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42nd PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 368

CONTENTS

Monday, December 10, 2018




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 148
NUMBER 368
1st SESSION
42nd PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Monday, December 10, 2018

Speaker: The Honourable Geoff Regan

    The House met at 11 a.m.

Prayer



PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

[Private Members' Business]

  (1105)  

[English]

Criminal Code

    The House resumed from November 20 consideration of the motion that Bill S-240, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (trafficking in human organs), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Mr. Speaker, before I get into the debate on the bill, I would like to acknowledge that this is our last week in this place not only for the year, but it is the last time we will be sitting here in Centre Block for the next decade. I would like to thank everyone who works behind the scenes to make this place run smoothly for those of us who are honoured to be elected and serve Canadians here in this beautiful building, which is going to be restored over the next 10 years. Hopefully, it will take only 10 years. On our behalf, I thank all the staff, from Parliamentary Protective Service, to administration, to custodians and everyone in between.
    I appreciate this opportunity to speak to Bill S-240. As vice-chair of the Subcommittee on International Human Rights, I can say that the subject of black market organ harvesting is not a new one. Indeed, Bill S-240 is the fourth iteration of a bill that has been through many parliaments. These bills were written largely in response to credible and appalling reports concerning organ harvesting in China.
    Organ trafficking is considered an organized crime, with a host of offenders including the recruiters who identify the vulnerable persons, the transporters, the staff of the hospital or clinic and other medical centres, the medical professionals themselves who perform the surgery, the contractors, the buyers and those at the banks that store the organs. The Subcommittee on International Human Rights has studied the issue of organ harvesting in China numerous times and has issued at least two lengthy reports and a number of statements. The reports discuss in gruesome detail the establishment within China of an actual organ-harvesting industry.
     The first source of organs for transplants apparently was prisoners who were sentenced to death and executed. A second source of organs was prisoners of conscience. The earliest of these were the Uighurs, Chinese Muslims from the eastern part of the country. The chamber will recall the more recent reports of up to one million Uighurs being rounded up by the government of the People's Republic of China and forciably placed into re-education camps.
    In our subcommittee, we heard that while China's official central government's statistics indicate that approximately 10,000 organ transplantations take place per year, the numbers may actually be as high as between 60,000 and 100,000 organ transplants per year. The one population that ultimately became the principal victims of China's organ-harvesting industry was the country's Falun Gong followers. Falun Gong is the adherence to the Falun Dafa spiritual practice that originated in China. According to testimony that our subcommittee heard on November 3, 2016, China's organ-harvesting industry developed in tandem with its systematic repression of Falun Gong.
    I will admit to being a bit skeptical initially about reports on organ harvesting in China. The idea of taking another person's organ to sell on the open market suggests a level of depravity that ordinary decent human beings find difficult to fathom. However, the more I learn about human rights abuses committed by the Chinese government against its own people and more and more credible accounts, my skepticism dissipates into reluctant belief. In fact, in recent hearings in the Subcommittee on International Human Rights looking into the human rights situation of the Uighurs in China, we heard that the Chinese government has been forciably taking DNA and blood samples from Uighurs. Chillingly, those of us who follow these issues immediately began fearing the Chinese government might be looking for yet more organs to harvest from this population.
    It is time, therefore, that the international community come together on this issue and establish the conditions that will render the organ-trafficking industry unprofitable. While the majority of organ trafficking occurs abroad, measures must be taken to ensure Canadians waiting on long organ donation lists are not perpetuating this brutality by purchasing trafficked organs. Trafficking in human organs is an abhorrent activity that should be included in Canada's Criminal Code. Further, Bill S-240 proposes amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to ensure that receiving organs or benefiting economically from this illicit trade would also make a permanent resident or foreign national inadmissible to Canada.
    The NDP supports Bill S-240 as we oppose all forms of trafficking in organs. We believe it is important to ensure that Canadians who have their names on the long organ donation lists are not inadvertently contributing to the demand for this horrendous crime.
    As this is the fourth bill on organ trafficking in 10 years, the NDP calls for cross-party co-operation to ensure the swift passage of Bill S-240 and for this issue to be finally taken seriously. In addition to supporting this initiative, more should be done to encourage ethical, safe organ donation domestically. Canadians contribute to organ trafficking primarily through a phenomenon called transplant tourism. It is the most common way to trade organs across national borders. Recipients travel abroad to undergo organ transplants and there is currently no law in Canada against this practice.
    Unlike the United States, Canada does not have a centralized list of people waiting for an organ. The Liberal government actually voted against a bill in 2016 that would have supported the creation of a national registry to help identify those wishing to donate organs and those who need them. Canada is the only developed country without national organ donation legislation, such as the 1984 United States National Organ Transplant Act. The Government of Canada should seriously consider the feasibility of a presumed consent system for organ donation where individuals opt out instead of opting in to organ donation.
    In addition to the development and coordination of an advanced interprovincial organ-sharing system, the federal government must also facilitate the implementation of best practices and promote professional education and training opportunities. Canada is way behind on the issue of organ trafficking. In fact, the Council of Europe has had a convention against trafficking in human organs since 2008, and as of 2017, it has been ratified by 47 member states. Several countries, including Taiwan, Spain, and Norway, have already passed similar legislation. It is time for our country to catch up with the rest of the world and we can begin doing so today by supporting this bill.
    It is not lost on many human rights defenders listening to this debate today that it is a profound anniversary marking the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights 70 years ago. Those sentiments are inextricably linked after the horrors witnessed in World War II and the conviction of never again. I submit that those sentiments are profoundly linked here as well to Bill S-240. After World War II, the world sought to ensure such madness ensued against humanity never happened again. Organ harvesting and trafficking are a nauseating reality and we must put a stop to them. Canada must act and must start by passing Bill S-240.

  (1110)  

    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate on Bill S-240 and to take this opportunity to respond specifically to comments that have been made by many colleagues so far in this debate.
    This bill, as members may know, would make it a criminal offence to receive an organ taken without the consent of the patient. This issue is morally clear-cut, and I think all speakers have agreed to that basic idea.
     We are coming up towards the second reading vote, where we will vote on the legislation's principle. Members who have questions about some of the particulars but agree with the general principle should give this bill speedy passage at this stage so that we can make any necessary amendments at committee stage and still ensure that the bill becomes law before the next election. If further delays by Liberal members hold back progress in this Parliament, then we will have to start at square one in the next Parliament.
     During previous speeches, members made observations about the extraterritorial application of Canadian law proposed in this case, that under this bill someone would be charged for getting an organ overseas for which there had not been consent. Members have generally agreed that we should be concerned about the basic human rights of non-citizens, and that we should seek to prevent Canadians citizens from violating the human rights of others while abroad.
    The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice discussed some of the challenges associated with prosecutions involving extraterritoriality. He noted that these cases can be difficult and expensive to prosecute, since they might require Canadian law enforcement to gather evidence overseas. This can be the case with extraterritorial prosecutions, but I would make two observations to counter concerns about the challenges associated with extraterritorial prosecutions in this particular case.
    First of all, we should not fail to criminalize bad behaviour just because prosecution is difficult. Even if we are only able to prosecute a small number of cases, the deterrent effect of the law will go a long way. We criminalize child sex tourism already, presumably recognizing the challenges involved in prosecution but also hoping that the law and the possibility of prosecution deter and reduce these crimes.
     Second, though, organ trafficking and harvesting is a special case insofar as prosecution should be relatively easier than prosecutions for other crimes where extraterritoriality is involved. Recipients of trafficked organs are a special case because they will necessarily have prior and follow-up medical needs, and the transplanted organ will have a clear physical indication of a transplant. Circumstances related to the transplant will give doctors, and therefore law enforcement, clear indication of whether a person showed gross negligence around verifying that the donor consented.
    Let us consider a concrete example and imagine that a patient is on a waiting list for a heart. He says to his doctor, “Doc, great news, I'm going to get a new heart. My cousin set me up. I'm going to Beijing six weeks from today, and I'll come back with a new heart.”
     The doctor is perplexed. She replies, “That's not really possible. If there's a heart available for you, they're not going to keep it in the freezer for six weeks. The only way to plan that far in advance would be if doctors over there knew with certainty that someone who is a perfect match will die right before you arrive.”
     This is a case where lack of consent is relatively clear, even if the patient may not fully understand at first. If someone is receiving a vital organ from a recently healthy patient in a country where organ harvesting is common, and is being told well in advance when an organ will be available, it becomes absolutely clear that someone else is being executed in order to remove the organ, on a schedule based on the availability of the patient.
    In this hypothetical case, there is some very strong evidence already that can help lead to a conviction. That evidence exists based on the medical needs of the patient to consult with a physician here in Canada before and after.
     In the scenario I have laid out, ideally, the doctor would advise the patient of what is likely going on. If the patient proceeded to receive the trafficked organ, the doctor would currently have no recourse, legal or otherwise. However, if Bill S-240 passes, a doctor in that situation might stand a better chance of persuading the patient to try a different path.
     She might say to him, “You might not know this, but you taking an organ under those circumstances almost certainly means that it is being taken from an unwilling patient, who is being executed in order to get you an organ. Receiving an organ taken from an unwilling source is a serious criminal offence in Canada, even if done abroad. If you proceed with this, any physician who sees you in Canada will be legally obligated to report that you have received a transplanted organ and the circumstances of that transplant will become clear.”
    It is hard to imagine a patient proceeding with his original plan after being presented with these new criminal law provisions and a reasonable probability of detection. While this is a case of extraterritorial application of criminal law, the medical realities mean fewer practical challenges.
     The parliamentary secretary also mused about whether the reporting provisions in this legislation are overbroad. In an effort to ensure that any case of organ harvesting and trafficking is detected, a doctor is required to report the presence of a transplanted organ in every case. Might a narrower reporting mechanism achieve the same purpose?

