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37th PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 146

CONTENTS

Wednesday, October 29, 2003




1400
V         The Speaker

1405
V STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
V     National Defence
V         Mr. Bob Wood (Nipissing, Lib.)
V     Health
V         Mr. Ken Epp (Elk Island, Canadian Alliance)
V     Youth in our Society
V         Mr. Yvon Charbonneau (Anjou—Rivière-des-Prairies, Lib.)
V     La Francophonie
V         Mr. Mauril Bélanger (Ottawa—Vanier, Lib.)
V     Holocaust Memorial Day
V         Mr. Irwin Cotler (Mount Royal, Lib.)

1410
V     Agriculture
V         Mrs. Carol Skelton (Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, Canadian Alliance)
V     Charitable Donations
V         Ms. Paddy Torsney (Burlington, Lib.)
V     Ethics
V         Ms. Monique Guay (Laurentides, BQ)
V     CIF Métal ltée
V         Mr. Gérard Binet (Frontenac—Mégantic, Lib.)
V     Liberal Party of Canada
V         Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, Canadian Alliance)

1415
V     Women Entrepreneurs
V         Ms. Sarmite Bulte (Parkdale—High Park, Lib.)
V     Health Care
V         Mr. Norman Doyle (St. John's East, PC)
V     International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
V         Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ)
V     Women Entrepreneurs
V         Mrs. Karen Redman (Kitchener Centre, Lib.)
V     Judy Darcy
V         Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP)

1420
V         The Speaker
V ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
V     Ethics
V         Mr. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance)
V         Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.)
V         Mr. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance)
V         Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)
V         The Speaker
V         Mr. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance)
V         Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)
V         Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC)

1425
V         Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)
V         The Speaker
V         Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC)
V         The Speaker
V         Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)
V     Quebec
V         Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ)
V         The Speaker
V         Mr. Michel Gauthier
V         Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)
V         Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ)

1430
V         Hon. Stéphane Dion (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.)
V         Mr. Yves Rocheleau (Trois-Rivières, BQ)
V         Hon. Stéphane Dion (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.)
V         Mr. Yves Rocheleau (Trois-Rivières, BQ)
V         Hon. Stéphane Dion (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.)
V     Ethics
V         Mr. Rob Merrifield (Yellowhead, Canadian Alliance)
V         Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Industry, Lib.)
V         Mr. Rob Merrifield (Yellowhead, Canadian Alliance)
V         Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Industry, Lib.)
V     Finance
V         Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP)
V         Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.)

1435
V     Government Contracts
V         Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP)
V         Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Lib.)
V     Ethics
V         Mr. Loyola Hearn (St. John's West, PC)
V         Hon. Jane Stewart (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.)
V         Mr. Loyola Hearn (St. John's West, PC)
V         Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)
V         Ms. Caroline St-Hilaire (Longueuil, BQ)
V         Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)
V         The Speaker
V         Ms. Caroline St-Hilaire (Longueuil, BQ)

1440
V         Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)
V     Organized Crime
V         Mr. Kevin Sorenson (Crowfoot, Canadian Alliance)
V         Hon. Wayne Easter (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.)
V         Mr. Kevin Sorenson (Crowfoot, Canadian Alliance)
V         Hon. Wayne Easter (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.)
V     Microbreweries
V         Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, BQ)
V         Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.)
V         Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, BQ)

1445
V         Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.)
V     Justice
V         Mr. James Moore (Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, Canadian Alliance)
V         Hon. Wayne Easter (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.)
V         Mr. James Moore (Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, Canadian Alliance)
V         Hon. Wayne Easter (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.)
V     The Economy
V         Ms. Sarmite Bulte (Parkdale—High Park, Lib.)
V         Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Industry, Lib.)
V     International Aid
V         Mr. Bill Casey (Cumberland—Colchester, PC)
V         Mr. André Harvey (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation, Lib.)
V     Housing
V         Mr. Norman Doyle (St. John's East, PC)

1450
V         Hon. Herb Dhaliwal (Minister of Natural Resources, Lib.)
V     Agriculture
V         Hon. Lorne Nystrom (Regina—Qu'Appelle, NDP)
V         Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.)
V     Taxation
V         Mr. Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, NDP)
V         Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.)
V     Child Pornography
V         Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords—Lloydminster, Canadian Alliance)
V         Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.)
V         Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords—Lloydminster, Canadian Alliance)
V         Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.)

1455
V     Health
V         Mr. Pierre Paquette (Joliette, BQ)
V         Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.)
V         Mr. Pierre Paquette (Joliette, BQ)
V         Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.)
V     National Defence
V         Mr. Rob Anders (Calgary West, Canadian Alliance)
V         Hon. John McCallum (Minister of National Defence, Lib.)
V         Mr. Rob Anders (Calgary West, Canadian Alliance)
V         Hon. John McCallum (Minister of National Defence, Lib.)
V     Employment Insurance
V         Mrs. Karen Redman (Kitchener Centre, Lib.)
V         Hon. Jane Stewart (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.)

1500
V     Foreign Affairs
V         Mr. Stockwell Day (Okanagan—Coquihalla, Canadian Alliance)
V         Hon. Bill Graham (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.)
V         The Speaker
V         Mr. Stockwell Day (Okanagan—Coquihalla, Canadian Alliance)
V         The Speaker
V         Hon. Wayne Easter (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.)
V     Agriculture
V         Mr. Louis Plamondon (Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, BQ)
V         Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.)
V     Government Contracts
V         Hon. Hedy Fry (Vancouver Centre, Lib.)

1505
V         Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Lib.)
V         The Speaker
V     Privilege
V         Comments in Oral Question Period
V         Hon. Robert Thibault (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Lib.)
V         The Speaker
V         Comments in Oral Question Period
V         Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.)
V         Oral Question Period
V         Mr. Yves Rocheleau (Trois-Rivières, BQ)
V         The Speaker
V     Points of Order
V         Bill S-7--Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act--Speaker's Ruling
V         The Speaker

1510

1515
V Routine Proceedings
V     Genome Canada
V         Mr. Serge Marcil (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry, Lib.)
V     Government Response to Petitions
V         Mr. Geoff Regan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)
V     Committees of the House
V         Procedure and House Affairs
V         Mr. Peter Adams (Peterborough, Lib.)
V         Justice and Human Rights
V         Hon. Andy Scott (Fredericton, Lib.)
V         Citizenship and Immigration
V         Mr. Joe Fontana (London North Centre, Lib.)
V         Procedure and House Affairs
V         Mr. Peter Adams (Peterborough, Lib.)
V         The Speaker
V         (Motion agreed to)
V         National Defence and Veterans Affairs
V         Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC)

1520

1525

1530

1535
V         Mr. Geoff Regan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)
V         The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)
V         (Motion agreed to)
V     Petitions
V         Marriage
V         Mr. Eugène Bellemare (Ottawa—Orléans, Lib.)
V         Mr. Pat O'Brien (London—Fanshawe, Lib.)
V         Child Pornography
V         Mr. Joe McGuire (Egmont, Lib.)

1540
V         Beef Industry
V         Mrs. Carol Skelton (Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, Canadian Alliance)
V         Marriage
V         Ms. Beth Phinney (Hamilton Mountain, Lib.)
V         Mr. Geoff Regan (Halifax West, Lib.)
V     Questions on the Order Paper
V         Mr. Geoff Regan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)
V         The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)
V     Motions for Papers
V         Mr. Geoff Regan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)
V         Mr. Geoff Regan
V         Hon. Sheila Copps (Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.)
V         The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)
V GOVERNMENT ORDERS
V     Criminal Code
V         Mr. Vic Toews (Provencher, Canadian Alliance)

1545

1550
V         Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, BQ)

1555
V         Mr. Vic Toews
V         Mr. Yvan Loubier
V         Mr. Vic Toews
V         Mr. Charlie Penson (Peace River, Canadian Alliance)

1600
V         Mr. Vic Toews
V         Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, BQ)

1605

1610

1615

1620
V         The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)
V         Mr. Pierre Paquette (Joliette, BQ)

1625
V         Mr. Yvan Loubier

1630
V         Mr. Inky Mark (Dauphin—Swan River, PC)

1635

1640

1645

1650
V         Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, BQ)
V         Mr. Inky Mark

1655
V         Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NDP)
V         Mr. Inky Mark
V         Mr. Pierre Paquette (Joliette, BQ)

1700
V         Mr. Inky Mark
V         Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NDP)

1705
V         Mr. Pierre Paquette (Joliette, BQ)
V         Mr. Peter Stoffer
V         Mr. Svend Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP)
V         Mr. Peter Stoffer

1710
V         Mr. Pierre Paquette (Joliette, BQ)

1715

1720

1725

1730
V         The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)
V Private Members' Business
V     Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
V         The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

1750
V         Mr. Bernard Bigras
V         Mr. Loyola Hearn
V         The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)
V         (Motion agreed to, bill read a second time and referred to a committee)

1755
V     Criminal Code
V         The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

1805
V     (Division 271)
V         The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)
V     Encroachment upon Quebec Jurisdictions
V         The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

1815
V     (Division 272)
V         The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)
V     Business of the House
V         Privacy Commissioner Nominee
V         Hon. Don Boudria (Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)
V     Marriage Act
V         Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Canadian Alliance)

1820

1825
V         Mr. Ken Epp
V         The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.)

1830

1835
V         Mr. Norman Doyle (St. John's East, PC)

1840

1845
V         Mr. Joe Comartin (Windsor—St. Clair, NDP)

1850

1855
V         Mr. Tom Wappel (Scarborough Southwest, Lib.)

1900

1905
V         Mr. Werner Schmidt (Kelowna, Canadian Alliance)

1910
V         Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Canadian Alliance)

1915
V         The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)
V Adjournment Proceedings
V         Softwood Lumber
V         Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ)

1920
V         Mr. Murray Calder (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade, Lib.)
V         The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)
V         Mr. Paul Crête

1925
V         Mr. Murray Calder
V          Ethics
V         Mr. Yvon Godin (Acadie—Bathurst, NDP)
V         Mr. Serge Marcil (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry, Lib.)

1930
V         Mr. Yvon Godin
V         Mr. Serge Marcil
V         The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)






CANADA

House of Commons Debates


VOLUME 138 
NUMBER 146 
2nd SESSION 
37th PARLIAMENT 

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Speaker: The Honourable Peter Milliken

    The House met at 2 p.m.


Prayers


[S. O. 31]

*   *   *

  +(1400)  

[English]

+

    The Speaker: As is our practice on Wednesday we will now sing O Canada, and we will be led by the hon. member for Dewdney—Alouette.

    [Editor's Note: Members sang the national anthem]


+STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[S. O. 31]

*   *   *

  +-(1405)  

[English]

+National Defence

+-

    Mr. Bob Wood (Nipissing, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as you know, the House of Commons has a very successful program which allows MPs to spend time at a military base in Canada.

    I had the opportunity last week to spend it at 14 Wing in Greenwood, Nova Scotia. I was able to see at first hand what 14 Wing really means to our air force and especially to the east coast of Canada. I must say that I was extremely impressed.

    During the week, I spent a lot of time with 415 Squadron, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Yvan Boilard. As part of its job, it cooperates with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to patrol and identify fishing vessels within the 200 mile limit of our east coast. I flew on two of these patrols in the Davis Strait of Newfoundland-Labrador.

    I also had the opportunity of flying in the newly purchased Cormorant helicopter with 413 Squadron. It is proving to be a great investment by the Canadian government.

    To Wing Commander Colonel Gerry Morey, the members of Swordfish Squadron and all those at CFB Greenwood who made my stay so enjoyable, I wish to express my thanks. It was a wonderful experience and I encourage all my colleagues in the House to take advantage of this worthwhile program.

*   *   *

+-Health

+-

    Mr. Ken Epp (Elk Island, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, once again I have been made aware of a constituent who is having to wait for diagnostic procedures in the hospital while facing very serious medical difficulties. Because of the seriousness of the preliminary diagnosis and the necessity of prompt surgery, the X-rays, CAT scans and MRIs should be available immediately but that is not the case. Instead, there are frustrating delays.

    I think we can do better in Canada. Undoubtedly the costs of providing modern medicare are higher, but the government must decide where its priorities lie.

    In my opinion, fully funding health care should be way ahead of many of the waste money projects this government funds. I have said it before and I will say it again. I would much rather spend $1 billion on diagnostic equipment for our hospitals than on registering people who go duck hunting in the fall.

*   *   *

[Translation]

+-Youth in our Society

+-

    Mr. Yvon Charbonneau (Anjou—Rivière-des-Prairies, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to express my appreciation to the young people and the representatives of the organizations that work with them in my riding, who recently took part in a round table on “Youth in our society”.

    Our young people are looking to us for assistance. Our young people are perceptive. They are aware that demographic trends are not in their favour and that the family is no longer the reliable support it once was. Their motivation and their feeling of belonging to the community cannot be taken for granted.

    They have high expectations of school and work. In particular, they would like community organizations to have more resources with which to complement school activities, especially for the more disadvantaged.

    They would like governments to fund community organizations or public-private partnerships in order to provide enriching experiences and cooperation opportunities for young people, such as discovery courses at home or abroad.

    Finally, they would like governments and municipalities to provide recreational and cultural infrastructures that meet the new needs of the young people in their neighbourhoods.

    Will we be able to live up to their expectations? Can we meet the challenge they have set us?

*   *   *

+-La Francophonie

+-

    Mr. Mauril Bélanger (Ottawa—Vanier, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, last week three Canadians were honoured by France for their dedication to French language and culture.

    On behalf of all francophones in Canada, I congratulate Andrée Lortie, President of la Cité collégiale, the first francophone college in Ontario and Pat Webster, founder of Canadian Parents for French, who each received France's National Order of Merit, and Alain Landry, chair of the boards of Lycée Claudel and the Alliance française, who was named an Officer of the Legion of Honour.

    Unfortunately, I will not have enough time to do full justice to the projects these three individuals have carried out on behalf of and for the benefit of Canada's francophonie. Nevertheless, I can tell the House that Ms. Lortie, Ms. Webster and Mr. Landry are examples for us all: they care about their community's development; they participate in its growth; and they do so in exemplary fashion.

    We offer them our congratulations and our thanks.

*   *   *

[English]

+-Holocaust Memorial Day

+-

    Mr. Irwin Cotler (Mount Royal, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the unanimous adoption by the House of a bill to memorialize the Holocaust is an historic moment in the life of this Parliament and this country.

    It will provide an enduring remembrance and a reminder of horrors too terrible to be believed but not too terrible to have happened, and of the universal meaning of the Holocaust, including: the dangers of a state sanctioned culture of hate; the dangers of silence and indifference in the face of evil; the complicity of the elites, la trahison des clercs; the importance of Holocaust and human rights education as an antidote to racism and hate; the moral legal imperative of bringing war criminals to justice; and the demonstration, through Raoul Wallenberg, that one person can make a difference.

    The member for Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier is to be congratulated for introducing this bill, whose enduring legacy will be “Never Again”, not for Jews, not for anyone, not now, not ever.

*   *   *

  +-(1410)  

+-Agriculture

+-

    Mrs. Carol Skelton (Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, Canada's grain farmers are falling victim to the weather, high input costs, high taxes and low returns, and a government that does not understand the agricultural crisis.

    Many grain farmers are being forced to leave their farms just to provide for their families. One farm family in our area took six semi loads of grain to the market and the return did not pay the land taxes.

    The government must do more to ensure our grain farmers continue to produce the best grain in the world. If we allow our grain industry to fail, we will lose much more than a high quality, reliable, domestic food supply. We will lose our rural communities and we will bring a long and proud agricultural history to an end.

    The agriculture minister must act now to ensure the future viability of our grain industry.

*   *   *

+-Charitable Donations

+-

    Ms. Paddy Torsney (Burlington, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Statistics Canada reports show that Canadians donated more money than ever last year to charity, up 6% from 2001. According to our tax forms, Canadians gave an outstanding $5.8 million to charity in 2002. Canadians are compassionate citizens.

    Canadian charities provide crucial support and important infrastructure in our communities. They help those less fortunate and direct aid to needy families and street youth. They improve the quality of our lives through arts and cultural programs, and they work to bring peace, security, human rights and humanitarian assistance right around the world.

    However they choose to help, clearly Canadians are willing to put their money and time to back their caring attitudes. I applaud the generosity of Canadians and the Canadian public, and encourage each and every one of them to continue to contribute in whatever capacity they can. Together we will make a difference, this year and into the future.

*   *   *

[Translation]

+-Ethics

+-

    Ms. Monique Guay (Laurentides, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the way things are going, a federal subsidy will be required to build confessionals to accommodate the Liberal ministers who need to relieve their guilty consciences about their little trips down the Restigouche River.

    The count has begun: there are five. The fact that five ministers in the current government have been seduced by the wealthy Irving family's gratitude is enough to shake the temple walls. Worse yet: the future prime minister received a generous $100,000 contribution from the Irvings for a leadership race that never was. Well, it is a bit clearer now why the former finance minister reduced the tax burden of the big oil and gas companies while maintaining a gasoline tax that was supposed to be only temporary.

    The future prime minister, who prefers to work behind the scenes rather than act as a responsible member of the government is sending a clear message: he will not hesitate to use his authority to serve his own interests and those of his supporters instead of defending the interests of all Quebeckers and Canadians.

*   *   *

+-CIF Métal ltée

+-

    Mr. Gérard Binet (Frontenac—Mégantic, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, every year during Small Business Week, the local development centre of the Amiante RCM highlights the contribution of small manufacturers to developing the economy and creating jobs in this region of mines and lakes.

    Last Saturday, the award of excellence for entrepreneurship, in recognition of a small business with unparalleled investments or job creation, was awarded to CIF Métal ltée.

    CIF Métal ltée is the only foundry in Quebec using permanent moulds. It uses cutting edge numerically-controlled machining centres and produces technically complex permanent moulds in cast iron, steel and graphite. The company managed to increase its production capacity and simultaneously improve its production, using important technological innovations.

    I want to congratulate the owners of CIF Métal ltée for their work in fostering job creation and their contribution to the economic and social well-being of the beautiful Frontenac-Mégantic region.

*   *   *

[English]

+-Liberal Party of Canada

+-

    Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I pity the new Liberal leader having to craft a new cabinet out of so much dead wood.

    Some of the candidates for the new cabinet went fishing without a licence. They are very knotty pine. Some are twisted like poplar and difficult to work with. Some are a birch to work with. Some are as dense as mahogany. Some have blight. Some are a blight and, in some cases, their bark is worse than their blight. All of them bend with the wind, all of them need sprucing up and all of them should leave.

    In fact, it seems all the Liberal timber these days is rotten to the core. Neither paint nor varnish can fix them up. No amount of stain can cover over the flaws. They cannot be refurbished. In fact, it runs against their grain. Besides, the cabinetmaker himself, the new Liberal leader, is no different. He is just a chip off the old block or, as some might say, a ship off the old dock.

    No, there is no salvaging this cabinet. May they rest in pieces.

*   *   *

  +-(1415)  

+-Women Entrepreneurs

+-

    Ms. Sarmite Bulte (Parkdale—High Park, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today on the occasion of the release of the report of the Prime Minister's task force on women entrepreneurs, which I had the honour to chair.

    The task force was created in November 2002 to advance the contribution of women entrepreneurs to the economy. In the past year we heard from more than 1,000 women entrepreneurs across the country.

    Despite being the fastest growing sector of the Canadian economy, many women entrepreneurs continue to face unique barriers and challenges and they are still not treated seriously by government departments and agencies, or financial institutions.

    I would encourage all members of the House to familiarize themselves with the report. It contains a number of practical and achievable recommendations on how we as a government can give greater focus to women entrepreneurs as an important component of Canada's economic development.

    I would like to thank everyone who took time to share their stories and provide recommendations on how the government can best support women's entrepreneurship, but most of all, I would like to thank our Prime Minister for his vision and support in creating the task force.

*   *   *

+-Health Care

+-

    Mr. Norman Doyle (St. John's East, PC): Mr. Speaker, a survey by the Centre for Research and Information on Canada states that health care is the top priority of Canadians.

    Three-quarters of Canadians want the next Prime Minister to spend more on health care. I say, good luck. For 10 long years Canadians have been begging and, in some cases, even dying because of the lack of sustainable funding for health care.

    The federal government cut billions of health care dollars to the provinces and as yet, has not put all of it back.

    There is both the social and the fiscal deficit at the helm of our country, with one Prime Minister spending and the other one stating cuts to all spending.

    How are the provinces to plan for their future spending in health care when the government offers them no basis for trust and stability?

*   *   *

[Translation]

+-International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

+-

    Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ): Mr. Speaker, on International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, I had the opportunity and privilege of witnessing how the men and women of my riding work hand in hand when faced with difficulties, in organizations such as at the Dégelis collective kitchens, Regroupement des assistés sociaux du Témiscouata, anti-poverty coalitions in Témiscouata and Rivière-du-Loup, and L'Autre Toit women's shelter.

    At each of these organizations, I got a sense of the spirit that should guide governments in their essential task as distributors of wealth.

    I hope this spirit will eventually permeate the action of the federal government, which forgets far too often that it is not there just to pay down its debt, but also to help the less fortunate.

    There are many examples throughout Quebec and I want all Quebeckers to know that they have the Bloc Quebecois' support in their fight to eradicate poverty.

*   *   *

[English]

+-Women Entrepreneurs

+-

    Mrs. Karen Redman (Kitchener Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, after 11 months of consulting over 1,000 women in Canada in 21 cities, today we launched the Prime Minister's task force report on women entrepreneurs.

    Supporting women in business is the right thing to do and it is the economically wise thing to do.

    Today we made recommendations on how the federal government can advance the contribution of women entrepreneurs to the Canadian economy. It is important to do this.

    Women entrepreneurs have grown by 8% since 1996, and that is compared to .6% by men. Since 1981 the number of women entrepreneurs has increased 208%, and the numbers continue to climb. This is in the face of unique challenges that we heard from women right across Canada that they face when they are starting and growing their enterprises.

    It is more important than ever that all hon. members support the Liberal government as we continue to create opportunities for women not only today but for years to come.

*   *   *

+-Judy Darcy

+-

    Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, today we pay tribute to Judy Darcy who retires this week after 12 years as President of the CUPE, Canada's largest union.

    Over a 30 year career, she fought tirelessly for workers' rights and inspired countless workers, especially women, to become union activists.

    In 1991 she was elected CUPE national president; for many years the only woman to lead a major national union in Canada.

    Under her leadership, CUPE grew to 535,000 members. She fought on the front lines for all Canadians to halt the erosion and privatization of our hospitals, schools and water systems.

    Our sister, Judy Darcy, led in advancing greater diversity in the union movement and in CUPE's victory in a same sex pension case five years ago that helped pave the way for the legalization of same sex marriages.

    In 1988 Judy Darcy ran as an NDP candidate against the flawed free trade deal and she was a major force in the NDP renewal process leading up to the 2003 federal convention which elected Jack Layton as the new federal leader on the move.

    Fearless, indefatigable and fun loving, Judy carries--

  +-(1420)  

+-

    The Speaker: Order, please. Oral questions. The hon. Leader of the Opposition.


+-ORAL QUESTION PERIOD

[Oral Questions]

*   *   *

[English]

+-Ethics

+-

    Mr. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, yesterday the environment minister admitted violating the ethics code by accepting a significant gift from the Irvings in the company of former Governor General Roméo LeBlanc. However, after apologizing, he tried to excuse his behaviour by saying yesterday “...any obligation I have is to Mr. LeBlanc, not to the Irvings”.

