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House of Commons Emblem

Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security


NUMBER 166 
l
1st SESSION 
l
42nd PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Monday, June 3, 2019

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

  (1530)  

[English]

     I'm calling this meeting to order.
    I want to thank Minister Goodale for his presence. He is here to talk about the main estimates.
    Before he starts, I want to note that this is possibly the last time the minister will appear before this particular committee. On behalf of the committee, I want to thank him not only for his attendance here, but for his willingness to co-operate with the committee and to review all of the amendments that have been put forward by this committee to him, and his willingness to accept quite a high percentage of them.
    Minister, I want to thank you for your co-operation and for your relationship with the committee.
    With that—
    You mean in this Parliament, right?
    Pardon?
    Mr. David de Burgh Graham: You mean in this Parliament, right?
    The Chair: Yes, in this Parliament. We're not going back to the days of Laurier or anything of that nature.
    Mr. David de Burgh Graham: It's not the last time ever.
    No. Thank you.
    Minister.
     Mr. Chairman, thank you for your very kind remarks. They are much appreciated, and I'm glad to be back with the committee once again, this time, of course, presenting the 2019-20 main estimates for the public safety portfolio.
    To help explain all of those numbers in more detail and to answer your questions today, I am pleased to be joined by Gina Wilson, the new deputy minister of Public Safety Canada. I believe this is her first appearance before this committee. She is no stranger, of course, in the Department of Public Safety, but she has been, for the last couple of years, the deputy minister in the Department for Women and Gender Equality, a department she presided over the creation of.
    With the deputy minister today, we have Brian Brennan, deputy commissioner of the RCMP; David Vigneault, director of CSIS; John Ossowski, president of CBSA; Anne Kelly, commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada; and Anik Lapointe, chief financial officer for the Parole Board of Canada.
    The top priority of any government, Mr. Chair, is to keep its citizens safe and secure, and I'm very proud of the tremendous work that is being done by these officials and the employees who work following their lead diligently to serve Canadians and protect them from all manner of public threats. The nature and severity of those threats continue to evolve and change over time and, as a government, we are committed to supporting the skilled men and women who work so hard to protect us by giving them the resources they need to ensure that they can respond. The estimates, of course, are the principal vehicle for doing that.
    The main estimates for 2019-20 reflect that commitment to keep Canadians safe while safeguarding their rights and freedoms. You will note that, portfolio-wide, the total authorities requested this year would result in a net increase of $256.1 million for this fiscal year, or 2.7% more than last year's main estimates. Of course, some of the figures go up and some go down, but the net result is a 2.7% increase.
    One key item is an investment of $135 million in fiscal year 2019-20 for the sustainability and modernization of Canada's border operations. The second is $42 million for Public Safety Canada, the RCMP and CBSA to take action against guns and gangs. Minister Blair will be speaking in much more detail about the work being done under these initiatives when he appears before the committee.
    For my part today I will simply summarize several other funding matters affecting my department, Public Safety Canada, and all of the related agencies.
    The department is estimating a net spending decrease of $246.8 million this fiscal year, 21.2% less than last year. That is due to a decrease of $410.7 million in funding levels that expired last year under the disaster financial assistance arrangements. There is another item coming later on whereby the number goes up for the future year. You have to offset those two in order to follow the flow of the cash. That rather significant drop in the funding for the department itself, 21.2%, is largely due to that change in the DFAA, for which the funding level expired in 2018-19.
    There was also a decrease of some $79 million related to the completion of Canada's presidency of the G7 in the year 2018.
    These decreases are partially offset by a number of funding increases, including a $25-million grant to Avalanche Canada to support its life-saving safety and awareness efforts; $14.9 million for infrastructure projects related to security in indigenous communities; $10.1 million in additional funding for the first nations policing program; and $3.3 million to address post-traumatic stress injuries affecting our skilled public safety personnel.

  (1535)  

     The main estimates also reflect measures announced a few weeks ago in budget 2019. For Public Safety Canada, that is, the department, these include $158.5 million to improve our ability to prepare for and respond to emergencies and natural disasters in Canada, including in indigenous communities, of which $155 million partially offsets that reduction in DFAA that I just referred to.
    There's also $4.4 million to combat the truly heinous and growing crime of child sexual exploitation online.
     There is $2 million for the security infrastructure program to continue to help communities at risk of hate-motivated crime to improve their security infrastructure.
     There is $2 million to support efforts to assess and respond to economic-based national security threats, and there's $1.8 million to support a new cybersecurity framework to protect Canada's critical infrastructure, including in the finance, telecommunications, energy and transport sectors.
    As you know, in the 2019 federal budget, we also announced $65 million as a one-time capital investment in the STARS air rescue system to acquire new emergency helicopters. That important investment does not appear in the 2019-20 main estimates because it was accounted for in the 2018-19 fiscal year, that is, before this past March 31.
    Let me turn now to the 2019-20 main estimates for the other public safety portfolio organizations, other than the department itself.
     I'll start with CBSA, which is seeking a total net increase this fiscal year of $316.9 million. That's 17.5% over the 2018-19 estimates. In addition to that large sustainability and modernization for border operations item that I previously mentioned, some other notable increases include $10.7 million to support activities related to the immigration levels plan that was announced for the three years 2018 to 2020. Those things include security screening, identity verification, the processing of permanent residents when they arrive at the border and so forth—all the responsibilities of CBSA.
    There's an item for $10.3 million for the CBSA's postal modernization initiative, which is critically important at the border. There is $7.2 million to expand safe examination sites, increase intelligence and risk assessment capacity and enhance the detector dog program to give our officers the tools they need to combat Canada's ongoing opioid crisis.
    There's also approximately $100 million for compensation and employee benefit plans related to collective bargaining agreements.
    Budget 2019 investments affecting CBSA main estimates this year include a total of $381.8 million over five years to enhance the integrity of Canada's borders and the asylum system. While my colleague Minister Blair will provide more details on this, the CBSA would be receiving $106.3 million of that funding in this fiscal year.
    Budget 2019 also includes $12.9 million to ensure that immigration and border officials have the resources to process a growing number of applications for Canadian visitor visas and work and study permits.
     There is $5.6 million to increase the number of detector dogs deployed across the country in order to protect Canada's hog farmers and meat processors from the serious economic threat posed by African swine fever.
     Also, there's $1.5 million to protect people from unscrupulous immigration consultants by improving oversight and strengthening compliance and enforcement measures.
    I would also note that the government announced through the budget its intention to introduce the legislation necessary to expand the role of the RCMP's Civilian Review and Complaints Commission so it can also serve as an independent review body for CBSA. That proposed legislation, Bill C-98, was introduced in the House last month.

  (1540)  

     I will turn now to the RCMP. Its estimates for 2019-20 reflect a $9.2-million increase over last year's funding levels. The main factors contributing to that change include increases of $32.8 million to compensate members injured in the performance of their duties, $26.6 million for the initiative to ensure security and prosperity in the digital age, and $10.4 million for forensic toxicology in Canada's new drug-impaired driving regime.
    The RCMP's main estimates also reflect an additional $123 million related to budget 2019, including $96.2 million to strengthen the RCMP's overall policing operations, and $3.3 million to ensure that air travellers and workers at airports are effectively screened on site. The increases in funding to the RCMP are offset by certain decreases in the 2019-20 main estimates, including $132 million related to the completion of Canada's G7 presidency in 2018 and $51.7 million related to sunsetting capital infrastructure projects.
    I will now move to the Correctional Service of Canada. It is seeking an increase of $136 million, or 5.6%, over last year's estimates. The two main factors contributing to the change are a $32.5-million increase in the care and custody program, most of which, $27.6 million, is for employee compensation, and $95 million announced in budget 2019 to support CSC's custodial operations.
    The Parole Board of Canada is estimating a decrease of approximately $700,000 in these main estimates or 1.6% less than the amount requested last year. That's due to one-time funding received last year to assist with negotiated salary adjustments. There is also, of course, information in the estimates about the Office of the Correctional Investigator, CSIS and other agencies that are part of my portfolio. I simply make the point that this is a very busy portfolio and the people who work within Public Safety Canada and all the related agencies carry a huge load of public responsibilities in the interests of public safety. They always put public safety first while at the same time ensuring that the rights and freedoms of Canadians are properly protected.
    With that, Mr. Chair, my colleagues and I would be happy to try to answer your questions.

