VThe Speaker
VPOINTS OF ORDER
VOral Question Period
VMr. Peter MacKay
VROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
VGOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO PETITIONS
VMr. Derek Lee

. 1205

VCOMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE
VFisheries and Oceans
VMotion for concurrence
VMr. Wayne Easter
VPETITIONS
VNatural Resources
VMr. Darrel Stinson
VCanada Post
VMr. Darrel Stinson
VPoison Control
VMr. Garry Breitkreuz
VQUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
VMr. Derek Lee
VMr. Denis Paradis
VSTARRED QUESTIONS
VMr. Derek Lee
VMr. Derek Lee
VQUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
VMr. Derek Lee
VGOVERNMENT ORDERS
VJUDGES ACT
VBill C-12. Third reading

. 1210

VMr. Rahim Jaffer
VCANADA FOUNDATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT TECHNOLOGY ACT
VBill C-4. Third reading
VMr. Gerald Keddy

. 1215

. 1220

. 1225

VMr. Larry Bagnell

. 1230

VBUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
VMs. Marlene Catterall
VMotion
VPRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
VCOMPUTER HACKERS
VMr. Jim Pankiw
VMotion

. 1235

. 1240

VMr. Gurmant Grewal

. 1245

. 1250

VMr. John Herron

. 1255

VMr. Rahim Jaffer

. 1300

. 1305

VMr. Keith Martin

. 1310

VMr. John Maloney

. 1315

VMs. Carole-Marie Allard

. 1320

. 1325

VMr. Art Hanger

. 1330

VAppendix

(Official Version)

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 045


HOUSE OF COMMONS

Friday, April 6, 2001

The House met at 10 a.m.



Prayers


GOVERNMENT ORDERS

 

. 1000 +

[English]

JUDGES ACT

 

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-12, an act to amend the Judges Act and to amend another act in consequence, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.  

Hon. Don Boudria (for the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada) moved that the bill be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to)

The Speaker: When shall the bill be read the third? time By leave, now?

Some hon. members: Agreed.  

Hon. Don Boudria (for the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada) moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Mr. John Maloney (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be able to lead off the debate on the third reading of Bill C-12, an act to amend the Judges Act and to amend another act in consequence.

The bill would make certain amendments to the Judges Act that would ensure appropriate and fair compensation for the federally appointed judiciary in Canada. It is intended to implement the commitments made by the government in its response to the report of the 1999 Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission.

I would like to emphasize that the chair of the Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission, Mr. Richard Drouin, who appeared as a witness before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, expressed his satisfaction with the government's decision to implement most of the recommendations enumerated in the commission's report.

The strength of Canada's judiciary is a key factor in our prosperity and health as a nation. As the guardians of the constitutional right of Canadians to have peace, order and good government, judges form an important pillar in our democratic society.

An independent judiciary is essential to the rule of law. Judges must be free from undue influence of any kind, be it from those with money or power. There is a growing recognition that stability, human security and the rule of law are necessary preconditions to economic growth, and there is a growing appreciation that an independent judiciary with the proper resources is the first step down this path.

The Government of Canada is committed to the principle of judicial independence, as it is a fundamental precondition to ensuring the vitality of the rule of law in our democratic system of government. The three constitutionally required elements of judicial independence are security of tenure, independence of administration of matters relating to the judicial function, and financial security. It is in direct support of the principle of judicial independence that section 100 of the constitution has conferred on parliament the important task of establishing financial security of a federally appointed judiciary.

I am very happy to report that during the second reading debate the Bloc Quebecois and the Progressive Conservative Party indicated their support for Bill C-12.

 

. 1005 + -

The Canadian Bar Association has also expressed its support for Bill C-12. In fact, in its written submissions to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, the Canadian Bar Association expressed the view that Bill C-12 not only enhances judicial independence in promoting financial security for members of the judiciary but also helps to attract high quality candidates to the judiciary.

I would ask all members of the House for their support. This bill would ensure that our judges are compensated fairly and appropriately in order to maintain the quality and independence of Canada's judiciary.

I want to make reference to the hon. member for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, who has proposed an amendment for Bill C-12. His proposed amendment to Bill C-12 would require that the transcripts of testimony heard before the Supreme Court of Canada be made more accessible to the public.

More specifically, the proposed amendment, an addition to section 75 of the Judges Act, would require the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada to ensure that testimony heard before the court in open session be recorded in electronic format and made accessible to the public in the same manner as the Debates of parliament.

With the greatest of respect for the member, we cannot accept this proposed amendment as it is not within the scope of Bill C-12, nor is the Judges Act the appropriate place for such an amendment.

Any matter relating to procedure before the Supreme Court of Canada would fall under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Canada Act. Section 75 of the Judges Act applies solely to administrative matters relating to the judiciary.

Further, as members know, Bill C-12 would make amendments to the Judges Act that would ensure appropriate and fair compensation for the federally appointed judiciary. It is intended to implement the commitments made by the government in its response to the report of the 1999 Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission.

I thank the hon. members of the House for their attention today and ask for their support in the passage of Bill C-12.

Mr. Vic Toews (Provencher, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, before commencing I would ask for the unanimous consent of the House to split my time with the member for Surrey Central.

The Speaker: Is there unanimous consent to allow the hon. member to share his time?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Mr. Vic Toews: Mr. Speaker, the bill amends the Judges Act to implement the government's response to the recommendations made by the 1999 Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission. Among those recommendations is a retroactive salary increase of 11.2% for approximately 1,013 federally appointed judges. This would cost the federal government approximately $19 million.

The increase is retroactive to April 1, 2000, and would raise the base salary from $179,200 to $198,000 for judges who sit on appeal courts and superior courts in each province. The salaries for the chief justices in those courts would increase to $217,000 from $196,500. These same increases would also apply to federal court judges.

The judges on the Supreme Court of Canada would remain the highest paid. The eight regular judges would see an increase to $235,700 from $213,000, while the salary of the chief justice would rise to $254,000 from $230,200.

This is the fourth time the government has sought to amend the Judges Act. During the 35th parliament the government introduced Bill C-2 and Bill C-42, and during the 36th parliament, Bill C-37, all of which were relatively minor pieces of legislation.

In April 1998, Bill C-37 was introduced to establish the Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission. Bill C-37 also increased judges' salaries retroactively, providing an 8.3% pay increase over two years. This meant an average $13,000 pay increase for federal judges, with salaries increasing from $159,000 to over $172,000.

I would be hard pressed to think of any other public servant, or any hard-working Canadian for that matter, who received that kind of pay increase in 1998.

According to Statistics Canada, the consumer price index from 1996 to 1998 rose 2.55%. It is safe to assume that the salaries of most Canadians across the country would be affected by that statistic. Not only have the salaries of judges increased at a rate substantially higher than those of most Canadians, but their salaries are already indexed. I think that is important to remember.

 

. 1010 + -

No other senior public servant or any other lower level public employee has been given such a significant pay increase in the last number of years. While the government indicates that the raise is a reasonable one, it is interesting to note that senior public servants have received raises of no more than 5.7%.

It is not only public servants and other public employees who do not receive these types of extensive benefits. The very people who administer our justice system, the people on the ground who do the practical work in looking after the safety and security of Canadians first hand, seem to be ignored.

For example, in 1998, the same year that federal judges were given these generous salary increases, RCMP officers who had their salaries and wages frozen for five years were finally granted an increase of a mere 2% in March 1998, retroactive to January. If the concern is that judges receive these raises to ensure that there is no corruption of our justice system or any undue influence, is the same not true for the men and women who serve in our federal police forces?

A second pay increase was given to RCMP officers in April 1998 and later that year they received another small increase. However, over the five years that their salaries were frozen and in the next year, 1998, the RCMP received an increase of only 3.75%. These frontline officers are putting their lives on the line every day for Canadians, but the average three year constable received an increase of less than $2,000 over those years.

In contrast, the bill would provide an 11.2% increase to judges who are making well over $120,000 or $130,000 a year, some over $200,000 a year. There are so many other people within our justice system who are absolutely vital in ensuring that the system is functioning properly but are not getting the same kind of increase. These are often the same men and women who are forced to cope with the results of several years of cutbacks to the justice system.

One would assume that if money can be found to increase the salaries of judges, then money could also be found to give local police and RCMP the resources they need to do their jobs effectively.

Also, in many provinces crown attorneys do not have sufficient resources to prosecute the cases they are charged with. In this context I am especially thinking of the new legislation the government is bringing forward in respect of organized crime. While I support many of the principles, I wonder about the genuine attitude of the government in failing to provide adequately for the resources for frontline officers and frontline prosecutors to get the job done. There is no question that in the Canadian justice system there is a significant amount of delay and backlog, which needs to be remedied.

Another appalling situation in our country is the embarrassingly low wages paid to members of our armed forces. It is ridiculous that people who protect our nation, both at home and abroad, and put their lives at risk to ensure some measure of security for all Canadian citizens are fighting with antiquated equipment and are often forced to go to food banks to make ends meet. Now we hear that the minister is authorizing a raise in the rents that our armed forces have to pay. I do not think that is acceptable.

I understand from the government that the main rationale for this pay increase for judges is that the federal government must compete with high paying law firms to attract superior candidates to the bench. While I believe that a competitive salary is required to ensure good candidates, I do not believe that there has ever been any great shortage of candidates for the bench.

In such cities as Toronto and Vancouver, where a $200,000 plus yearly income for a lawyer may not be unusual, it is not outside the realm of possibility that such people may not be attracted to the bench for fear of a pay cut. However, in Manitoba, for example, I believe there would be no shortage of competent lawyers available for judicial appointments at $190,000 and, indeed, at perhaps even less considering the compensation packages and extra benefits that come with such appointments.

 

. 1015 + -

Perhaps that is a problem of the mandate of the commission and of the restrictions it had. Perhaps those regional differences should be reflected in salaries or expenses. The commission was operating at a bit of a disadvantage. It did not have the appropriate mandate to discuss those kinds of significant differences.

Many Canadians in the legal profession, no matter what their salary, would consider it a great honour to be appointed to a judgeship at any level. Over the past decade there have been an average of eight candidates for every opening on the bench. As I understand it, the eight candidates are previously screened for suitability. One assumes there would be at least one qualified applicant out of the eight. I have great respect for the legal profession. I believe there are many more than eight qualified candidates for one position.

The majority of my constituents, and most likely the majority of Canadians as a whole, would not consider a salary increase of almost 20% for federal judges over a three year period to be the best way to increase the quality of our justice system. We must ask ourselves how the government can justify giving federal judges a salary increase of 11.2% over and above the 8.2% increase they received in 1998.

The increase would in no way remedy the current backlog of federal court cases. That issue must be dealt with by the administration of the courts, the responsibility of which primarily lies with the judges. I have great confidence that the judges are capable of taking steps to ensure justice is dispensed in a timely fashion.

The pay increase would in no way help the thousands of front- line police officers who are at a severe disadvantage in their daily efforts to fight crime. I am not saying judges should not be well paid. They should be well paid and most Canadians would argue that they are. It is a question of whether they should be paid more than they are already.

My party has great reluctance in supporting the bill on the basis that it ignores the real problems of the Canadian justice system and the manner in which judges are appointed. That is another issue we could perhaps leave for another day.

The backlog of the courts would not be remedied by the bill. The appointment process, which many Canadians believe should be reformed to make the judiciary more independent and publicly accountable, would remain the same.

The administrators of the justice system, the provincial attorneys general, crown attorneys, police officers and members of the federal police force, the RCMP, would still be handcuffed by a lack of sufficient resources.

Perhaps nothing can be done with respect to the proposal in view of the structure and mandate of the commission and the constitutional obligations recently imposed upon parliament by the Supreme Court of Canada. However I urge all hon. members to consider a better way of dealing with the issue.

Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of the people of Surrey Central to participate in the third reading debate on Bill C-12, an act to amend the Judges Act.

Before I begin my remarks I would like to congratulate the chief opposition justice critic, the hon. member for Provencher, who has made excellent comments and explained very eloquently the official opposition's position on the Judges Act.

The purpose of the bill is to implement the federal government's response to the report of the 1999 Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission regarding compensation and benefits for judges. It would amend the Judges Act to increase judicial salaries and allowances, modify the current judicial annuities scheme and put into place a separate life insurance plan for federally appointed judges.

 

. 1020 + -

Bill C-12 makes other consequential amendments to the Judges Act and the Supplementary Retirement Benefits Act. The commission is appointed for a four year term and mandated to consider the compensation and benefits of judges and to make recommendations to government.

The commission consists of three members appointed by the governor in council and it should be noted who nominates the three persons. One is nominated by the judiciary, one by the Minister of Justice and one, who acts as a chair, is nominated by the first two members.

The government accepted the commission's recommendation of a salary increase of 11.2% retroactive to April 1, 2000. The salary increase will cost approximately $19 million. The 42 page bill contains nothing but amendments, replacements or additions to previous clauses changing the salaries of 1,013 federally appointed judges. There are also amendments to compensation benefits, early and special retirement provisions, pro-rated annuities, et cetera.

The judiciary had initially proposed a salary increase of 26.3%. It had said the federal government must compete with high paying law firms to attract superior candidates to the bench. However federal representatives told a hearing into judges' salaries earlier this year that there was no shortage of candidates for the bench, pointing out that there had been eight applicants for each federal job over the last decade.

The last pay raise for federal judges was in 1998 when they received 4.1%. In 1997 they received another 4.1%. The judges received more than 8.2% in increases over two years. Judges' salaries are also indexed so they receive annual cost of living increases. While we have no position on judges' salaries and pensions we favour generally that they be comparable to those in the private sector.

In the 35th parliament the government introduced two bills, Bill C-2 and Bill C-42, amending the Judges Act. In the 36th parliament there was Bill C-37. All these bills, including Bill C-12 which we are debating today, have been said to be administrative in nature. Four times the Liberal government has come forward with amendments to the Judges Act.

Another concern I have with the bill is that the pay increase for federally appointed judges is higher than the increase the federal government is prepared to grant much lower paid public service employees. Lately it has been the practice of the government to grant raises to senior officers in the military, to senior bureaucrats and now to judges while dragging its feet on a general salary increase for staff.

While we do not dispute the salaries of appointed judges and others, they should generally be in line with the private sector. It is apparent that staff in the lower echelons of our justice system is being ignored. Public servants should get salary increases in keeping with the average Canadian wage earner. The government has awarded pay raises and bonuses to judges and senior bureaucrats while frontline police officers and lower level public servants receive little or nothing.

 

. 1025 + -

On March 27, 1998, RCMP officers secured a pay raise of 2% retroactive to January 1, 1998. They received a second increment of 1% on April 1, 1998, and an additional 0.7% increase on October 1, 1998. RCMP officers had their wages frozen for five years.

The official opposition will review and closely scrutinize the provisions of Bill C-12, including the annuities scheme.

It seems the government has tailor made legislation to fit certain individuals and situations. Legislation tailor made to fit an individual would compromise the impartiality of our judiciary. The changes proposed to the Judges Act would allow a judge who is married for the second time to another judge after the death of his or her first spouse, also a judge, to collect both or two survivor's benefits upon the death of his second spouse. One could only guess why the government would contemplate such a rare and highly unlikely situation. We will be investigating that and we will be vigilant while debating the bill.

We propose an independent and publicly accountable judiciary that would safeguard Canadians from the arbitrary power of the state. However it must remain the responsibility of parliament, not the courts, to debate and assess the conflicting objectives inherent in public policy development.

It is interesting to note that the last bill to amend the Judges Act, Bill C-37 in the 36th parliament, created the Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission which provided the federal government yet another opportunity to make patronage appointments. The failure of the current bill to introduce changes to the appointment process means that important and high paying positions in our court system will remain part of the patronage system.

However the Canadian Alliance would like to see the patronage appointment process in the judiciary overhauled to make it more transparent and publicly accountable. One option would be to strike a committee to review and interview candidates whose names would be put forward to the Prime Minister.