    Just so we can be clear, if the environment minister has no obligation to the Irvings why is he cutting a $1,500 cheque to the Irvings and not to Roméo LeBlanc?

+-

    Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. Leader of the Opposition started with a totally incorrect statement. He stated that I had violated the code of conduct for ministers.

    That has been shown by the decision of the ethics counsellor to be totally false and that in every respect I complied with the code. I trust the hon. member will now apologize to me and the House.

+-

    Mr. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is the same old story. They say they will correct their behaviour but then they claim they have done absolutely nothing wrong. Why correct their behaviour if they have done nothing wrong? Nothing but contradictions.

    When the government House leader stayed at the home of a wealthy advertising executive he was forced to resign as public works minister. The industry minister, while he was health minister, stayed at the lodge of a wealthy industrialist in the company of a health care lobbyist and he is allowed to keep his job. I ask the Prime Minister, what is the difference?

+-

    Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the minister never resigned. He was minister of public works but I decided I would have a shuffle. He was a very good House leader and he became the House leader.

    They keep playing their games but we have a nation to run. The only thing they think of is to destroy the character of members of Parliament and ministers. It is the only goal they have and that says something about them.

    The members of the House on all sides are very honourable people but they try to paint members of the House as a bunch of crooks, and that reflects on their poor judgment. The people in this House represent their ridings--

+-

    The Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

+-

    Mr. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is kind of sad that after 40 years in public life I have to inform the Prime Minister that part of running the country is having comprehensible ethics standards and an ethics code that is actually employed.

[Translation]

    It is unacceptable that the Minister of Industry stayed at the Irving fishing lodge. It is unacceptable that he vacationed with a health sector lobbyist when he was the Minister of Health. It is unacceptable that the Ministers of Labour, the Environment, Fisheries and Oceans, and Human Resources Development accepted gifts.

    If these examples are acceptable, can the Prime Minister tell me what conflicts of interest are unacceptable?

+-

    Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources Development went with a colleague from the House of Commons, Mr. Zed, who was a member here and who, like her, has a family. They met one evening at a house. This is an example of accepting hospitality, which is perfectly reasonable.

    The opposition has nothing better to talk about. There are problems in this country, yet all the members across the way are doing is trying to destroy reputations and throw mud. As Mr. Pearson once said:

[English]

    “Those who throw mud lose ground”.

+-

    Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister will no doubt recall his great public pronouncement in 1993 when he said:

    It's time to elect politicians that serve the public rather than serve themselves.

    Things sure have changed in 10 years: broken promises on the GST; free trade; helicopters; fast-tracking government jets; the gun registry; the ad scandal; Shawinigate; and, who can forget, the HRDC boondoggle, speaking of which, we now have the HRDC minister adding her name to the list of those who stayed at the Irving lodge.

    When did the Prime Minister stop caring about ethics and accountability in his government?

  +-(1425)  

+-

    Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, that he still has the gall to get up in the House and talk about ethics is beyond comprehension. He is the leader of that little party because one man made a deal with him. Within months he double-crossed him. He now gets up to complain because somebody slept one night in a lodge where they do not serve alcohol, which is why the Minister of Fisheries stayed there only one day.

    This is the big problem of the opposition. It is a compliment because it is a sign that we have a--

+-

    The Speaker: The hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough.

+-

    Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, it is really sad that the Prime Minister would make light of such a serious issue. The fact remains, I will take no lessons from the king of broken promises, a man who would make Maurice Duplessis blush.

    In 2001, while his department was investigating the Irving aviation services jet fuel spill, the Minister of the Environment accepted an invitation to stay at the Irving lodge, repaying the money only when he got caught, taking a gift that clearly places him in a conflict of Interest.

    To give at least the appearance that the Prime Minister still cares somewhat about accountability, somewhat about--

+-

    The Speaker: Could we please have a little order. I am sure the Prime Minister is having trouble hearing the question. I certainly am. The right hon. Prime Minister.

+-

    Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I can comprehend the frustration of a person who will not be the leader of his party for even one year. He is already on death row, and the other one in front of me is the interim leader.

    They just talk about little things because they have no policy to offer to Canadians. They are a completely empty bunch of people who do not care about the real problems of the nation.

*   *   *

[Translation]

+-Quebec

+-

    Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ): Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Quebec National Assembly—

    Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

[English]

+-

    The Speaker: Order, please. If hon. members want to have a general discussion at the far end of the chamber on various topics, I invite them to go into the lobby at the far end and continue there. I will be glad to send them out by naming them, if necessary. However, the hon. member for Roberval has the floor and we all want to hear him.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Michel Gauthier: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Quebec Liberal Party and the Parti Quebecois reached consensus in the Quebec National Assembly on the existence of the Quebec nation. On that occasion, Premier Charest showed no hesitation in stating that the Quebec people were a nation.

    Does the Prime Minister of Canada intend to make a significant gesture toward the Quebec people and follow the example of his Liberal counterpart in Quebec City by acknowledging here in this House, without any shilly-shallying, that the Quebec nation does indeed exist?

+-

    Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, people can always resort to word games. I have a clear recollection of the day I took them at their word. I asked them to vote in favour of the distinct society and they voted against it. Everyone will remember that. It was the embarrassment of the year. They are resorting to word games because they do not really want to talk about the nation's real problems.

+-

    Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's words truly sadden me because when he was elected in 1963 he said, and I am quoting the Prime Minister here: “It is a matter of drawing up the constitution anew, not among ten provinces, but between two nations”.

    If the Prime Minister was capable of being that frank at the beginning of his career, given the fundamental nature of this issue, why is he not capable 40 years later, as he prepares to make his exit from the political stage, of acknowledging what is a fact: the Quebec people constitute a nation?

  +-(1430)  

+-

    Hon. Stéphane Dion (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, just as the 1995 referendum question was a fraud, mixing two questions, independence and partnership, up into one, today we have the Bloc Quebecois engaged in the same tactics. It is confusing the question of nationhood with the question of opting out with financial compensation. This is a dishonest approach. The government of Canada will have no part of it in either instance.

+-

    Mr. Yves Rocheleau (Trois-Rivières, BQ): Mr. Speaker, contrary to what the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs said, the BQ's definition of the nation of Quebec is an inclusive one. Witness the fact that, in this rare instance, Jean Charest and the sovereignists agree that the nation of Quebec is both inclusive and open.

    Could the government not show the same openness toward Quebeckers by recognizing their nation?

+-

    Hon. Stéphane Dion (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if the question was along the lines of the one put to the Premier of Quebec yesterday, as to whether Quebec is a nation within the Canadian nation, we would vote yes right away. Would the hon. member also vote yes?

+-

    Mr. Yves Rocheleau (Trois-Rivières, BQ): Mr. Speaker, instead of the bogus motion on the distinct society, which turned out to be an empty shell, should the federal government not recognize the nation of Quebec by entrenching this recognition in a legally binding framework which would provide Quebec with a real option to opt out with full compensation?

+-

    Hon. Stéphane Dion (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I asked the hon. member a question. Is he prepared to recognize that he is a member of the nation of Quebec and the Canadian nation, and the French-Canadian nation as well?

    I am, as are all Quebeckers on this side of the House, a proud Quebecker, a proud French Canadian and a proud Canadian. Can he say the same?

*   *   *

[English]

+-Ethics

+-

    Mr. Rob Merrifield (Yellowhead, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Industry. His fishing trip at the Irving lodge while he was the minister of health with a registered health lobbyist was a clear conflict of interest. The industry minister just does not get it.

    Did the minister consult the ethics counsellor while he was the minister of health about the fishing trip with that health lobbyist?

+-

    Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Industry, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I recall, last week the suggestion from this member and his colleagues was that I was in a conflict because of the connection with the shipbuilding industry. I understand that now they have decided I am in a conflict because of the health industry. It is neither.

    The fact is I made full disclosure to the ethics counsellor of all the circumstances. He gave me advice which I took and which I respected to the letter. I have satisfied all the requirements for which the ethics counsellor has provided.

+-

    Mr. Rob Merrifield (Yellowhead, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the excuses of that minister are absolutely astonishing. A minister of the crown cannot and should not accept a trip from a lobbyist while that lobbyist is actively lobbying that minister's department. That is exactly what the minister did.

    Could the minister explain how this is not a conflict of interest?

+-

    Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Industry, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is time for those members to get their stories straight. He just said I took a trip from a lobbyist. I thought the allegation was that I took the trip from the Irving family.

    They are desperately trying to make something of nothing. I made full disclosure to the ethics counsellor. I sought his advice. I followed his advice. They are left with nothing.

*   *   *

+-Finance

+-

    Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I might change the subject because we in the NDP have bigger fish to fry. My question is for the Minister of Finance.

    There is $44 billion in outstanding credit card debt in this country to Visa and MasterCard alone. He knows that the spread now between the prime rate and credit card rate is 14 points. It is clear that Canadians are being gouged. If the Liberals are concerned about debt reduction, they should be concerned about this kind of debt reduction.

    Will the Minister of Finance finally do something about this and tie the credit card rate to the prime rate in some way?

+-

    Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have taken extraordinary measures to ensure that consumers have full information about rates, about how they are calculated and can make comparisons among cards.

    The effect of limiting the amount that could be charged on cards is that many Canadians would not be able to access cards at all. I think it would not be in the interests of Canadians, and I would have thought the NDP would agree with this, to leave large portions of the population without any access to credit.

*   *   *

  +-(1435)  

+-Government Contracts

+-

    Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP): Mr. Speaker, Canadians do not need more information, if they are up to their you know what in alligators. They do not want the Liberals counting the alligators. They want them to do something about it.

    I have a question is for the Minister of Public Works and it has to do with the awarding of the census contract to Lockheed Martin.

    I have information from a competitor of Lougheed Martin that it received this contract, not through due process, but sometime after the RFP had been initiated and others had gone through the process. However, Lougheed Martin showed up at the end and received the contract.

    Could the Minister of Public Works undertake to look into this and report back to the House as to why that American corporation received favourable treatment in that way?

+-

    Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the information that the hon. gentleman has just described is certainly at odds with the information I have. He has asked me if I will look into what he has suggested. I certainly will do that, and I will get back to him if there is anything further to report.

*   *   *

+-Ethics

+-

    Mr. Loyola Hearn (St. John's West, PC): Mr. Speaker, licence or no licence, our fishing trip yesterday was successful. Divine revelation struck the HRDC minister last night and she remembered that she too had been at chateau Irving with Paul Zed.

    How can the minister explain her poor memory and how can she explain misleading the House yesterday?

+-

    Hon. Jane Stewart (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's assertion is wrong. The facts are these. In the summer of 1996, seven and a half years ago, I was in Atlantic Canada on political and departmental business. I was in the riding of Fundy—Royal with the then member of Parliament, my colleague in this caucus. In the course of our schedule he suggested my family join his family for an evening at his wife's family cottage. We did that.

    The hon. member can rest assured that the ethics counsellor has reviewed this and has said that there are no concerns.

+-

    Mr. Loyola Hearn (St. John's West, PC): Mr. Speaker, the leader of the government in the Senate said yesterday that one must carefully separate when one does something with a friend from when one does something for so-called other reasons.

    We know now that Paul Zed has invited the Minister of Industry, the Minister of the Environment, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, now the Minister of Human Resources Development to the Irving fishing lodge for vacations.

    Could the Prime Minister tell us what criteria he advises his ministers to use to separate public business from private business, and will he table that criteria today?

+-

    Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, they are all over the place. Last week the big problem was the Minister of Industry, and it was a question with the Irvings. Now it is with Paul Zed.

    I find it absolutely incredible that a member of Parliament, who is no longer a member of Parliament, who has made friends with people in this House, should not talk with his former colleagues. I think it is stretching this thing quite far.

    For a long time in this House there was a sense of dignity and respect for the honesty of the people. Now it is always the presumption of guilt rather than the presumption of innocence.

[Translation]

+-

    Ms. Caroline St-Hilaire (Longueuil, BQ): Mr. Speaker, we are surrounded by scandal because of the ties between certain ministers and the Irving family, which has been so generous. Today it is the Human Resources Development minister's turn to confess.

    What should we think of the future prime minister, who has several creditors who have contributed $100,000 or more to his leadership campaign? Does the Prime Minister realize the handicap his successor will have as he takes up his future duties?

+-

    Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in contrast to the leader of the official opposition, who has only revealed the source of 13% of the money he received for his leadership campaign, the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard and the ministers who have been candidates have publicly reported on every dollar they have received, every three months, and they have revealed the names of all their donors.

    It is public knowledge and I do wonder why they are asking these questions; it is all public knowledge. We have passed a law so that these things cannot be happen again in the future, but it is—

+-

    The Speaker: The hon. member for Longueuil

+-

    Ms. Caroline St-Hilaire (Longueuil, BQ): Mr. Speaker, beyond legality, there is something called morality, a value that this government seems to have forgotten a very long time ago.

    Because, if receiving $1,500 casts doubts on a minister's impartiality, to the extent that he must distance himself from anything having to do with the Irving family, how can we think that contributions of $100,000 and more will not affect the impartiality of the one who benefits, namely the member for LaSalle—Émard?

  +-(1440)  

+-

    Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there were rules that applied to all the political parties in this House.

    When there are conventions, in the case of the Liberal Party, every dollar donated is accounted for publicly. The amounts were made public before the convention, which does not happen in the other parties.

    All the rules were respected. It is clear that with the new legislation, these things will be different in the future, after January 1, 2004, but until now, all the rules have been followed and everything was public knowledge.

*   *   *

[English]

+-Organized Crime

+-

    Mr. Kevin Sorenson (Crowfoot, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, organized crime and the violence that goes with it is increasing across the country, particularly in the cities, but also on reserves.

    An RCMP report claims it has dropped aboriginal gangsters from its list of priorities. A lack of resources has forced the RCMP to pick and choose the organized crime it investigates and we have a smorgasbord to choose from: biker gangs, Asian gangs, Russian mafia, aboriginal gangs.

    When will the RCMP get the resources to fight all organized crime?

+-

    Hon. Wayne Easter (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the resources have been increased substantially in the RCMP since 2001.

    The report that the hon. member opposite talks about is a very good report. It establishes the priorities, looks at the problem, and analyzes the problem in order to make recommendations on what the key priorities should be for the RCMP and its work so it can make the best use of the resources that are available, both human and financial.

    The RCMP and the government are in fact doing that.

+-

    Mr. Kevin Sorenson (Crowfoot, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, that report says that when it comes to organized crime, the Mounties do not always get their man.

    Why? Because two years ago the commissioner admitted that criminal investigations were being put on the back burner as officers were redeployed in the wake of September 11. Canadians are suffering the consequences of organized crime in their everyday lives.

    When will the Solicitor General provide the resources so that the Mounties can get their man?

+-

    Hon. Wayne Easter (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is not unusual for the hon. member opposite to take what a report says out of context. That is entirely what he is doing in this case.

    The fact of the matter is that this report balances the priorities for the RCMP, both in terms of public safety and national security.

    As I have indicated earlier, we have increased the funding substantially out of the 2001 budget and added to it in the last budget. That is doing our job as we should.

*   *   *

[Translation]

+-Microbreweries

+-

    Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, BQ): On February 18, the current Minister of Finance, who then aspired to being leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, tabled his budget. Although the Standing Committee on Finance unanimously called for the excise tax to be reduced for microbreweries, he ignored that recommendation.

    Can the Minister of Finance tell the House if the several thousand dollar contribution to his leadership campaign from Labatt and the Brewers Association of Canada, which are at war with the microbreweries, influenced his decision not to reduce the excise tax for microbreweries?

+-

    Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, first, we agreed to approximately two-thirds of the recommendations by the Standing Committee on Finance for last year.

    Second, at the time I made decisions about the February 18 budget, I was not a leadership candidate. I did not receive one red cent in contributions from the breweries.

+-

    Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, BQ): Mr. Speaker, a few days after the minister tabled his most recent budget on March 8, the Globe and Mail published an article, according to which the Minister of Finance had spent several days in the Caribbean with Sandy Morrison, a Brewers Association of Canada board member, on a luxury sailboat chartered by that association.

    Was this trip a reward from Mr. Morrison to the Minister of Finance for his refusal, contrary to all expectations, to reduce the excise tax for microbreweries?

  +-(1445)  

+-

    Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Mr. Morrison is a friend. Unfortunately for the hon. member, who may enjoy fishing expeditions, I paid my own way.

    During our trip, Mr. Morrison did not discuss the situation with the breweries with me. Prior to that time, he had made representations in support of the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Finance.

*   *   *

[English]

+-Justice

+-

    Mr. James Moore (Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, in 1996 Darcy Bertrand was convicted of three murders. He murdered his wife, and his wife's mother and father. For each murder he was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to three life terms in jail.

    Six days ago, after only serving seven years of three life sentences, Darcy Bertrand was transferred to a minimum security prison which is 15 minutes away from surviving family members.

    How can the government defend this gross injustice and coddling of this convicted murderer?

+-

    Hon. Wayne Easter (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is no coddling of this convicted murderer.

    Within Correctional Service Canada there is an assessment done on offenders. Yes, sometimes they are moved from maximum to minimum facilities. It is done on the basis of the risk. The offender in question is serving his time as he should be.

+-

    Mr. James Moore (Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the injustice gets worse.

    Last year the government tried to do the same thing. It transferred Darcy Bertrand from a minimum security prison to Ferndale Institution, a minimum security centre with a four foot fence. The family cried foul and the government sent him back.

    Then, this week the government moved Darcy Bertrand to another minimum security centre with no fence at all, 15 minutes away from the home of surviving family members.

    On behalf of the families, will the government reverse the decision, send him to a real prison and show the families of this convicted murderer the justice that they deserve?

+-

    Hon. Wayne Easter (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to outline that any Correctional Service Canada institutions listed in this country are in fact real prisons. There is a loss of liberty and people who are incarcerated in those institutions pay the penalty for their crimes. That is the bottom line.

    Through Correctional Service Canada, people pay the penalties for their crimes and that is what is happening.

*   *   *

[Translation]

+-The Economy

+-

    Ms. Sarmite Bulte (Parkdale—High Park, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there are more than 821,000 women entrepreneurs in Canada. They contribute in excess of $18 billion to the economy every year.

[English]

    Their businesses have increased more than 200% over the last 10 years. What can Industry Canada do to give greater focus to this great and important component of our economy?

+-

    Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Industry, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, first of all, on behalf of all members of the House, I wish to express admiration and gratitude to the member for Parkdale--High Park for her extraordinary work as chair of the Prime Minister's task force on women entrepreneurs. She did a great job.

    She and her fellow members of that task force presented a report today which contains important recommendations.

    Today, the Prime Minister is making an announcement that, through Industry Canada, we are going to broaden and make available across the country the kind of services that women entrepreneurs need to ensure that this dynamic and essential part of our growing economy has what it needs for the success we know women will enjoy.

*   *   *

+-International Aid

+-

    Mr. Bill Casey (Cumberland—Colchester, PC): Mr. Speaker, last Friday in Madrid, Spain, the Minister for International Trade made an absolute commitment to provide $300 million to the people of Iraq for reconstruction. Already this week, there are murmurings that the government is going to renege on this offer.

    Will the government confirm today that it will honour this commitment made only days ago to help the people of Iraq?

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. André Harvey (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government has indeed committed $300 million for the reconstruction of Iraq and for humanitarian aid. Of that amount, $200 million will go directly to construction, in collaboration of course with all the other donor countries, with a view to ensuring the people of Iraq of a brighter future.

*   *   *

[English]

+-Housing

+-

    Mr. Norman Doyle (St. John's East, PC): Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources.

    In August of this year, the Prime Minister announced a program called EnerGuide, a federal grant program aimed at making existing houses more energy efficient.

    In order to qualify for a grant, however, a homeowner must have an evaluation done of his home by an authorized agent. There were no authorized agents in place in Newfoundland and Labrador in August. There are none now.

    When will the minister put an authorized agent in place so that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can avail of that program? There is no point in having a program if we cannot apply for it.

  +-(1450)  

+-

    Hon. Herb Dhaliwal (Minister of Natural Resources, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for raising this issue.

    EnerGuide is a $70 million program that will help homeowners insulate their homes to become more energy efficient. We are using the private sector to ensure that we have people who can evaluate the homes. Unfortunately, it has been slow because the private sector was slow to train for it and because we only announced the program very recently.

    However, I can assure the hon. member that we are training more and more people to ensure that they can do the evaluation so Canadians can play an important role in climate change and have more energy efficient homes. We will be there to--

    The Speaker: The hon. member for Regina--Qu'Appelle.

*   *   *

+-Agriculture

+-

    Hon. Lorne Nystrom (Regina—Qu'Appelle, NDP): Mr. Speaker, there are reports from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency that it has found some major deficiencies in sanitation in some 61 federally regulated slaughterhouses in Canada. This could possibly compromise some of the safety of our meat in the country.

    My question is, could the minister explain to Canadians why the government allowed this to happen?

+-

    Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have government inspectors in all federally inspected plants across this country and their job is to find and to seek out these situations.

    The hon. member would see that, for example, in one of the situations there was one carcass that had some contamination. That carcass was pulled out of the food chain until the corrections were made. That is the job of the inspectors. That is why our system is respected and that is why our system works.

*   *   *

+-Taxation

+-

    Mr. Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, NDP): Mr. Speaker, last November the courts penalized Canada Steamship Lines with the largest fine ever issued for ship source pollution, but the deterrence value of the fine is undermined because our income tax laws allow CSL to write off the penalty as a business expense.

    I can see why the former finance minister was reluctant to change this outrageous tax loophole, but will the current finance minister please rise in his place today and tell us that he will change the income tax law so that no one in this country will ever be able to get a tax deduction for breaking the law?

+-

    Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would recommend that the member not give tax advice to too many clients. A person cannot get a tax deduction for breaking the law.

    In certain cases the courts have determined that some fines may be deductible, but that is not the case for any situation where a fine is imposed for breaking the law. It is something that the courts will determine on a case by case basis.

*   *   *

+-Child Pornography

+-

    Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords—Lloydminster, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, Canadians continue to speak loud and clear. They want all and any of these so called liberal defences for child pornography eliminated.

    Will the justice minister commit today to amending Bill C-20 to reflect the will of the people?

+-

    Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as we said yesterday and I have said many times, there is no place in Canada for those involved in such an offence, nor anywhere else in the world.

    The hon. member knows very well that the legislation we have in place is one of the best in the world. Bill C-20 is before the justice committee at the present time. There are good measures to answer the Sharpe decision in order to increase the protection of our children.

    I count on the support of the opposition to ensure that we pass that bill as soon as possible.

+-

    Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords—Lloydminster, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the minister must have inhaled because he is sure blowing smoke.

    The Canadian Police Association, the Toronto Police Service, Project Guardian, the Office for Victims of Crime, the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime and Beyond Borders have all said that Bill C-20 will be ineffective in stamping out child pornography.

    Why will the minister not commit to making the amendments these groups are putting forward and make the commitment today that he will withdraw all of these goofy defences?

+-

    Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, talking about third party endorsement, let us have a look at what David Griffin of the Canadian Professional Police Association said before the justice committee. He said:

    With respect to the definition and defences for child pornography, we are pleased that the Minister of Justice is taking steps to tighten the definitions of child pornography to address recent court challenges, thereby broadening the application of the law and limiting available defences.