  (1545)  

    Thank you, Minister.
    With that, Mr. Picard, go ahead for seven minutes.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I want to welcome Minister Goodale and everyone who has joined us. Thank you for participating in this exercise once again.
    First, I'll talk about my favourite subject, which is financial crime. If I combine the funding from the RCMP and Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada, the total is just over $7 million in investments —

[English]

    There's no translation coming through.
    Let's look at the money-laundering aspect of the estimates. Combined Public Safety and RCMP is about $7 million more.
    What kind of improvement are we looking for? Is it just the money-laundering unit or is it IM/IT as well and other units working closely with financial crimes and/or terrorism financing?
    Let me ask Deputy Commissioner Brennan to comment.
    Thank you.
    Incidentally, he is brand new on the job, just in the last number of months, but he will get used to the very pleasant experience of committee hearings of the House of Commons.
    The increase in funding would go to all of those areas. I'm not in a position to speak specifically to the numbers, exactly where all the dollars will go, but that investment is intended to increase our investigational capability and to support systems needed around those types of very specific investigations.
    If I could add to that, Monsieur Picard, the estimates show $4.1 million going to the RCMP directly for enhanced federal policing capacity. There's about $819,000 to Finance Canada to support its work related to money laundering. There's $3.6 million to FINTRAC to strengthen operational capacity. There's $3.28 million to the Department of Public Safety to create the anti-money laundering action, coordination and enforcement team, which is an effort to bring all of these various threads more coherently together so that everybody is operating on exactly the same page with the greatest efficiency and inter-agency co-operation.
     Thank you, sir.
    With respect to CSIS and the Canadian strategy with respect to the Middle East, what do we have to change in our strategy? What doesn't work or what has to be changed?
    Also, with respect to recent events here and close to us, the Middle East doesn't seem to be the only nature of the threats we have, so why the focus on the Middle East?
    David.
    Specifically, it's our effort to support the whole-of-government approach to the Middle East operations, the military and diplomatic operations in Syria and Iraq. The monies you see here for the main estimates are the specific allocations for CSIS to support those activities. We do intelligence collection in the region and here in Canada to support that activity.
    Also, on your question, the focus of this estimate was on the Middle East, but as you pointed out, Mr. Picard, we are obviously concerned about activities and terrorism all over the world, not just in the Middle East.

  (1550)  

    Thank you.
    Monsieur Picard, could I add just one small anecdote?
    I had the opportunity at an earlier stage to have a discussion with the person who was then the U.S. Secretary of Defense with respect to the the change that had been made in Canada's deployment in the Middle East with respect to the international coalition against Daesh. I noted the very significant increase in the investment we were making with respect to intelligence activities. The U.S. secretary commented very favourably on the work by Canadians in that particular zone, particularly the intelligence work, which he indicated was first class and very helpful to all members of that coalition in dealing effectively with the threats posed by Daesh.
    This is my first experience and my first mandate, and I understand that we have to justify why we spend money. My next question would be why we don't spend a specific amount of money on a specific topic, so we'd be justifying to spend more money.... In terms of infrastructure on cyber-threats, I see that we have more than $1.7 million for cyber-threats. My concern is not that we have money for cyber-threats; it's that we don't have money anywhere else.
     Based on what we've studied on democratic institutions, ethics and public information here, on cyber-threats and financial crimes, this subject was all over the place. People are getting scared in learning what we learn day in and day out about this threat, which is multi-faceted. I don't see anything about this topic specifically in this budget, so would you please take this chance to explain?
    I would be happy to, Monsieur Picard, because it is quite possible for people to look at that one number, $1.8 million, and wonder how that covers the field. Well, it doesn't. This is one little snapshot of one portion of the spending that we are devoting to the whole cause of cybersecurity.
    Through our last two or three budgets, we have included a series of investments. They of course roll forward through the estimates process, but you actually need to examine the sections of the budget that lay out the more complete picture.
     Through various departments, we are investing, through the budget last year, $750 million to enhance cybersecurity in Canada. A portion of that creates the new cyber response centre. A portion of that creates the new cybercrime unit within the RCMP. There is a whole series of investments to enhance our approach to cybercrime and cybersecurity.
    In the last budget, the key investment was $145 million, of which this is the first very small tranche, to support the security of our critical cyber-systems. We have identified four in particular: finance, telecommunications....
     Remind me of what they are. I want to make sure I get the four critically....
     We can come back to that. Mr. Picard is well over time.
    I'm trying to recite the budget speech.
    There are four particular areas in which we will be investing to support new legislation that will require certain standards of these critical sectors and create the enforcement mechanisms to make sure those standards are met. It is so vital, Mr. Picard, that our critical cyber-systems protect themselves and employ all the procedures that are necessary to keep themselves safe and secure. We are creating the legislative framework to make sure that happens, with the right kind of enforcement mechanisms backing it up and the funding, of which the $1.8 million is just the very first small tranche. We'll make sure that these systems are indeed safe and secure with the right enforcement to enforce the requirements.

  (1555)  

    Thank you, Minister Goodale, for that lengthy response.
    Mr. Paul-Hus, go ahead for seven minutes.

[Translation]

    Good afternoon, Minister Goodale and everyone who has joined us.
    Minister Goodale, my question concerns several of your agencies. It relates to the information broadcast by the Quebec media, particularly TVA, regarding the Mexican drug cartels doing business in Canada. This morning, I met with His Excellency Mr. Camacho, the Mexican ambassador to Canada. We discussed the situation.
    I know that you were already asked about this during the oral question period, and you responded that the information was false. I want to find out what you know and what's really being done in Canada to deal with the Mexican cartels. Canada does business with Mexico, one of its largest partners and a friend. We're not focusing on Mexico here, but on the people who come to Canada with a Mexican passport to work for the Mexican drug cartels. We want to deal with these people. How are we dealing with them?

[English]

    I appreciate the question, Monsieur Paul-Hus. It is important to get accurate information in the public domain. The figures that you have referred to in certain media outlets are figures that have been very perplexing to CBSA because they have not been able to verify where that arithmetic came from. Mr. Ossowski may well want to comment on this, because over the last number of days he has had his officials in CBSA scouring the records to see where this arithmetic originates, and it simply cannot be verified.
    What I can tell you is that CBSA has determined that the number of inadmissibility cases for all types of criminality by Mexican foreign nationals during the period of the last 18 months, from January 2018 until now, is 238. Of these 238, only 27 were reported to be inadmissible due to links to known organized criminality, three of which were for suspected links to cartels.
    The real numbers are substantially lower than the numbers that have been referred to in the media. All 27 of those people who were reported to be inadmissible due to links to organized criminality have been removed from Canada. They are no longer in the country.

[Translation]

    Thank you for your response, Minister Goodale.
    The fact remains that one individual has been clearly identified. Why was this person, whom Mexico has identified as a criminal, able to cross our border? Don't the two countries share information on everyone arriving in Canada? Since Mexico has identified this person as a criminal, isn't that information entered in a database? What process does CBSA follow?

[English]

    All of the proper checks in terms of identity, records, background immigration issues and criminality have been done thoroughly by CBSA at the border.
    Mr. Ossowski, can you comment on the specific individual that Mr. Paul-Hus is referring to?
    I would just say that, in the first instance, I think it's important to understand the layers of security. We work in airports and with Mexican officials in Mexico to, first, try to prevent people from even getting on flights to Canada if they don't have the proper documentation or if there are any concerns in terms of misrepresentation or criminality. That being said, if they do arrive and there are concerns, our officers are very well trained to deal with those upon arrival. They could be allowed to leave at that point, if they stay at the airport until the next flight and then go home. If they do come in and we suspect that there is some work that we need to do, we will check in secondary inspection for any criminality.
    During that same reporting period, I can say that we found 18 people who had used fraudulent travel documents and whom we were able to prevent from entering. There are layers of security.
     With respect to that specific individual, he has been removed from the country.

  (1600)  

[Translation]

    I understand that you can have this information in advance since I know that there are officers in Mexico and agreements with that country. Thousands of Mexicans come to Canada. Aren't there adequate computer mechanisms in CBSA's systems? Isn't passport data available, especially for convicted criminals? Isn't there an exchange of information on these criminals, a bit like Interpol?

[English]

    I think it's important to understand the differences. With Mexico, visas are not required in order to come to Canada. We lifted the visa requirement a couple of years ago. They travel now on what's called the electronic travel authorization program. That's a lighter touch in terms of criminality.
    As I mentioned, if they arrive and there are some concerns or some indicators, we do those criminal checks at the port of entry upon their arrival.

[Translation]

    Thank you.
    Minister Goodale, on May 10, a fuel tanker collided with an aircraft at Pearson airport. The Globe and Mail informed us that the vehicle had made three attempts to crash into the plane. Peel police are conducting the investigation. However, the situation is very suspicious and the incident could constitute a deliberate attack. Do you have more information on the matter?

[English]

    There's no information that I'm in a position to share at this time, Mr. Paul-Hus, with respect to that particular incident. I would, however, undertake to see if there is some further detail that I can share with you, as a colleague in the House of Commons. I will inquire and determine what information can be put into the public domain.
    Thank you for that, Mr. Paul-Hus and Minister.
    Mr. Dubé, go ahead for seven minutes, please.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I want to thank all the witnesses for joining us today.
    Minister Goodale, we met with David McGuinty when he presented the first annual report of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians. I forget the exact part of the report and please forgive me, but the report stated that the amounts spent on national security couldn't be disclosed.
    Nevertheless, the report provided the amounts and the division of the amounts for Australia. When I pointed out this contradiction to Mr. McGuinty, he confirmed that the committee members had raised the issue with the officials giving the presentation. However, the committee members were told that it was a matter of national security and that the information couldn't be disclosed.
    I was wondering whether you could clarify why Australia, an ally and member of the Five Eyes, feels that its expenses can be disclosed, but not Canada.