  (1115)  

    The proper scope of the reporting mechanism is a good issue for the committee to study and should not be an impediment to those considering whether or not to support the bill at second reading, but still, l have a couple of observations at this point.
    First of all, the parliamentary secretary argued about both the challenges of extraterritorial prosecution and a potential overbroadness of the reporting provision. The broadness of the reporting provision is precisely aimed at responding to what would otherwise be the challenge of prosecution; the one is a partial solution to the other. Further, it should not be particularly complex or onerous for the government to keep track on a list of those who have received an organ transplant, such that it can be verified if an organ was received properly. Requiring that reporting happens in every case ensures that those who participate in organ trafficking would be held accountable.
    There are a few other points to make in response to what has been said. The member for Edmonton Centre mused about whether this legislation should include cases in which organs are purchased. He notes, quite correctly, that the bill presumes that a person who sells his or her organs is doing so from a position of vulnerability and therefore the bill proposes not to allow the selling of organs under any circumstances.
    I appreciate that the member for Edmonton Centre acknowledges both sides of this question, saying as well, “...I also recognize...the need to ensure that individuals, often from developing countries, who may be vulnerable to abuse given their own economic situation, are protected from potentially exploitative practices.”
    Let me make three points in response to this question about whether or not the bill should include a prohibition on purchasing organs abroad. First of all, this is also a subject where the application could be altered at committee. I would be sorry to see these provisions removed from the bill, but their presence should not be an impediment to supporting it at second reading given the possibility of amendment.
    Second, the case the member for Edmonton Centre used, wherein a person goes overseas to buy an organ, in an environment with well-defined laws protecting the rights and the safety of the donor, is largely a fiction. There is a very small number of countries in the world where the buying and selling of human organs is legal and they are almost all very poor countries where the levels of health care are not anything resembling a respectable or desirable level. The decision by a healthy and aware person to sell their organ in a safe environment might be an interesting hypothetical for a philosophy seminar, but we should bracket that question and support measures that deal with the overwhelming reality of organ trafficking cases that involve exploitation.
    Third, Canada does not allow the buying and selling of human organs domestically, so it is consistent with our Criminal Code to recognize the risks inherent in the commodification of human organs and the inherently exploitive nature of relationships in which people are selling body parts.
    A number of members have said that there are no known cases of this practice happening in Canada, but whether or not the taking of human organs without consent has ever happened in Canada, the fact is that here in Canada it is already illegal and the bill deals with international organ trafficking, something we know is big and growing. It would be foolish to assume no involvement by Canadians in organ harvesting and trafficking. We have indeed heard anecdotally from hospitals of people going overseas to receive organs in China, although the particulars of the involvement of Canadians are obviously difficult to quantify. In the absence of a law prohibiting this practice, information about those going overseas to receive illicit organs should be released.
    Let us move forward with the bill as quickly as possible and stop the excuses and delays. Let us make sure that we get this done before the next election.

  (1120)  

    Madam Speaker, I want to talk about sections 36 and 37 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in my speech, which already address inadmissibility grounds with respect to criminality, serious criminality and organized criminality. That will be the majority of what I will be speaking about in my speech.
    I am pleased to be able to take the floor to discuss Bill S-240, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which proposes new criminal law responses to tackle the issue of organ trafficking.
    I would like to spend my time discussing the bill's proposed changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
    Members will likely be aware that the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act sets out a number of rules governing who is and who is not admissible to Canada. In particular, division 4, part 1 of the act specifies a number of situations where a foreign national or permanent resident will be inadmissible to Canada for reasons of security, for reasons of criminality of various types, or for having engaged in human or international rights violations.
    Section 35 specifically articulates the grounds upon which a permanent resident or foreign national would be inadmissible for reasons of violating human or international rights, such as where the person has engaged in genocide or war crimes. Bill S-240 proposes to amend this section to provide that a permanent resident or foreign national would be inadmissible to Canada for having engaged in conduct that would constitute an offence captured by any of the four new offences proposed in this bill. This amendment raises interesting issues that I look forward to hearing more about during our debates here in the House.
     In determining whether someone is inadmissible, Bill S-240 would require the minister to be satisfied that the individual engaged in conduct that is captured by the bill's proposed new offences. In the summary of the bill, it notes that the minister who would be responsible for making such determinations would be the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. However, it is my understanding that the minister who is responsible for the inadmissibility sections of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act is the Minister of Public Safety. It is unclear to me whether the sponsor of the bill is proposing that the ministerial responsibility for this new ground of inadmissibility be different than what is currently the case. It is important to ensure that the bill would not result in a situation where ministerial responsibility is either misunderstood or inconsistently applied in this act.
     I would also be interested to hear more from the bill's sponsor in the House of Commons as to whether amending section 35 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act is appropriate, given the focus of the section is on international rights violations. It is not clear to me why the amendments are proposed here, rather than in sections 36 and 37 of the act, which deal with inadmissibility on the grounds of criminality, serious criminality and organized criminality.
    I would also like to note that another private member's bill, Bill C-350, introduced by the sponsor of Bill S-240 in the House, dealing with the same issue, would amend section 37 instead of section 35. There appears to be some uncertainty as to where this kind of change should be made, and I am interested in hearing more about this in the House.
     More fundamentally, I wonder whether this type of amendment is even needed. The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act already contains a number of different grounds upon which a person may be found inadmissible to Canada. Specifically, sections 36 and 37 of the act already address inadmissibility on grounds of criminality, serious criminality and organized criminality. These provisions, in my view, are broad enough to capture the conduct targeted by the proposed amendment. For example, permanent residents or foreign nationals are inadmissible to Canada for engaging in serious criminality. While “serious criminality” is not defined, the provision makes clear that it includes engaging in conduct abroad that was an offence in the place where it occurred and that if it had been committed in Canada it would constitute an offence punishable by a maximum penalty of at least 10 years' imprisonment.

  (1125)  

    Under this rule, a foreign national or permanent resident who engages in conduct that would be criminalized by the offences proposed in Bill S-240 would be inadmissible. I wonder then what the rationale is for specifically enumerating a new ground of admissibility.
     The same holds true for subsection 36(2), which states that a foreign national is admissible to Canada for having been convicted of an offence outside of Canada that, if it were committed in Canada, would have constituted an indictable offence.
    Beyond the question I have already raised concerning the need for specific amendments of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, I would like to spend a few moments talking about what may be unintended consequences of Bill S-240.
    As has already been discussed in previous speeches, one of the proposed new offences will criminalize any person who obtains or facilitates obtaining an organ from the body of another person where he or she knows or was reckless as to whether the organ was obtained for consideration. Others have spoken about how this would capture individuals who travel abroad to obtain an organ that was purchased in a country where it would be legal to do so. However, it is not only limited to this conduct.
     For example, proposed subsection 240.1(3) will also criminalize medical practitioners who participate in the organ transplant surgery in the country where it is legal to do so. Under Bill S-240, that person will also be inadmissible to Canada. I wonder if this is an appropriate outcome.
    I raise these questions because I strongly believe we need to fully appreciate the implications of any legislation that is brought before us. I do not believe that to this point, Bill S-240's proposed changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act have benefited from the kind of detailed debate that is required. In fact, based on my review of the parliamentary record, I could not find a single question raised in the other place about the implications associated with Bill S-240's immigration-related proposals.
    There can be no doubt that the issue of illicit organ trafficking is a serious one. There equally can be no doubt that we, as parliamentarians, are united in our concern and commitment to identifying appropriate solutions to address the behaviour of those who would seek to exploit the vulnerable, with no regard for their health or well-being.
    Nevertheless, we should not let the seriousness of the issue detract from our responsibility to closely examine and, where possible, improve upon legislation that is brought before us. A number of issues have been identified with Bill S-240 that require more detailed examination, and I look forward to our continued consideration of them.