*   *   *

  +-(1455)  

[Translation]

+-Health

+-

    Mr. Pierre Paquette (Joliette, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance is announcing in advance that he is technically in a deficit position. Since his forecasting skills are totally non-existent, I will take that with a grain of salt.

    Is the Minister of Finance not engaged in creating a ready-made artificial deficit, in order to get out of having to pay the $2 billion to the provinces for health services?

+-

    Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I will be providing an explanation of all the figures next week.

    I would like to again stress the fact that the forecasts in question do not come from Finance. They come from independent economists in the private sector, and are prepared by computers belonging to the private sector. They are not, therefore, our forecasts.

+-

    Mr. Pierre Paquette (Joliette, BQ): Mr. Speaker, Quebec and all the provinces are suffering from inadequate health care because of the indiscriminate cuts to the federal budget.

    When all is said and done, does the Minister of Finance not find it odious, ridiculous, indecent even, that health care funding should be at the mercy of his budgetary sleight of hand?

+-

    Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the fact that we have signed an agreement with the provinces and added $35 billion to health care is very important. I would, however, very much like to see the health council promised by the provinces materialize as well.

*   *   *

[English]

+-National Defence

+-

    Mr. Rob Anders (Calgary West, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence just announced the downgrading of Leopard tanks with the purchase of 66 uncosted Strykers.

    He is doing this to spite his own defence department's scientific report which found that using Strykers over tanks in a battlefield situation could result in over three times the casualties. The report concluded that replacing our tanks with a light vehicle like the Stryker is morally wrong.

    Why has the minister chosen a vehicle which puts more Canadian lives at risk?

+-

    Hon. John McCallum (Minister of National Defence, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this is a great day for the army because we are moving forward with state of the art transformational equipment at record speed.

    I do not take advice from dated reports, retired military and the opposition; I take it from the current military.

    Lieutenant-General Hillier said earlier today that the strong qualities of a Leopard tank parked in Valcartier were useless to soldiers in Kabul. When asked about the loss of the tanks, he went on to say that he was losing a millstone around his neck.

+-

    Mr. Rob Anders (Calgary West, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, let him tell that to the Iltis drivers.

    Canada already has the smallest tank force in NATO with only 114 tanks. Now the Liberals want to reduce this to merely 66 wheeled vehicles. Not only are we getting a vehicle that is less capable, we are only getting half as many. Under the minister's transformation plan, our army is losing quality and it is losing quantity. This will cost more Canadian lives.

    Why is the minister reducing the number of vehicles?

+-

    Hon. John McCallum (Minister of National Defence, Lib.): That is absolute nonsense, Mr. Speaker. When Lieutenant-General Hillier spoke to the regimental sergeant major from Kabul upon his return to Canada, he quoted the soldiers' reactions in Kabul to this vehicle and they thought it was fantastic.

    I take my advice from the current soldiers and from the current military leadership, not from the retired military leadership and certainly not from the opposition.

*   *   *

+-Employment Insurance

+-

    Mrs. Karen Redman (Kitchener Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, throughout Canada women entrepreneurs advised the task force that one of the most important contributions this task force could make was to take back to Parliament a recommendation to remove the exclusion of women entrepreneurs from EI legislation, particularly maternity leave.

    Could the Minister of Human Resources Development tell us what the government can and will do to address these important concerns?

+-

    Hon. Jane Stewart (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's task force on women entrepreneurs has emphasized yet again how important the government's decision to double parental benefits has been to Canadian families. It clarifies indeed that women entrepreneurs, those who are self-employed do not pay premiums and therefore do not have access.

    I welcome the recommendation of the committee and the information it has provided that suggests that women entrepreneurs are prepared to pay premiums. We will do what we can to provide this important benefit to women entrepreneurs.

*   *   *

  +-(1500)  

+-Foreign Affairs

+-

    Mr. Stockwell Day (Okanagan—Coquihalla, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, last week in our foreign affairs meetings in Iran with reformist MPs and human rights activists, we were told it helps them inside the regime when we speak up loud and clear outside the regime on human rights issues like the Kazemi case. We believe it was that approach which finally got Canada a guarantee of three seats at the upcoming trial.

    Yesterday the Iranian reformist MPs accused the discredited prosecutor in the Kazemi case of a cover-up. What specific steps has the minister taken to communicate loud and clear to the Iranian government that this corrupt prosecutor should be removed from the Kazemi trial?

+-

    Hon. Bill Graham (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I thank the member from the opposition for his question. I thank him very much for going to Iran. I thank him for following our ambassador to Iran, who I put there to enable parliamentarians to enter into a dialogue with the Iranian government. I have long said we have to work with the reformist members in the Iranian government. I said that to the member and I said it to the House.

    The member has constantly said he is responsible for what occurred in Iran in terms of access to the trial, but I remind the hon. member that decision was made days before he arrived there. It was made when we sent our ambassador back and the government engaged in a real conversation--

+-

    The Speaker: The hon. member for Okanagan—Coquihalla.

+-

    Mr. Stockwell Day (Okanagan—Coquihalla, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I did not want him to get upset. I am asking him some honest questions about some joint efforts that got some results.

    In another meeting last week, this time in Saudi Arabia, we were asked about the possibility of sharing intelligence in the war on terrorism. At the same time we all heard about the intelligence concerns raised about the terrorist threat of surface to air missiles right here at home in Canada. We need effective intelligence capabilities on threats gathering abroad so that we can stop them before they land on our doorstep.

    I do not want him to get upset. I am just asking him an honest question. In the interest of protecting Canadians, has the Minister of Foreign Affairs taken any steps to support our request for the creation of a Canadian--

+-

    The Speaker: The hon. Solicitor General.

+-

    Hon. Wayne Easter (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member had been listening to some of the answers to questions earlier, one of the complaints from one of the other opposition parties was that CSIS was in fact doing its job as the agency protecting national security in terms of having facilities abroad and having people overseas. As the director of CSIS already indicated, they are doing some of what the hon. member wants them to do and they are doing a very good job at it.

*   *   *

[Translation]

+-Agriculture

+-

    Mr. Louis Plamondon (Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Quebec agriculture minister stated this morning that $20 million was available from Ottawa for producers who own cull cattle. There are still technical details that need to be worked out.

    Does the Minister of Agriculture realize that this is an urgent problem, that time is of the essence and that he must commit this funding immediately? This is urgent, Mr. Minister.

[English]

+-

    Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have been working with the provinces, with all of the ministers and with the cattle industry, both the beef and the dairy industries, across the country for the last number of days in order to put together a program to help in this situation of older animals. This shows very clearly the urgency the government recognizes in the situation with the older animals.

    When that program is completed, it will apply to Quebec dairy farmers and beef cattle farmers in the very same way it will apply to dairy farmers and beef farmers in every other province in Canada.

*   *   *

+-Government Contracts

+-

    Hon. Hedy Fry (Vancouver Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Department of Public Works purchases $11 billion of goods and services annually. The task force on women entrepreneurs report that women owned small businesses have been disproportionately unsuccessful in selling their goods and services to the federal government.

    Given the unique barriers these businesses face, will the government commit to establishing a diversity procurement policy that would level the playing field to improve access for women entrepreneurs?

  +-(1505)  

+-

    Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the member for Parkdale—High Park and other colleagues, including the member for Vancouver Centre, for their very hard work on the needs of women entrepreneurs and the report of the recent task force. The advice that they have had to offer is extremely valuable.

    For my part, and on behalf of the Department of Public Works and Government Services, I can assure the members of the task force that we intend to take their recommendations and put them to work.

+-

    The Speaker: The Chair has received notice of a question of privilege from the hon. Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

*   *   *

+-Privilege

+Comments in Oral Question Period

[Privilege]
+-

    Hon. Robert Thibault (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I reluctantly rise on a question of privilege.

    I consider the member for St. John's West to be a fair and honourable man. I am sure he made an error earlier when, in the preamble to one of his questions, he referred to my visit at the Irving lodge as being a vacation. He knows well, and he has been quoted in the media as saying so, that I was there on official business.

    I accommodated the Irvings within a business trip I was doing to New Brunswick in my capacity in a former portfolio. For it to be portrayed as being a vacation I think is unfair to me and unfair to my colleagues. I know that the member will want to make a correction.

+-

    The Speaker: I thank the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. It does not appear that is the case at the moment.

    Does the hon. Minister of the Environment have a question of privilege also?

*   *   *

+-Comments in Oral Question Period

+-

    Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, at the outset of question period, the very first words uttered by the Leader of the Opposition were that I was in contravention of the ethics guidelines.

    This is totally incorrect. A totally false statement has been made about me. I ask that the hon. member, at this time, apologize to the House for failing to tell the truth about the situation, with respect to myself and the ethics counsellor's guidelines.

*   *   *

[Translation]

+-Oral Question Period

+-

    Mr. Yves Rocheleau (Trois-Rivières, BQ): Mr. Speaker, in response to a question by a member from the Bloc Quebecois, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs used the word fraud in reference to the 1995 referendum. Given that I personally participated in the referendum process in 1995, as did the Government of Quebec, the federal government and 93% of the population of Quebec, I demand that the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs apologize and withdraw his remark.

[English]

+-

    The Speaker: The questions of privilege are all very interesting.

[Translation]

    However, the hon. members concerned are obviously not interested in responding at this time.

*   *   *

[English]

+-Points of Order

+-Bill S-7--Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act--Speaker's Ruling

[Speaker's Ruling]
+-

    The Speaker: I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised by the hon. member for Kootenay—Columbia concerning whether Bill S-7, the heritage lighthouses preservation bill, violates the financial prerogative of the Crown and the precedence of the House of Commons with respect to financial legislation.

    I would like to thank the hon. member for Kootenay—Columbia for having raised this important matter. I would like also to thank the hon. government House leader for his remarks on the issue.

    I would remind hon. members that the hon. member for Kootenay—Columbia indicated at the beginning of his intervention that he is a supporter of this bill. The question that has been raised is of a procedural nature only and does not deal with the desirability of the bill as public policy.

    The hon. member for Kootenay—Columbia pointed out that the Constitution Act, 1867 requires that a bill requiring the expenditure of funds be introduced first in the House of Commons and that it be accompanied by a royal recommendation. Bill S-7, as its number indicates, originated in the Senate.

    He also cited the following passage from page 711 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice:

--private Members' bills involving the spending of public money have been allowed to be introduced and to proceed through the legislative process on the assumption that a royal recommendation would be submitted by a Minister of the Crown before the bill was read a third time and passed.

  +-(1510)  

[Translation]

    The hon. member also drew the attention of the House to clause 17 of the bill which reads:

    The owner of a heritage lighthouse shall maintain it in a reasonable state of repair and in a manner that is in keeping with its heritage character.

[English]

    He went on to indicate that, while the bill contains no provision directly requiring that money be spent, it seemed unreasonable in his view that the maintenance of lighthouses would be possible without the expenditure of funds.

    The hon. government House leader in his intervention underlined the fact that the bill does not expend any public money. He also pointed out that this House has previously approved similar legislation, the Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act, adopted in 1988. He noted that the Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act, which operates in a way similar to that proposed in Bill S-7, had not required a royal recommendation.

    I will remind the House at the outset that it is outside the responsibilities of the Speaker to pronounce on questions of constitutional law. However, the requirement that bills expending public funds be accompanied by a royal recommendation is also found in Standing Order 79, which states:

    This House shall not adopt or pass any vote, resolution, address or bill for the appropriation of any part of the public revenue, or any tax or impost, to any purpose that has not been first recommended to the House by a message from the Governor General in the session in which such vote, resolution, address or bill is proposed.

    As Speaker, it is my obligation to ensure that the provisions of the Standing Orders are followed. It is important to remember, however, that the requirement for a royal recommendation relates to the expenditure of public funds and not simply to the fact that someone, somehow or other, may be required to make an expenditure as a result of a provision in the bill.

    In the present case the question is, I think, straightforward. Both the hon. member for Kootenay—Columbia and the government House leader are in agreement that the bill does not immediately require the expenditure of public funds. Any funds that may be required to comply with clause 17 of the bill will be required of the owners of lighthouses only once those lighthouses have been designated as heritage lighthouses.

    After examining the bill, I can find no obligation for the spending of public funds either by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board or by the Minister of Canadian Heritage. As there is no obligation for public expenditure created by the passage of Bill S-7, there is no need for a royal recommendation.

[Translation]

    I would also like to take this opportunity to correct a possible misapprehension that hon. members may have concerning the royal recommendation and private members’ bills.

[English]

    The passage cited by the hon. member for Kootenay—Columbia from page 711 of the House of Commons Procedure and Practice indicates that a royal recommendation must be forthcoming before a private member's bill, which requires the expenditure of public funds, can be given third reading. This provision only applies to private members' bills in the narrow sense, that is, bills which originate with private members in the House of Commons.

    While Bill S-7 is being dealt with under the provisions of private members' business, it is a bill originating in the Senate. Standing Order 80(1) states:

    All aids and supplies granted to the Sovereign by the Parliament of Canada are the sole gift of the House of Commons, and all bills for granting such aids and supplies ought to begin with the House, as it is the undoubted right of the House to direct, limit, and appoint in all such bills, the ends, purposes, considerations, conditions, limitations and qualifications of such grants, which are not alterable by the Senate.

    Although in the present case there are no grounds for invoking this standing order, hon. members should be mindful of the fact that our rules do not permit Senate bills which require the expenditure of public funds. Items of private members' business which require a royal recommendation must originate in the House of Commons.

    I would like to thank the hon. member for Kootenay—Columbia for having raised this issue. The precedence of the House of Commons in financial matters and the need to safeguard the financial prerogative of the Crown are fundamental elements of our system of parliamentary government. As Speaker, I share the concern of all members that our financial rules be strictly respected.


+-Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

*   *   *

  +-(1515)  

[Translation]

+-Genome Canada

+-

    Mr. Serge Marcil (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Industry, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, Genome Canada's first report for the 2002-03 fiscal year.

*   *   *

[English]

+-Government Response to Petitions

+-

    Mr. Geoff Regan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present on behalf of the government, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), in both official languages, the government's response to four petitions.

*   *   *

+-Committees of the House

+-Procedure and House Affairs

+-

    Mr. Peter Adams (Peterborough, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the 50th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the provision standing orders governing private members' business.

    If the House gives it consent, I intend to move concurrence in the 50th report later this day.

*   *   *

[Translation]

+-Justice and Human Rights

+-

    Hon. Andy Scott (Fredericton, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

[English]

    Pursuant to its order of reference of Tuesday, April 8, 2003, your committee has considered Bill C-23, an act respecting the registration of information relating to sex offenders, to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, and agreed to report it with amendment.

[Translation]

    I also have the honour to present, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

[English]

    Pursuant to its order of reference of Wednesday, October 8, 2003, your committee has considered Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code (capital markets fraud and evidence-gathering), and has agreed to report it without amendment.

*   *   *

+-Citizenship and Immigration

+-

    Mr. Joe Fontana (London North Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, on the order in council appointment of Michel C. Simard to the position of senior citizenship judge. We respectfully submit this to the House of Commons.

*   *   *

+-Procedure and House Affairs

+-

    Mr. Peter Adams (Peterborough, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if the House gives its consent, I move that the 50th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House earlier this day, be concurred in.

+-

    The Speaker: Is it agreed?

    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)

*   *   *

+-National Defence and Veterans Affairs

+-

    Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise and move concurrence in the sixth report of the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs presented on Friday, October 10.

    This is a terrific report, one which came about with unanimous support from committee members, and I am also proud to have this motion seconded by the member for Perth—Middlesex who, like other members of the House, and not only members who were on that committee, very much supports the principle behind the report.

    Similarly, my colleague from St. John's West raised this issue in the House of Commons and asked for concurrence in this report. The government at that time moved very quickly to shut down the debate, of course, and put the matter off the parliamentary agenda.

    On October 9, the committee agreed to call on the government to amend the regulations affecting the distribution of benefits under the veterans independence program. I would suggest that it was a very long overdue and well-intentioned move at that time.

    The government apparently has changed its position given its speed last week in shutting down the debate on this very subject. What is happening as a result of the current situation is that we are creating two classes of veterans' widows. That is to say, if we proceed in this fashion, a very reprehensible situation will evolve.

    It will extend the coverage of the veterans independence program, known as the VIP, only, and I stress only, to those widows whose husbands died after May 12, 2003. To be very clear, if a war veteran died on May 11, 2003, his widow would receive the benefits of the VIP for only one year as opposed to the rest of her natural life. That being said, if that poor soul had lived one more day, that same widow would receive the VIP for the rest of her life.

    Therefore, any suggestion that this is fair and equitable is absolutely untrue. I oppose and members of this House should also oppose a program that distinguishes between veterans' widows based on the time of death of a spouse. The program would be fairly distributed or should be fairly distributed to widows based on need and not on the time of death of a spouse. That is the compassionate and human approach, I would suggest.

    I know that the Minister of Veterans Affairs has said time and time again on this very issue that his heart is in the right place. Nobody doubts that. I know in my heart of hearts that the Minister of Veterans Affairs, had he the money in his department, would make the move. He would make the necessary resources available to widows and the benefit in fact would be extended to all widows who were eligible.

    There is a need to correct this anomaly that makes some veterans' widows eligible and others not eligible because of the time of death.

    In all of this the real question that remains is this one: Where is the heart of the finance minister when examining this issue? Why will the minister not exhibit the political will and the foresight to make this happen? Why will he not answer questions? Why will the Minister of Finance not answer simple questions posed on this subject matter before the House? Why does he keep passing the buck instead of passing the bucks to those in need?

    By most estimates, to put it into context, there are roughly 23,000 widows currently in Canada who will be affected by this double standard. On average, the benefit is worth between $1,000 and $2,000 a year per widow. This means that if the program is to proceed in its current fashion, without the amendment to include all the widows, we are talking about a gap in funding of between $23 million and $46 million. That is the difference.

    Basically we are talking about doubling the amount of money available for the program, which is less, I am quick to add, than 5% of what the government spent on the gun registry, to put this in the context of how much money it is. It is less than 5% of what the government wasted in the HRDC scandal, in which money was unaccounted for, in which there was no way to trace where that money went. It is less than 10% of what it cost the taxpayers of this country for the cancellation of the EH-101 helicopter program 10 years ago, and we are still waiting for that replacement and the procurement.

    Let us add that small amount for these widows to the budget of the Department of Veterans Affairs. It is a literal drop in the bucket compared to the obscene amounts of money wasted on other government spending.

  +-(1520)  

    The government has spent billions of dollars on several mistakes, covering up those mistakes and trying to remedy them and cover its tracks. Yet it is not willing to spend this money to prevent an obvious mistake and an obvious injustice.

    Decisions like this seem so out of whack with reality, so inconsistent with the priorities of Canadians. It makes a great case for why there is such cynicism in the country today about politics, about government, about our process and about Parliament itself. This is really a very basic issue of simply doing the right thing.

    What group of individuals, I ask rhetorically, can we envision more deserving of support at this time than widows of Canadian war heroes? It is absolutely mind boggling, it is staggering to think that the government would be so mean-spirited as to prevent widows of war heroes being given adequate and I would suggest a very small amount to help sustain them in their aging years in their homes.

    It is very often an issue of compassion. My colleague from New Brunswick reminds me of this constantly. The government has an obligation to help persons in need, to help regions in need. This is an instance where the government should come forward with the necessary funds to fully fund the VIP program.

    This is simply about taking care of these individuals, helping them with basic costs related to their health care needs, their needs in such times as snow storms with snow removal and hiring an individual to clean their homes or do their yard work. These are very basic amenities with which this money will help to assist.

    Not only does this policy in its current form pose an injustice on these widows and on the war heroes by extension, it very much dishonours their memory and mistreats the loved ones who went overseas and who gave their very lives in defence of Canada. There will be an offensive smell around the government's position if it does not choose to make the proper corrections.

    More important, the vast majority of these brave women are war heroes in their own right. They were supporting the cause. They were at home tending to their children, helping those veterans who were overseas, doing what was right for the cause of freedom. This is absolute motherhood, yet the government is holding back in a mean-spirited way, keeping this money from the department and in the meantime making catastrophic decisions that are wasteful and out of sync with where Canadians want to see that money spent.

    Those women were the backbone of this country during some of Canada's darkest days. They helped in many cases to build military arsenals. They worked in factories and around the country doing jobs that in many cases would have been done by the veterans themselves. They were the ones who cared for their husbands when they returned. Many of those individuals had no support mechanisms when they came back. There was no counselling, no mental health programs, no employment, none of the social structures that exist today.

    Those women were the ones who received those veterans back into their homes, tried to help them reintegrate and put behind them the horrors of war. Many of those individuals who returned were severely injured, physically and mentally, by their efforts overseas.

    To reiterate, this can be addressed in a fair, compassionate way by a mere addition of $23 million to the VIP program. I say a mere $23 million, but this is a subject that is so fundamental. Many members on all sides of the House of Commons share our concern. The member for Saint John has spoken passionately about this issue and in defence of merchant marines as have other members here in the House because it is important that we demonstrate our understanding, our respect and our compassion for these women.

  +-(1525)  

    I would also be neglectful if I did not report to the House that there are other examples where we clearly could do more. There are examples where we could do more for our current veterans who have returned, many of whom are suffering from illnesses and the effect of having been overseas in the gulf war.

    However, here is a specific example of a program that is in place, that is in need of funding, a very small amount of money compared to the budgets of other departments, that we can make a substantial difference in the very quality of life of these widows.

    The truth is the government has been on many instances forced into making the proper decisions, dragged kicking and screaming to the conclusion that it was the right thing to do, the right thing to help these honourable citizens to fight for the benefits that they earned. This is not something where they are asking for a handout. This is something to which they clearly are entitled. There are numerous examples, and all members of Parliament have encountered it in their constituency offices, where individuals are denied benefits. Veterans come back and they are looking for help. They are looking for the government to simply make it right.

    I mentioned before the cause of merchant navy veterans who had to come here on a hunger strike, on the front lawn of the Parliament of Canada, and again were aided very much in their cause by the member for Saint John. That type of spectacle should not occur in a free and democratic country like our own and heaven forbid that this Parliament ever sees the day that we have the wives of veterans coming to this House, this people's place, on bended knee looking for the government to fund their program, to help in their very subsistence, their very ability to get by. We are talking about simply helping these women get by with a very meagre income.

    I am reminded of one individual in particular, Mr. Authorson, who had to go all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada to make his case for money that he was being deprived of, in his words, cheated of. He is still waiting for that payment. It is that time and delay that is even more offensive given the age of these individuals and the years they may have left to enjoy. Some of them are in their 80's, even 90's, and so the clock ticks and while that time is passing, they are getting by with virtually nothing knowing that they should be entitled to these funds.

    This is a very basic issue for the House to consider. The report, I reiterate, was unanimous. It was one where all members of the committee supported the increase, the change that would not put this dividing line in place between an arbitrary date, which seems to have been pulled out of the thin blue air, that makes no sense whatsoever, that cuts off the time in which widows would be eligible.

    There are other cases that are determined on the same type of arbitrariness. Brave soldiers were used in Canada to test mustard gas and chemical weapons at a time when our country was at war. They were used as human guinea pigs. The scientists who at that time were doing so said that they were doing it for a greater cause, to help the war effort. Yet these veterans are also being denied proper compensation.