The input of the provinces, which are affected directly by decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada, is required in such matters. At the moment there is no input from the provinces in the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Section 69 of the Canadian Alliance declaration of policy, which is always dictated by the grassroots members, states:

    We believe that a non-partisan civil service, an independent judiciary and competent leadership of government agencies, boards and commissions are vital in a democracy. We will therefore ensure appointments to these positions are made through an open and accountable process based on merit.

In conclusion, both Liberal justice ministers since 1993 have failed to introduce a victims' bill of rights, address important issues pertaining to drinking and driving or even pass a young offenders act. Instead they occupy the justice committee with administrative matters at the expense of more important issues. The country is experiencing a backlog in the courts and criminal trials are being put on hold, yet the government tinkers with the salaries of judges.

 

. 1030 + -

I regret that judges are somehow caught up in the legislation. We acknowledge that judges are very hard working and want to contribute to making our judicial system fairer and faster as well as to making Canada a better country. We are talking about Liberal government mismanagement.

The government's unfair treatment of Canadians who work or are otherwise involved in the criminal justice system knows no boundaries. Its inequitable treatment of Canadian workers extends all the way to the federal court benches. It does not treat the victims of crime fairly, and today we are debating a bill that does not even treat judges fairly.

The bill does not address the multitude of concerns that many Canadians have with the judicial system. My colleagues and I strongly oppose the bill unless it is amended.

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to make some remarks with respect to Bill C-12, the Judges Act, which deals specifically with the compensation and remuneration of judges.

We have had an opportunity to review some of the technical amendments. These amendments correct some of the language in the bill to ensure that there is parity, that the French and English versions correspond exactly.

Some of the minor amendments are very technical in nature, for example: clause 12, line 9, removes the language “plus $2,000”; clause 23, section 44.01(6), line 9, amends the English version with “takes effect on the day this section comes into force”.

The Conservative Party supports these amendments and any attempt to ensure consistency in legislation. These amendments would affect approximately 1,000 federally appointed judges. When it comes to the issue of whether it is deserved, I would make the case that judges deserve a fair compensation package given the stress that is involved, the important work, and the ongoing and increasing complexity of the law.

It is also necessary to note the importance of independence when it comes to our judiciary. Some individuals have talked about comparing judges' salaries to those of others in the public sector. There is some danger in doing that. Judges play a very unique role, as do other public servants. However, to try to somehow bring into play the underpayment of armed forces personnel, the need to give greater compensation to the policing community, those in the administrative justice community, leaves the wrong impression and tries to diminish the importance of what judges do. It is a very complex melee that is somewhat like the pay equity argument we have embarked on at various times in the Chamber.

The complexity of the law, the way in which the law has evolved and the interpretation that goes on daily in the courtrooms across the country, is something that is very onerous for judges. We had a comprehensive bill yesterday on organized crime. It is a step in the right direction, but it is legislation that would probably lead to a number of court challenges. That emphasizes the impact of changes in legislation. It also emphasizes the necessity for judges to deal with it and to put in place a proper judicial interpretation of the legislative initiatives that are taken here.

 

. 1035 + -

Fortunately, in Canada we have not seen any active attempts, at least that have been reported, to influence the judiciary by organized crime, but we must be vigilant. We must maintain the scales of justice and ensure that justice continues to be blind to outside influences on decisions made by the judiciary. We must ensure that it never happens. Part of this, I would suggest, comes from a fair compensation package.

We must ensure that our judiciary is independent, at arm's length and is feeling secure in their occupation. Thus, our party would support an attempt for a fair salary to preserve judicial independence. The Conservative Party has a long standing interest in the administration of justice and in ensuring that the judiciary are given support. Much of that support must come from financial stability.

The government accepted the recommendations that came from an independent Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission. The board made recommendations after broad consultations and examinations of all economic factors that should have been considered.

First reading of the bill occurred on February 21, 2001, and the Judges Act would implement the recommendations made by the 1999 Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission. The legislation does not come out of thin blue air. It came about from recommendations of an independent commission. It also followed a 1997 supreme court decision that established new constitutional requirements for determining compensation, requiring every Canadian jurisdiction to have an independent, objective and effective commission. It takes away the normal allegations that we often see pertaining to interference and an unfair process.

The bill would also increase salaries and allowances, improve the judicial annuities scheme and put in place a separate life insurance plan for federally appointed judges. It would make consequential amendments to the Judges Act and Supplementary Retirement Benefits Act.

In recent years, because of the increasing complexity of the law, although there is no shortage of applicants, many judges weigh heavily the decision to leave private practice and enter into a new form of service to the law. That decision, I am sure, is one that many members can appreciate for many members of parliament have left behind other careers to come and serve their country in this Chamber. It is very much analogous to the decision that judges take when leaving their profession to serve a higher calling, to serve the courts and their country in the form of interpretation and administration of the law.

In recent years there has been growing concern for some decisions made by judges. However, I would suggest that this is not reason enough to deny that judges play a crucial role. Organized crime is on the rise in Canada. It was addressed somewhat yesterday with the introduction of a package of changes to our laws. New legislation, such as this one, goes some distance to addressing this very serious matter, but it is crucial that judges would now be required to interpret this law.

Like many other institutions, we have seen judges in recent years come under attack for their salaries and the compensation they receive when compared to the low end of compensation. It sometimes seems somewhat askew, but I would encourage people to keep in perspective the salaries that are received at the high end, that is, the salaries that are sometimes paid to athletes and movie stars, and the role they play and the return they offer to society. It is important to look at the entire scheme when one considers the pay scale.

 

. 1040 + -

The judicial compensation and benefits commission has been appointed to a four year mandate. It is required to consider all these factors in arriving at its recommendations. When one considers the private sector scale in the area of the law, many judges take a pay cut upon assuming a role on the bench. There are many lawyers who are making modest salaries, for example those who continue to strive to administer the law in crown attorney offices.

Legal aid is often not mentioned in these deliberations. There are many legal aid lawyers who later go on to make significant contributions in courtrooms in their current occupations. They also go on to serve the country nobly as members of the bench, as judges.

Arguably it is the best training ground. I have often compared it to a MASH unit when it comes to triage and the medical profession. Legal aid lawyers and crown attorneys who are working in provincial and supreme courts across the country go on to become fantastic judges. I have borne witness to that myself. I had the opportunity to work with some individuals who later were elevated to the bench.

Referring back to the commission, its recommendations were based on research comparing judges' salaries to lawyers' salaries in the private sector and to performance bonuses of senior federal deputy ministers. It looked at the importance of salary and benefits in attracting the best of the best, the outstanding candidates that we require to administer the law.

The Judges Act would officially establish the judicial compensation and benefits commission, requiring the commission to convene every four years and report its recommendations within nine months. There is a very strict mandate and timeframe within which it must review the adequacy of judicial compensation. The commission would also consider the economic conditions at the time, the cost of living, overall economic position of federal judges, the financial security of the judiciary to ensure judicial independence, and the need to attract the best of the best.

Recommendations are not binding but the supreme court in its decisions requires the government to publicly justify any decision and acceptance of recommendations. These salary changes have already been put on the record. They range in the area of $200,000 for the Chief Justice of Canada, the puisne judges, and various federal court judges across the country.

The increasing complex legal malaise that faces judges and lawyers is something that we must consider when weighing the question of compensation. There has been quite a lengthy commentary about the need to compensate members of the RCMP, members of our armed forces and other public servants.

It is not to deny in any way that those salaries must be reviewed and elevated as well. It is not to suggest that if we compensate judges fairly we should not be focusing attention on these areas as well, or to deny that there are other very important pieces of legislation in the legal field that we should be examining.

Other members have mentioned the need to bring forward a youth criminal justice act and the important fact that after seven years it has not happened. There is also a need to examine a plethora of other legislative initiatives. We have seen the government's failings and shortcomings when it comes to addressing issues of the day.

Our party supports the concept that we must move on a number of areas in the near future. It is not to suggest that the bill should be given any great priority. It is the government's decision to set the priorities in terms of the legislative timetable. It is in everyone's interest to move the legislation before us forward and to get on to other important issues of the day. When that happens it would allow some of these other fields to be considered. When the legislation receives passage we can then look at other areas in terms of compensation.

 

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Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I will briefly say a few words about the bill. It has come up in the previous parliament. We are disappointed and will not support it for the reasons the critic of my party mentioned.

I will bring up two important issues. First, I will look at the California example which could have been adopted by this bill or another bill. It deals with the issue of re-organizing our criminal justice system to make it more efficient and expeditious.

To improve convictions and make the system less expensive we should consider a public defender system. We should work with the provinces to implement a public defender system to ensure quicker, fairer and less expensive convictions.

The public defender system has worked in California. It has been compared to our present system and absolutely no difference was found in the manner or fairness of convictions. However the public defender system was found to be more expeditious and less expensive. Given the backlog in our present system, I encourage the government to look at the California model which would go a long way to increasing the efficiency of our judicial system.

The second issue is the manner in which judges are chosen. As we have heard today from members of other parties and my own, we take issue with the manner in which judges are chosen. It is not as equitable as it could be. There are other ways of doing it.

They elect judges in parts of the United States and that system works very well. U.S. judges are not chosen in the same manner as ours. Elections give people a say in selecting the judges they would face in a court of law. The election of judges is efficient at a certain level, provides for public scrutiny and allows people to compete and be evaluated for the position who would not otherwise be able to. Furthermore, candidates are judged upon their record. They are also prevented from running in the manner in which we run as members of parliament.

Lastly, I am happy to see the government's organized crime bill move toward adopting RICO style amendments. In our country, organized crime costs taxpayers about $17 billion a year according to 1996 statistics. The number doubles when we take into consideration people who are killed or injured and the psychological damage inflicted upon their families.

I encourage the government to look at amendments similar to the RICO act south of the border. RICO has enabled the U.S. to put a dent in organized crime. The tools of our judicial system for dealing with organized crime have to date been paltry. The problem is massive. There are some 18 organized crime groups within our country today. Seventy per cent of the money they generate comes from illicit drugs. That is a scourge for all of us in our communities.

The summit of the Americas will take place April 20 to 22. As host, we have an enormous opportunity to bring forth a comprehensive plan to deal with the illicit drug trade. For the first time there is agreement in South America. I met with the secretary of state and president of Colombia a month and a half ago. During my visit a great commitment was given on the part of that country, which has been racked by the drug trade, to put the issue on the table. Let us talk about a pragmatic approach to the illicit drug trade. I hope it will be put on the table and that the 34 nations attending will address it in a pragmatic way.

Here are a few solutions that can be employed. First, remove tariff and non-tariff barriers and double taxation systems for countries and expand the free trade movement.

 

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Developing countries that are producers of illicit drugs, like Colombia, Peru and parts of Brazil, do not need aid, they need trade. If we are to help the poorest of the poor within those countries we must remove the trade barriers that impede them from being economically self-sustaining.

Kofi Annan, the secretary-general of the United Nations, stated very clearly that people in developing countries need trade barriers removed and that the western developed countries are impeding their removal. It would be far less expensive, more efficient and fairer if we removed barriers to trade.

Second, Canada and other countries of the hemisphere need to employ RICO-like anti-racketeering amendments to attack the organized crime gangs involved in the production and sale of drugs.

If we are to attack organized crime gangs we must chase the money. The people in the Hell's Angels do not wear leather. They wear Armani suits. They hide behind the law and use it to their advantage when they are being chased.

We need to make the law work for law-abiding citizens. We need to make the law work for police officers. We need to make the law work against organized crime instead of allowing crime gangs to hide behind it. That is why enacting RICO-like amendments, going after the money and business interests of crime gangs and cutting the economic legs from under them are the most efficient ways to deal with them. I encourage the government to put this on the table at the summit of the Americas.

Lastly, we need not only tougher penalties for drug traffickers but a new approach toward treatment. What we know today about drugs and neuroscience shows very clearly that drug addicts have a medical problem. I believe we need to approach addicts in a medical fashion.

There are some very good programs. Some European models have 60% one-year success rates for hardcore narcotics abusers. That is extraordinary. Why do those programs work? They work because they focus not only on detox and counselling but on medical treatment and skills and job training so that addicts can stay away from the drug environment. Getting addicts away from the drug environment is critical because re-entering that environment sets off a neural cascade within their brains that prompts them to renew the drug habit. The European model is an effective one. I can only impress upon the government to adopt it because there is an alignment of the stars.

The Latin American countries believe we should put more emphasis on consumption than on production because dealing with the issue at its source, as we have done historically, has not worked. The Americans for the first time have said very clearly that we need more emphasis on consumption. Senator McCain agreed when he was in Colombia.

In conclusion, the plan is there. The government has an opportunity to take it to the summit of Americas so that our country and our hemisphere can be a safer place to live.

Mrs. Sue Barnes (London West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I presume that was a speech on the Judges Act. I heard a few sentences about it. That is the bill we are talking about.

I very much believe in the three pillars of democracy: this parliament and its elected members; a free press; and an independent judiciary. The last aspect is very important to me and I think to all members on this side of the House, contrary to what I heard in the member's speech.

The hon. member advocated the U.S. model of electing judges. He said that it was a good model. That model contradicts the independence of our own judicial system. Judicial elections in the U.S., as we have all seen on our television sets, are based on a judge's conviction rates. It is a totally different system.

 

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I value as a citizen of the country a free and independent judiciary. I do not want my judges up for re-election. I do not want them pandering to perception, as opposed to what their job has to be, which is interpreting the law that elected members of parliament are here to put in place.

The judiciary has a responsibility. It is one pillar of a very important democracy. Far too often we are looking to some distant hill, even if it is just south of our border, when maybe we should take the time to think through these positions and value what we have here. I am very much in favour of keeping our judiciary a non-elected body.

Mr. Keith Martin: Mr. Speaker, it is a question of what the member believes is an independent judiciary. Does she believe that the appointment by one person, for example the Prime Minister, is an independent review of who should be sitting on the bench?

My comments in no way, shape or form reflect on our judiciary. We have many good judges, excellent judges, superb judges. However some are not. I am speaking personally when I say that at some levels of our judiciary we should give the public the opportunity to have input into who should be judging them. It is better if we have the public at large judge the judges rather than one person appoint a judge, that person being the Prime Minister.



STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[English]

BATTLE OF VIMY RIDGE

Mr. John Finlay (Oxford, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I take this opportunity to remind my colleagues and all Canadians that next week will mark the 84th anniversary of one of the most pivotal events in our nation's history.

On Easter Monday, April 9, 1917, in what is considered one of the most important allied victories of World War I, Canadian soldiers attacked and captured Vimy Ridge. It was a costly victory that resulted in 10,602 Canadian casualties, half the attacking force, nearly 3.600 of whom made the supreme sacrifice.

However the Battle of Vimy Ridge also marked Canada's entrance on to the world stage as a sovereign country in its own right. Indeed Brigadier General Alexander Ross, a battalion commander at Vimy Ridge, later remarked that in that battle he felt he had witnessed the birth of a nation.

This Monday I ask all Canadians to join me in remembering those who fought so valiantly at Vimy Ridge for freedom and their country's nationhood.

*  *  *

MAURY VAN VLIET

Mr. Rahim Jaffer (Edmonton—Strathcona, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, Dr. Van Vliet, president and chairperson of the 1978 Commonwealth Games, died in his sleep early Wednesday morning at the age of 87.

Dr. Van Vliet may be best remembered for his contribution to the games that put Edmonton on the sporting map before the 2001 World Championships in athletics.

He will also be remembered for building sports education at the University of Alberta, first as its director of physical education from 1945 to 1962 and then as the founding dean of the faculty of physical education from 1962 to 1976.

Dr. Van Vliet was the recipient of half a dozen honorary degrees. He was given dozens of awards and honours over his lifetime. Some of the highlights include the Order of Canada and a place in the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1997 as a sports builder. He was a member of the University of Alberta's Wall of Fame in 1985.