[English]

    Our concern, Monsieur Dubé, is with providing information in the public domain that could, in fact, reveal sensitive and very critical operational details of the RCMP, CSIS or CBSA in a way that would compromise their ability to keep Canadians safe.
    The information can be shared in the context of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians. It would also be available to the new national security and intelligence review agency, which will be created under Bill C-59. Those are classified environments in which members of Parliament around the table have the appropriate clearance level. It's more difficult to share that information here.

[Translation]

     I understand that the information is classified and that certain limits must be imposed. I don't want to go on about this issue too much, because I have questions regarding other topics. However, as I said, Australians disclose this information, as stated in the report.
    Mr. McGuinty told us that the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians hadn't received an adequate response regarding this matter. Why is there a difference between Canada and Australia? I understand the applicable mechanisms. However, your reasoning seems to contradict the reasoning of the Australians.

  (1605)  

[English]

     Well, far be it from me to be critical of the Australians, but we have our own Canadian logic, and our obligation here is to protect the public safety and national security of Canadians.
    Monsieur Dubé, I would simply encourage Mr. McGuinty and the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians to pursue this issue with the various security agencies, which they have the authority to do under the legislation, to secure the information that they believe they need. I would encourage the agencies to be forthcoming—
    Minister, I'm going to have to interrupt you, because my time is limited and this is probably the only round I'll get to ask you questions.
    I just want to say that I do think it's an important thing to raise, because on expenditures there's a particular role for all parliamentarians to play beyond just the committee with clearance, where it can pertain more to operational details. Money is a whole different game, as Monsieur Picard was alluding to in his questions about the role that even we can play as those around this table at this committee.
    On that note, I do want to move on to CBSA and the CRCC. We know that Bill C-98 is before the House. I'm wondering if you can clarify. There's $500,000 for CBSA and there's $420,000 for CRCC. I have two questions about that.
     One, is that all the money that's going to come out of the Bill C-98 mechanism, or is there more money following that to implement those measures? Two, what explains that discrepancy? If it's $500,000 for CBSA, are they doing the work internally for review and oversight, or is that going to be sent off back to CRCC once Bill C-98 has become law?
    Again, the numbers that are in this set of estimates are the initial snapshot, a one-year slice, of the beginning of a process. This is a very significant process. Where the CRCC has previously, as you know, totally focused on the RCMP, we will now be broadening the agency. It will continue its review function with respect to the RCMP, but it will also assume responsibility for the review function with respect to CBSA.
    The expectation is that for any complaint the public has with respect to officer behaviour or a particular situation that developed at the border, or some other topic such as the handling of detention, for example, a complaint could be filed with this new expanded body, and they would have the complete jurisdiction to investigate that complaint from the public.
    Well, with all due respect, it's better late than never, and I certainly hope it has time to pass before Parliament rises.
    So do I, Mr. Dubé.
    My last question is on vote 15, which talks about “economic-based national security threats” as part of CSIS's mandate. What is an economic-based national security threat in the context of what you're allowed to tell us here today?
    Well, I could give my layman's explanation of that.
     David, would you like to provide the official definition?
    Yes. Thank you, Minister.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Dubé.

[English]

    Essentially, this is related to overall foreign investment into the country when we're looking at a different country's different state-owned enterprises, different entities, trying to invest in greenfield investment here in Canada.
     It's the ability for the service to contribute to the efforts of the national security community to assess if there are any national security links to these transactions. Sometimes it's because of ownership. Sometimes it's because of the nature of the technology that might be acquired. It's our overall ability to investigate and produce the right analysis to support the decision-making of Public Safety, other agencies and ultimately the cabinet, under the Investment Canada Act.
    Thank you, Mr. Dubé.
    Mr. Spengemann, please, for seven minutes.
    Minister Goodale, we're coming up on the end of the parliamentary term. I just want to take a moment to thank you and your senior team, on behalf of the people of Mississauga—Lakeshore, the riding I represent, for your work and through you, the women and men, the members of our civil service, who do this incredibly important work in public safety and national security day by day.
    A couple of days ago I had an opportunity to meet with a group of amazing grades 7 and 8 students at Olive Grove School, which is an Islamic school in my riding. It was part of CIVIX Canada's Rep Day, which is a day to bring elected representatives into the classroom.
    There was a great discussion. One of the points we discussed was violent crime, and specifically gun violence. I know Minister Blair will be with us later on. We straw polled the students on the issues that are of importance, and when it came to gun violence and violent crime, almost every hand went up among grades 7s and 8s.
    We have a $2-million commitment towards a program to protect community gathering places from hate-motivated crimes, but we also have the Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence. What are we doing at the moment with respect to addressing the root causes of violent crime, and also to make sure there is a level of security for grades 7 and 8 students who belong to a faith-based school so that they feel safe when they study in their community and in their centre of learning?

  (1610)  

    That's a very important question, Mr. Spengemann, and there are several answers to that.
    Thank you for flagging the good work of the Canada community outreach centre within my department. Their whole objective is to coordinate and support activities at the community level across the country, some run by municipalities, some run by provincial governments, some run by academic organizations, some run by police services that reach out to the community to counter that insidious process of radicalization to violence.
    Some of their work is purely research; other is program delivery; other is assisting groups that provide the countervailing messages to people who are on a negative trajectory towards extremism and violence. The Canada centre has been up and running now for two and a half years, and it has done some very important work.
    The specific program I think you're referring to is a different one. It's the security infrastructure program which, when we started in government three and a half years ago, was funded at the rate, I believe, of about $1 million a year. It was a good initiative but fairly limited in its scope. We have quadrupled the funds, so it's now up to $4 million a year. We've expanded the criteria for what this program can, in fact, support.
    One of the recent changes, for example, is to allow some of the funding from the security infrastructure program to be used for training in schools or in places of worship or community centres where that training can actually assist with knowing what to do if there is an incident. It's like a fire drill in school. How do you react, say, to an active shooter or to an incident of violence?
    It was found, in the case of the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last fall, that training in advance made a real difference in that situation. There were people on the scene who knew, because they had been properly trained, exactly how to react to an active shooter situation. It's the considered opinion of people in that synagogue that the training made a material difference in saving lives.
    We have adjusted the terms of the security infrastructure program to allow for that to be part of what the program can pay for, in addition to closed-circuit television, better doors, barriers and other protective features within the design of a building, and the renovation of the building itself to make it as effective as it can be to keep people safe.
    Thank you for that.
    Let me shift gears and take you to the cyber domain. I think there is $9.2 million going towards protecting the rights and freedoms of Canadians. One concern that's raised is about cyber-bullying, particularly with respect to LGBTQ2+ youth and people but also for other vulnerable communities.
    Can you tell the committee what the department is doing with respect to online bullying specifically?
     This is an initiative that involves not only my department but other departments within the Government of Canada as well. The whole purpose is to first of all raise the level of awareness about some of the insidious activity that's going on online. It might be bullying. It might be child sexual exploitation. Often one leads to the other. It might be human trafficking. It might be violent extremism. In another cadre, it could be attacks on our democratic institutions. There is a whole range of social harms perpetrated on the Internet. Our objective is to raise the level of public awareness so that people understand better and have a higher level of digital literacy in terms of what they're being subjected to online and are able to distinguish between what is legitimate activity and what is not.
    As I said earlier, we've also created new cyber response systems—one within the Communications Security Establishment, another within the RCMP—making it, in terms of the police unit, more accessible to the public with a one-window reporting mechanism. People know where they can go to report cybercrime and incidents on the Internet that need to be drawn to the attention of public officials.
    This is such an all-pervasive problem. It is, quite literally, in our hands every minute. We need to engage all Canadians in this effort to understand their vulnerabilities online, and then make the response mechanisms at all levels of government readily available. That's what we're trying to do.

  (1615)  

    Thank you, Mr. Spengemann—
    To answer one final little point, Mr. Chair, the critical infrastructure systems that I was referring to earlier are finance, telecommunications, energy and transport.
    Thank you for that.
    I'm sure Mr. Motz appreciated that.
    The Chair: You have five minutes, Mr. Motz.
    Mr. Glen Motz: Thank you, Chair.
    Thank you, Minister and team, for being here.
    Minister, there have been lots of rumours floating around recently about your government considering a ban on certain types of firearms, maybe as early as this week. I'll ask you a very simple, clear question: Are you considering an order in council to ban certain firearms, yes or no?
    Yes or no.
    —invited Minister Blair to examine that question, and he will be reporting his recommendations very shortly. No final decision has been taken at this stage. He'll be able to give you an accurate description of where he is in his deliberations when he appears.
    Minister, I know that generally your party tends to treat law-abiding Canadian firearms owners as second-class citizens—
    No, that's not true.
    —but I want to be clear that the firearm industry in Canada does hundreds of millions of dollars annually in sales and is responsible for thousands upon thousands of jobs. There are real-world consequences to attempts to shore up your left flank for an election year, with precious little in the way of accomplishments so far in your government.
    Again, yes or no, do you have plans to ban firearms in this country?
    Mr. Motz, you know very well that this is a specific policy area that the Prime Minister has asked Minister Blair to examine and report upon. He has conducted extensive consultations, probably the largest in Canadian history. He will make his recommendations known very shortly.
    All right. So we're still waiting.
    I'll go to my other question. We know that the majority of firearms-related homicides in this country are not by those who have a valid firearms licence. In the last 15 years or so, that percentage has been extremely low. Targeting a population that is law-abiding to begin with, with Bill C-71, rather than going after the gangs and guns issue that we have in this country.... Your government has loosened penalties for gangs and gang affiliation and made things more difficult for those who are already law-abiding gun owners. How do you reconcile that?
     Well, we have invested $327 million in a strategy directly aimed at guns and gangs. Of that total, $214 million is going to provinces and communities to support their local anti-gang strategies. There's about $50 million that's going to CBSA to assist in the interdiction of illegal guns coming across the border, and there's about $35 million going to the RCMP to support their efforts at combatting illegal gun trafficking.
    There is a whole collection of—