    I am reminded of the veterans who sit in long term health care facilities, health care facilities that are deteriorating, that are not up to code, and the countless others who are still on wait lists to get into those very same facilities. Veterans hospitals should be monuments to sacrifices in every way. There should be every effort made to see that the state of the art, best equipment, best treatment and best facilities are made available to those Canadian heroes.

    There are those who were cheated out of the money by the government who should be paid back funds, who were denied pensions that they should have been receiving for years. Again, this has to be a priority for any government and I would suggest that the incoming prime minister immediately turn his attention to this if he has any semblance of responsibility to the citizens of the country.

    Those who were subjected to tests, those who served overseas, those who are currently ailing and in need of attention are waiting anxiously for a decision on this issue.

    I am extremely proud, as a member of the House of Commons, that the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs made such a forceful case. I also want to commend in particular the member for Souris—Moose Mountain, a very honourable member of the House, who made this case strenuously time and again in support of the veterans. I salute him in that effort. I also mentioned, prior to this, the member for Saint John.

  +-(1530)  

    The committee members put politics aside when it came to this issue. This is not a partisan issue. This is not an issue that should require shaming the government into action. It is an issue that should simply appeal to people's sensibilities, to the realization that there is something tangible that can be done immediately to fix it.

    I have heard the Prime Minister and other members of the government suggest that they want to address the issue. I know you yourself, Madam Speaker, are a person of large heart and conscience who wants to see the right thing done on behalf of veterans and ailing veterans.

    The question then becomes, when will it happen?

    Mr. Vic Toews: Right now.

    Mr. Peter MacKay: It should happen right now as the member for Provencher says, and I agree. It should happen immediately because each moment that passes, each moment in time each day is a day that these widows of veteran are being deprived of what is justly theirs, the support and what it represents to them.

    Imagine, as they sit at home and listen to this issue being discussed, their sense of frustration that their government is withholding this type of financial aid and resource that is so fundamental to the things they do in their day to day lives, such as the ability to get groceries, or to have house cleaners, or to get proper medication, all these fundamental things that await us in our daily lives. Those veteran widows are waiting anxiously for the government to display the type of action that will bring about the necessary change.

    Why do we not do something immediately? Why do we not end their suffering, their anxiety and impatience? Why do we not just adopt the report today and give the department the political will, backing and support of the House to make it happen? Why would we leave them guessing about their futures and their uncertain health?

    The minister himself, I suggest, wants concurrence. His government has made public statements to that end. Why would we not immediately act? I suggest all members of the House would leap from their seats in support of that initiative.

    For many widows and their families, receiving or not receiving their benefits will be a deciding factor whether in some cases they can remain in their homes or whether they can remain in a facility where they are comforted, where they have people around them who care for them.

    These are such trying and fundamental issues that I believe we have more than a duty and an obligation; we have a moral commitment to fulfill in this instance. The government knows that, every member of the House certainly knows that, and they know it is wrong, just as we know that time is running out.

    We have a rare instance where I suggest there would be complete unanimity if we were to adopt this report and make it happen today. It would be a demonstration of solidarity in a cause that is no higher, a cause in helping ailing citizens in our country who are looking to this place for legitimacy and help in a time of need. I think you would find, Madam Speaker, that there is incredible and unanimous support for this to happen.

    I hope the debate will continue. More important than that, I hope, for the sake of these widows, we will make the necessary change to give them the entitlement, to give them the access to those resources to live out their years in comfort in a type of support and respect in which we all hold them. This instance is there for us to take and we should simply do the right thing.

  +-(1535)  

+-

    Mr. Geoff Regan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Madam Speaker, the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough is asking for the House to concur in the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Defence and Veterans Affairs. I am confident that he is serious about this.

    I ask for unanimous consent to deem his motion adopted, without further debate.

+-

    The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos): Is that agreed?

    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)

*   *   *

[Translation]

+-Petitions

+-Marriage

+-

    Mr. Eugène Bellemare (Ottawa—Orléans, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition, signed by more than 12,000 people, calling on the House of Commons to confirm that marriage must remain the union between one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others.

[English]

    The petitioners also wish to remind the House that on June 8, 1999, it voted 216 to 55 affirming the definition of marriage as being the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

+-

    Mr. Pat O'Brien (London—Fanshawe, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I am in possession of some 25,000 signatures from Canadians and I would like to present today some 1,500 signatures from Canadians who call upon the government to recognize that marriage is the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, and to live up to the previous commitment that was made in the House to take all necessary steps to preserve that definition of marriage.

    I am most pleased to join with these Canadians in presenting this petition today.

*   *   *

+-Child Pornography

+-

    Mr. Joe McGuire (Egmont, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I would like to present a petition. pursuant to Standing Order 36. from residents of my riding, across my riding and as far as Amherst, Nova Scotia, who are concerned about child pornography.

    The petitioners call upon Parliament to protect our children by taking all necessary steps to ensure that all materials which promote or glorify pedophilia or sado-masochistic activities involving children are outlawed.

*   *   *

  +-(1540)  

+-Beef Industry

+-

    Mrs. Carol Skelton (Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, Canadian Alliance): Madam Speaker, it is my privilege to present two petitions today on behalf of my constituents. I would like to read it because I think it is growing worse in western Canada the longer that the government borders stay closed to a lot of beef products.

    It says that due to inconsistent foreign restrictions on the importation of beef products, Canadian beef producers have suffered an extreme financial calamity involving losses of billions of dollars; that Canadian beef producers supply products recognized nationally and internationally as being of the highest quality; that foreign political positions have no basis and public health concerns have unfairly injured the export business of Canadian beef producers and devastated related supply and service industries; and that the Government of Canada, by being unprepared, added greatly to the export problems of Canadian beef producers and has undertaken only minimal remedial actions since that time.

    Therefore the petitioners call upon Parliament to immediately constitute internationally accredited protocols to reinforce international confidence in Canada's healthy beef products and, therefore, replacing damaging political posturing related to borders with sensible, agreeable rules for all concerned.

*   *   *

+-Marriage

+-

    Ms. Beth Phinney (Hamilton Mountain, Lib.): Madam Speaker, the Bishop of Hamilton, the Most Reverend Tonos, has asked me to present a petition of over 30,000 member signatures to the House of Commons. It has been signed by these 30,000 members of the Roman Catholic diocese of Hamilton, Ontario. They call upon Parliament to take all necessary means to maintain and support the traditional definition of marriage in Canada.

+-

    Mr. Geoff Regan (Halifax West, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I have a petition from residents of the riding of Elgin--Middlesex--London which I am tabling on behalf the Secretary of State for Central and Eastern Europe and Middle East. These are residents from the St. Thomas area. The petition concerns the definition of marriage.

*   *   *

+-Questions on the Order Paper

+-

    Mr. Geoff Regan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

+-

    The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos): Is that agreed?

    Some hon. members: Agreed.

*   *   *

+-Motions for Papers

+-

    Mr. Geoff Regan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Madam Speaker, would you be so kind as to call Notice of Motion for the Production of Papers No. P-42 in the name of the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre.

    That an Order of the House do issue for copies of any papers pertinent to, or describing deliberations particular to changes to Canada's meteorological service announced on March 13, 2003 by Environment Canada, including, but not limited to: (a) the assessment of the impacts of these changes; (b) cost-benefit analyses relating to all aspects of these changes; and (c) alternatives to these changes that were considered.

+-

    Mr. Geoff Regan: Madam Speaker, Environment Canada advises that the broad range of the request would render it prohibitively expensive in labour and money to produce this information. In addition, the collection of the material could not be done in a reasonable timeframe.

    Madam Speaker, I think you would find that the Minister of Canadian Heritage would agree to have this put over for debate.

+-

    Hon. Sheila Copps (Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I ask that the motion be transferred for debate.

+-

    The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos): The motion is transferred for debate pursuant to Standing Order 97(1).


+-GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Government Orders]

*   *   *

[English]

+-Criminal Code

     The House resumed from October 27 consideration of the motion that Bill C-32, an act to amend the Criminal Code and other acts, be read the third time and passed.

+-

    Mr. Vic Toews (Provencher, Canadian Alliance): Madam Speaker, I am pleased to participate in today's debate on Bill C-32, an act to amend the Criminal Code and other acts.

    Some of the things the Minister of Justice has proposed in the bill are long overdue, and although I believe that elements in the bill could be improved, we in the Alliance are overall in agreement with the changes.

    I am pleased to see that the bill would create a Criminal Code offence of setting a deadly trap in a place used for criminal purposes. This would protect first responders, such as firefighters, police officers or other law enforcement officials, who respond to an incident by going there first and then falling into that trap. The lives of these firefighters and police officers are endangered by entering such places in the performance of their duties. Therefore, it is our responsibility to protect them.

    Under the new legislation, the maximum sentence for this offence depends on the outcome of the situation. It is generally 10 years. If injury occurs, the maximum sentence is 14 years. If death occurs, the maximum sentence is life imprisonment. Currently section 247 of the Criminal Code provides for the offence of setting a trap with a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment.

    The House will recall that in 2001 the Canadian Alliance member for Surrey Central introduced Motion No. 376, which called upon the government to amend the Criminal Code to expand the definition of first degree murder to include the death of a firefighter acting in the line of duty, and to add language that addressed the death or injury of a firefighter engaged in combating a fire or an explosion that was deliberately set.

    I am pleased to see the government is finally addressing this important issue through Bill C-32. However, by raising the maximum penalties without instituting any minimum penalties, the government is stopping short of giving first responders the protection they need. The government knows that the courts will not respond to these kinds of amendments, so the effect is primarily symbolic. We have seen no evidence in cases where governments increased maximum penalties that courts act correspondingly. They simply carry on with what they have been doing in terms of sentencing.

    We are talking about a case in which someone is deliberately setting traps, knowing they are likely to cause injury or death. If the government were truly serious about protecting our firefighters, there would be mandatory prison sentences for people who do this to our firefighters.

    Bill C-32 also proposes to amend the firearms search and seizure warrant provisions of the Criminal Code to bring the law into line with the recent Ontario court of appeal decision in R v. Hurrell. In that decision, weapon searches under this section of the Criminal Code were ruled unconstitutional. The court found that the warrant application section did not include enough protection of individual rights since it was not clear that a peace officer had to have reasonable grounds to make an application for the warrant.

    The bill amends the Criminal Code to require that an officer must have reasonable grounds to believe that a person is in possession of a weapon and that it is not in the interests of the person to possess the weapon before a warrant may be issued.

    The bill also provides for the civil enforcement of restitution orders. On occasion, offenders convicted of a crime are ordered to make restitution to their victims. Often this involves an order to pay a certain amount of money as compensation for the wrong committed or the injury suffered.

    Currently, criminal restitution orders are only enforceable by civil court action if the order is separate from the sentencing order. The amendment would allow for civil enforcement of all restitution orders. This would make it easier to collect money owing under an order.

    However I still have concerns that this process shuffles the problem off to the civil courts and on to the victim. I would like to see the law amended so that the court has jurisdiction to enforce the restitution order through the criminal court and, where the restitution is not paid, it will result in a criminal breach and is a criminal offence. We cannot do this under the present legislation.

  +-(1545)  

    While the amendment is a nice step, it does not address the problem with a victim having to become involved in the enforcement directly because most of the victims simply forgo that. Can anyone imagine asking a victim to talk to a member of an organized crime gang to see if that person can collect the restitution and when that request is denied, that the individual would actually have to civilly sue a member of an organized crime gang to get the restitution?

    It is a shame that the government insists on doing that. It should be put back into the criminal courts. If restitution is not paid, there should be a criminal breach and the court would enforce that order through the criminal process, not have the victim be re-victimized in the courts again.

    The justice department officials at the committee promised to take the issue under consideration and consult with the provinces to possibly report back to the committee at a future date. I look forward to hearing the results of their findings. I can hardly think of a province that would not want the criminal courts to enforce these orders rather than have the victim be re-victimized by the courts again.

    Bill C-32 also amends the Criminal Code to explicitly recognize that everyone on board an airplane in Canadian airspace is justified in using reasonable force when he or she believes it is necessary to use force to prevent the commission of a criminal act that could endanger the safety of the aircraft or its passengers. The amendment would ensure the full effect of the Tokyo convention on offences and certain other acts committed on board aircraft.

    Finally, Bill C-32 also contains amendments that may prove to be somewhat controversial due to perceived infringements on an individual's privacy.

    Amendments to the Criminal Code and the Financial Administration Act would allow information technology managers, in both government and the private sector, to disclose the contents of private communications intercepted by intrusion detection systems, also called IDS, in certain circumstances.

    The Criminal Code amendments would allow for the disclosure of intercepted private communications if the disclosure is necessary for the protection of a computer system and if the disclosure is made appropriately.

    Intrusion detection is an essential part of information technology management intended to protect computers, networks and data, and to ensure quality of service. A number of systems or products exist to detect attacks on computer systems by hackers, viruses or worms, and to alert human operators. We have all experienced that type of problem with computer systems.

    Some systems protect networks by identifying and intercepting suspicious electronic communications, including some that may be private communications. Those messages can be analyzed to determine if they contain a malicious program code such as a computer virus that could attack a computer system and the data it contains.

    Statistics confirm that cyber crime is growing and has a global reach that affects large corporate giants, government agencies, as well as small companies and individuals at home.

    The amendments to the Criminal Code and the Financial Administration Act would allow information technology managers to protect their computer systems from electronic communications that could be harmful to them.

    The Criminal Code amendment would create exceptions to the offence of intercepting private communications and of disclosing its contents to ensure quality control in the communications industry.

    The provisions of the bill relating to setting traps, use of force on airplanes and civil enforcement of restitution orders are all causes worthy of support, despite some of the concerns and shortcomings that I have identified.

    The provisions regarding disclosure of private communications may prove to be controversial but the Criminal Code already provides for several exceptions where private communication can be intercepted and disclosed. The protection of computer systems is an important objective for governments and businesses.

  +-(1550)  

    The safety and security of Canadians and their property is the stated objective of the Canadian Alliance policy. We recognize the rights of victims of crime. We have promised to introduce programs of financial restitution from the offender to the victim as a component of sentencing and parole.

    I believe that many of these objectives of the bill are consistent with what our policies have long called for. The justice committee has reviewed Bill C-32 and although it made two minor amendments, it has approved the bill.

    We agree that this legislation should move forward at this time.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, BQ): Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to the speech by my colleague from the Canadian Alliance.

    We agree on several aspects of this bill, which has certain virtues. However, since he only mentioned this aspect of the bill, nothing more, I would like him to explain how this bill can truly contribute to protecting privacy.

    I would like him to elaborate further on what I believe is a crucial issue.

  +-(1555)  

[English]

+-

    Mr. Vic Toews: Madam Speaker, what I stated is that I specifically acknowledged there would be some intrusion upon private communications.

    In Canada we respect the privacy of communications between individuals. Only in certain specific statutorily authorized situations can those private communications be intercepted.

    Looking at the specific goal of the proposed legislation, in order to protect the integrity of the computer system, there is an appropriate goal that warrants intervention into some private communications. The private communications are done on an objective basis. There are safeguards in place. I do have concerns about the moving in this direction but I feel that at this time I am not in a position to add additional conditions that would balance any more favourably the interests of protecting the privacy of Canadians and on the other hand ensuring the integrity of the computer system.

    That is my position on that.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Yvan Loubier: Madam Speaker, I would like my colleague to indicate whether he has already started to consider some amendments that could be made to the provisions on privacy protection. If so, could he give us a few examples of what such amendments might include in order to truly protect privacy during the interception of private communications?

    It is easy to understand the objectives of the bill with respect to computer communications. However, perhaps there is a way to focus more on protecting privacy.

[English]

+-

    Mr. Vic Toews: Madam Speaker, I am indeed open to reasonable suggestions that continue what I consider to be a fair balance between the privacy interests of Canadians and the interests of maintaining the integrity of the computer systems. I do not have any additional amendments to offer in this respect, but I would certainly look favourably if the member brought forward any amendments that would assist in this respect.

    Generally speaking, the committee worked together on this particular issue. There are some difficulties. Most of us are lay people when it comes to computer systems and how these situations work. I think we all have a passing familiarity with the computer systems.

    I was satisfied in my mind that there is not the same level of subjective interception by human beings in terms of intercepting those communications. Rather, this is done through a program that identifies on a more objective mechanical basis, if I can use that term, whether or not there is some virus or worm existing in the computer. The criteria engaged when that is discovered are sufficient, or certainly from my understanding of the matter are an appropriate balance between privacy interests and the integrity of the computer system.

    If the member brought forward a motion that perhaps balanced it even better and respected with greater certainty the integrity of private communications, I would certainly consider that and look favourably upon a balanced amendment such as that.

+-

    Mr. Charlie Penson (Peace River, Canadian Alliance): Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to my colleague from Provencher. What I got from his comments, and I would like him to confirm that is where we are headed here, is that it is important to strike a balance between people's civil liberties, their privacy, and the security interests of Canadians.

    We live in a very different world than we did a couple of years ago because of September 11. There is a lot of new technology that is being harnessed for information purposes which we embrace. It gives us a lot of freedom and an easier chance to communicate, but it also gives the opportunity for it to be misused.

    The important part would be if there are amendments needed in the future to keep that balance in place, if we find that we have gone too far one way or the other, that we reserve the opportunity to go back and restructure it as necessary. Does my colleague feel that Bill C-32 gives us that opportunity as we need it in the future?

  +-(1600)  

+-

    Mr. Vic Toews: Madam Speaker, I do not see anything in the bill itself that would preclude making timely amendments when certain shortcomings are identified. That is part of the problem we struggled with. With technology developing so quickly, the conditions we put into place in law become outdated fairly shortly. I have seen it in many aspects of the legal field.

    When I started out in prosecution and was trying to prosecute frauds in banks, the whole idea about computer recording of information as opposed to paper recording of information was a huge problem for the courts and for people trained in the legal system. How would we make that leap from paper to assuring judges that the information contained on computer records was the best available document and also was accurate? That caused us all kinds of problems.

    My colleague from Calgary has said that I am dating myself. Perhaps I am.

    That happened in a very short period of time. I remember going away on a sabbatical for a year and coming back and someone explaining to me how a fax machine worked. It was actually possible to put a piece of paper into a machine and an exact duplicate of that paper would come out from another machine in another building. This was in 1985 or 1986. I could not believe it until I did it myself and saw that it worked.

    Many of the younger clerks and pages might be smiling at that. Indeed, maybe some of the younger MPs are smiling at that.

    I have learned in my career as a lawyer that things develop. The law needs to keep pace with these developments.

    We have seen the problem in the area of child pornography. We are fighting a vicious battle against people who want to destroy our children in the 21st century and we are fighting them with 19th century evidentiary tools. It is a horrible problem.

    I respect the concerns that are being brought forward today in respect of privacy. I want to assure the member that I will monitor this as best I can as an MP and a member of the justice committee to ensure that as changes come along, for good or for bad, that we consider them in legislation and act quickly.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, BQ): Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise to speak on this bill because there is a provision in the new section 247 of the Criminal Code that I have been feeling strongly about for a number of years already. In my presentation, I will have the opportunity to point out along the way its many merits, which I will gladly explain to my hon. colleagues in this House.

    Bill C-32 adds a number of new provisions to the Criminal Code to strengthen it. First, penalties will be increased for the setting or placing of traps in places used for the purpose of committing indictable offences such as the illicit production of cannabis, indoors or outdoors.

    Other provisions deal with the use of force on aircraft. Since the events of September 11, I think we are more aware of the fact that force can be used on an aircraft when there are grounds to believe that criminal acts that could jeopardize the life of the passengers or pose a threat to the physical integrity of the aircraft are likely to be committed. Under the Criminal Code, the use of force may be necessary to subdue anyone who is likely to cause injury to the aircraft or to any person.

    This was already provided for in the Criminal Code. I am taking a little time on this provision because I will not be coming back to it later. It clarifies the law by stating explicitly that force may be used on aircraft both in Canadian airspace and outside. This does make it clear that the use of force may be justified.

    Bill C-32 also amends the provision concerning warrants to search for weapons. It also creates a new exemption in connection with the interception of private communications for the purpose of protecting computer systems. In this respect, I think that the discussion I had with my colleague from the Canadian Alliance emphasized the positive aspects of this provision dealing with computer communications, as well as the threat and potential abuse in terms of privacy.

    We are all aware that in order to fight computer viruses or worms we must—and the bill recognizes this specifically—make certain sacrifices regarding the freedom on personal communications. I believe that the work to be done in committee regarding this provision will enable us to strike a better balance between the need to maintain the integrity of our communications networks and the protection of privacy.

    The bill also amends provisions found in other acts, particularly the Financial Administration Act, in order to authorize the federal government to take steps to protect its informatics networks. This bill makes consequential amendments to other acts, particularly with respect to the French wording, to the Security of Information Act, the Criminal Code and other related acts.

    Let me take a moment to look at the first provision, the proposed amendment to section 247 of the Criminal Code.

  +-(1605)  

    The existing section 247 says that it is criminal offence to set traps or other devices with intent to cause bodily harm to persons, or worse, to set traps or other devices with intent to cause death.

    This is indictable under the Criminal Code but intention is important. It says, essentially, that if someone has intent to cause bodily harm or death, even if bodily harm or death do not occur, this person is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.

    The new version of section 247 makes the remedies and sentences related to this offence more explicit. Why am I particularly pleased with this provision? In my riding, six years ago, I had the experience with some other people of watching organized crime squat illegally on lands and forests belonging to farmers. Organized crime was growing cannabis in these fields. It is still happening today, but through our efforts, there is much less of it. We will return to that in a moment, because it is a good example for several regions of Quebec and of Canada. Through our efforts, organized crime is less present in the fields and woods of the region. The citizens decided to take matters in hand themselves. I will have an opportunity to explain how it was done, especially over the past two and a half years.

    Let us come back to the new provisions of section 247. This does not apply to my region because of what the people did, but it was not uncommon, at the time, for a farmer to arrive in his field and woods and have to deal with traps that had been laid by organized crime to protect illegal crops of cannabis. At full growth, a plant can be 2.5 m high and be worth $3,000 to $4,000. In addition, at that height, any resin that can be used to produce hashish, for instance, is worth a fortune on the black market.

    In order to protect their crops, members of organized crime set traps. This could consist of what is commonly referred to as a 45 gallon barrel, in metal, cut in thirds. Two triangles are traced on the cover with scissors and pushed in. These barrel thirds are buried at the foot of the cannabis crop and the trap is set.

    Imagine, someone who goes to that part of a farmer's field, without knowing there is such a trap there. He steps into, or his legs go into the trap and when he tries to step out, both parts of the metal cover, cut into triangles, lift up. He would be trapped. Either he would have to sacrifice his leg, or stay put and hope that someone would come along to rescue him.

    The trouble is, at the end of October, a corn field is like a tropical forest. There is hardly any room between the corn plants, let alone the cannabis plants, and except for the farmer himself or the criminals, people seldom walk through corn fields at that time of year. The risks of walking into such a trap were real and still are in many fields in Quebec and Canada, particularly in southeastern Ontario.

