Skip to main content Start of content

House Publications

The Debates are the report—transcribed, edited, and corrected—of what is said in the House. The Journals are the official record of the decisions and other transactions of the House. The Order Paper and Notice Paper contains the listing of all items that may be brought forward on a particular sitting day, and notices for upcoming items.

For an advanced search, use Publication Search tool.

If you have any questions or comments regarding the accessibility of this publication, please contact us at accessible@parl.gc.ca.

Previous day publication Next day publication
Skip to Document Navigation Skip to Document Content

42nd PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 344

CONTENTS

Monday, October 29, 2018




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 148
NUMBER 344
1st SESSION
42nd PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Monday, October 29, 2018

Speaker: The Honourable Geoff Regan

    The House met at 11 a.m.

Prayer



Private Members’ Business

[Private Members’ Business]

  (1100)  

[English]

The Environment

    That, in the opinion of the House, the government should work with the provinces, municipalities, and indigenous communities to develop a national strategy to combat plastic pollution in and around aquatic environments, which would include the following measures: (a) regulations aimed at reducing (i) plastic debris discharge from stormwater outfalls, (ii) industrial use of micro-plastics including, but not limited to, microbeads, nurdles, fibrous microplastics and fragments, (iii) consumer and industrial use of single use plastics, including, but not limited to, plastic bags, bottles, straws, tableware, polystyrene (foam), cigarette filters, and beverage containers; and (b) permanent, dedicated, and annual funding for the (i) cleanup of derelict fishing gear, (ii) community-led projects to clean up plastics and debris on shores, banks, beaches and other aquatic peripheries, (iii) education and outreach campaigns on the root causes and negative environmental effects of plastic pollution in and around all bodies of water.
     He said: Mr. Speaker, it is truly an honour for me to begin the debate on my Motion No. 151 for a national strategy to combat marine plastic pollution in our waters and on our shores. Canada has the largest coastline in the world. We have 20% of the world's fresh water and 60% of the world's lakes. This means that we not only rely on clean water, but we also shoulder the responsibility of protecting it.
    This motion is the product of many hours of discussion with and between environmental advocacy groups, academics, small businesses, municipalities, first nations and concerned Canadians. I am proud to bring their voices to this debate.
    This issue is very important to Canadians. I have heard from impassioned elementary school students, seniors in residences, people on their doorsteps, in coffee shops, at hockey games, at the grocery store check-outs and in town hall meetings. This is in addition to the hundreds of Canadians who have contacted my office directly and indirectly through post cards, emails and social media comments. They all want to see us advance this.
     I have personally spoken in the House or at committee more than 50 times on this issue. The time for talking about the state of our oceans has passed. We are here at the eleventh hour of a crisis of our own making and it is time for us as members of Parliament to reach across the floor and do what is right. This is not an issue unique to my riding but has emerged as a major issue within Canada and around the world. As a result, it is public engagement that has given birth to this motion as Canadians have become more aware of the urgency of the marine plastics crisis.
     A recent poll conducted by Abacus Data found that one in three Canadians say that plastic in our oceans and waterways is one of the most important environmental issues today. Eighty-eight per cent believe it is an important issue. Over 90% want government to regulate less plastics packaging and a reduction in the amount of plastic used in consumer products. Ninety-six per cent 96% support community cleanups.
     In the Great Lakes alone, over 500,000 pieces of microplastic per square kilometre are present. Addressing this is a herculean task and we cannot tackle it alone. The purpose of Motion No. 151 is to initiate a national strategy in conjunction with municipalities, provinces, indigenous communities and small business to reduce the industrial and consumer use of plastics and to remove plastic pollution from our waters.
    The motion seeks the development of a strategy to rethink and redesign Canada's plastic economy. The work of former Halifax member of Parliament Megan Leslie and the current member for Windsor West resulted in a ban of microbeads in 2015. Their work demonstrates what we can achieve if we work together.
     I am grateful to my friend and colleague the member for Victoria for seconding this motion and for his guidance and encouragement in its preparation. I must also recognize and thank the members for Kootenay—Columbia, Nanaimo—Ladysmith,Saanich—Gulf Islands, and Beaches—East York for seconding the motion and my colleagues from the NDP caucus who have been very supportive of this motion.
    Our fisheries rely on a clean marine environment. We know from science that if plastics in our oceans are not removed, they will continue to degrade, eventually entering our ecosystems and food chain. We also know that animals that eat microplastics have lower reproductive success.
    The motion draws on the work of Professor Calvin Sandborn and his students at the University of Victoria's Environmental Law Centre and consists of seven reforms which outline a blueprint for federal action on reducing and removing plastic pollution in our waters.
    Ocean plastics is a global environmental challenge and yet Canada has no national policy to prevent plastics from entering our waters and no mechanisms to support the cleanup of existing pollution. Canada needs a strategy that leads us to legislation and regulations to address the crisis of marine plastic pollution. The federal oceans protection plan purports to protect our coasts, although it makes no mention of plastics or marine debris whatsoever. Further, it does not address land-based debris and plastics which account for almost 80% of ocean plastics.
    Sadly, Canada lags behind our global neighbours. Forty countries around the world have already created strategies to curb plastic use. Most notably, last week, the European Union passed a landmark resolution to ban single-use plastics by 2021. This starts with cleaning up our oceans. Plastics must be recovered from our waters before they break down and enter the ecosystem and our food chain.

  (1105)  

    The issue of large-scale marine plastic pollution hit home for me in November 2016 when 35 empty shipping containers spilled from the Hanjin Seattle cargo ship in rough seas near the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The people of Tofino, Ahousaht, Hesquiaht, Clayoquot, Tla-o-qui-aht, Huu-ay-aht and Ucluelet on the west coast of Vancouver Island became quickly aware of large sheets of metal with foam pieces washing onto our shores and breaking up into smaller and smaller pieces. All of these communities rely heavily on a healthy marine environment, and threats like this are taken very seriously.
    The immediate concern of local leaders, the business community and local environmental champions was recovery and cleanup as high tides and storm surf tossed logs at the top of our beaches grinding the styrofoam into tiny pieces. Cleaning up hundreds of kilometres of our precious shoreline was top of mind for everyone. The work began immediately. Volunteers with Clayoquot CleanUp, the Pacific Rim chapter of Surfrider, the Ocean Legacy Foundation and legions of local residents were activated. They were joined by many others who travelled to our coast from afar to undertake the monumental task of cleanup.
    Regrettably, funds were not made available from the federal government to support their work. It was sweat equity of the highest order. Officials told us that there is a legislative and regulatory void, and our communities were essentially left on their own. Only $72,000 was recovered from the shipping company through the courts through the Canada Shipping Act, but even these funds were not immediately made available. However, the work went ahead with personal risk taken by many volunteers as they collected and bagged several tonnes of debris for eventual pickup.
    Eventually, a portion of the expenses incurred in the cleanup were reimbursed, but only $15,000, a fraction of the total cost, was released to one of the environmental groups working on the cleanup. The rest of the money is still sitting here in Ottawa, almost two years later. Our nation owes an ongoing debt of gratitude to the many Canadians that respond in this way when our environment is threatened.
    My investigation of this single incident led me to an informal network of environmental non-profits, education institutions, local governments, first nations and individual Canadians deeply concerned about marine plastic pollution. There is no question that the Hanjin Seattle spill and similar threats can be devastating to the local marine environment. They told me that this is the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
    Our marine environment is under threat on a global scale. Upwards of 20 million tonnes of debris enters the world's oceans every year. It is estimated that the equivalent of one garbage truck of plastic enters our oceans every minute of every day. On average, there are 18,000 pieces of plastic floating in every square kilometre of ocean globally. Eighty per cent of all plastic in the ocean comes from land-based sources. Ninety per cent of plastic in the ocean is microplastics. Ninety-five per cent of single use plastics are only used once and discarded. Global plastic production has doubled in the last 20 years and is expected to double again in the next 20 years.
     By 2050, if this trend continues, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. One study found that returning adult B.C. salmon ingest up to 90 pieces of plastic each day. We are finding over two pieces of microplastic in every piece of shellfish from our communities. Each year, plastic litter kills more than one million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals, such as turtles, dolphins, whales and seals. Over 260 species of animals have been found to be entangled or killed by harmful marine debris.
    Many of the volunteers who took to the beaches after the Hanjin Seattle spill were already well aware of these sad realities, of course. In fact, at the time of the Hanjin Seattle spill, the United Nations was only months away from announcing its clean seas initiative, and Canada was less than a year away from joining it as a voluntary signatory. Since then, barely a day has passed without multiple media reports of new findings about marine plastic pollution, each one more alarming than the last.
     Today, the average Canadian high school student knows more about the threat of ocean plastics than most members of the House knew at the time of the Hanjin Seattle spill, only two years ago. Public awareness and consumer engagement is critical. The government is to be congratulated on its recent development of educational tools and curricula on plastic pollution. This is an absolutely critical element of a national strategy.
    We need clear, binding targets for the reduction of marine plastics pollution, in collaboration with provincial, territorial, municipal and indigenous governments. We need national standards and best practices to help meet national reduction targets, and we need to incentivize other levels of government to adopt them. Federal leadership is essential, including the coordination and funding of interjurisdictional efforts to meet these targets.

  (1110)  

    Legislation needs to be identified in a national strategy to address those aspects of this marine plastic issue that are clearly within the federal jurisdiction.
     Marine plastic pollution should be placed on the agenda of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, along with a commitment to facilitate technological transfers between governments across this country in order to meet national targets.
     A federal commitment to build on Canada's zero plastics waste charter initiative is required to set a global example by fighting marine plastic pollution decisively here at home. A ban on plastic straws should not come at the expense of accessibility. Exceptions should be made in the form of biodegradable plastic straws. Let us all challenge ourselves to look at the world through other lenses to create a more inclusive, accessible and environmentally friendly world.
    We need a commitment to measure our progress on marine plastics pollution by developing effective measurement criteria and regularly reporting to Parliament on its progress. The University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre has identified important specific regulatory policies that are also essential elements of a national strategy.
    First, single-use plastics make up the most plastic debris on our beaches. We must adopt policies that reduce both consumer and industrial use of single-use plastics. We are seeing Europe take that step. Kenya has banned plastic bags. Cities across North America are taking action and leading.
    Second, plastic debris we know ends up in the oceans via storm drains that carry urban runoff to the sea. Our national strategy must reduce plastic discharge from stormwater outfalls. Los Angeles is already implementing that.
    Third, microbeads, nurdles, which are pre-production plastic pellets, microfibres shed by synthetic fabrics, degraded plastic particles and polystyrene fragments permeate the marine environment and could pose more risk than larger plastic debris. Our national strategy must reduce microplastic pollution. San Francisco has even banned polystyrene and styrofoam from its docks. Therefore, it is taking leadership.
    Fourth, lost or abandoned plasticized fishing and aquaculture gear takes hundreds of years to decompose. Removing ghost gear from our oceans and preventing further gear loss is a crucial element of a national strategy. Washington, Oregon and California have all taken leadership, removing thousands of tonnes of ghost fishing-gear.
     Fifth, we require plastic producers to finally take responsibility for the full life-cycle costs of their products and packaging. We need them to internalize cleanup costs that have been borne by individual Canadians or their governments. A marine pollution strategy must extend plastic producer responsibility.
     Sixth, the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre observes that tackling marine plastic pollution effectively will require replacing new plastic production with a non-wasteful circular or closed-loop system that reduces overall use and also maximizes reuse. Canada's plastic economy must be redesigned.
     Seventh, the University of Victoria study recommends that education, outreach and beach cleanups are of critical importance. Beach cleanups serve as a form of downstream management of marine litter. They engage citizen involvement and contribute to behaviour change. Currently, the great Canadian shoreline cleanup occurs across the country on World Environment Day with support from Environment and Climate Change Canada. However, without question more support is required from all levels of government for beach cleanups throughout the year, not just one day.
    Since this motion was introduced a year ago, Canadians across the country have demanded that we take an active role in creating a plastic economy that is sustainable and accountable for the waste that it generates. Support for a comprehensive national strategy that includes meaningful funding to promote the important work already under way that advances plastic reduction policies is coming from municipalities, first nations, environmental groups, churches, corporations and individual citizens.
    Lastly, in October, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities passed a nearly unanimous resolution in support of this motion at its annual meeting. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities passed a similar motion with the support of over 90% earlier this year. In my riding alone, bylaws that regulate plastics have been initiated or passed by many municipalities.
    In closing, we know that many people are supporting this motion. SumOfUs brought forth a petition with over 120,000 signatories in a matter of a couple of weeks, which we delivered to the minister. I want to take this opportunity to thank all the signatories of those petitions. Their voices matter today. I also need to thank others, like Margaret Atwood, and hundreds of other community champions, schoolchildren, church leaders and just plain folks who have spoken up in support of the motion.

  (1115)  

    Most importantly, I need to thank those who have been on the ground working on this issue. I thank the communities and organizations that have helped me prepare this motion, including Communities Protecting our Coast from Oceanside, Clayoquot CleanUp, Surfrider Pacific Rim, the Association for Denman Island Marine Stewards, Surfrider Foundation Vancouver Island, The Ocean Legacy Foundation, SumOfUs, T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation, University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre and the Ucluelet Aquarium.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for his speech. His passion is clearly evident in the words that he spoke this morning. I applaud him for the work that he continues to do to raise a number of issues in this House.
    I will preface my question with the fact that Canada was among the first countries to phase out microbeads in toiletries. We have been working with provinces, territories, industry and communities towards a zero plastic waste vision. On Earth Day, we launched a public consultation with all Canadians to share their views on how to get to a zero plastic environment. Through our G7 presidency, countries and organizations agreed to an ocean plastics charter. We have invested $100 million to support vulnerable regions. We have an oceans protection plan, and budget 2018 committed over $1 billion to biodiversity. Therefore, we are not looking at this within a silo. We are looking at it comprehensively.
    The member mentioned our educational outreach. I wonder how this motion in particular would fill the gap in some of the work that we are doing thus far.

  (1120)  

    Mr. Speaker, certainly, I have to give the government credit for finally starting to take action on this. When I first raised this in the House two years ago, around the Hanjin, I asked questions of the government about taking action in support of our communities, but I could not get an answer. In fact, the Prime Minister continued to cite the oceans protection plan, but there was no mention of plastics at all or marine debris in the oceans protection plan. I could not get an answer from any department, whether it be the Department of Environment, Transport or Fisheries and Oceans.
    However, I will commend the Minister of Environment and Climate Change for finally starting to take action on this issue and pulling together the ocean plastics charter, which is a beginning, but we need an actual national strategy so that we can develop goals and hard targets. The government is talking about making sure that we have a circular economy and more recycling, but that is not good enough. We actually need to reduce the amount of plastic that we are using.
    There is a lot of leakage when it comes to plastic into our ecosystem, and we need to protect our environment. Other countries have taken leadership. The government has done a lot of great talking. It is moving forward with a lot conversations, but we have not seen any action. It has not created any regulations, like the EU, which has set a target of 2021 to remove plastic cutlery and plates from its environment.
    What I would like to see is the government actually do something. This strategy would create the framework so that it can set those hard targets and work with all levels of government to take real action. That is what Canadians are looking for.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my colleague's speech and I want to thank him for bringing this important issue before the House of Commons. I do not think anybody in the world disagrees that disposable plastic and the issues it causes in the environment are pervasive and real. We can travel to certain countries around the world and see the plastic lined up on the beaches, in the ditches and so on.
    However, I am concerned with the tone my colleague had in his speech when he talked about going back and laying the blame squarely at the foot of the producers along the way. In my riding, there is Dow Chemical, NOVA Chemicals, Sarnia Insulation and all of these value-added union jobs in the petrochemical industry. They are creating plastics for medical use and a variety of other very important life-saving procedures. Therefore, plastic obviously does have a very important place in our economy and in our society. I am worried about the tone the member has had in demonizing all plastics, which is where I am afraid this is going. I hope he is not calling for a ban on all plastics, but I have a feeling that is where this conversation might end up.
    Has the member heard of the Plastic Bank, which is the notion of monetizing waste plastic and using that as a means for cleanup? Especially in third world countries, using blockchain technology, the monetization of plastic actually leads to cleanup and puts a value on this plastic that could be redeemed for cash and value that is improving the economy in those places. Could the member comment on that?
    Mr. Speaker, this is an issue we know the Conservatives are not seeing as a real threat or they would support this motion.
    We are talking about not creating a replacement economy, in which we only recycle. We need to use less plastic. Right now, plastic pollution accounts for about 8% of greenhouse gases and it is rising toward 15%. Around the world, there are countries like Kenya and Rwanda that have banned plastic bags outright. The EU is taking steps to ban single-use plastics. What the member did not say is that they are still going to use replaceable items. They are probably going to use paper plates and things that are compostable or biodegradable.
    This is not going to go away. We are not going to stop using items, but we need to start thinking about using different alternatives. If we are going to use plastic, let us redesign it so that we get more uses than a single use. That needs to happen. We need to redesign the plastic economy.

  (1125)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the member for Courtenay—Alberni for his continued interest in combatting plastic pollution in our waterways and oceans. I know it is something he is passionate about, having had the chance to discuss it with him briefly in person.
    Our government, and I personally, share the hon. member's concerns about the negative impact plastics can have on our marine environment, and I am pleased to share that we have already taken several important steps to address this particular problem. We are working with the provinces and territories, industry, first nations communities and other stakeholders to develop a strategy and action plan to keep plastics out of our landfills and our environment.
    Plastics are part of the everyday lives of Canadians. Since the 1950s, global plastic production has increased more than any other manufacturing material because of its low cost, durability and utility. However, the amount of plastic used once and then thrown away leads to a significant waste of resources and energy and creates litter that pollutes our environment and piles up in our landfills.
    The impact of plastic marine litter and microplastics has captured the public's attention in recent years and has galvanized action around the world. Marine plastics pollution, in particular, is a serious threat to the health of our waters and our economy. There are currently more than 150 million tonnes of plastic waste in the oceans, and about eight million tonnes more enter these bodies every single year. As the hon. member noted in his remarks, this is equivalent to a garbage truck full of plastics being dumped into the ocean every single minute. If we do not take action now, we could expect to see this amount double by 2025.
    While Canada is a small contributor to global plastics pollution, plastic marine litter is found on all of Canada's coasts, in the Arctic and in freshwater areas, including in the Great Lakes. This is why the federal government, with a range of partners, is working to take action in Canada to protect our shorelines, waters and aquatic life, in addition to our efforts working with our partners globally.
    In particular, we are addressing various sources of plastics pollution and improving our knowledge to better understand its impact. For example, as of Canada Day this year, the manufacture and import of all toiletries that contain plastic microbeads are prohibited. These regulations aim to reduce the quantity of microbeads entering freshwater and marine ecosystems.
    As a government, we have committed to lead by example by diverting 75% of all plastic waste from our operations by 2030. We will achieve this target by increasing recycling activities, reducing plastic waste from government meetings and events and promoting the purchase of sustainable plastic products.
    Science and research is also an important part of our agenda to deepen our understanding of how plastic pollution affects our environment. For example, we have contributed over $1.5 million to research microplastics found in the waters in Atlantic Canada, the region where I live, on the west coast, and in the Arctic, including for a partnership between the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Ocean Wise ocean pollution research program.
    Federal government researchers are also contributing to our knowledge base. For instance, they recently published an article in Environmental Pollution about the transfer of microfibres in food webs.
    Canada is committed to building on this foundation and wants to show the world that it is possible to enjoy all the social and economic benefits of plastics without necessarily suffering the negative environmental impacts.
     In particular, on the question from the hon. member for Red Deer—Lacombe, we are open to suggestions, and from what I can tell, he is interested in putting a price on plastics pollution.
    Our approach is not to deal with one type of plastic waste, such as just straws or plastic bags; we want to prevent waste from all kinds of plastics and from products containing plastics, from packaging to electronics to furniture to construction materials. There is quite a bit we could do on each of these products. We need to approach it holistically.
    We have a lot of work to do, as our national recycling rate for all plastics sits at less that 11%, but we also have a lot to build upon. Some provinces are global leaders in implementing extended producer responsibility programs through which producers are responsible for the waste they produce. In B.C. for example, packaging producers pay for the full cost of collecting and recycling their products.
    Canadian industry is also leading in low-carbon plastic production, product innovation and advanced recycling, and the federal government is stepping up to accelerate this innovation. We have launched a $12-million innovation challenge, inviting companies to submit their most innovative solutions for dealing with plastic waste. With this initiative, we are investing in made-in-Canada approaches and technologies to help stop the flow of plastics to the oceans while also supporting Canadian companies to be leaders in domestic and export markets for waste management.
    Our work with the provinces and territories on plastic waste is looking at how we can make plastic design and production more sustainable; improve collection, management systems and infrastructure; promote more informed consumer choices and behaviour, especially to encourage the responsible use of disposable plastics; and improve our understanding through enhanced research and innovation.

  (1130)  

    As I have said, collaboration is key to solving the complex plastic waste issue. We have solicited the views of the public, indigenous peoples, industry, municipalities, non-profit organizations and research institutions to inform our multi-faceted approach.
    We know that Canadians are ready to take on the issue of plastic waste. In 2017, some 58,000 Canadians participated in the annual Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. Together they collected over 88,000 kilograms of litter along 3,000 kilometres of our shoreline. Much of this litter is made of plastics.
    On Earth Day this year, our government launched an online dialogue on plastic waste to gather Canadians' views on plastics and to identify ways we can eliminate plastic waste and reduce marine litter. More than 12,000 emails and almost 2,000 online comments were received. This consultation is informing the work we are doing now with the provinces and territories to develop a comprehensive national strategy.
    We are also working with other key players to address the plastics and microplastics in our environment. We support municipalities and local governments in investing in waste and waste water infrastructure. Through the green municipal fund, the first nation waste management initiative, and Sustainable Development Technology Canada, we are contributing to the infrastructure and technologies needed to deal with plastic waste.
    We know that we need to lend the expertise and resources we are developing domestically beyond our borders, because this is truly a global problem. In its presidency of the G7 this year, Canada has seized the opportunity to take the lead on this issue and has played a key role in achieving the G7 oceans plastics charter. We made oceans health and addressing plastic pollution a priority for this organization, with the goal of driving international action along the entire life cycle of plastics to reduce plastic waste and marine litter.
    In particular, as part of our G7 initiative, our government is investing $100 million over the next four years to help developing countries manage their plastics so that they do not reach our oceans. These funds will go to building infrastructure and developing waste management capacity and will contribute to achieving the UN sustainable development goals, specifically target 14.1, which calls on countries to prevent and significantly reduce marine litter by 2025.
    In addition, Canada has joined the UN Global Partnership on Marine Litter and the Clean Seas campaign to ensure that international policy discussions and research lead to concrete action. Everyone has a role to play to prevent plastic pollution and protect our waterways and environment. We appreciate the leadership on this issue shown by the hon. member for Courtenay—Alberni and the opportunity it presents to share the current work and plans of the Government of Canada on this very important issue.
    I am thankful for the opportunity to share my thoughts. I look forward to working with the hon. member as this file progresses.
    Mr. Speaker, this is a study of the situation of plastic pollution around aquatic environments. It comes from the NDP member for Courtenay—Alberni, and I commend him for bringing this motion forward, which would refer the matter to the environment committee of this Parliament to study.
    The proposal says:
the government should work with the provinces, municipalities, and indigenous communities to develop a national strategy to combat plastic pollution in and around aquatic environments
    The motion calls on the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development to undertake a study on the situation of plastic pollution around aquatic environments and to then report that study back to the House within four months of it being considered. I will note that it does not stipulate whether the focus of this study should be Canada's own plastics pollution or the much more insidious global oceans plastics problem. One of the concerns I have is that if we do a committee study, we know exactly what we are being asked to study so that we have a robust discussion around the committee table to make sure that we are focused on the area where Canada can make the biggest contribution.
    More specifically, the motion calls on the committee to study the following:
(a) regulations aimed at reducing (i) plastic debris discharge from stormwater outfalls, (ii) industrial use of micro-plastics including...microbeads, nurdles, fibrous microplastics and fragments, (iii) consumer and industrial use of single use plastics, including...plastic bags, bottles, straws, tableware, polystyrene...cigarette filters, and beverage containers; and; (b) permanent, dedicated, and annual funding for the (i) cleanup of derelict fishing gear, (ii) community-led projects to clean up plastics...on shores, banks, beaches and other aquatic peripheries, (iii) education and outreach campaigns on the root causes and negative environmental effects of plastic pollution in and around all bodies of water.
    We are still not clear what “in and around all bodies of water” means. Are we talking globally? This is a global problem, and the biggest concerns are not in Canada; they are elsewhere around the world.
    I note that the study is actually focused on expanding what I believe could be a furthering of the intrusive role of government into the lives of Canadians. It also proposes to study new and permanent funding for government initiatives at a time when the Liberal government is running huge deficits and will not be balancing its budget for at least 25 years.
    In June, at the G7 summit, the Prime Minister asked the partner countries to sign a plastics charter to reduce the use of plastics in our environment. The charter was eventually signed by France, Germany, Italy, the European Union and Canada, but there was not full consensus, because the United States and Japan did not sign it. It is understandable why they did not. The focus of that charter was not clear. Their concerns echoed some of the concerns I will be articulating in the House in a moment.
    To be clear, this is a global problem. Globally, it is estimated that around eight million tonnes of plastic waste end up in our oceans every year, and that is predicted to double over the next decade. All these problems around the world with plastics in our oceans are expected to double over the next 10 years. More plastic waste has been produced over the last 10 years than during the entirety of the 20th century.
    This year it was estimated that around 10,000 tonnes of global waste enters the Great Lakes annually. In 2017, 16 tonnes of plastic were found during the Great Lakes beach cleanup alone. Plastic appears in the Great Lakes from external water flows, but I point out that plastic makes up a much smaller percentage of the pollution in many other aquatic environments in Canada. It should be noted that the Saint John and St. Lawrence rivers and the Great Lakes have elevated levels of pollution, the majority of which is not plastic.

  (1135)  

    By the way, the current Liberal government, despite its incessant virtue signalling on the environment, has been directly implicated in the dumping of millions of litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River. Those decisions were made directly by the current Liberal government, so the virtue signalling comes across as pretty hypocritical.
    How serious is Canada's own plastics pollution problem for our ocean environment, especially within the global context? Researchers have collected extensive data to determine the origin of plastics that pollute our oceans. Their data ranks countries based on the amount of plastic waste they contribute to the ocean, and whether it is mismanaged. In this study, Canada did not even show up in the rankings. That is how clean we are, which is not to dismiss concerns about plastics pollution within Canada. However, as part of the larger global oceans plastics problem, Canada is an insignificant contributor. In fact, I would go out on a limb here and say that we are not a contributor to it.
    Compounding the challenge is the fact that bans and taxes eventually get added to the cost of plastic items. Invariably, those costs are passed on to consumers. As a result, businesses pay more, consumers pay more and our competitiveness declines. Therefore, we also have to be careful before we impose more regulations on Canada's businesses, because these will get translated onto Canadian consumers.
    Compounding the challenge is the fact that the provinces, territories and municipalities all have some jurisdictional powers over plastics. This effect on companies has already manifested itself in municipalities such as Montreal and Victoria, which have banned plastic bags, for example. Companies say that a poorly thought-out policy on plastics would hurt them, due to the need to meet different regulatory burdens in different jurisdictions across Canada. If we are going to start moving down this road, we had better think carefully of the long-term impacts and do it in a smart way.
    Members can be assured that our Conservative members of the committee will be the only ones at the table representing the interests of taxpayers. We know what this would mean for taxes in Canada, and we are going to make sure that whatever recommendations come out of the committee, they will be reflective of taxpayers' concerns that their governments spend money wisely and live within their means.
    To summarize, Canada is not responsible for the extensive amount of plastics pollution in aquatic environments around the world. Canada's primary role should be to work with the global community to address the major sources of plastics pollution around the world, including places like China, Southeast Asia, and South Asia, which are the primary sources of plastics pollution. Focusing exclusively on our own contribution to this problem would have a negligible impact on the global problem.
    Canada's Conservatives recognize the detrimental impact that plastics pollution is having on our oceans, and we believe that Canada must work collaboratively with other countries to help them address their major sources of plastics pollution. Therefore, surprisingly, we will be supporting this motion. I commend the member for Courtenay—Alberni for bringing this forward. We will work closely with the committee to make sure that its report back to the House is respectful of Canadian taxpayers' money and deals effectively with the issue of global plastics pollution. We will be supporting the motion, and I commend the member for bringing it forward.