  (1130)  

    Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill S-240, a Senate bill that was brought forward to the House by the Conservative member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan. I know the member is passionate about this issue and has worked hard to bring this legislation to this point, so I thank him.
    The RCMP has stated the obvious. It says that there are far more people in the world in need of a new organ than there are organs available. As in any market where a dollar can be made because demand far outweighs supply, people can turn to the black market to find what they need. When a person's life is on the line, the will to survive may override morals.
    As members in the House may know, I have been a passionate advocate for finding improvements to Canada's organ and tissue donation systems. While 90% of Canadians support organ donation, just 20% are registered as organ donors. There are 4,500 Canadians desperate for a life-saving transplant, and 250 die each year before that life-saving transplant becomes available.
    If we can increase the supply of organs, we can reduce or eliminate the desperation that leads people to take such drastic measures to save their own lives.
    The problem of organ trafficking is not just a Canadian problem. The World Health Organization says that 10% of all organ transplants involved a trafficked organ. This is about 10,000 a year, every year.
    The country of Iran stands alone in the world as the only nation with a legal organ trade. However, the trade is closely monitored and it has eliminated the wait-list for kidneys. However, I do not believe the end justifies the means either.
    On a positive note, it has spurred the rate of donations from deceased donors in Iran. It is important to note that deceased donors are not paid.
    Organ trafficking is a horrible phenomenon that can be crudely reduced to this: Rich nations take advantage of poverty in poor nations to satisfy their need for organs. A Harvard study showed that the main purchasing nations were the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Israel, Japan and, yes, Canada. We target nations in South America, Asia and Africa. In Indian alone, it is estimated that 2,000 kidneys are sold each year.
    This trade is big business. Profits are estimated to be between $600 million U.S. and $1.2 billion U.S. per year.
    Organ trafficking is done through what is generally known as “transplant tourism”. Those in need of a transplant travel to one of these poorer nations to undergo their transplant under the auspices of a vacation. There are even websites that offer all-inclusive transplant packages for these so-called tourists. A kidney transplant, for example, will mean a transplant vacation costing anywhere from $70,000 U.S. to $160,000 U.S. Canada does not have a law that prevents this.
    While kidneys are the most commonly traded organ, it does not stop there. Other common transplants involve hearts, livers, lungs, pancreases and corneas. Human tissue is also illegally traded.
    The trade involves three basic groups, according to the United Nations' global initiative to fight human trafficking: traffickers, who force or deceive victims into giving up an organ; victims who have their financial desperation used against them to give up their organs; and victims who are deceived into a medical procedure during which they have an organ removed without their prior knowledge.
    Like any other illegal trade supported by organized crime, there are many layers of offenders. There are the recruiters, both for donors and recipients; the vulnerable people, who are the victims; the immoral medical people and facilities; the buyers; the facilitators; and more.
    What do we do to address this problem? Of course, if we had enough donors in Canada, people would not be desperately mortgaging their homes or spending their retirement savings to get that life-saving transplant.

  (1135)  

    I do not blame people who are facing death for taking whatever steps they can to save themselves. They are just as much a guilty party in this trade as they are a victim of the trade. However, we need to take a stand on this issue if we are to stop it.
    Before I go any further, it is important to clarify this would not prevent a truly informed and consenting person from donating an organ to someone in need. We are talking about unethically obtained organs.
    Bill S-240 seeks to amend the Criminal Code to create new offences in relation to trafficking in human organs. It would also amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to provide that a permanent resident or foreign national would be inadmissible to Canada if the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship were of the opinion that he or she had engaged in any activities relating to trafficking in human organs.
    We face an interesting problem in the world of illegally obtained organs. Unlike other contraband items, customs officers cannot just seize an organ at the border. How can we tell if that tourist coming back to Canada has the same heart he or she left with weeks earlier? It would be a very difficult crime to detect. In many ways, the only way to detect this activity would be when those Canadians would go to their doctor, who suddenly would notice they had surgical scars and signs of a new organ.
    Section 240 of the bill would require health professionals to notify a designated authority of such activity for investigation. Anyone found guilty of contravening these new prohibitions would be subject to up to 14 years in prison. I have concerns about the kind of relationship this would set-up between doctors and patients, but there really is no other way to do this.
    Where does that leave us today? There is a saying that I think is very appropriate here, “When all is said and done, there is often a lot said and little done.” There have been four bills before Parliament in the past 10 years on organ trafficking, but yet we stand here today and continue to talk. It is time we get something done instead. Until we take aggressive steps to stop organ trafficking, the practice will continue to victimize thousands more every year.
    Let us get the legislation enacted before the next election. If we do not, the whole process would have to start all over again. What a waste of time and money that would be. Thousands more could be victimized in the process.
    At the same time, let us pass legislation like Bill C-316, my bill, which would help eliminate the demand for organ trafficking. Let us also focus more effort on acting on the recommendations of the health committee to improve our domestic supply of organs and tissues. Let us better promote the registration of organ and tissue donors, so our supply will exceed our demand. Honestly, imagine a day when people come to Canada to get a life-saving transplant because we have too many available organs. Would that not be an amazing goal?
    Again, I applaud the Conservative member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan for putting the legislative proposal forward in the House. I look forward to voting in support of it.
    Madam Speaker, I am going to start by tying up a loose end. Some members have spoken and raised the question of whether, effectively, this is already captured by other provisions of the Criminal Code.
    The parliamentary secretary to the minister of science made comments that might be construed to this effect. She spoke about provisions around human trafficking, including human trafficking for the purpose of the organ, which can be applied extraterritoriality. She also spoke about how the harvesting of human organs would likely involve the commission of other crimes, such as assault if it were to take place here in Canada.
    However, I want to be clear that human trafficking for the purpose of extracting an organ and the trafficking of organs are two different things. For example, someone who receives a harvested kidney is not, strictly speaking, engaging in human trafficking, but organ trafficking; hence, the need for new offences with clear extraterritorial application.
    While organ harvesting would necessarily involve other offences, those offences, like assault, do not have extraterritorial application. There are no current laws that involve the extraterritorial application of prohibitions against the trafficking of human organs. My friend from Kitchener South—Hespeler spoke about whether existing provisions around inadmissibility could be applied in this case. He spoke about serious criminality and organized criminality.
     Let us be clear, first of all, that we have not seen prosecutions related to this in the past, and colleagues who think that the existing provisions of the Immigration and Refugee Act or the Criminal Code are sufficient should hopefully be able to point to cases where this crime has actually been prosecuted. Given that none have been raised in the House, it suggests to me that we actually do need to clarify and strengthen the offences such as they exist.
    In terms of this issue of serious criminality and organized criminality, we are talking about offences that offend any basic sense of morality but are not necessarily illegal in the country where they take place. We have spoken about the case of one country that seems to have systemized and organized process of organ harvesting from political prisoners. Therefore, provisions that deal with inadmissibility to Canada based on the commission of an offence in the country where it is committed would not apply in this case, because someone might be doing something involving organ harvesting and trafficking from political prisoners. That is legal and, in fact, state policy in one country, but we would seek to apply the extraterritoriality provisions here in Canada.
    There is a need for laws to address an issue that is perhaps hinted at around the edges of the existing provisions of the Immigration and Refugee Act and the Criminal Code, but is very clearly not explicitly illegal. Again, if members opposite think that those provisions are sufficient or do exist, then they should be able to point to cases where prosecutions have happened. As my colleagues have quite effectively pointed out, we know that this happens and that Canadians are involved, and yet we are not seeing prosecution of it.
    Regardless of whatever arguments one might make about the text of the law, the fact that this is going on without its being prosecuted should be clear enough evidence that we need to strengthen the legislative work. If nothing else, the reporting mechanism in this legislation would create a mechanism whereby these extraterritorial offences could be effectively prosecuted.
    The other points that have been raised have been responded to effectively by my colleagues. I just mention as well quickly that the member for Kitchener South—Hespeler spoke about the possibility that medical practitioners could be deemed inadmissible to Canada in cases where they might be involved in something related to this.

  (1140)  

    Those who are involved in illicit organ harvesting and trafficking could be deemed inadmissible to Canada, but there is ample space in the legislation proposed for the discretion of the minister. Inadmissibility to Canada is based on assessments made by the Government of Canada, which can weigh various criteria in each case. If there were a concern about people being caught up in the net of this who should not be, again that would be dealt with by the provisions that allow discretion. In fact, the legislation says that prosecutions under Bill S-240 cannot proceed without the explicit consent of the attorney general. These are ample provisions to ensure that there is not some indirect application to people whom it should not be applied to.
    We have to take action to help the vulnerable here. There are many details in this bill that should be discussed in greater detail at committee. If people have constructive ideas for amendments, doing so at committee is the right place for that.
    However, let us make a clear statement on the principle of the bill. That is what we do at second reading. We go on the principle of the legislation. This is the fourth bill in 10 years on this. I think we should all agree with the principle that Canada cannot, in good conscience, consent to the trafficking and harvesting of human organs from nonconsenting people, that we can take a clear and moral stance on this fundamental human rights issue, the details of which can be worked out at committee to the extent they need to be.
     Let us now, at second reading, take a clear stand and move this forward by sending it to committee.

  (1145)  

    The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes): I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.

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

    The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes): The House is suspended until 12 o'clock.

Points of Order

Scheduling of Adjournment Proceedings 

[Points of Order]
    Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I might as well use this time to raise a matter of order. I know that the Speaker may need to come back to the House on it, but it is something that requires some clarification.
    Standing order 53.1(2) indicates that a take-note debate ordered by the House pursuant to section 1 of the Standing Orders shall begin at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment and any proceedings subject to standing order 38, what we conventionally call “late shows”, shall be suspended on that day. My reading of that provision is that those late shows are suspended, which means that a member whose late show is scheduled to expire that day could schedule that late show for the following day.
    Standing order 38 refers to the fact that late shows have to be scheduled within a set period of time, but that set period of time applies to sitting days.
    My reading of standing order 53.1(2) is that a member's late show suspended on the current day can be rescheduled for the next day even if the current day is the expiry date. That is my reading of it.
    I would like to have some clarification from the Chair about whether or not I can schedule a late show tomorrow for one that was supposed to take place today.
    Madam Speaker, I rise on that point of order. You can reflect on the comments mentioned by the member if you like, but I believe that the House was actually suspended, so if anything, that point of order should be stricken from the record.
    Thank you to both members. Both points were done in conjunction. I will come back to the House if need be on this.