    Obviously, it was placed in order to cause bodily harm or even death. If a person got his leg caught in that kind of trap and did everything possible to get his leg out, he would injure his leg. If that person were not found within 24 hours, he would die from blood loss. This is barbaric but a reality in fields throughout Quebec and Canada. Such traps can also be found in the woods, particularly in areas where communities have closed their eyes to the activities of organized crime.

    In the past six years, I have seen other kinds of traps, commonly called booby traps during the Vietnam war. They are made by attaching fishing line to something similar to a rifle trigger.

  +-(1610)  

    Should anyone attempt to steal or destroy any cannabis plants, they would trip on the fishing line and get shot in the legs. This is very real.

    Currently, this is the kind of danger facing our farmers and other people, like hunters, for example, who build blinds in the woods in the fall. Hunters are in danger from criminals who are illegally cultivating cannabis in a section of the woods. They risk walking into similar traps.

    People hiking in the woods also risk falling into traps such as the 45-gallon barrel or walking into traps such as the booby traps, as I mentioned earlier. Their purpose is to cause bodily injury or kill.

    Earlier, my hon. colleague talked about this provision and said that firefighters had lobbied to have it included in the Criminal Code. It is not just the firefighters. The police, farmers, hunters and hikers also lobbied the government. For the past six years, the Bloc Quebecois has also been asking for harsher sentencing for criminals who place such traps, which can cause bodily harm or death, in areas used by others.

    There have been instances in recent weeks of police officers and firefighters coming to private residences to carry out a search or respond to a call, where these premises are used by organized crime for greenhouse or hydroponic operations. These houses are often overloaded electrically and a fire breaks out. When the firemen arrive, they often encounter booby traps installed by the gang members to protect their grow ops. These are rigged in such a way as to cause injury or even death to fire or police personnel who have to enter the premises.

    For example, firemen have come upon huge holes in the floor in hydroponic grow ops. As a result, the firefighters responding to a call have quite simply fallen through this booby trap, set up by the criminals to protect their crop from rival gangs or from seizure by police or others.

    I am pleased to see this new provision, which steps up the sentences for members of organized crime, other criminals or people forced to turn to a life of crime, but also for those who might install such traps with the potential to cause injury or even death.

    Sentences can run as high as life imprisonment, if the trap used in a criminal enterprise such as a drug operation causes bodily harm or death. Now these are explicitly life sentences. Moreover, if the intent to harm is there, but no actual bodily harm or death has occurred because of these traps, there can be up to 14 years' imprisonment, depending on the severity of the act committed on the premises where the traps were set and where illegal activities are being carried out by criminals or criminal gangs.

  +-(1615)  

    Which leads me to say that, since 1995, the Bloc Quebecois has done much to improve and strengthen the Criminal Code.

    I remember that the hon. member for Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier proposed that the $1000 bill be taken out of circulation. Why? Because these $1000 bills were very useful in drug trafficking transactions.

    We know that the volume represented by the number of $100 bills needed to cover a transaction of several million dollars is considerable. But if this amount were in $1000 bills, the volume would be much smaller. By withdrawing the $1000 note, we can make drug trafficking a little more difficult for organized crime.

    The anti-gang legislation has also been strengthened. The Bloc Quebecois was the instigator of two significant amendments to the Criminal Code that target biker gangs in particular.

    In contrast, since 1994, two of our demands ought to have been included in the Criminal Code. We were hoping that, with the passage of Bill C-32, these demands would have been reflected in the Criminal Code.

    Moreover, one of the demands we would have liked to have seen included in Bill C-32 is the one which would have meant that the mere fact of belonging to a criminal group, even passively, to a gang that is recognized as a criminal gang, would be a punishable offence under the Criminal Code. We would have liked to have seen that. We would have liked to have seen mere passive membership in these groups, which are not optimist clubs or Kiwanis clubs, but are known criminal groups such as the Hell's Angels, the Bandidos—let us name them all—punishable by imprisonment or sentences under the Criminal Code.

    We have been asking for this for years. This would have the ideal opportunity to include this provision in the bill, but unfortunately, it is not there.

    The other measure we would have liked to have seen addressed by Bill C-32 concerns the reversal of the burden of proof with respect to the proceeds of criminal activities. In many countries the burden of proof is reversed and criminals have to provide evidence themselves to prove that the wealth they have accumulated is not the fruit of criminal activities. Australia, Austria, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland and Great Britain all do this.

    This is one of FATF's main recommendations. FATF is the financial action task force on money laundering. It was created by the OECD to better fight organized crime, drug trafficking and money laundering, and thereby reverse the burden of proof.

    We would have liked to see such a reversal. Obviously, this is not in keeping with our legal tradition. However, in light of exceptional circumstances and of megatrials that are costing taxpayers dearly, it would have been a good idea for criminals breaking this legislation to have to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that their assets are not the proceeds of criminal activity.

    This would have been the perfect time to do this. Nevertheless, the debate on Bill C-32 also ensures that illegal activities are not trivialized, particularly marijuana cultivation. Because all these criminal activities can and do have terrible consequences.

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    I am pleased with the provision to reinforce sentences for placing traps, because this shows common sense. But there is still much work to be done to fight organized crime and prevent the use of narcotics. Communities turning a blind eye to the activities of organized crime must be made aware of the dangers, as traps causing bodily harm could be placed in the area.

    As a result, we will vote in favour of this bill.

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    The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos): Order, please. It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, Softwood lumber; the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst, Ethics.

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    Mr. Pierre Paquette (Joliette, BQ): Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot for his testimony, because that is exactly what it was. I would like him to add to what he said since he mentioned in this speech that the people in his area have decided to take action. I would like him to tell us about the work that he himself and other stakeholders in his area have done and that has had an impact throughout Quebec.

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    Mr. Yvan Loubier: Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Joliette for his question. Indeed, my 20 minutes went so fast that I did not have time to address this issue, but he is giving me the opportunity to do so.

    Six years ago, in the Saint-Hyacinthe area, we were in a situation where organized crime had literally taken over farm land. There were plantations of up to 4,000 plants in corn fields, and these were controlled by the Hell's Angels, to name them. Having flown over the region in an helicopter, I could see how terrible it was; not a single field had been spared.

    Behind all that, people were living real tragedies. Some farmers and their families were terrorized by organized crime. They were constantly living under the threat of physical harm or death. They had their farm machinery vandalized. We were faced with that problem and we began to think.

    Almost three years ago, we created a committee of citizens. It is a regional committee linked to Info-Crime Québec. The only purpose of this committee is based on a very simple idea: to promote a telephone number. People who call that number can report, anonymously and confidentially, any crime that they may have witnessed. It is totally confidential and totally anonymous. It is a wonderful tool.

    In the past few years, this tool has made it possible to seize millions of dollars worth of drugs. For example, the most recent seizure at Sainte-Christine, which led to 14 arrests, took place thanks to a tip from someone who was fed up with being bullied by organized crime.

    The citizens committee met with representatives of all the municipalities making up the rural municipality of Maskoutains. We also met with the local media. All stakeholders decided to join forces with us. We had such wonderful cooperation from everyone that, some three years after the creation of the Info-Crime committee, the Saint-Hyacinthe region, while still having some production, has seen an 80% drop in grow ops. The huge operations with up to 4,000 plants we saw six years ago are no longer around.

    The situation has not, however, changed in neighbouring regions, Centre-du-Québec in particular, and also in the vicinity of Sorel, which is Hell's Angels territory. What is the difference between our two areas? The difference is that one region, mine, decided to strike a committee made up of farmers, the chairman of the school board, business leaders, young people and people from the CLSC. We decided to take action, to take control of our destiny. We decided to tell organized crime that enough was enough, that we were tired of being intimidated. People can improve things when they make up their minds to do so.

    The new provision in Bill C-32 relating to sentences for traps is a good example of an improvement. The Bloc Quebecois was one of those who spoke out against the minimal sentences imposed on drug traffickers who kept watch over fields and set traps in them. The situation is constantly improving, though not everything is perfect yet.

    I have alluded to two aspects that should be included in the Criminal Code: reversing the burden of proof, and making the mere fact of being a member of a criminal gang an offence. This would mean imprisonment would be far more likely for those who are doing such great damage, to our young people in particular, those now in primary school.

    But progress is being made. I am proud to say that improvements were made thanks to the Bloc Quebecois, Year after year, we pointed out what was wrong with the Criminal Code. We suggested ways to improve things. We not only criticized, but we proposed changes to strengthen the Criminal Code.

    Although some issues have yet to be resolved, we are nevertheless glad that a number of proposals are under consideration. What is sad, however, is that we have been raising these issues for years now. It was some time before the government realized that changes to the Criminal Code were needed if we were to mount an effective campaign against organized crime.

    Despite the new Criminal Code provisions passed two years ago, following operation springtime 2001, we will probably find new shortcomings in the anti-gang legislation, the anti-gang provisions of the Criminal Code, when new megatrials get underway.

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    We will unfortunately have to remind the House once again that, if the mere fact of belonging to a criminal organization had been made a criminal offence under the Criminal Code, it would have made things easier for the upcoming megatrials. The government is so slow to react that it takes years to make a point that is simply self-evident.

[English]

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    Mr. Inky Mark (Dauphin—Swan River, PC): Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure this afternoon to take part, on behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party, in the debate at the third reading stage of Bill C-32, an act to amend the Criminal Code.

    The bill would establish a more serious offence for placing or knowingly permitting to remain in place a trap, a device or other thing that are likely to cause death or bodily harm to a person. It would also permit the use of as much force as is necessary aboard an aircraft to prevent the commission of an offence that would seriously harm those onboard or the aircraft. It would also make a number of other amendments to the code.

    The Progressive Conservative Party supports Bill C-32, legislation that is long overdue. However, like all legislation, there are shortcomings to this bill as well.

    I would like to begin by commending the International Association of Fire Fighters for the work it has done in pushing the Liberal government to implement much needed changes in the Criminal Code regarding this matter. In Canada they are over 17,000 members strong, and we cannot say about the work they do.

    Those on the frontline need the support of government, and positive changes to the Criminal Code would send a strong message to those who would willingly or unwittingly endanger the lives of these brave men and women.

    In fact I would like to take time to applaud the firefighters and the emergency service workers in my own riding of Dauphin—Swan River. I know the majority of these individuals, probably 95%, are all volunteers. If it were not for the volunteer firefighters, there is no doubt that communities across the country would certainly be at risk.

    Let me preface my remarks by saying there is no property in good ideas and strong legislation that can act as a deterrent in crimes of this nature is long overdue.

    I am reminded of a private member's bill introduced last October by the member for Nepean—Carleton. His bill seeks to give greater protection to firefighters by creating two new offences of aggravated assault and first degree murder when the victim is a firefighter acting in the course of his or her duties. It fits nicely with what the current Minister of Justice is trying to achieve with this legislation.

    On a daily basis, Canadian firefighters put their lives at risk to save our lives. It is important that we recognize the sacrifice they are willing to make on our behalf. I am sure that statement is supported by all Canadians across this great land.

    Let me make some comments on the trap and criminal offences provision of this bill. Currently, section 247 of the Criminal Code provides that:

    Every one who, with intent to cause death or bodily harm to persons, whether ascertained or not, sets or places or causes to be set or placed a trap, device or other thing whatever that is likely to cause death or bodily harm to persons is guilty of an indictable offence...

    Persons convicted of placing traps are liable to a maximum prison term of five years.

    Now this offence applies also to people who occupy or own a place and knowingly permit the placement of such a device.

    Although clause 6 of the bill retains this provision, it creates two new criminal offences to curb this dangerous practice. The government wants harsher sentences for those setting traps, causing bodily harm or death.

    Accordingly, everyone who commits an offence under the existing section 247 and causes bodily harm to a firefighter or a police officer is liable to up to 10 years in prison. Should this offence cause death, a first degree murder penalty of life could apply.

    To ensure better protection for firefighters or police required to enter premises used in the production of cannabis, or marijuana for example, Bill C-32 provides that everyone who commits an offence, as provided in section 247, in a place kept for the purpose of committing another indictable offence is liable to imprisonment of 10 years. If the device causes bodily harm or death, the sentence is 14 years in prison, in the case of the former or life, in the case of the later.

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    I should also mention that subclause 7(2) of Bill C-38, an act to amend the Contraventions Act and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, establishes a series of factors that the court is to take into consideration when sentencing in a matter involving the product of cannabis plants.

    Courts will have to consider the fact that a person accused of such an offence had placed--in or near the place the offence occurred-- traps likely to cause bodily harm or death. When this fact is proven, the court is to choose the prison term provided by the law. Should it decide otherwise, reasons must be provided.

    This point is very important. The House is currently undertaking the study of Bill C-38 which is the decriminalization of marijuana. I have previously said in the House that the government is sending the wrong message in terms of the use of marijuana in this country.

    There is no doubt that if Bill C-38 were to pass, and I do not think Bill C-38 will see the light of day, it would increase the demand for the product. As a result, we will have increased grow operations across the country which will put extra pressure on the police forces the dollars that they spend.

    Currently, we spend over half a billion dollars a year on the supply reduction side by federal police forces and agencies. We sometimes wonder if this is money well spent if on the other hand we are going to pass a bill which will promote the use of marijuana and increase its market demands.

    I will now return to Bill C-32. The main portion of the bill, as I indicated, would amend the Criminal Code by creating a new offence targeting those who would set traps in a place used for a criminal purpose. Currently, under section 247 of the Criminal Code, the offence of setting a trap in any place carries a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment.

    The new offence raises the bar providing for significantly more stringent penalties. Proposed subsection 247(2) states:

    Every one who commits an offence under subsection (1) and thereby causes bodily harm to any other person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.

    If someone should commit an offence under proposed section 247 that causes injury, the penalty would increase to a maximum of 14 years and if that offence causes death, the offender could receive a sentence of life imprisonment.

    This legislation is aimed directly at illegal drug operations which pose a myriad of dangers to firefighters. Many of these illegal drug operations are rigged with hidden devices, such as crossbows and explosives, designed to kill or maim anyone who interferes with the operation. Other dangers include: illegal electrical wiring which poses the additional risk of fire, electrical doorknobs and cutaway floorboards.

    It should also be recognized that all too often these illegal residential grow operations put at risk the lives of those in a community when the fire spreads from one house to another. Innocent families can lose their homes, their valuables, and even their lives when criminals rig the wiring in their homes. Anything we can do as legislators to put a stop to this criminal behaviour is a step in the right direction.

    These types of incidents are not new to those on the front line. They have occurred in the past. For example, there are multiple cases of Canadian firefighters who have been injured and nearly killed while responding to illegal drug operations. A British Columbia firefighter received a severe electrical shock while responding to a blaze. In Brampton, Ontario, a firefighter's life was at risk when he fell through the floorboards that had been cut away.

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    The International Association of Fire Fighters has pushed for this legislation. I am encouraged to see the government finally recognizing the contribution members of the IAFF play in the daily lives of Canadians.

    It is important that we recognize the dangers Canada's firefighters face as a result of illegal drug operations. As I noted earlier, this legislation would amend the Criminal Code by adding provisions to the existing section of the Criminal Code that deal with setting a trap. The legislation would add provisions for setting a trap used in a place kept for a criminal purpose, that is likely to cause bodily harm, with a 10 year maximum prison sentence.

    If a trap used in a criminal enterprise such as a drug operation causes bodily harm, the legislation would call for a 14 year maximum sentence and life imprisonment if a trap causes death.

    Front line firefighters must be protected from this growing danger. The nature of these criminal activities creates a risk of fire with volatile chemicals used in drug labs and electrical power stolen through unsafe meter bypasses. If firefighters and police officers are put at risk, injured or killed by traps set to defend these criminal enterprises from law enforcement or rival gangs, those who set the traps must feel the full weight of the law.

    In another case earlier this year, Oshawa firefighters had to back away from a residential fire when they discovered that it was an illegal drug lab loaded with dangerous chemicals. The home was allowed to burn.

    While the problem has been most serious in British Columbia and Ontario, illegal drug operations are found in all parts of Canada and pose a growing threat to firefighters in every province. As we heard from our last speaker, the member from the Bloc talked about the illegal grow operations in Quebec and the danger they present to citizens in that province.

    We should be cognizant of the fact that a large portion of firefighters in Canada are volunteer firefighters who give up their spare time on weekday evenings and weekends to volunteer in their communities and to take courses which ultimately help them protect our property and lives. They are the ones who are spread throughout Canada in all the little towns, hamlets, small communities and small cities that cannot afford to have a full time professional firefighting staff.

    Amendments to the Criminal Code of this sort are long overdue. I would encourage the government to take a closer look at other initiatives brought forth by the International Association of Fire Fighters.

    A $500,000 annual investment, a fraction of the cost of the Prime Minister's luxury jets, would give firefighters access to hazardous materials training. Currently, military reaction is hours, if not days, away. Firefighters are on the scene in minutes. Training is necessary for their protection and ours.

    Liberal cuts to ports policing, the Coast Guard and the military put at risk the safety and security of Canadians. The real threat of bioterrorism, delays in response time and inability to board planes could cost lives. On these and other important issues the government pays lip service. What firefighters need to do their job is action and resources. The lives of our firefighters, and those who they so selflessly serve and protect, deserve no less.

    The government also needs to listen to the IAFF when it talks of support in the area of pensions and compensation for those who have been injured in the line of duty.

    The minister said he was happy to see that his government was finally addressing the important issue of setting deadly traps. He told us the number of deaths and injuries sustained by firefighters continues to rise in Canada. That is a true tragedy when these events occur.

    Using statistics, he noted there were 13,724 arson fires in Canada last year and 30% of the fires in his own riding were a result of arson. He acknowledged that firefighting is four times as hazardous as any other occupation. It is a job that commands the highest public trust and respect, more than any other profession.

    In fact, a poll released by the Canadian Press and Léger Marketing in February of this year showed that 96% of Canadians trust firefighters, the highest level of trust among 20 occupations included in the survey. Need I say what the numbers were for politicians? I think we already know the answer.

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    It is time that the minister and the government truly recognized the sacrifice made by those on the front lines in substantial ways. Firefighters, professionals and volunteers need the support of the federal government in the area of pensions, and compensation for spouses and children.

    The Liberals should act today and begin a process of establishing a national public safety officer compensation fund. I hope they do not follow the lead they have already started with the way they are dealing with widows of veterans in this country.

    The argument that the majority of firefighters are employed municipally and therefore are not the responsibility of the federal government is hollow, and one I do not believe sits well with Canadians. Canadians know how valuable all firefighters, including volunteers, are to their safety.

    As the IAFF has stated on a number of occasions, the Canadian government continues to avoid addressing the need for the establishment of a national compensation fund. Families of the nation's firefighters stand to endure financial hardship in addition to the grief of losing a loved one.

    I have been in the House since 1997. We continue to receive lobbies from firefighters annually for compensation for the loss of loved ones. In fact, I asked the parliamentary secretary this past week about doing the right thing for the firefighter community, which means establishing a national public safety officer compensation fund. The government could certainly lead the way by doing exactly that.

    It is time for the federal government to stop using jurisdictional arguments and implement a national public safety officer compensation fund to benefit the families of Canadian firefighters killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty.

    In my remaining time I would like to make a couple of comments about weapons and firearms searches as the bill has an impact and does make some changes.

    Under section 117.04 of the Criminal Code, a justice may issue a warrant authorizing the seizure of weapons or explosives if there are reasonable grounds to believe that it is unsafe for a person to possess such items.

    In Regina v. Hurrell on July 19, 2002, the Ontario Court of Appeal found the procedure unconstitutional since it required neither a police officer to have reasonable grounds to believe it likely that weapons would be found on a person or in a premises to be searched, nor the justice issuing a warrant to accept the reasons of the peace officer making the request.

    Justice Moldaver wrote:

    These gaps, in my view, are serious because in its present form, s. 117.04(1) allows for sweeping searches of persons and private premises in circumstances where the police may have no reason to suspect, let alone believe, that the person of concern has any weapons or other dangerous items in his or her possession.

    This provision contravenes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which protects Canadians from unreasonable search or seizure.

    To not impede the work of the police and to ensure society's protection against the risks involved in the use of weapons and explosives, the court suspended the application of the decision for six months to enable Parliament to bring the provision into conformity with the principles of the charter.

    Clause 3 of Bill C-32 aims to correct the significant shortcomings identified by the Ontario Court of Appeal. A justice wishing to issue a search warrant will now have to be satisfied by information given under oath by a peace officer that there are reasonable grounds to believe a person possesses a weapon or explosives in a house, building or other location identified by the forces of order.

    In closing, the PC Party will support the bill.

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[Translation]

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    Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, BQ): Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague for this speech concerning Bill C-32. It was clear and it also highlighted the fact that firefighters, in particular, are facing this kind of danger every day, especially in the case of illegal drug operations.

    However, I believe that my colleague also feels that this does not concern only firefighters. Police officers and ordinary citizens may also be the victims of criminals who place these traps to protect the millions of dollars that their operations represent.

    When we talk about such examples of wrongdoing, we are talking about those who commit them, that is those who place traps and are involved in illegal activities. When we look at the Criminal Code, we think there are two things that should be included in it.

    First, the mere fact of belonging to a criminal organization should be grounds for a jail sentence. This would make things much easier, because everyone knows that drug production and trafficking are the work of organized criminals, not ordinary citizens. Criminal organizations are necessarily involved.

    Second, the reversal of the burden of proof would not make criminal activities easier and this would prevent these criminals from continuing to engage in wrongdoing that has cost the lives of a number of firefighters, police officers and ordinary citizens.

    Would the member agree that we include both these elements in the Criminal Code, that is the reversal of the burden of proof and membership in a criminal organization as subject to criminal sentences?

[English]

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    Mr. Inky Mark: Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from the Bloc for his question, and I will say that there is no doubt the changes put in place by the bill are there to assist in the safety of our firefighters, law enforcement officers and those in emergency services so that they are not injured in the course of their work.

    However, the irony of this legislation, as we find in some of the other legislation in the House, is that it is contradictory. On the one hand we are concerned about the criminal element. Most of it, as we have heard in the debate today, is associated with marijuana grow operations. The demand for marijuana is putting at risk our firefighters, our police officers, our farmers and people who live in rural Canada, yet at the same time we are talking about Bill C-38, which really applies to the non-medical use of marijuana. We are talking about turning that infraction, which is a Criminal Code infraction, into a parking ticket offence. I think we are sending the wrong message to Canadians.

    Those who support the decriminalization of marijuana say we can prevent its use through education. How do we do it through education? We are concerned about youth. Who do we put first, the youth or the recreational users of marijuana? That is my question.

    Is it possible to have that balance if we are encouraging youth through a parking ticket approach if they are caught? In fact, the suggestion now is that it decrease from 30 grams to 15 grams. I am told that 15 grams is like half a package of cigarettes. I also heard this morning on the radio that there are more young people using marijuana than smoking tobacco.

    I think the government has to get it straight. It has to decide that what it is doing is consistent and that its legislation is consistent. We cannot do one thing in one piece of legislation, that is, protect the firefighters and the police of Quebec and the rest of the country, while at the same time in another piece of legislation we promote the use of the same drug.

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    Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NDP): Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from the PC Party, for as long as there is a PC Party, for his intervention, but I do wish to ask him a very simple question. If a 17 year old is caught somewhere in a park, for example, with a joint in his pocket, or is caught smoking it, does the member believe that this person should have a criminal record for life because of that indiscretion?