  (1140)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand with my colleague, the New Democrat member for Courtenay—Alberni, in presenting solutions to the calamitous tragedy of marine plastics on our beaches. We see it very strongly close to home on B.C.'s Pacific coast that we represent, but we know this is a Canada-wide problem.
     With respect to my Conservative colleague who just spoke, he has to spend time on B.C.'s beaches to see that the source and impact are both here in Canada. This is costing communities right now. To say that as taxpayers we cannot afford to deal with this Canadian made problem is severely shortsighted.
    When I was Islands Trust Council chair, I heard presentations every year from the Association for Denman Island Marine Stewards. These were women who, with great respect to my elders, were well into their eighties. Every year they were pulling between two and four tonnes of plastic debris, particularly from the aquaculture industry, off the beaches. That is a single clean-up, all on the backs of volunteers.
    Returning adult B.C. salmon, the cultural and economic cornerstone of our province, are ingesting up to 90 pieces of marine plastic every day. Simon Fraser University, the University of Victoria and Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo all agree that Canada is responsible for marine plastic pollution and the costs are being felt right now by our economy and our ecology.
    There is almost nothing I do as a member of Parliament that gets more responses from constituents than the issue of marine plastics. The campaigns against it are extremely strong around the world. There are images of sea turtles entangled in plastic bags and of autopsies on beaches of whales finding how much plastic is inside them. Albatrosses are starving because their stomachs are full of marine plastic.
    The images are tragic and we know it is about us. This is the result of human impact. Every year plastic litter kills more than one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals, such as turtles, dolphins, whales and seals. Eighty per cent of all plastic in the ocean comes from land-based sources. The Strait of Georgia has 3,000 pieces of marine plastic per cubic metre and those rates go up even higher close to our shellfish operations. Seven to eight per cent of world oil and gas production is used to create single use plastic and by 2050 it is estimated that plastic production will use 15% of the world's global carbon budget.
    Again and again, if we act on marine plastics we save the environment, improve our coastal economy, we get the work off the backs of volunteers and we also deal with our fossil fuel habit problem. By 2050, if we do not act, there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish, so let us act.
    I am regularly urged by school kids in Nanaimo and Ladysmith to act. Departure Bay Eco-School does surveys of the beaches. They point out that adults leaving their cigarettes butts on beaches is probably the number one immediate form of marine debris. Certainly, on the west coast, I have had the privilege of working for years as an ocean kayak guide along some of British Columbia's wildest beaches, and every year we have seen more and more plastic. It is not only from Asia, but also from right here.
    We do have community action. Seaview Elementary School in Lantzville just won a prize in the plastic bag grab challenge. Students collected nearly 6,000 bags of garbage from the environment within one month and did a great job of doing daily announcements about the issue at their school to raise awareness about it. Their librarian, Jolaine Canty, who led the initiative, said that having the students win that big contest was an added bonus. She is really proud of the work they did.
     Smokin' George's BBQ restaurant in Nanaimo is moving to compostable containers and straws, and it wants Parliament to know that it recycles its fryer oil. There are people who need to use straws for medical reasons or because they are disabled, which is fine, but it is great to see restaurants offering compostable, renewable alternatives. These businesses are doing what they can to be more sustainable.

  (1145)  

    Cold Front Gelato in Nanaimo is also moving to compostable spoons and containers. The Vault Café, which feeds me a lot of coffee and makes my work possible, is also moving to compostable plant-based products. Their customers are asking them to do that, which is a sign of how much people want to see action on this.
    On Oceans Day, I had the pleasure of being with my colleague, the member of Parliament for Courtenay—Alberni, for a beach cleanup in Parksville. The groups that we were working with, the Surfrider Foundation, the Ocean Legacy Foundation, and Clayoquot CleanUp, are all on the ground and are really inspiring us to realize that if we can get the plastic out of the water, we can use it. They are already piloting gathering marine plastic off the beach, feeding it into 3D printers, and generating new products with this plastic that has been collected. Also, they are piloting the use of new forms of fuel by liquefying and gasifying the marine plastic pollution that has been gathered, again, finding new uses for it.
    It is really inspiring to talk to five-generation sea captain, Josh Temple, I think his name is, about how much plastic net floats they see on the beaches everywhere. What if we used the glut of recycled glass that we have just sitting, and in some cases ending up in landfills, and we got back to a time of manufacturing glass floats? Beachcombers would love it. It would deal with another recycling glut and pollution problem that we have. Again, if a glass ball breaks, either a tourist finds it or else it breaks up and goes back to sand.
    These groups are on the ground, and in the absence of government support and direction, they are doing the hard work. We commend them. They inspire us.
    The Georgia Strait Alliance is an amazing group dedicated to ocean protection in the Salish Sea. It is based in Nanaimo. They have been working with global partners to tackle the problem of ghost gear. This is the problem of stray fishing nets, which are increasingly made of plastics and just do not break down in the same way as others, moving across our world's oceans, gathering fish and in turn attracting more predators. It is a terrible, compounding cycle of death. They are working on an initiative to block that.
    The Regional District of Nanaimo took a motion to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities meeting. Chair Bill Veenhof was so proud to stand up in support of my colleague's motion, M-151, to adopt a national strategy to deal with marine plastics. It received virtually unanimous support at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. If the Conservative Party thinks that is a bad idea, then it is not talking to its local partners.
    As the House knows well, I have been working for a long time on trying to deal with another type of marine plastics problem, abandoned vessels, ripped up and discarded fibreglass boats, which have reached the end of their lifetime. It is another huge issue. If we had a comprehensive government program, if we piloted a vessel turn-in program, as I have proposed but the Liberal government voted down, we could work with the recycling and salvage companies to recreate new markets for fibreglass, the same as we can for marine plastics, if we deal with this in a comprehensive way.
    This is the beauty of my colleague's motion that we are encouraging the House to adopt. We do not have any commitment to regulation. We do not have any commitment, yet, to action. Banning the use of single-use plastics is something that really should be done across the country, but we need to regulate the responses, not just talk about them, and we need to fund action. This is an ongoing budget item, not just the flavour of the month.
    There is unprecedented global support for action on marine plastics. The NDP has a history of doing this. It was our former colleague, Megan Leslie, who, in 2015, got the House to agree to go ahead and ban micro beads. It was our colleague, the member of Parliament for London—Fanshawe, who brought a motion to the House to ban plastic bags across the country.
    When we see what is happening to our marine mammals that we are legally bound to protect, we must take this simple action. School kids are urging us to. Local businesses are urging us to. I strongly encourage the House to move beyond talk to the kind of action my colleague, the member for Courtenay—Alberni, has urged and to vote in favour of Motion No. 151.

  (1150)  

[Translation]

[English]

    The fact is that plastics play a major role in our economy in our daily lives. Plastics are a low cost, durable, light and versatile solution to many of society's needs. We need to remember that because it is also an important part of this. However, plastic waste is a growing problem worldwide and threatens the health of our oceans, lakes, rivers and the wildlife within them.
    I am very pleased the member for Courtenay—Alberni put forward this motion and I congratulate him for his long-term commitment to this issue.
     Like me, he lives on B.C.'s southern coast and probably has seen way too much plastic on beaches when beach cleanups are done locally or while enjoying the recreation that our coast has to offer. Big chunks of plastic and polystyrene are on remote beaches, where they wash up, gradually break down and enter the ocean's ecosystem, to the detriment of wildlife. Ghost gear entraps marine mammals, plastic particles are ingested by marine organisms, from the smallest right up the food chain, and plastic strangles birds, turtles and other wildlife, ending their lives.
    This threat to our environment is also a threat to our livelihoods. Over 72,000 Canadians make their living from fishing and fishing-related activities. Microplastics are now found in the flesh of the food we eat from supermarkets, so they are potentially a threat to human health as well.
    Having become aware of this challenge, I began working with our Liberal caucus by writing a resolution, calling on caucus members to support action on removing ocean plastic debris from our beaches. I followed that up last winter by hosting a round table with experts from academia, NSERC, fisheries and NGOs that were involved in plastic prevention and cleanup. That included representatives from the Vancouver Aquarium's the ocean wise program, the Suzuki Foundation, Ocean Legacy Foundation, Surfrider Foundation, Living Oceans Society, Highlander Marine Services, the Association of Professional Biology, Clayoquot Cleanup, NSERC and BC Marine Trails Network Association, among others. We spent several hours sharing our experiences, concerns and some of the technical information we had learned.
     This is a complex problem. There are multiple sources of ocean plastics, multiple jurisdictions at play and, ultimately, a major element of this problem is international, as the member for Abbotsford mentioned. I was able to take what I had learned from the experts at the round table and present my findings to our Liberal caucus and relevant ministers. I am very proud to say that the government has taken bold action to address this problem.
    With respect to the comments by the member for Abbotsford that we are ignoring the international component of this, nothing could be further from the truth. Hosting the G7 meetings this year, our government invited other G7 nations to be part of the solution internationally, as well as through their own national programs. In fact, building on the oceans plastics charter that was signed, Canada will invest $100 million to support vulnerable regions internationally to help them develop sound waste management, preventing plastic waste from entering the environment, rivers and coastlines and better managing existing plastic resources. We are taking action nationally as well as internationally.
    Leading by example is always a key to solving any global problem. I want to talk a bit about what our government is doing to address the problem through our own operations.
     The Government of Canada is our largest employer, our largest landlord and our largest purchaser. Therefore, action by the government's own operations stimulates innovation, supports the emerging industries dealing with this problem and has a much larger impact were we not at the centre of policy-making in Canada.
    As I have mentioned, Canada is committed to global leadership in government operations that are low carbon, resilient, green and reduce plastic waste. We are doing this through our greening government strategy.

  (1155)  

     At the G7 this past September, the Minister of Environment, the Minister of Fisheries and the Minister of Natural Resources announced new commitments to better manage the use and disposal of plastics in our government operations.

[Translation]

    First of all, we set an explicit target for diverting plastic waste. By 2030, at least 75% of the plastic waste from federal government operations will be diverted.

[English]

    That is a significant objective. This plastic waste target is in line with and supports our greening government strategy commitment to divert at least 75% by weight of all non-hazardous operational waste by 2030.
     Our target of reducing plastic waste will support the oceans plastics charter commitments to increase the efficient use of resources while strengthening waste diversion systems and infrastructure to collect and process plastic materials.
    Another thing I learned at the round table I hosted last winter in Vancouver is this. There simply is not adequate infrastructure for collecting, reprocessing and up-cycling the plastic material. There are ample opportunities now for innovation in this area, for entrepreneurship and the utilization of science and research to help us solve this problem on a much larger scale than in the past.
    Let me now turn to our government's second commitment with respect to government operations. We will eliminate the unnecessary use of single-use plastics in government operations, events and meetings. Single-use plastics, which go beyond simply disposable straws and utensils, includes disposable cups, plastic bags and many other items that are intended to be used only once before they are thrown away or recycled. They constitute a significant portion of the plastic litter in our environment. Many of them, such as straws and utensils, can be difficult to collect and recycle. While these plastics may sometimes be necessary for accessibility, health, safety or security reasons, in many situations there are already viable alternatives of reusable, compostable or recyclable objects.
    The third commitment I would like to discuss today is our commitment to leverage procurement processes to focus on sustainable plastic products utilized by government operations right across the country.
     When purchasing products that contain plastics, we will promote the procurement of sustainable plastic products and the reduction of associated plastic packaging waste. This is for government operations right across the country, with our hundreds of thousands of public servants and the tens of thousands of buildings we occupy.
    Sustainable plastics can be ones that are reusable, have been repaired, remanufactured, refurbished or made with recycled content or can be readily recycled or composted at the end of their life.
    Canadians are aware that plastic pollution must be addressed promptly in Canada and around the world. This problem has been growing at a terrible rate, and the time to take action is now. Our government is leading by example to ensure we better manage the use and disposal of plastics in our governmental operations across the country.
    I once again acknowledge the member for Courtenay—Alberni for his initiative to bring this forward and to study it further in the House of Commons standing committee.

  (1200)  

    The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Government Orders]

[English]

Criminal Code

     She said: Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure I speak to Bill C-84, an act to amend the Criminal Code, bestiality and animal fighting, which brings forward important updates to the Criminal Code. Our government remains steadfast in our commitment to ensure our laws protect our most vulnerable and reflect our commonly held values. The bill is exactly about that.
    As a government, we have brought forward important amendments to the Criminal Code, including by increasing efficiencies in the criminal justice system, cleaning up outdated and unconstitutional provisions, clarifying sexual assault laws and strengthening the impaired driving regime. These changes, along with those proposed in Bill C-84, reflect my ongoing commitment to ensuring our criminal laws remain clear, comprehensible and contemporary.
     I am proud of our efforts in this regard and will continue to pursue law reform that is evidence-based and ensures our criminal justice system extends the strongest protections to Canadians, especially the most vulnerable.
    Before I begin to outline the details of the bill, I would like to acknowledge the advocacy of many honourable members in the House, including in particular the member for Beaches—East York for his leadership and for initiating a very important discussion on this issue in his private member's bill. I would also like to thank the several organizations and numerous Canadians who have written in and advocated for many years. The bill is a result of their hard work.
    Bill C-84 focuses on filling gaps in the Criminal Code and preventing violence and cruelty toward animals. It reflects significant consultation with child and animal protection groups, as well as agricultural and animal use stakeholders, and brings forward changes that reflect a common ground approach to addressing these important issues.
    Clause 1 would add a definition of “bestiality” in section 160 of the Criminal Code to include “any contact, for a sexual purpose, between a person and an animal.” This responds to the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. D.L.W. in 2016, where the court held that the bestiality offences in section 160 of the Criminal Code were limited to sexual acts with animals that involved penetration. In arriving at that determination, the court examined the common law definition of bestiality, which originated in British law and was subsequently incorporated into our Criminal Code.
    The broadened definition would increase protections for children, as well as other vulnerable individuals who may be compelled to engage in or witness bestiality, and animals, by ensuring the criminal law captures all sexual acts with animals, not just those involving penetration. By virtue of the definition's “sexual purpose” focus, legitimate animal husbandry and veterinary practices would continue to be excluded from the scope of the offence.
    In its decision, the Supreme Court noted that courts must interpret the law, not change the elements of crimes in ways that seemed to them to better suit the circumstances of a particular case. Rather, it is Parliament's responsibility to expand the scope of criminal liability, should it elect to do so.
     In the wake of this decision, child protection advocates as well as animal welfare groups expressed serious concern with the effect of the decision and called for law reform. I agree the gap identified by the Supreme Court requires a parliamentary response, and we are doing just that.
    As mentioned, this bill responds to the Supreme Court's decision in D.L.W., by defining bestiality as “any contact, for a sexual purpose, with an animal.” This would ensure all contact between a human and an animal for sexual purpose would be prohibited. This would send a clear and unequivocal message to those who would wish to harm animals. This amendment would also provide increased protection to children who would be exposed to or coerced to participate in abusive conduct, as well as other vulnerable persons who may be compelled to engage in such conduct.
    The proposed definition focuses on the broad term of contact for sexual purpose. The phrase “for a sexual purpose” has a well-established meaning in Canadian criminal law. It is used in a number of different instances in the Criminal Code, and I am confident the use of this consistent terminology will cover the offences in question.
     In its entirety, the proposed definition is clearer and reflects Canadians' understanding of what this offence entails. It is also consistent with calls from animal welfare groups and agricultural stakeholders, including the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.

  (1205)  

    At the same time, this definition will ensure that those involved in legitimate animal husbandry activities, including breeding livestock and veterinary medicine, will not be captured by these offences.
    Currently, the Criminal Code has three main offences related to bestiality. Bill C-84 does not change the nature of the penalties related to these offences which, on indictment, carry maximum sentences ranging from 10 to 14 years in jail.
    I would also like to note that the changes proposed in my criminal justice reform legislation, Bill C-75, will increase the maximum penalty on summary conviction for both offences to two years less a day. Such changes will contribute to a more efficient criminal justice system by encouraging proceeding by way of summary conviction where it is appropriate to do so.
    There is a strong public safety rationale for Parliament to expand the scope of these offences, particularly as it relates to enhancing protections for children and other vulnerable persons. Research continues to demonstrate a well-established link between animal sexual abuse and sexual abuse of children, as well as other forms of violence.
    I would note that the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies organized a conference in 2017, the purpose of which was to look more closely at these issues. The final report provides an overview of these issues. I commend the federation for its important work to promote a greater understanding of the severity of these issues.
    We also see these links in criminal cases. Canadian criminal law shows that when sexual abuse of a child involves an animal, the extent of this horrible behaviour is most often severe and frequently includes a pattern of vicious treatment of both the child and the animal. With this bill we are ensuring that those in law enforcement, including prosecutors, have the tools they need to achieve justice for the victims of these despicable acts.
    I would also like to discuss a second set of reforms contained in Bill C-84, which marks an important step in providing comprehensive protections for all animals. These additional measures will strengthen protections for animals by broadening the scope of the animal fighting offences in the Criminal Code.
    There are currently two offences in the Criminal Code that specifically address animal fighting. The first is paragraph 445.1(1)(b), which prohibits encouraging, aiding or assisting at the fighting or baiting of animals. This is a hybrid offence with a maximum penalty of five years on indictment or a maximum of 18 months' imprisonment and/or a fine, not exceeding $10,000. Bill C-75 will also increase the maximum penalty on summary conviction to two years less a day.
    Presently, this offence fails to capture a number of other associated activities with participating in the deplorable activity of animal fighting. Accordingly, Bill C-84 proposes to broaden the scope of this offence to include a wider range of activities, including encouraging, promoting, arranging and assisting at, receiving money for, or taking part in the fighting or baiting of animals, including prohibiting any of these activities with respect to the training, transporting or breeding of animals for fighting or baiting.
    These are important changes and will ensure that all aspects of animal fighting are prohibited, ensuring that all persons in the chain of this criminal behaviour can be held accountable. I note, in particular, that the proposed changes also target the financial incentives associated with this crime and, in so doing, will act to discourage those involved with this unacceptable behaviour.
    The second existing offence prohibits keeping a cockpit, which is section 447, and carries the same penalties as animal fighting. It too will see its maximum penalty on summary conviction increase through Bill C-75. This offence, as it exists in the Criminal Code, is extremely narrow in scope, a reflection of its historical origins when cockfighting was the primary form of animal fighting.

  (1210)  

    However, we know that, unfortunately, dog fighting has grown in prominence today. Bill C-84 amends this offence to ensure it extends to building, keeping or maintaining any arena for the purposes of fighting any animal. The fact of the matter is that all forms of animal fighting are cruel and abhorrent, and so our laws should appropriately extend to all animals. Simply stated, there is no legitimate or reasonable societal purpose to engage in animal fighting. This behaviour is cruel and must be stopped.
    This is another important step our government is taking to ensure our criminal laws are contemporary and address conduct that is deserving of criminal sanction. It is important to note that animal fighting has often been linked to organized crime, including illegal gambling and the illicit trafficking of drugs and weapons. The changes we are bringing forward in Bill C-84 will improve the ability of law enforcement to prosecute criminals, track cases of animal fighting and protect public safety. By broadening the offence to include additional activities, we are ensuring that law enforcement is equipped to detect and intercept the crime at whatever stage it is discovered.
    I would like to take a few minutes to speak specifically about dog fighting. Given its clandestine nature, it is difficult to collect statistics on the prevalence of dog fighting in Canada. In fact, dog-fighting operations often go undetected until law enforcement officers discover them while investigating other crimes. That said, we know that in May and October 2015 and in March 2016, the Ontario SPCA major case management team, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Chatham-Kent Police Service partnered together to end suspected dog-fighting operations. These three joint investigations led to the execution of 11 search warrants on three properties in Lanark County, Tilbury and Kent Bridge, Ontario. This resulted in the seizure of 64 pit bull dogs, documents, pictures, veterinary supplies, electronic equipment and hundreds of items related to the training and fighting of dogs.
     The Ontario SPCA reports that dog fighting is undeniably taking place in Ontario. The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reports that dog fights can last one to two hours and end only when one of the dogs is too injured to continue or has died. The dogs involved often suffer from deep puncture wounds, broken bones, and in many cases die from blood loss or infection.
    As I mentioned, dog fighting, a terrible form of animal cruelty, is also linked to a wide range of other crimes, including illegal gambling and drugs and weapons offences. The primary motivation for dog fighting is gambling and participants often wager thousands of dollars, showing how lucrative it is for those involved.
    I would also note that, according to the Ontario SPCA, when police raid dog-fighting events, they often find children present. Exposure to this type of abuse desensitizes children to violence and may itself be a form of child abuse. I am proud that we are taking important steps to limit and prevent this horrible abuse to animals and children. The proposed reforms to the offence, targeting arenas coupled with the changes to the animal-fighting offence, will target those who take part in training or receive money to train dogs to fight and who employ terrible techniques to increase the viciousness and ferocity of these animals. This so-called training can include abusively suspending a dog from a tree or a pole by its jaw and encouraging the dog to grab bait and hold on as long as possible in order to increase the lethality of its bite.
    No animal should have to die as a form of human entertainment. It is unspeakably cruel and offends Canadians' values at the deepest level.
    I am proud of these necessary changes we are bringing forward to protect animals from horrible situations of abuse. It is important for me to reiterate that this bill in no way interferes with any legitimate animal use. This bill seeks to protect public safety and ensures that we are doing more to prevent violence and cruelty toward animals.

  (1215)  

    We are focusing on aspects of protection that enjoy broad support and reflect our shared values. Again, the broadening of these offences will not interfere with legitimate animal uses, such as the training and work of service dogs, medical research, hunting, fishing or indigenous animal harvesting rights. Animal fighting and bestiality are in no way legitimate activities.
    Before I conclude, I would like to reiterate that this bill is the result of significant consultation and there has been broad support expressed for these reforms. As mentioned earlier, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture have called for these changes. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and many agricultural stakeholder groups have also advocated for these amendments to address animal fighting and bestiality.
    As parliamentarians, many of us hear from concerned citizens who are urging action to modernize our animal cruelty offences. Similarly, in our consultations, a number of provinces have called upon Parliament to take action to address the gap identified by the Supreme Court in D.L.W. I am confident that this bill addresses these concerns.
    I recognize that some would want the bill to go further by proposing additional reforms to animal cruelty laws. I believe it is critically important that we take steps now to address these particular issues, for which I believe there is broad support. Our government is committed to all of the appropriate protections that are extended to the most vulnerable, and we will continue to review this as part of our broad review of the criminal justice system.
    There have already been some suggestions made, including by animal rights organizations, on the ways that we can strengthen this bill. As I have said with respect to other legislation, I welcome constructive suggestions that reflect the objectives of our proposed reforms and look forward to a fulsome and productive debate. I therefore urge all members to support this bill and help ensure its swift passage.

  (1220)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am encouraged that the government has adopted this legislation. It has been some time since the Supreme Court ruling precipitated the need for this legislation.
     My question for the minister is twofold. Why was this simple change not included in one of the omnibus budget bills that the government has tabled to date? Why was there such a delay, given that there have been cases that have been impacted by the delay of the government in this regard? I am also curious as to why the government has not linked the issue of animal ownership after somebody has been charged and convicted with bestiality. Why is that provision not included in this particular legislation?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. colleague across the way for her private member's bill, which speaks to the issue raised in D.L.W.
    This government bill, as I said, goes to address the gap that exists in the criminal law with respect to bestiality by providing a definition.
    I hear the member regarding the delay. It has taken some time to bring this bill forward. I hope her concerns around the delay will assist in this piece of legislation going forward quickly.
    As for prohibitions on animal ownership, there are provisions within provincial legislation that actually address the prohibition of maintaining or keeping an animal as a result of cases that have gone forward where individuals have been convicted.
    Mr. Speaker, my question is not so much about what is in the bill but what is missing from the bill. We have been waiting for two years for this, since Bill C-246 was defeated. I know that many Liberal and New Democrat MPs in previous Parliaments have tried to tackle the issue of animal cruelty.
    With respect, animal bestiality and animal fighting are the low-hanging fruit. They are easy, and I do not think there will be any objection in the House to supporting this bill. However, one of the Minister of Justice's predecessors, the Hon. Irwin Cotler, attempted in the last Parliament, through Bill C-610, to significantly update parts of the Criminal Code for failing to provide adequate care.
    I had a horrific case of animal abuse in my riding involving Teddy the dog. He was tethered from puppyhood, with his leash left on until he grew into an adult. They had to surgically remove the collar.
    There are huge gaps remaining in our Criminal Code, and we can put provisions in there that protect the rights of farmers, hunters and anglers. I come from a rural riding, and I would make that a fact before supporting any legislation. There are sections that have not been updated since the 1890s.
    It has been two years since the defeat of the private member's bill, Bill C-246. The Minister of Justice came to office with an agenda to reform our Criminal Code. Where are the other provisions and when can we expect them? Why continue a study? When is the action actually going to come?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his recognition that there may not be many members of the House who would oppose the specific pieces of Bill C-84.
    I have had the opportunity to talk with the hon. member about the horrific example of abuse that happened in his riding with respect to Teddy the dog. Bill C-84 reflects a consensus among individuals who want to make every effort to protect animals and protect vulnerable people, including children. In my office, I have received letters from many stakeholders across the country who support the quick movement of Bill C-84.
    Does it go to the extent the member is talking about? This is a first step. We continue to have discussions with stakeholders who want this legislation, and the government, to go further. I am committed to continuing to have those conversations.
    There is more we can do. Certainly there is a diversity of opinion around amendments and changes that can be made to the Criminal Code to modernize it. As the member said, there are many provisions that have been in place since 1892.
    We continue to have these discussions to modernize the Criminal Code. Our government is committed to ensuring that animals are protected from cruelty and that we do everything we can to ensure that children are protected as well. Those discussions are ongoing.

  (1225)  

    Mr. Speaker, I have had conversations with some of my constituents. I represent a riding in Mississauga, Ontario, and we do have a ban on pit bulls.
    The minister mentioned dog fighting for entertainment. In the conversations I have had, people seem to think that dog fighting does not exist or it has been lessened. Could the minister please reiterate the need to legislate?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question about the necessity to expand the reach of animal fighting to include dogs. As I mentioned in my speech, there has been significant study around dog fighting, which does exist in Ontario, by the Ontario SPCA major case management team, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Chatham-Kent Police Service. As I said, they have partnered to identify the reality that dog fighting does exist in Ontario.
    I recognize the member's comments about individuals in his constituency raising this issue. In my own constituency, many constituents have come to me to ask the government to address it. There is probably not one member of the House who has not received letters from constituents about this.
    The government's commitment in putting forward Bill C-84 is to ensure that we do everything we can to protect animals and protect vulnerable people, including children. The commitment I made here on the floor today is to continue this conversation as we proceed and to look toward modernizing the Criminal Code provisions.
    Mr. Speaker, I have some serious questions about this legislation. It is going in the right direction but I do not believe it has been completely thought out.
    Part of my concern is over the definition of bestiality, where it says that it means any contact for sexual purposes with an animal but it does not say if that sexual purpose is for human purposes or animal purposes.
    The minister claims that the bill has been developed to protect animal husbandry and so on but inserting one word into that definition would make it clear that bestiality means any contact for human sexual purposes with an animal. This would eliminate any possible potential impact for artificial insemination within the agricultural community. That is one part of my concern.
    The second part of my concern is that the minister claims that the term “for sexual purpose” is well used and well defined in the Criminal Code and in the courts. I have been searching since she said that and I have not been able to find that. I am wondering if the minister could perhaps point that out and also comment on my earlier question with respect to protecting animal husbandry.
    Mr. Speaker, to answer both parts of my hon. colleague's question, this legislation is short and well thought through.
    In terms of bestiality, it follows the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in R. v. D.L.W., which talks about contact for a sexual purpose. As I said in my speech and as the member indicted, this has a well-established meaning at law and viewed objectively for when an act is committed for a sexual purpose that it was committed for the sexual gratification of the accused. In terms of the intent of the legislation, it is very clear to not address or not infringe upon legitimate animal husbandry or artificial insemination activities.
    Quickly to the member's question about what other Criminal Code provisions have looked at “for sexual purpose”, he can find this in terms of child pornography, voyeurism and making sexually explicit material available to a child.
    I would be happy to continue a conversation with the member on these provisions.

  (1230)  

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for answering some of those questions, and my colleagues who asked them. It feels like legitimate, real debate has broken out in this place this morning. It is a rare day. It is wonderful.
    Before I start speaking in favour of Bill C-84, there are some people I would to thank. These people have worked very hard on this bill, which, to me, is the minimum this place could do in terms of updating Canada's very outdated and archaic animal cruelty laws. First is Pierre Sadik, Canadian Federation of Humane Societies; Camille Labchuk, Animal Justice; the member for Beaches—East York, who tabled a private member's bill earlier in this Parliament; and my legislative manager, Bari Miller.
     These people have all helped me over the last year and a half in putting together a non-partisan consensus that we need to see some advancement in terms of the legal framework that Canada uses to protect the rights of hunters, anglers and farmers but also to acknowledge that animal cruelty has indicators and broader societal implications than on just animal welfare itself.
    Today, we are speaking specifically to the provisions in Bill C-84. It has been nearly a year since I tabled Bill C-388, my private member's bill, which does include provisions that are in this bill, which responds to the 2016 Supreme Court decision, R. v. D.L.W., which the minister spoke to at length this morning.
    For those who are listening this morning, who might not be familiar with the content of that particular decision, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld an acquittal of a British Columbia man who was charged with bestiality after compelling their family dog to sexually abuse their 16-year-old stepdaughter. In the decision, the Supreme Court found that existing provisions around bestiality do not adequately define what sexual acts with animals are prohibited under Canadian law.
    The Supreme Court applied a very narrow understanding of sexual abuse that requires a penetrative act. This narrow definition created a loophole that allowed sexual abusers to avoid conviction and highlights how the definition of bestiality in the Criminal Code is severely outdated. The bill before us today responds to this situation by tightening up that definition of bestiality to prohibit sexual abuse of animals, including that beyond a non-penetrative act.
    I have been disheartened, because there have been some discussions, both within the Canadian media and people abroad, saying that this is not a problem, it is a manufactured problem, and asking why we are even talking about this. First of all, I would argue that the definition needs to be tightened up, including taking into consideration some of the questions that my colleagues have asked about ensuring that animal husbandry activities are allowed.
    This is important because, first of all, in the situation of the Supreme Court ruling, we have a 16-year-old woman, a girl who did not have justice dealt to her because the Supreme Court charged us as legislators with ensuring that this definition was closed. It has been over two years since this happened.
    To me, this is justice in one case, and that is enough. However, broader than that, we also have to understand that since the Supreme Court ruling, there have been other cases that have had a similar lens applied to them and then had unfortunate consequences.
    I will read from a story in the Winnipeg Free Press, published in April 2017. The title of the article is “Child-porn collector pursued 'dark fantasies', court told”. This man, Andrew Harrison pleaded guilty last week and was given a one-year jail sentence and three years of supervised probation as part of a joint recommendation from the Crown and defence lawyers. Investigators eventually tracked the IP address. He was convicted of child pornography, I believe.