Suspension of Sitting  

    At this point, the House is suspended until 12 o'clock.

    (The sitting of the House was suspended at 11:48 a.m.)

Sitting Resumed  

    (The House resumed at 12 o'clock)


Government Orders

[Government Orders]

  (1200)  

[English]

Criminal Code

Bill C-51—Time Allocation Motion  

Hon. Bardish Chagger (for the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)  
     moved:
    That in relation to the Senate amendments for Bill C-51, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Department of Justice Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration of Senate amendments to the bill; and
    That fifteen minutes before the expiry to the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration of the Senate amendments of said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required, for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the state of the bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

[Translation]

    Pursuant to Standing Order 67.1, there will now be a 30-minute question period. I invite hon. members who wish to ask questions to rise in their places so the Chair has some idea of the number of members who wish to participate in this question period.
    The hon. member for Durham.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I guess it is fitting for this government that we, in the final days of sitting in this chamber, are again talking about its favourite parliamentary procedure, time allocation, something that the Liberals said that they would never use when they were in opposition. Today we have time allocation on Bill C-51, particularly on the amendments by the Senate, the same Senate the Prime Minister said he was liberating by appointing independent senators to, because he wanted their feedback. He wanted additional debate. Today, they are once again shutting down that additional debate in the House.
    This once again is an example of the Liberal government ramming things through. I am going to remind my friend from Winnipeg North that in 2011, the first time he spoke about time allocation, the first of many times he complained about it, he said that its use would mean he was “abandoning every principle I have on parliamentary tradition”. Abandoning principles seems to be all they have done in government.
    My question is for either the minister or the member for Winnipeg North regarding the desire to have independent input from the Senate, with the changes made to the other place by the Prime Minister. Bill C-51 is an example of that additional insight from the Senate. I spoke last week on it. Why is the government curtailing debate on Bill C-51 through the use of time allocation? Once again, the Liberals are not adhering to their promises on omnibus bills or time allocation, nor are they keeping with the Prime Minister's promise to have an independent Senate that could provide input on bills. Why are they using time allocation and discounting the input from Senator Pate and others?
    Madam Speaker, I acknowledge the comments by my friend and colleague across the way. My favourite parliamentary procedure, one of the favourite duties I have in this place, is passing good laws that are informed by robust consultation.
    I believe the member for Winnipeg North would agree with me that we have had substantial debate on Bill C-51. The bill benefited from the very direct engagement of the hon. members in the other place. We have taken serious account of their message back and have recognized that their proposed amendment is well intentioned. We are committed to continuing to work with the hon. senators and Canadians generally, as we seek to move forward and look at the law of consent and the incapacity to consent. This is something on which there will be ongoing discussion, dialogue and commitment by our government.

  (1205)  

    Madam Speaker, I have found myself, as a New Democrat, in the awkward position of agreeing with the work the Senate has done. I was one of those who voted in favour of Bill C-51, because I agree with the focus of the bill and the provisions in it. Ultimately, what the Senate has attempted to do reflects very much what I attempted to do at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
    My issue with the government's approach and its parliamentary tactics comes from the fact that for the various justice bills, Bill C-32, Bill C-39, Bill C-51 and Bill C-75, the Minister of Justice could very well have packaged many of the inoperative provisions of the Criminal Code in Bill C-39 and Bill C-51 in one bill that would have passed through Parliament relatively quickly. Instead, she packaged in some other provisions that have been more contentious, and therefore, has forced the government to use extraordinary measures like time allocation.
    With all the evidence from legal experts over the years who have talked about the inoperative provisions of the Criminal Code, why could the Minister of Justice not have packaged the provisions in Bill C-39 and Bill C-51, which would not have had any argument, in one bill? Instead, three years into the government's mandate, we find ourselves still deliberating on these provisions, and nothing has changed.
    Madam Speaker, my colleague across the way sat on the justice and human rights committee, which has debated many justice bills.
    As for the member's characterization of parliamentary tactics, the only parliamentary tactic I employ and that our government employs is to work as co-operatively as we can with all members in the House to have informed debate about particular bills the government puts forward, seeking feedback from hon. members in this place and the other place and valuing the work done at committee.
    With respect to all the justice bills that have been advanced, we have been working expeditiously to move forward with Bill C-39, Bill C-51 and Bill C-75 so that we clean up the so-called zombie provisions and the unconstitutional provisions. I would look to all hon. colleagues in this place to work with us to make sure that these pieces of legislation move forward as expeditiously as possible.
    Madam Speaker, it is encouraging that in Bill C-51 there are provisions that would remove sections of the Criminal Code that have been found to be unconstitutional by appellate courts. However, following up on the question put by my friend for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, it is disappointing that the government still has not removed unconstitutional sections, sections the Supreme Court of Canada has found to be of no force or effect.
    It has now been over two years since Travis Vader had his conviction on two counts of second degree murder overturned as a result of the application of an inoperative section. Two years later, Bill C-39 remains stuck at first reading. The only thing preventing inoperative sections of the Criminal Code from being removed is the government. Can the minister explain to the McCann family why, after two years, they are still waiting for section 230 and other inoperative sections of the Criminal Code to be removed?
    Madam Speaker, I am happy to speak to the comments and questions from my colleague across the way with respect to the then Bill C-39, which is now incorporated in the broad criminal justice reforms contained within Bill C-75.
    I am very pleased that Bill C-75 has passed third reading in this place and is in the other place for debate and discussion. We look forward to its deliberations with respect to these very important and bold reforms presented in Bill C-75. I would look to all members in the House to assist in encouraging the members in the other place to proceed in an expeditious fashion so that the provisions the member opposite references will be passed as part of Bill C-75 and we can remove those provisions from the Criminal Code.

  (1210)  

    Madam Speaker, I find it very interesting that we are debating this minister's attempt to shut down discussion on serious provisions in the justice bills being brought forward in the same week the minister has her lawyers at the B.C. Supreme Court arguing that residential school survivors from St. Anne's do not have the right to procedural fairness.
    Now, the minister is a lawyer. She would know that procedural fairness is a fundamental principle of law. For example, in the case of H-15019, a survivor of horrific child rape, the minister's staff sat on evidence of a perpetrator and then fought this survivor every step of the way, all the way to the Supreme Court. It is now arguing that survivors do not have the right to procedural fairness for the injustices committed by her officials. The minister has spent—what is the number?—$2.3 million fighting these survivors, and she is at the Supreme Court this week.
    In light of all the documents they have attempted to seal under sealing orders, including the Phil Fontaine affidavit, which accuses the government of breaking its word, how is it possible that we have such belief in this minister to do the right thing and that she would treat survivors of residential school abuse in such a manner? How is it possible?
    Madam Speaker, I would like to unequivocally state that I do not agree with the member opposite's characterization of the work we are doing.
    I will say, with respect to his comments about shutting down debate and discussion, that with respect to the issue at hand, Bill C-51, this House has debated Bill C-51 for a total of 10 and a half hours, including three hours of debate on the message from the other place. The Senate debated Bill C-51 for four hours. It benefited from a total of 19.5 hours of study at committee, between the House and the Senate, which heard from 63 witnesses.
    We are talking about Bill C-51. I look forward to having this become law so we can ensure that we codify the Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. J.A., that we further support sexual assault victims and that we ensure that we can move forward with charter statements that will be introduced with all government legislation once this bill becomes law.
    Madam Speaker, Bill C-51, Bill C-57, Bill C-87, Bill C-88, and Bill C-21, all of these bills have had notice given of time allocation in the last week we are sitting before the Christmas break. Is this not just another indictment of the failure of the Liberal government when it comes to managing the business of the House?
    The Liberal government said it was going to do things differently. All of a sudden, like the kid who spent the entire semester at school partying, when that final assignment comes due, it is a rush to try to get it in, in the nick of time, before the deadline. Is this not just another example of the Liberals' failure to manage the business of this place?
    Madam Speaker, of course, I reject the characterization of the significant work our government is doing to move forward with many pieces of significant legislation and to look to this House and to Canadians for input, debate and discussion on how we can move forward with what our government has committed to in terms of law reform.
    To characterize this as last-minute, reflects the lack of importance the member opposite places on engaging with Canadians, having robust discussion, and listening to committees and hearing their recommendations and incorporating them to improve government bills.
    This is a commitment our government will continue to follow to ensure that our laws benefit from the vast experience, in this case, of criminal justice stakeholders and victims groups. We will not disregard that. We have been working in a consistent manner, from day one, to ensure that our legislation, the bills we introduce in this place, reflects the desires of Canadians. It is our responsibility to ensure that these bills move forward in the most expeditious manner possible.