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    Mr. Inky Mark: Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member from the NDP for the question, but first I should say that the Conservative Party will be here for a long time.

    An hon. member: What about the progressives?

    Mr. Inky Mark: The members are all progressive in thinking.

    On the question, there is no doubt that the intent of the legislation is not to criminalize people who use the drug, but at the same time I do not think the country and the government have taken the time to figure out what a real drug strategy should be.

    Yesterday the RCMP came before the special subcommittee that is looking at marijuana, and I would hate to be in their shoes because the directions are so inconsistent. As I said earlier, in our country government departments are spending over half a billion dollars a year, with 95% of that money being spent in drug suppression, in other words, reducing the supply of marijuana in the country.

    That is over half a billion dollars, yet at the same as a society, because we do not know how to deal with youth and adults who consume marijuana recreationally, we are at a point now where we are going to take half measures to make sure that those people are not labelled as criminals.

    If they get caught with less than 15 grams of marijuana, they are going to get a parking ticket fine. Maybe the first offence would be $100. In fact, the current legislation does not even increase the fine. It does not even take away one's driver's licence. At this time, on the whole issue of drunk driving, there are not even any provisions to test a person who might be high on marijuana. It just does not make any sense. I do not think the country is ready for it. I do not think the police enforcement people are ready for it.

    In fact, I think that basically they have just been told. I asked the RCMP members if they even were consulted before this piece of legislation came to the House. I do not believe they were. I believe that they were just told it was going to happen and it would be their problem as to how they would deal with it.

    This country needs a debate in terms of how we should deal with drugs. Either we decriminalize or legalize, like we have done with other products that were prohibited in the past. As we know, alcohol was prohibited south of the border. It never was in this country. If prohibition does not work, let us figure out a solution. Maybe it is time for governments to grow it, control it, sell it and tax it to death, like alcohol.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Pierre Paquette (Joliette, BQ): Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the member, following his speech, if he thinks that the fact that the RCMP is presently looking at a report to reorganize its personnel geographically is consistent with this bill.

    For example, in Quebec, we were told about the possible closure of nine detachments. There is an RCMP detachment in my riding of Joliette. We were told that it would be closed and that these RCMP members would be posted to Trois-Rivières and Saint-Jérôme to serve the whole territory of Lanaudière.

    Does the member think that this kind of talk about closing RCMP detachments is consistent with the approach taken by the government in this bill?

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[English]

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    Mr. Inky Mark: Madam Speaker, I must say that shutting down the RCMP operations in any part of Canada is the wrong thing when we just have to look at the waste the government has shown us through the gun control bill and the HRDC boondoggle. There is no end to how the government wastes money. A better way to spend money would be to put the police officers on the street. That is how we will fight crime. The government just does not listen.

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    Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NDP): Madam Speaker, I will not take up too much time, but I did want to enter into the debate to let the House know that the New Democratic Party is in support of the recommendations before us, although we think they can be strengthened and tightened.

    I would like to point out that there are a few things in this country that are seriously flawed and need addressing. Today in question period, for example, the official opposition brought forward the case of an individual who had three manslaughter convictions, received three life sentences, which are 25 years each, served seven years and then was transferred to minimum security.

    I was just as shocked as they were. What are we saying to the criminals out there? Are we saying that the more crimes they commit the less time they will serve? Is that what we are saying? It is absolutely incredible. In fact, it almost leads one to think that justice in this country is done on economics instead of victims' rights.

    We could strengthen the sentences for marijuana grow ops and for what people do to booby-trap their homes. We could make the sentences 5, 10, 15 or 25 years, but if the individual who commits the crime is convicted and is not serving the time, what does it mean? It means absolutely nothing. It is just a piece of paper. We have a five year maximum sentence, but if someone serves one year, we will let them go. Again, economics is determining justice in this country and it is simply unacceptable.

    My colleague from the PC Party mentioned the great work the IAFF does and I am in full agreement with that. I think most members of Parliament would be. This is an exceptional group of men and women who bring their issues to us on almost a regular basis, but especially on their lobby days. They do it on behalf of their members and their families right across the country, including those in rural areas where there are volunteers.

    We should be very supportive of this group. Every single time I have met with the group I have learned that their objectives and concerns are very cost effective. In fact, they would save money for various associations and various departments across this government. They are fiscally responsible in their alternatives.

    There are ways to improve this type of legislation. I think there are ways in which we should do it. However, the previous speaker mentioned a debate in this country regarding a drug or marijuana policy. I should remind him, with the greatest of respect, and I am sure my colleague from Burnaby—Douglas could mention it as well, that we have been having a debate on marijuana for a long, long time. It has been going on and on.

    An hon. member: The Le Dain commission.

    Mr. Peter Stoffer: The member mentions the Le Dain commission.

    The reality is that we should not hide away from the debate. Many people can offer sound solutions. I am one who does not believe that if a 17 year old uses a joint in an indiscretion, or on an experimental basis or whatever, that individual should have a criminal record for life. Should that person be smoking marijuana? No. Should we educate individuals to inform them of the harm of marijuana or of any other drug use? Absolutely. To give them a criminal record is simply not going to do it. That has not worked in over 40 years. What makes us think it is going to work now?

    The reality is that this type of legislation, along with a drug policy that is effective and educational, where we can see results with timelines, is the way to go. If we think a zero tolerance policy would work, we can just look at what happened in the United States with Reagan. It was a complete, absolute, abject failure.

    So yes, we should encourage debate on this, but I remind the House that we have had this type of debate for a long time. On the particular aspects of Bill C-32, we support some of the initiatives to get it into committee so we can improve it. However, I fear that this bill, like most bills before the House of Commons, will die if the House prorogues, and we will probably end up having this conversation very soon in the near future.

  +-(1705)  

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Pierre Paquette (Joliette, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I totally agree with the member that it is preferable to have a preventive rather than a repressive approach with regard to the use of marijuana.

    One of the problems raised by the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot is the fact that organized crime takes over farm land and threatens the life of farmers and their families.

    In the region of Lanaudière, small game hunters discovered marijuana plants that had been planted in fields belonging to farmers who had nothing to do with that but who were living in terror.

    As for the idea of increasing the penalties for setting these types of traps that are often used by organized crime to protect its illegal crops, does the member think that this is something that could be useful not only in Quebec but in all of Canada?

[English]

+-

    Mr. Peter Stoffer: Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague from the Bloc Quebecois is right when he says that increasing sentences is a good deterrent. However, will it be carried out? If a person gets 10 years will the person serve 10 years. or will the person serve just two years and get off with good behaviour?

    The first part of my colleague's intervention with my colleague from Dauphin--Swan River was bang on. We should not be reducing the RCMP's budget. We should be increasing its surveillance capabilities as well as its offices throughout the country. We should also be increasing the number of people within the RCMP so they can continue to do the job that we ask them to do, which is, as we all know, an extremely hazardous and dangerous profession.

+-

    Mr. Svend Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I wonder if my colleague would comment on a concern that has been raised by a number of people with respect to the impact the government's proposed legislation to decriminalize marijuana would have.

    It has been suggested, with considerable strength, by a number of observers, including Progressive Conservative Senator Nolin of the other place who chaired a committee that made a number of what I thought were important recommendations with respect to drugs, as well as Eugene Oscapella, that the decriminalization of marijuana would, ironically, strengthen the power of organized crime. They say that it would give organized crime even more of an opportunity to take advantage of the fact that there are, in a sense, no legal sources of marijuana. Even the cultivation of marijuana for personal use would be criminalized even further in the legislation. People would still forced into the underworld and forced to rely on criminal sources for marijuana. Ironically, that could strengthen the power of organized crime.

    I wonder if the hon. member could comment on that and on the suggestion that as an alternative to the approach of decriminalization we should be looking at the approach that was suggested by the Senate committee chaired by Progressive Conservative Senator Nolin.

+-

    Mr. Peter Stoffer: Mr. Speaker, I personally thought that the Senate committee, under the individual who he just mentioned, took a very bold step in its recommendations, although some people thought it was a risky step.

    My hon. colleague from Burnaby--Douglas has raised a good point. I do recall that certain mayors of certain cities believed that the possible legalization of marijuana and a full drug strategy around that may be the answer. That is why we should not shy away from the debate. We need to bring all the players and stakeholders to the table and come up, once and for all, with a strategy that will work for all Canadians.

  +-(1710)  

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Pierre Paquette (Joliette, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois supports this bill. It contains useful amendments to the Criminal Code. Moreover, those amendments are along the same lines as the suggestions the Bloc Quebecois has been making for a number of years regarding organized crime, in particular the new offence with regard to traps placed by organized crime to protect its illegal activities.

    I think it is important to remind those who are listening that the bill not only proposes more serious offences with regard to an individual who places a trap that is likely to cause death or bodily harm to a person, but also contains provisions allowing the use of as much force as is reasonably necessary on board an aircraft to prevent the commission of an offence that would be likely to cause injury to the aircraft or to any person aboard.

    The bill would also amend the provision dealing with the provision of information on oath in relation to weapons. It would also create an exemption to the offence of intercepting private communications in order to protect computer systems.

    Bill C-32 would make other amendments to the Criminal Code. It would also amend the Financial Administration Act in order to authorize the federal government to take necessary measures to protect its computer systems. The bill would also amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the Canada Evidence Act, the Security of Information Act and the Criminal Code in order to make corrections which are basically technical but which are of interest nonetheless. In particular, the bill would make corrections in relation to equivalence between the two official language versions. You know how important it is—and I think you share this point of view—that the two languages be treated equally in federal institutions.

    Therefore, this bill addresses several aspects. Clearly, for several of my colleagues—and I believe that the speech given earlier by my colleague, the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, was rather eloquent in that regard—the new offence with regard to placing traps is somewhat symbolic, because it is in line with the amendments that we have asked for to fight organized crime.

    Placing a trap is already an offence under section 247 of the Criminal Code. The proposed changes would make the provision more explicit and establish new offences. Currently, this section establishes a maximum five-year term of imprisonment for anyone who sets a trap with intent to cause death or bodily harm to persons, no matter where it might be.

    This offence, with some minor changes, can still be found in Bill C-32. New offences are established. First, if a trap actually causes harm, there would be a 10-year sentence instead of the current 5-year sentence.

    If a person sets a trap in a place used for a criminal purpose, the maximum sentence would be 10 years. If a trap set in a place used for a criminal purpose actually causes harm, the maximum sentence would then be 15 years.

    Finally, if the trap causes death, wherever it is set, the maximum sentence would be life imprisonment.

    The hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot clearly explained how important this new provision is, especially when fields are used to grow marijuana or cannabis despite the efforts of both the public and the police. Such crops are taking over the land of farmers. They are a threat to the farmers, to their property and to their families. We have seen cases where a farmer realizes members of a criminal organization are growing cannabis in his fields. He faces a terrible dilemma: either keep silent to protect his family, which would make him an accomplice, or endanger his family, his life and his assets.

  +-(1715)  

    Sometimes, criminal organizations will leave a small envelope with money, so that the person will be indirectly guilty of being involved in this activity.

    Consequently, a number of things must be done. The amendment concerning the placing of traps is one of them. However, as the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot was mentioning, some elements should be added. The Bloc Quebecois has already proposed these elements, particularly with regard to membership in a criminal organization, even in a so-called passive way, so charges may be laid against these people.

    The other measure we are also calling for concerns the reversal of the burden of proof. I think the member explained it well earlier.

    That being said, I would like to put this in the context of consistency. The member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot mentioned this earlier. In his region, citizens and stakeholders took action. Indeed, they created a committee to promote the Info-Crime line 1-800-711-1800, if memory serves. It is a little like 911. This time, it is 711.

    People can anonymously report crimes that they witness. Police will do the work of gathering the evidence. At least, police forces will be tipped off. Often, this is also a way for a community to solve a problem. For example, a drug injection site in a neighbourhood can cause a whole lot of problems for families living in this neighbourhood, with regard to children's safety. It is not always easy for someone to call the police, to give one's name, to see the police car arrive at one's home, to see the officers get out and ring the door bell, while one's neighbour across the street has a drug injection site. Consequently, with this Info-Crime number, this can be done anonymously and confidentially. Then, police forces do their job and build the case.

    In the region of Lanaudière, following what was done in Montérégie, particularly in the region of Saint-Hyacinthe, a committee promoting the Info-Crime line was also created. However, this has produced a number of results that are perhaps not as good as those the member has mentioned. Unfortunately, the number of fields taken over for marijuana production has certainly not been reduced by 80% in the region of Lanaudière, but it is obvious that this has had an effect.

    I have a hard time understanding that while private citizens are tackling the problem, the federal government is letting the RCMP pull out. A report by RCMP internal management suggests that nine detachments out of 22 in Quebec be eliminated in order to concentrate the workforce in a few major cities.

    In the Lanaudière area, for example, we have a detachment with four officers in Joliette. That is not a big detachment. On the RCMP website, we read that the Joliette detachment has 13 officers. I phoned, and I was surprised to learn from one the officers there that there are only four of them left. The tactic used by the federal government and the RCMP is rather simple. The officers are offered transfers to other regions. When they agree to a transfer, the position they are leaving behind is not filled. That is how the Joliette detachment, in the Lanaudière area, has been reduced to just four officers, when it should have 13.

    Even those this detachment is too small, it does a crucial job backing up the municipal police in Joliette and elsewhere, and the Sûreté du Québec. The RCMP has the expertise to search premises and build cases, something other police forces are not in a position to do right now in the Lanaudière area.

    Indeed, if the RCMP's administrative report is ever implemented by the Solicitor General in the Lanaudière area, it will be a disaster. If the area is looked after from Saint-Jérôme and Trois-Rivières, with no RCMP detachment locally, it will be a field day for those taking over farm land.

    In this regard, the government is being inconsistent. Today, in Bill C-32, we are being presented with an initiative to protect the life of innocent people, but at the same time, the government is making decisions for reasons that make no sense, since the government is still raking in substantial surpluses.

  +-(1720)  

    This year, there is talk of a $7 billion surplus, which is more than double the $3 billion surplus that was announced.

    It seems to me that, to be consistent, the government must ensure that the Joliette detachment and the other eight that could be closed not only maintain their personnel but have it brought up to the level where it should be. In our case, four is not enough. That number should be increased to 13.

    The RCMP also does very important work with school boards to build files on drug dealers who use our schoolyards or the vicinity of our schools to approach kids who have just started high school or sometimes have not even finished grade school and transform them quickly into dealers themselves.

    As you know, drugs are expensive. First they get the kids hooked on drugs. Then they tell them that if they start selling drugs in their school, they will make enough money not only to buy drugs for themselves, but also to buy some luxury items.

    Without concerted action on the part of school boards, municipal police forces, the Sûreté du Québec and the RCMP, organized crime will make inroads into our schools. Also, as I mentioned, with regard to organized crime taking over farmland to cultivate marijuana, we will lose whatever gains had been made in the region of Lanaudière.

    I would expect a minimum of consistency on the part of the government and more concrete assurances than what we have had these last few days. In a planted question asked by a Liberal member, the Solicitor General was not even able to give us the assurance that there would not be any follow-up to that report. All he said was that no decision had been made yet.

    Fortunately there is an election coming. I think I can keep the detachment in Joliette at least until the election, and I will make it an election issue. In fact, I have launched a campaign directed at public sector decision-makers, including mayors, reeves, school principals and school board officials, to offer my support in order to keep the RCMP detachment in Joliette.

    It is not that I want a federal presence in the Lanaudière area. But since we are paying too much in taxes to the federal government, we want our money's worth. As long as we pay taxes to the federal government, I expect to have the same services in the Lanaudière area as those provided elsewhere in Quebec and in Canada.

    If the federal government were to decide that the RCMP presence is no longer required in the Lanaudière area and throughout Quebec, then the money should be transferred to us and I am sure the Sûreté du Québec, with an increase in staff, will be able to take over. However, as long as we keep paying taxes to Ottawa, as long as the people of Lanaudière keep paying taxes, we want to have access to the services paid for by our taxes, especially following any RCMP reorganization.

    Now, the offences for placing traps are, as we have indicated several times, a step in the right direction, although we expected a lot more. As the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot pointed out, we will see how the upcoming megatrials turn out, and the Bloc Quebecois will come up with appropriate enhancements to the Criminal Code.

    Let me now turn to the use of force on board an aircraft.

    Under the current Canadian legislation, the use of reasonable force on board an aircraft to prevent the commission of an offence is permitted. It also explicitly recognizes that everyone on board any aircraft in Canadian airspace or on board any aircraft registered in Canada in flight outside Canadian airspace is justified in using reasonable force when he or she believes it is necessary.

  +-(1725)  

    The clauses introduced by the legislator in Bill C-32 do not create a new right since criminal law already recognizes an individual's right to use reasonable force to prevent the commission of a crime. However, as departmental representatives stated, the new provision makes this principle explicit and expands it.

    We support the principle behind this provision for two reasons. First, we all remember the terrible attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001. This showed us how vulnerable we are to violence in an airplane. Obviously, a plane is an enclosed space. First, there is the cockpit, with the pilots and a set of extremely sensitive technical devices; a group of people is confined in this enclosed space. Therefore, we must ensure that passengers have all means at their disposal to protect themselves and their loved ones.

    Even if there is a slim chance that this clause may help prevent an attack, the victims must not become the criminals. It is common sense to ensure that the Criminal Code protects those individuals using force to prevent a crime. Furthermore, we support the principle behind this amendment since it aims to fulfill Canada's obligations under the Tokyo convention on offences and certain other acts committed on board aircraft.

    The Bloc Quebecois always believes that clauses under a multilateral framework must be respected. This is true of the Tokyo convention, but we have encouraged the government to ratify all major international conventions. There was the Kyoto protocol, the International Criminal Court, and more generally, foreign affairs policy. Canada has not yet signed, however, the Cartagena protocol on biosafety.

    As you know, in the whole debate surrounding the U.S. military action in Iraq, the Bloc Quebecois argued in favour of multilateralism, especially through the UN. We are pleased that the pressure we, the people of Quebec in particular, and the people of Canada in general, brought to bear resulted in Canada not joining the American government in this unilateral action. Members will understand therefore that signing a convention like this one is definitely in keeping with the directions the Bloc Quebecois is developing at this level as well as others.

    Other provisions deal with how peace officers should apply for a warrant to search for and seize weapons, prohibited devices, ammunition, explosives, and related licences, authorizations or registration certificates out of concern for public safety.

    For such a warrant to be issued, a peace officer must satisfy a justice that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person possesses these items and that it is not desirable in the interests of the safety of this person or of any other person for this person to possess these items. As we know, in a decision rendered in July 2002, the Ontario Court of Appeal found that the wording of section 117.04 of the Criminal Code violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This section sets out the procedure for a peace officer to apply for this kind of warrant. The court approved the purpose of legislation, which is to prevent deaths and bodily harm, particularly in the context of family violence, but found that the section dealing with the application for a warrant did not afford sufficient protection to individual rights under the Charter.

    The new wording of the section provides clarification. Members will understand that, while it considers that Quebec's Charter of Rights ought to have precedence over the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Bloc Quebecois nonetheless supports the principle of complying with the charters with respect to rights and freedoms.

    Unfortunately, I have run out of time to address intrusion detection systems. Perhaps another time.

    For all these reasons, the Bloc Quebecois will support Bill C-32.

  +-(1730)  

+-

    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): Unfortunately there is no time left. The hon. member for Joliette will have 10 minutes for questions and comments when debate resumes on Bill C-32.


+-Private Members' Business

[Private Members' Business]

*   *   *

[English]

+-Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act

    The House resumed from October 22 consideration of the motion that Bill S-7, an act to protect heritage lighthouses, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

+-

    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill S-7 under Private Members' Business.

    Call in the members.

*   *   *

  +-(1750)  

[Translation]

    Before the taking of the vote:

+-

    Mr. Bernard Bigras: Mr. Speaker, because of the federal government's stubborn refusal to recognize the nation of Quebec, I let myself get carried away this afternoon during oral question period. I want to apologize sincerely to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and express my regrets for my gesture.

    Nevertheless, I would like to state that as long as I sit as an elected member of this House, I will continue to defend the interests of Quebec and to promote the nationhood of Quebec.

[English]

+-

    Mr. Loyola Hearn: Mr. Speaker, the House will be voting on Bill S-7, which stands in the name of the hon. member for South Shore.

    Yesterday the hon. member was called back to his constituency because of the death of a close friend. The hon. member asked me to inform the House that he regrets his unavoidable absence. He asks that the House support the bill.

+-

    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): Is that agreed?

    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    An hon. member: On division.

    (Motion agreed to, bill read a second time and referred to a committee)

*   *   *

  +-(1755)  

[Translation]

+-Criminal Code

    The House resumed from October 23 consideration of the motion that Bill C-416, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Youth Criminal Justice Act (sentencing principles), be read the second time and referred to committee.

+-

    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-416, under private members' business.

*   *   *

  +-(1805)  

[English]

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

+

(Division No. 271)

YEAS

Members

Ablonczy
Anders
Anderson (Cypress Hills—Grasslands)
Bailey
Benoit
Breitkreuz
Bryden
Burton
Cadman
Chatters
Cummins
Day
Duncan
Elley
Epp
Fitzpatrick
Forseth
Goldring
Gouk
Grewal
Grey
Hill (Macleod)
Hilstrom
Hinton
Jaffer
Johnston
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Lunn (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
Lunney (Nanaimo—Alberni)
Martin (Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca)
McNally
Meredith
Merrifield
Mills (Red Deer)
Moore
Pallister
Penson
Reid (Lanark—Carleton)
Ritz
Schmidt
Shepherd
Skelton
Solberg
Sorenson
Spencer
Strahl
Toews
Vellacott
White (Langley--Abbotsford)
Williams
Yelich

Total: -- 51

NAYS

Members

Adams
Alcock
Allard
Anderson (Victoria)
Assad
Asselin
Augustine
Bachand (Saint-Jean)
Bakopanos
Barnes (Gander—Grand Falls)
Bélanger
Bennett
Bergeron
Bertrand
Bevilacqua
Bigras
Binet
Blaikie
Blondin-Andrew
Bonin
Boudria
Bourgeois
Bradshaw
Bulte
Byrne
Calder
Cannis
Caplan
Cardin
Carroll
Casey
Catterall
Cauchon
Chamberlain
Charbonneau
Clark
Comartin
Copps
Crête
Cuzner
Dalphond-Guiral
Desjarlais
Desrochers
Dhaliwal
Dion
Doyle
Dromisky
Drouin
Duplain
Eggleton
Eyking
Folco
Gagnon (Québec)
Gagnon (Champlain)
Gagnon (Lac-Saint-Jean—Saguenay)
Gaudet
Gauthier
Girard-Bujold
Godfrey
Godin
Goodale
Graham
Grose
Guay
Guimond
Harvard
Harvey
Hearn
Hubbard
Ianno
Jackson
Jennings
Jobin
Jordan
Karetak-Lindell
Keyes
Kilgour (Edmonton Southeast)
Knutson
Kraft Sloan
Laframboise
Lalonde
Lastewka
LeBlanc
Lee
Lill
Longfield
Loubier
MacAulay
Macklin
Maloney
Manley
Marceau
Marcil
Mark
Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
Martin (LaSalle--Émard)
Matthews
McCallum
McCormick
McDonough
McGuire
McKay (Scarborough East)
McLellan
McTeague
Mitchell
Murphy
Myers
Nault
Neville
O'Brien (London--Fanshawe)
O'Reilly
Owen
Pacetti
Pagtakhan
Paquette
Paradis
Patry
Peric
Perron
Peschisolido
Peterson
Phinney
Picard (Drummond)
Pickard (Chatham--Kent Essex)
Pillitteri
Plamondon
Pratt
Price
Proulx
Redman
Reed (Halton)
Regan
Robillard
Robinson
Rocheleau
Rock
Roy
Saada
Sauvageau
Savoy
Schellenberger
Scherrer
Scott
Sgro
Simard
St-Hilaire
St-Jacques
St. Denis
Steckle
Stewart
Stoffer
Szabo
Thibault (West Nova)
Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Tonks
Torsney
Tremblay
Valeri
Vanclief
Wilfert
Wood

Total: -- 161

PAIRED

Members

Barrette
Brown
Duceppe
Fournier
Lanctôt
Ménard
Parrish
Tirabassi

Total: -- 8

+-

    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): I declare the motion lost.