On behalf of the official opposition, I express our deepest sympathies to his wife and his children.

*  *  *

THE ENVIRONMENT

Mr. Geoff Regan (Halifax West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Canadians were shocked when U.S. President George W. Bush announced recently that he was abandoning the Kyoto protocol on global warming.

As the world's largest producer of greenhouse gases, the United States has a responsibility to live up to its environmental commitments. European leaders have acted swiftly to remind the president of his responsibility, denouncing his about-face.

 

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Our Prime Minister has said that Canada is committed to implementing our obligations made at Kyoto by seeking recognition of our exports of clean energy to the U.S. and our sustainable forest management practices.

Environmental protection is not an option for our future. Prevailing winds spread emissions to Atlantic Canada from the U.S. northeast, so this decision will hurt people of all ages in our region. That is one more reason the president's decision is so disturbing and so wrong.

*  *  *

PARA TRANSPO

Mr. David Pratt (Nepean—Carleton, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, many of my constituents and indeed many citizens of Ottawa are virtual captives in their own homes because of a local Para Transpo strike. The collective agreement between the two parties expired on December 31, 2000, and the union has been on strike since March 10.

Despite the federal government appointing not one but two mediators to assist the parties in their negotiations, Para Transpo drivers remain off the job. I applaud the excellent efforts of the Minister of Labour and her staff, but I encourage everyone involved to do more.

This strike is having a very real impact on the lifestyles and everyday needs of those who rely on Para Transpo services. This regrettable and unfortunate situation cannot continue. I strongly urge the union and the employer to return to the bargaining table and make every effort to settle this dispute.

I also strongly urge concerned residents to call Laidlaw Transit and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 279. Let them know that our community needs their services now.

*  *  *

[Translation]

HEALTH CARE SYSTEM

Mrs. Marlene Jennings (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, because of its interest in the real concerns of Canadians, the Liberal government yesterday announced that it was launching a royal commission of inquiry on health care in Canada.

Mr. Romanow will be the sole commissioner. His report is to be submitted to the Prime Minister by November 2002.

As part of his inquiry, Mr. Romanow is being asked to examine the long term development of the health care system. He is also being asked to make recommendations on the amendments needed to maintain a universal health care system in Canada, given technological and demographic changes.

The commissioner has already indicated that he intends to undertake a real dialogue with Canadians in order to discuss the choices available to them in the 21st century.

This initiative is an example of the Liberal government's desire to improve the quality of life of Canadians.

*  *  *

[English]

GOVERNMENT OF CANADA

Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government has failed to deal effectively with the agriculture and softwood lumber crises, with nurses' strikes and the health crisis, with the low dollar and high taxes, with transport and the crumbling infrastructure, with gasoline and home heating costs, and with unsafe communities and regional alienation, among others.

We must remember that the Liberals came to power by misleading Canadians on their promise to scrap, kill and abolish the GST. The Prime Minister refused to allow an independent inquiry into the Shawinigate affair.

The Liberals voted against their own red book promise of creating an independent ethics counsellor. Now, by refusing to replace the junior minister for multiculturalism for her deliberate smears, the Prime Minister has established the lowest ethics standard for cabinet in our history.

What do we call this? We call it an unaccountable, arrogant, weak and corrupt Liberal government that lacks vision.

*  *  *

[Translation]

CHARLES DAUDELIN

Ms. Diane St-Jacques (Shefford, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it was with profound sadness that I learned this week of the death of a great artist from Granby, Charles Daudelin.

Charles Daudelin was an icon of Quebec's art history. He was one of its most versatile artists, working in almost all artistic mediums. Particularly striking were the huge and magnificent sculptures he produced over the years.

He made puppets and, with his wife Louise, operated them in various parks in Quebec, much to the delight of children. He showed work in many exhibits, some of them in other countries.

He received many awards over his lifetime, including the Paul-Émile Borduas award, the highest distinction in visual arts in Quebec. This award, which he won in 1985, recognized his dynamic contribution to integrating sculpture and architecture, and the groundbreaking role he played in the evolution of the arts in Quebec.

Part of the legacy the great Charles Daudelin left us stands on view in front of public buildings in many cities—

The Speaker: The hon. member for Champlain.

*  *  *

 

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BÉATRICE MORRISSEAU GAGNON

Mr. Marcel Gagnon (Champlain, BQ): Mr. Speaker, Béatrice Morisseau Gagnon will celebrate her 100th birthday on April 18. She is my mother.

The eldest of 17 children, she inherited a huge task when her mother died in childbirth with the last one. After raising all of them to adulthood, she saw some go off to serve in the 1939-45 war. This courageous woman had nine children herself, and now has 105 descendants.

She knew wealth, but she came to know poverty as well when the depression started in 1929. What sustained her was her faith in life and in her Creator, and her love of music. Her piano was always there when she was feeling low. Without a shadow of a doubt, she can say “Mission accomplished”.

On behalf of her 105 descendants, including Laurent, who is but a few hours old as I speak, and whom I welcome into this world, I send my mother all of our love and best wishes for a happy one hundredth birthday.

Some hon. members: Hear, hear.

*  *  *

[English]

CORRECTIONAL SERVICE CANADA

Mr. Lynn Myers (Waterloo—Wellington, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday I had the opportunity to visit Collins Bay medium security penitentiary and the Frontenac minimum security institution as part of CBC's Big Picture on corrections in Canada.

During my tour of the institutions I witnessed firsthand the life of Canada's incarcerated offenders. I met and spoke with many inmates on the road to rehabilitation and with the men and women who daily do great work in this dangerous and unappreciated environment.

There is another group of individuals I met that deserves recognition and that is the hundreds of volunteers who give generously of their time in helping inmates turn their lives around. They are people like Don Andrychuk, a retired school teacher who helps in the Collins Bay learning centre by teaching basic skills to offenders.

It is these volunteers who bring a touch of compassion and humanity to a group of individuals that is often overlooked by the rest of society.

I extend my congratulations to Don and everyone like him and encourage Corrections Canada to keep up the good work.

*  *  *

MENINGITIS

Mr. Kevin Sorenson (Crowfoot, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I rise today out of respect for 19 year old Brent Danylyshen, the late son of Bernie and Bonnie Danylyshen of Veteran, Alberta. Brett died on October 4, 2000, from meningitis. Bernie and Bonnie wrote to me as follows:

    While we are devastated by his death, we still want the Canadian public to be aware that there is a vaccine available to combat the disease that killed him. Public awareness of the signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease is the key to prevention as well.

Brett's case was the 39th reported by the Capital Health Authority in Alberta and the third death. There have now been 62 cases reported in just this one health region alone since December 1999. Alberta has finally called for province-wide immunization.

Mr. Danylyshen asked that the Canadian government sit up and take notice. There have been cases in almost every province of Canada and in some of those cases there have been deaths. Let us become aware of meningitis disease and let us be prepared to combat it.

*  *  *

CANADA POST

Mr. Tony Tirabassi (Niagara Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, today is an historic day for our country's postal service. It marks the 150th anniversary of the transfer of postal services from Britain to Canada. In 1851 Canada took control of its postal system and issued the first Canadian postage stamp, known as the threepence beaver.

In a country the size of Canada, postal services have played a paramount role in the building of our nation. Communication was and remains the key to facilitating the exchange of information and the physical distribution of goods.

Our country and our people have come a long way since 1851. We have achieved a great deal. Canada Post has issued hundreds of postage stamps honouring distinguished Canadians and marking important dates in our nation's history. Stamp collectors across the country will be excited to learn that a new 47 cent stamp will be issued today to capture the art of the now famous original threepence beaver.

I would ask all members to join me in congratulating all Canada Post employees for their hard work and dedication in making Canada Post a world leader—

The Speaker: The hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre.

*  *  *

CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North Centre, NDP): Mr. Speaker, last night on CBC news it was reported that chronic wasting disease, a close cousin of mad cow disease, has now been identified in a wild deer in Canada. This is of great concern as deer and elk roadkill can be sent to rendering plants where it is ground up and fed back to cattle and other animals.

This is happening despite repeated urgings from the UN World Health Organization and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to prohibit the use of ruminant tissues in ruminant feed. This is how mad cow disease is spread, not from the consumption of Brazilian corned beef.

 

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On Wednesday officials from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada admitted that the possibility of ruminant roadkill making its way into cattle feed indeed exists. Furthermore they said that cattle are being fed materials made from the blood of cattle and other bovine materials. This country has clearly not learned anything from the mad cow disaster.

Today I urge the ministers of agriculture and health to immediately ban these cannibalistic—

The Speaker: The hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques.

*  *  *

[Translation]

EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ): Mr. Speaker, yesterday the federal government received confirmation by a benefits adjudicator appointed under its own Employment Insurance Act of something women, advocacy groups for the unemployed and the Bloc Quebecois have been saying for years, that the Employment Insurance Act discriminates against women and part time workers who are also parents.

The Minister of Human Resources Development has no choice but to acknowledge this judgment and eliminate this discrimination from the legislation, along with the discrimination against young workers.

This decision also confirms the necessity of a thorough reform of the employment insurance program. The human resources development committee has made a commitment to propose changes to employment insurance by June 1, 2001.

She will then need to follow up on the committee's proposals in order to restore the true role of employment insurance, which is to protect people's income when they are unemployed.

*  *  *

[English]

SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS

Mr. Derek Lee (Scarborough—Rouge River, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as Canadians prepare to be good hosts at the upcoming summit of the Americas in Quebec City, let us be focused on the work to be accomplished there: strengthening democracy, creating prosperity and realizing human potential.

However, at the same time, it appears from previous such meetings in Seattle and Europe that some people would provoke a clash between demonstrations of free expression and the need to avoid disruption and provide the high level of security needed for the hundreds of internationally protected delegates.

If the demonstrations do not penetrate the security zone and do not resort to the use of violence, we could have a great looking summit. However, if some of these things do happen, I hope we will accept that officials and police have a job to do in hosting the summit, that life and politics are not perfect sciences and are sometimes messy, and that as Canadians we are doing our best to deliver a most successful summit in Quebec City.

The television images we will watch, even if they are a little rough and tumble, will show Canada as one of the world's leading democracies proudly playing our international role. Good luck to us all.

*  *  *

EDUCATION

Mr. Gerald Keddy (South Shore, PC): Mr. Speaker, the Yarmouth-Shelburne Community Learning Centres and the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce are the winning partnership for Nova Scotia in the Royal Bank partners in education awards category of the Conference Board of Canada's national partners in education awards.

The Yarmouth-Shelburne Community Learning Centres are a partnership of Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce, the Nova Scotia Community College, the Yarmouth County Learning Network, the Shelburne County Learning Network, community services and the Department of Education.

The centres offer academic upgrading on a year round basis to persons 18 years of age and older, along with life skills and job readiness training. Access to computer labs and classrooms is available to individuals and non-profit organizations for evening use on a non-fee basis, ensuring that Canada's youth and adults are learning the right skills for today's and tomorrow's world of work. I extend congratulations to all on a job well done.

*  *  *

[Translation]

GOVERNMENT OF QUEBEC

Mr. Yvon Charbonneau (Anjou—Rivière-des-Prairies, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, with the announcement of the commission on the future of health care in Canada, the Landry government cried foul and announced that Quebec would not co-operate in the work of the commission.

What incoherence from someone who has been known to talk of rebuilding the Canadian confederation.

It is true that the Clair commission in Quebec did appreciable work in connection with the organization of services, as other commissions have done in other provinces, but by denying the federal government the legitimacy of examining our health system over the long term, by denying Quebec's co-operation, by delaying taking the money made available to it by the federal government and by giving in to ill-timed fits of pique, Mr. Landry is punishing people and patients in Quebec.

The Landry government does not represent all of Quebec, but at best the most narrow minded and fanatical group of separatists in Quebec.

*  *  *

[English]

GUN CONTROL

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton—Melville, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, this week I made public the fact that more than a million firearms owners failed to apply for a firearms licence before the January 1 deadline. Of course the government has done its best to keep this phenomenal failure of the gun registry a secret.

The Liberals ignored all the common sense advice they received in 1995 concerning Bill C-68, and look at the jam they are in now. This type of backlash is predictable when millions of good citizens are treated like criminal suspects.

The government made the dubious claim that the gun registry would somehow be useful to police, but how will a registry with more than a million gun owners missing from it be of any benefit? No wonder the vast majority of front line police officers are so opposed to the gun registry.

 

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On September 22, 1998, the justice minister said that the debate on Bill C-68 was over. If the debate was over back then, why did she have to introduce 22 pages of amendments to it? Six hundred million dollars sure would have put a lot of police on the street.

*  *  *

[Translation]

LUMBER

Mr. Stéphan Tremblay (Lac-Saint-Jean—Saguenay, BQ): Mr. Speaker, in the matter of softwood lumber, the Minister for International Trade must continue to hold the line so the industry in Quebec can break free of the negative effects of the agreement that choked it for five years.

The Canadian position must now support manufacturers consistently to enable them to get through the upcoming tense period. Nothing will justify his withdrawing from his position and denying fair treatment for Quebec producers.

The 1996 agreement heavily penalized the Quebec softwood industry. The return to free trade is a return to fair treatment for Quebec, and fair treatment is the only road to the future. This goes too for the jobs of thousands of Quebecers in the resource regions, which need a forestry industry that can get the most out of the American market.

The Bloc Quebecois is the voice of the Quebec softwood manufacturers in the House of Commons and will make sure the Minister for International Trade holds his position on the return to free trade in the case of softwood lumber.



ORAL QUESTION PERIOD

[English]

TRADE RELATIONS

Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, if the Canadian government is attempting to get itself noticed by the Americans, it is succeeding.

While several major trade issues could affect tens of thousands of Canadian jobs, the Prime Minister has decided that the best negotiating strategy is to get personal with the president. Unfortunately, that does not mean picking up the phone and having a little chat with him. It means getting down and dirty behind his back.

My question is for the Deputy Prime Minister. How will insulting the president of the United States help negotiate good trade agreements?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has not insulted the new president of the United States. He has excellent working relations with him, and I am sure this will continue.

Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I am afraid to ask what will continue.

The government does not seem to understand international diplomacy. When it should stand up to the Americans, as in the P.E.I. potato dispute, it chooses instead to tell our own farmers that it is too bad and that they should grow something else.

In the early critical days of negotiations over the softwood lumber issue, when the idea of a special envoy is up in the air and billions of dollars are at stake, the Prime Minister recklessly wades into this thing again and smacks the president of the United States with some remarks.

Yesterday a White House official said “If they prefer a bad relationship between Canada and the U.S., they can have a bad relationship”.

What is the government planning to do to repair this damage?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and the government have not done anything to create damage in our relationship with the United States. We are working very well with the Americans on the dossiers that the hon. member has mentioned. For example, the Minister for International Trade has opened important new discussions with the new U.S. trade representative on the P.E.I. potato situation.

I might also point out that our Prime Minister is the senior statesman among the G-8 leaders. He is widely respected for his experience and his contribution to world affairs. He will continue to have very good relations with—

The Speaker: The hon. member for Fraser Valley.

Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, we are not that worried actually about the international trade minister. We know he is trying his best. We are worried about the comments that the Prime Minister seems to make every time he gets into this. I would like to give him a few hints that may perhaps help in the negotiations.

First, he should not muse about preferring Gore to Bush. That is a bad idea.

Second, he should not make derogatory comments about cowboys. He might want to consider that when he is out west this week, as well.

Third, he should send clear signals to the Americans that we value our trading relationships, we expect fair and free trade and we respect the president.

Does the Prime Minister expect to call the president of the United States today to get—

The Speaker: The hon. the Deputy Prime Minister.

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the press reports on which the hon. member is basing his question are not accurate. The Prime Minister has not spoken in a derogatory way of the new president, for whom he has the greatest respect and with whom he has established a very strong and friendly relationship. Our relations continue on a good foundation and my hon. friend is not helping to keep these relations on a good basis by making these unfounded allegations.