  (1620)  

    In 2017, you promised $500 million to policing to combat gangs and guns, and then it was $327 million. I wonder how much of that money has actually been given out to provinces to deal with their gang and gun issues.
    The agreements with the provinces are in the process of being concluded.
    In my own province of Saskatchewan, the agreement has been concluded, and announced by me and the provincial minister together. The announcements have been made in several provinces and territories across the country. The process is rolling forward.
    The commitment that we made was to get to the level of $100 million per year ongoing, and we will meet that target. The $327 million that I referred to is the beginning of that commitment, to help all levels of government be as effective as they possibly can be in dealing with the issue of illegal guns and gangs. You can probably add a third component in that, because it's usually present, and that is drugs.
    Guns, gangs and drugs are what this money is to be used for, coupled with the changes in the law that improve background checks, require licence verification and standardize best practices in record-keeping.
    You have a little less than a minute.
    Thank you, Chair.
    Just so you know, we won't get into the Bill C-71 debate, because that's not exactly what's going to happen.
    Your colleague, Mr. Blair, said there is no reason for anyone to own what in reality is a modern hunting rifle, because they're purpose built to harm people. That statement isn't only offensive, but it is incredibly misinformed, misguided and deliberately misleads Canadians.
    I wonder what your response would be, sir, to the men and women on our Canadian Olympic shooting team, for example, who are representing Canada in Tokyo, when they hear of such a statement by a minister of this government.
    You're going to have to save that answer.
    Your time has expired, Mr. Motz. I'm sure you'll have an opportunity to ask Mr. Blair directly what he means by his own comment.
    Next is Ms. Sahota.
    Thank you, Minister, for being here today, and for all the other occasions you've been before this committee. Your answers are always enlightening.
    You mentioned in your statement something about funding going toward enforcement measures for unscrupulous immigration consultants. I know that it's not just from your department, but from Citizenship and Immigration as well.
    Can you give me a bit more information as to what that amount is and how enforcement measures will be enacted?
    Let me ask Mr. Ossowski to provide some detail on that.
    Thank you.
    We get about 200 leads a year, which result in about 50 investigations. The additional funds that we're going to be receiving will help us to deal with some of the more complex cases and overall increase our capacity to pursue these investigations and hopefully stop the problem.
    Can you elaborate on the leads?
    Do clients of these consultants call CBSA and report them?
    It could be a variety of different sources that we catch wind of. Sometimes it's our own analysis in terms of working with the Immigration and Refugee Board, if they see something suspicious. It could be a number of different ways that we would be apprised of somebody who is worthy of an investigation.
    What kind of actions or measures can you take against them?
    Ultimately, they could face criminal charges.
    That would be within your realm, that—
    If it were a criminal offence, then it would depend on whether or not we did something with the RCMP. It depends on the nature of the outcome of the investigation.
    Okay.
    Is this increase for the first time, or is this the regular amount that's usually allocated?
     No. This is an increase of $10 million over five years, so it's actually around $2 million a year, if I remember the profile correctly. It's just, as I say, to increase our capacity, because we are starting to see a bit more and, as I said, there's the complexity of some of these cases representing multiple clients and trying to sift through that information and focus our efforts better.

  (1625)  

    Okay.
    Recently, Minister, we've heard so much news in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick about flooding. How much of your budget has been spent on mitigating the effects or dealing with the aftermath of the flooding that has occurred?
    We can actually get you a statement of the DFAA, disaster financial assistance arrangements, payments over the course of the last number of years. It really is instructive. I would be glad to supply that information to the committee, because it shows that the losses covered by DFAA in the last six years, mostly for floods and wildfires, are larger than the amount the program spent in all the previous years, going right back to 1970.
    Ms. Ruby Sahota: Wow.
    Hon. Ralph Goodale: Something obviously is happening with the climate and with the incidence of wildfires and the incidence of floods in the last number of years. The pace has accelerated dramatically.
    More in the last six years than since 1970?
    Yes.
    Have the criteria changed as to under which conditions the government would be funding, or is it mostly just due to climate change and these events occurring more often?
    It is a larger number of incidents that tend to be more serious and more expensive with every passing year. The criteria are essentially the same. In fact, a few years ago, the previous government adjusted the funding formula so that the provinces would pay for a larger portion before the federal share would kick in, and that would tend to reduce the amount that the federal government would be paying because the cost-sharing formula was adjusted a bit. Despite that, the volume of federal payments is higher because the losses are larger.
    You can just think of the spectacular ones, such as the flooding around High River, Alberta, a few years ago. I think that was the most expensive flood in Canadian history. Fort McMurray in northern Alberta had the most expensive fire disaster in Canadian history. That was followed by two very expensive years in British Columbia.
    We're also having serious issues this spring, with the floods a few weeks ago in Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, and now, in the last week or so, with the fires at Pikangikum First Nation in northwestern Ontario, and in northern Alberta. I think that it's about 11,000 people now who are evacuated in northern Alberta, and the entire community at Pikangikum is in the process of being evacuated.
    It is a very serious problem. Climate change has its consequences, and they are growing more serious.
    We're going to have to leave it there.
     We're getting close to the end, but I think Mr. Eglinski might have a couple of minutes to ask a question if he wishes to.
    I hope it's about Grande Cache.
    Not that lucky this time....
    Thank you to all the witnesses, and congratulations, Brian, on your recent promotion.
    These are former colleagues.
    Voices: Oh, oh!
     Minister, as you are aware, we did a public safety report on rural crime. My Alberta colleagues and I did quite an extensive round table consultation throughout the province. People are very concerned not only in Alberta but also in Saskatchewan. I understand that you heard from some of their mayors about the shortage of RCMP. Crime increased by about 30% in rural Canada versus in urban.
    What really alarms me is that I just looked at the RCMP 2018-19 plan, and it has your manpower progressions over the last five years up to the year 2019-20. Actually, the law enforcement program is calling for a reduction in police officers from 1,366 to 1,319. These are just the manpower numbers. You are increasing the overall strength of the force by 1,033, and you're increasing the administration by 460. Your increase is only about 0.6%, 0.1%, 0.2%, 0.2% over the next few years. The attrition rate has to be 10 times that number.
     How are you going to provide policing? How can you tell the people in rural Canada, whether in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, B.C. or Alberta, where that policing is going to come from? Are you going to look at your contract to look at strengthening those numbers? The numbers you have here show that you don't have the manpower.

  (1630)  

    You have about 10 seconds.
    I'll ask the deputy commissioner to respond to that as well.
    Mr. Eglinski, I would just point out that we have tripled the capacity of new recruits coming out of the Depot training academy in Regina, with over 1,100 compared to a much smaller number earlier. Also, if I remember correctly, the number last year of new people going into Saskatchewan was about 135, which was a significant increase. This coming year about 90 new officers will be going into that particular region.
    Part of your answer is that we're increasing the capacity of training at Depot to generate officers more rapidly. As you know, you can't do this overnight. You want to be sending officers who are fully trained and qualified to do the job of protecting Canadians. It's a serious business, and we are accelerating the recruits.
    The commanding officers in both Alberta and Saskatchewan have also taken initiatives in the last two to three years to deploy officers based more on criminal intelligence so that they're being deployed more strategically than was perhaps previously the case.
    I note that both the Attorney General of Saskatchewan and the commanding officer in Alberta have observed that in the last year they've actually seen an improvement in the crime statistics.
    I have just one quick question, if I may.
    You can have one question.
    Regarding the recruiting needs, are you getting the recruits?
    I'm very pleased to have given you this 10 seconds which has, in the history of our parliamentary procedure, stretched into a couple of minutes.
    I love you for it, big guy.
    It's what you call a buzzer beater.
    Can you answer that briefly, Mr. Brennan?
    We're meeting the recruiting numbers to make sure that we are on track for 40 troops a year to go through Depot, and we're continuing to examine ways to increase our recruiting capacity to ensure that it is sustained over a long period of time.
    At 40 out of 52 weeks in the year, that's a graduating class of almost one a week coming out of Depot.
    You're going to have to live with that answer, Mr. Eglinski.
    I did pick up on Ms. Sahota's question with respect to the increase in the disaster assistance money. I think that would be of interest to all of us, so if that could be made available to the committee, that would be useful.
    With that, again I want to thank you for your appearance here, Minister, and I thank your colleagues. I suspect that you will be leaving and your colleagues remaining. Minister Blair is also up next.
    With that we'll suspend.