*   *   *

[Translation]

+-Encroachment upon Quebec Jurisdictions

    The House resumed from October 27, 2003, consideration of the motion.

+-

    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on Motion No.394, under private members' business.

*   *   *

  +-(1815)  

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

-

(Division No. 272)

YEAS

Members

Anders
Asselin
Bachand (Saint-Jean)
Bergeron
Bigras
Bourgeois
Cardin
Clark
Comartin
Crête
Dalphond-Guiral
Desrochers
Gagnon (Champlain)
Gagnon (Lac-Saint-Jean—Saguenay)
Gagnon (Québec)
Gaudet
Gauthier
Girard-Bujold
Godin
Guay
Guimond
Laframboise
Lalonde
Lill
Loubier
Marceau
Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
McDonough
Paquette
Perron
Picard (Drummond)
Plamondon
Robinson
Rocheleau
Roy
Sauvageau
St-Hilaire
Tremblay

Total: -- 38

NAYS

Members

Ablonczy
Adams
Alcock
Allard
Anderson (Cypress Hills—Grasslands)
Anderson (Victoria)
Assad
Augustine
Bailey
Bakopanos
Barnes (Gander—Grand Falls)
Bélanger
Bennett
Benoit
Bertrand
Bevilacqua
Binet
Blondin-Andrew
Bonin
Bonwick
Boudria
Bradshaw
Breitkreuz
Bryden
Bulte
Burton
Byrne
Calder
Cannis
Caplan
Carroll
Casey
Catterall
Cauchon
Chamberlain
Charbonneau
Chatters
Copps
Cummins
Cuzner
Day
Desjarlais
Dhaliwal
Dion
Doyle
Dromisky
Drouin
Duncan
Duplain
Eggleton
Elley
Epp
Eyking
Fitzpatrick
Folco
Forseth
Godfrey
Goldring
Goodale
Gouk
Graham
Grewal
Grey
Grose
Harvard
Harvey
Hearn
Hill (Macleod)
Hilstrom
Hubbard
Ianno
Jackson
Jaffer
Jennings
Jobin
Johnston
Jordan
Karetak-Lindell
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Kilgour (Edmonton Southeast)
Knutson
Kraft Sloan
Lastewka
LeBlanc
Lee
Longfield
MacAulay
Macklin
Maloney
Manley
Marcil
Mark
Martin (Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca)
Martin (LaSalle--Émard)
Matthews
McCallum
McCormick
McGuire
McKay (Scarborough East)
McLellan
McNally
McTeague
Meredith
Merrifield
Mills (Red Deer)
Mitchell
Moore
Murphy
Myers
Nault
Neville
O'Brien (London--Fanshawe)
O'Reilly
Owen
Pacetti
Pagtakhan
Pallister
Paradis
Patry
Penson
Peric
Peschisolido
Peterson
Phinney
Pickard (Chatham--Kent Essex)
Pillitteri
Pratt
Price
Proulx
Redman
Regan
Reid (Lanark—Carleton)
Ritz
Robillard
Rock
Saada
Savoy
Schellenberger
Scherrer
Schmidt
Scott
Sgro
Shepherd
Simard
Skelton
Solberg
Sorenson
Spencer
St-Jacques
St. Denis
Steckle
Stewart
Stoffer
Strahl
Szabo
Thibault (West Nova)
Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Toews
Tonks
Torsney
Ur
Valeri
Vanclief
Vellacott
White (Langley--Abbotsford)
Wilfert
Williams
Wood

Total: -- 168

PAIRED

Members

Barrette
Brown
Duceppe
Fournier
Lanctôt
Ménard
Parrish
Tirabassi

Total: -- 8

+-

    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): I declare the motion lost.

    It being 6:15 p.m., the House will now proceed to consideration of private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper.

*   *   *

[English]

+-Business of the House

+-Privacy Commissioner Nominee

+-

    Hon. Don Boudria (Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. In order to commence the proceedings pursuant to Standing Order 111.1, I am now tabling the resumé of Jennifer Stoddart, who is the nominee of the Government of Canada for the position of Privacy Commissioner.

[Translation]

    This is referred to the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates.

*   *   *

[English]

-Marriage Act

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    Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Canadian Alliance) moved that Bill C-447, an act to protect the institution of marriage, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

    He said: Mr. Speaker, whoever thought that a bill would have been necessary in Canada to protect the definition of marriage? I certainly did not. That is what Bill C-447 is for, and I quote from the title page of the bill, “to protect the institution of marriage”.

    Marriage is central to society, central to Canada and central to our continuation as a nation. I support the traditional definition of marriage as do my constituents by an enormous percentage.

    I will explore this subject in the following way: one, what is the definition of marriage and why it is important; two, who wants to change the definition; three, what is the international experience; and four, Parliament versus judge made law.

    One, the current definition of marriage states that marriage is the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. Why is that important to society? Marriage has been central to civilized society throughout recorded history. Marriage stripped of all its peripheral niceties is about children and giving children the best chance to grow to adulthood in health, safety and happiness. This is the reason for tax breaks by government, special holidays for children and parents, religious recognition of marriage and all the special treatment of marriage worldwide.

    Picture the dad with his pretty little daughter sobbing in his arms, hurt in an accidental incident at school, comforted, loved and soothed. That is the reason that marriage is important. There is no institution, no group, no educator and no psychologist that can replace marriage as the foundation for rearing a child.

    Two, who wants to change the definition? The idea of redefining marriage is a relatively new phenomenon. Activists have sought this redefinition in incremental steps since my arrival in Parliament 10 years ago. I accept their right to influence public policy by sound intellectual debate. I disapprove of the position that says debate of a contrary position is hateful or homophobic.

    Proponents have framed this issue as an issue of human rights, equivalent to the battles for racial equality. Some Canadians accept that argument, but to me it is based on a false premise. This issue is based on behaviour and preference, neither of which is static or unchangeable.

    Three, what is the international experience? Only two countries worldwide have redefined marriage to allow same sex marriage, the Netherlands and Belgium. These developments are recent. Interestingly the Dutch supreme court ruled for the traditional definition of marriage. Its legislators, the men and women accountable to the public, changed the law to allow same sex marriage. Just the reverse is happening here in Canada.

    Many jurisdictions internationally, particularly in the United States, have brought in legislation to specifically protect the traditional definition of marriage, recognizing its unique character and importance. To be specific, defence of marriage acts are laws to protect the institution of marriage and they are proactive steps in this debate. This shows the broad diversity of action that different countries have taken.

    Where then will Canada go? That brings me to the current situation in Canada, which I call judge versus parliamentary law, and label number four.

    The legal system in Canada does allow challenges under our charter to even our most basic institutions. As court decisions made the traditional definition of marriage unsure, the Parliament of Canada expressed itself on June 8, 1999 on the definition of marriage with the motion:

    That, in the opinion of the House, it is necessary, in light of public debate around recent court decisions, to state that marriage is and should remain the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others and that Parliament will take all necessary steps within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada to preserve this definition of marriage in Canada.

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    That motion passed 216 to 55.

    Even more recent provincial superior court decisions stated that the traditional definition of marriage flew in the face of the charter's equality provisions. This was not a grey area, not an interpretation of a vague parliamentary position or law, but an area upon which Parliament had stated a firm and very fixed position. Six judges could flaunt the stated will of Parliament? I do not think so. Six provincial judges.

    The Liberal government did not take all necessary steps to preserve the definition of marriage with a law as we were promised. The Liberal government did not wait to hear from its own committee that studied the issue in hearings across Canada. The Liberal government did not take any of the necessary steps and that, in my view, is not acceptable.

    Even on Bill C-447 which we are discussing, by procedural tricks the Liberal dominated committee made this private member's bill non-votable, the first such decision in the history of our new rules on votability of private members' bills. It ensures that the House of Commons, the accountable legislators in Canada, will not have a vote on this fundamental issue. In my view that is some attention to the democratic deficit.

    What has the Prime Minister and his cabinet actually decided to do instead? They are bowing down to the Supreme Court of Canada with a reference asking two basic questions. One, is same sex marriage okay with the charter? Two, will religious denominations be allowed not to participate in same sex marriage?

    Instead of putting a law in front of Canadians to allow or disallow the exclusivity of traditional marriage, they shirk their duty. The question that should have been put to the Supreme Court of Canada is as follows: Is the traditional definition of marriage constitutional? That is the question Parliament should ask and could ask.

    Bill C-447 also looks at the issue of recognizing unions outside traditional marriage, reflecting the fact that the provinces have jurisdiction in this area and in most cases have acted or are acting to provide the appropriate legal recognition of same sex couples and frankly to meet the equality provisions in the charter while leaving marriage alone.

    Changing the definition of marriage is to strip marriage of all meaning. It is like changing the definition of grape juice to call it wine. The characteristics of both grape juice and wine will remain the same but the definition will have no meaning.

    Marriage is for children, for procreation and protection. It is the fundamental unit of our society.

    This issue must be decided by the Canadian public through their elected and accountable representatives. If we cannot function in Parliament to this end, we are withering in a poor shadow of our original purposes and ideals.

    Imagine again the little daughter comforted on her daddy's knee, her mother bursting through the emergency room door with baby in arms, and the sobs of joy and relief as the injury is less serious than thought. There is an explanation of what happened and lessons learned. Marriage is for children. Marriage cannot be redefined lightly and judges cannot be the ones to redefine marriage.

    If there has ever been an important issue in Canada, this is it. If there has ever been an election issue, this is it. If there has ever been an issue for Parliament to decide, this is it.

    I stand for traditional marriage just like my constituents.

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    Mr. Ken Epp: Mr. Speaker, is there time for questions and comments?

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    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): No, given that the bill is a non-votable item, there are no questions or comments and the debate lasts for only one hour instead of the usual two.

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the bill before us tonight, Bill C-447, an act to protect the institution of marriage, is a very short bill with one main provision. The provision states “Marriage is the lawful union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others”.

    That wording should be familiar to members of the House since we had a vote on those very words less than six weeks ago in the form of an opposition day motion. The motion was defeated by a narrow margin. The bill we have before us today is just another way of attempting to bring the very same issue forward again, once more in a rushed manner and in an attempt to short-circuit what would be the responsible approach to this complex question set out by the government in July.

    For that reason alone, Bill C-447 deserves to meet a quick end. However I have two further reasons that I would like to set out for my colleagues today.

    First, the bill is flawed in that it is not, I suggest, intellectually honest with the House or with Canadians.

    Second, the passage of the substance of the bill would have a potential impact on the rights of other minority groups in Canada.

    Let me begin by explaining my remark about intellectual honesty. The fact is that the opposite sex requirement for marriage has been struck down by the unanimous decisions of the courts of appeal both in British Columbia and in Ontario. The lower court decision in Quebec also agrees that the requirement is unconstitutional. Yet the bill avoids this very fact, that essential fact that has resulted in this particular bill being ruled non-votable.

    Bill C-447 is unconstitutional as Parliament cannot overrule a charter finding of discrimination, or at least not without deliberately doing so with the notwithstanding clause. That was the conclusion that we came to with respect to the opposition motion and it remains the conclusion today.

    I am also quite concerned about the importance of protecting minority rights. The Liberal Party has long been known for its consideration of the rights of minorities, not the least of which is the determination to entrench the bill of rights into our Constitution in order to ensure that vulnerable minority groups have equal treatment under our laws. This means all vulnerable minority groups, both those that would be able to get their issue before the government of the day and those without the power to do so into the future.

    I was and remain very proud of that philosophy, and its result in the charter. I think of it every time I read a newspaper report that expresses concern that the government is proceeding down this path to giving legal recognition to same sex unions against the will of the majority. I think about it because I, like many members, have come to support this decision on the need to legally recognize same sex unions a bit reluctantly.

    I may not be entirely comfortable with the idea of changing the definition of marriage to include same sex relationships. It is still new for me, for many of my colleagues, friends and families, but I am persuaded because of the potential for impact on other Canadian minorities.

    Most of us belong or know many who belong to one minority or another. As Canadians we pride ourselves on the ability of Canadian minority groups to maintain their distinct realities, be they racial, religious, linguistic or cultural. Unlike some other countries with a much greater push toward conformity, we respect the right of others to live something that we may not entirely believe in or agree with, so that they will in turn respect our right to live as we choose.

    That is not to say that we are a lawless country. On the contrary. With these differences between us, we share a great many of our fundamental values. We are a nation that also prides itself on our rule of law and on our ability to live within those laws.

    However, what happens when we as elected legislators ignore our responsibility to also protect those members of minority communities among us who are without voices, without representation? What happens then to the rule of law and to the values that stand behind our charter?

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    If one minority community can be deliberately discriminated against by law, then are not all minority communities at risk? This issue is not just about changing a definition of marriage with which all of us have grown up. It is about the essence of equality; the inclusion of all within our major social institutions.

    I have heard a great deal of rhetoric on this issue lately. I understand and feel the concern that this change is happening too fast and that the majority of Canadians are being asked to see a fundamental change to a central social institution because of a very small minority group that believes they are discriminated against by being left out.

    However, what happens when we do that traditional test for any equality issue? What does the issue sound like when we substitute one group for another? Black Canadians cannot marry each other or Catholic Canadians cannot marry each other. Does it not then start to sound as if we are keeping a minority group out of full participation in our society?

    If marriage is as fundamental to them as it is to me, should they not also have the choice to decide to publicly demonstrate that same level of commitment to each other that I can choose to demonstrate with my spouse? I have heard some people put forward the objection that nothing is stopping gay and lesbian Canadians from marrying; they just have to marry someone from the opposite sex. That is insulting nonsense.

    The medical community overwhelmingly agrees that sexual orientation, whatever its basis, is not as simple as choice. Why would anyone choose to be part of a minority that still suffers significant discrimination, as shown by the high numbers of adolescent suicides and other sad statistics?

    As elected legislators, we may understandably first be concerned about those issues the majority of our constituents believe are important. However at some point we must also accept that we take on a larger responsibility beyond that to our own electors. We have responsibility to the future of Canada that is based on the strength of minority communities and their ability to fully participate in and contribute to all aspects of Canadian life, particularly those we find of most importance in our own lives.

    Finally, I wish to return to my initial concern with Bill C-447. It is premature and it attempts to short-circuit the responsible approach set out by the government in July to a complex question on which many Canadians have deeply held views.

    The government has proposed an approach that is both balanced and respects the important roles of both Parliament and the courts. Its draft legislation creates a balance by fully respecting two fundamental charter rights: equality based on personal characteristics such as race, language or sexual orientation; and freedom of religion.

    There are only two provisions. The first defines marriage to be a lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others. The second states that “Nothing in this act affects the freedom of officials of religious groups to refuse to perform marriages that are not in accordance with their religious beliefs”.

    To further ensure freedom of religion, the bill has been referred to the Supreme Court of Canada, along with certain specific questions. The benefit of referring this draft bill to the Supreme Court for its advice is not in any way to preclude parliamentary process. Rather, it is to clarify for members of Parliament what is possible within the framework of the charter and, in particular, whether freedom of religion remains protected.

    I believe the better way to proceed is to get all the information, to come back to the House and to debate the matter fully. Parliament is the place where this matter should be settled.

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    Mr. Norman Doyle (St. John's East, PC): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak in the debate on the nature and the institution of marriage, which continues to be an issue that divides the country. Hopefully the government will recognize the wisdom of resolving this matter in a manner that truly reflects the importance of marriage to our society.

    It has always been my position, when questions of this nature are brought before the House of Commons, that members should study and reflect on the issue and look deeply into their own conscience. Personally I have found, through a thorough examination of my conscience, that I should promote the view of upholding the traditional definition of marriage because it is in the best interests of society.

    When I examine this issue thoroughly, many observations come to my mind. First I call to mind that marriage is the only social union that can be a reproductive union. It directs mothers and fathers to the care and support of their children. It establishes the norm that children have a prima facie right to know and to be raised by their own mothers and fathers unless exceptional circumstances dictate otherwise.

    When I see Parliament attempting to redefine marriage, I am saddened by the fact that the government is attempting to redefine the traditions and values of Canadian society. It is attempting to redesign an institution older and more fundamental to Canadian society than Parliament itself. I think of that and ask why Canadian laws should not embody the conviction that marriage is the principal social basis upon which our society seeks to ensure its stability and perpetuation.

    Justice Robert Blair of the Ontario Supreme Court recognized that concept when he said “This remedy entails not merely an incremental change in law, but a very profound one”.

    He pointed out that:

--the consequences and potential reverberations flowing from such a transformation in the concept of marriage...touch the core of many people’s belief and value systems....

    That kind of statement leads one to think that Canadians, of whatever faith or ethnic background, whatever their sexual orientation, should resist any approach that would undermine an institution so essential to the well-being of Canadians, past, present and future.

    I also worry that if the government continues on this reckless path, at some point a marriage will cease to be a marriage in any recognizable sense of the term. In fact, if the government should redefine marriage as being other than the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, what might prevent other arrangements or unions from petitioning the government to accept the union say of two men, two women, or two women, one man? I worry that the doors will be thrown wide open to court challenges by such interpersonal arrangements.

    We have to ask ourselves where we want to be as a society in 25 or 50 years from now. Being a respectful and a tolerant society demands that we be compassionate to people of diverse identities. However attempting to use legal or political mechanisms to hack into an institution that is vital to the conjugal identity of heterosexual Canadians, and to totally reconfigure that institution to serve a very different type of sexual identity, puts forward an aggressive claim that goes far beyond concerns for tolerance and respect.

    Tolerance must not subvert the right of others to maintain and foster the integrity of their own unique institution. No institution has been more central and more vital to heterosexual life and identity than marriage. That point is conceded on all sides of this debate.

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    One should not tear down one institution so valuable to society to build up another one. That does not represent the progress of fundamental human rights.

    To change the definition of marriage in a significant way fundamentally alters a social institution that is beneficial to its participants, to children and to society as a whole. Government should be and must be supporting marriage. It must recognize that all relationships are not the same and should not be treated the same. This is what government is attempting to do: to say that all relationships are the same. Yes, there are other forms of relationships in our society besides marriage where people are supportive of each other. However, they do not serve the purposes of marriage or have the form of marriage.

    I worry that Canada is headed down a very dangerous path, a path that we will one day regret. I worry that Canada is enthusiastically abolishing the old institutions out of which it grew; yes, Christianity, traditional family, the monarchy, and civil law rooted in natural law. We are dumping these things with no clear idea of what we will replace them with. Someone once said that people should not quit their job unless they have found another. The same principle surely applies to social institutions as well.

    Let us remember as well that traditional marriage is an institution that predates modern democracy and has a similar form in every major culture and religion. It cannot be redefined without creating tremendous societal upheaval. This is not an area where government should be headed, because marriage, as I said, is the only social union that can be called and is a reproductive union.

    We are all aware of what the courts have said in the past. We are all aware that government currently has the issue before the Supreme Court of Canada waiting for further direction, but I prefer to take my direction on this issue based on our history and our culture, based on my religion and based on my conscience. I urge all members to reflect long and very hard on this issue.

    In redefining marriage, we are not just playing with words or semantics. We are playing with the basic building blocks of society itself. As a society, we should be careful what we wish for because we just may get our wish and a whole lot of woes we did not count on.

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    Mr. Joe Comartin (Windsor—St. Clair, NDP): Mr. Speaker, Bill C-447 is a bill that it is suggested we should debate around the protection of the institution of marriage. It is a very short bill. It has at its beginning several points that begin with whereas, the first one of which is, “Whereas marriage has from time immemorial been recognized as the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others”.

    That in fact is false. Let us go back historically to the Christian period and the start of Christianity when Christ himself was alive on this earth, to the region he came from. The reality at that time was that polygamy was more common than a single relationship between one man and one woman. At the same period of time, and we could go back even further, the influence from Greece was still very prominent in Rome, in the modern world as they saw it at that time.

    We know, if we look at history at all, that during the period of Greece's dominance of the world at that time, if I can put it that way, a number of the city states in fact recognized same sex relationships that were in the form of a union recognized both by the state and by religions of that period.

    Therefore, as I have said, that initial whereas is not based on historical fact. Quite frankly, we can come down from that period through history to any number of other times, including times within the Catholic church where the Catholic church recognized same sex relationships and certified them within the structure of the Catholic church.

    The second whereas reads that “because of certain court decisions, it is now necessary to clarify the meaning of marriage”. The bill goes on in the third whereas to say that “the Parliament of Canada, representing all Canadians, must be the final authority with respect to social policy decisions”.

    In effect, these two points set up a conflict. I think it is accurate to say they reflect the reality of that conflict in our society, but what they do not reflect, and what they ignore or perhaps do not comprehend, is that in 1982 this country made a decision that when those conflicts existed between elements of society and government, this society, the Canadian society, the Canadian constitutional framework, would allow and authorize our court system to make a determination as to who was right in that conflict. That is the issue we are confronted with today and have been confronted with for a good number of years now.

    We have had members of the gay and lesbian community saying that this is an equality issue, an issue that they see as a basic human right, and we have had the state in the form of legislation say no, they are wrong and this is the way it will be defined. We have that conflict.

    Again, though, in 1982 this country and this Parliament adopted changes to the constitutional framework and adopted a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. At that time, they handed over to our courts the decision making power to deal with this type of conflict. We had the state on one side saying one thing and an individual group, in this case a minority group, claiming another. When we did that we did it consciously. We cannot go back at this point and say we did not understand it. Any parliamentarian elected to this House should have understood that. That is the system we function under.

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    Ultimately we have to allow this issue to go to the Supreme Court of Canada, as the government has now done. Lower courts have ruled on it, but the decision has to be made there. In effect, that is what is underway at this point. Until that happens, until we know what the ruling is on this issue from the highest court in the land, this legislation we have before us will have to wait.

    I have to say that in terms of my reading of the law and my expectation of what the Supreme Court is going to do, it will rule on the charter and on equality rights in favour of the claim that is being made by the gay and lesbian community in the country. I will say that the Supreme Court is going to allow it and in fact mandate that this legislature recognize those relationships as full marriages.