*  *  *

TAXATION

Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday, the Prime Minister did insult the Americans.

Yesterday he terrified Albertans by musing about a national energy program, such as export tax on energy.

Here is an opportunity for the Deputy Prime Minister to stand and say that there will not be any NEP, such as export tax on energy, period.

 

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Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's assertions are without foundation. The claims that the right hon. Prime Minister has spoken disparagingly of the U.S. president or of the province of Alberta and its major industries are totally unfounded allegations.

Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I think the Deputy Prime Minister missed what I said. I did not say there were disparaging comments about Alberta. I said that the Prime Minister mused about an export tax on energy.

The Deputy Prime Minister could make this very simple if he would just stand and say that there will be no such export tax on energy. This is his opportunity.

Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman is referring to thirdhand press reports that clearly are false and wrong.

Today the Prime Minister is addressing the Canadian Petroleum Producers Association in Calgary. He will make the position of the Government of Canada very clear. It will be very, very positive.

*  *  *

[Translation]

PRIME MINISTER

Ms. Caroline St-Hilaire (Longueuil, BQ): Mr. Speaker, contradictory statements have been accumulating for two months regarding the Auberge Grand-Mère affair.

Considering that the statements of the Prime Minister, those of his ethics counsellor and the documents provided raise many more questions than they provide answers, we understand why the public wants an inquiry.

Will the government comply with the public's wish and do the right thing, which is to respect the public and set up an independent commission of inquiry?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is no conflict of interest, as evidenced by the ethics counsellor's investigation and the RCMP report.

If the hon. member did her job seriously, she would congratulate us for introducing another anti-gang act, because this is a very important measure, but not for the hon. member, it would appear.

Ms. Caroline St-Hilaire (Longueuil, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Prime Minister does not understand that my constituents want to know how the Prime Minister could have got himself into such a mess.

I cannot give them an answer, because the government keeps providing us with meaningless replies that satisfy neither the opposition nor the public.

Could the Prime Minister take the next two weeks, the Easter recess, to think the whole thing over, come to the only logical conclusion and realize that the public will not accept anything less than an independent public inquiry?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have provided clear and specific information to this House many times.

The Prime Minister, the Minister of Industry and myself have tabled the documents requested by the Bloc Quebecois and the other opposition parties.

They will not recognize that there is no conflict of interest. They are only interested in carrying on their smear campaign and that is against the best interests of our country. Why do they not have any real interest in the real issues that concern Canadians?

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères—Les-Patriotes, BQ): Mr. Speaker, paragraph 3(2) of the government's code of ethics says:

    Public office holders have an obligation to perform their official duties and arrange their private affairs in a manner that will bear the closest public scrutiny, an obligation that is not fully discharged by simply acting within the law.

Will the Deputy Prime Minister admit that the behaviour of the Prime Minister in the Auberge Grand-Mère affair does not pass the test of paragraph 3 of the code of ethics, and completely fails to meet its requirement of transparency?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Absolutely not, Mr. Speaker. The answer is no. There is no breach of the code of ethics.

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères—Les-Patriotes, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the same code of ethics requires that “...on appointment to office, and thereafter, public office holders shall arrange their private affairs in a manner that will prevent real, potential or apparent conflicts of interest from arising but if such a conflict does arise between the private interests of a public office holder and the official duties and responsibilities of that public office holder, the conflict shall be resolved in favour of the public interest”.

Can the Deputy Prime Minister seriously maintain that the Prime Minister was serving the public interest when he contacted the Business Development Bank of Canada about a loan for the auberge owned by his friend Yvon Duhaime, given his personal interest in getting paid for his shares in the neighbouring golf club?

 

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Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's premises are completely false. The Prime Minister had no interest in the golf club when he made these representations to the Business Development Bank of Canada.

I wonder why the hon. member did not mention Quebec's justice minister when he was talking about our anti-gang legislation. The PQ justice minister said “We now have a text that, at first blush, seems to be headed in the right direction”. Why no word of congratulation on this initiative?

*  *  *

[English]

FRESHWATER EXPORTS

Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP): Mr. Speaker, yesterday, in answer to a question from my leader about water exports, the Minister of Foreign Affairs said:

    There will be no removal of bulk water from drainage systems in Canada.

However, he also clearly said that there was an entirely different category of water, and that was water entirely within the jurisdiction of the provinces, such as, for instance, Gisborne Lake in Newfoundland.

Does the Minister of the Environment remain concerned about the proposal to export water from Gisborne Lake and, if he does, what is the government's plan with respect to this particular situation? Is there a government plan to prevent the export of water—

The Speaker: The hon. Minister of the Environment.

Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. Yes, we do remain concerned about the export of water from Gisborne Lake and other jurisdictions in Canada. We believe the best approach is to prevent interbasin transfers of water at source rather than attempting to deal with it at the border.

I have spoken with Newfoundland's minister of natural resources and have explained to him the Canadian position. I have followed the media quite closely. I gather there is substantial opposition within Newfoundland to the proposal. It may be that this suggestion will not proceed.

*  *  *

HEALTH

Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP): Mr. Speaker, while we remain concerned about treating water as a commodity, we are also concerned about treating other things as commodities that should not be. I am talking about life forms.

I have a question for the Minister of Health as to what the government position is with respect to the patenting of life forms. Many in the medical community are concerned about the patenting of the use of gene sequences for human genetic testing. This would have serious consequences for our health care system both in terms of cost and the ability to care for patients.

What is the government's plan with respect to the patenting of life forms? Is the government against it and, if so, what—

The Speaker: The hon. Minister of Industry.

Hon. Brian Tobin (Minister of Industry, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member will know, we recently announced funding for five regional centres for genome research in Canada. As part and parcel of the first funding announcement of $136 million, each centre and each project selected, some 22 across the country, have funds put in place for proper analysis of the legal and ethical questions and, of course, the question of Canadian values associated with this research.

In addition to that, CIHR is giving government advice on this issue. The Canadian biotechnology advisory committee is giving advice—

The Speaker: The hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska.

*  *  *

[Translation]

HEALTH

Mr. André Bachand (Richmond—Arthabaska, PC): Mr. Speaker, after three years of study and $12 million in spending, the national forum on health submitted its exhaustive report to the Prime Minister.

Most of the provinces have done studies or established commissions on the health care system. The other House is working on this very issue. Despite all, the government is setting up a commission of inquiry. Why?

Why not ask the members of this parliament to study this and draft policies, as they already know all the ins and outs of the problem?

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we are very happy and very proud that Mr. Romanow has agreed to act as commissioner in examining the long term future of our health care system.

The viability of our health care system is a matter of great importance. This is why we appointed Mr. Romanow. He will be working with our partners, in the provinces and elsewhere, to ensure we have a health care system not only today but in the future.

[English]

Mr. André Bachand (Richmond—Arthabaska, PC): Mr. Speaker, if parliament is mature enough to study the impact of bulk water exports, should it not be mature enough to study health care? The problems within the system are well known. Elected representatives know what is at stake.

 

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They have a vision of what could be done. They talk to people. They meet people. Why on earth by creating this commission is the government making official its immobility for at least 18 months?

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I think it was evident from the reaction to Mr. Romanow's appointment that the public and governments throughout the country see the wisdom of going to someone with experience in running a provincial system who believes strongly in the basic values of Canadian health care; someone, a third party independent, to assess the present state of play, engage in a dialogue with Canadians and come back with recommendations for constructive change as Emmett Hall did some 40 years ago.

Obviously any proposals that involve legislation would come to parliament and we would consider any such legislation. Mr. Romanow has a remarkably important contribution to make.

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I guess it is true that Canadians would applaud any sign that the government is taking the crisis in our health care seriously.

I remind the minister that many Canadians are facing long delays in receiving the medical treatment they need. We have obsolete and inaccurate diagnostic equipment. There is a crisis as a result of the shortage in health care providers. Why the long delay in dealing with these very important matters for Canadians today?

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have had very recent and a very personal occasion to observe for myself how hard health care providers are working, sometimes under very difficult circumstances.

May I take this as my first opportunity today in the House since my return to express on behalf of myself and my family my warmest thanks to friends and colleagues on all sides of the House for their generosity and their thoughtfulness and the very many warm greetings I received from them.

In response to my friend's question we take very seriously the problems to which she has referred. The whole accord with the provinces last September was about reinvesting and working on a plan for renewal. Mr. Romanow will look at the long term and it is that to which he will now turn.

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, in the short term Canadians are experiencing some real problems with receiving prompt, quality health care when they need it and medical providers are stretched to the limit. What is the minister proposing to do today to address these very serious issues?

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the member is right. They are serious issues and they deserve our attention today.

That is why the Prime Minister marshalled all governments and last September arrived at an agreement to which they all subscribed: $23 billion of additional federal transfers and, apart from that, a concrete plan to deal with key issues such as a shortage of doctors and nurses, renewing equipment and adding information technology to the system.

We are working on those today. We are working on that plan this week and next. Those are the short and medium term steps which we are taking urgently. We agree with the member. We will continue that work.

*  *  *

[Translation]

SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS

Ms. Francine Lalonde (Mercier, BQ): Mr. Speaker, while business figures had access to the texts we are still being denied and will have access to the heads of state during the Quebec summit, ordinary members of the public will be restricted to a parallel event.

Thousands of individuals, parliamentarians and other members of civil society from all countries in the Americas, Cuba included, will be meeting in the people's summit. No bridge has been constructed between these two summits.

Will the Prime Minister make a commitment to providing access by representatives of the people's summit to the heads of state of the Americas so that they may make known their—

The Speaker: The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Mr. Denis Paradis (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the people's summit is an important approach to the summit of the Americas.

Both levels of government have a hand in its funding, the Canadian government having made $300,000 available to the organizers and the government of Quebec another $200,000 to assist in its organization.

It is of course important for civil society to have an opportunity to be heard.

Ms. Francine Lalonde (Mercier, BQ): Mr. Speaker, so far the government has been talking the talk about transparency, democracy and dialogue in connection with the integration of the Americas, but it has not walked the walk. Parliamentarians are excluded from the summit, other members of civil society are excluded, the provinces are excluded, and there is much public concern because no one knows exactly what is being negotiated.

 

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What steps is the government going to take to prevent the Quebec summit from going down in history as the summit of exclusion?

Mr. Denis Paradis (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, picking up on the end of that, I will just state that parliamentarians are absolutely not excluded. A debate was held here in the House.

Our standing committee on foreign affairs has been sitting for several weeks to hear representations from civil society, from organizations, and will continue to do so until the summit.

It is therefore totally wrong to claim that parliamentarians are excluded.

*  *  *

[English]

NATIONAL DEFENCE

Mr. Art Hanger (Calgary Northeast, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, members of the Canadian forces are getting hit with another rent increase that will overshadow the recently announced pay raises. Here is a quote from one member of the military:

    Being a member of the military I feel you should be made aware of the real facts the defence minister does not understand. My pay went up $74.63 a month. As of September 1, my rent will be increasing $100 a month.

On behalf of members of our forces, why does the defence minister boast about pay increases when in reality he is clawing it all back in rent increases?

Hon. Art Eggleton (Minister of National Defence, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has it all wrong. There was not only the pay increase on April 1 to which he refers, but there was a retroactive one that goes back to October 1999.

When we look at the rent increases over the last three years and we compare them against the pay increases we have given over the last three year period as well, the pay increases are far in excess, 10 times in excess of the rent increases which, by the way, are levelled off at 25% of the gross family income and meet the provincial general guidelines on rent increases.

Mr. Art Hanger (Calgary Northeast, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that the soldiers do not see it the same way as the minister. Here is another quote that I would like to put to the minister from a family member of a soldier:

    Everyone was so happy when it was announced that our soldiers were finally getting a pay raise, and it is true that this was a slap in the face when the defence minister gave his okay to up our rents. We are back to square one.

My question is for the minister. Why will the defence minister not drop this ridiculous rent increase and give our soldiers and their families a break for once? Roll back the rents.

Hon. Art Eggleton (Minister of National Defence, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, for example a corporal would be getting a rent increase in the area of $35 to $40 a month but over the last three years has had a pay increase of some $600 a month.

Some 70% of the people who work for the military live in market accommodations. The other 30% do not. We as a government have an obligation, not just the military, to make sure that we are charging market rent. We also make sure that their rent is below 25% of their gross income and that their pay increases are far in excess of the rent increases.

*  *  *

[Translation]

SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold (Jonquière, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Minister for International Trade has always assured us that Quebec would be well represented at the Quebec City summit, because he and the Prime Minister are Quebecers.

However, the negotiating documents on the FTAA currently accessible to Quebec parliamentarians are not available in French.

How can the Minister for International Trade reconcile his statements with the fact that French, the language spoken by Quebecers, is excluded from the basic texts?

Mr. Denis Paradis (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there will be four official languages at the summit and official texts will be in French, English, Portuguese and Spanish.

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold (Jonquière, BQ): Mr. Speaker, does the Deputy Prime Minister realize the absurdity of the situation? The summit is taking place in Quebecers' national capital, in the largest French community in the Americas, yet Quebec is excluded and French is absent.

The only way for Quebecers to avoid such absurd and insulting situations is for Quebec to finally become a sovereign state.

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the question is based on an utterly false premise.

French will not be excluded from the summit of the Americas. At this summit, Canada will welcome the heads of all the countries from the Americas, and talks will be conducted in the four languages mentioned a few moments ago by my colleague.

*  *  *

 

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[English]

HEALTH

Mr. Scott Reid (Lanark—Carleton, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency tells us that it has put together a comprehensive plan to deal with an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Canada. Unfortunately it has not advertised and circulated this plan to industry stakeholders. This means that municipalities, local veterinarians and farmers do not know how they fit into contingency plans to contain an outbreak.

Yesterday at committee the CFIA stated that its plan would be put on its website before the end of the day. It was still not available this morning. Why is the CFIA still failing to adequately inform all industry stakeholders about its responsibilities in the event of an outbreak?

Mr. Larry McCormick (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we were very glad to have the CFIA at committee yesterday morning, along with the armed forces and one of the veterinarians from Kingston who was overseas to look at the situation firsthand.

We have many people from across Canada co-operating with the CFIA, the RCMP and the police. A plan has been in place and the plan is being updated and added to daily.

The CFIA had a rehearsal, an emergency preparedness planned with Mexico, the United States and Canada last November. We are doing everything possible.

Mr. Scott Reid (Lanark—Carleton, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, an outbreak of foot and mouth disease would shut down Canada's beef exports and that could cost the country billions of dollars.

The CFIA is only now developing a communications plan with Canadian travellers. It has failed to communicate its contingency plans to Canadian livestock producers. Good communications is one of the most valuable tools for keeping this disease out of Canada. It is crucial to contain foot and mouth disease if it arrives on our shores. Why has it taken the government so long to develop any communications plan?

Mr. Larry McCormick (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have had a plan and it is in place. It is ready in case of any emergency at all. We are ready.

Besides the plan, we have videos that are being shown on all Air Canada flights. We have points of information at all the international airports. We are handing out literature in five languages on all incoming airplanes. We have staff working along with the Customs and Revenue Agency interviewing people who come from offshore. We are there and we have had this plan available for years.

*  *  *

[Translation]

PREMIER OF QUEBEC

Mr. Gérard Binet (Frontenac—Mégantic, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Quebec's premier, Mr. Landry, continues in his unjust attacks on Canada. He continues to use the expression “night of the long knives”, in reference to the patriation of the constitution. And now he is accusing the Government of Canada of “viol des foules” or rape of the masses.

Will the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs tell the House what he thinks of this attempt to sidetrack the public debate?

Hon. Stéphane Dion (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the night of the long knives was a bloody settling of accounts between Nazis in Germany in 1934.

Le viol des foules is the title—

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

Hon. Stéphane Dion: Mr. Speaker, Le viol des foules is the title of a classic story by Serge Tchakhotine about propaganda in totalitarian regimes. These attempts to establish a subliminal connection between Canada and the worst horrors of the 20th century are unworthy and serve only to discredit their perpetrators.