  (1630)  


  (1635)  

     We're resuming. I see that we still have quorum.
    Welcome, Minister Blair.
    We have Minister Blair, but we also have to deal with the estimates themselves. We have another motion to pass with respect to Bill C-93, the recommendations that we would like also to get done.
    My proposal is that we leave ourselves 10 minutes at the end of the—
    What about my questions?
    I don't know; that may be a problem.
    I would encourage colleagues, ministers and witnesses to be economical in their questions and their answers, if that's at all possible.
    With that, I welcome Minister Blair to the committee once again.
    We look forward to your remarks. Questions are after.
     Thank you, Mr. Chair. I will endeavour to be judicious in my responses, to adhere to your direction.
    It's a pleasure to once again have the opportunity to join the committee to discuss the 2019-20 main estimates. These estimates will include authorities for measures that, of course, were announced in budget 2019.
    I'd like to take the opportunity to focus on some of the important measures that will fall within my mandate of ensuring that our borders remain secure and leading efforts to reduce organized crime. On the latter, as I've noted to this committee previously, taking action against gun and gang violence remains a top priority. We've seen an increase in gun violence across the country in recent years. Guns are still getting into the hands of people who would commit crimes with them. While I think the measures in Bill C-71 are exceptional and will go a long way to reversing the trend, I also believe there is more we can do.
    Earlier this month, we issued a report outlining what we heard in an extensive cross-country engagement on this issue. In the meantime, funding through these estimates and budget 2019 can and will make a real difference right away.
    I've noted before that the $327 million over five years, which the government announced in 2017, is already beginning to help support a variety of initiatives to reduce gun and gang activity in our communities across Canada. Over the past few months, I have been pleased to work with provinces, territories and municipalities as we roll out their portions of that funding specific to initiatives in their regions.
    The Government of Canada is investing an additional $42 million through this year's estimates in the guns and gangs initiative. This is a horizontal initiative, which is being led by Public Safety Canada, and it is working in partnership, as always, with the Canada Border Services Agency and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
    With respect to policing more specifically, in this year's budget there's substantial funding for policing, including $508.6 million over five years to support the RCMP in strengthening policing operations. Of that $508.6 million, there is $96.2 million allotted for the RCMP policing operations in the estimates provided today. The RCMP is, of course, absolutely key to protecting our national security, to reducing the threat of organized crime and to supporting prevention, intervention and enforcement initiatives right across Canada.
    The CBSA supports the RCMP and other law enforcement partners in Canada to counter organized crime and gang activity. Investments made through the estimates and budget will support new technologies, increased detector dog teams, specialized training and tools, and an augmented intelligence and risk assessment capacity. All of this will help to enhance the CBSA's operational responses to better interdict illicit goods, such as firearms and opioids, from crossing our borders. I'm confident the funding we're providing will help all of our partners keep Canada's evolving safety and security needs in place and include addressing gun and gang challenges.
    With respect to the border security aspects of my mandate, I'm pleased to report that the government is making significant investments, through the budget and these estimates, to better manage, discourage and prevent irregular migration. Budget 2019 provides $1.2 billion over five years, starting this year, to IRCC, IRB, CBSA, RCMP and CSIS to implement a comprehensive asylum reform and border action plan. While IRCC is the lead on this action plan, the public safety portfolio has a very significant contribution to make.
    As the committee is aware, the CBSA is responsible for processing refugee claims, which are made at official points of entry and at their inland offices. The funding approved under budget 2019 will enable the CBSA to strengthen its processes at our border, to help increase the asylum system's capacity and to accelerate claim processing. It will facilitate the removal of individuals found not to be in need of genuine protection from Canada in a more efficient and timely way. The strategy, supported by that funding, will guide these efforts.
    Before I close, I'd like to take the opportunity to highlight one further item. Canadians have been hearing a great deal lately about money laundering, terrorism financing and tax evasion happening within our country, and they are rightly concerned. Money laundering is not only a threat to public safety, but it also harms the integrity and stability of the financial sector and the economy more broadly. The government is not waiting to take action to protect Canada's safety, security and quality of life. I'm pleased to note that in budget 2019, the government will invest $24 million over five years for Public Safety Canada to create an anti-money laundering action coordination and enforcement unit, or ACE. This is a pilot project that will strengthen inter-agency action against money laundering and financial crimes.

  (1640)  

    In addition, a further $68.9 million will be invested over five years, allocated to the RCMP, to enhance federal policing capacity, including the effort to fight money laundering, beginning with $4.1 million allocated in this fiscal year.
    In addition, $28 million over five years is being invested in CBSA to support a new centre of expertise. The centre will work to identify and prosecute incidents of trade fraud, as well as potential cases of trade-based money laundering to be referred to the RCMP for investigation and prosecution.
    As always, these are just a few examples of the important and vital work that the public safety portfolio and, in this case, the many departments that support my mandate are doing to protect Canadians.
    Once again, I thank the committee members for their consideration of these estimates and for their ongoing efforts.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair. I look forward to members' questions.
    Thank you, Minister.
    With that, Ms. Dabrusin, you have seven minutes, please.
    Thank you, Minister, for being with us today.
    I've had the opportunity to raise this before. I would like to continue with the conversation about guns and gangs. You mentioned it in your opening, and I was looking through the main estimates about the work that's being done on border operations as well.
    On my first question, when we're looking at gun issues, all the conversations I've had were really talking about supply and demand, both pieces. If we're first looking at the supply side of things, you mentioned it briefly, but could you tell us a bit more about what's being done by the CBSA to prevent gun smuggling?
    Yes. Thank you very much, Ms. Dabrusin.
    Guns that end up in the hands of criminals and are used to commit violent crimes in our community have a number of different sources. There are various estimates available from the various police services and agencies across the country that are determining the source of those illicit guns. It's quite clear that a significant portion of the guns used by gangs to commit criminal offences in our communities across Canada are illicitly imported into Canada across our borders. CBSA, of course, has a very important role in interdicting that supply.
     I had the opportunity on the weekend to go down and visit the Point Edward CBSA facility and had the opportunity to speak about some of the work they're doing there, with the use of new technologies, the dog teams and, frankly, some really extraordinary and dedicated individuals—

  (1645)  

    If I could jump in, when you're talking about dog teams, are you actually talking about dogs?
    Yes, real dogs. I actually met the dog. His name is Bones.
    Voices: Oh, oh!
    Hon. Bill Blair: They showed me how he searched a car. It's a really extraordinary use of even that. It's low-tech, but it works, and it works really well.
     They were able to also share with me some of the extraordinary successes they've been able to achieve, including, for example, the seizure of a very high-powered assault rifle over the May 24 weekend, along with a number of large capacity magazines and ammunition. There is some excellent work that's taking place across our borders.
    I will also tell you that there's an acknowledgement within CBSA and within the law enforcement community that to interdict the supply of guns coming across the border from the United States.... The United States is essentially the largest handgun arsenal in the world. There are many firearms there. Criminals know that if they can bring those guns across our border, they can be sold at a significant premium above what would be paid in the U.S., because they're not as readily available in Canada. It's a crime motivated by profit.
    The police and CBSA understand that you can't just interdict the supply at the border, so there are some extraordinary efforts taking place. We are investing in the RCMP and municipal and provincial police services right across Canada that work in integrated border enforcement teams and conduct organized crime investigations to identify the individuals and the criminal organizations who are responsible for purchasing these guns in the United States, smuggling them across the border and then subsequently selling them to criminals in our country.
    We have seen some extraordinary successes as a result of that partnership as well, but the work continues and is ongoing. We are making significant investments in this budget in CBSA and in law enforcement's capacity to conduct those investigations to improve the quality of the intelligence they gather and how they use that data to effect good success in their investigations and successful prosecution of the individuals who are responsible.
    Thank you.
    Staying on the supply side—I'm hoping we have a few minutes for demand—you have had a study. It was part of your mandate letter. You were asked to study a possible ban on handguns and assault weapons. It was, I believe, a “what we heard” report that was released. Would you be able to tell us about what the next steps are?
     We identified a number of ways in which guns were getting into the hands of criminals. As I've already mentioned, a portion of those—some estimate 50%, some estimate as much as 70%—are in fact smuggled across the border. We also know that a number of those firearms that are subsequently used to commit criminal offences in Canada are domestically sourced.
     Essentially, there are a number of reasonably well-identified ways in which that takes place. With regard to the first one, there have been a significant number of large-scale thefts where guns have been stolen either from a gun retailer or from an individual Canadian gun owner. Those guns are then subsequently made available on the street, sold to criminal organizations and used in criminal acts across the country. One of the things I heard, and we discussed very extensively, was how we might improve the secure storage of firearms to prevent those thefts, to make it harder for criminals to steal those guns and subsequently for them to go on the street.
    There were also a number of cases where firearms were identified that had been purchased legally in this country, but then subsequently diverted into the criminal market by an individual with the intent of profiting by resale of those guns. It's a process that is sometimes referred to as straw purchasing. Essentially, it's an individual who has the legal authority to purchase a handgun, who sometimes tries to conceal its origin by removing the serial number, and then resells it on the street to somebody at a significant profit.
    We identified in conversations across the country, and particularly with law enforcement, the importance of improving the tracing of those firearms that are used in criminal offences, so we can determine their origin of sale and better identify—and by detecting, thereby deterring—and hold accountable those individuals who are involved in that criminal activity. There were a number of other measures that we also heard about on interdicting the supply.
    I've also heard from a number of people who have expressed concern that certain types of weapons, frankly, are a significant risk, and that additional steps should be considered in making them less available to those who would use them to harm others.