  (1235)  

    However, the interesting part that is relevant to the bill is the following. Members of the Internet child exploitation unit also charged Harrison with bestiality after finding two videos of him involved in a sexual act with his dog, the court was told. However, that charge was stayed last week because it did not meet the new definition of bestiality, requiring penetration, as set out by a recent Supreme Court decision, according to the Crown.
    This is one other case, but I do know anecdotally, from talking to stakeholders in the animal welfare community as well as others across the country, that there has been speculation that law enforcement officials have not been laying or attempting to lay charges related to bestiality that do not involve penetrative acts since the Supreme Court ruling, because they knew these charges would not pass the test set by the Supreme Court. This is why it is so important for us to pass this legislation. I frankly wish it had been done sooner, or in the context of some of the government's other justice legislation, but here we are today.
    The other thing I want to lay out here is that the government had the opportunity to put this legislation in its previous bill and, therefore, to also study the terms laid out in this bill. What I do not want to see happen is the government not responding to legitimate questions from colleagues in this place around the definition and how it might apply to activities like animal husbandry or whatnot, because it failed to put this legislation forward earlier in this Parliament.
    Again, I point to my Liberal colleague, the member for Beaches—East York. It is a rare day I can be found complimenting a Liberal in this place, but my colleague had a large piece of comprehensive legislation on a bunch of different animal welfare issues. He reduced that bill significantly through amendments to a few very tight issues. One of them is the bestiality provision, which we have in my private member's bill. Now the government, late in this Parliament, is trying to rush this through. It is therefore incumbent upon the government and the minister to answer these questions to ensure that the intent of the legislation, as she has described it is, is applied in fact.
    Going back to why this is important and not an issue that should be ignored, there is a strong connection between abuse of animals and abuse of people. A provincial government of Australia website says:
    Research has established a strong connection between abuse towards animals, and abuse towards people. When a person abuses an animal there is a risk that they may also be abusive towards other people in their lives. Children who experience abuse towards animals, or abuse within the home, are also more likely to abuse animals or perform acts of violence towards people later in life. They repeat lessons learnt in the home: to react to anger with violence, and to perform this violence on more vulnerable individuals. Animal abuse can take the form of physical violence, torment, neglect, or threats to safety – be it to household pets, wildlife, or farm animals. It is often used by the abuser to demonstrate power over other family members, and promote an environment of fear, vulnerability, and isolation. It commonly occurs alongside other types of abuse within the home.
    There are other bodies of research that clearly show the link between the abuse of animals and abuse of people. Through the debate here today, in both aspects of the bill, the bestiality change, as well as the change to animal fighting, which I fully support, we have to acknowledge that we cannot turn a blind eye to the severity of this problem, because it escalates.
     I personally think we have a responsibility to ensure that the rights and welfare of animals are protected, but we also have to understand that case law shows that it is a problem, despite the fact I have seen some articles recently saying that it is not. Moreover, research shows that by we in Parliament, by not taking action on this, might precipitate broader abuses leaning toward violence against people in our country, which is why it should not have taken two years for us to get to this point. However, here we are.

  (1240)  

    I want to thank people in the stakeholder community for their efforts on this because that community has been asking for this change for a long time. I also want to thank the over 8,000 Canadians who signed the petition seeking legislative change in this regard. There has been considerable pressure on the government from a variety of organizations across the stakeholder gamut. The Canadian Federation for Agriculture has spoken in favour of the bestiality change. The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and the Canadian Cattlemen's Association also issued a letter to the Minister of Justice to implore her to remedy this legislative gap.
    To my colleagues who have raised concern about the animal husbandry component, I have been assured by officials as well as members of these communities that they do not see any potential implications given the definition in case law. However, to the stakeholders who have written in support of it, we need to be very clear about the intent of this debate to say that this legislation was not put forward, and certainly not in my private member's bill, to prevent legitimate animal husbandry activities. Instead, it is designed to prevent the abuse of animals by humans undertaking sexual acts for their gratification by abusing animals.
    As the Supreme Court case of R. v. D.L.W. demonstrated, violence against animals and violence against people are not distinct and separate problems. Violence against animals can be a strong predicator of violence against humans and the relationship between these acts of violence is known as the violence link. Very simply put, if a person wants to hurt animals, they are also more likely to hurt another person as well. I have gone into that in some detail today. I just want to reiterate this.
    While the bill addresses the definition of bestiality, I have concerns that there are elements missing in Bill C-84, as it does not currently give judges the ability to ban bestiality offenders from owning animals in the future, something that is a standard for other animal cruelty offences under the Criminal Code. That means that someone who is convicted of committing a bestiality offence is legally allowed to own animals. However, someone who is convicted of animal cruelty is not allowed to own animals. A reasonable person can see why this is a problem endangering animals as well as humans, and I would like to see an amendment to the bill, possibly at third reading that could make this small change.
    I also want to address critics of the bill who view it as a slippery slope. Again, some of my colleagues have raised the issue of animal husbandry. The concern is that perhaps farmers and other husbandry workers could somehow be criminally implicated by this small change in law. This law as well as my private member's bill ensures that contact with animals for sexual purposes is prohibited, and the key word here is “sexual”. Sexual offences appear in the Criminal Code in a number of different places, including the context of sexual interference, section 151; invitation to sexual touching, section 152; sexual exploitation, section 153; and most importantly, the section 271 offence of sexual assault.
    To my colleague who was asking questions of the minister, this is my analysis. The word “sexual” has been clearly defined in case law. The leading Supreme Court case is R. v. Chase, 1987, 2 S.C.R. 293. Chase it makes it clear that contact will only be sexual in nature if it is objectively clear to a reasonable observer that there is a carnal or sexual context to it. To my colleague who raised this question earlier and asked the minister for evidence from case law, I would direct him to this case. The person's motive is also relevant and if they are motivated by sexual gratification, that would be considered in determining whether or not the contact is sexual. In other words, the key question that would be grappled with is whether or not the sexual nature of the activity were apparent to a reasonable observer.
    To apply this to the issue at hand, it is abundantly clear that artificial insemination of cows or other animals in farming or science would in no universe be interpreted by the courts to be done for sexual reasons, one would assume anyway. Rather it is done for animal husbandry reasons or scientific reasons. There is no element of sexual gratification in either situation. Artificial insemination of animals is an accepted activity that occurs across a variety of sectors, and no reasonable person would view it as anything other than economically or scientifically motivated. I would also point out that the current law that requires penetration would apply to practices like artificial insemination already if we are interpreting it without the case law looking at intent.

  (1245)  

    Again, to my colleague's question of the justice minister, she could have expanded on that. I would expect her, if she is going to appear at our committee, to look at that particular definition and perhaps get more information to colleagues who might have concerns about that. In fact, there has never been a case that has used the existing law in this matter, using the current bestiality provisions to prosecute a farmer for the artificial insemination of an animal, given that the current definition deals with penetration.
    It might also be helpful to make an analogy to the care given by a doctor or even a veterinarian. Doctors frequently have contact with a patient's sexual organs, and touching is not done for sexual purposes but for medicinal purposes. Similarly, a veterinarian who examines an animal's sexual organs would never be deemed to be engaged in sexual contact with the animal but contact for the purpose of veterinary medicine.
    This is a very uncomfortable discussion to have, but sometimes hard discussions are needed, and we cannot shy away from having them. However, I am glad to see the bill finally in front of Parliament so that we can give police more tools to deal with dangerous sexual criminals.
    The other component of the bill that I support is the ban on animal fighting. Some of my colleagues have had questions about the definition of animal fighting and the situations it would pertain to. At first glance, the proposed legislation is pretty clear in its intent to prevent animal fighting in a very specific context, and not with a broader set of non-specific definitions.
    The reason this is also important to my NDP colleague's comment of a bare minimum in updating animal cruelty and animal welfare legislation in Canada is that this is another instance where animal abuse or cruelty can have broader societal implications for humans. For example, we know that dog fighting, in fact, most animal fighting, has been linked to gang activity or organized crime and illegal gambling. Therefore, if somebody does not want to look at the animal cruelty components of the proposed legislation, they should at least, at a bare minimum, look at the fact that this particular activity is known to have broader implications for crime in Canadian society. It is one of these rare situations where we have consensus among a broad variety of stakeholders that this is something Parliament should be passing and undertaking.
    Some colleagues raised concerns with me that it might affect rodeos in Canada. I do not take it to read that way, but perhaps the Minister of Justice, the parliamentary secretary or officials could speak to the intent of it as well, which might get rid of some of the concerns that my colleagues have in that regard. As a member of Parliament from Calgary, I do not see rodeos as places where animals are fighting each other, or fighting to the death. That is not the case, and so I would not see that as the intent of this proposed legislation. However, perhaps the minister could clarify that to ensure that there are no unintended consequences from the bill.
     Also, because I believe this may have come up, perhaps my colleague from Beaches—East York might want to speak to the fact that some of those concerns were raised during the committee study of his bill. Even though his bill was defeated in this place, the intent of that proposed legislation was to be specific and to deal with a specific problem. However, one of the approaches my colleague from Beaches—East York took in that somewhat frustrating journey with his private member's bill was, to my understanding, to try to update the animal welfare legislation by drilling down towards specific problems and then come up with specific legislation so there would be no broader impact on Canadian agriculture.

  (1250)  

    The feedback I often get from colleagues or stakeholder communities is whether this would affect medical research or someone's ability to run a ranch. I certainly do not think that is the case.
    Mr. Speaker, having sat through a few speeches by the member for Calgary Nose Hill, I can attest to the fact that she does not say complimentary things about many Liberals, so I appreciate her comments today.
    I am thankful that Bill C-84 has been introduced and that the justice minister has said that this is a first step. It is important that this is part of an ongoing move to improve, update and strengthen the animal cruelty provisions in the Criminal Code. However, what holds us back from that is this notion of unintended consequences, sometimes a scare tactic about a slippery slope.
     We have a letter from animal sector groups, alongside the Canadian Federation of Municipalities, saying that we should pass Bill C-84 to tackle animal fighting and bestiality. That is what the justice minister has done.
    In 2004, there was a letter from a long list of animal sector groups, asking then justice minister Irwin Cotler to pass Bill C-22. That was the long list of Criminal Code amendments in my private member's bill. My frustration is hearing some Conservatives say that they are worried about how it will affect animal husbandry. If those asking that question had read the case law and looked at the letter of support from the animal sector groups or even turned to common sense, what is lacking in this place sometimes, they would know this has nothing to do with animal husbandry and everything to do with the sexual abuse of animals.
    If we want to continue to tackle animal cruelty, how do we get beyond the specious arguments about unintended consequences?
    Mr. Speaker, sometimes this is not the case, but there are times when colleagues have legitimate concerns. With respect to looking at case law in this place, we have to be an inch deep and a mile wide in our knowledge on public policy. It is when bills come to the House that sometimes we have to take a deep dive. I did some research on the case law because I anticipated some of these questions from my colleagues.
    To continue the thought at the end of my speech, what I appreciate about the approach my colleague from Beaches—East York took in his legislation was to drill down into specific instances of abuse, with specific, very tight potential legislative fixes. I would not classify them as specious, because there are legitimate concerns. My colleague who raised the concerns about animal husbandry might have heard this from some of his colleagues. I know a couple of colleagues in my caucus had farmers ask them if this would affect it.
    How do we move forward on debate? It is up to us to study legislation in depth and ensure we communicate back to stakeholders what the experts have said, but also to make apparent the intent of the legislation in Parliament so when legal forces look at this, they understand what we are trying to say.
    Mr. Speaker, what the member for Calgary Nose Hill has said in her remarks is very true. One thing I found out last year, as my party's justice critic and sitting on the justice committee, is this. When we look at bills amending the Criminal Code, we have to be so very careful even with the individual words used. While we are responsible in this place for writing the law, it is up to the court system to interpret it. Therefore, we always have to look at the ways it might be interpreted.
    That being said, when I look at Bill C-84, a lot of my constituents, and these are constituents across the political spectrum, Conservatives, Liberals, New Democrats and Green Party members, are going to be disappointed with what is missing because of the very brutal case of animal cruelty in my riding. I acknowledge that changing the law alone will not solve this problem, but the fact remains there are thousands of animal cruelty complaints every year in the country and very few of them make it to an actual charge, let alone a conviction. There is room for specific language in the Criminal Code that would exempt the legitimate activities of animal husbandry, hunting and fishing.
    Does my colleague have any thoughts about how to move forward? The justice minister is committed to having this conversation, but in my colleague's view, is there a way to amend the Criminal Code that would take action on these specific areas of neglect? We still have gaping holes in our criminal justice system aside from Bill C-84, and I know members of her caucus have raised these concerns. However, in her view, what is the way forward to tackle what the member for Beaches—East York is raising, what my constituents are raising and what Canadians across the country, from all political stripes, are taking about? Parliament has tried many times and failed every time. How do we go forward from here?

  (1255)  

    Mr. Speaker, I will bridge the questions between my colleague from the NDP and my colleague from Beaches—East York regarding how we move forward, but also bring in the concerns of some of my colleagues who have raised potential implications here.
     The way forward is to first recognize that the only comprehensive committee we have had on this type of issue has been the hearings on Bill C-246 in this Parliament. This probably warrants a larger study so farmers, hunters, anglers, medical researchers and animal welfare groups can come in, sit down and talk about these things, so we not crafting legislation out of the blue but in response to a coordination and collation of concerns in a parliamentary session. I wish we had more time in justice committee, but to me we could absolutely do in a justice committee study. I am sure one of my colleagues would propose that.
    Also, the key thing here is respect. I have colleagues for whom a large part of their riding is involved in either hunting, angling or agriculture and they have legitimate concerns. Let us ensure they are at the table with animal welfare groups and then come up with legislation that might not make anybody happy but does the right thing.
    Mr. Speaker, as the member for Calgary Nose Hill mentioned, I went through an arduous journey for Bill C-246. My in-laws are in a small southwestern Ontario community, Camlachie. No one really knows where it is, but it is outside of Petrolia. If people do not know where Petrolia is, it is outside of Sarnia.
     A cousin of my father-in-law is a chicken farmer. The Chicken Farmers of Canada was very much opposed to and worried about some of the language in Bill C-246. It was worried about language that had to do with a case where a dog was killed with a baseball bat and died immediately. The judge acquitted because there was no evidence of pain and suffering. I did not come up with the language; the justice department came up with it. It was debated for 100 hours in this place and in the Senate. The bill was passed in both places, but unfortunately died before it became law.
    However, the cousin of my father-in-law came to me and asked me what was going on, that the Chicken Farmers of Canada was worried about this and should he be worried. I explained that the language said that it would be a crime to brutally or viciously kill an animal, regardless of whether the animal died immediately. They were worried about that language, the unintended consequences. He stopped me asked me why anyone would want to kill an animal brutally and viciously.
    I tell this story because I want to thank the member for her advocacy and for her suggestion. It is important that we have everyone, members of all parties and stakeholders from across the spectrum, from animal rights groups to animal sector use groups, come to the table and discuss the language and what it would be designed to do. If we do that, there is a way forward and a way forward to get back to where we were in 2004. I would certainly commit today to being part of that conversation with the member for Calgary Nose Hill and members across the way. Would she commit today to working across the aisle to make that happen?

  (1300)  

    Mr. Speaker, the short answer is yes. I have colleagues here. My colleague from Red Deer—Lacombe has raised these types of concerns. However, the key thing my colleague has raised today is the issue of intent. With respect to the courts looking at this debate today, if they ever have to, the intent of this legislation is to prevent animal abuse by the sexual gratification of a human on an animal through a non-penetrative act, not animal husbandry.
    Again, my colleague mentioned the case law. I did a lot of research on the case law over the weekend. The case law is very clear with respect to precedence. This would not affect those particular activities because of the intent. The intent is not for sexual gratification and that has been clearly defined in case law.
    Perhaps that is how we should proceed. Any focus on animal welfare law in Canada is very clearly defined in terms of intent. Animal welfare groups have to communicate to agricultural and hunting and angling stakeholders and explain that the intent is not to open a door an inch and take a mile, that it is to be very focused. This would be a very positive activity for this Parliament to undertake.
    Mr. Speaker, I am happy to be partaking in today's debate on Bill C-84. It touches some subject matter which is difficult to talk about, but that is often the case with the Criminal Code. The Criminal Code is a gigantic statute that has to cover everything that could possibly go wrong in society and figure out how we amend and correct that behaviour, but also how we dole out punishment.
    Bill C-84 is specifically aimed at addressing gaps in the Criminal Code that exist with respect to animal bestiality and animal fighting. Supreme Court decision R. v. D.L.W., from 2016, was referenced by both the Minister of Justice and the hon. member for Calgary Nose Hill.
     Specifically, Bill C-84 would update section 160 of the Criminal Code to include a broader and more comprehensive definition of “bestiality” and would amend paragraph 445.(1)(b) and subsection 447(1) to address animal fighting, specifically building facilities to harbour animal fighting and also promoting or making money from the event.
    Canada's animal welfare laws have not been substantively changed since the 1890s, which has to say something to anyone listening to this debate.
     I want to acknowledge the member for Calgary Nose Hill, who brought forward a private member's bill on this issue, Bill C-388. In her drafting of Bill C-84, the Minister of Justice lifted Bill C-388 and included it. Therefore, that is an acknowledgement of the work the member for Calgary Nose Hill has done.
    I know the member for Calgary Nose Hill was recently in a bit of a tussle with an iPolitics columnist on an article he recently wrote. He was looking at some of the statistics that existed with this crime. There is the Supreme Court of Canada case I mentioned and there has been one case in federal court. Even in the province of Alberta, which is home to 4.3 million people, six people were charged with that offence between 2013 and 2017. Therefore, it is not a very wide ranging crime. It is certainly an abhorrent one and one we should we should rightfully close in the Criminal Code.
    What I am concerned about is not really what is in Bill C-84, which I hope will receive unanimous consent in the House to have it sent to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. I am mostly concerned about what is not in it. I also agree with the member for Calgary Nose Hill's assessment of the glacial pace of justice reform by the Liberal government.
    The minister came to power with a mandate letter from the Prime Minister, signalling bold criminal justice reform. We had a series of four government bills, which I will not number. Every time a new justice bill was added, like an amoeba, it would swallow the components of the first one and progressively get bigger and bigger. However, they were all languishing at first reading. Finally, we arrived at Bill C-75 and there was action on that bill, which I believe is currently at the justice committee. However, it has been a pretty glacial pace.
    I like and respect the Minister of Justice. I was our party's justice critic for the entire 2017 year. It is a complex subject matter and requires a lot of responsibility and maturity to approach it. However, I have to judge the minister on her performance and I would not really give her a passing mark on the legislative front with respect to the promises made within her mandate letter.
    I want to now move to a story from my riding, a story of Teddy the dog. This really goes to the heart of what is not included in Bill C-84. I will give my support to the bill, but I know constituents in my riding will be sorely disappointed. Teddy the dog was one of the most brutal cases of animal abuse the BC SPCA has ever witnessed.

  (1305)  

    In February of this year, officers came onto a property and found an adult dog tethered by a few inches. It was standing out in the wet and the cold in a pile of its own feces. The officers found a collar imbedded in that dog's neck that had caused the dog's head to swell to three times its original size, because it had been left on the dog from the time it was a puppy. The collar had never been loosened. When the officers removed the poor animal named Teddy and brought it to the veterinarian, the vet had to surgically remove that collar, which exposed the dog's trachea and a mound of infected flesh. Unfortunately, that dog passed away from its injuries.
    It is far too often in this country that we hear of cases like that. Changing our laws would not be the magic bullet to solve this problem, but it would be one key, critical component, especially when we have such obvious gaps in our system.
    There was a rally in my riding in March, where, as I said earlier, we had people from across the political spectrum. We had supporters of the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party, my party and the Green Party. They were all united, because they cared about animal welfare, and they cared that the state of our animal cruelty laws is not up to what it should be right now.
    During that rally, I made a commitment that despite the defeat of Bill C-246, put forward by the member for Beaches—East York, I would continue pressuring the Minister of Justice to close these gaps and address the shortcomings of our current criminal law.
    The unfortunate fallout from the case of Teddy the dog was that some people in the community felt that they could take the law into their own hands. A great deal of racism came out of it, because it involved a property on a first nation reserve. Therefore, I want to take this opportunity to remind constituents in my riding that racism and vigilantism have no place in our community. While we must always stand on guard for animal welfare, and certainly prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those who are found guilty, we have to let the law do its job. We have to believe in the rule of law. We cannot support or condone in any way people taking up a case for themselves. I want to make that very clear.
    As I mentioned in my question to the Minister of Justice, not only this Parliament but previous Parliaments have wrestled with the idea of the inadequacy of the Criminal Code provisions with respect to animal cruelty. There have been a number of Liberal bills and New Democrat bills over previous Parliaments that have dealt with this issue.
    I will get to the bill put forward by the member for Beaches—East York, but first I want to mention the bill put forward in a previous Parliament by the great Irwin Cotler, probably one of the most revered Liberals ever and a former minister of justice himself. He introduced Bill C-610. It only made it to first reading, but that particular bill tried to make some important updates, specifically with respect to failing to provide adequate care. Bill C-610 was introduced on June 6, 2014. I want to read into the record the speech Mr. Cotler gave at that time:
     Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and introduce this legislation, which amends the Criminal Code's provisions on animal cruelty. In particular, it creates a new offence of inadequate and negligent care of animals. The bill establishes an offence for anyone who negligently causes unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal or a bird, or, being the owner, wilfully or recklessly abandons it or fails to provide suitable and adequate food, water, air, shelter and care for it. It also punishes those who negligently injure an animal or bird while it is being conveyed.
    He went on to say that “Canada's animal cruelty laws are woefully out of date.” He left it at that.
    The former member for Parkdale—High Park, Peggy Nash, introduced Bill C-232 in the last Parliament. The hon. member for Vancouver Centre, in the previous Parliament, introduced Bill C-277. There has been multi-party support for these initiatives, but every time, they seem to have run into roadblocks.

  (1310)  

    Coming up to the most recent attempt in this Parliament, Bill C-246, which was introduced by the member for Beaches—East York, unfortunately I was not present for that second reading vote. I was travelling with the Special Committee on Electoral Reform at that time. I was substituting on it. We were hearing from the great people of Atlantic Canada about how great it would be to have some electoral reform. Unfortunately, the Liberals did not see it the same way. We will see how that conversation goes on in the future.
    In any case, I think the member for Beaches—East York acknowledged that his particular private member's bill probably bit off more than it could chew, as it was trying to cover so many different angles. The more a private member's bill covers, the more areas people can find problems with and reasons to shut the whole thing down. I know that there were concerns raised by my Conservative colleagues, especially with respect to legal activities such as ranching, hunting, fishing, trapping, medical research and so on. I think there are ways to proceed with legislation that would address those concerns.
    My wife and I have a small farming property. I come from a rural area of Vancouver Island. My constituents like to hunt and fish, and many of them are farmers. I would not support a piece of legislation unless there were specific provisions to protect those activities. I have some of the best salmon fishing in the world right off the west coast of Vancouver Island, which I enjoy. That is something that is a part of our heritage.
    I raise animals. Most farmers will say that looking after the welfare of their animals is good for business. We do not want to have animals that are sickly or in poor health. I can attest to that. I have chickens, turkeys and lambs. When they are happy and well looked after, they do very well. It is in my interest not only from a moral point of view but from a commercial standpoint. There are always going to be those few bad apples who give everyone a bad name. However, that is specifically what this law has to be designed for, to weed out the bad apples and go after those who are the poor farmers who give everyone a bad name, and so on.
    In 2016, when the member for Victoria, who was our party's justice critic and is now back to being the justice critic, rose to give our party's response to Bill C-246, he addressed those concerns. He said that we can insert clauses into the Criminal Code that start off with the phrase “For greater certainty” to make the necessary changes.
    I heard concerns during that debate from Conservatives who wondered about jurisdictional and constitutional issues, because we know that the provinces have their own animal cruelty laws, as does the federal government. However, the supremacy of the criminal law power could easily override provincial legislation to ensure that we were not ending up with a patchwork quilt and that the law applied equally in each province, no matter where one lived. The Supreme Court of Canada has held that valid criminal law requires a prohibition, a penalty and a criminal law purpose, such as peace, order, security, morality and health. A change with respect to animal cruelty could easily satisfy all of those.
     Here we are three years into the government's mandate, which I alluded to in my opening remarks. With respect to Bill C-84, there is so much more that could have been included in this bill. I said to the Minister of Justice during questions and comments that, with respect, the provisions in Bill C-84, which is not a very big bill, are very much the low-hanging fruit. I do not see how anyone in this place could raise any legitimate concerns about the bill, except for tinkering around the edges, such as whether some words could be modified. The general purpose of the bill is to broaden the definition of “bestiality” and to make sure that we have an all-encompassing law that goes against animal fighting. We are not going to find any significant objection to that.
    However, the minister saying, after the defeat of Bill C-246, that the conversation would continue, that the Department of Justice would be having ongoing consultations with stakeholders, I think led many Canadians to believe that reform was actually coming. Therefore, when I announced to my constituents that we had Bill C-84 and what was missing, I had to convey a sense of disappointment.

  (1315)  

     Honestly, I think I and many constituents and many Canadians across this country were expecting a lot more, not only because it is three years into the government's mandate but because it is also two years after the defeat of Bill C-246. I know that the member for Beaches—East York has conveyed publicly that Bill C-84 is an obvious choice and is the low-hanging fruit. However, there is a sense of wondering what else is coming.
    The Liberals are masters of the long promise. They say that they are continuing to engage with people, but I would not be surprised if we have to wait until the 43rd Parliament before we get some action. Who knows who will be in power at that point to deliver it?
    My party has long supported animal cruelty measures. I have mentioned all the private members' bills. We could have included in this legislation, and I hope this is something the committee on justice and human rights will look at, some provisions for basic standards of care.
    If I look at the case of Teddy the dog, in my riding, he was tethered with a chain just a few inches long and was having to stand in his own pile of feces. The B.C. SPCA has some specific recommendations the government could take note of. Basically, they want to see, for any dogs or animals that are tethered, five freedoms respected: freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from pain, injury and disease; freedom from distress; freedom from discomfort and freedom to express behaviours that promote well-being. That is a starting point. There are lots of suggestions out there. There are many different stakeholders involved in this issue, and this is something the government could have taken note of.
    As I referenced in my earlier questions and comments, I have written to the minister on this issue on behalf of constituents. Prior to Bill C-84 being introduced, I conveyed in my correspondence to the justice minister the concerns of my community about how many cases of animal cruelty exist across this country and that this particular case acted as a catalyst. People are demanding more action.
    The minister did respond in June of this year. Again, it was not really anything concrete. She assured me that the government was intending to review all the options to improve any gaps in protection resulting from the existing Criminal Code provision, which is something that has not been done yet. The minister agreed publicly that animal cruelty is a significant social issue that needs to be addressed, and so on. There are many public comments that come from the government that signal an intent to do something, but when we actually get something concrete, like Bill C-84, we see that it has not amounted to much.
    Just to highlight how important this particular issue is and why these gaps are so important, I want to speak about some of the statistics. It was reported, I think a couple of years ago, that there are approximately 45,000 animal cruelty complaints in Canada every year, but only one in 1,000 result in charges and far fewer in convictions. That is a significant difference between complaints and actual action in the court system. It says to me that there is definitely a need for this legislation.
    I will conclude by saying that we support these gaps being addressed in the Criminal Code. Bill C-84 is an important first step. The Minister of Justice can be assured that we, as a caucus, will be supporting this bill going forward to committee, but we will remind Canadians that there was so much more that could have been done. It is a sad day that, after three years, we are still going to have to wait for those meaningful parts to be addressed.