We continue to hope that the premier of Quebec will show himself worthy of his office and that he will agree to work more constructively with Canada.

*  *  *

FISHERIES

Mr. Yvon Godin (Acadie—Bathurst, NDP): Mr. Speaker, in 1996, crab fishers agreed to contribute to a solidarity fund in order to provide financial assistance to crew members and plant workers.

Crab fishers' contribution to this fund has dropped from 15 cents a pound to 5 cents a pound. Today, the fishery is still in crisis and thousands of people are affected.

Is the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans prepared to give the solidarity fund a quota so that, once and for all, a solution can be found to this situation and we do not have a repeat of the confrontations we have seen in recent years?

[English]

Hon. Herb Dhaliwal (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the solidarity fund was something that crab fishermen participated in. It is a voluntary program. I congratulate them for taking the step. I know they are very much interested in participating again in that program, and I encourage them to do so.

 

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As far as the quota system goes, we have a five year agreement with crabbers. We will continue to make sure we maintain that five year agreement until next year.

*  *  *

HIGHWAYS

Mrs. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the transport minister acknowledged that Canada's highways are in terrible shape. Studies say it will take $17 billion to bring our highways up to minimum standards. It is that bad because of years of government neglect.

The $600 million the government is investing in highways over the next four years is not nearly enough. The minister has stated that if we have the resources we need to invest in infrastructure, but he also said toll roads are okay.

Toll roads are not okay. Privatizing our roads is not the answer. Will the government make a commitment to dramatically increase funding for highways?

Hon. David Collenette (Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I remind my colleague that highways are primarily a responsibility of the provinces, although there is a tradition going back 80 years for federal involvement using the federal finance power.

A year ago the Minister of Finance announced $600 million for highways. I said publicly that this was just the start and I hoped there would be additional resources.

There are lots of calls upon the government's resources. The hon. member's party has been first and foremost in asking that money be allocated to health care, on which we all agree. We have to live within our means. We have to live within our own priorities.

*  *  *

FRESHWATER EXPORTS

Mr. John Herron (Fundy—Royal, PC): Mr. Speaker, a few minutes ago I gave notice to the government House leader of a question.

The member for Toronto—Danforth has produced in the past disturbing literature endorsing the export of bulk water. Last evening the same member said in interviews that the House had struck a committee on water with him as chair.

Will the government House leader confirm to the House that no such committee has been struck or established?

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, indeed no such agreement has been reached, either among House leaders or otherwise, and no order has been passed by the House.

Reading the media quotes of some people in House leadership positions this morning, it does not appear that one will be forthcoming soon.

*  *  *

AGRICULTURE

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, if there is a blight for P.E.I. potato farmers, it is the attitude of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and his callous comments to P.E.I. farmers that they should consider getting out of the potato industry. He should be protecting, not provoking island farmers. One Liberal backbencher from Malpeque has denounced the minister. The rest are stony silent.

Today the P.E.I. legislature is debating a unanimous resolution calling on the federal government to close Canadian borders to potatoes from the United States.

Will the minister of agriculture retract his insults, travel to Prince Edward Island and personally meet with potato farmers? Will he support the island initiative to ban U.S. potatoes? They have to start planting—

The Speaker: The hon. the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

Mr. Larry McCormick (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, let me be perfectly clear. At no time did the minister tell the producers of P.E.I. not to grow potatoes. The minister encouraged producers to make sure of their market before they grew more potatoes.

In fact, the minister continues to work hard, along with his officials, to develop further markets across Canada for our producers of potatoes in P.E.I. He should check the facts.

*  *  *

THE ENVIRONMENT

Mr. Grant McNally (Dewdney—Alouette, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, industrial construction waste is being dumped straight into the ground at an illegal landfill site on the Cheam Reserve in the Fraser Valley in B.C. Even the Canada Land Company has dumped construction waste into the site next to the Fraser River.

Why does the government continue to turn a blind eye when it knows that this illegal landfill site is in full operation?

Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I will take the matter up with the provincial minister. I would suggest, however, that the Alliance Party make clear whether it is asking the federal government to assume jurisdiction in a provincial sphere on issues of this nature before proceeding with questions of this type.

Mr. Grant McNally (Dewdney—Alouette, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the minister knows that there is a shared jurisdiction here, that there is an illegal landfill operating and that industrial waste is being dumped straight into the ground.

When a Global Television news crew went to this illegal dump it was assaulted, had its camera and van taken away, and was told to get out.

Why does the environment minister protect this kind of activity rather than the environment and those people? What is his answer to this?

 

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Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should apologize for his comments. I have in no way endorsed any violence on any reserve or in any situation with the Global Television Network. His statement that we are somehow protecting this is outrageous. I suggest he apologize for it.

There are areas of shared jurisdiction, but I would explain to him a constitutional point that sometimes shared jurisdiction does not mean the federal government can take over that part of it which is provincial. Is that the position of his party?

*  *  *

[Translation]

ORGANIZED CRIME

Mr. Michel Bellehumeur (Berthier—Montcalm, BQ): Mr. Speaker, Opération Printemps 2001 in Quebec has proven that organized crime generates hundreds of millions of dollars annually. In the case of the criminal group, Les Nomades, alone, the Quebec provincial police estimate profits of $100 million.

In view of the scope of the problem and the millions of dollars that go untaxed, will the Minister of National Revenue set up a special team of experienced investigators to comb through the tax returns of these wrongdoers currently on the inside?

Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of National Revenue and Secretary of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, permit me to congratulate my colleagues the Minister of Justice and the Solicitor General and this government on the absolutely incredible and wonderful legislation, which, really, will enable us to go after organized crime.

Obviously, I cannot discuss specifics, but I would simply like to say that the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency has a special program pertaining to the application of the law and audits of the application of the law in the area of organized crime as a whole.

Mr. Michel Bellehumeur (Berthier—Montcalm, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the minister could have been a little more loquacious in his response and he could have congratulated the Bloc Quebecois, because we have been calling for this legislation for five years. I am pleased to learn that the minister will do everything he can to recover this money.

I would remind him that there are some zealous employees in his department, who bleed the poor for $5,000. I would hope that the department will do everything, put its best investigators to work, and that each of the files of these criminals will be gone over with a fine tooth comb to recover the hundreds of millions of dollars they are not paying in taxes each year.

Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of National Revenue and Secretary of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, first, allow me to thank the Liberal members on this side of the House. They have done a remarkable job in our caucus to enable us to set up this legislation.

Second, in reference to the remarks of my colleague, he should perhaps look at the mandate of the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency and at some of the initiatives undertaken respecting taxpayers as a whole, and, more specifically, the initiative on equity, considered a fine initiative for all taxpayers, both corporate and individual.

Third, I say what I promised. We have a special team doing audits and ensuring the law is applied to organized crime.

*  *  *

[English]

HIGHWAYS

Mr. Darrel Stinson (Okanagan—Shuswap, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, we were told that the Trans-Canada Highway was the lifeline of Canada, yet in 12 short years 126 people were killed and more than 2,278 were injured on a short section of the highway out of Revelstoke, B.C.

Why is Canada still the only G-7 country with no national highway investment program?

Hon. David Collenette (Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I do not know where my hon. friend has been for the last number of years. The fact is that for 80 years the federal government has contributed in some way to provinces for the construction of highways. We agreed on a basic 25,000 kilometres of the national highway network. The Minister of Finance announced $600 million for that purpose last year.

Yes, we would like more money and I am hopeful that more money will be applied. We have just announced funding allocations to the province of British Columbia. Hopefully that will deal with the very pressing problem in Revelstoke.

Mr. Darrel Stinson (Okanagan—Shuswap, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, funds are not lacking. In B.C. alone last year the minister took more than $750 million in fuel taxes but put zero back into B.C. highways. How does the minister justify that?

Hon. David Collenette (Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have been accused of a lot of things in my life but not of being a thief.

The fact is the Government of Canada uses fuel taxes as part of general revenues to fund the many government programs Canadians demand, including the $600 million that the Minister of Finance has announced.

 

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It seems to me that the hon. member said in the preamble to his question that there is no funding problem. If that is the case then he should go to the British Columbia government to deal with the Revelstoke problem on an urgent basis.

*  *  *

TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Mr. Marcel Proulx (Hull—Aylmer, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board. The Government of Canada has set an ambitious goal of becoming the most connected government in the world to its citizens by 2004. How is the Government of Canada progressing with its government online initiatives?

[Translation]

Is progress being made with the government online project?

[English]

Mr. Alex Shepherd (Parliamentary Secretary to President of the Treasury Board, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Hull—Aylmer for his question. Government services to every citizen in Canada, whether they live in Toronto or Iqaluit, has been the goal of the government. A recent study ranked Canada as number one of all industrialized countries in connecting its citizens online.

I am proud to announce that in addition to the $160 million we have already put into this initiative, we have now put another $120 million into our budget for the 2001-02 fiscal year.

Empowering Canadians and giving them access to government information will ensure that Canadians and their parliamentarians will be more effective in addressing the needs of—

The Speaker: The hon. member for Saskatoon—Humboldt.

*  *  *

BILINGUALISM

Mr. Jim Pankiw (Saskatoon—Humboldt, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, treasury board numbers confirm that for every increase in the number of federal public service jobs designated bilingual, there is a corresponding decrease in the participation rate of anglophones.

I should like to know what steps the government is prepared to take to end the systemic discrimination against English speaking Canadians with respect to federal public service hiring and promotion.

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this is probably one of the most insulting questions I have ever heard in the House.

I would hope that the Leader of the Opposition on the first day back will do what another member did yesterday and ensure that this member apologizes as well.

Mr. Jim Pankiw (Saskatoon—Humboldt, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is the Liberal government that should apologize for the fact that its application of forced bilingualism is costly, discriminatory and a source of national divisiveness and disunity.

Notwithstanding, I ask the justice minister why she demanded and received intervener status on behalf of Ontario francophones in the Montfort case but has not requested intervener status to protect Quebec anglophones from that province's bill 170.

She is prepared to defend the interests of French speaking people in Ontario, but she is not prepared to defend the interests of English speaking people in Quebec. Why the double standard?

Hon. Sheila Copps (Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I sincerely hope that is not the official position of the Alliance Party. If it is, it is a complete departure from the very honourable statement made by the former leader of the Reform Party, Preston Manning, when he said he understood the benefits of bilingualism to all Canadians.

The Speaker: The hon. member knows she meant the hon. member for Calgary Southwest and not his name.

[Translation]

Hon. Sheila Copps: Mr. Speaker, he went so far as to work in French, to try to learn French, because of his belief in a country where both official languages are recognized. I hope that this is not the new Canadian Alliance policy.

*  *  *

FISHERIES

Mr. Jean-Yves Roy (Matapédia-Matane, BQ): Mr. Speaker, in order to settle the dispute between the Quebec and Newfoundland fishers over the Greenland turbot, the minister has mandated a group of three experts to provide him with recommendations.

The experts from Newfoundland and New Brunswick recommend that Newfoundland be given a share of Quebec's traditional quota, while the Quebec expert proposes increasing Quebec's share.

Which recommendation does the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans intend to follow, the one from the maritimes experts, who again propose to trample on Quebec interests, or the one from the Quebec expert?

[English]

Hon. Herb Dhaliwal (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman is referring to Greenland turbot-halibut.

We set up a panel with Judge La Forest and two other members. It looked at the whole issue and listened to both parties, the Quebec fleet as well as the Newfoundland fleet. It submitted a report, which I will be reviewing closely before making a decision.

*  *  *

 

. 1200 + -

[Translation]

TOBACCO CONSUMPTION

Mrs. Sue Barnes (London West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am now speaking the second official language.

My question is for the Minister of Health. Yesterday, the government announced a strategy to reduce tobacco consumption and increase taxes to deter contraband.

[English]

There is a fivefold increase in the financing. Would the minister tell us what programs that money will finance?

[Translation]

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, yesterday we announced an integrated strategy that will be adequately funded and that was developed here by the government caucus.

[English]

This caucus, over the course of the last 18 months, has worked very hard to develop a strategy that involves various elements, which we will finance and pursue in an integrated way to bring down the level of smoking in this country, the number one public health issue we face.

We have set as our objective, over the coming 10 years, to reduce by 20% the number of smokers, by 30% the number of cigarettes sold and—

The Speaker: The hon. member for Wild Rose.

*  *  *

ORGANIZED CRIME

Mr. Myron Thompson (Wild Rose, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, yesterday the government introduced the organized crime bill at first reading. I really appreciate the fact that the government has taken some tough measures and that it has also listened to the Alliance Party.

However, I have one concern with the bill. According to the bill, there is a list of people who will be charged with first degree murder if they shoot or kill as a result of gang wars or organized crime but it does not include the killing of innocent bystanders such as a 10 year old in Quebec or reporters. Why are—

The Speaker: The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice.

Mr. John Maloney (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question and for acknowledging that this is an excellent piece of legislation.

Certainly intimidation is a very serious factor in organized crime. Police officers, prosecutors and all sorts of people, even members of parliament, have been intimidated.

The legislation introduces significant penalties that would certainly prohibit or work against that type of activity by organized crime. This is for the betterment of the entire country.

*  *  *

MARTIN LAVOIE

The Speaker: I would like to draw to the attention of all hon. members that Martin Lavoie, Deputy Principal Clerk, Committees and Parliamentary Associations, will be leaving the House of Commons this month after 22 years of service to take up new challenges with the National Democratic Institute in Niger.

[Translation]

Martin is sitting at the Table right now and I know that you will all want to join me in saluting his long and successful career here.

Martin, we wish you success, health and happiness in your new career. Congratulations.

Some hon. members: Hear, hear.

*  *  *

[English]

POINTS OF ORDER

ORAL QUESTION PERIOD

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order arising out of today's question period.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food stated that the minister never told Island potato growers to stop growing potatoes. Il est dans les patates.

I would like to quote from the minister's proceedings at the standing committee—

The Speaker: It sounds to me as though we are getting into a very jolly argument but that is not allowed on points of order.



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Translation]

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO PETITIONS

Mr. Derek Lee (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to two petitions.

*  *  *

 

. 1205 + -

[English]

COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE

FISHERIES AND OCEANS

 

Mr. Wayne Easter (Malpeque, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), your committee recommends that pursuant to subsection 52(2) of the Oceans Act, the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans be granted an extension for its report on the review of the provisions and operation of this act, from January 31, 2001 to October 1, 2001, and I should like to move concurrence at this time.

(Motion agreed to)

*  *  *

PETITIONS

NATURAL RESOURCES

Mr. Darrel Stinson (Okanagan—Shuswap, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to present two petitions today.

The first petition is signed by British Columbians who are calling upon parliament to proclaim natural gas an essential commodity and give it back to the people of Canada.

CANADA POST

Mr. Darrel Stinson (Okanagan—Shuswap, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from concerned citizens who are calling upon parliament to repeal subsection 13(5) of the Canada Post Corporation Act.

POISON CONTROL

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton—Melville, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, this petition comes from residents in the province of Saskatchewan who want to draw the attention of the House to the fact that since 1992 concentrated liquid strychnine poison has been available for purchase by farmers for use in the control of the Richardson's ground squirrel.

However, since 1992 Health Canada has restricted the sale of strychnine such that it is currently available only in a premixed form with the amount of ingredient limited to .4% by volume.

The current allowable limits for strychnine have greatly reduced the effectiveness of the poison with the result that the populations of Richardson's ground squirrels are steadily increasing. The crop and hay land damage caused by this squirrel is very costly to farmers in regard to productivity, equipment repairs and injury to livestock. They petition parliament to amend the relevant regulations so as to permit the sale of concentrated liquid strychnine to registered farmers until such time as an effective alternative can be found.

*  *  *

QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER

Mr. Derek Lee (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have three questions to deal with today. Question No. 19 will be answered today. .[Text]

Question No. 19—Mr. Peter Adams:

    With respect to the Antarctic treaty system: (a) what does Canada contribute; (b) which department is in charge; and (c) what is the total cost incurred by Canada?