  (1650)  

    You're not quite finished yet, but I'm sure that Mr. Graham will thank you if in fact we finish before seven minutes.
     You have 40 seconds left.
    I do. Thank you.
    On the demand piece, quickly, we were at an announcement in Toronto in December, specifically about how we help youth and how we help the communities who have been impacted.
    Can you tell me a bit about that, please?
    Ms. Dabrusin, much of my earlier comments were with respect to interdicting the supply of guns that get into the hands of criminals. However, our government recognizes that you also have to reduce the demand for those guns, so we are also making significant investments in communities and in kids. We are working particularly with municipalities, but I've been to each province and we're providing resources to each of the provinces and territories to make investments in their communities and in those community organizations that do an extraordinary job of working with young people to help them make better choices, safer and more socially responsible choices, to avoid getting involved in gangs in the first place.
    There are also a number of initiatives that we are supporting, working with young people who have already been involved in gangs, to help them leave that gang lifestyle and to not engage in violent criminal activity that causes so much trauma in our communities across the country.
    There's no one single response. Frankly, it requires very significant investments, and also looking more broadly—
    I think we're going to have to leave the answer.
    Perhaps I will have the opportunity to come back to some of the other things we're doing that are making a difference.
    Thanks, Mr. Chair.
    The talent for stretching seconds into minutes is quite extraordinary today.
    Thank you, sir.
    Mr. Paul-Hus, you have seven minutes, please.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Minister Blair, I want to talk about illegal border crossings.
    The Auditor General submitted a damning report on refugee claims. You said that the system was very efficient. However, it was confirmed that the system was overloaded. The main agencies have difficulty working together, and it will take four to five years simply to return to normal.
    Do you regret telling us in the committee that everything was fine and wonderful? Do you regret providing inaccurate information?

[English]

    Of course, I'm telling you the truth, Mr. Paul-Hus.
    I was acknowledging the exceptional work that's being done by CBSA and by the RCMP, the police, provincial and municipal, right across the country. Given the resources and support they have had available to them, I think they do an extraordinary job.
    We recognize that more needs to be done. It's precisely why we're making significant new investments and increasing their capacity to conduct these very complex investigations. For example, we recognize the importance of all law enforcement and departments and agencies working more collaboratively together. It's one of the reasons we're establishing for the money-laundering thing an action, coordination and enforcement centre.

[Translation]

    At the time, you told us that everything was fine. However, the Auditor General told us that this wasn't true. Basically, you're confirming that you provided the wrong information at that time.

[English]

     Could you be specific about which Auditor General's report you are referring to, sir?

[Translation]

    I'm talking about the parliamentary budget officer's report, which confirmed the issues associated with the $1.1 billion cost of handling asylum seekers. This report was published a few months ago. Do you know what I'm referring to?

[English]

    I'm sorry, I was referring to guns and money laundering. If you're talking about asylum claimants, one of the things that was identified, I believe, in that report was the work that was being done in security screening by CBSA.
    My question, sir, is quite simple.
    A few months ago when you came to committee, we asked a question about the issue, and you said everything was fine. But the Auditor General said that there are many issues with that. My question was just whether you are ready to apologize to the committee because you said something wrong at that time.
    That was my question, but I've lost too much time for that, so I'll go to my next question, sir.
    Do you want an answer to that?
    Sir, I'm happy to try to answer your question.
     I've lost enough time, sir. I will ask another question, okay?
    If there are any other questions you don't want answered, let me know.

  (1655)  

    That's all right because you understand my question.
    Your speaking notes refer to that. In the budget, you talk about an investment of $1.2 billion over five years, but is this the same money that the Auditor General mentioned, $1.1 billion in three years?
    Is it the same money?
    I believe the Auditor General concluded his report and his estimates on what was required last spring, in 2018, and since that time our government.... First of all, budget 2018 made significant new investments in the IRB and CBSA, and of course, in the budget we've just presented before you today, which is $1.18 billion....
     Just as an example, we're increasing the capacity of IRB from where it was when the Auditor General conducted his report. They had the ability then to do about 26,000 hearings per year. Under these new investments, by the end of next year, they'll be at approximately 50,000, so it responds very directly to the deficiency that was identified as a result of understaffing and underfunding that had previously been experienced. We made those investments in budgets 2018 and 2019.
    Okay, you make a lot of detours.
    Your title is Minister of Organized Crime Reduction and Border Security.
    On organized crime reduction, you're supposed to talk about the Mexican cartels, drug cartels, too, but why does Minister Goodale's office always answer questions from the media and not your office?
    First off, he's the Minister of Public Safety and—
    But you're the Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction. Is that true?
    I've listened very carefully to Minister Goodale's response and even his response earlier today, and I have exactly the same information as he provided to this committee.
    It is a direct result of information provided by our agencies. I believe he did confirm that CBSA has determined that the number of inadmissibility cases for the period was 238 and also mentioned that we have been unable to determine any evidence that suggests—
    I don't want his, Minister, I want your—
    —that on the number you've raised in the House, 400 foreign nationals in Canada, we haven't been able to find any evidence that supports the veracity of that statement.
    I'll go to my next question.
    Last week, U.S. Vice President Pence came to meet the Prime Minister. Do you think they raised the question of the safe third country agreement? Did they?
    I believe that it did come up—
    Do you have an answer for us or do you think we will change the agreement on safe third countries?
    There are discussions. I've been involved in discussions with U.S. officials as well as our officials at both IRCC and CBSA. I know that it has been raised at a number of different levels of discussion, and I think there is an acknowledgement or recognition that it's an agreement that can be modernized and improved to the benefit of both countries, and those discussions are ongoing.
    By "modernized" do you mean like we suggested last year?
    As I recall, your suggestion was that we just unilaterally change a bilateral agreement, and that's not how that works. We have begun to have discussions with our treaty partner, the United States, to discuss many aspects of that agreement because we believe there is an opportunity for it to be improved and enhanced. Those discussions are ongoing.
    It is not possible nor is it appropriate to simply unilaterally change a bilateral agreement.
     We haven't said that. I know we would never say that. We've said that we have to deal—
    Just to be clear, you said you would change it, and we said no, we would enter into discussions with our partner on how it could be improved.
    Of course we have—
    I have no more questions.
    Thank you Mr. Paul-Hus.
    Mr. Dubé, you have seven minutes, please.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Thank you for joining us, Minister Blair.
    I'll ask you about your responsibilities regarding the border and the migrant situation. Some long responses have been provided. I'll provide a lengthy introduction and focus on the past, so that you can understand the context of my question. If my colleagues haven't seen the Radio-Canada report, I'd encourage them to watch it.
    In 2011, I believe, the previous government implemented a program following two incidents where boats arrived in Canada with Tamil asylum seekers on board. The program still exists and spending has increased. Over $18 million is being spent on the program. People from CSIS, the RCMP and even CSE deal with shady individuals abroad, in countries that could be involved in smuggling migrants into Canada. We can agree that human rights are an issue in these places.
    I want to know the following. How can you reconcile the government's approach of showing compassion for people in this situation with the fact that agencies are working for a ban abroad? People are being detained in countries where they may be subject to human rights violations.
    If you aren't able to answer the question, I know that the people accompanying you today could do so. In the Radio-Canada report, neither the RCMP nor CSIS was able or willing to respond.
    I'll let you answer my question. I'm sorry for the lengthy context, but it was important for my colleagues.

  (1700)  

[English]

    Thank you very much, Mr. Dubé.
    If I understand your question appropriately—and I'll certainly invite officials to add any background that will assist you—in my experience there are, unfortunately, individuals.... Those who are seeking refuge and those who are fleeing war and persecution are in a very vulnerable state. Quite often, they are subject to exploitation by those who would intend to profit from that. So we have a responsibility as well to ensure that, to maintain the integrity of our refugee determination system and our borders, CBSA, the RCMP and others who work together have a responsibility, and we do work internationally.... Frankly, we are very concerned, and we've taken a number of steps to deal with those who would exploit people in a vulnerable position.
    Certainly I don't disagree with that characterization of individuals who want to take advantage of people in vulnerable situations. The issue in this media report, which I'm raising here, is that the Government of Canada has a program and invests millions of dollars—it's $1 million for CSIS and $9 million for the RCMP, if I remember correctly, but I could be mistaken—for them to operate abroad to deal with those unscrupulous individuals in regions where you're dealing with equally, if not more, unscrupulous regimes in those particular countries.
    An individual in the Prime Minister's Office, or who at any rate advises the Prime Minister on this program, has gone to these places to thank these regimes on behalf of Canada.
     At what cost do we ensure the integrity of the border? In other words, it's not only a responsibility to ensure the integrity of the border and take on these unscrupulous individuals, but also to ensure that we're not, pardon the expression, getting into bed with some pretty problematic individuals abroad, if I may say so diplomatically, as the report outlines, which, again, I would invite colleagues to read, and would be more than happy to provide to members of the committee who haven't seen it.
    Yes, sir. I will simply acknowledge, because I don't have particular insight into—and colleagues, if any of you do, I wish you'd jump in.... We deal with transnational organized crime, including the exploitation of vulnerable people, in human trafficking, and with those who would be involved in exploiting those fleeing persecution. It is necessary for our federal officials and our security establishment to extend their work beyond our borders in order.... Some of the most effective work they do in preventing problems and crimes in Canada is by preventing it from coming to our borders in the first place. They are working in some very difficult places in the world, but we expect they would continue to uphold Canadian law and Canadian standards.