  (1320)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would just mention that as a former municipal leader, we ran into trouble with animal cruelty, especially toward dogs in our community. Trying to solve that issue was paramount. One concern was finding out that under law, a dog was considered property and not anything other than that. To try to tell someone that he or she could not do this to a piece of property they owned was difficult.
    Would the member comment on this? In getting this done and getting it done right, we need all three levels of government: municipal, provincial and federal. All of them have a role to play when it comes to dogs in the community. It is usually a municipal responsibility first, and then one must go to the province to get some authority to do something.
    Would the member not agree that we have to get all the levels of government at the table and get this done right, because it is time to have it done? We have to respect animals, and we have to make sure that people are treating them with proper care and concern.
    Mr. Speaker, I very much agree with my colleague. I said in my speech that amending the Criminal Code with respect to animal cruelty is but one tool in the tool box. By itself, it is not going to solve this problem.
    When I had that community meeting in my riding, following the case of Teddy the dog, we had representatives there from the local first nations, from municipal government, a provincial MLA and myself as the federal MP. We all committed to doing what we could in our individual jurisdictions. There was that real willingness to come together to do what each of us could in our respective jurisdictions. My job as the federal member of Parliament was to take the case to this place, to our House of Commons, and to argue for the changes to the Criminal Code. I was really heartened to see the willingness of all my counterparts, not only in local organizations but in local government, to come together to address this issue.
     One of the big things is education. The fact of the matter is in a lot of cases of animal cruelty, we are dealing with people who simply do not know how to properly look after an animal. Addressing that, first and foremost, could solve a lot of these cases.
    As in everything, it is not a black-and-white issue. It requires a lot of moving parts. I firmly believe that updating the Criminal Code provisions, which have been languishing in some cases since the 1890s, is going to be one of those key components. I certainly hope we see some action from that member's government, if not in the short term, at least as a promise for the 2019 election.
    Mr. Speaker, if we look on Google, all too often we will find horrible stories of animal cruelty, such as the story the member just shared with us about Teddy the dog in his community.
    There has to be more that we can do. When we think about pets, when we think about animals, they are more than property. For a lot of folks, certainly in my own family and others, when there is a pet in the house, the animal is considered part of the family.
    There need to be laws to ensure the proper treatment of animals, the care that people need to give to them, but there is the enforcement side of it as well. Perhaps the member could speak about associations and organizations, such as the SPCA, and what kind of support they could receive from all levels of government so that together we could work on this larger project to support and protect animals which cannot speak for themselves and to ensure they get the care they require.

  (1325)  

    Mr. Speaker, in the earlier part of her comments my colleague was making the juxtaposition between statistics and those individual cases which really act as a catalyst.
    We can see the same in the whole affair with Saudi Arabia. The war in Yemen is causing millions of people to starve, and it is an absolutely horrendous war that the Saudi government is intimately involved in. In that case, it took one journalist to really focus the world's attention on the atrocities of that regime.
    It is the same with animal cruelty. I read out statistics. Statistics by themselves do not galvanize people. It is an unfortunate fact that animal cruelty happens far too often. Sometimes there is that one case, like Teddy the dog, which is so horrific it just flips a switch and suddenly everyone across the political spectrum is talking about it and they want to see action. I very much agree.
     With respect to the local organizations I have to commend the officers of the B.C. SPCA who not only had to go on the property to rescue that poor animal, but who also do that kind of work every day on our behalf. Absolutely, they need support. They need to have an adequate funding model. They also need to have the tools necessary, such as provisions in the Criminal Code, so that they can bring about charges that are necessary, so that people who are engaged in these despicable acts have the full force of the law come down on them. People who are guilty of these acts need to be held accountable in an appropriate way.
    As I said earlier, this is one important piece of the puzzle, one tool that we could give organizations, like the SPCA, so that they can do that important work on behalf of our communities every single day.
    Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate the many comments regarding the issue of animal cruelty. We know that Canadians love their pets: their dogs, cats, birds, and many different types of pets. The overriding concern is that the national government, municipal governments in particular, and provincial governments understand that there is a role in terms of protecting animals.
    My colleague made reference to this whole patchwork idea. Yes, Ottawa does play the national leadership role. We have before us legislation that would move the ball forward, and maybe not as far forward as some members would like to see it, but we are moving in the right direction. Could the member emphasize the importance of the different stakeholders working together in order to advance this very important issue?
    Mr. Speaker, I agree. This problem is a complex one. Many cases are very different from each other both in the crime that was perpetrated and also in the background of the people and animal involved. It always will require people working together at various levels. That being said, there are significant gaps that exist in the criminal law. I believe that in order for us to be effective, those are one of the key spokes in the wheel of this issue that we need to absolutely fix.
    I welcome Bill C-84. As the member said, it is moving the ball forward. However, I will not withhold my criticism for his government and say that it has been moving at a pretty glacial pace on judicial reform both in appointing judges and in amending the Criminal Code, especially for a government that came to power with such bold promises of action.
     Bill C-84 is welcomed, but I look at it as yet another missed opportunity where the justice minister, who is supposedly committed to this issue and has even made many statements in the media committing to it, lost the opportunity to put in provisions that not only New Democrats support but many Liberal members, including former justice minister Irwin Cotler have supported in the past.

  (1330)  

    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Toronto—Danforth.
    I am very pleased to have this opportunity to speak to Bill C-84, a bill that proposes several amendments that would strengthen the Criminal Code's response to bestiality and animal fighting.
    I have been passionate about animal protection all my life. During my five years on Oakville's town council I had the opportunity and privilege to work with the Oakville & Milton Humane Society and its former executive director, Kim Millan. I have spoken at length with Kim, as well as former OSPCA officer, Laura Mackasey , and current OSPCA officer, Caitlin Jones who are the front line when dealing with animal cruelty cases. I can remember so clearly Laura and Kim saying to me, “We want to do more, but our hands are tied by legislation.” I was actually shocked at how our laws had failed to keep up with the realties of our world.
    I was an early and vocal supporter of the member for Beaches—East York's private member's Bill C-246, and met with my local humane society about the proposed legislation. It also publicly supported the bill because it deals with animal cruelty on a daily basis and knows how critical it is to update our laws. Quite frankly, those on the front line of animal cruelty need governments to step up and give them the tools they need to protect animals.
    The bill before us today reflects the Minister of Justice's commitment to review animal welfare laws in the wake of the defeat of Bill C-246. She held extensive consultations all across Canada. Bill C-84 is an excellent first step, but quite frankly, there is more to be done by all levels of government to end animal cruelty.
    I will highlight one issue which was brought to my attention by someone who has worked in the field for many years. We need to ensure that any person convicted of an offence of animal cruelty should be prohibited from ever owning an animal again, and if the person is prohibited from owning an animal in one province, that restriction should apply in all provinces. It is my hope that this is something that could be considered at committee.
    We know there is a direct link between animal cruelty and child abuse and also between animal cruelty and domestic violence. That is why we must take the abuse of animals seriously. Research from the University of Windsor found a strong correlation between the abuse of human family members and the treatment of companion animals. Childhood sexual assault is also linked with animal sexual assault. Barbara Cartwright, CEO of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies has stated that not all people who commit animal cruelty are serial predators, but as far as we know, all serial predators have committed acts of animal cruelty. We also know there is a correlation between animal fighting and guns and gangs. Bill C-84 also tightens the law around animal fighting.
    I am sure most Canadians are shaking their heads asking why these changes have not been made sooner. I agree, but I applaud the government for bringing Bill C-84 forward.
    On the specifics of Bill C-84, I will now focus my comments on the bill's amendment, which arises in the wake of the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in 2016 in the case of D.L.W. In this recent decision, the court limited the meaning of the term “bestiality”. I cannot stress enough how important Bill C-84's bestiality amendment is. Specifically, it would serve to protect vulnerable people, especially children, as well as animals. To be clear from the outset, criminal liability must result whenever any kind of sexual act with animals occur. While difficult to talk about, it is a subject that we must address because of the very real consequences of a lack of legislation on this issue.
    The term “bestiality” has never been defined in statute in Canada, but it forms the basis for criminal liability in three distinct Criminal Code offences. Canada's bestiality provisions find their origin in ancient British law, and the offence was included in Canada's first Criminal Code in 1892. The recent Supreme Court case was the first time the Supreme Court of Canada had the occasion to consider the meaning of the term “bestiality”. Because there was no statutory definition of the term, the court examined its history and its interpretation at common law to determine its meaning.
    The court found that sexual penetration has always been one of its essential elements. Nothing in the legislative history of Canada's bestiality provisions was found to have changed its original meaning at common law. Importantly, the court also noted that any changes to the scope of existing criminal offences must be made by Parliament.

  (1335)  

    The circumstances of the D.L.W. case are disturbing, to say the very least. Without elaborating on the extensive and sustained sexual abuse that the accused perpetrated against the victims over a period of approximately 10 years, the court was asked to consider whether the activity constituted a form of bestiality. The majority of the court answered the question in the negative because of the historical interpretation given to the offence.
    The decision stated that the courts must not create new crimes that Parliament never explicitly intended and expanding the scope of bestiality to include all sexual acts between humans and animals would do just that, largely because, in the words of the Supreme Court, “there is not, and has never been in Canada, any statutory definition, exhaustive or otherwise, of the elements of bestiality.” The court also pointed to the ongoing significant policy debates about what the focus of this sort of offence ought to be and once again clarified that it is for Parliament, not the courts, to expand the scope of criminal liability for this ancient offence.
    Bill C-84 proposes an amendment that would achieve exactly what the courts have suggested. Specifically, it would define “bestiality” as “any contact for a sexual purpose with an animal”. It would mean that accused persons, like the one in the D.L.W. case, would no longer be acquitted simply because the sexual abuse in question did not involve penetration. This is an appropriate and necessary response to the Supreme Court's decision. As parliamentarians, it is our duty to ensure the criminal law protects the most vulnerable, especially children. Involving animals in harmful contact is often indicative of a propensity for even more serious offending.
    As I stated earlier, there is an established link between animal cruelty and child abuse. The D.L.W. case is a case in point. We must extend the criminal law's protections in this regard. Undoubtedly, the Criminal Code contains other offences that could apply to the conduct at issue in the D.L.W. case. At the same time, the proposed changes would send a clear message that forcing others to engage in sexual acts with animals and involving children or animals in this kind of activity is harmful and will not be tolerated.
    The bill's second focus on animal fighting is also an overdue change to our legislative framework in Canada. Our society does not tolerate these abuses of animals and I am pleased the government has introduced Bill C-84 to protect the vulnerable, animals and Canadian society in general. It is my hope that this legislation will go a long way in also helping people like those who work with the Oakville & Milton Humane Society, as well as the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, to do their jobs more easily and give them the legislative framework they have been calling for.
    I call on all members of this House to support this bill.
    As usual, Mr. Speaker, the member is very passionate about the issue, particularly when it comes the vulnerable in our society, and having government step in to ensure that gaps are adequately filled to prevent further harm and protect victims. As this bill goes to committee, I am wondering if my hon. colleague has any further suggestions and sees other areas by which the bill could be reinforced and/or amended or if this particular legislation fits the criteria of what her stakeholders and communities have been asking for.
    Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned in my speech, this is a good first step. There are concerns in my community about people who have been prohibited from owning animals because of a conviction, but are able to possess animals in the future. That is something the committee should take a hard look at. I am sure other things could come up and obviously the committee is limited by the scope of the bill itself, but that is one thing I hope the committee will look at.

  (1340)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am glad I got another opportunity to rise and ask a secondary question for my colleague, especially when she mentioned, at the end, animal fighting and its correlation—I do not know if I should be using a statistically significant word like correlation—or its integration with guns and gangs and that kind of behaviour. I wonder if she could further expand on how this particular piece of legislation would help to mitigate what we are seeing as some possibly correlated activities that involve violence to the most vulnerable in our communities.
    Mr. Speaker, there absolutely is a correlation between animal fighting and organized crime and guns and gangs. One of the things this legislation would do is tighten the laws around it, but I am hopeful that it would also highlight this issue for local law enforcement services so that when they are enforcing these new laws that we would put in place, they will be able to look for paraphernalia, for example, that is used for animal fighting and recognize what is happening in that situation and be able to translate into more broad concerns around guns and gangs and organized crime. There is definitely a connection between them and it would give law enforcement officers the tools they need to go in, and I am hoping it would educate them as well.
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague on this side of the House mentioned the various aspects of cruelty to animals and how it relates to other things. Could she speak to the fact that there has never been much meat on the bones, so to speak, when it comes to animal cruelty and laying charges and getting anything more than a slap on the wrist to the offender for anything such as a collar growing into the neck of a dog, or dogs tied and left in a house for weeks on end living in their own feces? One time we confiscated nine pit bulls that were left to starve to death, basically, and we did foster them and get them adopted. I wonder if the member could comment on those situations.
    Mr. Speaker, certainly that was an issue with the Oakville & Milton Humane Society that we had conversations about, where, as the town councillor, I would get calls about issues of animal cruelty in the community. The OSPCA officers had their hands tied in terms of being able to do something. It is going to take a coordinated effort between municipal, provincial and federal levels of government to ensure we have the laws in place to allow these folks who are on the front line to do their work.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak in support of Bill C-84. It is a step forward on animal welfare issues. We have so much more to do, but I am happy to mark the start of the move toward better and stronger animal welfare legislation.
    There are other related bills I expect to see shortly in this place coming from the other place on the captivity of whales and dolphins, on shark finning and on the testing of cosmetics on animals. Those are all important steps forward on animal welfare issues. I am really looking forward to participating in those debates and voting in support of those efforts.
    Animal welfare issues are very important to me. I am a member of the Liberal animal welfare caucus. I would really like to thank the members for Brossard—Saint-Lambert and Steveston—Richmond East for their leadership role on that caucus. It is an important way for us to get more information and to learn more about what we can do to move things forward. It has definitely been a source of learning and advocacy for us.
    As I said, this bill is a step forward. It ends the sexual abuse of animals and also gets rid of the cruel practice of animal fighting. Those are important first steps forward for us. It is hard for me to believe that we even need this legislation, and yet we do.
    I was reading a little bit more about animal fighting. Once one reads about it and sees pictures, it is really hard to get images out of one's mind. It really centres us on why we need to take action.
    I was looking at the Ontario SPCA web page about dog fighting. It described it this way: “Dog fighting is a sadistic ‘contest’ in which two dogs—specifically bred, conditioned, and trained to fight—are placed in a pit (generally a small arena enclosed by plywood walls) to fight each other for the spectators' entertainment and gambling.”
    This bill goes beyond dog fighting, but let us focus on dogs for a moment and what I was reading about. Dogs die as part of this fighting, and this is not just about the dogs in the fights themselves. In the training process, there are also what are called “bait dogs”.
    U.S. awareness about bait dogs, which are part of the training process, really came to the fore when a female pit bull named Turtle was found on the side of the road with many scars and wounds. The reason she had all those scars and wounds is that she had actually been used, attacked over and over again by dogs training for these fights as part of this cruel contest.
    This dog, Turtle, was rescued, which makes her a lucky one despite the tremendous pain she went through. However, other animals are not able to be rescued. That is why we need this type of legislation and why I can speak so strongly in support of that need. We should never see that happen to animals at all.
    I was also taken by another article I read in The Globe and Mail, which mentioned that U.S. dog owners come to Canada for dog fighting because we are seen as having lax legislation. I cannot even imagine that Canada would be seen as a place where someone would come because of lax legislation on animal cruelty. That is something we cannot let happen, and this bill takes a step forward in preventing it.
    Canadians care, and that is also why this is so important. Two weeks ago, I went to one of my local churches, the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto, and it had a blessing of the animals service. People brought their animal friends to church for a blessing, and they got to talk about the important roles that our animal friends have in our lives. It was also a time to talk about the kind of advocacy we can do in support of animals in our community. I would really like to thank Kimberly Carroll of Animal Justice because she made a call to action that day and talked to us about the need to give a voice to animals, as they cannot speak for themselves.
    That is what we are doing today in the process of this debate. Today is one more step in trying to give a voice to animals. I know this is important to people who live in Toronto—Danforth, and it is certainly important for me. It is important to how we want to see our community and country.

  (1345)  

    I want to cite the words of Albert Einstein. He said that “Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.” That touches me in terms of how I want to see an expanding circle of compassion, which I believe this legislation and the other bills we will be seeing coming from the other place move us closer to doing.
    Gandhi said that “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Those are good points of balancing out. How do we want to see ourselves as a community?
     Another aspect of the bill, aside from the animal fighting part, is about bestiality. It is another important part of what the bill covers. In 2016, there was a Supreme Court of Canada decision, and in it bestiality, as it is currently defined in our Criminal Code, was said not to include non-penetrative acts. There was an important dissent that was written by Supreme Court of Canada Justice Rosalie Abella, but the majority did not agree with that, and I would like to quote the decision because it is important. This legislation directly responds to it. The court decision stated:
    Penetration has always been understood to be an essential element of bestiality. Parliament adopted that term without adding a definition of it and the legislative history and evolution of the relevant provisions show no intent to depart from the well-understood legal meaning of the term. Moreover, the courts should not, by development of the common law, broaden the scope of liability for the offence of bestiality. Any expansion of criminal liability for this offence is within Parliament’s exclusive domain.
    The decision also said:
    Courts will only conclude that a new crime has been created if the words used to do so are certain and definitive.
    I would submit that that is what this decision does. It provides clear, certain, definitive wording. It is quite simple in fact. Our government response to that decision is that we amend section 160 of the Criminal Code by adding a subsection 4, which states, “In this section, bestiality means any contact, for a sexual purpose, with an animal.” It is simple, certain and definitive. That is why it responds quite well to the concerns that have been raised in that case.
    By dealing with this, we are increasing our circle of compassion. I say that because I also want to talk about, and I know we heard this earlier today, that a link has been seen between animal cruelty and violence toward people. The Humane Canada conference in 2017 brought together experts to talk about these links and how they would be better addressed. In fact, similar conferences have been held in the United States. There will be a conference by Humane Canada on this issue in November this year in Toronto, discussing the link between violence against animals and violence against people. When the purpose of the conference was set out, it stated:
    Violence against animals and violence against people are not distinct and separate problems. Rather, they are part of a larger pattern of violent crimes that often co-exist. Research shows a significant correlation between animal cruelty and crimes of domestic violence, the physical and sexual abuse of children, sexual assault and other violent crimes.
    When I was reading and learning more about this, in domestic assault situations and domestic violence, sometimes the threat of violence to an animal friend in that household is one of the ways that control is exerted over the domestic partner as part of the violence. It is a more complex issue and the circle of compassion encapsulates our entire community. We need to end animal cruelty. It is as simple as that.
    It is something that I personally feel passionately about. I am happy to see that we are here to debate and discuss it. I look forward to seeing the bill move forward. I want to thank the member for Beaches—East York who raised many of these issues in his bill earlier in the discussion. I am seeing this as one more step. We need to move it forward. Let us do it. Let us take the steps that we need to move forward on animal cruelty.

  (1350)  

    Mr. Speaker, as it is my first opportunity to rise today in the debate on Bill C-84, I want to thank my hon. colleague for Toronto—Danforth for her speech.
    I did attempt to ask question earlier today of the Minister of Justice, because the bill is certainly good, but it leaves a lot of holes. We still need to move forward to eliminate elements of animal cruelty, and we need to do more around these particular issues.
    I hope that we can get the bill to committee and that the government would be open to substantive amendments so that we can make more progress than Bill C-84 would make. I would be interested in my colleague's thoughts on what might be possible at committee.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for the question, because I believe that much more should be done and needs to be done. I think I expressed that when I was speaking.
    I am very much looking forward to the bills that we will see coming from the other place on whales and dolphins in captivity. One issue that I particularly take to heart is the ending of testing on animals for the purpose of cosmetics. That is something I care about. I look for the symbols on products when I purchase them and I ask questions about it at the stores I shop at. Another bill we will be looking at is on shark finning. These are all other steps.
    However, I am not on the committee that will consider the bill before us. Certainly, if there are things that could be done to strengthen the bill and that are within the scope of what a committee can do with proposed legislation, I would be happy to see them.

  (1355)  

    Mr. Speaker, the speech by my hon. colleague was delivered with passion, particularly when we are talking about vulnerable populations in our community.
    I wonder if the member could expand on the community safety element. This particular piece of proposed legislation broadens the range of activities around animal fighting, such as promoting, arranging, and profiting from animal fighting, breeding, training, transportation and keeping an area for the purposes of fighting. It seems there is a large ecosystem of activity around animal fighting, and one that I really did not know anything about. Could my hon. colleague expand on how this broader proposed legislation would keep our communities, like Danforth, much safer?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Whitby addressing the community safety aspect of it.
    When I was talking about the circle of compassion in how we deal with this, there are, in fact, many parts to the animal fighting piece. We can look at the money that exchanges hands, and that it supports organized crime and those who are involved in these types of things. For the people who are watching this cruelty to animals, who are able to watch it, enjoy it, and take part in it, as I mentioned, the Humane Canada conference has drawn links between that violence and violence against human. The FBI has also had conferences on this and is now marking or tracking animal cruelty. It is a way for the FBI to see how that might tie in with future violence in communities. There is a link between a lack of compassion for animals, between the ability to be cruel to animals, and potential violence against people. That link has been drawn in the United States and it is something we can move forward on.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[Translation]

Shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue

    Mr. Speaker, 11 people in Pittsburgh lost their lives to hate and cruelty on Saturday. On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I want to offer my condolences to the victims' families and friends. I also want to pledge our solidarity with the Jewish community, which is going through a very difficult time in the United States, as in Canada.
    We strongly condemn the cowardly murders committed at the Tree of Life synagogue. We also condemn anti-Semitism as a whole, as well as all hateful words and deeds towards individuals practising a religion. Every one of us should be able to practise the religion of our choice in peace and respect, should we choose to do so. This is one of the pillars of Quebec society and American society.
    Let us confront hate in its ugliest form and challenge disrespect for fundamental rights by coming together to offer our support to Jewish Canadians.

[English]

Sri Lanka

    Mr. Speaker, over the weekend, the Sri Lankan President appointed his predecessor, Mahinda Rajapaksa, as prime minister. The Rajapaksa family is accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. This recent development underscores the need for structural change on the island. The government continues to play politics with the lives of Tamils and other minorities. Successive governments have failed to secure a political solution based on the Tamils' right to self-determination, to end impunity and abide by the rule of law.
    Journalists and human rights activists in Sri Lanka continue to be in danger. Reporters Without Borders recently outlined the harassment by the Sri Lankan intelligence unit against Tamil Guardian correspondent Uthayarasa Shalin.
    In the nearly 10 years since the end of the armed conflict, peace has not been achieved. The current constitutional crisis among Sri Lanka's political class is again at the expense of the Tamils seeking justice, accountability and a just political solution. The international community must be seized of the issue, and ensure that Sri Lanka abides by international norms and is in line—

  (1400)  

    The hon. member for Souris—Moose Mountain.

2018 Vimy Beaverbrook Prize

    Mr. Speaker, today I rise to recognize one of my young constituents, Anna Hoimyr, from Gladmar, Saskatchewan, who was a recipient of the 2018 Beaverbrook Vimy Prize.
    Put on by the Vimy Foundation, the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize is a two-week long learning experience for youth aged 15 to 17. After writing her prize-winning essay on PTSD, Anna travelled to England, Belgium and France this summer, touring World War I battlefields, museums and cemeteries, including the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. Over 180 students have been awarded the prize since 2006. The program provides a unique first-hand learning experience, allowing students to immerse themselves into what life would have been like for our Canadian soldiers.
    On November 11, Anna will present her essay in Radville, Saskatchewan. As it is the hundredth anniversary of the armistice, I think it is imperative that all Canadians, and especially our youth, learn about and pay tribute to the brave men and women who have fought for our country.
    I congratulate Anna and all prize recipients for winning the 2018 Vimy Beaverbrook Prize.

[Translation]

VIA Rail

    Mr. Speaker, on October 29, 1978, VIA Rail launched its first transcontinental service from Montreal to Vancouver. Forty years on, I am privileged to rise in the House to celebrate this Canadian institution, and not just because I am a devoted train buff.
    The last time a VIA train went through my riding, Laurentides—Labelle, was in 1981, the year of my birth. Service cuts are a problem in many regions across the country, but I cherish the dream of bringing train travel back for all Canadians.
    Thanks to investments in upgrading VIA's fleet, more and more Canadians are choosing to travel by train. Rail passengers are living proof that the environment and economic development can go hand in hand.
    I would like to thank VIA's 3,000 employees for working so hard for so long to keep this environmentally friendly mode of transportation alive. Train travel is essential to our Canadian identity.
    Happy anniversary, VIA, and keep up the good work.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, I rarely do this, but today I am rising in the House as a citizen. I am rising to speak on my own behalf and in solidarity with all those who share my feeling of urgency regarding the environment to say that we need to move beyond partisanship. The time for parroting party lines has passed. Global warming is threatening human existence.
    That is such a serious and overwhelming thing to say that our brains cannot really process the magnitude or scope of the response that this situation requires. It is not because we have not talked about it, read reports or seen the protests. It is not because we have not noticed the growing number of climate disasters or the areas affected by flooding.
    I am rising today, on behalf of hundreds of thousands of people across Quebec and throughout the world, to officially declare war on climate change. Today, I am calling on all of the party leaders and asking them to set aside their differences, as in days gone by when war cabinets and governments of national unity were set up, so that we can appoint in the House, in a completely non-partisan manner, a minister of war on climate change. If we fail to work together, humankind will lose this war.
    As long as I am a member of Parliament, I will not allow party lines or indifference to ride roughshod over the future of our planet.

Canada Child Benefit

    Mr. Speaker, our government was elected in 2015 on the basis of several promises we made, including the Canada child benefit, which is tax-free and more generous for the people who need it than the benefits provided by the previous government.
    The Canada child benefit is making a real difference in Châteauguay—Lacolle because it is helping families meet their needs while also driving our local economy. In July, for example, 10,763 families in my region received an average of $561 that month, for a total of over $6 million.
    I was a single mother myself 35 years ago and I recently met another single mom from Châteauguay, Catherine. She told me how this benefit helps her buy clothes for her eight-year-old son, Devin, and pay some bills. Catherine's situation is just one example among many of how everyone benefits when Canadian families are doing well.

  (1405)  

[English]

Diwali

    Mr. Speaker, I will be hosting the 18th national Diwali celebration on Parliament Hill tomorrow evening at the Sir John A. Macdonald Hall.
     The success of this annual event is due to the full participation and support of temples, organizations and community members from across Canada. I will mention just a few of our long-standing supporters: BAPS Toronto, Lakshmi Narayan Mandir of Scarborough, the Hindu Bhajan Mandly of Calgary, the Bharat Mata Mandir of Brampton, the Canada India Foundation, RANA Canada, the Overseas Friends of India (Canada) and the India Canada Association of Montreal. With everyone's support, this year we have surpassed our budget with a healthy surplus.
    I also acknowledge the support this event has received over the years from all my colleagues from all political parties.
    Please join the community tomorrow to celebrate Diwali. I wish a happy Diwali to everyone.

Shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue

    Mr. Speaker, words cannot do justice to express the anguish felt by the Jewish community after 11 innocent worshippers were savagely gunned down and many others wounded during the Sabbath at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Know then that this is only the latest harrowing act of anti-Semitism, which has plagued humanity like an incurable disease since ancient times.
     In the face of such persistent hatred, there is a numbness that has set in, a resentful denial and sense of futility, which we must confront with resolve. Of course, we must do so together.
     I have been inspired by the leadership within my community who are helping in various ways to heal those affected by this unspeakable tragedy. They have my full support. Let us do our part in the House, with our words, how we treat one another and how we resolve our disagreements. To make good laws and wise decisions can be an enduring example, not only in Canada but around the world.
    We offer our sincere condolences to the victims. May their memories always be a blessing.

[Translation]

Islamic History Month

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today on the occasion of Islamic History Month to pay tribute to the wealth of Muslim culture and to acknowledge the remarkable contribution of Muslim Canadians.

[English]

    In Scarborough North, the Muslim Welfare Centre was established 25 years ago by Major Muhammad Abbas Ali and his wife Sarwar Jahan Begum as a modest Halal food bank. Today, this multi-service agency is focused not only on feeding those in need through such initiatives as project Ramadan. It also runs a free medical clinic, funds schools in underprivileged communities in Pakistan and coordinates disaster relief efforts all around the world.
    Celebrating its silver jubilee, the Muslim Welfare Centre is a shining example of the care and compassion exemplified by Canada's Muslim community.

[Translation]

    Let us come together as Canadians to celebrate Islamic History Month and cherish the remarkable diversity and pluralism that make Canada so great.

[English]

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, it is clear that the Liberal government is soft on crime and way too focused on coddling criminals instead of supporting victims and ensuring the safety of Canadians.
     In the last month, we have seen the Liberals proactively welcome convicted terrorists back to Canada, transfer Tori Stafford's murderer into a healing lodge where kids are present, punish law-abiding gun owners while making life easier for terrorists, gangsters and criminals and provide generous veteran's benefits to a cop killer who never served a day of his life in the military.
     Now it is doubling down with Bill C-75, a deeply-flawed omnibus justice bill that reduces the penalties for serious crimes like human trafficking, utilizing date rape drugs and impaired driving causing bodily harm. This is just further proof that the Liberals are making Canadians less safe and cannot be trusted to look after the interests of victims.
     Why are the Liberals always on the wrong side when it comes to criminal justice?

NunatuKavut

    Mr. Speaker, I am proud of our government's commitment to the rights and recognition framework for indigenous people in Canada.
    In August of this year, history was made in Labrador when the Government of Canada announced that it would enter historic talks to recognize the indigenous rights and self-determination of the NunatuKavut people. This is a remarkable accomplishment for indigenous people in Labrador who have been left behind for far too long.
    I want to personally thank the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and the Prime Minister for recognizing all Inuit in Labrador and entering into this historic agreement with NunatuKavut.
    Our government is committed to working together to advance reconciliation of all indigenous people in Canada based on recognition of rights, respect and co-operation.
    This weekend I attended the NunatuKavut AGM and was absolutely happy to see the energy and the hard work of its leadership and its members.