Mr. Denis Paradis (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade has overall responsibility for the co-ordination of Canada's participation in the Antarctic treaty system. A number of other departments and agencies, notably Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Transport Canada, Natural Resources Canada, the Canadian Polar Commisssion and the National Museums of Canada provide expertise on specific issues under consideration in the context of the Antarctic treaty system.

Canada's status as a contracting party to the Antarctic treaty does not entail any assessed or voluntary financial contribution.

Over the current fiscal year, April 2000 to March 2001 costs that can be directly attributed to the Antarctic treaty system include the following two items:

Participation in the Antarctic treaty meeting of experts on guidelines for Antarctic shipping held in London, U.K., April 2000, $7,500; and participation in the special Antarctic treaty consultative meeting held in the Hague, Netherlands, September 2000, including costs of preparation and production of reports, $18,750.

In addition, the following items, while not directly ascribed to the Antarctic treaty system, represent cost incurred to support the various international organizations associated with the treaty that support international scientific co-operation in the Antarctic:

Scientific committee on Antarctic Research, SCAR, annual contribution and participation in biannual meeting in Tokyo, Japan, $15,000; Canadian committee for Antarctic research, CCAR, which constitutes Canada's national committee for SCAR, support for secretariat, publications, participation in biannual meetings of SCAR working groups in Tokyo, Japan, and costs of annual meeting, $42,5000; and Council of managers of Antarctic programs, COMNAP, annual contribution and participation in annual meeting in Tokyo, Japan, $7,200.

On the broader issue of Canada's scientific contribution to the Antarctic treaty system, since acceding to the Antarctic treaty in 1988, Canadian government and university scientists and experts have participated in the work of many technical and scientific groups and contributed in several fields. Specific examples include expertise in oil spill prevention and containment in ice infested waters; waste management in polar regions; and development of a code for polar shipping, of an Antarctic flight manual, of the environment management plan for the McMurdo Dry Valleys, of environmental monitoring guidelines, and of a system of protected areas for Antarctica. These activities receive support from a number of government departments and institutions.

Canadian scientists continue to contribute to the work of SCAR working groups and as active scientists. Between mid-1997 and mid-2000, Canadian scientists wrote or co-authored some 85 publications on Antarctic and bipolar science in a broad range of scientific disciplines. The Arctic-Antarctic exchange program promotes collaboration and exchange between scientists working in the two polar regions.

Finally, Canada also contributes to the exchange of information between the Arctic Council and Antarctic treaty meetings.

*  *  *

[English]

STARRED QUESTIONS

Mr. Derek Lee (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, would you be so kind as to called Starred Questions Nos. 3 and 4.

I would ask that the question and the answer to Question No. 3 be printed in Hansard as if read. .[Text]

*Question No. 3—Mr. Jim Pankiw:

    With respect to the Canada foundation for innovation, what amount of additional funding has been attracted from: (a) provincial governments, (b) universities; (c) the private sector, and (d) the voluntary sector?

Mr. Derek Lee (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): The following table lays out the sources of matching funds by category. These figures apply to projects where final agreements have been concluded. This represents 470 projects for a total CFI share of $164.5 million. Many larger projects are still being brought to the final agreement form. The total project dollars, CFI plus matching, amounts to $431.9 million so the CFI share is 38.1%. All cash values are in millions of dollars as of April 2000. The most recent figures available are as follows:

   

*  *  *

[English]

QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS

Mr. Derek Lee (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if the answer to Question No. 4 could be made an order for return, the return would be tabled immediately.

The Deputy Speaker: Is that agreed?

Some hon. members: Agreed. .[Text]

Question No. 4—Mr. Pankiw:

    With respect to the Canada Foundation for Innovation and its Board of Directors: (a) what are the names of those organizations and/or persons represented on the Foundation's Board of Directors; (b) what is the criteria for being selected to the Board; and (c) what is the duration of service for Board members?

Return tabled

[English]

Mr. Derek Lee: Mr. Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.

The Deputy Speaker: Is that agreed?

Some hon. members: Agreed.



GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[English]

JUDGES ACT

 

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-12, an act to amend the Judges Act and to amend another act in consequence, be read the third time and passed.

 

. 1210 + -

Mr. Rahim Jaffer (Edmonton—Strathcona, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, before we began question period my hon. colleague from Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca used his speech to express his concerns with the judicial process in Canada. One of the government members got upset with him and said that basically the status quo is acceptable.

We have to be proud of our judiciary. We have some great people involved in the justice system. Most Canadians would not dispute that. We have to focus on how we can make our current systems better. In many cases the status quo is not acceptable and I think most Canadians feel that something needs to be done to keep the judiciary at arm's length from the government to some extent.

My hon. colleague mentioned a number of solutions. He mentioned elections. I do not know whether he necessarily supports them but he mentioned them.

Another option I would like him to comment on is the idea of setting up an independent body that would review the applications for judges and the process of appointments so that they would be taken out of this place and out of the hands of the Prime Minister. That would make the system work a little better and would keep the judiciary at arm's length from the government and from this place.

I would like my hon. colleague from Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca to comment on that particular area of improving the justice system.

Mr. Keith Martin: Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague has asked a very good question and has basically articulated the solutions I have put forth here.

The issue is accountability. The issue is about removing power from the Prime Minister and giving it back to the people. While we have an excellent judiciary, we can do certain things, such as having an independent body, which the hon. member spoke about, such as having supreme court appointments made not by the Prime Minister but ratified by parliament on an advisory from the Prime Minister. The same thing could happen in provincial legislatures across the country.

On the issue of elected officials, it happens at a certain level in the judiciary. It happens in California and it works very well. It takes the power away from a single individual, which is what we have in our country today, gives a little broader accountability and gives members of the public the opportunity to have some say about who will judge them when they are in front of the courts. It works very well in California. Very few judges are removed. Most of them stay. Only those who are really not doing a good job are removed.

In Canada, as my colleague mentioned, we have an excellent judiciary. These solutions are just a way to perhaps make it a little better.

The Deputy Speaker: Is the House ready for the question?

Some hon. members: Question.

The Deputy Speaker: The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Some hon. members: No.

The Deputy Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Some hon. members: Yea.

The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.

Some hon. members: Nay.

The Deputy Speaker: In my opinion the yeas have it.

Some hon. members: On division.

The Deputy Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed)

*  *  *

CANADA FOUNDATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT TECHNOLOGY ACT

 

The House resumed from April 5 consideration of the motion that Bill C-4, an act to establish a foundation to fund sustainable development technology, be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Gerald Keddy (South Shore, PC): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill C-4, the Canada foundation for sustainable development technology act.

The premise of the legislation is that it will establish a foundation to fund innovative projects, primarily within the areas of climate change and air quality. This is a premise that the PC Party supports.

We all know that Canada made a strong commitment at Kyoto to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and put into place measures to help reduce the impact of climate change.

In fact it was the Conservative government, in 1992 at Rio, which first established a strong position respecting the environment, one that the current government has allowed to lapse.

 

. 1215 + -

The legislation before us fails in its effort to improve the environment and to bring forward new sustainable development technology. The fault is not with the premise of the bill but with the specifics or lack thereof.

The bill clearly states that the foundation would be established with an initial fund of $100 million. Although the fund may be increased over time, it is unlikely that it is the government's intention to do this. That would be determined based on the success of the foundation to meet its objectives. However I question how the foundation would determine whether its objectives are being met.

The amendment put forward in committee whereby the foundation would be required to submit detailed reports on specific projects, namely the extent to which they were successful in meeting their goals, was denied. At most steps in the process the government has refused to accept amendments from any of the opposition parties.

It has been a very trying job in committee listening to government deliberations and listening to it defending its position on particular aspects of the bill. If all parties had gone to committee with an open mind, the bill could have been improved. The Conservative Party would have supported it along with the NDP, the Bloc and the Canadian Alliance.

We are left with legislation that promotes sustainable development but without guidelines in place to allow the foundation to determine whether those objectives are being met. There are some air quality issues that are difficult to accurately measure, but that does not mean there should be no standard in place to do it.

The government has been widely criticized by the auditor general for its lack of accountability on various projects or programs. Too little information is being made available regarding the spending of public funds. Yet the government will continue the tradition with the legislation.

Another amendment that would have improved the legislation proposed that access to information be applied to the foundation. That amendment as well as the one I just mentioned would have improved the accountability and openness of the foundation and would have allowed an unbiased view of the projects. It would have enabled the foundation to better determine whether it was meeting its objectives. Without such requirements in place, the foundation becomes yet another institution which allows the government to give out money as it pleases.

We all recognize that some projects would fail. Not every project, in particular those that promote new technology and innovative ideas, would be able to overcome obstacles and setbacks. That is understood and it is not the objective of accountability and quantitative reviews to restrict projects or call into question their ability to succeed.

Furthermore, if it is impossible to quantify the ways in which a project could reduce greenhouse gases to improve air quality, it is not to say that such a project is not good. There should be overall guidelines in place, at least general guidelines, to allow the foundation to achieve some level of accountability for public funds.

Speaking of funds brings me to another problem with the legislation, another area where a lack of detail prevents me from supporting the bill. It is one more example of inconsistency between what the minister said about the legislation when it was introduced in the House and what is actually entailed in the legislation.

As I mentioned, the foundation would be funded with $100 million of taxpayer money. When the minister appeared in committee he continually stated that it would be the intention of the foundation to leverage projects on a 1:4 basis. In other words, the foundation would provide 25% of the total funding required to bring a project to fruition and other private or public sources could be accessed to supply the remaining 75%. In no way is that an inconceivable or unnecessarily restrictive objective.

There are many other government programs available to help fund projects such as the ones that would be considered by the foundation.

I have a list of other public programs. There is the annual allocation of $58 million for the energy research and development program. On March 8 the Minister of Industry announced $62 million in scholarship and fellowship funding to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. On March 12 there was an announcement of funding of $73 million for four new networks of centres of excellence.

 

. 1220 + -

The budget of the Canada foundation for innovation is $2.4 billion, plus a recent addition of $750 million announced by the government on March 6. Technology partnerships annual allocation is $300 million. The industrial research assistance program annual allocation is $7 million. Technology early action measures allocation is $57 million. What the list shows is that there are other avenues available for funding for sustainable development projects.

It does not mean that the legislation is redundant. It means that there was ample opportunity for the government to set out specific limits on funding flowing from the foundation. With other options available, the government did not have to worry about funding a project at 100%. The minister said that the object would be to fund projects at 25%, and yet nowhere in the legislation is there any mention of any sort of limits.

I proposed an amendment at committee stage that would have established a limit of 50% funding although the minister had been indicating at the time that the $100 million would be leveraged into $400 million. The amendment proposed a 50% limit so that the board of directors of the foundation would not be unduly restricted or bound by unnecessary limitations. The amendment would have established a guideline for the board, one that was consistent with the intent of the bill as the minister outlined. The amendment was voted down.

The lack of detail within the legislation may be dismissed. The government may say that the legislation should not needlessly restrict the board of the foundation. It is an example of sloppy legislation, one that is loosely worded and open to misuse.

I also proposed in committee an amendment which was successfully adopted with the support of Liberal members of the committee. The amendment changed the date on which the legislation would take effect. As it was worded, the provisions of the act could come into force on a day or days to be fixed by order of the governor in council. It meant that the government could choose to implement certain sections of the act while allowing other sections to be implemented at later dates or not at all.

It also meant that the government could choose not to have the Official Languages Act apply or maybe it would not require annual reports by the foundation to parliament. Such a provision opened the process to abuse. It is one more example of the original looseness of the legislation. While the clause has been amended, other clauses have not.

I do not wish to give the impression that the PC Party does not support the objectives of the bill. Improving air quality and reducing the impact of climate change are objectives that all Canadians support. There are numerous alternative sources for fuel that need to be advanced, particularly as the world continues to deplete its oil and gas reserves. These fuel sources are not only slowly disappearing, but their environmental impact is causing undesirable consequences.

Canada has been a world leader in such areas as fuel cells and solar energy. These are areas that need to be developed so that the ideas and technologies can be applied in the marketplace, even at national and international levels. The Ballard fuel cell is one of the more recognized examples of Canada's innovative leading edge in this area.

One of the parts of the legislation that I appreciate is that the ideas generated with the assistance of funding from the foundation are to be widely applied in the interest of improving air quality for all Canadians. It means that if there can be broad application of the technology or other uses of the idea then it should be promoted since the overall goal is to improve air quality across the country. That is one reason the foundation would assist with the development of projects.

While it is admirable and something that the PC Party supports, I refer back to the way the legislation has been crafted. The legislation states that at the time of dissolution of the foundation any money remaining would be divided among the projects currently being funded.

While it may sound reasonable at first glance, it is really saying that a project may receive unneeded money simply because it is still considered an active file at the time the foundation ceases to exist, when and if that ever occurs. Understanding that there is no sunset clause in the legislation, the legislation could conceivably go on forever. A project that has received funding may at a latter part of its development no longer require money, but because it is still one of the foundation's projects it would receive a portion of the unused funds.

 

. 1225 + -

I am not suggesting it will happen but it could happen. The foundation could literally have tens of millions of dollars on its books and 12 or 50 projects. The money by law would be legally divided among those projects, whether or not they required additional funds. As long as they are open files they would get a portion of those funds.

I proposed an amendment in committee to the clause that would have seen the money revert to the government at the termination of the foundation. Canadian taxpayers would get back any money that had not been allocated at the time the foundation terminated. It would make sense since taxpayers would have contributed to the original funding of the foundation. Therefore any leftover funds should revert to the government. Again the amendment was voted down.

It is important to understand that it is not inconceivable to be dealing with tens of millions of dollars, perhaps even $100 million. There is no limit on the amount that has to be in the foundation, if and when it is dissolved.

There is nothing in the legislation that would prevent the government from providing new funds at any time to the foundation. There is an unrestricted ability for the government to increase the moneys available to the foundation without any guideline in the legislation covering such actions.

It is another example of how little control the legislation would have on how the government manipulates the foundation. The PC Party would tend to support legislation aimed at improving air quality, promoting sustainable energy and developing new technologies. It is the sloppiness of the legislation that prevents me from supporting the bill.

I will now review what is lacking in the legislation. First, there are no controls on spending. Nowhere in the legislation is there a limit on the amount of money the government plans to put into the foundation over the long term. More important, there is a limit on the amount of money that would be provided for specific projects. Even though the minister stated that the foundation would likely provide one-quarter of the necessary funding, nothing was mentioned in the legislation to provide guidelines to the directors.

Second, the foundation is not open to access to information inquiries or to review by the auditor general. Third, the bill lacks clearly defined terms for directors, something that I tried to address through amendments. These are all problems that could easily have been addressed by the government in the legislation.

It is disappointing not to be able to speak in favour of the legislation. Sustainable energy is something that we all need to strive to achieve, particularly given the fact that fossil fuel supplies are decreasing. Moving to fuel cells or using existing fuel sources and more environmentally friendly ways are goals that we should all support if we want to improve air quality.

It is the job of the opposition parties to improve legislation where necessary. In this case the legislation needs to be amended. We have tried to do that. Unfortunately we were unable to improve the legislation to the point where the PC Party could support it.

Mr. Larry Bagnell (Yukon, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have one quick comment on one of the member's points regarding limits on the contributions to projects.

The minister made it clear that the contribution agreement with the foundation would set those limits. The reason he did not want to put that in the legislation was to avoid cases where a good project that went over some arbitrary limit could not be handled. If it is put into the contribution agreement or into the regulation the same function everyone was in favour of in the legislation would be accomplished.

Mr. Gerald Keddy: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's comments, but I do not agree with him. If the intent of the legislation is to be clear on the limitation of funding, the legislation should clearly state that and not leave it up to the board of directors.