[Translation]

    I don't have much time left.
    Mr. Vigneault or Mr. Brennan, do you want to talk about your organization's perspective?
    Yes. Thank you, Mr. Dubé.

[English]

     Thank you, Minister.
    I would just add, Monsieur Dubé, that the program you referred to has been in place for a number of years now to prevent, as the minister mentioned and as you referred to in your prelude, traffickers from bringing people to Canada irregularly. The reason we are engaged is to protect the integrity of the system in Canada and make sure that criminals...national security concerns or people are not victimized through these processes.
    The work we do abroad is governed by our act and by ministerial directives. I cannot go into all the operational details, but I can say that when we do share information with foreign entities, we are under ministerial directives to make sure that the information does not lead to a human rights violation or to mistreatment. I'm familiar with what the media was reporting on this, but I can say that there's been a review of these programs and that all agencies involved are covered by this ministerial directive. So there's another perspective as well to that story.

  (1705)  

    Thank you, Mr. Dubé.
    Ms. Sahota, you have seven minutes, please.
    Thank you.
    Thank you, Minister Blair, for being here today.
    I want to start with the agreements you were speaking of earlier with the different provinces in relation to the funding in terms of gangs and guns. Can you tell me a little bit about how much funding is being provided from the federal level to specifically the Doug Ford government in Ontario?
    Approximately $214 million has been identified in the guns and gangs funding for the entire country. That's in addition to the money that's been allocated, some $89 million, for CBSA and RCMP. Of the $214 million, $65 million is allocated to the Province of Ontario. There have been ongoing discussions with the Province of Ontario on how that money will flow to them and what they will do with it. I recently made a joint announcement with the Minister of Community Safety and the Attorney General for Ontario where they accepted $11 million over the first two years of this funding program. I'm not yet aware of whether they've made announcements as to how they intend to allocate that, but it's a total funding allocation over a five-year period of $65 million. So far the Province of Ontario has received $11 million of that.
    Why is it only $11 million at this point? Who makes that choice, and how was that decided?
    It's part of the ongoing discussions between us. That was all they were prepared to identify various initiatives for. The money remains there for allocation to the Province of Ontario when they're ready to use it. They've identified so far, just in the first two years of the program, $11 million in initiatives that they're prepared to undertake with that money.
    Are you telling me there's $65 million available to Ontario? I know that my counterparts in the City of Brampton have been taking a keen interest in wanting to reduce crime in the city. However, they've only accepted $11 million of the $65 million that's been offered.
    In fairness, these are ongoing discussions between our government and all the provinces. We've been working out funding allocations for each of the provinces, and so far that has been identified. This money is for municipal and indigenous police services across the provinces and territories but it is appropriately and necessarily allocated through the provincial governments. I would simply encourage all municipalities to reach out to their respective provincial government for discussions on how they might access the money that's coming from the federal government through the provincial governments.
    Is there any way to provide the money directly to the municipal governments? I know that my city, Brampton, is very eager to be able to get access to some of these funds to help them with some of the problems they're dealing with. Is the only way to get access to this money to go through the province?
    I think it is incumbent upon us to do our very best to work with our provincial partners across the country. I will tell you that in my experience in some other jurisdictions, it's been a very positive experience. I remain hopeful about those allocations in Ontario. I have a strong interest in that place myself. I know the municipalities and policing agencies that are involved. Again, with those decisions, I think the appropriate way....
    Policing is administered and overseen by the provincial governments across Canada. We are working with community safety ministers, public safety ministers and attorneys general across the country in each of the provinces and territories. We've certainly done our best. There are some other funding opportunities available that are done directly. That's more with community organizations. There have been a number of significant announcements in Ontario, in addition to the money I've already referenced, where we're supporting community organizations, various crime prevention initiatives and other types of investments in communities.

  (1710)  

     When you compare the $65 million offer to past allocated amounts, is this more or less than what the Government of Canada has provided provinces, or Ontario specifically?
     I'm not aware of funding of this magnitude previously. I've been involved in a different capacity in dealing with guns and gangs issues. Generally our relationship was with only the provincial government. There was actually some funding made available in 2008 for what was called the police officers recruitment fund, but that money was terminated in 2013.
    Is this kind of funding the first of its kind from the federal government to the provinces?
     Public Safety and our government last year brought forward a significant investment in guns and gangs initiatives, and there was also recognition and acknowledgement, after we talked with the provinces and municipal and indigenous police services, that there was important work that needed to be done. When we began making investments, we made sure there was money to flow through the provinces to those municipal and indigenous police services, as well as our federal authorities in the RCMP, CBSA and others, because the guns and gangs issue is a very real concern right across the country. We've seen a significant increase in gun violence and gun murders in our country. Much of that is directly related to drugs and gang activity, so we're making significant investments to support those efforts.
    From my experience in just these last few years of paying attention and monitoring, because issues now tend to come to the members of Parliament, I've seen that as the weather gets better and the summer comes along, in general there's an increase in criminal activity in Brampton.
    Is there a different approach or are different allocations of funding budgeted for certain months? Can you speak from your past experience as to why that is?
    Those operational decisions regarding how to allocate their resources and use these new resources are really the responsibility of police services and their leaders under the direction of their boards and their municipalities, and they are made very much in collaboration with the provincial authority.
    There are also very significant partnerships that exist right across this country among law enforcement. For example, there are a number of important initiatives led by the RCMP in what we call combined forces special enforcement units. As an example, we have the integrated national security enforcement teams and others in which all police services will participate. I should mention, because they are quite relevant to my mandate, the integrated border enforcement teams, which are usually led by the federal agency but in which other police services participate as well. These types of initiatives are supported by the funding that we provide.
    Thank you, Ms. Sahota.
    Mr. Motz, you have five minutes.
    Thank you, Chair.
    Thank you, witnesses, for being here.
    Minister, last week you said assault-style rifles are military weapons “designed to hunt people”. I don't know what you refer to as an assault-style rifle, but I suspect you're referring to automatic rifles, automatic firearms, and you know that those firearms have been prohibited in this country since 1976. Could you tell us exactly what firearms you're referring to in that statement?
    We've had a number of discussions. As I said, I've travelled across the country, Mr. Motz.
    Exactly what firearms are you referring to specifically with that statement?
    They are firearms that were designed for a military purpose, firearms that—
    I don't know what that means. With that statement, to me, you're referring to, in reality, modern hunting rifles, modern sporting rifles. The very fact that you made that statement.... I find it extremely offensive. I find it misguided. I find it misinformed, and you're misleading the Canadian public with that. Again, what firearms are you referring to specifically?
    Mr. Motz, let Mr. Blair answer.
    I'm sorry you were offended, but I was thinking about—
    Canadian licensed firearm owners are offended by this statement.
    Mr. Motz, let Mr. Blair answer the question.
    I was thinking about the firearm that was used to kill three Mounties in Moncton. That was a firearm that was designed for military use. It was originally created and used by the military. It was a weapon that was used by that individual to hunt three police officers.
    What was it? What was the rifle? What was the firearm?
    I believe it was an M14. I was also thinking about the weapons that were used to kill the two officers in Fredericton and two private citizens. I was also thinking about the weapon that was used to kill 14 women at École Polytechnique—
    You referred to the AR-15—
    —and the weapon that was used to kill worshippers in the mosque in Quebec.
    These were all weapons that were not designed as hunting weapons. They were designed for soldiers, soldiers who—

  (1715)  