  (1215)  

    Madam Speaker, I am not satisfied with the minister's previous response to my question. We can look at the legislative track record of the Minister of Justice, starting with Bill C-28, the victim surcharge bill, which was rolled into Bill C-75. We had Bill C-32, which was rolled into Bill C-39, which was then rolled into Bill C-75, and now we have Bill C-51.
    I talked about tactics. Time allocation is a tactic. It would have been an unnecessary one if we could have dealt with the substantive provisions in all those bills, but instead, the government's strategy was to basically string us along with the introduction of these justice bills that would clean up the inoperative provisions of the Criminal Code and then leave them in some kind of purgatory stuck at first reading.
    When the Minister of Justice took office, everyone knew that there were zombie provisions in the Criminal Code that had to be cleaned up. This has been a topic of discussion for decades, and every year, the Criminal Code is faithfully reproduced with all of these mistakes.
    Again, why did the Minister of Justice, in 2016, the first year of her mandate, not take the provisions in Bill C-32 and Bill C-39 and elements of Bill C-51 and package them in one bill? We could have had that passed, done and dusted by now, but instead, they were rolled up with contentious provisions, and they are still being debated. Bill C-75 has only just been sent to the Senate. Who knows how long it is going to take there?
    Madam Speaker, in terms of reintroducing the Criminal Code, I am incredibly proud to be part of a government that has taken action, which has not been taken for decades, as the member mentioned, to ensure that we have a modernized Criminal Code, that we remove the unconstitutional provisions, the zombie provisions, that we update the laws around sexual assault and intimate partner violence and that we look at the victim fine surcharge as well as section 159. All of these are issues raised in government bills the member opposite has spoken to.
    We are moving forward with comprehensive reform of the criminal justice system, and that starts with looking, in a substantial manner, at the Criminal Code. This is what we have sought to do and what is contained in Bill C-51 and also in Bill C-75.
    I look forward these two pieces of proposed legislation becoming law so that we can do what has not been done for far too long, which is modernize the Criminal Code.
    Madam Speaker, one of the things we need to emphasize is that in preparation for bringing forward Bill C-51 and previous legislation, there has been a great deal of background work with many stakeholders in different jurisdictions. I wonder if the minister could provide her thoughts on the importance of having done a lot of the preliminary work and give us a sense of some of the background work leading to the introduction of the legislation itself. Not only has there been a thorough debate, with questions and answers, in committee and in debates inside the chamber, there was also a great deal of consultation prior to the legislation even being introduced.
    Madam Speaker, when we formed government, we could have, as has been suggested here by members opposite, introduced legislation to do what potentially we knew needed to be done. However, we sought to engage broadly to get feedback to ensure that the commitments the Prime Minister asked me to address in terms of a robust review of the criminal justice system, including sentencing reform, were done in a manner that was reflective of what Canadians were saying and what the actors in the criminal justice system were saying.
     We engaged right across the country in a series of many round tables in each jurisdiction to get feedback from not only defence counsel, prosecutors and the judiciary but from victims groups. I also engaged in three separate federal, provincial and territorial meetings with my counterparts to come up with the bold and necessary reforms we make to address delays, efficiencies, and effectiveness in the criminal justice system.
    As well, we had forums where we talked about sexual assault and what we could do in terms of improving the laws around sexual assault and making them compliant with the Supreme Court of Canada decisions. We did this in consultation with actors in the criminal justice system, victims and representative groups not only here in Ottawa but across the country. We provided a report on our consultations entitled “What we heard”.

  (1220)  

    Madam Speaker, I was appalled when I heard that the Liberal government was trying to remove section 176 of the Criminal Code. This is the only section of the Criminal Code that can directly protect the rights of individuals to freely practise their religion, whatever that religion might be. It was recently used in a case on June 9, 2017 here in Ottawa.
    Why did the Liberals back down on removing section 176? Was it due to public backlash and they did not properly investigate this? Why are they not trying to hybridize this under Bill C-75?
    Madam Speaker, I believe I understand the member's question. With respect to section 176, he characterized it as backing down, but what we did is we listened to what the committee members sought to say around religious officiants and we recognized the recommendation in terms of the amendments that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights made and acknowledged that and accepted that. We did make some amendments to ensure that this reflected all religious officiants as opposed to the confined way it was drafted in terms of the amendments that were proposed at the House committee. Basically the answer is that we listened to what the House of Commons committee said. That is the importance of committees in this place that we take incredibly seriously.
    In terms of hybridization of offences, we are proposing in Bill C-75, which is not the bill at issue here today, a number of offences to be hybridized, to contribute to the broad and bold criminal justice reforms that will address delays, efficiencies and effectiveness in the criminal justice system. By hybridizing certain offences, it gives prosecutors the ability to exercise their discretion and proceed in terms of criminal charges in the most expeditious manner as appropriate to the circumstances of a particular case.
    Madam Speaker, one of the good things about time allocation is it does give us more time with the minister here on the floor of the House of Commons, particularly to speak on justice issues. I spoke in debate on the bill last week with respect to the charter statement document that her department is developing for each piece of legislation. My concern about this so-called charter statement is that it could send a chill suggesting the government feels that there would be no charter claims available, when it is not Parliament but a court that determines whether there is a charter violation.
    I refer the minister specifically this morning to the editorial by Chief Fox on Bill C-69 in The Globe and Mail demonstrating that the charter statement in that piece of legislation obviously did not respect the views of many indigenous leaders. We are talking about justice, about the charter statements. I would like the minister to comment on how her department consults with respect to charter statements for government legislation if there are indigenous rights underlying the substance of the bill. Chief Fox's commentary was on Bill C-69 and its anti-pipeline focus, but I would like the minister to comment broadly on the use of charter statements and how she obtains input from indigenous leaders in the preparation of those statements.
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the member for Durham raising charter statements because one of the significant pieces of Bill C-51, when hopefully it becomes law, is it will be a direct responsibility of the government to introduce a charter statement with each piece of government legislation.
    I would be happy to speak with the member for Durham at any time, not necessarily in the House, about the robust legislation and activities of the Department of Justice. I would extend that invitation to him.
    In terms of charter statements, they are the responsibility of the Minister of Justice to look at government legislation. Charter statements are not legal opinions, but they detail where the charter is potentially engaged by a piece of legislation that the government is putting forward. It provides a window into how government decisions are made or the thought processes that government went through in terms of putting forward a piece of legislation. This is something that has not been done before. This is something that is contained within Bill C-51. With the coming into force of that bill, the charter statements will be applicable to all pieces of government legislation.

  (1225)  

    Madam Speaker, the hon. minister alluded to the repeal of section 159 of the Criminal Code. Section 159 is another unconstitutional section relating to anal intercourse. More than two years ago, with a whole lot of fanfare, the government introduced Bill C-32 to repeal section 159. Bill C-32 was such a priority of the government that the bill remains stuck at first reading.
    The Liberals then, as the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford pointed out, rolled Bill C-32 into Bill C-39, which would remove, in addition to section 159, other unconstitutional sections. Bill C-39 is such a priority of the government that after being introduced on March 8, 2017, it remains stuck at first reading and two years later, section 159, an unconstitutional section, remains there in black and white in the Criminal Code. Can the minister explain this?
    Madam Speaker, again to the question and comments of my colleague across the way with respect to section 159 and the legislation that has now been put into Bill C-75, removing this provision in the Criminal Code is a priority of our government, as are all of the provisions contained within Bill C-75. I am very pleased that Bill C-75 has passed third reading in this House and will be debated and discussed in the other place. I look forward to the results of the deliberations from the other place.
    I would say that we are committed to ensuring that Bill C-75 moves through the parliamentary process, benefits from the parliamentary process and becomes law as soon as possible. From what I can account for from the member's comments is that there are major pieces within Bill C-75, if not the entirety of Bill C-75, that are in the interest of moving forward and amending the Criminal Code and addressing the issues that have been raised by members in this place.
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the Minister of Justice being here today.
     The member for Durham raised the question on the process of charter statements. Recently, we had some debate in this place regarding the back to work legislation for Canada Post. A former justice and current senator described the charter statement put out by the Minister of Justice in very negative terms, which I will not use here today. I also read the statement. It was a page and a half fig leaf giving the government some sort of charter coverage, so to speak, in regard to it.
    The minister has said that this process will be continuing on for each piece of legislation. How much direction does the minister give to her staff in the Ministry of Justice, and how much political imperative does she give, or is there an objective process? I would hope she would be willing to explain that, because parliamentarians would like to know the answer.

  (1230)  

    Madam Speaker, again I am pleased to stand up and speak to the charter statement, which is a very substantial part of Bill C-51. I have, as the Minister of Justice, introduced charter statements with each piece of government legislation that I have introduced in this place. I will say that charter statements are meant to be informative. Charter statements are meant to make the thoughts and the thinking behind government legislation accessible to Canadians, not to provide legal advice to Canadians or legal advice to this place. As the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General and the chief law officer of the government, I provide legal advice to the government.
    What I believe is incredibly useful, and I have had feedback in this regard, is to have a discussion about where the charter is engaged with respect to specific pieces of legislation and to reference case law that has considered the issues in terms of specific charter sections to give an idea or window into government legislation and where the charter may or may not be implicated. This is the idea behind this. Again, it is not legal advice.
     I will not comment on comments that were made by the hon. members of the other place, but I take great pride in ensuring that our charter statements provide the information and the accessibility not only to members in Parliament but to Canadians generally. This is a practice that will continue. This is a practice that has assisted in terms of getting a window into the eyes of where the charter is implicated in terms of government legislation.