Regarding the fact that some projects may require 100% funding, such as projects that would be under the purview of hospitals and universities where limited funding is available from other sources, they would still be available for funding under the agreements I have listed.

 

. 1230 + -

Although I did not add them up, there was somewhere around $3.5 billion or $4 billion worth of additional government funding available from other projects. In no way would any good project need to be turned down on the basis that it could not be funded 100%, because there would be funding available from other sources which could take up that other 50% or 75% that may be required.

*  *  *

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

Ms. Marlene Catterall (Ottawa West—Nepean, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I think you would find unanimous consent in the House for the following motion:  

    That this debate do now adjourn and that we proceed immediately to the consideration of private members' business.

The Deputy Speaker: Does the House give its consent for the chief government whip to put her motion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Deputy Speaker: The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

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

[English]

COMPUTER HACKERS

Mr. Jim Pankiw (Saskatoon—Humboldt, Canadian Alliance) moved:  

    That, in the opinion of this House, the government should immediately amend the Criminal Code to create a separate category of offences and punishments for computer hackers and persons who wilfully or maliciously export computer viruses, both of whose activities disrupt the normal conduct of electronic business in Canada.

He said: Mr. Speaker, I will start my speech with a discussion about the Internet and personal computers.

Obviously we live in a world environment where technology is changing at an ever increasing pace. It is creating a lot of opportunities but it also is creating some problems as well.

The Internet is a great tool to use for research. Many people are now shopping on the Internet. E-mail of course is a very efficient and effective method of communication and is becoming increasingly popular. People do banking online. Many companies or individuals for various reasons host websites, which are great sources of information for people to access.

Furthermore, the use of computers in today's world is an absolute necessity. Businesses use them for data management and for accounting purposes. As members of parliament, we rely on computers extensively for our word processing and all of our communications efforts.

Because technology, computers and the Internet are so pervasive in our society and becoming increasingly relied upon, consumer and customer confidence in the case of people who do business online is being questioned. There are issues of privacy.

My private member's motion is designed to fill a void that currently exists in the criminal code.

When the Internet was first developed and its use expanded upon, I do not think a lot of the pioneers who were behind the development of the Internet and the entrepreneurs who broke ground in improving the way computers worked ever envisioned that the Internet could be used for such perverted and corrupt purposes. I am speaking partially about the fact that children in some cases are being targeted and lured into situations where they might be abused by sexual predators.

 

. 1235 + -

My motion seeks to specifically provide new criminal code provisions to deal with people who disrupt electronic commerce on purpose. I am talking about computer hackers who hack into computers in an attempt to steal or retrieve data or to simply cause a computer malfunction. One of the most terrible acts occurs when people wilfully and maliciously export computer viruses for the purpose of disrupting business and commerce.

As part of my research for my motion, I contacted a constable with the RCMP commercial crimes division. I asked how the police would deal with people who with premeditation and malice exported a virus. I asked if they exported the virus for wide dissemination or if they were targeting a different organization, would that be dealt with differently. One would think that different acts would have different consequences in terms of the criminal code.

The constable's answers were vague and he was not forthcoming. I told him that he was not giving me the answers for which I was looking. He told me that that was because there was a vacuum in the criminal code. He said they did not have the tools to deal with this. He informed me that in many cases people were charged under a section of the criminal code termed mischief to data. However, it was not specific and not targeted.

My motion seeks to have the government introduce a bill that would have specific provisions in the criminal code which the police could use to charge people who engaged in activities such as hacking or exporting computer viruses.

I hope I receive all party support for this motion. I am proposing that provisions be put in the criminal code. I have not delved into what specific crimes should be delineated or added to the code nor have I made any reference to what the penalties ought to be.

If the bill came before the House of Commons, it would receive second reading, go to committee and would come back to this place for report stage. There would be many opportunities for us to debate the specific charges and what the penalties associated with them would be. This is the appropriate place for that.

I would like to offer my opinion. The penalties associated with criminal acts of computer hacking and exporting of viruses ought to be quite severe. I see these as wilful acts of malice and an attack on personal property. I see these acts as no different from those of an arsonist or somebody who breaks into a home and robs it. The penalties associated with these types of activities ought to be in that type of category which would act as a deterrent to the crimes themselves. We currently do not have appropriate provisions in the criminal code for the police to deal with individuals who are engaging in these activities nor do we have appropriate deterrents.

I would like to state for the record that my constituency office in Saskatoon had a problem with a hacker. My staff had to establish what is called a firewall. I do not know the technical aspects of that, but it is a situation whereby a computer system is set up so nobody can hack into it.

The Anna Kournikova virus which hit earlier this year infected many members' computers. My staff in Ottawa informed me that my computer received 130 of the Anna Kournikova viruses. We should take whatever reasonable measures we can to prevent that type of thing from happening. I also have some resolutions of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police on such things as Internet luring and the exploitation of children, criminal activity involving Internet and sexual activities with young people and other regulations and enforcement provisions of Internet matters. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has recognized that there is a need to be filled.

 

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While my motion is specific and restricted only to computer hackers and virus exporters, there are obviously other things that need to be addressed as well. However I believe it has a basis of common sense and practicality. I hope it will receive the support of all members of the House.

I also want to take this opportunity to say that I am fortunate that this motion was drawn. For the viewers watching who do not know how it works in this place, private members of parliament do not have the privilege of proposing legislation to the House, except through the private members' lottery system. While we can table bills or motions in the House of Commons, they simply sit there in a state of suspension for an indefinite period of time. Periodically a lottery is held in which members' names are drawn. If we are fortunate enough to have a motion or a bill drawn, we then appear before a committee and a select few of those bills are actually deemed votable.

While I am fortunate enough to have had that happen to this motion, a member should not have to rely on good luck or fortune to have a proposal such as this come before the House of Commons. We should look at reforming the system of private members' business.

As a private member, if I had an initiative, a suggested proposal or an amendment to legislation that I wanted to bring forward on behalf of my constituents, this would be an effective means me to do that. It would also be a means to hold the government accountable for the laws and rules. If I am not afforded the ability to do that, it restricts my ability as a member of parliament to act as an effective member of the opposition.

I submit to the House that while it may be politically expedient to try to restrict initiatives from coming forward, we all benefit if opposition members are afforded an ability to be as effective as possible. The ability to bring forward motions or bills is something that should not be restricted.

I think I have effectively covered the premise of my private member's motion which is the need to fill a void in the current Criminal Code of Canada and set out specific offences related to people who willfully disrupt electronic business and commerce in Canada. Their behaviour is very offensive.

I hope I will have the support of all members of the House to have the government bring forward legislation to fill that void and properly address what is a growing problem in Canada.

Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to participate in the debate on private member's Motion No. 80 which states:

    That, in the opinion of this House, the government should immediately amend the Criminal Code to create a separate category of offences and punishments for computer hackers and persons who willfully or maliciously export computer viruses, both of whose activities disrupt the normal conduct of electronic business in Canada.

I would like to begin my remarks in support of this common sense initiative by congratulating my colleague, the hon. member for Saskatoon—Humboldt, for bringing this matter to the floor of the House for consideration. My colleague introduced the motion in the last parliament as well but the Liberals ignored it.

 

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My colleague's motion is forward thinking and responds to the needs of consumers and businesses who are very concerned about the shenanigans caused by computer hackers and those who enjoy sending out e-mails that crash computers.

Under the Criminal Code of Canada, law enforcement agencies and the courts are not properly equipped to lay criminal charges nor prosecute matters that involve Internet hacking. Creating a separate category would facilitate the prosecution of such crimes in a consistent manner and would act as a deterrent for those who intend to hack computers with malintent.

I will describe the seriousness and the losses that can be caused by such hacking. Recent events show how much money can be lost because of hacking or computer viruses. Not long ago egghead.com was attacked and three million credit card numbers were stolen.

Last February, a 16 year old boy from Quebec, known as mafia boy, was charged with conducting a denial of service attack on the world's leading Internet sites, like amazon.com, e-bay, CNN, yahoo and e*trade. The high tech crime spree prompted an FBI investigation. The mafia boy is facing a maximum of two years in custody. These attacks were estimated to have cost the firms $1.2 billion U.S. based on lost revenue, loss in market capitalization and dollars spent upgrading security systems.

In the first quarter of 2000, the FBI reported that 800,000 credit card numbers were stolen over the Internet in three incidents. In May 2000, the “I love you” virus wreaked havoc worldwide and caused an estimated $10 billion in losses.

In December 2000, the University of Washington Hospital had a website security issue, making all its confidential patient information available on the web for three days.

Those are some of the examples that come to light regarding Internet hacking.

International airports, banks, governments, defence departments, science labs and power companies are all vulnerable to computer hackers and viruses. Organized crime is a serious threat in this century. What would happen if a hacker managed to trigger missiles? Because they are computer based, someone could hack into the computer, fool around and trigger a missile. This kind of threat must be taken seriously, not only in Canada but internationally.

Internet use has increased markedly in the past five years. Many homes are logged on to the Internet. Young people are at the cutting edge of our computer oriented society. We must impress on our younger generations the serious nature of tampering or playing with this technology.

I will now talk about liability, responsibility and lack of protection in this case. Security flaws sometimes may not be detectable. When a technology is created sometimes the security flaws cannot be detected because they may be in a particular area or be service oriented. If unethical people find the flaw, they could exploit it for personal or criminal gains.

The software companies are not liable for security flaws in their products since they have liability clauses in their agreements. Consumers are not protected by industry standards or government regulations. There is no guarantee of security being offered for Internet use.

These kinds of crimes affect our livelihood, our lives and invade our privacy. They threaten the e-commerce worldwide.

 

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The Canadian centre for information technology security was founded by the University of British Columbia as well as the justice institute of B.C. to lead the way in information security. It is an effort in the right direction but such efforts need the support of government and law enforcement agencies. There needs to be a law with teeth in this regard.

The problem is serious as peace is threatened. International co-operation is imperative. There may be a disruption in our international security if the issue is not handled properly.

There has been no Liberal action on the issue. The weak Liberal government that lacks vision is not doing anything to address the situation. It is a serious matter. Rather than making the motion votable, the Liberals have ignored it. I do not know whether they will even speak to the motion.

The Liberals should have taken their cue from my colleague and stolen his motion so that Canadians could be protected from hackers. There should be a bill coming from the government, but the weak Liberal government that lacks vision has done nothing on the issue so far. Leadership is needed on the issue and it is not coming from the Liberal government. That is why my colleague has introduced the forward thinking motion we are debating today.

Prevention is always better than cure. Preventive measures such as criminal sanctions need to be adopted. There should be a specific reference in the criminal code for offences related to Internet sabotage or hacking. We are living in a computer age and it is necessary to have laws in statutes that reflect that. The debate should wake up members opposite. I urge all members of the House to support Motion No. 80.

It is a common sense motion. Motion No. 80 requests that the criminal code be changed to include a section on offences that would allow police to lay charges against any person or persons who deliberately export a computer virus or engage in any activity designed to disrupt e-commerce and business in Canada.

All members are asked to support the motion so that we can take the right action at the right time and prevent mishappenings in the future.

Mr. John Herron (Fundy—Royal, PC): Mr. Speaker, I will participate in the debate on behalf of our justice critic, the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, and present our party's position on the motion. We see it as a justice issue. The motion reads:

    That, in the opinion of this House, the government should immediately amend the Criminal Code to create a separate category of offences and punishments for computer hackers and persons who wilfully or maliciously export computer viruses, both of whose activities disrupt the normal conduct of electronic business in Canada.

In recent years we have heard of the love bug virus and the Anna Kournikova virus. The latter was sent to the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough and to me from a former high school chum, Mike Wells. We make it a point to address issues of this nature to rid us of the capacity for hackers like Mike Wells to contaminate personal computers.

In today's computer age some have immortalized people like mafia boy in the same manner in which the public immortalized Al Capone in the 1930s. These computer hackers have not killed anyone, but like Capone these immortalized computer hackers are nothing more than common criminals.

 

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The current criminal code is adequate to deal with computer hackers. It covers mischief in relation to data in subsections 430(1.1) and 430(5). A hacker is liable to imprisonment not exceeding 10 years or punishable on summary conviction. It also includes references to the unauthorized use of a computer where a hacker is liable to imprisonment not exceeding 10 years or punishable on summary conviction.

Given the fact that the world is becoming increasingly wired, the antics of computer hackers and the creation of viruses have become a serious threat to some of the most powerful companies in the world. It has been a real threat to businesses and governments around the world.

Families and individuals who store valuable personal information, priceless family photos, et cetera, on their hard drives can have these personal records taken from them, lost for perpetuity, through the commission of a thoughtless and callous crime committed by a computer hacker.

The problem is that society has not treated the problem seriously. Many people still consider such actions to be a practical joke. We take it cavalierly and as such we have not created any deterrent.

Many hackers are teenagers, as in the case of mafia boy, who think it is a prank. The creation of a separate offence would send the message to society that computer hacking is irresponsible and causes serious harm. Those who cause such problems should be held properly accountable.

On behalf of the learned member, our justice critic and the House leader for the Progressive Conservative Party, the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, it is my pleasure to enter these remarks into debate this afternoon.

Mr. Rahim Jaffer (Edmonton—Strathcona, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand in this place on a Friday afternoon to speak to the motion. There is always such excitement in this place on Friday afternoons that it is a real pleasure to be able to share that with all my colleagues.

I congratulate the hon. member for Saskatoon—Humboldt who in his wisdom saw the increase in the amount of Internet trade that takes place in Canada and around in the world. In trying to facilitate that sort of trade and growth he has introduced a private member's motion which would require the government to amend the criminal code to create a separate category of offences and punishment for persons found guilty of wilfully disrupting the conduct of electronic business.

The motive of the motion is definitely in good standing. There needs to be some concern when it comes to security and protection of information, protection of privacy and protection of very important documents as they travel across the Internet, particularly as Internet trade continues to increase. Yet as my colleague said earlier, the criminal code, law enforcement agencies and the courts are not properly equipped to lay criminal charges and prosecute matters that involve the Internet. Creating a separate category would facilitate the prosecution of such crimes in a consistent manner.

It gives us the chance to talk about the issue and at least evaluate it to see what can be done to improve the measures of security around Internet trade.

Most of my colleagues would remember from the last parliament a landmark bill that was passed. Bill C-6, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, dealt with electronic commerce and specifically private protection of information. I was fortunate enough to work on that bill because I was a member of the industry committee.

 

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There was a lot of good work in that bill which laid a foundation, with help from all parties in the House to move it forward. However, the issue that still needs to be addressed is the one my hon. colleague from Saskatoon—Humboldt brings up today. That is the issue of security and the measures that are needed in order to be able to lay fraud charges against people who are abusing the Internet or abusing e-commerce or doing anything else that may arise from wilful wrongdoings.

Bill C-6 initially created a legal and regulatory framework for electronic commerce by introducing measures to protect personal information in the private sector, creating an electronic alternative for doing business with the federal government, and clarifying how the courts assess the reliability of electronic records used as evidence.

The framework of the bill obviously was suited to putting a mandate on the future growth of electronic commerce in the country. However, again the area that I think was a bit weak, which we talked about—and I believe the government said it planned to work on that area—was the area of security.

What was supposed to be developed in that bill, which I think also touches on this private member's motion, was the idea of improving the security of electronic signatures through the use of encryption. That was going to be part of the bill. I know there is still an effort going on to develop that, but ultimately we would like to see it brought in sooner than later.

The private member's motion today at least addresses that to some extent. It opens up that debate, not only to look at the criminal aspects of what can be done to make sure we try to deter illegal activity within Internet commerce, but as well to look at ways within the framework of the legislation the House has already produced to increase security through forms of encryption or other forms of security currently on the Internet, perhaps without even looking at going down through the criminal side, as my colleague suggested. That at least gives us the opportunity to be able to debate it.