    You've identified the AR-15 specifically, Mr. Minister. You've identified it. Do you know whether the AR-15 has ever been used in a crime committed in Canada?
     The AR-15.... Again, I have mentioned some of the other.... The AR-15 is the number one weapon used—
    —a drive-by shooting in 2004, and no one was injured.
    On a point of order, Mr. Chair, we're just not getting the answers to these questions.
    He needs to answer the question. He doesn't need to dance around the issue.
    The AR-15 is the weapon that was used to kill a whole bunch of little kids at Sandy Hook. It was also used to murder 50 people in Christchurch—
    We're talking Canada here, Mr. Minister.
    Mr. Motz, if you want to ask your question, ask your question, and then let the minister finish his answer. Then you can go back to asking another question.
    Minister, can you describe the difference between an AR-15, which is currently restricted in this country, and the WK180-C?
    Okay, there's a specific question. A specific answer, if you may, please.
    Frankly, I don't consider myself an expert in the classification of those firearms, although I am familiar with both. I don't know whether any of the other witnesses has the expertise to define it. As you know, the classification is determined now by the RCMP.
    Okay, we now have a specific answer to a specific question.
    The second specific question.
    Let me answer the question for you. They are virtually the same firearm. They fire a .223 round. They have the same operational mechanisms. The only difference is—and I'm glad you identified the idea of classifications; the Canadian public wants firearms classified by what they can do, not by what they look like, and that challenge has been ongoing. Bill C-71 is a prime example. We need facts to guide these decisions, not cosmetics, Mr. Minister.
    That's a comment, not a question.
    It is.
    So is there any truth—
    Excuse me, Mr. Motz.
    Does the Minister wish to respond to Mr. Motz's comment?
    No.
    No.
    Mr. Motz, your question.
    Some rumours have been floating around over the last while about your government's plans to ban firearms, ranging from banning specific firearms to banning semi-automatic firearms, to handguns.
    So I have a simple yes or no question. Will an order in council be issued banning certain classes of firearms?
    Mr. Motz, I don't normally respond to rumours. What we are—
    That's not a rumour. I'm asking a direct question.
    If I may—
    Is an order in council—
    Mr. Motz, you've asked a specific question. It took you half a minute to do that. I should allocate similar time to Minister Blair to respond to your question.
    We are looking at all the measures that we believe could help keep Canadians safe, and we are examining the right way to deal with those measures.
    So no order in council is being planned. Do you have a different plan to ban firearms, as you've indicated?
    Okay, that's the end of that question.
    Briefly respond to Mr. Motz, and then he has finished his five minutes.
    I have a plan to examine every way in which we can keep Canadians safe.
    You continue to dance.
    Thank you, Mr. Motz.
    Mr. Graham.
    Thank you.
    Mr. Minister, as you know, I'm a rural Canadian who has firearms in the house and I fire them from time to time. The last time I fired an AR-15 was only a month ago, so I want to put that in perspective.
    What are you doing to protect lawful users of firearms going forward?
    I also want to be very clear. The mandate I was given by the government was to examine every measure that could keep people safe with a very important specific caveat and that was an acknowledgement and a recognition that the overwhelming majority of firearm owners in this country are law abiding and responsible in their ownership. They acquire their firearms legally. They store them securely. They use them responsibly and they dispose of them according to the law.
    Firearm ownership in this country is a privilege that is predicated on people's willingness and acceptance of our laws and regulations as they pertain to firearms. In my experience the overwhelming majority of Canadians are exceptionally responsible and law abiding with respect to their firearms, and I think it's really critically important that we always respect that. They are not dangerous people, and particularly hunters and farmers and sport shooters are very careful with their weapons.
     At the same time, we have a responsibility to make sure that those weapons don't end up in the hands of people who would commit violent crimes with them. In my experience and from my discussions across the country, I believe those responsible gun owners are equally concerned with public safety and ensuring that their firearms don't end up in the hands of criminals.

  (1720)  

    I appreciate that.
    Do I still have time, Chair?
    You have a full five minutes, Mr. Graham, in part due to the efficiency of—
     I thought you wanted 10 minutes left at the end.
    I appreciate your responses.
    I wanted to ask Mr. Tousignant—I believe you're from CSC—a very quick question before I come back to Mr. Blair.
    I would have asked this at the previous panel, but I didn't have a chance. In my riding there is the La Macaza Institution, which has 28 Bomarc missile silos. I would like to know if CSC can help us prevent those from being torn down.
    They're on La Macaza Institution land. That's why I ask you.
    Yes.
    I don't have an answer for that either.
    I just want it on the record because it is part of our heritage. I don't want to lose that heritage. It is used as storage units and it has asbestos and they want to take it out. They want to remove these silos. I don't want that to happen.
    So we want to save—
    Save the Bomarc silos. Save the missile silos.
    —the missile silos. Okay.
    That's different.
    Mr. Blair, I don't know if it's you or Health or both, but I'd like to dive into the marijuana laws a bit.
     As you know, it's a large rural riding. There are a lot of medical marijuana operations being set up. A lot of towns are complaining to me that they're not finding out about them. I would like to know what responsibility a licence requester has to notify the police, fire and municipalities. Could you help me with that?
    Those are regulations that are outside of the Cannabis Act, where someone gets an authorization for growing cannabis, but they still have to adhere to, first of all, Health Canada's regulations with respect to those facilities, and they are also subject to municipal bylaws and zoning regulations, where they exist. I say that because not every place has such bylaws.
    We've had a number of these incidents where there have been issues with respect to smell, light pollution, noise and other things that are problematic. In those circumstances, Health Canada has a role, and there are regulations that apply specifically to those authorized growers of medical marijuana, which are not the licensed producers under the Cannabis Act. There is also a significant role for local regulatory authorities, particularly bylaw enforcement, to address those things.
    I would encourage you, if you have such facilities in your riding that are problematic for your community, to reach out to us and we'll make sure that Health Canada, to the extent it is able, assists with their regulations. In many circumstances we're able to work with the local municipal authority or regional authority in order to address those concerns.
    Thank you very much.
    With that, I'm going to bring questioning to a close.
    Wait. I had a really nice question.
    It would be the first time in a long time that you've had a nice question.
    I'd love to answer your nice question.
    You can ask your nice question offline. We do have to pass the estimates, which is the purpose for which we're here.
    On behalf of the committee I want to thank you, Minister Blair, and all your officials for being here while we go through these estimates.
    With that, I'm going to suggest, and it's up to the colleagues whether we want to do roughly 30 votes all at once, presumably all with one vote on division. Is that a preferable way to proceed, or do you want to divide up the votes?
    We're agreed that it will all be done at one.
CANADA BORDER SERVICES AGENCY
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Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$1,550,213,856
ç
Vote 5—Capital expenditures..........$124,728,621
ç
Vote 10—Addressing the Challenges of African Swine Fever..........$5,558,788
ç
Vote 15—Enhancing Accountability and Oversight of the Canada Border Services Agency..........$500,000
ç
Vote 20—Enhancing the Integrity of Canada's Borders and Asylum System..........$106,290,000
ç
Vote 25—Helping Travellers Visit Canada..........$12,935,000
ç
Vote 30—Modernizing Canada's Border Operations..........$135,000,000
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Vote 35—Protecting People from Unscrupulous Immigration Consultants..........$1,550,000
    (Votes 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 35 agreed to on division)
CANADIAN SECURITY INTELLIGENCE SERVICE
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Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$535,592,804
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Vote 5—Enhancing the Integrity of Canada's Borders and Asylum System..........$2,020,000
ç
Vote 10—Helping Travellers Visit Canada..........$890,000
ç
Vote 15—Protecting Canada’s National Security..........$3,236,746
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Vote 20—Protecting the Rights and Freedoms of Canadians..........$9,200,000
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Vote 25—Renewing Canada's Middle East Strategy..........$8,300,000
    (Votes 1, 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25 agreed to on division)
CIVILIAN REVIEW AND COMPLAINTS COMMISSION FOR THE ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE
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Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$9,700,400
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Vote 5—Enhancing Accountability and Oversight of the Canada Border Services Agency..........$420,000
    (Votes 1 and 5 agreed to on division)
CORRECTIONAL SERVICE OF CANADA
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Vote 1—Operating expenditures, grants and contributions..........$2,062,950,977
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Vote 5—Capital expenditures..........$187,808,684
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Vote 10—Support for the Correctional Service of Canada..........$95,005,372
    (Votes 1, 5 and 10 agreed to on division)
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS
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Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$130,135,974
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Vote 5—Grants and contributions..........$597,655,353
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Vote 10—Ensuring Better Disaster Management Preparation and Response..........$158,465,000
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Vote 15—Protecting Canada's Critical Infrastructure from Cyber Threats..........$1,773,000
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Vote 20—Protecting Canada’s National Security..........$1,993,464
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Vote 25—Protecting Children from Sexual Exploitation Online..........$4,443,100
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Vote 30—Protecting Community Gathering Places from Hate Motivated Crimes..........$2,000,000
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Vote 35—Strengthening Canada's Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorist Financing Regime..........$3,282,450
    (Votes 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 35 agreed to on division)
OFFICE OF THE CORRECTIONAL INVESTIGATOR OF CANADA
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Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$4,735,703
    (Vote 1 agreed to on division)
PAROLE BOARD OF CANADA
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Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$41,777,398
    (Vote 1 agreed to on division)
ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE
ç
Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$2,436,011,187
ç
Vote 5—Capital expenditures..........$248,693,417
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Vote 10—Grants and contributions..........$286,473,483
ç
Vote 15—Delivering Better Service for Air Travellers..........$3,300,000
ç
Vote 20—Enhancing the Integrity of Canada's Borders and Asylum System..........$18,440,000
ç
Vote 25—Protecting Canada’s National Security..........$992,280
ç
Vote 30—Strengthening Canada's Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorist Financing Regime..........$4,100,000
ç
Vote 35—Support for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police..........$96,192,357
    (Votes 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 35 agreed to on division)
ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE EXTERNAL REVIEW COMMITTEE
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Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$3,076,946
    (Vote 1 agreed to on division)
SECRETARIAT OF THE NATIONAL SECURITY AND INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE OF PARLIAMENTARIANS
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Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$3,271,323
    (Vote 1 agreed to on division)
SECURITY INTELLIGENCE REVIEW COMMITTEE
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Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$4,629,028
    (Vote 1 agreed to on division)
    The Chair: Shall the chair report the votes on the 2019-20 main estimates, less the amounts voted in interim estimates, to the House?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Chair: The meeting is adjourned.
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