[Translation]

    It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put the question necessary to dispose of the motion now before the House.
    The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes): All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
    Some hon. members: Yea.
    The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes): All those opposed will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.
    The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes): In my opinion the nays have it.
    And five or more members having risen:
    The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes): Call in the members.

  (1310)  

[English]

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

(Division No. 976)

YEAS

Members

Aldag
Alghabra
Amos
Anandasangaree
Arseneault
Arya
Ayoub
Badawey
Bagnell
Baylis
Bennett
Bibeau
Bittle
Blair
Boissonnault
Bossio
Bratina
Breton
Brison
Caesar-Chavannes
Carr
Casey (Cumberland—Colchester)
Chagger
Champagne
Cuzner
Dabrusin
Damoff
DeCourcey
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Drouin
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Dzerowicz
Easter
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Ellis
Erskine-Smith
Eyking
Eyolfson
Fergus
Finnigan
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fraser (West Nova)
Fraser (Central Nova)
Fuhr
Garneau
Gerretsen
Goldsmith-Jones
Goodale
Gould
Graham
Hajdu
Hardie
Harvey
Hébert
Hehr
Hogg
Holland
Housefather
Hutchings
Iacono
Joly
Jordan
Jowhari
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Lapointe
LeBlanc
Lebouthillier
Lefebvre
Leslie
Levitt
Lightbound
Lockhart
Long
Longfield
Ludwig
MacAulay (Cardigan)
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
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)
Murray
Nassif
Ng
O'Connell
Oliphant
Oliver
O'Regan
Ouellette
Paradis
Peschisolido
Peterson
Petitpas Taylor
Philpott
Picard
Poissant
Qualtrough
Ratansi
Rioux
Robillard
Rogers
Romanado
Rota
Ruimy
Rusnak
Sahota
Saini
Sajjan
Samson
Sarai
Scarpaleggia
Schiefke
Schulte
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Sidhu (Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon)
Sikand
Sohi
Sorbara
Spengemann
Tabbara
Tan
Tassi
Tootoo
Trudeau
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Vaughan
Whalen
Wilkinson
Wilson-Raybould
Yip
Zahid

Total: -- 152


NAYS

Members

Aboultaif
Albas
Albrecht
Alleslev
Allison
Anderson
Angus
Arnold
Barlow
Barsalou-Duval
Beaulieu
Benson
Benzen
Bergen
Berthold
Block
Boucher
Boudrias
Boutin-Sweet
Cannings
Caron
Carrie
Choquette
Cooper
Deltell
Diotte
Doherty
Dreeshen
Duncan (Edmonton Strathcona)
Eglinski
Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster)
Falk (Provencher)
Finley
Fortin
Gallant
Garrison
Gill
Gladu
Gourde
Hardcastle
Hughes
Jeneroux
Johns
Kelly
Kent
Kitchen
Kmiec
Kusie
Kwan
Laverdière
Liepert
Lloyd
Lukiwski
MacGregor
MacKenzie
Maguire
Marcil
Martel
Mathyssen
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McColeman
McLeod (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo)
Motz
Nater
O'Toole
Paul-Hus
Poilievre
Quach
Rankin
Rayes
Rempel
Richards
Sansoucy
Schmale
Shields
Shipley
Sopuck
Stanton
Stetski
Strahl
Stubbs
Sweet
Thériault
Trost
Trudel
Van Kesteren
Vecchio
Wagantall
Warawa
Warkentin
Waugh
Webber
Weir
Yurdiga

Total: -- 94


PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.
    I wish to inform the House that because of the proceedings on the time allocation motion, Government Orders will be extended by 30 minutes.

Consideration of Senate Amendments  

    The House resumed from December 6 consideration of the motion in relation to the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-51, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Department of Justice Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act.
    Mr. Speaker, Bill C-51 is a broad and complex bill. If I have the time, I will entertain further discussion of the merits of the bill, which I feel is a good bill.
    Bill C-51 proposes many different things in clarifying provisions relating to sexual assault, repealing unconstitutional provisions of the Criminal Code, clarifying and strengthening our charter by ensuring the government prevents charter statements for every piece of government legislation and seeking to avoid unnecessary litigation by enhancing our understanding of the criminal law.
    This debate is essentially about the Senate amendments to the bill with respect to the issue of sexual assault.
    As these issues were covered by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights when it debated the bill, this is an interesting analogy to bring to the attention of the House. We did not support the amendments that were brought forward by Senator Pate, amendments that were adopted by the Senate.
    When we were debating the sexual assault provisions in the bill, there was enormous discussion.
    The bill's intent is to codify the decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada in J.A. and Ewanchuk.
    In the decision in J.A., the intent was to set out and make it clear that someone would not be capable of providing consent when unconscious, but also that there were other instances in which the individual might be unable to provide consent.
    In the case of Ewanchuk, the issue related to a misunderstanding of the law, clarifying that a mistake of law was not a defence to sexual assault.
    When the legislation came to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, we introduced amendments to clarify what people were concerned about when they came to testify about the bill. We heard from a wide range of witnesses, representing groups on all sides of the spectrum, from defence counsels and prosecutors to women's groups, victims' groups, etc.
    We wanted to ensure that it was very clear that unconsciousness was not a bright light, meaning that anything short of unconsciousness would be seen as potentially not allowing one to say that consent was not extended.
    As such, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights made an amendment to make clear that consent had to be contemporaneous at the time of the sexual activity, that it must be ongoing, that it would not be valid if made in advance and that the person engaging in sexual activity was allowed to withdraw consent at any time. That amendment was supported by all members of the committee.
    We also had an amendment to clarify Ewanchuk with respect to the mistake of law defence. We were concerned that the bill as originally drafted would possibly allow people to conclude that a mistake as to fact would no longer be a defence. We clarified that portion of the bin the bill to make it clear that it was only a mistake in belief as to what the law was that would no longer provide a defence allowing a mistaken belief as to fact to continue to constitute a limited defence.
    For clarity, that means if someone who erroneously believes that when married, a spouse has to consent and that there cannot be sexual assault in marriage, that is a mistake as to law and it is not permitted anymore as a defence. That clarifies the Supreme Court decision in Ewanchuk within the Criminal Code.
    That was what our committee had done, but the Senate went far beyond that and made amendments that sought to set out an additional framework of what type of capacity was required for consent.

  (1315)  

    The Senate added that lines 17 to 20 be replaced to say:
(b) the complainant is incapable of consenting to the activity in question for any reason, including, but not limited to, the fact that they are
(i) unable to understand the nature, circumstances, risks and consequences of the sexual activity in question,
(ii) unable to understand that they have the choice to engage in the sexual activity in question or not, or
(iii) unable to affirmatively express agreement to the sexual activity in question by words or by active conduct;”, and...
     (3.1) For greater certainty, capacity to consent at the time of the sexual activity that forms the subject-matter of the charge cannot be inferred from evidence on capacity to consent at the time of another sexual activity
    These are all very well-meaning amendments. They are amendments that seek to clarify capacity, but I am afraid that these amendments may have unintended consequences, could prolong cases a great deal by leading to enhanced questioning in all of these areas and, in fact, go way beyond what the Supreme Court said in J.A. and go beyond the intention given to the legislation, which was to codify the decision in J.A.
    The Minister of Justice has advised us that she will be undertaking further consultations with relevant groups across the country and may come back to us with further clarifications to the legislation on capacity. However, I believe that putting forward these very detailed amendments that were not considered by the witnesses who appeared at the House committee or Senate committee because these were not on the table in the legislation, so we did not hear from the wide spectrum of witnesses on their thoughts about the draft language, leads to us using very specific draft language that the legal community across Canada was not consulted on.
    I would also draw the attention of the House to the fact that the committee considered amendments very similar to this that were brought forward by my colleague from Cowichan—Malahat—Langford in the New Democratic Party who sat on the committee at the time. When those amendments were brought forward, I found them to be confusing. I asked a question of the officials from the Department of Justice that I would like to put on the House record. This is from the record of the justice committee. I asked the following:
    Can I ask a question, either to [the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford] or the officials, or maybe to both? I have two questions, actually.
    One, with the fact that we have “unconscious” and then a general provision saying for anything else, is there any potential that by adding two specific examples into the second paragraph, the courts may then narrow the scope of what it's intended to mean?
    Two, would somebody not being aware that they are not obliged to consent to the activity not be a mistake of law, a misunderstanding of the law, as opposed to incapacity?
    The official from the Department of Justice who answered the question, Nathalie Levman, counsel for the criminal law policy section, stated the following:
    Regarding your second point, I agree with you. I'm concerned that this doesn't necessarily speak to the capacity issue that proposed paragraph 153.1(3)(b) speaks to.
    That raises a number of different points about your first question, which is that the law on when a person is so incapacitated that no consent is obtained in law is complex. The case law is difficult and there may be a number of different factors that are relevant. Singling out two factors, one of which may not relate to capacity, may have some unintended effects. As to what those effects could be, I cannot speculate, but I just point out that it is a complex issue of law, this particular paragraph, proposed paragraph 273.1(2)(b).
    That brings me back to my argument. The fact that the Department of Justice was unable to say clearly what the intended amendment would even mean and talk to us about the ambiguity that the amendment potentially offered leads me to conclude, as I believe my Conservative and Liberal colleagues all concluded at committee, that adding these words into the law, while well intentioned, may have factors that we had not considered. I think this would certainly render a provision to the law that the courts have now interpreted for a considerable amount of time even more complex than it needs to be, leading to multiple questions that I could see being asked now to deal with the all of the different situations put forward by the Senate amendment.
    I applaud Senator Pate for her decision to be an advocate on this issue, but I regret that I cannot agree with the position that she took in terms of proposing the amendment to go forward at this time.