Bill C-6 also went beyond the scope of electronic commerce in that it created a legal and regulatory framework to be applied to the commercial use of sensitive and private information in all areas of business. During that debate there was much concern from people in health care, areas of commerce, small businesses and obviously consumers. Consumers are one of the most important aspects of Internet commerce. They want to make sure their information is protected if they are doing transactions over this new medium, the Internet. Their information, whether it be financial records, Visa numbers or whatever, is being submitted and can be accessed almost anywhere, especially, as my colleague mentioned, by hackers or by others trying to do wrong on the Internet.

There is no doubt about it. This is a concern to many Canadians and we need to address what we can do to deter criminal activity on this new medium, which increasingly the majority of Canadians will be using. We need to address how we can do it.

There is one thing I encourage my hon. colleague to consider, especially as we continue to deliberate on his motion. Hopefully the motion will continue on its way and maybe even get to committee so we can make amendments to it. We should look at ways to continue to work on the area of security through encryption. That is something that is within the mandate of the government and the House. We can look at ways to improve that legislation, as we talked about prior to it passing in the House and receiving royal assent earlier this year. Also, we can look at ways to see how that can be co-operatively strengthened on the criminal code aspects.

Based on my hon. colleague's comments when he made reference to the RCMP and a few other police organizations, there is no doubt that they are feeling left out in the cold in regard to doing their part in strengthening the security around Internet transactions. They need to be able to prosecute and lay criminal charges against people who disrupt e-commerce business in Canada.

There is obviously a reason to debate this. There is a reason to strengthen what we have done already in the House. Hopefully we will keep strengthening the ability of Canadian consumers to use the e-commerce medium and to be able to trust it. We need to work in a voluntary and co-operative way with industry, because there are a lot of great innovations happening out there that do increase security on the Internet. I believe there are many things we can do.

 

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I will take a moment to once again congratulate the member for Saskatoon—Humboldt, who I think brings a very important motion to the House to at least begin the debate on how we can continue to improve the medium of electronic commerce in the country.

Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I add my chorus of congratulations to those for my colleague from Saskatoon—Humboldt for his foresight in bringing the motion to the floor of the House. We know the issue has been raised before. It has been dealt with by the banks, by the police and by a wide variety of individuals across the country, including the Minister of Justice, who has shown great interest in it. I can only ask her at the outset of my comments to please work with the member to address the issue.

As has been articulated, the Internet has exploded into our lives. It truly has been an explosion. It is interesting to note that it took 25 years for cable television to reach 10 million people and it has taken only 5 years for the Internet to reach 10 million people.

With those growing numbers in terms of users, we have seen an explosion in criminal opportunities. We have heard about the opportunities for money laundering and computer hacking, which not only compromise economies and businesses but can also have a profound impact on personal lives with respect to any health care data that is shared. It can also have a devastating effect on security issues.

We have seen some very frightening examples of individuals in other countries hacking into security systems. These security systems control and involve missiles and they control other defence capabilities that can obviously have a profound impact on the country or countries and, indeed, on international security at large.

Therefore we need to have some kind of rules based mechanism and some laws with which we can identify problems with respect to security within our Internet e-commerce, problems such as we have today, and with which we can also develop tools to go after the people who have shown a wilful disdain for the system and for individuals.

We know that computer networks have an increasing importance in our lives. We need to develop some rules to deal with this because of the profound impact that people hacking into the computers can have. My colleagues have actually articulated that already.

I draw attention to the need to involve various partners. I know the justice minister and my colleague are interested in this. There is a need to involve police officers, banks and government and bring them together to develop a rules based system which will allow us to go after the money launderers, the people who are using credit cards illegally and the people who are shunting large sums of money from their criminal actions into other avenues that are legal. I think it is the biggest challenge with respect to organized crime.

Some people see Hell's Angels individuals with their leathers and their hogs and think of them as unintelligent, brutal killers who terrorize individuals. Certainly some of them are, but a much larger percentage of them are individuals with $1,500 Armani suits who are highly intelligent business thugs using the law against us and hiding behind the law when it suits them.

One of the best things our country can do is follow on the example of my colleague, follow on the interests of the justice minister and have a round table with representatives of banks, law enforcement officers, government representatives and members to pull together a series of bills that will enable us to go after these people on the basis of their money. We have to find ways of tracking the money. When we track the money, we have a way of dealing with the most vulnerable aspect of organized criminals.

Of course it is indeed a balance. We have to balance the issue of privacy of individuals and companies with the greater need to enable law enforcement officers to apprehend and prosecute individuals who are using the Internet and using banking systems in this illegal way. Historically the banks have had a voluntary system of transaction reporting, whereby bank managers are asked to report large transactions if they are somewhat suspect.

 

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Even the banks recognize that this is not working very well. They clearly recognize their internal checking mechanisms are not working well. Organized crime knows that and is manipulating the system to its advantage.

As a country we are known as a major conduit of illegal funds, a place where it is very easy to launder funds. We need to change that. I know there is great political will in the House and across the country to do that.

My colleague from Saskatoon—Humboldt and other members of the House are demonstrating an interest, a knowledge and an expertise in this area that would allow Canadians to feel a lot safer and secure with respect to their funds and resources.

It is not only that. There are many other issues with which we have to deal. We spoke about the illegal use of the Internet for pornography, specifically child pornography. This is an issue that is very difficult to deal with, but as a nation we must work with our partners. The Internet is international. We have to influence and suggest solutions in an international sphere. Once we get our house in order, we can actually bring these solutions to the international forum.

I believe in 1998 the Organization of American States signed a declaration of principles. This was a series of recommendations which the representatives were going to take back to their countries. The declaration was intended to bring us together in dealing with Internet crime and money laundering. I have not heard anything in the House to date on that. It would be very encouraging for the minister to bring this to the floor of the House. By working with like-minded colleagues, such as the member for Saskatoon—Humboldt and others, we could pull together a good bill that would address these issues.

This is a new issue. It is an important and pertinent issue to Canadians because of the vast exponential expansion of the Internet and the impact it has on our society. The potential is there for individuals to hack into systems and use the information for their own criminal intent.

I encourage members of the House to support my colleague's motion. It is a good motion that will help Canadians. We look forward to a positive response from the minister on this.

Mr. John Maloney (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Motion No. 80. I would thank the hon. member for Saskatoon—Humboldt for raising an issue of national and international importance.

Issues relating to cyber-crime, such as hacking and malicious virus dissemination, have been widely reported over recent months and has caused government and industry and the public to turn their attention to these matters.

The government shares concerns related to issues surrounding cyber-crime. However, it is important to find out that our concerns are related to the proliferation of such activity and not about our ability to prosecute such offenders as we have laws that address the problem on the books already.

Although the Minister of Justice agrees with the principle of the motion, she cannot support it as presented. The simple answer or reason is that our current criminal code provisions already criminalize this type of behaviour.

A short 10 years ago the Internet was in its commercial infancy. Now the expansion of the Internet and the technologies associated with it in a very real manner have revolutionized our world. The Internet has changed the way we communicate with one another, the way we share information and the way we relate to each other. Computer networks and the Internet in particular have managed to shrink our vast world.

Today's technology allows us to share information with people in other countries and on other continents with minimal expense, but the Internet has also created corresponding opportunities for criminals.

Like everyone else, criminals have embraced high technology to further their goals. We are becoming increasingly aware of the threats posed by individuals using the Internet. Hate literature and child pornography can be disseminated easily. Even traditional crimes such as fraud and forgery can now be committed with the aid of the Internet.

Hackers, which are addressed in the member's motion, can wreak havoc on our economic infrastructure by bringing down critical computer and communications systems. Serious havoc can even result from a prank.

There have been incidents where teenagers either unknowingly or fully understanding the implications of their actions have hacked into sensitive websites. The potential damage from a concerted attack by cyber-terrorists on a country's critical infrastructure could be catastrophic. This is what makes this type of behaviour so troubling.

 

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That being said, Canadians are fully protected from and equipped to deal with the conduct described in the member's motion. In fact laws covering this type of behaviour have been on our books for over 15 years. In 1985 parliament created a separate category of offences for hackers, now section 342.1 of the criminal code. This provision makes it illegal for any person to obtain unauthorized access to a computer service. Parliament at the time recognized that this could be a serious crime, and it is therefore punishable with a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.

With respect to persons knowingly and maliciously disseminating computer viruses, parliament also made amendments in 1985 to the crime of mischief which is also punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years. If actual danger to life is caused the maximum penalty is life imprisonment.

These 1985 amendments make it a crime to wilfully tamper with computer data. This includes conduct such as obstructing or interfering with the lawful use of computer data or a computer system. Additionally the traditional laws of attempt, conspiracy and aiding and abetting will apply to these offences.

It is clear that our current laws already criminalize the malicious dissemination of computer viruses that cause harm, as well as attempts and other forms of complicity in such crimes. Law enforcement has and will continue to use these provisions successfully as in the recent mafia boy case, where the accused was charged with 64 counts of hacking and mischief.

As stated earlier we are appreciative of the member's motion. However the motion may give the impression that Canada is not prepared or equipped legally to deal with such crimes. This is obviously not correct.

In a recent independent international study on the readiness of national laws to deal with cyber-crime, McConnell International found that Canada's cyber-crime laws are among the world's strongest.

Although Canada is a world leader in this regard, the government is committed to ensuring that our laws speak to our changing technological environment, while having due regard for fundamental human rights.

Canada is an active participant in many international fora which are currently studying both the effects and solutions to the issues raised by cyber-crime. These include among others the G-8, the Council of Europe, the United Nations, the Commonwealth Secretariat, OECD and the Organization of American States.

As observers to the Council of Europe, Canadian delegates have been integral in negotiating a draft convention on cyber-crime that will be adopted later this year and that will stand as a benchmark for international instruments in this area. At the G-8 Canada continues its leadership role on cyber-crime issues and is looking forward to its presidency in the year 2002.

In summary, the existing provisions of the criminal code protect Canadians fully against those who would use technologies such as the Internet for the criminal purposes outlined in the motion. The government, in co-operation with its international partners, the law enforcement industry, provinces, territories and civil liberties groups, is working to ensure that the tools and laws it employs are relevant and appropriate in today's fast paced environment.

In response to this international work, Canada is reviewing its laws to ensure that Canada's laws remain up to date and that Canada remains a world leader in this area.

[Translation]

Ms. Carole-Marie Allard (Laval East, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I thank you for this opportunity to take part in the debate on this motion. I will not be supporting the motion because, in my opinion, the criminal code provisions already deal with the offences referred to in the motion.

As a matter of fact, a separate category of offences dealing with hackers was created in 1985 under subsection 342.1 and provisions dealing with mischief under subsection 430.1 specifically cover the transmission of computer viruses.

Even though no amendment is necessary as a result of this motion, I believe it is reasonable to conclude that the Department of Justice reviews its acts on an ongoing basis to ensure they are up to date.

Earlier my opposition colleague asked that we show leadership. I believe the government has shown leadership in the past and again yesterday when it announced new bold measures and the allocation of new money to fight organized crime.

 

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The government was following up on a commitment made in the throne speech. This commitment reflected the work of the House of Commons subcommittee on organized crime and was in response to a number of issues raised by the federal, provincial and territorial justice ministers at their last meeting, in September 2000.

[English]

In September 2000 ministers of justice declared organized crime a national priority to be dealt with at all levels through a multidisciplinary approach.

[Translation]

The ministers have agreed to a national program on organized crime, with a very strict timetable in four areas, including national and regional co-ordination, research and analysis, legislative and regulatory instruments, as well as communications and public education.

The criminal code is a national statute that is very important to keep the peace in this country. Therefore, we must amend it with caution. As my colleague was saying, since 1997 the government has not hesitated to amend it when necessary. In fact, it amended it eight times.

It did not hesitate to amend it to give increased powers to police officers with regard to search and to impose restrictions on release on bail. It did not hesitate to amend it to enact provisions dealing with organized crime, including creating a new offence that makes participation in the illegal activities of a criminal organization an indictable offence punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

That particular piece of legislation broadened the investigative powers of police officers, by making it easier, for example, for law enforcement agencies to use electronic surveillance. It also increased public protection by reversing the burden of proof for a person accused of an organized crime offence who is requesting bail.

This government did not hesitate to amend the criminal code to modernize Canadian anti-drug legislation. It also enacted provisions so that persons found guilty of organized crime activities would not be entitled to any sort of accelerated parole review.

In March 1999, new offences under the criminal code connected to fraudulent telemarketing were created. Canada's power to extradite fugitives and to address the problems relating to borderless crimes such as organized crime, fraudulent telemarketing and Internet fraud, was enhanced.

Last year, the government enacted proceeds of crime legislation, which made it mandatory for financial institutions and middlemen to report suspicious transactions and cross-border currency movements.

The act also created the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada to receive and administer the information provided.

More recently, in February 2001, the Minister of Immigration introduced Bill C-11, the immigration and refugee protection act. This bill proposes fines of up to $1 million, and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for people smuggling and trafficking in human beings.

As can be seen, this government was not afraid to adopt measures to strengthen these laws, to strengthen the ability of existing agencies to fight organized crime. In 1997, 13 joint integrated proceeds of crimes units were created. In 1999, $115 million went to the RCMP to modernize the Canadian Police Information Centre.

In June 1999, the RCMP received $15 million to fight organized crime at the three major international airports: Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

 

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Again in 1999, we invested an additional $78 million in an anti-contraband initiative to provide resources to the RCMP, the federal Department of Justice and the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, to help these organizations target contraband and distribution networks at Canada's border.

In budget 2000, an amount of $584 million was allocated to the RCMP, over a three year period. I should also point out that our government passed the Witness Protection Act in 1996. Under that legislation, a formal national program was set up to help protect people who risk their lives to help the police in its investigations.

Incidentally, the new measures announced yesterday by the Minister of Justice and the Solicitor General of Canada provide that an additional $200 million will be allocated to the fight against organized crime. The amendments to the criminal code are major ones.

We are proposing to create three new types of offences and impose harsh penalties on those who participate, in various degrees, in gang activities; to improve the protection of people in the judicial system against acts of intimidation against them and their families; to streamline the current definition of criminal organization; to expand the powers of those involved in law enforcement activities; to confiscate the proceeds of crime, particularly the profits of criminal organizations; and to seize the goods used to commit a crime.

We are also proposing measures to establish an accountability process to protect law enforcement officers against any criminal liability when they take actions relating to an investigation or to undercover activities in a criminal organization.

Clearly, this government is taking on its responsibilities, and I am convinced that it will continue to do so whenever it identifies a need for new measures to prevent the type of crime mentioned in the official opposition's motion.

These are the reasons why I will not support the opposition's motion.

[English]

Mr. Art Hanger (Calgary Northeast, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I commend the member for Saskatoon—Humboldt for his private member's motion, Motion No. 80, that would require the government to amend the criminal code to create a separate category of offences and punishments for people who wilfully disrupt electronic business in Canada.

Some years back, when I was a member of the Calgary police force and computers were coming into their own, there was already ample evidence that people outside the mainstream of business were hacking into sensitive files and databases. It was well known even then that hackers were plying their trade to enter into security files, sometimes within the police department or the Department of National Defence. It became a form of espionage that was sometimes difficult to protect against.

At that time, of course, like the present, there was not a lot of legislation to help investigators compile data against those who committed such activities. Without sufficient data it is difficult to prosecute hackers to the full extent of the law and thereby deter that kind of activity.

Hackers use all kinds of sophisticated means to be able to do what they do and protect themselves. Police officers trying to solve the problem must first get around all the firewalls that hackers put up.

 

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The legislation would enable police officers to become very effective at these types of investigations. However that takes money. The federal government should recognize that because it is a global crime it can happen almost anywhere. It takes money to compile enough evidence to knock hackers down to their knees and curtail their activities.

I hope the legislation will include resources to effectively deal with the problem. I am sure the member for Saskatoon—Humboldt has thought about that.

The Deputy Speaker: The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

[Translation]

It being 1.30 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, April 23, 2001, at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Orders 28 and 24.

(The House adjourned at 1.32 p.m.)