  (1410)  

Canada-India Relations

    Mr. Speaker, the Centre for International Governance Innovation, or CIGI, in Waterloo, is a prominent think tank on international governance, global economic research and analysis, security and law.
    In February, CIGI joined forces with Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations, a foreign policy think tank based in Mumbai, to launch the Canada-India Track 1.5 Dialogue on Innovation, Growth and Prosperity. This partnership will convene experts, government officials and business leaders to promote bilateral economic growth and innovation.
    Today and tomorrow the two think tanks are in Ottawa for their inaugural meeting, where they will explore topics of mutual importance to Canada and India, including cybersecurity, economic relations, geo-engineering and climate leadership.
    I welcome the delegation from CIGI and Gateway House and wish them the best their important work.

Carbon Pricing

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals think that imposing a tax making everything more expensive is going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
    Since the Liberals can choose to ride public transit, decide to move into a condo, pay more for groceries or get an electric car, they think everyone else can do that too.
     However, not all Canadians live in downtown Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal. People in my riding of Niagara West need to drive to work. We do not have a subway. What we have are regular Canadians who need to heat their homes and feed their families.
    This Liberal election gimmick will punish people who cannot make a dramatic lifestyle change and do what the Prime Minister wants. They will have to pay more for everything. Meanwhile, emission levels will not change.
    What is the point of taxing Canadians when they cannot make the same decisions the Liberals can, especially when it does not help the environment? The simple answer is: Revenue. The Prime Minister needs more money to try and cover his out-of-control spending.
    Canadians will see through him. We will not stop until his job-killing carbon tax is repealed.

[Translation]

Canadian Heritage

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize the Association québécoise de l'industrie du disque, du spectacle et de la video, also known as ADISQ, for its exceptional work developing independent, strong, and innovative music production.
    Last night, I was at Place des Arts in Montreal where the music industry was gathered for the ADISQ gala to honour creators and artists in the Quebec songwriting genre.
    It was the 40th anniversary of this prestigious gala. In attendance were the Prime Minister of Canada, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, as well as many of my colleagues in the House. I want to point out that this was the very first time a Canadian prime minister has attended this gala.
    Congratulations to all the nominees and to all the winners on their success. We can be proud of every artist in the Quebec music industry. The vitality of this industry is a testament to their talent.
    I want to thank all these creators who compose the soundtrack of our lives.

Regional Development

    Mr. Speaker, last week I met with representatives of Entreprises Robert Charette, Lanau Industries, Fabrications Brandon and Atelier Marco Desrosiers. These companies in Saint-Gabriel-de-Brandon told me that a labour shortage is one problem they all have in common.
    This problem is not unique to these companies; it is widespread throughout the riding of Berthier—Maskinongé. I see it every time I go out and about. I see signs that read “Welder Wanted”, “Cook Wanted” or simply “We Are Hiring”.
    However, solutions do exist. We could, for example, provide open work permits to temporary foreign workers and help them obtain their citizenship to create a permanent and not just temporary pool of workers.
    To encourage young people to remain in the regions and to retain skilled labour, the government must make more investments in training, infrastructure, public transportation and the cellular network.
    In closing, I call on the government to work with the NDP to find solutions for our SMEs and to protect our regions.

[English]

Shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue

    Mr. Speaker, this past Sabbath, our neighbours to the south in Pittsburgh endured a horrific act of anti-Semitism.
    With sheer wanton hatred and reckless disregard for human life, a man with multiple weapons stormed the Tree of Life synagogue full of Shabbat worshippers and opened fire, killing 11 and leaving many more injured. During the rampage, the man spewed anti-Semitic slurs and the desire to kill Jews.
    This morning, the Prime Minister of Israel stated:
    Jews were killed in a synagogue. They were killed because they are Jews. The location was chosen because it is a synagogue. We must never forget that. We are one.
    He is right, we are one: One as humanity; one struggling to know why anti-Semitism continues in so many venomous forms.
    I ask my colleagues in this place to remember those in Pittsburgh who have lost their lives and those who were injured, as well as the police officers and first responders who were injured in the line of duty.
    I ask the House and all Canadians to ponder in their hearts and abide by the words “we are one” in our actions, in their memory.
    May God bring Shalom/peace to the families of the victims.

  (1415)  

Shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue

    Mr. Speaker, there are more than six million Jews in the United States. Since 1654, generations of Jews have come to America's golden shores. They came to escape bigotry and hate they faced in their native lands.

[Translation]

    They came looking for freedom and a better life in a country where the words of a young female Jewish writer, inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, warmly welcomed them.

[English]

    That is why Saturday's brutal murder of 11 innocent souls at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh is so devastating. This is not supposed to happen in America. We should not need armed guards in the places we worship to protect us.
    I want to express my deepest sympathies to the victims, their families, their friends, the congregation, the people of Pittsburgh and the entire American Jewish community. Canadians stand with them in rejecting the intolerance and anti-Semitism that led to this heinous crime.
    In a world of growing anti-Semitism and intolerance, we in public life have a duty to lead. We must stand together against any form of hatred against any group with no equivocation. The victims of this slaughter deserve nothing less.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[English]

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, over the weekend, Canadians were shocked and saddened to learn of the horrific anti-Semitic attack in Pittsburgh. On behalf of the official opposition, I would like to extend our thoughts and our prayers to the victims and their families and to the entire Jewish community. These kinds of hateful acts must be condemned in the strongest terms possible.
    Would the Prime Minister update this House on the government's response, and tell us what specific measures it is taking in order to stop anti-Semitism and to ensure the safety of synagogues across Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are horrified by the anti-Semitic attack at a synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday. Our hearts are with the Jewish community in Pittsburgh and across Canada. May the families of those murdered be comforted, and may the injured recover quickly and fully.
    We are working with U.S. authorities and are ready to assist if required. We will always stand united against hatred, intolerance, anti-Semitism and violence.

Privacy

    Mr. Speaker, there were disturbing reports this weekend that Stats Canada has informed banks and credit card companies it expects them to hand over personal financial data of at least half a million Canadians without their knowledge or consent. Even worse, banks will not be allowed to inform their customers that the government is following every single one of their transactions.
    With the long history of government privacy breaches, Canadians are rightly worried. Why are the Liberals collecting the personal data of Canada without telling them?
    Mr. Speaker, our government is ensuring that the personal data of Canadians are protected. Statistics Canada will use the anonymized data for statistical purposes only. No personal information will be made public.
    I understand Statistics Canada is actively engaged with the Privacy Commissioner's office on this project, and is working with it to ensure Canadians' banking information remains protected and private. High-quality and timely data are critical to ensuring that government programs remain relevant and effective for Canadians.

  (1420)  

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government plans to access the personal financial information of Canadians without their knowledge or consent, including personal information like bill payments, online purchases, credit card transactions, cash withdrawals and deposits, even e-transfers between family members and the list goes on.
    Will the Prime Minister do the right thing and immediately assure Canadians that this intrusion into their lives will be stopped?
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians rightly expect that government agencies and groups like Statistics Canada work with the Privacy Commissioner to ensure that their private lives are protected.
    Need I remind members and all Canadians that it was the Conservative government that chose to cancel the long-form census as a way of protecting people's private information? What that led to was more policy based on ideology and less policy based on evidence like we are doing now. The Conservatives' attacks on data and information continue.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians expect the government to protect their personal information, but the Liberals want to access confidential data on 500,000 Canadians without their consent. They want to look at bill payments, ATM withdrawals, credit card payments, bank transfers, bank balances and even social insurance numbers.
    How can the Prime Minister justify these actions, which are clearly a violation of Canadians' privacy?
     Mr. Speaker, we will always ensure that the personal data of Canadians are protected. Statistics Canada will use the anonymized data for statistical purposes only. No personal information will be made public.
    I understand Statistics Canada is actively engaged with the Privacy Commissioner's office on this project and is working with it to ensure Canadians' information remains protected and private.
    High-quality and timely data are critical to ensuring that government programs remain relevant and effective for Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, allow me to read section 5 of the Privacy Act because governments are expected to obey the law, after all:
     A government institution shall inform any individual from whom the institution collects personal information about the individual....
    Canadians' personal information belongs to them. It is unacceptable for the government to collect that information without their consent.
    Will the Prime Minister reconsider his decision and put a stop to this?
    Mr. Speaker, once again, the Conservatives are fearmongering, but we can confirm that Statistics Canada is actively engaged with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, just as Canadians would expect.
     Once again, the Conservatives' attacks on data and information continue. It was that party that cancelled the long-form census, and now it continues the same attacks on policy based on data and the facts rather than ideology. It is disappointing to see that the Conservatives still have not learned their lesson.

[English]

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, Saturday's shooting at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue was an appalling act of anti-Semitism. The hearts and prayers of all New Democrats go to the victims, their families and to Pittsburgh's Jewish community. However, this senseless attack is merely the latest episode in a series of crimes inspired by hate and prejudice, such as anti-Semitism, of course, but also Islamophobia and homophobia. Canadians are rightly concerned by the rise of violence and bigotry.
    Could the Prime Minister inform this House of the measures his government intends to implement to tackle all of these forms of extremism?

[Translation]

     Mr. Speaker, Canadians are horrified by Saturday's anti-Semitic attack at a synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday. Our hearts are with the Jewish community in Pittsburgh and across Canada.
    May the families of those murdered be comforted, and may the injured recover quickly and fully. We are working with U.S. authorities and are ready to assist if required. We will always stand united against hatred, intolerance, anti-Semitism and violence, no matter where it occurs.

  (1425)  

By-Elections

    Mr. Speaker, the riding of Outremont has been without an MP for over two months, and the ridings of Burnaby South and York—Simcoe have gone without representation in the House for over one month.
    The Prime Minister, however, has called just one by-election, in Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, but only because he had no choice.
    This is only the second time in 20 years that a prime minister has called one by-election while leaving other ridings vacant.
    What are the political motives behind the Prime Minister's decision to leave more than 300,000 Canadians across the country without representation in the House?
    Mr. Speaker, I was proud to announce that the by-election in the riding of Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes would be held on December 3, 2018. By-elections will be announced for the recently vacated ridings as required under the Canada Elections Act.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, what a weak and insipid response. The people in these ridings deserve better. Three hundred thousand Canadians are being denied their right to representation in Parliament. There is simply no excuse for this kind of petty manipulation. The Prime Minister recognized that last year when he called the by-elections and did not play with the dates.
    Canadians living in Burnaby South, Outremont and York Simcoe have the right to make their voices heard. Why is the Prime Minister denying the rights of these Canadians to elect their representatives?
    Mr. Speaker, it has been mere weeks since those seats were vacated. We will call those elections in due course, as is required under the Canada Elections Act.
    Mr. Speaker, these by-elections do not belong to the Prime Minister. They do not belong to me. They do not belong to anyone in the House. They belong to the people of Burnaby South, York Simcoe and Outremont and these citizens have the right to choose their representatives now.
    We are living through the worst housing, environmental and family debt crises in our nation's history and the people of these ridings have the right to judge the government in all of these cases. Is that not the real reason for this petty act? The Prime Minister is scared of the reaction of the voters. Will he show some courage and call the by-elections now?
    Mr. Speaker, as I said, it has been mere weeks since those particular seats were vacated. Questions might be asked about the fact that electors elected people to serve four terms for them and did not get to have the whole four terms of the people they elected and sent to this House, for various reasons, which is their choice. However, the sanctimony from the NDP on this is, as always, amusing.
    Those seats were vacated mere weeks ago. They will be filled under elections law in due course through by-elections.

Carbon Pricing

    Mr. Speaker, Halloween must be here but it is a trick because there is no treat from the environment minister. She promised that her carbon tax would reduce emissions and leave Canadians better off.
     Canadians will not be tricked by an election gimmick. Canadians know that the Liberals cannot be trusted to keep their promises.
    When will the Liberals acknowledge that this carbon tax will do nothing for the environment but leave Canadians worse off?
    Mr. Speaker, we were elected on a commitment to grow the economy, support the middle class and protect the environment at the same time. We are moving forward with a plan to put a price on pollution, which I know even Stephen Harper's former director of policy has indicated will leave families better off. That was confirmed when the Prime Minister made the announcement just last week.
    I know that we are in the spirit of Halloween jokes, but no matter how much the opposition want to dress up like defenders of the middle class, Canadians will not be tricked.
    Mr. Speaker, we see more tricks from the Liberals. The Prime Minister has told Canadians that it is a good thing for gasoline prices to go up. He actually said that. However, he does not want them to worry about carbon taxes. He claims that raising taxes on Canadians leaves us all better off. Usually when a stranger tells people to send money with promises that they will get even more money back, they know it is an email scam.
    When will this tax-raising, deficit-running Liberal government stop trying to trick Canadians into believing that higher taxes will leave them better off?

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, if we actually look at the facts and look at the numbers from last week's announcement, we can actually confirm that middle-class families can expect to be better off in every jurisdiction where the federal backstop applies. The reason for this is very simple. Businesses and industry are paying into this fund as well and the rebate is going to go to Canadian families. They are going to have more money to deal with the cost of living. No matter how much the opposition raises concern about this, we cannot mask the fact that families will be better off.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. I encourage the members for Richmond Centre and Edmonton Manning not to interrupt when someone else has the floor.
    The hon member for Carleton.
    Mr. Speaker, the member now claims that businesses will pay into this fund, but we all know that large industrial emitters actually get an exemption from the carbon tax. Last week when I asked the environment minister why this was, she said that it was necessary to exempt them in order to keep good jobs here in Canada, which confirms that a full carbon tax applied to a business would drive jobs out of Canada.
    This begs the question that if carbon taxes drive jobs out of the country, why is the government imposing that same tax on our small businesses?
    Mr. Speaker, we have lowered the small business tax rate for small businesses in Canada and we set aside $1.4 billion for small businesses in jurisdictions where the federal backstop applies.
    I have been watching members on the opposite side of this House distort the facts for weeks. The fact is that big emitters are going to pay under our plan, no ifs, ands or buts. That is an important feature of our plan. We are moving forward with a plan that is going to actually protect competitiveness.
     It is extremely hypocritical for the hon. member to suggest we are not charging big emitters enough when his plan is to make sure that they do not pay at all.
    Mr. Speaker, actually, the government's own documents show that large industrial emitters get a 90% exemption from this carbon tax. All we are asking for is that small businesses get an exemption from the tax as well.
    So far, the government has not yet explained why a local corner store, a small construction company, a landscaper or others of the thousands of companies that create the majority of jobs in this country have to pay taxes on their fuel when large industrial emitters get an exemption. Why?
    Mr. Speaker, with respect to small businesses, we are taking an approach of seeing their tax burden actually come down on the whole. We are also setting aside funds, $1.4 billion, in jurisdictions where the federal backstop applies, to help small businesses reduce their cost of consumption by greening their operations and dealing with the day-to-day cost of business.
    When it comes to big industrial emitters in trade-exposed industries, to avoid having a mechanism like we have put in place could potentially have jobs leave and it will do nothing for emissions. The plan we are putting in place mirrors what we have seen in California, in Quebec, in Alberta and in the European Union that allows economies to grow, jobs to stay in Canada and emissions come down.
    This is the responsible path forward and it is time those members got on board.
    Mr. Speaker, now the admission is even more explicit. He said that if the large emitters had to pay the same carbon tax as everyone else the jobs would leave the country and it would do nothing for emissions. That is exactly what we have been saying about the carbon tax all along.
    It would raise the cost of doing business here in environmentally friendly Canada and drive jobs to places with lower environmental standards. That would drive up pollution worldwide and unemployment here at home. When will the government listen to its own rhetoric on the carbon tax?
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take the question. The justification he just put forward that formed the assumption under his question is the explicit reason why there is an output-based pricing system. The point is to keep jobs in Canada so that emitters do not pollute elsewhere.
    We are moving forward with a plan that is going to help improve our environmental record and help create jobs in Canada. So far, our plan is working. We have seen the economy add over half a million jobs since the last election. Unemployment is at the lowest rate virtually since we started keeping statistics, and emissions are coming down.
    No matter how much they cry foul when they know this is the right path forward, we will not be disturbed. We will move forward with the response—
    Mr. Speaker, they should be disturbed by their own answer because they are now admitting what we have said all along, that the carbon tax if applied would drive business and jobs out of the country into places with poorer environmental standards, where global emissions would actually go up.
    They have just admitted three times in the House of Commons that is their justification for giving large industrial emitters an exemption. I have a simple question. Will they give the same exemption to our small business job creators?

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, I have now dealt with the same question a number of times in a row and given an explanation that I am completely satisfied with.
    Despite the fact that he has had a number of faulty assumptions underlying the questions he has asked already, the thing I have not seen in any one of his questions is a suggestion that the Conservatives have any kind of a plan at all. For 10 years, they had no plan to deal with emissions and they failed on the environment. For 10 years, they had no plan for the economy and saw the worst record of growth since the Great Depression. Where the Conservatives failed twice, we will succeed. We are moving forward with a plan that is helping grow the economy and protect the environment, and we know we are on the right track.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, last week, the Prime Minister said he is suspending further arms export permits to Saudi Arabia and reviewing existing ones. What merits reviewing? Canadians want to know because they do know that Saudi Arabia crushes dissidents and has been accused of war crimes in Yemen. They know that Jamal Khashoggi is only the latest in a horrific series of abuses. Canadians do not want to be complicit with these atrocities. Will the government guarantee no more Canadian arms will reach Saudi Arabia?
    Mr. Speaker, we condemn the horrible murder of Jamal Khashoggi and are deeply concerned by reports on the participation of Saudi officials. We strongly demand and expect that Canadian arms exports are used in a way that fully respects human rights. That is why our government is committed to a stronger and more rigorous arms export system. Of course, that is why we acceded to the Arms Trade Treaty. As the Prime Minister said, we are actively reviewing existing export permits to Saudi Arabia.
    Mr. Speaker, it is not enough to expect that the arms will not be misused. It is necessary to ensure they will not be misused.

[Translation]

    The war in Yemen has created the worst humanitarian disaster on the planet, to say nothing of the Saudi regime's treatment of women, dissidents and minorities. We already know that Canadian weapons have been used against civilians in eastern Saudi Arabia. The murder of Jamal Khashoggi is just one more atrocity to be laid to the Saudis' account.
    What is the Prime Minister waiting for to suspend not only future permits, but existing permits as well?
     Mr. Speaker, we are reviewing the options with our allies. We are currently reviewing existing export permits to Saudi Arabia. All exports must comply with the conditions set out in the permits. We have frozen arms export permits in the past and will not hesitate to do so again.

[English]

Carbon Pricing

    Mr. Speaker, Landmark Transfer is a family-owned trucking company that serves southeastern Manitoba. The Liberal carbon tax is going to hit them hard. Margins are already thin, and another tax will add to their burden and increase costs for their customers.
    Last week, the environmental minister admitted she gave major exemptions to large companies to avoid significant job losses. Will the Liberals give the same exemption to smaller companies, like Landmark Transfer, to ensure that jobs are not lost there either?
    Mr. Speaker, our government was elected on a commitment to protect the environment and grow the economy at the same time. We are moving forward with part of our plan to protect the environment by ensuring that pollution is not free. We are putting a price on pollution, which is going to be paid by big polluters as well as others. At the same time, we are ensuring that a rebate accrues to families so middle-class families are left better off.
    I point the hon. member to the statement of Mark Cameron, Stephen Harper's former director of policy. If he does not believe me, he can look to his own side to demonstrate that families will be made better off as a result of the plan we are putting in place. We are moving forward with a plan that is making life more—
    The hon. member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound.
    Mr. Speaker, I recently travelled to New Brunswick, where I heard significant opposition to the Liberals' new carbon tax. Beef and dairy farmers, as well as apple growers, are all concerned that the Prime Minister's carbon tax will drastically increase their production costs. Farmers, families and seniors are worried that this cash grab will make the cost of everything more expensive.
    When will the Liberals admit that their carbon tax is nothing more than an election gimmick and a new source of revenue to feed this Prime Minister's irresponsible and out of control spending problem?

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, we campaigned on a promise that we would grow our economy and protect the environment at the same time, and that is exactly what we are doing. We know that Canadian farmers are responsible stewards of the land, and that is why we exempted on-farm fuel and gasoline under the federal backstop. We also provided additional relief for greenhouse farmers, and provided for small and rural communities. We have supported and will continue to support our farmers in this country.
    Mr. Speaker, life is very expensive in northern Canada, and residents simply do not have an option to hop on the O-Train or the Canada Line. The cost of housing, the cost of infrastructure, the cost of food and heating their homes in the winter is extraordinarily expensive. Two hundred communities have diesel only, so the Liberals' little 10% rural addition is nothing.
    What are the Liberals going to do? Why are they imposing a tax on northerners that is going to do nothing but make life more expensive?
    Mr. Speaker, I grew up as part of a generation where caring about the environment was part of the lessons from my first day in elementary school. I am so proud to be part of a government that is actually putting in place a plan to protect the environment. Our plan involves putting a price on pollution. We are going to make life more affordable for Canadians but more expensive for polluters.
    To the member, her constituents who are living in rural areas are actually going to receive a top-up. I do not know why she is committed to campaigning on a promise of taking money out of her constituents' pockets so she can make life more affordable for polluters instead of Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, we all agree climate change needs to be addressed, but the Liberal government has not shown Canadians how the carbon tax will reduce emissions. China produces 26% of all emissions while the U.S. produces over 15%, but Canada produces less than 1.5% yet we have a punishing tax that limits our competitiveness.
    Canadians are willing to do their part to address climate change, but why is the Prime Minister putting Canadian businesses and our economy at risk for a carbon tax that will not even lower emissions?
    Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member honestly believes all members of this House on that side believe this is a threat that needs to be challenged, I suggest she has not been with them quite long enough. The reality is we were elected on a campaign commitment to protect the environment and grow the economy at the same time. Our plan to protect the environment ensures we are going to put a price on pollution and we are going to make sure middle-class families are left better off. This is not a difficult concept. We are going to make sure that life is made more affordable for Canadians and more expensive for polluters. I would suggest that anybody who wants to join us for the next campaign, who believes this message, would be welcome on this side of the House.

International Trade

    Mr. Speaker, while the Prime Minister continues to celebrate the USMCA deal, Trump's unjustified tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum are having devastating impacts for families in Canada. Canadian workers throughout the country are losing their livelihoods. In fact, workers at Sault Ste. Marie's Tenaris were immediately laid off after the U.S. implemented the tariffs. It is clear the Liberals never should have signed a deal without getting rid of these tariffs first, let alone for the Prime Minister to take a victory lap on the very backs of workers.
    Now that Mexico is demanding this fix, showing resolve and respect for its workers, will the government do at least the same for ours?
    Mr. Speaker, our government has been absolutely clear when it comes to defending the steel and aluminum workers right across Canada. That is why we put forward measures, $2 billion worth of support for the steel and aluminum sector, and $1.7 billion for additional financing through Business Development Canada and Export Development Canada, to make sure that they have the resources to succeed going forward.
    Just a few days ago, we also announced a $50-million investment for ArcelorMittal Dofasco to make sure that they upgrade their plant. What are they doing? They had a job fair a few days ago for more jobs in the steel sector.
    Mr. Speaker, we should stick to the subject. Many steel workers are here today to get the answers on the unfair U.S. tariffs. They want their paycheques and livelihoods back. Mexico stood up for its workers in the steel and aluminum industry by refusing to sign the USMCA until Trump's unfair tariffs are gone. The Liberals made a choice to sign a deal without getting assurances the U.S. would remove these unfair tariffs.
    Will the Liberals commit to establishing a national tariffs task force and commit not to sign USMCA until these ridiculous tariffs are gone? Yes or no.

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, we are providing safeguards for the steel and aluminum sector. We are providing directed targeted support for Canadian manufacturers. We provided a $2-billion support fund and we are engaging with our American counterparts to make sure we eliminate these unjust and unfair tariffs. We have been absolutely clear when it comes to the steel and aluminum sector. We will continue to defend their interests. We will continue to protect Canadian workers from coast to coast to coast.

[Translation]

     Mr. Speaker, today the Minister of International Trade Diversification officially announced Canada's ratification of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

[English]

    Could the Minister of International Trade Diversification inform the House of the benefits this trade agreement will have on Canadian consumers and businesses?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Newmarket—Aurora for his excellent work.

[English]

    I would also like to thank my Conservative colleagues opposite, especially the hon. member for Abbotsford and senators who helped me with the swift ratification of the CPTPP. Today, we formally announced that Canada has completed the necessary steps to ratify and implement the deal. This agreement will provide access to over 500 million consumers. We are creating jobs for the middle class. This is a great day for Canada.

[Translation]

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government is refusing to tell us when Mr. Cudmore received his offer of employment. He began working for the defence minister's office on January 12, 2016, but the process must have started before that. A person cannot start working in the defence minister's office without security clearance.
    When did James Cudmore sign his request for security clearance?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as has been explained in the House on numerous occasions, the matter being raised by the hon. gentleman relates to a matter that is now before the courts. When a matter is before the courts and therefore sub judice, according to the rules of the House, according to learned opinions by people like Peter Van Loan, for example, it is improper to ask questions about an outstanding court case and it is equally improper for ministers to endeavour to answer those questions.
    Mr. Speaker, on November 19, 2015, just days after the Liberal cabinet was sworn in, they tried to stop the contract for the Davie shipyard. Media reports have told us that the President of the Treasury Board and the Minister of Environment were involved in that decision. My question today: Was the Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade involved in cabinet discussions related to shipbuilding?
    Mr. Speaker, once again, the hon. gentleman is pursuing a line of questioning which, according to the rules of the House, is inappropriate. One of the reasons for that is that criminal prosecutions in this country are handled completely independently of government. They are in the hands of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada and indeed that service was created in 2006 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to ensure independence and impartiality.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister does not seem to confirm or deny my question in the line of questioning on whether the Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade was involved in shipyard decisions.
    What is interesting is that a few months later, in January 2016, the minister signed a conflict of interest screen related to the Irving shipbuilding affair. That leads me to this question. Was the Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade involved in discussions related to Irving shipbuilding just ahead of the imposition of his conflict of interest screen?
    Mr. Speaker, in this line of questioning over the last number of days and weeks, the official opposition has tried to meander around a lot of indirect insinuations and accusations. That is the very reason why Peter Van Loan said in the House, “It is deemed improper for a Member, in posing a question, or a Minister in responding to a question, to comment on any matter that is sub judice.”
    The point is to protect the independence of the courts and to avoid these drive-by smears.

  (1450)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am very sorry to be meandering around these discussions around shipbuilding when a gentleman's life is on the line in terms of his liberty.
    Vice-Admiral Mark Norman is facing trial. The Privy Council Office's investigation confirmed that 73 people were aware of leaks from the Liberal shipbuilding discussions, yet only one is facing trial.
    If the minister does not like these questions, he should stand in the House today and confirm that they will waive cabinet confidence and release all documents to Vice-Admiral Norman.
    Mr. Speaker, for a very good reason, we have an independent court system in this country. It indeed is the envy of the world.
    The prosecution is in the hands of the independent Public Prosecution Service, which, incidentally, was created by Stephen Harper. The defence is in the hands of very competent defence counsel. They have mature rules of court and statutes to pursue. The two sides will pursue their interests, and justice will be done.

Poverty

    Mr. Speaker, Liberals keep bragging about how many children they have pulled out of poverty, but the facts on the ground simply do not support their claims. Statistics show that 1.2 million children live in poverty in Canada, and 38% of them are indigenous children. This is shameful. Grassroots organizations have called out the lack of ambition of the government to take meaningful action.
    Will the Liberals commit to putting in place a concrete plan to finally eliminate child poverty in Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to answer the question, because it is at the very core of our mandate as a government.
    Since 2016, we have put into place the most significant social policy innovation in a generation, called the Canada child benefit. That benefit, in itself, is lifting 300,000 children out of poverty, and their 200,000 parents at the same time.
    We just launched the first-ever poverty reduction strategy in August, which is going to push even further our efforts to decrease child poverty and everyone's poverty in Canada.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals cannot prove that the Canada child benefit lifts children out of poverty. Come on.
    There has been no change in the data in 10 years. There are still 1.2 million children living in poverty, and 38% of them are indigenous children.
    Campaign 2000, which represents over a hundred organizations, has criticized the Liberal government's poverty reduction strategy for not being ambitious enough.
    When will the Liberals set real goals for lifting children out of poverty?
    Or will they continue to be satisfied with half measures?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for giving me the opportunity to speak once again about the Canada child benefit and to invite our colleagues opposite, in particular members of the NDP, to clearly support it.
    With this policy we are no longer sending cheques to millionaire families that do not want or need the money, so we can send them to middle-class families and those working hard to join the middle class.
    I very much appreciate this debate and I would be pleased to continue the discussion with my NDP colleagues and to encourage them to maintain their interest in the Canada child benefit.

Border Security

    Last week, he said that the number of illegal migrants was dropping and that his government had a plan to deal with the problem. However, from January to September 2017, 15,102 people entered Canada illegally, while from January to September 2018, there were 15,726 illegal crossings. That is a larger number than last year's for the same period. Quebeckers are not at all impressed to see the Prime Minister making light of their concerns.
    The minister says he has a plan. Where is it?
    Mr. Speaker, our government has a clear plan to manage our borders. We invested $173 million to improve border security and expedite the processing of asylum claims.
    Our plan is working. We have seen a drop in the number of people crossing the border compared to previous months and compared to September 2017. We are currently looking at other ways for our government to make further progress on our commitments.