  (1320)  

     I would prefer seeing the Minister of Justice do wide consultation, which would then allow, when a bill comes forward, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to have the benefit of the draft language to share with all of the different witnesses coming before committee, so that all of them could expound on whether or not they find that language to be helpful or problematic, etc.
    That being said, I would also like to speak to another amendment that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights made to the bill. There has been a lot of discussion about the provisions that the bill removed from the Criminal Code that had been ruled either unconstitutional or inoperative; inoperative ones, such as challenging someone to a duel. We would all agree that is no longer an issue for many Canadians, and that that was properly removed from the legislation.
     Another one that would be removed as inoperative is possessing, printing, distributing or publishing crime comics. Again, I think most of us would agree that there is no need for a specific provision as to that. Fraudulently pretending to practise witchcraft is another one. While it is comforting to know that if someone actually does practise witchcraft and is not being fraudulent about it, they are allowed to do so in Canada. I do believe that removing the potential of fraudulently practising witchcraft is definitely a good step.
    Another is issuing trading stamps, who knew it was illegal to issue trading stamps? However, I am pleased that we removed that from the Criminal Code. I am also very pleased that we worked with—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    I just want to remind members that the discussion is between the Speaker and the orator at this point. If anybody else has anything to add, they will be able to do that during questions and comments.
    Madam Speaker, I am also very pleased that my colleagues on the committee from all parties worked together to be sensitive to religious communities across Canada to retain the provisions that obstructing a clergyperson in conducting a service was retained in the Criminal Code.
    While there were many good arguments made that there are general provisions in the Criminal Code that could have dealt with those matters, the fact is that this was a specific provisions that made a difference to people of faith in this country. Whether it was absolutely necessary, because there could have been other provisions, or not, the fact is that people of faith are concerned today. We live in a world where hate crimes are increasing.
     We live in a world whether people of faith are exposed to graffiti on their temples, churches, synagogues and mosques, where we are seeing people attacked on the street for wearing faith-based gear, where we see, more and more, reports of those who are of anti-Semitic, anti-Christian and anti-Islamic in our society. People who came to testify told us very strongly that they felt recognized, seeing this provision in the Criminal Code. As such, I think all of us on committee unanimously agreed to leave that provision in the Criminal Code and, in fact, to make it gender neutral in order to make sure that all religions could feel part of that provision.
    I applaud, first of all, my friend from Niagara Falls who raised the issue initially, and all of the members of the committee who worked together, very consensually, to make the modifications to the bill, including retaining that provision.
    I would be very pleased to entertain any questions my colleagues have on the bill.

  (1325)  

    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my Liberal friend for his speech and for entertaining our brief heckles at one point in the speech.
    I am going to ask the member the same question I asked the Minister of Justice this morning about charter statements that are explored within Bill C-51, an approach of the government, in terms of giving a statement that the charter has been considered and the government feels there is no violation or question of a constitutional nature.
    I would ask the member to contrast that with the editorial in The Globe and Mail today by Chief Fox, an indigenous leader from Alberta who said that they were not properly consulted with respect to Bill C-69. We have an anti-resource to market bill by the government, where clearly indigenous leaders say that the duty to consult was not met.
     In a charter statement environment, how is the government consulting indigenous Canadians? It is clear that there is legislation before Parliament right now that first nations leaders say they have not been consulted on. My concern with the charter statement is it is a way of the government putting out “chill”, saying that it has considered all arguments about charter or constitutional provisions, and therefore this legislation is okay.
    Is the member aware of how the government is consulting indigenous peoples as a part of the charter statement preparation?
    Madam Speaker, I would like to come back to this because I heard my colleague for Durham on this subject last week and I have been reflecting about his questions on charter statements. Personally, as a member of the Standing Committee for Justice and Human Rights, I appreciate seeing the charter statements that my colleague the Minister of Justice has tabled on her bills. Let me explain why.
    When I read those charter statements it enables me to understand where the government is saying that the charter is being followed and complied with, where there are potential flaws in that argument, where are the risks, where are the things that our committee should be looking at in the bill because they have voiced either tentative support or concerns and then said that they are addressed in this way or that. I have benefited from the charter statements as an MP and as a member of the committee by better understanding what I should be looking at in my duties when I am reviewing the bill.
    The question of how the consultations are happening with indigenous Canadians is better posed to cabinet, but I can explain to my colleagues why I think it is valuable for all of us in Parliament to have charter statements.
    Madam Speaker, I enjoyed working with my friend the member for Mount Royal in my capacity as vice-chair of the justice committee. I agree with the hon. member's comments with respect to the Senate amendments. He is right that the justice committee looked at amendments introduced by the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford. There were witnesses who appeared before the committee and made submissions that the codification of J.A. in section 273 and the expressed inclusion of the word “unconscious” would create uncertainty in the law in those cases that are just short of consciousness or where someone perhaps is significantly intoxicated.
    I wonder if the hon. member could comment on those submissions and his position with respect to the inclusion of the word “unconscious”, which does codify J.A. in my opinion.

  (1330)  

    Madam Speaker, in reciprocal language, I want to tell my hon. colleague how much I appreciated working with him as well on the justice committee. He always has an excellent understanding of all of the issues before us and expresses himself very well.
    I also was concerned about the same issue. I feel the amendment that the committee made clarified the point that consent needs to be ongoing and expressed. As a result, I think that attenuates the concern that we heard. I want it to be very clear that the law is not that there is some bright line before unconsciousness and that being unconscious is the only threshold for not being able to give consent. There are lines before unconsciousness where people would be unable to consent.
    The hon. member is right to raise that as an issue. That was not what this legislation was ever supposed to mean. Hopefully, our amendment at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights helps to clarify that.
    Madam Speaker, I did value my time with my hon. colleague at the justice committee last year. I was going through the Supreme Court's decision in J.A. It does acknowledge in that decision that the appropriate body to alter the law on consent in relation to sexual assault is Parliament. Thus, the court has acknowledged the role Parliament has.
    I think it would be wrong for us to rule out the ability of this body to do what it wants with the Criminal Code. Criminal Code interpretation and its formation is a give-and-take between Parliament and the courts. The courts do respect our role in this.
    I just want to read a few quotes from the Senate debate because I found it quite interesting. The senators acknowledged that:
     Without Senator Pate's amendment to Bill C-51, we will have failed to capture the scope of consent laid out for us by the Supreme Court, supported by experts in the law of sexual assault in Canada.
     Feminist experts in sexual assault law have advised that inclusion of the word “unconscious” risks creating a false threshold for the capacity to consent.
    I would like to hear my hon. colleague's comments on that. We had some very interesting testimony at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, particularly from Professor Janine Benedet, who said on record that any clarification we can give would be beneficial. I see the Senate's amendments as trying to do that and living up to some of the witness testimony that we heard.
    Madam Speaker, I also want to say that my colleague from Cowichan—Malahat—Langford was also a great addition to the justice committee while he was there. While the member for Victoria is irreplaceable, the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford did a great job in almost replacing him. It was a pleasure serving with him.
    With respect to what the member is saying, I entirely agree that it is appropriate for Parliament to legislate what consent and capacity are. However, it is inappropriate that none of the witnesses who came before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights had the proposed language by Senator Pate in front of them when they testified before our committee, nor did the people testifying before the Senate's constitutional and legal affairs committee.
     An appropriate way for Parliament to legislate is for the government to carefully consult, put forward language, and then have both committees carefully study it, with all witnesses having the benefit of that language in front of them. I am hopeful that my colleague, the Minister of Justice, will do that.
    Madam Speaker, could my colleague expand on what took place at committee? It is worth noting that a number of amendments were brought forward. My friend made reference to the religious freedom amendment, which is a very important one. Could he provide further comment on the amendments moved at committee?