    I want to cover a couple of other points. There has been a great deal of criticism, and I think we have heard it in some of the speeches, about the way we are going about this. There has been criticism that the courts are unelected and that somehow this is anti-democratic and it is going to impinge on other people's rights, specifically within the religious community. There has been criticism that certain churches are going to be forced, against their principles, to marry same sex couples.

    Anyone who has studied the law in this country will know that this argument is without merit. I will address my church specifically. The Catholic church has traditionally to this day refused to marry people who have been divorced. Unless they obtain an annulment within the canon law of that church, they cannot remarry within the church. That has existed for at least 40 or 50 years, since divorce became much more common in this country. There has not been one challenge to the Catholic church saying, “You have to allow me to marry within your church even though I'm divorced”. There has not been one successful case, not even a challenge.

    The reason for this is that everybody and every lawyer in the country who knows anything, both about our charter rights and about family law, would tell us that this challenge would be unsuccessful, as it would be if gay couples ultimately are allowed to marry. The courts would be saying the same thing, which is that if these couples want to be married within the Catholic church and the Catholic church continues to prohibit those marriages, the courts are not going to force the Catholic church to marry them.

    On the other hand, and I think this is often missed in this debate, a number of churches, including Christian churches, now want to allow and are beginning to allow gay couples to be married, that religion sanctifying those relationships, certifying, recognizing and in fact conducting a religious ceremony recognizing the sanctity of that relationship. If we were to prohibit that, if we were to pass this bill and it became law, we would be saying to those churches that they do not have the right to do that. We would be denying them that right. It would not only be a denial of rights to the gay and lesbian community but to the United Church, which has led the way in this regard. It would be told that it cannot conduct those marriages.

    The other point I want to raise refers to some of the comments about undermining marriage that were made by the previous speaker from the Progressive Conservative Party. We can look to some examples, because there are two other countries that have moved down this path ahead of us. The Netherlands has had this in place for two years. In those first two years, the rate of marriage among heterosexual couples actually went up. The other argument was that somehow it was going to affect the birthrate. Its birthrate was not affected whatsoever. Belgium is now beginning to follow that example. My understanding is that it is having a similar experience.

    I speak strongly against this bill. It is founded on principles or arguments that in fact are generally not accurate. On that basis, I speak very strongly against the bill going through.

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    Mr. Tom Wappel (Scarborough Southwest, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-447 which I support. This should come as no surprise to most members.

    The previous speaker spoke about 2,000 year old history. I also want to speak a little bit about history but not that kind of history. I want to speak about the history of a more closer contemporary time.

    I was dismayed with the parliamentary secretary's speech. The parliamentary secretary's speech runs counter to the position of every single minister of justice that the Government of Canada has had since Canada was formed, with the exception of the last and current minister of justice.

    The arguments that were put forward by the parliamentary secretary were the very arguments that for years and years were refuted by the Government of Canada. They were refuted in court case after court case as the Government of Canada, including this government, supported in the courts the traditional definition of marriage until June of this year. That is a little bit of recent factual history.

    I want to read what the then parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice, the hon. member for Ahuntsic, said on June 8, 1999, on this very issue. She said:

    The institution of marriage is historically, culturally and by definition a heterosexual institution. In Quebec, a fundamental condition of a valid marriage has always been that the two people involved are of the opposite sex. That condition is inherent in the very institution of marriage.

    She then went on to talk about the vast amount of consultation that the Government of Canada and the Department of Justice had with jurists across Canada: the Canadian Bar Association, the Chambre des notaires, the Quebec chapter of the Canadian Bar, and the Quebec justice department. She went on to say:

    We can therefore see that all necessary precautions have been taken by government legal experts to ensure that the rule of law, which is well established in our country with respect to what constitutes a spouse, is not inadvertently changed.

    She concluded by saying:

    There is no issue here. The Minister of Justice--

    That is the previous minister of justice:

--was clear this morning that the government has no intention of changing the definition of marriage. It has never said that it would and she put that on the record this morning.

    That is historical fact from this government in 1999.

    I introduced Bill C-225 on October 1, 1997, entitled an act to amend the marriage (prohibited degrees) act and the interpretation act. For all intents and purposes it said what the hon. member's bill currently says.

    I warned everyone back in 1997 that this issue was coming. Of course, I was not believed. Of course, it was not coming. I was told that the definition of marriage was crystal clear, it was in the common law, it would never be changed, and that I should not worry about it.

    The private members' committee refused to make the bill votable because it was so clear that the definition of marriage would never be changed because the common law was clear. The Department of Justice was supporting the common law definition and would argue it tooth and nail right to the Supreme Court of Canada. We debated the bill; however, it was not votable.

    The hon. members for Burnaby—Douglas and Hochelaga—Maisonneuve both took the position that they did not agree with the bill. That was fine; they had a position. They have been historically consistent in the position that they have taken, as have I.

    While we disagree, I can certainly respect that they have taken a position which they have not wavered on. I, too, have taken a position which I have not wavered on.

    On March 25, 1998, the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas introduced his own private member's bill which was basically an opposite of my private member's bill. I was flattered that he noticed it.

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    On March 28, 2000, the hon. member for Mississauga West introduced Bill C-463 which was virtually identical to my Bill C-225, with almost no changes except one or two minor variances. Was I angry? No, after all, imitation is the sincerest form of praise.

    I was very pleased that he brought that forward. I was not pleased as to how the hon. member voted in the most recent vote with respect to this issue when he apparently voted contrary to the very bill he put forward in March 2000.

    People are talking about this issue as a matter of human rights. It is not a matter of human rights and I am not alone in saying it is not a matter of human rights. The supreme court of New Zealand has found that this issue is not a matter of human rights. If the Supreme Court of Canada declares that this chair is a dog, it does not make this chair a dog. I do not have to believe that this chair is a dog because the Supreme Court of Canada says it is.

    There is no court that I am aware of anywhere, outside of Canada, that has held that this issue is an issue of human rights. The two countries that have allowed same sex marriage have taken the issue squarely on what it is. They have stated that it is a question for society to decide whether or not it wishes to allow this as a matter of societal rules. Those two countries, Belgium and Netherlands, have decided that they are going to take this social position as a democratic country and permit same sex couples to marry. They have not hidden behind the nonsensical argument that this is a matter of human rights, and the supreme court of New Zealand has recognized that it is not.

    What makes the Supreme Court of Canada right and the supreme court of New Zealand wrong, or vice versa for that matter? The point is that both are from the British legal system, and both have well known and well respected jurists. Members can decide one way or another; however, we cannot find any jurisdiction anywhere in the world other than Canada that has held this issue to be an issue of human rights, and it is not. It is for this House, not the courts, to decide this issue.

    We must remember where we stood on this issue. We must remember our history. We must remember that this very government argued in the courts in favour of the current definition of the institution of marriage, and then virtually overnight flip-flopped. It is a fact. Why? It is this institution, not the executive branch, that must make this decision.

    Referring matters to the Supreme Court of Canada with rigged questions are smokescreens. They do not ask the very obvious question, is it constitutional to limit marriage to heterosexual couples? That question was not asked of the Supreme Court. Why? Because those who are driving this agenda are afraid that the Supreme Court might say yes indeed, it is constitutional. The Supreme Court may not like it, but it may have to say it.

    We also have section 91 of the Constitution, where we can say that for the peace, order and good government of this country we are enacting certain laws. The Supreme Court can also use section 91.

    We were talking about history. I wanted to bring some history to this place. I also want to remind my own government that, up until this last Minister of Justice, every Liberal minister of justice since we were elected in 1993 has supported publicly, in the House and in the courts, the traditional definition of marriage. I say shame on them for changing their minds.

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    Mr. Werner Schmidt (Kelowna, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to enter this debate because we are probably debating one of the most significant bills the House has seen for a long time, Bill C-447 on the definition of marriage.

    I am opposed to changing the definition of marriage. The definition of marriage, as it stands today, is one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. I support that. Not only do I support it but the majority of my constituents support it.

    I am here as a representative of my constituents. They elected me to be here and I am proud to say to the House that they elected me to represent them. They want the definition of marriage to be one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others and that is what I will portray in the House.

    The role of a member of Parliament to ensure that the institution of democracy is protected. This is an issue of democracy in the first instance. The government needs to recognize that its primary responsibility is to represent what the people want. It is a decision of how we want to govern ourselves. There is no doubt that we want to govern ourselves according to fundamental and basic democratic principles.

    In this regard I want to refer to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. It was in the process of debating this issue and drafting a report on same sex marriage issues. However, what happened on June 17? While the House was recessed, the Prime Minister stated that, despite the findings and recommendations of the justice committee, the government intended to make same sex marriages legal in this country. In the process the Prime Minister officially stripped Parliament of its exclusive prerogative to make the laws of this country.

    Since when does a Prime Minister have that kind of audacity? It seems this one does. Prior to this, however, just before the House recessed, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights was deliberately stacked with members of the government who favoured same sex marriage. That ensured the passage of a motion presented to the committee by the member for Burnaby—Douglas, a motion to approve the Ontario Court of Appeal ruling allowing same sex marriages.

    In the greater context of this issue, the Liberal government's refusal to appeal the Ontario court ruling regarding same sex marriages meant that not only did it accept but it supported the courts making social policy decisions for Canada and for Canadians.

    On June 10, when the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the lower court's decision determining that same sex marriages should be legal under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Alliance immediately called upon the justice minister to appeal that ruling. He refused and instead brought in legislation that complied with the court's ruling.

    Effectively, the Liberal government sanctioned the court's ruling on social policy matters, rendered the work of the justice committee irrelevant, ignored the majority vote of Parliament to protect the tradition of marriage, and stifled the voices of Canadians.

    Mr. Speaker, I am sure you were here on the day that 216 of us voted in favour of defining marriage as one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, and 55 said no. Those opposed said that they would change that definition. Therefore, 216 voted in favour of keeping it and 55 said no.

    Four years later, what has changed? All of a sudden marriage is no longer to be defined that way? Parliament did not say so. The Supreme Court said so and Parliament said it would let the Supreme Court rule. That is an absolute travesty. Parliament should be writing the law of this land not the courts.

    The Canadian Alliance emphasized that point last night during our supply day motion. We called upon the government to bring in measures to protect and reassert the will of Parliament. That motion was defeated by the Liberal government indicating that it supported the courts in enacting social policy.

  +-(1910)  

    The courts have become a convenient refuge for the Liberal government, a convenient way for the Liberals to avoid making difficult decisions on divisive issues so they can insulate themselves from criticism. If there were ever a reason to criticize the government, it would be because it has abrogated the responsibility the people gave it.

    Although many people have been quick to blame the judiciary, it is our federal government that deserves to be hammered because it has reneged. The Prime Minister and his cabinet have not had the courage and the vision to do the job they were elected to do. This is not just the opinion of this side of the House. It is an opinion that has been expressed time and time again in newspapers over the last number of months.

    Many people in my constituency have come to me. The ratio of people who tell me that I am their representative and that they want me to support the traditional definition of marriage outnumbers the people who oppose that definition. It is just horrendous. It is about one hundred to one. That is the way the e-mails have gone.

    We need to recognize that this bill reflects the honest and accurate opinion of most of the constituents who I represent. I am proud to support my colleagues who have the courage to present again this definition of marriage: one man, one woman, to the exclusion of all others, and I support it with everything I have.

+-

    Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I will take this opportunity to address my comments, first, to the parliamentary secretary who stated in his carefully crafted address that he felt intellectual honesty was not demonstrated by this bill. I want to remind him that about half of his colleagues would vote for this bill.

    It is interesting to note, if we look at the individual presenting a bill, we can say that we disagree with that person's position, arguments or logic. However, to say that this is not intellectually honest, I feel is an insult to many Canadians. I say that with respect.

    Also, the current health minister, who was justice minister in 1999 when the original motion was put forward, said, and this was referred to by another member in his comments, that there was no attempt and that there would be no attempt by the government to redefine marriage. There now is an attempt, and if I were a cynic, I would say there is where the lack of intellectual honesty lies.

    I will not say that because I believe the individuals who say this is an issue of human rights really truly believe that and pursue that with intellectual arguments. I listen to them and if I disagree with them, I will respect them. However, for the parliamentary secretary to have said as plainly as he did that this was not intellectually honest is, as I said, an insult to at least 50% of Canadians.

    Second, he said this bill was premature. He said that we should wait for the judgment of the Supreme Court in the reference being put to it. In my view that has some intellectual component to it. That is a logical argument. However, I really truly question the validity of the way the question was posed because the Supreme Court cannot say that same gender marriage is not constitutional. Of course it is constitutional.

    I tried to make this point specifically in my comments. The question is, is a restriction in marriage, the exclusivity of marriage, the heterosexual component of marriage constitutional? If the Supreme Court said no to that question, the argument has been addressed in Canada and Parliament would then formulate a law and it would be voted upon. However, I believe there is a circuitous mechanism used there.

    To my colleague from the NDP who said that the 1982 Charter of Rights was the reason that we were bound in this decision, I would remind him that the Charter of Rights specifically excluded this topic of sexual orientation. I have quotes from our current Prime Minister that explain why that exclusion was put in place. The Charter of Rights had no jurisdiction here. It was read in by the courts. I believe, mistakenly, there was no furor and disagreement on that issue by Parliament.

    In conclusion, I also note that had the cabinet voted its conscience on this issue, it would have succeeded. It voted as a block against the motion put forward in 1999, and again put to the House. To that end, by cabinet solidarity, by forcing this issue and preventing cabinet from voting its conscience, this issue failed.

  +-(1915)  

    Finally, this issue should have been appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. Two of my colleagues said that the Supreme Court has ruled on this. That is not the case. It was the superior courts of the provinces.

    Thank you for this opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to speak on what I consider to be a fundamental issue for the country.

+-

    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired. As the motion has been designated as a non-votable item, the order is dropped from the Order Paper.

-Adjournment Proceedings

[Adjournment Debate]

*   *   *

    A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

*   *   *

[Translation]

+-Softwood Lumber

+-

    Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ): Mr. Speaker, on May 14, 2003, I asked a question in the House of the Minister for International Trade. At that time, and on a number of previous occasions, the minister led us to believe he was very close to an agreement on the softwood lumber crisis. He was all fired up about it, but once again things did not work out.

    Today I met with heads of business in the Quebec and Canadian softwood lumber industry and they shared with me their fear that the federal government is engaged in negotiating with the Americans, on its own, an agreement which would in the end not ensure that they would get back all the money placed in trust in connection with the tariffs imposed by the Americans.

    This same fear has been expressed by the workers as well. People are very anxious, because they really have no idea what the government's guidelines are. Right from the start, we said we would have to achieve free trade for softwood lumber, and we supported the government on this. However, as far as the means of ensuring our industries and workers of the necessary support to get through the crisis, much uncertainty and confusion still remains, among employers and employees alike.

    I would like to know today from the government representative whether they will in fact ensure that the industries will be able to recover all the money they were forced to put into trust accounts. I would also like to know if there is any guarantee on the part of the government that there will not be any selling out going on, leading to acceptance of something akin to the near-agreement of some months ago, in order to negotiate a long term agreement. That near-agreement was opposed by many, including the Free Trade Lumber Council. Today letters were received from these organizations asking the Minister for International Trade not to settle the matter on this basis, “because in the long term we will lose out”.

    Can the government representative give us the assurance that the outcome of the negotiations will be a return to free trade, recovery of the money the Americans owe us, and no sellout?

  +-(1920)  

[English]

+-

    Mr. Murray Calder (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, at the onset of my speech, I want to state that my colleague from the Bloc has worked very tirelessly on this issue, and his constituents back home should be very proud of the work that he has done.

    As the hon. member may know, the federal and provincial governments, together with the industry, have worked closely throughout this dispute. Excellent cooperation stems from our mutual commitment to defend the interests of affected Canadian lumber companies and the people they employ and the communities they are located in.

    When the U.S. department of commerce imposed 27% countervailing and anti-dumping duties on imports of Canadian softwood lumber in May 2002, following the expiry of the softwood lumber agreement, all levels of government, together with the industry, joined to challenge the U.S. findings as unfounded and protectionist. Together, we have pursued a two-pronged strategy initiating NAFTA and WTO challenges of the U.S. duty actions and engaging in discussions to find a durable resolution to this dispute.

    The federal and provincial governments and industry have worked together to challenge the preliminary determination of the subsidy in the WTO, and I am pleased to note that we prevailed in that challenge. We are cooperating in our challenges of the final determinations of the subsidy and the threat of injury before both the WTO and NAFTA, and are confident that we will prevail in these challenges too. Canada is also challenging the final determination of dumping before the WTO, while the Canadian industry has taken the lead in challenging the dumping actions before NAFTA.

    In the NAFTA challenges, separate panels have ruled that the dumping, subsidy and threat of injury determinations are inconsistent with U.S. law. The panels have ordered the United States to issue new determinations.

    The other half of our strategy has been one of trying to find a way to resolve this dispute once and for all, and again, the level of cooperation between industry and governments has been remarkable.

    The government has worked closely with the provinces during discussions with the U.S. government on a department of commerce policy bulletin that would guide changed circumstance reviews of the countervailing duty on Canadian softwood lumber. Throughout these discussions, which focussed on provincial policy, we were able to maintain a united Canadian front, and we are continuing to work together to press the U.S. to include a Quebec example in the policy bulletin.

    Forestry largely falls under provincial jurisdiction in this country, and it will be up to the provinces to decide whether reforms in their forest management and timber pricing programs are required and to seek a changed circumstance review.

    The government has been working hard to find a resolution to the dispute in the form of an interim measure that would replace U.S. duties pending provincial policy changes and changed circumstance reviews. Throughout these efforts, we have worked closely with provincial governments and the Canadian industry, and we will continue to do so.

[Translation]

+-

    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): The hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques has one minute for his answer.

+-

    Mr. Paul Crête: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for his kind words.

    We have an obligation to see results in this matter. The government, the Bloc Quebecois and the other parties have been fighting with the Americans. Everyone said we would win in the end with a return to free trade for softwood lumber. The industry and the workers followed our lead.

    Today, since they know that this will likely continue for at least another year, can they have the government's assurance of more specific and concrete support, particularly for the industry and the workers?

    Furthermore, can they have the government's assurance that they will fully recover their money, since I have not had an answer on this?

    Also, can they have the government's assurance that there will be no selling out, which would mean that all their efforts will have been in vain?

  +-(1925)  

[English]

+-

    Mr. Murray Calder: Mr. Speaker, the member across the way is right in his statement. Obviously the litigation aspect of it will take time and that is something that we will pursue. If we can shorten the time period with negotiations with the United States based on an agreement here at home as to how it would work domestically, that is the route I believe we should take.

*   *   *

[Translation]

- Ethics

+-

    Mr. Yvon Godin (Acadie—Bathurst, NDP): Mr. Speaker, on October 20, I asked the Minister of Industry a question.

    The Minister of Industry is responsible for the $55 million that was given to the Irving family in Saint John, New Brunswick, to close the shipyard.

    I asked the Minister of Industry if an agreement had been concluded in secret. Irving employees have asked that the agreement be disclosed. The Irving company sent them a letter asking them to tell their union that if it went to the New Brunswick Labour Relations Board to take action against the company, the latter would ask for decertification and the severance pay it was prepared to offer the employees would no longer be on the table.

    I find it unbelievable and unacceptable that a company would receive $55 million from the government to shut down an operation, that a government would allow a company to go to the Labour Relations Board to have the union decertified, that employees would be blackmailed and that the government would refuse to disclose the agreement to the union and the employees.

    That is why Canadians are wondering what the Minister of Industry was doing at the Irving fishing lodge. Today the scandal has been revealed. We see that this company owns not only the wood in New Brunswick, but also the rivers and the fishing rights. When we see ministers from all over Canada travelling to go fishing on these rivers and these types of agreements being offered to a company, this is unacceptable.

    That is why I am calling on the government to make this agreement public. It is unacceptable to see the conflicts of interest that have surfaced over the past few weeks. Irving owns all the English-language newspapers in New Brunswick and some of the French-language papers. Imagine the power this company wields.

    Today, the leader of the New Brunswick Liberals, Shawn Graham, admitted that he had visited the Irving lodge. So did Bernard Richard, who is the former Liberal leader. What is it about this company that an MP cannot even pay for his own vacation and allows a company like that to foot the bill? It is disgraceful.

    I am calling on the government to make this agreement public. The public has the right to see this agreement.

+-

    Mr. Serge Marcil (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the Minister of State responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

    The Government of Canada has made the commitment to provide $55 million not to close the Saint John shipyard, but to help it rationalize its operations.

    As stated previously by the Minister of Labour, “After making laudable efforts to try to diversify the Saint John shipyard in a highly competitive global climate, the owners made the difficult decision to close the shipyard”. It is the owners who made the decision to close the shipyard.

    The member for Acadie—Bathurst has asked the government to make public what he incorrectly called a secret deal. The facts that pertain to the Saint John shipyard adjustment measure are clear. This measure is an extension of the government's contribution to a national rationalization exercise in the shipbuilding industry. It applied not only to New Brunswick, but also to Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia.

    The federal government has agreed to allocate up to $55 million as a transition fund for the Saint John Shipyard. This program was created to permit modification of the site, find other uses for it, or to fund other qualified projects. Thus the $55 million is not being provided to close the facility: it is meant to find another purpose for the site. That is what the mayor at the time asked for; she is now a member of this House. She wanted it as quickly as possible; that was her reaction.

    There is also a local contribution of one dollar for every dollar provided by the Government of Canada. This makes a total of $110 million: the federal government will supply $55 million and the New Brunswick government $55 million. All of it will go to changing the use of the site and finding it a new purpose. The president of the largest union is in favour of that.

    There is an attempt here to make us believe that the government approves of or agrees with their deunionization. The site is being closed; there are no more workers. There is an attempt here to give the site a new identity or renewed purpose. Some $55 million is being invested to give it a new vocation, and New Brunswick is being asked to match these funds. Obviously, workers are returning to work at the site with its new vocation. This can be the construction of steel framing, as the union president of the site said.

    The Canadian government will never prevent the unionization of workers. That is not our role. There will always be a shop steward or a union president to unionize the workers. All the better.

  -(1930)  

+-

    Mr. Yvon Godin: Mr. Speaker, my colleague admitted that the company had closed its doors. We want to have it reopened. The government knew that Irving would apply for decertification and the Minister of Labour was informed of that, but she was travelling on Irving company planes, as were other government ministers.

    For example, when the government paid $55 million for the rationalization of the Saint John shipyard, did it invite unions to sit at the same table to hear what they had to say and to work with them on this rationalization exercise? No. They were left on the sideline. The company chose decertification. The government was aware of that, and I find it unfair.

    We want to see the deal. If the government has nothing to hide, than it can make that deal public. That is what we want.

+-

    Mr. Serge Marcil: Mr. Speaker, my colleague should not try to throw red herrings or to steer people in the wrong direction or to talk about a scandal when there is none. We are talking here about workers who lost their jobs, and we are trying to do something to help revive this site by finding a new vocation for it.

    When a company want unions to be decertified, that is not the Government of Canada's problem. This is an industry matter. I trust the workers. We trust the president of these workers' union. Everyone knows that if this site is revived with a new vocation, workers will be hired and unionization will happen automatically.

    There is nothing to hide. Everything is crystal clear. Two governments have decided to work together to revive a site which, at this time, has no vocation.

-

    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

    (The House adjourned at 7:34 p.m.)