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, that confirms what I just said. Those numbers are from the RCMP website. I am not making them up. The Liberals do not know what they are talking about.
    This year, the number of illegal migrants went up. Money is being spent over there. Roxham is a camp that can take in 3,000 people a day. For the past two years, the government has been spending millions of dollars to have employees out there waiting for people who should not be coming here. If they were doing their job, migrants would not be entering our country illegally.
    We want to see the plan. The Leader of the Opposition asked the Prime Minister for a plan. Can we see the plan?
    The numbers are declining. We have responded to the influx of applications. People entering Canada irregularly are taken into custody and undergo a security screening. Claims are dealt with as quickly as possible. The number of claims processed increased by more than 50% this past year. We have put in place a plan that works and we will continue to ensure that it works.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, here is the plan. The Public Accounts show that on top of imposing a carbon tax on Canadians, the Prime Minister has spent at least $50 million of their hard-earned cash on hotel rooms for people who have illegally entered Canada and who are abusing our humanitarian immigration system. When so many Canadians are struggling to make ends meet, the Prime Minister should admit how wrong this is.
    Why is the Prime Minister putting illegal border crossers up at the Hilton while increasing taxes on struggling Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the previous government did nothing for 10 years to ensure our security as Canadians along the border. In reality, the Conservatives cut $400 million from our border security.
    We are taking action with $180 million in investment that will ensure that we have the resources in place to keep our borders secure while also providing support to our municipalities who have asked for it. That is what Canadians expect from us and that is exactly what we are going to continue to do.

[Translation]

Canadian Heritage

    Mr. Speaker, the 40th ADISQ gala was held last night.
    The gala provides a unique showcase for our musical artists and creators. We already know that the government is taking action to modernize our copyright, broadcasting and telecommunications laws because it is important for our creators to be able to earn a living from their work.
    Could the Minister of Canadian Heritage tell us more about how our government is supporting Quebec's artists and creators?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for her excellent question.
     Last night, we celebrated today's talent. We celebrated the history of ADISQ. We celebrated Harmonium. I was there, and so was the Prime Minister. This was a historic first, a clear example of how much the Prime Minister and our government support culture.
     I commend ADISQ for promoting our artists and creators across Quebec, across Canada and around the world. I am already looking forward to next year.

[English]

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, I was in Calgary with the Conservative leader last week. Oil and gas workers said that the Liberal carbon tax and their no-more-pipelines bill, Bill C-69, damage all of Canada. The Liberals' layers of new red tape and costs actually help Donald Trump and Canada's biggest competitor by driving Canadian businesses and jobs into the U.S. The investment leaving Canada because of these Liberals is a crisis, and every dollar not spent in Canada goes to countries with much lower environmental protections.
    Why are the Liberals helping Donald Trump and harming Canada and Canadian resource jobs?
    Mr. Speaker, Bill C-69's better rules will lead to more timely and predictable reviews and encourage further investment in Canada and Canada's natural resource sectors. This invests in our people. This is about making sure that good projects move forward to help grow our economy, but doing so in an environmentally responsible fashion. We will not follow the lead of the Harper Conservatives, who made Canadians lose trust in that very process.

[Translation]

Canadian Heritage

    Mr. Speaker, after last night's ADISQ gala, I would ask the Minister of Canadian Heritage to change the record, because my question has nothing to do with CBC, the Canada Council for the Arts or the budget from three years ago.
    Our culture and our media are under attack by foreign competition online. Our government's response is a report in 2020 and legislation planned for 2025. That will be too late for our culture, too late for thousands of media jobs and too late for Postmedia, which is already on the brink of bankruptcy.
    Is the minister ready for Postmedia to go bankrupt?
    Does he realize that a bankruptcy would shut down every daily newspaper in Ottawa except Le Droit?

  (1500)  

[English]

    Wake up.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, when we get asked the same question 20 times, it does start to sound like a broken record.
    Professional journalism is extremely important. We are working on this very serious issue. We announced $50 million to support journalism in underserved communities, as well as $14 million for community radio stations and newspapers as part of our action plan for official languages. We have also invested in CBC/Radio-Canada.
    In addition, at the industry's request, we also announced in budget 2018 that our government would look at new models to allow for donations to be made to the media.
    This is a top priority and my colleague knows that. This is a priority for our government, and we are working on it.

[English]

Aerospace Industry

    Canada's strong, competitive aerospace industry is a major driver of jobs, economic activity and innovation across the country. It contributes over $13 billion in GDP and 86,000 jobs across 700 businesses, and invests $1.7 billion in the Canadian economy. Companies like Bombardier develop and sell leading-edge aircraft worldwide, employing tens of thousands of middle-class Canadians.
    Could the minister update the House on the government's work to drive innovation and keep high-quality aerospace jobs in Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, the aerospace sector is truly a point of pride for all Canadians. It benefits every region. Our investment to promote more research and development with Bombardier helped create and maintain 5,000 jobs. A strategic partnership with Airbus led to the first A220 plane built in Mirabel and the first to be delivered in North America. This is great news for the 86,000 people employed in this sector.

[Translation]

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence forgets that Canada borders three oceans: the Pacific, the Arctic, and the Atlantic.
    He also forgets that the Royal Canadian Navy's two resupply vessels are out of commission. The Preserver was lost to a fire and the Protecteur is too rusty. The Conservatives brought in the Asterix, but where is the Obelix?
    There are serious delays in the naval strategy and a desperate need. This about national security.
    What is stopping the Prime Minister from immediately ordering the Obelix from Quebec? The workers are ready and the navy needs this vessel.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank Davie for the tremendous work it has done and for its efforts. The Canadian Armed Forces is looking forward to the permanent joint supply ships that are going to be built, but a second interim supply ship is not required at this time.

[Translation]

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, the government is paying for surveys just to be told that its approach to managing the migrant situation is inappropriate.
    Instead of spending money on surveys and endless consultations, the Liberals should take this money and send it to Quebec, which is still waiting to be reimbursed.
    Seriously, will Quebec still have to wait (a) a very long time, (b) a moderate amount of time, or (c) a rather long time to get the millions of dollars it is owed for taking in asylum seekers?
    Mr. Speaker, we are working in close cooperation with our provincial counterparts. We will continue to work with the Government of Quebec on processing these claims for asylum. That is what Canadians expect from us and that is exactly what we will continue to do.
    I thank my hon. colleague for the question.

[English]

Sports

    Mr. Speaker, last week the federal government announced that it would contribute $1.75 billion toward Calgary's bid for the 2026 Winter Olympic Games. However, this will leave a shortfall of $800 million, which the mayor of Calgary and the Province of Alberta have already indicated cannot be covered by their respective governments.
    My question is for the Minister of Science and Sport. With the bid on the verge of collapse, will the government increase its share of the funding for this remarkable opportunity for Canada to shine on the world stage?
    Mr. Speaker, Calgary is a world-class city. Our government explored the Calgary 2026 winter games bid since day one. While exploring this bid, we clearly maintain we must respect the federal hosting policy for international sporting events, a dollar-for-dollar matching fund. That is why we are committing up to $1.75 billion.
    We remain optimistic that our ongoing discussions with the city and the province will lead to a successful bid.

  (1505)  

[Translation]

Carbon Pricing

    Mr. Speaker, Ottawa and the provinces have a number of programs, taxes and regulations to reduce greenhouse gases. Last week, on Tout le monde en parle, the Prime Minister acknowledged that even if Canada were to cease all economic activity, it would not have much of an impact on climate change.
    Why, then, does the Prime Minister want to impose a costly tax on consumers and businesses that will have no impact on climate change?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I would never accept that because Canada is relatively small by world standards, we cannot do our part. We need to punch above our weight.
    We were elected on a commitment to grow the economy and protect the environment at the same time. Part of our plan to protect the environment involves putting a price on pollution, which is the most effective way to bring emissions down.
    We are moving forward with an ambitious plan that is not only going to protect our environment, but will put more money into the pockets of middle-class families.
    For all those who are opposed to our plan, I would ask them to go back to their constituents and explain why, in the next election, they are going to be campaigning on a commitment to take money from their constituents to make—
    Tabling of documents, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Government House Leader.

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

Government Response to Petitions

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to three petitions.

Interparliamentary Delegations

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, three reports of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group.
    The first concerns the Western Governors' Association's summer meeting held in Rapid City, South Dakota, U.S.A., from June 25 to 27.
    The second concerns the 72nd Annual Meeting of the Council of State Governments Southern Legislative Conference held in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A., from July 21 to 24.
    The third concerns the Legislative Summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures held in Los Angeles, California, U.S.A., from July 29 to August 2.

Criminal Code

     He said: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise to introduce a private member's bill to amend section 649 of the Criminal Code.
     Earlier this year, the justice committee, of which I am a member, undertook the first parliamentary study on juror supports. In the course of that study, the committee heard from jurors who, for doing nothing more than their civic duty, were exposed to horrific evidence, causing them stress, anxiety and PTSD. They said that one of the biggest impediments to getting the mental health treatment they required was section 649, which prohibits jurors, in all circumstances, for life from disclosing what took place in the course of juror deliberations.
    This bill would change that by amending section 649 to provide a narrow exception, whereby jurors could disclose what took place in the course of juror deliberations, namely, when they are getting mental health treatment through a mental health professional who is sworn to confidentiality following the conclusion of a trial. This was unanimously supported by the justice committee and would go a long way to helping jurors who are suffering from PTSD and other mental health challenges arising from their jury service.
     I urge the passage of this common sense bill.

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

  (1510)  

[Translation]

Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act

    Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to rise today to speak to this important bill, which was passed by the Senate.

[English]

    Bill S-203 would ban the keeping of whales and dolphins in captivity. It comes to us from the Senate. I wish to once again publicly thank Senator Wilfred Moore, now retired, of Nova Scotia, for bringing this bill forward in December 2015 and Senator Murray Sinclair, who carried the bill forward from there. It has now received approval in the Senate.
     I would ask all members in this place to work collaboratively and co-operatively to see the bill reach royal assent before the fall election of 2019. It would do what many scientists have told us must be done, which is to protect these extraordinarily evolved sentient creatures from captivity that amounts to animal cruelty.

    (Motion agreed to and bill read the first time)

Petitions

Animal Welfare 

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition signed by thousands of Canadians wanting to see a change in the bestiality legislation as a result of a Supreme Court decision in 2016.
     I want to thank so many people who were involved in putting pressure on the government to finally introduce legislation, specifically Camille Labchuk from Animal Justice and Pierre Sadik from the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies. It just goes to show that when we organize, we can make a difference.
     I thank the animal welfare community for its efforts in this regard.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to table a petition. I had the great honour this morning to receive a group of very courageous women who came forward with this petition. The petition was initiated by Chris McDowell of the Women Refugees Advocacy Project, along with 300 organizations across the country.
    The petitioners call on the government to ensure that Yazidi survivors who are resettled in Canada are provided with the necessary psychological and counselling support as a result of the trauma they experienced. They note that since August 2014, ISIS and extremists began a campaign of genocide against Yazidi people because they were a religious minority in northern Iraq. As a result, some 6,800 Yazidi women and girls were captured and were brought into sexual slavery.
    Some of those survivors are here today and with whom I had the opportunity to meet this morning. They too support the petition calling for action from the government. In particular, a survivor, Adiba, shared her story with us earlier today at a press conference. I urge the House to receive this petition.

Canada Summer Jobs Initiative  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition calling upon the Prime Minister to defend the freedoms of conscience, thought and belief by withdrawing the attestation requirement for applicants to the Canada summer jobs program.

Justice  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise with an electronic petition, e-petition 1674, with almost 1,600 signatories, in respect of the fate of Dr. Hassan Diab, who was wrongfully extradited from Canada based on unreliable and false evidence.
     The petitioners call for a full independent inquiry, not the inquiry the government has set up by the very well-respected Murray Segal, where evidence can be obtained and cross-examined so we can get to the bottom of this horrific injustice.

Public Safety  

    Mr. Speaker, I have a petition on Bill C-75, a bill which proposes to lighten the sentences for some very serious crimes like forceable confinement of a minor, forced child marriage, impaired driving and advocating genocide.
     The petitioners call upon the Prime Minister to defend the safety and security of all Canadians by withdrawing Bill C-75.

Bee Population  

    Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by many different constituents on behalf of bees.
     The petitioners recognize that the mortality rate for colonies of bees and other pollinators has been rising for the past number of years; that these insects play a role in the pollination of 70% of flowering plants; and that they, honey bees especially, contribute $2.2 billion worth of service to Canada's agricultural economy each year.
     Therefore, the petitioners ask that the government take concrete steps to solve this very serious problem and develop a strategy to address multiple factors related to bee colony deaths, such as the destruction and disturbance of habitat, pesticide use and the side effects of pathogens and parasites.

  (1515)  

Crooked Lake Leaseholders  

    Mr. Speaker, I have 11 petitions to present today, with 328 signatures.
     The people are cottage owners and homeowners who are located at Crooked Lake, Saskatchewan on land that is leased from the Government of Canada. They wish to draw attention to the 650% to 700% lease increase being imposed on Crooked Lake leaseholders for the years 2015 to 2019. It was imposed without the jointly agreed to negotiations between the Government of Canada and its appointed authority and the leaseholders and their representatives, and with the threat of lease cancellation also being imposed.
     The petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to negotiate a fair lease agreement with all Crooked Lake cottage owners and homeowners who lease land from the Government of Canada.

Trans Mountain Pipeline  

    Mr. Speaker, because oil tanker traffic expansion in the Salish Sea threatens the local environment and local jobs, because there is no way to clean up diluted bitumen from marine environments, because the federal government failed to consult with first nation stakeholders and protect the endangered orca whale, and because people are appalled that the government spent $4.5 billion to pay off a Texas oil company, Kinder Morgan, to purchase a 65-year-old leaky pipeline, petitioners from Nanaimo, Lantzville, Ladysmith and Gabriola Island urge the government to cease construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

[Translation]

Rail Transportation  

    Mr. Speaker, I bet members can guess the subject of the petition I am tabling today.
    If ever there were a concrete example of what the government should do in terms of its economic agenda, it has to be high-frequency rail, or HFR, which would foster development, reduce greenhouse gases and help fight climate change.
    The government should link all municipalities between Quebec City and Windsor. VIA Rail is proposing this project following more and more studies. In addition, petitions will serve as a counterweight to the studies sitting on the minister's desk.
    Everyone in Trois-Rivières unanimously agrees that high-frequency rail cannot come soon enough.

Falun Dafa  

    Mr. Speaker, I am proud to present a petition on behalf of the people of Winnipeg Centre regarding Falun Dafa, which is practised in Canada and China.
    The petition calls on the Government of Canada to condemn the illegal arrests of Canadian citizens for practising Falun Dafa. It also calls for Canadian citizen Qian Sun to be released from prison.

[English]

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, as we know, Canada has the largest coastline in the world, and with a garbage truck of plastic entering our oceans every minute, constituents from Nanoose Bay, Qualicum Beach and Parksville have signed a petition in support of calling on the government to work with local governments, indigenous communities and provinces to develop a national strategy to combat plastic pollution entering our aquifers and our waterways.
    Petitioners are looking for regulations aimed at reducing plastic debris discharged from stormwater outfalls, the industrial use of microplastics and consumer and industrial use of single-use plastics, and permanent, dedicated, annual funding for the cleanup of derelict fishing gear, community-led projects to clean up plastics, and education and outreach campaigns. They are calling on the government to adopt Motion No. 151 to establish a national strategy to combat plastic pollution.

Canada Post  

    Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions today. The first is in support of postal banking. Nearly two million Canadians desperately need an alternative to payday lenders, because their crippling lending rates affect poor, marginalized, rural and indigenous communities most.
    We have 3,800 Canada Post outlets already in existence in rural and remote areas, where there are few or, very often, no banks. Canada Post already has the infrastructure to make a rapid transition to include postal banking. Therefore, the petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to enaction Motion No. 166 to create a committee to study and propose a plan for postal banking under the Canada Post Corporation.

  (1520)  

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, my second petition is in support of protecting the Thames River system. Petitioners are concerned because the Conservative government stripped environmental regulations covered in the Navigable Waters Protection Act, leaving hundreds of rivers vulnerable, including the Thames.
    The Liberal government has failed to keep its promise to reinstate environmental protections gutted from the original act. Therefore, petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to support my bill, Bill C-355, which would commit the government to prioritize the protection of the Thames River by amending the Navigation Protection Act.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise to present two petitions today, both emanating from within Saanich—Gulf Islands. The first was started by students at the Salt Spring Elementary School in support of an effort, which I think is widely supported in the House, to eliminate plastics polluting our oceans.
    The petitioners, being students in grades 4 and 5 on Salt Spring Island, cite the evidence, talk about how we are producing an unbelievable amount of trash, call for microplastics to be much better regulated and call for a ban on the sale of microplastics in cosmetics in Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is also from residents of Saanich—Gulf Islands, but particularly from around the area of the Saanich Inlet. For some time, petitioners have been calling for the Saanich Inlet to be added to a list of designated zones where the discharge of raw sewage is prohibited. This falls within the jurisdiction of the minister of transportation. The petitioners cite the fact that Saanich Inlet has virtually no flushing capacity and must be treated as an area of zero discharge.

Algoma Passenger Rail Service  

    Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, I have to stand in the House again to table a petition regarding the Algoma passenger train. Unfortunately, this train is still not in service. The Missanabie Cree First Nation-led Mask-wa Oo-ta-ban, which is the Bear Train, Ontario's first first-nation train, would contribute to reconciliation and first nation employment and economic opportunities.
    The petition goes on to indicate that the cancellation infringes on the federal government's obligation to consult with first nations. It also indicates that the train is an environmentally responsible way of transportation, especially given the challenge in northern Ontario, with Greyhound no longer providing services. It is important for regional health care and post secondary education as well. Let us not forget the economic impact of this, especially for the tourism sector.
    The citizens of Canada call upon the Minister of Transport to put the Algoma passenger train back in service to ensure the mission of Transport Canada, which is serve the public interest through the promotion of a safe, secure, efficient and environmentally responsible transportation system in Canada. The petitioners are looking for a meeting with the department.
     The petitioners are from Thessalon, Echo Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Batchawana Bay and Prince Township, and they want to have their voices heard here in the House.

Visitors' Visas  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure of presenting three petitions.
    The first petition is about visas for Ukrainian people visiting Canada from Ukraine. It is extremely important to the 18% of Ukrainian Canadians in my riding and the 1.3 million Ukrainian Canadians in the country.
    The petitioners are calling on Canada to recognize that Ukrainians now have biometric passports and can travel through Europe freely. Second, we have signed the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement. This would be an opportunity for granting Ukrainian nationals with biometric passports visa-free travel to Canada for periods of stay of up to 90 days, given Canada's long-standing relationship with Ukraine.

  (1525)  

Infrastructure  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is about infrastructure, which is extremely important to this government and to the citizens from Kildonan who signed the petition.
    The petitioners call on Canada to emphasize the importance of extending the Chief Peguis Trail from west of Main Street to Brookside Boulevard and of making it an immediate priority.

Canadian Heritage  

    Mr. Speaker, the third petition raises the issue, once again, of the decision by the previous Harper government to move artifacts from regions, from Manitoba, Alberta—
    Order. I would remind members that during petitions they are not to indicate that some parties are in favour of it, if they are in favour of it or that they are raising something. They are simply to tell the House what it is the petitioners are seeking.
     I would ask the member for Kildonan—St. Paul to wrap up very quickly.
    Mr. Speaker, I was just indicating that the petitioners are asking the government to reverse the decision made by the Harper government to bring artifacts to a central depot in central Canada and to respect local and regional priority for artifacts.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship  

    Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to table.
    The first petition contains 1,746 signatures. This petition was initiated by the students at UBC, who are calling on the government to amend the eligibility guidelines under the Canadian experience class express entry program to allow international students to count full-time paid-experiential and work-integrated learning experiences gained while they are full-time students as eligible work experience for their permanent resident status applications.

Iran  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition contains 1,820 names and was initiated by the Iranian community. The petitioners call on the government to open a visa application centre in Iran as a matter of utmost importance. They know that many of the applicants are unable to travel long distances to get the application outside of Iran, and they are calling on the government for action.
    The hon. member for Haldimand—Norfolk is rising on a point of order related to petitions.

Points of Order

Petitions  

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order to bring to your attention the fact that one year and five days ago, I rose in this House on the same issue on which I rise today, which is fair and reasonable access for all Canadians to participate fully in the democratic processes of this great institution. I am referring, as you pointed out, to the public paper petitions that we, as MPs, receive from Canadians right across this country on a variety of topics.
    As Speaker Gaspard Fauteux said, in 1947:
    All authorities agree that the right of petitioning parliament for redress of grievances is acknowledged as a fundamental principle of the constitution. It has been uninterruptedly exercised from very early times and has had a profound effect in determining the main forms of parliamentary procedure.
    This was later echoed by the Hon. James McGrath in his third report to the Special Committee on Reform of the House of Commons. He stated:
    Public petitions addressed to the House of Commons constitute one of the most direct means of communication between the people and Parliament. It is by this means that people can voice their concerns to the House on matters of public interest.
    As you will recall, I received a petition from constituents that was printed on paper that was 11 inches by 17 inches, or ledger size, and it was rejected by the clerk of petitions for not being on paper of the “usual size”, even though it had only been enlarged so that the constituents and petitioners could actually see what they were signing.
    What exactly does “usual size” mean? Some people would interpret that as legal or letter size paper, which is exactly what was decided by the clerk's office. However, “usual size” does not mean the same thing to all Canadians. As a matter of fact, this House has a history of accepting petitions printed on varying sizes of paper and getting those certified.
    On December 10, 1974, Mr. John Roberts, the member of Parliament for St. Paul's, successfully tabled a petition in the House of Commons that was on a single piece of paper that was over 370 feet long, longer than a Canadian football field. Then on April 6, 1982, Mr. Bill Domm, the MP for Peterborough, tabled a petition that was on paper 36 inches wide and three and a half miles long and weighed 247 pounds. In fact, it took all the pages and four MPs to carry it in. It included 135,327 signatures, making it the largest petition the Commons has ever received.
    A few years later, the House underwent major reforms to the Standing Orders, and one section addressed was petitions. Prior to these reforms, petitions were first presented in the House, and it was up to the MPs to make sure that they were in order. After tabling, the clerk would examine them to make sure that they complied and would report back, and that would be it.
    After the reforms, petitions were required to have a minimum of 25 valid signatures and to be examined before tabling, and the government had to respond within 45 days. However, notably, there were no changes to the size requirements.
    Mr. Speaker, my last point of order on this matter is your own ruling, in which you stated:
    The...House of Commons Procedure and Practice, at page 1166, states that only petitions printed on 21.5 centimetres by 28 centimetres, better known as 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches, or 21.5 centimetres by 35.5 centimetres, or 8 1/2 inches by 14 inches, sheets can be certified.
    Having said this, I can understand the member's frustration. Thus, I suggest she could raise the matter with the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which could, if it sees fit, consider changing the requirements for petitions.
    I dug a bit deeper, and with the Library's assistance, I learned that at no time has this House of Commons ever defined the term “usual size”. It would appear that this is only an interpretation of a specific size requirement, and it comes from officials and not from the members of this House.
    As for the standing committee, Mr. Speaker, I did take your advice, yet here we are, over one year later, and nothing has changed. The Liberals could have agreed to change the Standing Order after I rose on my last point of order, but they did not. The Liberals could have addressed this issue at PROC, but they did not. The Liberals again could have addressed this issue after I raised it once more in my speech on Bill C-81, but they did not. For a government that says it wants to make life easier for people living with disabilities, we are not seeing much action.

  (1530)  

    Take, for example, Bill C-81, the accessible Canada act, in its current version. There are no timelines and there is not even a coming-into-force date. This would allow the government to pass the bill and actually never do anything with it.
    We need to act now to make Canadians' lives better because, as the Minister of Accessibility said in her speech to this House on Bill C-81:
    We have to wait until individuals are denied a service, a job, a program, and then the system kicks in to determine if that denial was discriminatory. We literally have to wait until people are discriminated against before we can help them. These laws place the burden of advancing human rights on individuals.
    Today, I am proud to rise on behalf of those individuals with a petition that was rejected by the clerk of petitions because it was on ledger-size paper.
    There are two special features to today's petition. First, each signatory has some degree of visual impairment, which is why it is on ledger-size paper. It asks that the government amend Standing Order 36(1.1)(c). The second interesting feature is that it was signed by almost 200 parliamentarians, from all caucuses but one, in both Houses. I did invite members of the government side to join us in signing it, and I was very disappointed when they all refused.
    I do hope that this new research I am providing will help fix this unacceptable state of affairs. I know that no member of this House wants to make the lives of those living with disabilities any more burdensome, nor do they want to infringe on any Canadian's fundamental and constitutional rights.
    Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I believe that if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for me to table this petition calling on the government to amend Standing Order 36(1.1)(c).
    I thank the hon. member for Haldimand—Norfolk for her point of order and for a bit of a history lesson today.
    There are two parts to this. First of all, I will take her point of order under advisement and come back to the House on this question.
    In the meantime, does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to table a petition?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

  (1535)  

Petitions

Form of Paper Petitions  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to present a petition calling on the government to change Standing Order 36(1.1)(c) to enable people of all visual abilities to sign petitions to the government on paper in a size that they can actually read.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions to be allowed to stand.
    The Speaker: Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Government Orders]

[English]

Ways and Means

Motion No. 25  

     moved that a ways and means motion to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures be concurred in.
     Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
    Some hon. members: Yea.
    The Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.
    The Speaker: In my opinion the yeas have it.
    And five or more members having risen:
    The Speaker: Call in the members.

  (1615)  

[Translation]

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

(Division No. 907)

YEAS

Members

Aldag
Alghabra
Amos
Anandasangaree
Arseneault
Arya
Ayoub
Badawey
Bagnell
Bains
Baylis
Beech
Bennett
Bibeau
Bittle
Boissonnault
Bossio
Bratina
Breton
Brison
Caesar-Chavannes
Carr
Casey (Cumberland—Colchester)
Chagger
Champagne
Chen
Cuzner
Dabrusin
Damoff
DeCourcey
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Dzerowicz
Easter
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Ellis
Erskine-Smith
Eyking
Eyolfson
Fergus
Fillmore
Finnigan
Fonseca
Fragiskatos
Fraser (West Nova)
Fraser (Central Nova)
Garneau
Goldsmith-Jones
Goodale
Gould
Graham
Grewal
Hajdu
Hardie
Harvey
Hébert
Hehr
Hogg
Holland
Housefather
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Joly
Jones
Jordan
Jowhari
Kang
Khalid
Khera
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Lauzon (Argenteuil—La Petite-Nation)
LeBlanc
Lebouthillier
Lightbound
Lockhart
Long
Longfield
Ludwig
MacAulay (Cardigan)
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Maloney
Massé (Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia)
May (Cambridge)
McCrimmon
McDonald
McGuinty
McKay
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod (Northwest Territories)
Mendès
Mendicino
Mihychuk
Miller (Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs)
Monsef
Morneau
Morrissey
Murray
Nassif
Nault
Ng
O'Connell
Oliphant
Oliver
O'Regan
Ouellette
Paradis
Peschisolido
Peterson
Petitpas Taylor
Philpott
Picard
Poissant
Qualtrough
Ratansi
Rioux
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rogers
Romanado
Rota
Rudd
Ruimy
Rusnak
Sahota
Saini
Sajjan
Samson
Sangha
Sarai
Scarpaleggia
Schiefke
Schulte
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Sidhu (Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Sikand
Simms
Sorbara
Tabbara
Tan
Tassi
Tootoo
Trudeau
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Vaughan
Virani
Whalen
Wilkinson
Wilson-Raybould
Wrzesnewskyj
Yip
Young
Zahid

Total: -- 166


NAYS

Members

Aboultaif
Albas
Albrecht
Alleslev
Allison
Angus
Arnold
Aubin
Barsalou-Duval
Beaulieu
Benson
Benzen
Bergen
Bernier
Berthold
Blaikie
Blaney (North Island—Powell River)
Blaney (Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis)
Block
Boutin-Sweet
Brosseau
Calkins
Cannings
Caron
Carrie
Chong
Choquette
Christopherson
Clarke
Cooper
Cullen
Davies
Diotte
Doherty
Dreeshen
Dubé
Duvall
Eglinski
Falk (Provencher)
Fast
Finley
Gladu
Godin
Gourde
Hardcastle
Harder
Hoback
Hughes
Jeneroux
Johns
Jolibois
Julian
Kelly
Kent
Kitchen
Kusie
Kwan
Lake
Lauzon (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Laverdière
Leitch
Liepert
Lloyd
Lobb
Lukiwski
MacGregor
MacKenzie
Maguire
Malcolmson
Martel
Masse (Windsor West)
Mathyssen
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McColeman
McLeod (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo)
Miller (Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound)
Moore
Motz
Nantel
Nater
Nicholson
Obhrai
O'Toole
Paul-Hus
Poilievre
Quach
Rankin
Rayes
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Sansoucy
Saroya
Schmale
Shields
Shipley
Sorenson
Stanton
Strahl
Stubbs
Sweet
Thériault
Tilson
Trost
Van Kesteren
Vecchio
Wagantall
Warkentin
Waugh
Webber
Weir
Wong
Yurdiga

Total: -- 114


PAIRED

Members

Blair
Cormier
Fortier
Fortin
Gill
Plamondon

Total: -- 6


    I declare the motion carried.

[English]

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2

     moved that Bill C-86, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures, be read the first time and printed.

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

Criminal Code

    The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-84, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-84. I would first like to mention that I will be sharing my time with the member for Markham—Unionville.
    Bill C-84 seems to be another example of the government striking a valiant attempt to make a change, yet it is an incomplete attempt, much like most of the legislation we have seen coming forward from the government. Some of these previous shortcomings include Bill C-45, the cannabis bill, which just came into effect a few days ago. Even though that legislation was debated in the House and passed roughly a year ago, there still remain multiple enforcement agencies, municipalities, regional districts and first nations that agree it simply was not complete or ready. It did not give the provinces or municipalities time to prepare.
    After that was Bill C-46, the bill that dealt with impaired driving, which was tied to Bill C-45. We have now heard that because of the way Bill C-46 was drafted, there is no proof that the systems in place and the science and technology around identifying impairment, which was fairly standardized when it came to alcohol, are going to be effective when it comes to drugs. Not only do we have another piece of flawed legislation out there, but we have communities and enforcement agencies trying to scramble to figure out how to deal with that.
    The next piece of legislation I am familiar with is Bill C-71, the government's firearms legislation, which, in listening to its rhetoric, is aimed at reducing gun violence, gangs and so on. However, the bill does not mention gangs or gun violence at any point in time. All it talks about is registering firearms and making things worse for law-abiding firearms owners.
    The most current is probably Bill C-75, an act to amend the Criminal Code. That is a bill the government introduced to bring modernization to the Criminal Code. That bill has been bantered back and forth many times, but it is now at committee stage. My colleague from St. Albert—Edmonton is currently on the committee studying that bill, and members are looking at stacks and stacks of amendments to another government bill. I experienced the same thing when I sat in on the discussion on Bill C-69, when I happened to be substituting on that committee. I believe there were 600 amendments to that government bill. The bill was 300 pages long, and I believe 300 or 350 of those amendments came from the government side.
    I continuously see the government putting forward draft legislation for debate in this House that it has not thought through or consulted on properly, and it just ends up being hashed about at committee. We have seen the Senate return a number of bills to this House with amendments. Worst of all, we see communities, enforcement agencies and the public trying to figure out how they are going to manage or work around this poorly drafted legislation from the government.
    Turning back to Bill C-84, an act to amend the Criminal Code with respect to bestiality and animal fighting, I praise the government for bringing forward legislation to deal with this. I agree we need to do what we can, as legislators, to bring in legislation to protect people, protect the innocent and protect animals from the abuses we have seen. Also, to protect them from the ways criminals have been able to skirt the laws through definitions, different interpretations in the courts and so on. On that point, I will give the government credit for at least attempting to do something right.

  (1620)  

    When I look at this bill, I also see where it comes up short in some cases. I compare it to an insurance policy. I think everyone here has had an insurance policy and has taken a close look at it. Some have possibly made a claim through that insurance policy only to find out that the claim is denied because in the fine print something was excluded.
    We may get a chance to amend this bill in committee. Even though it is a short bill and one would not think it needs much amendment, I do not believe it is perfect and I will be talking to committee members about possible amendments going forward.
    When I see that the bill includes a phrase that basically bans the fighting or baiting of animals or birds, I question whether that is going to impact our provincial hunting regulations. I have not yet been able to have full discussion with anyone to determine this. In some provinces, it is completely legal and within ethical standards to plant crops to attract wildlife, such as deer and elk, to certain areas for hunting purposes. Those are perfectly accepted standards that continue to this day. In fact, many of those standards actually improve the chances of correct and humane harvest of those animals because they are at a baiting station.
    That is why I question the wording in this bill. I will be following through further on this to make sure that this bill, like many other bills the government has put forward, is not flawed after it gets through committee. I want to make sure we are protected in those ways.
    Another thing that troubles me with this bill is why it took the government almost a year to introduce its own bill that is identical in most ways to a bill introduced by a member from our side of the House, the member for Calgary Nose Hill. Her bill was introduced in December 2017, and yet the government sat on it and did not move it forward for debate. The government could have had this process done by now and given credit where credit was due, to the person who brought the issue forward.
    It seems to be a continuous mantra of the government to not do anything until it is caught not doing anything. We see it when we have witnesses appear at committee to give testimony. We see it in the Auditor General reports. It just seems to be a continuing theme.
    In fact, I had the same experience myself. I introduced a private member's bill a couple of years ago to recognize volunteers in search and rescue situations. Just a few weeks later the government announced that it was going to create service medals for search and rescue volunteers. Again, it was not doing anything until it got caught not doing anything.
    That is the case here. It is disappointing that the government has to be shown the way forward by members on our side. We see this quite often with the opposition day motions we bring forward. In fact, we had another one just last week. We put forward an opposition day motion that the Liberals could have easily acted on much sooner, but we had to force their hand by forcing the argument and putting it to them to make them step up to the plate. It is just another case of, as I said, not doing anything until they are caught not doing anything. Then they get caught in a bind and have to put out something that is not complete, not well-thought-out and not well-processed.
    With that, I am finished my comments. I know I will be receiving questions on this.

  (1625)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak on Bill C-84, an act to amend the Criminal Code, bestiality and animal fighting. While I am glad the issue is being addressed and I support this legislation. I am disappointed that it took so long for the Liberal government to act on these very simple, straightforward changes. On this side of the House, we have been asking for these changes for two years. We have been asking for the Liberal government to ensure that there is justice for these very disgusting crimes, and we are not alone. Thousands of Canadians have the same concerns and have been demanding that the government work to protect animals and victims of crime.
    I am glad the government finally took these thousands of Canadians seriously. Bill C-84 aims to protect children and animals from cruelty and abuse. We can all agree that protecting children should be one of our top priorities. I am glad that we are able to provide protection for children and animals while still making sure that we are not causing undue hardship on legitimate and traditional farming, hunting and trapping practices, including indigenous harvesting rights. We do not want to fix one problem while creating another and I am glad this bill would avoid that.
    Bill C-84 sets out to broaden the definition of bestiality in order to prohibit any contact for a sexual purpose between a person and an animal. The current definition of bestiality is very restrictive and has resulted in at least one charge being thrown out because the definition was too limited. We cannot allow any other cases to be thrown out simply because we have a definition that is so limited that criminals who prey on children and animals are not able to be convicted and sentenced.
    On this side of the House, we stand with and support victims rights. We have been demanding that the government take action on this issue. In fact, almost a year ago, in December of 2017, my colleague, the member for Calgary Nose Hill introduced a piece of legislation that was exactly the same as the current piece of legislation. We knew that changes needed to be made a long time ago and we tried to address them. I am glad that we are addressing them now, but we could have avoided criminals slipping through the loophole that exists for sexual abusers over the past year if this important issue had been addressed much sooner.
    The bill would also prohibit the ability to profit from or keep any facility for the purpose of animal fighting. Right now, the Criminal Code does address animal cruelty and specifically animal fighting, but this bill would help to expand the protection of animals and capture all activities related to animal fighting. That means that anyone who promotes, arranges or takes part in animal fighting or the baiting of animals would be committing a crime. Also, anyone who profits from animal fighting would be committing a crime.
    It would also be against the law under this new piece of legislation to breed, train or transport animals for the purpose of animal fighting and anyone who is found to be building or maintaining any arena for animal fighting would be committing a crime. Right now, the current definition only references a cockpit, which is a place used for cockfighting, but it does not address the fighting of other animals. Under this bill, all arenas for all types of animal fighting would be captured.

  (1630)  

    One thing that does worry me about this legislation, though, is whether it will be passed by the time the House of Commons rises in June of next year. I am concerned that the government will not prioritize this legislation and ensure that it passes quickly. If this does not pass before June, it will have to be reintroduced, leaving an opportunity for further cases and criminals to slip through the loopholes of the existing legislation and definitions. That will mean that dangerous criminals who prey on children and animals may not be punished for their crimes simply because the bill did not become law quickly enough. I do not want to see that happen.
    Again, it is so very important for this Parliament and the government to increase the protection for children and vulnerable individuals who may be compelled by another person to commit or witness sexual acts with animals.
    Protecting children should always be a top priority, so I am glad to see this bill addressing the shortfalls that currently exist in that area. It is aIso important that we ensure that animals are protected from violence and cruelty, which the bill does set out to do. I am supportive of that as well.
    I hope that the government can provide assurances to the House that the bill will be a priority and that these changes will be made as quickly as possible.
     In conclusion, I will again state that I support the bill and I am glad that we are addressing these important changes. However, I am concerned about the timing and the lack of urgency that we have seen from the government on this issue.

  (1635)  

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that the member opposite seems to be very supportive of the legislation, and hopefully the opposition parties will assist us in ultimately passing the bill. I always find it interesting when members, particularly from the Conservative Party, stand to say that something was a part of the Harper agenda, but they never quite took it across the goal line, because it was legislation in the making.
    I would like to assure my friend across the way that the legislation we are putting forward today has been worked on for a number of months already, and a number of stakeholders have had the opportunity to get engaged in it. The broader issue of pets has sensitized Canadians to the importance of the legislation. No longer is it just dogs, cats and birds, but see more and more different types of animals becoming pets, so Canadians as a whole are sensitive to this issue.
    Am I to believe that the Conservative Party would like speedy passage of this legislation?
    Mr. Speaker, we will be supporting this legislation, and the sooner the better from our point of view. We want to make sure that it passes before June of next year. Otherwise, someone will have to reintroduce the bill.
    This is exactly the same legislation as was introduced in December 2017 by the member for Calgary Nose Hill. The legislation is exactly the same. We supported it in December last year and are supporting it now. We just want to make sure that we are speaking the same language.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the support. I can assure the member that if he were to go through the legislation, he would see that it is far broader than what his Conservative colleague brought forward. There are some substantial differences, and I assume that his support is for all aspects of the legislation we are debating today and that the Conservative Party would be supportive of quick passage, meaning there would be a very limited number of Conservatives who are prepared to speak on it. That would enable the bill to pass faster.
    Mr. Speaker, absolutely. As I mentioned earlier, as far as I am concerned, it is exactly the same legislation. We will be supporting it at as soon as possible on our end.
    Before we go to resuming debate, it is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Vancouver East, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship; the hon. member for Drummond, Natural Resources; and the hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, International Development.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Mississauga East—Cooksville.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Davenport.
    What this bill brings forward is a balance: more protections for animals against animal cruelty, and also an understanding of the important work that farmers need to do.
    We are going to talk a lot about the legislation, but nothing brings it more to life than a story. I was listening to the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford talking about Teddy the dog and the abuse it suffered and how the community has rallied. We have heard from citizens from coast to coast to coast how important this is. That is significant. We know these stories have happened in all of our ridings and it is important for us to protect those who do not have a voice, our animals. That is why it brings me great pleasure to be able to speak to Bill C-84, an act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting). This bill proposes several amendments to the Criminal Code to improve and expand the law in respect of these two issues.
    Historically, discussions surrounding the criminalization of certain types of behaviours toward animals have tended to generate significant controversy and strong passion on various sides. As we experienced during the second reading debate on Bill C-246, the modernizing animal protections act, it is not always easy to reconcile competing interests in this area of the law. Despite the challenges we see time and again on these broader questions, I believe it is important, as a starting point, to recognize that the measures proposed in this bill focus on two issues that enjoy broad support. In fact, I understand that a wide variety of stakeholder groups have written to the Minister of Justice in support of these specific proposals. In addition to the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, and a diverse range of stakeholders from the agriculture sector have equally expressed their support, again striking the right balance.
     It is clear that there is more we can do as parliamentarians to protect animals and to condemn those who intentionally subject them to harm. When we can all come together, we can get important things done. That is precisely what this bill seeks to do. Bill C-84 seeks to better protect children and other vulnerable persons and animals in a couple of different ways.
    First, there are amendments to existing offences in relation to animal fighting. Causing animals to fight each other is generally done for the economic gain of some people and the entertainment of others. In all of its manifestations, it is an abhorrent behaviour that has no place in Canadian society. It has long been prohibited under criminal law. Animal fighting can be a complex enterprise involving many people at different stages of the operation. Because there are a variety of activities carried out by numerous different people, possibly in different places, it can make it challenging to define the scope of the offence and to prosecute those offenders. In fact, animal fighting has been shown to be linked to organized crime. We might suspect the reason for this is that it is a profit-generating activity, which is what criminal organizations are only interested in. This potential link with organized crime is yet another reason to take seriously the measures proposed in this bill.
    Criminal law seeks to define offences by identifying specific actions that are prohibited. The time has come to update the existing prohibitions to ensure that all of the various activities done in support of animal fighting are clearly prohibited. That is precisely what this bill does. The existing offence in paragraph 445.1(1)(b) of the Criminal Code prohibits encouraging, aiding or assisting the fighting of animals. The problem with this is that it is not entirely clear what conduct is or is not prohibited. Therefore, the bill would expand this offence so that it would expressly prohibit a range of additional activities that are done in support of animal fighting. It would add the following to the list of prohibited activities: promoting, arranging, receiving money and taking part in animal fighting, as well as training, transporting or breeding an animal for the purpose of fighting.

  (1640)  

    The objective of such reforms is to more clearly define what conduct is prohibited in order to facilitate the investigation and prosecution of these offences. Related enforcement actions would be facilitated, because it will be very clear when behaviour is criminal and when it is not. Enforcement bodies will not have to ask themselves whether breeding animals for the purpose of fighting or receiving money from animal fighting are prohibited since the various links on the chain of an animal fighting operation will now all be set out very clearly.
    This change would greatly benefit the animals that are deliberately subjected to harm in the most brutal of ways for human entertainment and profit. There is no social value to these activities, only cruelty for its own sake.
    It is vital that the law be clear, that animals be protected from the full range of activities that are done in support of animal fighting, and that law enforcement be equipped to detect and stop this crime at whatever stage they find it.
    A related amendment is a proposed change to the offence of keeping a cockpit, dealt with in section 447 of the Criminal Code. The narrow scope of this offence is likely a result of the historical era in which it was enacted, a time when animal fighting would have primarily involved cockfighting.
    Today we know that animal fighting can take other forms, most notably dog fighting. Bill C-84 would therefore broaden the current offence so that individuals who make or maintain arenas that are intended to be used in fighting by any type of animal are subject to criminal law.
    I would also note that research continues to show a correlation between animal cruelty and other forms of criminality and violence. While these proposed reforms target one form of animal cruelty, the broader context remains relevant. Where individuals participate in the senseless brutalization of animals, this kind of behaviour represents a threat to public safety that we must all be concerned about.
    The other major component of this legislation addresses bestiality. There have always been offences prohibiting bestiality in the Criminal Code, including prohibiting the compelling of a person to engage in bestiality and inciting a person under 16 years of age to engage in bestiality or engaging in it in the presence of an individual, as dealt with in section 160 of the Criminal Code.
    However, there is currently no definition of bestiality in the Criminal Code. In the 2016 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. D.L.W., the court held that the common law definition of bestiality is limited to sex acts with animals that involve penetration. This ruling generated a lot of commentary, with many Canadians feeling that it left out many of the offences and forms of behaviour that are harmful and equally deserving of prohibition.
    While interpreting these offences is in the domain of the courts, creating new offences or expanding the scope of the existing ones is something that only Parliament can do, and this is precisely what Bill C-84 proposes to do. The bill proposes to amend the relevant section, section 160, to define bestiality for the first time in the Criminal Code.
    It is entirely appropriate for Parliament to define the scope of key terms in criminal offences, as this is in fact what defines the scope of criminal conduct. It is our responsibility not just to ensure clarity in the scope of criminal offences, but also to ensure that the scope of criminal offences keeps up with modern times and adequately protects the public from offensive behaviour in a way that is consistent with our collective values.
    I am confident that Canadians will support these proposed measures, which aim to clearly identify as unacceptable certain forms of conduct that are harmful to animals, to children and to the whole of society.
    I urge all members to support this legislation to ensure its swift passage. This is the right piece of legislation that will bring that balance by protecting animals from cruelty and also ensuring that farmers will be able to do their jobs. Stakeholders are onside. It is time to move forward.

  (1645)  

    Mr. Speaker, the member is asking all members to support the bill, and I think we all are. We are supporting it because it is the right thing. It is so tepid and timid that it does not go far enough. We had a private member's bill before us a couple of years ago that perhaps went too far. Perhaps it bit off more than it could chew, as someone said today.
    Does the member not think the government could have tackled some of the things Canadians really cared about, such as the care of animals and the egregious mistreatment of them, without treading on the rights of business, farmers, fishers, hunters and trappers? Those sorts of concerns were put forward about the previous bill. It could have answered some of the questions Canadians had around the egregious examples of terrible behaviour in the treatment of animals in some instances. We have to attack these things with the bill, but the Liberals have left them out.

  (1650)  

    Mr. Speaker, I could feel in the words of the member the passion for our animals and their protection. The bill provides the right balance between protecting our animals, keeping them away from animal cruelty, and marrying that with the work that farmers and others need to do. It also provides many of the stakeholders the ability through law enforcement to have some teeth and come down with the full force of the law on those who break these laws and commit these atrocious acts.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, we cannot oppose a good thing. It is quite clear that this bill makes good sense. However, I find it rather sad because it is like changing the wipers on a lemon with a flat tire.
    Animal welfare is the subject of many conversations. There is a legal grey area. There are animals that are mistreated and even tortured. We have seen so many farms where conditions were just deplorable. I can hardly believe people treat animals that way. An animal should have rights and not be treated like property or merchandise. That is a simple idea.
    It is a little surprising to see a government reject a private member's bill from one of its own and then present an abbreviated version that does not reflect the reality of people with animals, both those who love them and those who torture them.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, through a great deal of consultation, reaching out to stakeholders and understanding what needed to be fixed, the bill closes the gap. The minister has committed to continuing that work and the conversation as we modernize the Criminal Code. This continues.
     If passed, it will bring in the penalties through law enforcement to clamp down and fight against those who do these despicable acts, doing harmful things to animals. The stakeholders are on board. That includes all stakeholders from the agriculture side as well as animal groups. It has the right balance and the teeth to do its job.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-84, an act to amend the Criminal Code, bestiality and animal fighting.
    Animal rights, updated animal cruelty laws and anything to do with taking care of our animals are very important to Davenport residents, so I felt it was important for me to speak to the bill.
     I have received hundreds of letters over the years since I have been elected and a number of calls to action around improving our animal cruelty laws and many of the issues that have been talked about in the House in our discussion on Bill C-84.
    Before I begin my formal remarks, I want to acknowledge the work of my colleague from Beaches—East York who introduced Bill C-246 two years ago. This proposed legislation was intended to modernize many aspects of Canada's animal cruelty laws. While the bill was ultimately defeated, I did vote in favour of it, not only because of the overwhelming support of it by Davenport residents but because I personally felt the time had come for us, on a fairly big scale, to update the legislation in a number of ways.
     However, it was partly due to the member's efforts that the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada committed to review the animal cruelty offences. She engaged in a broad public consultation that led to proposing Bill C-84, which is what I will speak on today. I will focus on a couple of areas.
    I think we can agree that bestiality, its links to child sexual abuse, cruelty to animals and the issue of animal fighting are major concerns in Canada. Therefore, Bill C-84 proposes to do a few things, including providing a clear definition for bestiality as well as strengthen and modernize Canada's animal fighting laws. I will focus on these two issues in the bill, which have broad support.
    First, Bill C-84 would fill a gap identified as a result of the 2016 Supreme Court of Canada's decision in the case of R v. D.L.W. in relation to the prohibition of acts of bestiality. In the D.L.W. decision, the Supreme Court was asked to interpret the scope of the bestiality offence under the Criminal Code. Surprisingly, it was found that the Criminal Code did not contain a definition of bestiality.
     In considering the origins and historical evolution of the common law bestiality provision, the court stated that penetration had always been one of the central elements of the offence. The court refused to interpret bestiality in such a way as to broaden its scope, saying that the decision to broaden the definition fell squarely within the responsibility of Parliament. The Supreme Court decision in the D.L.W. case allowed us to identify a gap in the law that the bestiality offences in force did not apply to persons who committed sexual acts with non-penetrating animals, even in the presence of children or with children.
    Many stakeholders, including child and animal advocates and even some provincial governments, urged the federal government to act on the D.L.W. decision and to fill deficiencies identified by the Supreme Court. The first amendment proposed in the bill therefore is to define the term “bestiality” in the Criminal Code to prohibit “any contact, for a sexual purpose, with an animal”. This proposed legislative amendment will serve several important purposes, such as the protection of children and other vulnerable persons who may witness or be forced to witness an act of bestiality.
    The proposed legislative amendment contains a strong public safety component. Research shows that violence, including sexual violence against women and children and violence against animals, are not separate and distinct issues. Rather, they are part of a broader context of violence that is inextricably linked.
     In fact, research conducted by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection on images of child sexual exploitation on websites reported that between 2002 and 2009, 35% of all images analyzed involved serious sexual assault, including bondage or sexual servitude, torture and bestiality. This data demonstrated that there was a clear link between bestiality, child sexual abuse and other forms of violence.
    In addition, since the D.L.W. decision, the case law analysis on this issue also revealed numerous cases where offenders convicted of possession of child pornography were sadly viewing images of children aged one to 16 engaging in bestiality acts.
     Case law further demonstrates that when sexual violence against a child involves an animal, the level of criminal behaviour may be particularly serious, and acts of sexual violence committed do not always involve penetration.

  (1655)  

    Since the D.L.W. decision, bestiality offences under the Criminal Code do not apply in cases where the offender commits sexual acts with non-penetrating animals. The impact is that animals are only protected from non-penetrative sexual acts by persons when the sexual act causes physical injury to the animal and is therefore an offence for cruelty to animals. Likewise, children are only protected from being compelled to commit or witness acts of bestiality without penetration when other sexual offences against the child apply.
    Bill C-84's proposal to define bestiality fills this gap by making it clear that all acts of sex with animals are prohibited under the bestiality provisions of Canada regardless of the circumstances. In other words, society has no legitimate interest in allowing people to commit sexual acts with animals, especially in the presence of children or with their participation. The bill proposes to define bestiality as “any contact, for a sexual purpose, with an animal”.
    The meaning of this sentence is well understood and established in law. This expression is found in several other provisions of the Criminal Code, such as child pornography, luring on the Internet and making sexually explicit material available to a child.
     In the 2001 Sharpe decision, the Supreme Court of Canada interpreted the sentence in the context of the child pornography offence to mean that the act, viewed objectively, was committed for the sexual gratification of the involved child. It would be noted that the proposed definition clearly would not intended for animal breeding activities such as artificial insemination.
     I would now like to highlight the provisions in the bill to strengthen Canada's animal fighting laws.
     At the moment, the Criminal Code prohibits anyone from encouraging or assisting in the fighting or harassment of animals and anyone who constructs and maintains an arena for cock fighting on the premises that the person owns or occupies or to permit such an arena to be constructed, maintained or guarded on those premises. The bill would ensure that all activities contributing to animal fighting would be prohibited and that all animals would be entitled to the same protection. This would be achieved by amending section 445.1 of the Criminal Code to prohibit a wider range of activities, such as promoting, organizing and participating in animal fights.
    In addition, Bill C-84 would ensure that section 447 would prohibit all arenas of animal fighting, not only those that would be committed to cock fighting. While there are no reliable statistics on the extent of animal fighting in Canada, given the clandestine nature, we know that animal fighting activities are often related to organized crime, including illegal gambling, trafficking, illicit drugs and weapons. Although cock fighting has become a thing of the past in Canada, the incidence of other forms of animal fighting, particularly those including dogs, has increased.
     The animal fighting offence reforms proposed in the bill will achieve a number of important goals, including the following two. They will make it clear that all forms of animal fighting are prohibited. They will strengthen our ability to bring to justice those who commit these heinous crimes and to track the number of cases.
    I would like to point out that the broadening of the scope of animal welfare offences does not involve legitimate activities such as hunting, training or the use of dogs for protection purposes. Rather, it targets acts of gratuitous violence that have no place and no legitimate purpose in our country.
     Although this is a relatively short bill, the proposed amendments are necessary to fill real gaps in the criminal law.
    In short, the bill is part of the firm commitment of the Minister of Justice to examine and strengthen the animal cruelty laws. I hope all members of Parliament will join me in supporting the proposed reforms. I encourage all members of the House to unanimously support the speedy passage of Bill C-84.

  (1700)  

    Mr. Speaker, I want to reiterate what I asked the previous speaker. This bill is based on a private member's bill, kind of an omnibus bill, about animal welfare and cruelty to animals that perhaps tried to do too many things at once. The government has taken two very simple parts of that bill and put them into Bill C-84. As my colleague from Longueuil said, it is sort of like motherhood and apple pie and, of course, everybody here is going to agree with that.
    However, why did the government not do the perhaps more difficult work of broadening the scope to other real animal cruelty issues around the care of animals without getting into the problems of fishers, hunters, trappers and farmers doing their business in proper ways? We could easily have language in the bill that would protect those activities while getting at true animal cruelty, which this bill does not cover at all, even though in her speech, the member seemed to suggest that it does. It is only about bestiality and animal fighting, two things we can all agree are not proper things for Canadians to do. We should have tackled the broader subject.

  (1705)  

    Mr. Speaker, I share the member's concern. While the bill only addresses two areas, I believe they are two important areas for us to address. The consultation was done very well and we have landed in the exact place we need to be.
    As I mentioned at the beginning of my speech, I supported Bill C-246 which the member for Beaches—East York introduced in the House two years ago. I would like far more aggressive work done to protect animals in terms of the cruelty inflicted on them for years. I am not going to stop pushing the government to do better and for us to do more. It is important to Davenport residents and to me.
     Is the House ready for the question?
    Some hon. members: Question.
    The Deputy Speaker: The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Deputy Speaker: I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

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

Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act

    He said: Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by adding my voice to the eloquent words of others earlier on in the House today expressing their horror at the tragedy in Pittsburgh over the weekend taking lives only because Jews were targeted. I will say more about this later on in my remarks because this is my community. I will talk about the ties between Israel and Canada which are based on family, friendship, shared values and understanding the importance of these relationships in an uncertain world.
    I rise in the House today in support of legislation to implement the modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, or CIFTA.
    As Minister of International Trade Diversification, I can attest that today, more than ever, we need to diversify our trade and tap new markets so that more Canadians can compete and succeed worldwide. This government has secured the North American platform with the new USMCA. When we add to that the Canada-European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, CETA, in place since last year, and the now ratified Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, that platform actually extends east and west, from Tokyo to Tallinn.
     In CETA's first year, Canadians have added $1.1 billion in increased exports to Europe. With 500 million European consumers at our doorstep, that number is sure to grow. In the fast-growing Asia-Pacific markets, the CPTPP will add a further 500 million consumers to Canada's ever-increasing network of free trade.
    Canada is now the only G7 country with free trade links to all of the others. Think about the importance of that reality. We have 41 FTAs connecting us to 1.5 billion of the world's consumers. lnvestors recognize how important this is. FTAs are the bridges, but to truly realize the opportunity we have created, we need people, the entrepreneurs and first-time exporters, to cross those bridges. Our diversity is our economic strength.
    Canada and Israel have long been connected through the power of people-to-people ties, a shared commitment to democracy and a friendship that started 70 years ago when Israel became a nation. It continues to grow with each passing year.
     Israel is the home of the Jewish people and if we needed reminding why this is so important, why affirming and reaffirming our bonds is so important, we horrifically saw why when on Saturday, 11 worshippers were killed in Pittsburgh only because they were Jewish.
     Jewish people have been in Canada since 1759 and now our community of more than 350,000 continues to contribute impressively to our national mosaic. My grandparents came to Canada in 1906, escaping the pogroms of the tsar. They were persecuted only because they were Jewish. That is yet another reason to underline the importance of security to the State of Israel.
     I have visited Israel many times and made my first trip as Canada's Minister of International Trade Diversification in August. Canada and Israel have forged a partnership that continues to deepen with each passing year. Strengthening those bonds depends on constant renewal, which is why our government recently modernized the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement. The agreement creates opportunities for Canadians and Israelis to partner in the growing fields of science, technology and innovation across our vibrant markets. The agreement has the potential for more people to work together, creating well-paying jobs for hard-working Canadians as a result.
    Bill C-85 before the House today stands as testimony to Canada's and Israel's shared commitment to maintain openness, celebrate our friendship and expand our links so that more of our people and more of our businesses can benefit from them.

  (1710)  

    I am especially pleased that this modernized trade agreement strengthens our commercial ties, generating more business for both our countries. When Israeli Minister of Economy and Industry Eli Cohen travelled to Canada this year to sign our modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, we built on that partnership. We committed to a forward-looking framework for trade that expanded meaningful access to each other's markets and introduced chapters on gender, labour, environmental protection, and support for small and medium-sized enterprises. Minister Cohen said at that time, “We are witnessing a historical step in the trade relations between the two countries with the signing of the upgraded agreement.”
    In some respects Minister Cohen was even a little understated. We expanded market access for more Canadians and Israelis, but we also pushed the envelope by writing new international law, putting an end to inequality of access to job-creating trade and investment. The new chapters on gender, the environment and labour are explicitly about growing our trading relationship while expanding access for those who did not necessarily see themselves or their values reflected in the agreements of the past.
    There is enormous untapped economic potential, but for too long we have focused on the few and not on the many. We are changing that. We are encouraging more of these would-be exporters to get in the game, and these chapters are about showing workers and their families that trade can work for them. Israel is clearly thinking longer term to future-proof its own economy, taking full advantage of its entrepreneurial spirit to develop a high-tech industry and to promote clean technologies.
    Israelis have every right to tout the initiatives launched by the Israel Innovation Authority to drive public sector innovation. We see room to expand Canadian-Israeli business partnerships, innovating our way into greater prosperity.
    Since the original CIFTA came into force in 1997, merchandising trade between Canada and Israel has more than tripled, reaching $1.7 billion in 2017. This demonstrates the importance of trade agreements to bilateral trade.
    The modernized CIFTA will open new doors and make Canadian goods more competitive in the Israeli market. For example, in this new agreement, we have expanded market access for goods by eliminating tariffs on nearly all products traded between Canada and Israel, nearly all products. This will make Canadian agri-food, agriculture, fish and seafood products more competitive in the Israeli market, benefiting a range of companies in all those sectors.
    We have also negotiated rules that are designed to address non-tariff barriers, facilitate trade, make it more predictable, and reduce red tape, including some of the costs to companies for doing business. The modernized CIFTA also adopts a new framework that includes chapters on trade and gender, small and medium enterprises, labour and the environment, as well as a new provision on corporate social responsibility.
    The modernized agreement reflects who we are as vibrant, diverse, open and democratic societies. This agreement is not only for today but for future generations.
    The new chapters on trade and gender and on small and medium enterprises ensure that the benefits and opportunities that flow from trade and investment are more widely shared. Both chapters provide frameworks for Canada and Israel to work together to encourage women and small and medium enterprises to take full advantage of this agreement.
    The new chapter on environment includes robust commitments so that parties maintain high levels of environmental protection, while liberalizing trade. This is in line with other Canadian FTAs, including more environmental governance. This is the first environmental chapter that Israel has ever agreed to in a free trade agreement.
     Canada and Israel also agreed to a chapter on labour that includes comprehensive and enforceable obligations to protect and promote internationally recognized labour principles and rights. The labour chapter recognizes that economic development is not achieved at the expense of workers' rights, backed by an enforceable dispute settlement mechanism.
    A modernized CIFTA shows the world that we put our people first and are committed to embracing that value as an economic strength.

  (1715)  

    One in six Canadian jobs are directly linked to exports, and that is one of the reasons we are so committed to expanding the pie for all Canadians. The more bridges we build, the more opportunities there are for people to cross those bridges with goods, services and investments.
     For those here today who may not know, Israel has a long-standing reputation for technological prowess, with a well-developed scientific and educational base. We see room to expand and build partnerships in these sectors and many others. There are exciting opportunities for Canadian companies in sectors such as aerospace, smart mobility, sustainable technologies, information and communications technology, life sciences and energy.
    There are also great prospects for joint research and development. For example, Canadian and Israeli firms have joined forces to develop an ultraviolet water monitoring system that ensures the safety of drinking water. There are even more possibilities on the horizon that will change countless lives in communities across the globe. When I was in Tel Aviv in September, I announced a pilot program to facilitate new cybersecurity solutions for the energy sector, matching expertise in areas like anti-hacking with the needs of Canada's natural gas delivery companies.
    With so much potential and opportunity on both sides, it simply makes sense that we work together and knit our economies even tighter. Not surprisingly, the government's consultations, in the context of the negotiations, have consistently revealed support for a modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement. Canadians want to do more business in and with Israel in the years ahead. A modernized free trade agreement between our countries is a surefire way to make that happen. Our competitiveness depends on small and medium-sized enterprises pursuing trade opportunities and for us to support them in doing so.
    The Prime Minister has prioritized, in my mandate as minister of international trade and diversification, support for Canadian businesses to take advantage of the opportunities that flow after trade agreements are signed, including by drawing on resources from across government and from public and private sector partners.
    In order for the benefits of FTAs to be fully realized, Canadian businesses need to be aware of the agreements and the benefits they offer. Once ratified, I will work hard to promote awareness of the modernized agreement so would-be exporters have the information they need to get into the market.
    My department has mobilized a free trade agreement promotion task force that is undertaking a comprehensive outreach and training program for the business community. Efforts of the task force are currently focused on flagship agreements, like Canada's trade agreement with the European Union, or CETA, and the CPTPP, which last week received royal assent and was subsequently ratified. I want to pause here and thank all members of the House who co-operated so fully to ensure that Canada was among the first tranche to ratify, which gives us a first advantage that will be meaningful for our entrepreneurs and our exporters, and ultimately will create jobs for Canadians.
    Once CIFTA is ratified, I will ensure this promotion work is extended to this agreement too. At the same time, Canadian companies can access the free services and export advice offered by the Canadian trade commissioner service, TCS, which is 1,000 strong around the world. The TCS helps Canadian companies export by preparing businesses for international markets, providing market potential assessments, offering connections to qualified contacts abroad and assisting in resolving business problems.
    The CanExport program, which is delivered by the TCS in partnership with the National Research Council industrial research assistance program, helps Canadians take the practical and necessary steps to make their first sale overseas. This five-year, $50-million program provides direct financial assistance to Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises to make that happen. In June 2018, the government announced an additional $40 million for the CanExport program. The new funding, along with enhancements to the program, will provide Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises with more opportunities to diversify their export markets, including to Israel.
    Now we need to give life to our agreement by taking advantage of the two-way trade between our knowledge-based, innovation-driven economies.

  (1720)  

    With our expanded air transport agreement, we need more travel between our two countries and the flights to support it.
    There are ample reasons to be optimistic about our future. Not only does working together support economic prosperity and job creation in both countries, it raises the international bar for the rules-based and inclusive trading order on which economies like ours depend. This is yet another example where two states recognize that our future prosperity depends on liberalized trade.
    We know in Canada that there are protectionist forces and that is why we convened 12 nations just last week to push for concrete reforms to the WTO so that the future of global trade is put on a better footing.
    We need more partnerships in the world that reflect this approach and the approach we have taken with Israel in CIFTA.
    We need to create the conditions for small and medium-sized businesses to compete and succeed because they are the lifeblood of both of our economies.
    Going about the business of trade differently is not just about exporting values, it is about adding value to our respective bottom lines. We can only do that if we focus on the middle class and the confidence they need to make their first international sale or deal.
    Our modernized trade agreement is an example of what happens when two governments decide to put the middle class at the heart of our trade agenda.
    I therefore urge all hon. members to support Bill C-85 and thereby enable Canada to do its part to bring the modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement into force in a timely way.

  (1725)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the minister for getting set to renew the agreement.
    For 20 years, we have seen the growth of our two nations expand to about $1.7 billion last year. We needed a new agreement. It has been four years in the making. This agreement is important to the economics of Canada and to small businesses.
    I wonder if the minister could explain to me if he thinks that we will be as competitive with our neighbours and Israel with the carbon tax placed on Canadian businesses? Does he think that will harm our competitive edge with companies and corporations in Israel?
    Mr. Speaker, I had several opportunities over the last number of weeks to talk to international business leaders about Canada's competitiveness. They said to me that, on regulation and on taxation, it is a bit of a wash. One could make an argument one way or another that the United States or Canada might be more competitive.
    What really struck me was when I heard that Canada's greatest competitive advantage is its immigration policy. Our labour pool is made up not only of those who live in Canada but those who live around the world and who are attracted to come to Canada, some of whom are coming from the United States.
    As a competitive advantage, I thought that was quite an insight from an entrepreneur, a woman CEO, who makes decisions all the time about where to invest capital. She wanted to look at particular ways of enhancing her company's footprint in Canada and cited the most important reason to be our immigration policy.
    It has not come up in my conversations—
    Order. Questions and comments, the hon. member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay.
    Mr. Speaker, as the natural resources critic over here, I enjoyed my time with the minister when he had that file. I wish him well in foreign trade diversification.
    Considering that the UN Security Council has Resolution 2334, which calls upon all states to distinguish between the territory of Israel and the occupied territories since 1967, and since our own government has a policy that Israel does not have permanent sovereignty over those occupied territories, would it not respect our own policy and our international obligations to do what the European Union has demanded of Israel since 2015, and that is on its exports to label products as to whether they are from those occupied territories or from the state of Israel so that Canadians can see where they originated and we are able to live up to our obligations?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for his spirit of collegiality. When he was critic and I was minister of natural resources, we travelled to many places around the world. I have learned from him and really do value his friendship.
    On the issue of territoriality, no amendments were made to CIFTA's original definition of Israel's territory. The territorial scope of application of the modernized CIFTA will continue to be the territory where Israel's customs laws apply. As such, qualifying trade with Canada from the West Bank and Gaza Strip can also benefit from preferred access.

[Translation]

    I was a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade for two and a half years and I also had the opportunity to visit Israel, which is a very interesting country.
    There are indeed a lot of trade ties between Israel and Canada, some of which should be further developed. It is good to see that we are able to update the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement.
    I am addressing the people of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles. I hope some of them are watching.
    I would like the minister to explain how this update to the free trade agreement could benefit the people of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, who are obviously part of the middle class.
    In my riding, there really are a lot of SMEs. The aerospace industry has a big presence in the Lower Laurentians area and an artificial intelligence supercluster was set up in the Montreal area. There are others in my riding. You said earlier that SMEs in aerospace and AI were the “the lifeblood of our economy” and that “it is about adding value”.
    I would like the minister to explain how this will benefit the people of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles.

  (1730)  

    The member used the word “you” again, but I am not the one talking; the minister is. I would remind the member that she must address the Chair.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the observation, because it is really at the heart of why we sign trade agreements. We talk a lot in Canada, and so we should, about how we distribute our wealth. We have robust discussions about how much should go to health care, to infrastructure or to universities, and I might argue that more should go to symphony orchestras, but we do not spend an awful lot of time talking about wealth creation. It is the creators of wealth who can take advantage of these bridges that we construct through trade agreements.
    What does “creating wealth” mean? It means creating jobs. Therefore, all of our constituents stand to benefit from trade agreements that create growth and wealth that produce jobs for Canadians. I would easily be comfortable making the argument that in all 338 constituencies across Canada, men and women stand to benefit from this agreement because this agreement will lead to wealth, growth and jobs.
    Madam Speaker, the minister just spoke about the significant potential and offers of diverse commercial opportunities for Canadian businesses, but we need to communicate with businesses. We need to ensure small and large businesses in Canada understand what CIFTA is all about.
    I wonder if the minister could explain to me what program is in place or is anticipated to be put in place to educate and inform small businesses across Canada.
    Madam Speaker, it is extremely important. Historically, we have left too much on the table and have not encouraged enough, made aware enough or nurtured enough small and medium-sized enterprises to take full advantage of these opportunities, so we will do more. Over the coming months, we will talk to Canadians about how we will do more, understanding exactly what the hon. member has highlighted in a very important way, that first comes awareness and then comes capacity. Our government will help with both.
    Madam Speaker, I just want to clarify the question I posed to the minister a moment ago. He seemed to think it was about restricting the geographical scope of CIFTA, but that is not what I was asking. I want the businesses and people in Gaza and the West Bank to benefit from CIFTA as well. I was just asking that we live up to our international obligations in our own policies and do what Europe has been doing for the last three years, which is asking Israel to label those export products so that we know whether they come from the occupied territories or the State of Israel.

  (1735)  

    Madam Speaker, as I said in response to the last question, CIFTA contemplates no change.
    Madam Speaker, I want to seek unanimous consent to split my time with my colleague from Thornhill. We talked to some of the parties about that to see if it would be okay.
    Does the member have unanimous consent to split his time with his colleague?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Madam Speaker, I also want to extend my condolences, sympathies and utter outrage at what happened to the Jewish community in Pittsburgh. My heart goes out to those in Pittsburgh and to the greater Jewish community. It is absolutely reprehensible that anyone would come into a place of worship, a place so sacred, and do what happened. This was a very heinous crime. I just want them to know that they have our support here on this side of the House, as has been mentioned by all members in the House today.
    I want to start by saying that the Conservatives will support Bill C-85, the modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement. This agreement was overwhelmingly negotiated by our former Conservative government. In October 2011, we began the consultation with Canadians. In January 2014, Prime Minister Harper and Prime Minister Netanyahu announced the launch of the CIFTA negotiations. In July 2015, Canada and Israel announced the successful conclusion of the revised agreement.
    Amendments to the original deal included four updated chapters: dispute settlement, good market access, governance and rules of origin. The agreement also added seven new chapters: e-commerce, environment, intellectual property, labour, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, and trade facilitation.
    The modernized CIFTA breaks down many old barriers. It creates new export opportunities for Canadian agriculture and agri-food. It creates new opportunities for our fish and seafood companies in the Israeli market. As members can see, we are very proud to have been the main drivers of this agreement.
    Israel is our closest partner in the region and also the only democracy in the region. Israel's economy is a very modern and advanced one. Our two countries enjoy an excellent commercial relationship. Since the original agreement came into force over 20 years ago, trade between our two countries has tripled, totalling $1.7 billion in 2017.
    Israel's market has a lot of potential and offers many opportunities for our Canadian businesses. Israel is also placed in a very economically strategic region in the Middle East. With one of the best educated populations in the world, a solid industrial and scientific base, and abundant natural resources, specifically in the agricultural and agri-tech sectors, Israel makes for a great partner in trade.
    It is also important to mention that this agreement will further strengthen Canada's support for Israel, which should be very important to all of us. As we bring Canada and Israel closer through this trade deal, we begin to see a very positive pattern for Conservatives when it comes to negotiating free trade deals, a pattern of Conservative-negotiated agreements.
    Conservatives negotiated the original NAFTA, the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, CETA with the Europeans, and now the modernization of CIFTA. The biggest free trade agreements were done under Conservative governments. We are very proud of that.
    We are also very proud of the member for Abbotsford, who worked tirelessly to complete the negotiations on CIFTA, the TPP, and CETA. I have tremendous respect for him on a personal level, and of course, as the former international trade minister.
     I have to say that although this agreement will likely pass without much delay, there is a greater concern Canadians have with the Liberal government when it comes to the economy. That concern is about competitiveness.
    Canadians are worried that the Prime Minister and the Liberals are making our economy uncompetitive. While our neighbours to the south are cutting corporate taxes and getting rid of massive amounts of burdensome red tape, the Prime Minister keeps raising taxes and adding more red tape to everything he touches. He is raising taxes everywhere he can. He is putting in ridiculous regulations and massive roadblocks that serve to kill pipeline construction and many of its offshoot jobs.
    This is no secret. In fact, he admits it every day in question period and every time he speaks around the country. He just sugar-coats it, smiles for the cameras, and relies on his pals in the media to sell it.
    Let us take the carbon tax as an example. Last week, the Prime Minister announced that he will be forcing Canadians living in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick to pay his carbon tax. While he claims that he will return 90% of all the money he collects, Conservatives know that the Prime Minister and his Liberals are simply looking for more ways to sustain this massive debt and out-of-control deficits.
    Unless large and developing countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, global emissions will not decrease. Let me repeat that one more time: Unless large and developing countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, global emissions will not decrease. The Prime Minister's carbon tax will not save the environment. It will only hurt Canada's economy, Canada's small businesses, and Canadian families.

  (1740)  

    Canadians are not fooled by the carbon tax. They know the Prime Minister's carbon tax is a tax plan dressed up like an emissions plan. Canadians see it for what it is, another tax or an election gimmick. Only the Liberals could argue that a new tax will mean money in our pockets while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
    To make matters worse, the Prime Minister is personally withholding documents that show the true cost of the carbon tax, both for families and businesses. The reality is that the Prime Minister's carbon tax will make everything more expensive, from driving to work to feeding our families to filling our gas tanks. Canadians will see through this election gimmick, and we will hold the government and the Prime Minister to account for it.
    I know the Liberals will keep on repeating the same old tired message they have been repeating, a message that asks for our plan. I would like to be very clear. The Liberals do not have an environment plan. They have a tax plan, an election gimmick. It is another tax. It is nothing more. However, they have no plan to lower emissions. We believe that it is more important to arrive at a plan that will actually reduce global emissions, and that takes time to carefully consider. I would also like to be very clear that we will be unveiling a detailed and comprehensive environmental plan before the next election.
    On top of taxing Canadians more through the carbon tax, the Prime Minister and the Liberals are working against Canadian jobs in the oil and gas sector, making our economy even more uncompetitive.
    The Liberals have no plan to get the Trans Mountain expansion built. Thousands of workers have already lost their jobs because of the Prime Minister's failure to get any pipelines built. Canadians have lost their jobs because of the Liberals' damaging anti-energy policies. This cannot continue. The Liberals' anti-energy policies have driven more than $100 billion of investment out of Canada in the last two years. Talk about being uncompetitive; this is totally unacceptable.
    The Federal Court of Appeal gave the Liberals clear direction to address their failure to properly consult with indigenous communities on the Trans Mountain expansion. However, instead of following those directions, the Liberals announced that they will launch another process, with no timeline, that will only further delay construction.
    Canadian families cannot wait until next year for a plan. For the workers and communities affected by the Prime Minister's failure, every day counts. Getting the Trans Mountain expansion built should be the Prime Minister's top priority. What exactly is going on? He spent nearly $4.5 billion of taxpayers' money on the existing pipeline and still cannot tell workers when construction will start, how much it will cost or when it will be completed. The pipeline is crucial for workers across Canada, including the 43 first nation communities that have benefit agreements worth over $400 million, which now hang in the balance.
    It seems like the Prime Minister is doing everything he can to phase out our energy sector. We just have to look at Bill C-69. This Liberal bill would again fail Canadian workers and the Canadian resource sector, making us even more uncompetitive. It would kill future resource development, drive jobs and investment out of the country and do nothing to enhance environmental protection.
    Before the current Prime Minister became the Prime Minister , there were three private companies willing to invest more than $30 billion to build three nation-building pipelines that would have created tens of thousands of jobs and generated billions in economic activity. The Prime Minister killed two of them and put the Trans Mountain expansion on life support. Bill C-69 would block all future pipelines.
    When the Prime Minister says he wants to phase out the oil sands, Canadians should believe him. In the last two years, over $100 billion of investment in the energy sector has been cancelled by the Liberal government. Over 100,000 good-paying, high-quality jobs in the resource sector have been lost. Under the current Prime Minister, energy investment in Canada has seen its biggest decline in over 70 years. Now the Bank of Canada predicts no new energy investment in Canada until after 2019.
    The current Liberal government seems incapable of doing anything but raising taxes, creating red tape, and getting in the way of the energy sector. Our country's competitiveness is at stake, and the Liberals do not seem to care.
    Yes, walking completed Conservative free trade agreements across the finish line is a good thing. They seem to be doing that, and we appreciate it. Whether it is the TPP, CETA or the modernized CIFTA, the government seems to understand the value of the free trade agreements that we, the Conservatives, helped arrange and worked on. However, it is important to understand that unless the Liberals stop raising taxes and creating out-of-control regulatory burdens, we will not be able to produce anything to trade with anyone. There needs to be a shift in thinking on the part of this anti-energy government. We hope this shift will start soon.
    Let us hope that the modernized CIFTA is the beginning of some pragmatic thinking for the Liberals. CIFTA was a great achievement when concluded by our former Conservative government, and it is still very much worthy of supporting now.
    As great friends of Israel, my Conservative colleagues and I will be supporting this agreement when it comes to a vote later.

  (1745)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I listened to my hon. colleague with great pleasure.
    We got to sit together on the Standing Committee on International Trade. It is great to hear that the Conservatives are going to support the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, despite the negative comments.
    I want to remind the House that pollution pricing and economic development go hand in hand with protecting the environment. Since we took office, 500,000 jobs have been created. Furthermore, the unemployment rate is at a 40-year low. Our pipeline network was not expanded during the 10 years that the previous government was in power.
    I want to come back to the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, which came into effect on January 1, 1997. What we are talking about today is an update. During our meetings, the Standing Committee on International Trade often discussed dispute settlement and rules of origin. Seven new chapters have been added to this free trade agreement. E-commerce did not exist back in 1997.
    I would like to hear my hon. colleague's thoughts on these issues.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, it was a pleasure sitting with my colleague on the trade committee, and we miss her now that she is not there anymore.
    In terms of the new chapter, as I mentioned, there were some seven new chapters that we had already negotiated. There are some additional ones that the government introduced. E-commerce is certainly important. We look at anything that was added there. At the end of the day, this strengthens the agreement. That is why we started the process of modernizing it. We felt that things like e-commerce and the digital economy were important, as well as discussions around IP, regulatory co-operation, and a number of other initiatives as well.
    Madam Speaker, it is important to note that my province has really benefited from trade with Israel, but we of course were the first province in the country to object to the carbon tax. Here is why. Saskatchewan's exports to Israel have increased 30% over the last five years. One of Saskatchewan's exports to Israel is lentils. Those exports have risen by 82% since 2013. One can see why my province is really against this carbon tax, because we know that our producers in the province of Saskatchewan will pay for the carbon tax and thus there will be no more trade like we have today with the country of Israel.
    Madam Speaker, one of the challenges we have with the rhetoric from the government on the carbon tax is it saying that the tax is not going to cost anything and that we will get money back in our pockets. The reality is that rural communities are going to pay a disproportionate amount of the carbon tax.
    Let me explain this because we do not have any subways in Niagara, just as I am sure there are no subways in the member's riding in Saskatchewan. We do have some buses in the city, but not in rural parts. At the end of the day, the only options available for parents to get their kids to dance lessons or games is to drive the family car. The carbon tax punishes disproportionately rural people and suburban moms who are trying to get their kids to and from events and have to depend on driving their car pretty much everywhere.

  (1750)  

    Madam Speaker, the member tied pricing on pollution and carbon issues with the amendment or the bringing forward of the agreement. Israel's green tax reform is successfully shifting demand toward less polluting vehicles, proving the efficiency of economic incentives in changing behaviour. I wonder how much the member vehemently disagrees with Israel's successful green tax on vehicles.
    Madam Speaker, as I mentioned, one of the greatest challenges in trying to reduce emissions worldwide is when we have large emitters and developing countries that are not paying anything. When we look at the fact that we contribute around one per cent or 1.5% to global emissions and look at strictly using this tax to change that, we see that it will disproportionately punish people who live in rural communities. That was the point I was trying to make.
    Madam Speaker, it is an honour to speak to Bill C-85, an act that would amend and strengthen a free trade agreement between Canada and the only democracy in the Middle East. I speak with particularly passionate solidarity with Jews in Israel, around the world and in my riding of Thornhill tonight because this debate is taking place in the shadow of the hate-driven outrage in Pittsburgh on the weekend. I will speak more directly of that in a few moments.
    First, I will speak to Bill C-85. Canada's original formal free trade agreement with Israel came into force in 1997. Negotiations to update it began under Prime Minister Harper in 2014. The legislation we have before us today is the culmination of that work. It has taken a little longer perhaps than necessary under the Liberal government, and it does contain predictable elements of Liberal virtue signalling, but overall it is a good, strong agreement that contains the chapters our Conservative government considered essential to bringing the original free trade agreement to address the realities of the 21st century.
    Unlike the most recent updated but diminished trade agreement with another democratic ally clumsily achieved in desperation at the 11th hour with great give and little get, this free trade agreement would truly be a win-win for both Canada and Israel. This updated deal would expand market access for both Canada and Israel. It would include new chapters related to intellectual property, e-commerce and labour, and would preserve and protect a provision that recognizes Israel's customs laws, the one that accepts that all merchandise from the West Bank—manufactured goods, produce, and wine—can be sold in Canada marked with the label “Product of Israel”.
    Now, the Liberals defer responsibility for this determination to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, but it is clearly a matter of international trade law.
    As we did while in government, the Conservatives are pleased to enthusiastically endorse this reality, which not only provides quality products to the Canadian marketplace but also provides good jobs, fair wages and broader opportunities for Palestinians, opportunities that should improve the economic and social environment for an eventual negotiated peace agreement, which would see Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in a peaceful co-existence that has, for most of the past century, been obstructed by tyrants and terrorists who would rather continue the futile, tragic, hateful obsession with eliminating the State of Israel and the Jewish population with it.
    I have been to Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and the neighbouring countries of the Levant many times over the years. My first visit was to have been in June 1967, as a journalist assigned to cover the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. However, that conflict was so short, six days, and Israel so decisively defeated the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian forces, and in the process liberated the Old City of Jerusalem that our crew's assignment was cancelled before we could get to the region.
    Therefore, my first visit to Israel did not occur until October 1973, during the fourth Arab-Israeli war, launched by Syria and Egypt on the holiest day of the Jewish year, the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. That was when I first really understood the vulnerability of this tiny democratic country.
    Very early each morning during the war, our crew would go to Beit Sokolov, the journalists' house in central Tel Aviv, to be assigned a military officer to accompany us to either the northern front on the Golan Heights, or on other days, to the Egyptian front, across the Gaza Strip through the Mitla or Gidi passes on to the Sinai desert battlefield. For a young Canadian journalist accustomed to vast spaces between provincial, let alone national, borders, it came as a shocking realization that in covering war in tiny Israel, it was only a matter of hours to either front.
    The Yom Kippur War was, as all conflicts are, a costly and deadly war for all parties. It was the closest that Israel's enemies in the Arab world came to achieving their obsessive, destructive objective. In fact, only last minute emergency resupply of aircraft and ammunition from the United States turned the tide.
    I still have powerful memories of the dogfights over the Golan; being strafed near Quneitra; crossing the Suez Canal on a Bailey bridge with General Sharon's tank column, part of the encirclement and capture of the Egyptian Sixth Army; the truce negotiations at kilometre 101 between the Israeli and Egyptian generals; and of sitting on Mount Hermon on the night of October 25, 1973, waiting to see whether the truce between Syria and Israel would hold and the fighting stop.

  (1755)  

    It did, although over the decades since, we have seen lesser conflicts: the Lebanon wars, the Palestinian intifadas, the Gaza war and, until today, Iran's proxy-sponsoring of continued terrorist rocketing and attempted terrorist infiltration from Gaza. In fact, this past weekend, we saw dozens of rockets fired from Gaza by Islamic Jihad on orders from Iran's Quds Force, coincidentally only hours before the hate-driven, deadliest attack on a Jewish community in North America at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life Synagogue. Most of the rockets from Gaza were intercepted, shot down by Israel's Iron Dome defence system. Israel responded with air strikes against 80 sites across Gaza.
    In North America, in my home riding of Thornhill and across Canada, as across the United States, there have been heartfelt condolences offered to victims of the weekend atrocity, and today, to the victims of the Pittsburgh murder, declarations of unity against hate and plans for multi-faith vigils. Nonetheless, this weekend's events are a terrible reminder that Israel and Jewish communities in the diaspora remain under constant threat from individuals and organizations that would destroy it and destroy them.
    This brings me to happier recollections of visits to Israel as a member of Parliament and as a minister, as a member of Prime Minister Harper's historic visit to Israel and his powerful restatement of Canada's commitment to Israel, through fire and water. As Prime Minister Harper said in his speech in the Knesset, “to [really] understand the special relationship between Israel and Canada, [we] must look beyond trade...to the personal ties of friendship and [of] kinship”. He paid tribute to the people of Israel, saying and applauding, their “courage in war”, their “generosity in peace, and the bloom that the desert has yielded”. Stephen Harper is still a champion of Israel today, if from a different dimension.
    The Conservatives, under a new leader, are equally committed to this deep relationship and still hold to the pledge to stand with Israel through fire and water. Our leader, the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, has vowed to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel when we regain government in 2019. He has clearly restated, without equivocation or ambiguity, that Canada's Conservatives have been and always will be a strong voice for Israel and the Canadian Jewish community; that Israel is one of Canada's strongest allies, a beacon of pluralism and democratic principles in a turbulent part of the world; and that Canada's Conservatives recognize the obvious fact that Israel, like every other sovereign nation, has a right to determine where its capital is located, and that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.
    Let me close by restating my enthusiastic support for Bill C-85, an act to amend and to strengthen a free trade agreement between Canada and the only democracy in the Middle East.

  (1800)  

    Madam Speaker, let me start by extending my condolences and very best wishes and prayers. It was absolutely abhorrent what we witnessed in a synagogue over the weekend.
    Having said that, I want to look at the bigger picture in terms of trade. Israel has been a partner of Canada for many years. It does not matter which political entity is in the House; we all recognize the valuable contributions that Israel has made in many different areas. It seems to be a continuation that the minister responsible for introducing the bill made reference to the number of trade agreements and how trade agreements enable companies here in Canada to build upon that special relationship that enables us to ultimately have more markets.
    I wonder if my colleague across the way will talk about not only the symbolism but also the reality of how a trade agreement or the changes to the trade agreement that we are seeing today in the Canada-Israel agreement would in fact benefit Canada's middle class and give us a healthier, stronger economy, as it would for Israel too.
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's shared concern and disgust at the events in the synagogue in Pittsburgh, the continuing threats to our holy places of all faiths in Canada and the amount of time, effort, security and money that needs to be expended to guarantee the security of these vulnerable holy meeting places.
    On the member's point about the benefits of trade, it is indeed with trade agreements like the agreement originally signed with Israel in 1997, which we are building upon with Bill C-85 today, that enable the growth of trade between countries and opportunities in either partner country with regard to developing trade relationships.
    When Prime Minister Netanyahu visited Canada a few years ago in talks with our government, both he and Prime Minister Harper, and I am sure the Prime Minister today, recognized that there was a great deal more opportunity to be taken advantage of with respect to growth and mutual benefit than we had seen, even today, with the growth in the last two decades. Certainly—