  (1335)  

    Madam Speaker, absolutely. As I was mentioning, in our discussions at committee, we wanted to clarify consent. Therefore, rather than using the words the Senate has used, which we believe go far beyond what the J.A. decision codified, we clarified the provisions by saying that consent must be present at the time the sexual activity in question takes place, making it clear that it has to be ongoing consent and not implicit consent from a previous act that applies to the current act.
    We wanted to clarify that only a question of law was being removed from the defence not mistakes as to facts. Therefore, we clarified that by saying that “The question of whether no consent is obtained under subsection (3) or (4) or 265(3) is a question of law.”
    The committee carefully considered all of those issues, in addition to the issues brought forward by the Senate, and actually rejected the issues brought forward by the Senate.
    Madam Speaker, I am very happy to be participating in today's debate on Bill C-51. I find it unfortunate, however, that the government has again had to resort to time allocation on a justice bill. The bill passed the House of Commons. I was certainly one of the members who voted in favour of it. However, I find myself in the awkward position of actually agreeing with what the Senate has done to the bill, because it very much mirrors the attempt I made at the justice committee last year to codify the nature of consent and provide a bit more definition in the Criminal Code.
    Before I get to the Senate amendments more specifically, I want to talk more generally about the government's record on justice bills. While I do have a great deal of respect for the Minister of Justice and I very much agreed at the start of the government's mandate with what she was attempting to do, the pace of legislative change from the Minister of Justice has been anything but satisfactory. We started off with Bill C-14. It received a lot of attention and debate in Canada, as it should have, but we have to remember that the only reason the government moved ahead with Bill C-14 and we passed it in 2016 was that the government was operating under a Supreme Court imposed deadline. There was really no choice in the matter. Furthermore, when Bill C-14 was passed, we very nearly had a standoff with the Senate because of the provision in the bill about reasonable death occurring in a predetermined amount of time. We knew that that particular section would be challenged in the court system.
    The other substantive piece of legislation the government has passed is Bill C-46, which was designed to move in conjunction with Bill C-45. Of course, Bill C-46 was problematic because the government has now removed the need for reasonable suspicion for police officers to administer a Breathalyzer test. They can basically do it whenever a person is legally stopped, whether it be for a broken tail light or for not stopping completely at a stop sign. If an officer has a Breathalyzer test on their person, they can demand a breath sample right then and there, without the need for reasonable suspicion. I have seen mandatory alcohol screening operate in other countries, notably Australia.
    In my attempt to amend that bill, I stated that if we were going to apply such a draconian measure, it should be applied equally, because if we start giving police officers the ability to decide when or where to test someone, we know from the statistics, notably from the City of Toronto, that people of a certain skin colour are more apt to be stopped by the police than others. If such a provision were to be implemented, it should be applied equally at all times.
    Moving on, there is Bill C-28, which deals with the victim surcharge, but is still languishing in purgatory at first reading.
    The government then moved forward with a number of cleanups of the Criminal Code, the so-called zombie or inoperative provisions and the many redundant sections of the Criminal Code. That is the thing about the Criminal Code: It is littered with out-of-date provisions that are inoperable because of Supreme Court or appellate court rulings, but they are still faithfully reprinted every single year because Parliament has not done its work to clean up the Criminal Code. As my college the member for St. Albert—Edmonton has noted, it has led to some very bad consequences, notably in the Travis Vader case, where the judge used an inoperative section of the Criminal Code to convict someone. That conviction was then overturned. So these section do have very real consequences.
    My contention has always been with section 159, which was brought forward in Bill C-32. Bill C-32 was then swallowed up by Bill C-39. Then Bill C-39 was swallowed up by Bill C-75, which has only just passed the House and now has to clear the Senate. We have no idea how much longer that is going to take. The House is about to rise for the Christmas break. We will be back functioning at the end of January, but Bill C-75 is a gigantic omnibus bill and full of provisions that make it a very contentious bill.

  (1340)  

    My argument has always been that for such an ambitious legislative agenda, especially if we are going to clean up the Criminal Code as Bill C-51 proposes to do, I contend that the Minister of Justice, had she had a good strategy in dealing with the parliamentary timetable and calendar and how this place actually works, would have bundled up the non-contentious issues in Bill C-39 and Bill C-32, which was morphed into Bill C-75, together with the non-contentious issues of Bill C-51 and made it a stand-alone bill, and we could have done that work.
    These are issues that we cannot really argue against because it is a moot point; the Supreme Court has already ruled, so keeping them in the Criminal Code just leads to further confusion. Here we are, three years into the government's mandate, and the Criminal Code has still not been cleaned up to this day. For an ambitious legislative agenda, that leaves a lot to be desired. I heard Michael Spratt, who regularly appears as a witness before the justice committee, describe Bill C-51 as dealing with the lowest of the low-hanging fruit. Therefore, if we had been serious, we could have made some very reasonable progress on that. Be that as it may, we have Bill C-51 before us and we have to go over it.
    Before I get into the specific amendments brought forward by the Senate, I think it is worth going over some of the things we are talking about. Among the things Bill C-51 would repeal is the offence of challenging someone to a duel. It used to be illegal to provoke someone to fight a duel or to accept the challenge. We will get rid of that section because it obviously reflects an earlier time in Canada's history. It is the reason why in this place we are two sword lengths apart. Members of parliament in the U.K. used to go into that place with swords on their hips. The bill would also get rid of section 143 dealing with advertizing a reward for the return of stolen property. It would get rid of section 163, dealing with the possession of crime comics, a legacy of a 1948 bill by a member who thought that crime comics negatively influenced kids by encouraging them to commit crimes, and that they were not a part of a good upbringing. The section on blasphemous libel would be dropped. Fraudulently pretending to practise witchcraft is probably one of my favourite ones.
    While Bill C-51 is making some much needed changes to sections of the Criminal Code, as I said earlier, we would not be arguing these cases in the House three years into the mandate of the current government if the bills had been bundled up into a single bill, which I am sure could have had royal assent by now.
    We did have a very interesting discussion at the justice committee on section 176. When I first read Bill C-51 and it mentioned that this section would be repealed, I read right over it. However, when hearing witnesses at committee, it became quite apparent that section 176 had a lot of very deep meaning to select religious groups. After hearing all of that testimony about the importance of having section 176 remain in the code, I am glad to see that the committee members were able to work together to polish the language to ensure that it would now be applicable to all religious faiths, and not just single out the Christian faith. Now, if someone were to interrupt the religious proceedings of any faith, that would be dealt with appropriately under section 176.
    The heart of the matter before us is the Senate amendments to Bill C-51. As I mentioned, it is kind of awkward for a New Democrat to be recognizing the work of the Senate. I value the people who sit as senators. I know there are some very determined people who certainly try to do their best there. My problem has always been with a 21st century democracy like Canada having an unelected and unaccountable upper house. I have to face the electorate for the decisions I make and the words I say in this place, and for what the Senate as a whole does.

  (1345)  

    I am going to be rejecting the government's motion on Bill C-51, because I agree with the substance of what the Senate was attempting to do in Bill C-51. It very much reflects some of the testimony that I heard at committee, and I have also reviewed some of the Senate Hansard transcripts of the debates it had on Bill C-51. While it is true that the amendments were not passed at the legal and constitutional affairs committee of the Senate, they were passed at the third reading stage. When we see the transcripts, we can see that the hon. senators in the other place were trying to codify what they saw as some missing aspects of the bill.
    If we look at the heart of the matter, it comes down to the Supreme Court decision in R. v. J.A. The Supreme Court ruling reads:
    When the complainant loses consciousness, she loses the ability to either oppose or consent to the sexual activity that occurs. Finding that such a person is consenting would effectively negate the right of the complainant to change her mind at any point in the sexual encounter.
    In some situations, the concept of consent Parliament has adopted may seem unrealistic. However, it would be inappropriate for this Court to carve out exceptions to the concept of consent when doing so would undermine Parliament’s choice. This concept of consent produces just results in the vast majority of cases and has proved to be of great value in combating stereotypes that have historically existed. In the absence of a constitutional challenge, the appropriate body to alter the law on consent in relation to sexual assault is Parliament, should it deem this necessary.
    The court in a sense is recognizing the very important part that Parliament plays in this. One thing I have learned during my time as our party's justice critic is that, in looking at the Criminal Code, ultimately, we in this place are responsible for drafting and implementing the law and it comes down to the courts to interpret it. There is this kind of back and forth. When the justice aspect of the government and the parliamentary part of it work in tandem like that, we hopefully arrive at a place where the law is reflective of today's society.
    However, it is not only the J.A. decision that we should be looking at. On October 30, which coincidentally was the very same day that the Senate sent the bill back to the House, there was a decision in the Alberta Court of Appeal, R. v. W.L.S. In that particular case, an acquittal on sexual assault charges was overturned by the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal acknowledged in its decision that the complainant was incapable of consenting.
    Senator Kim Pate provided us with a message. She said:
     In regard to our discussions concerning Bill C-51, I write to draw your attention to the recent case of the Alberta Court of Appeal, concerning the law of incapacity to consent to sexual activity. Please find a copy of this case attached.
    The Alberta Court of Appeal heard this case on October 30, the same day the Senate passed the amendments to Bill C-51. The court overturned the trial decision on the grounds that the trial judge had wrongly held that nothing short of unconsciousness was sufficient to establish incapacity. While this erroneous understanding of the law was rectified on appeal in this case, as we know, the vast majority of cases are never appealed. The trial judge's decision demonstrates the very error, fed by harmful stereotypes about victims of sexual assault, that many of us are concerned the original words of Bill C-51 risks encouraging.
    Senator Kim Pate is basically acknowledging that there is a role for Parliament to play in providing a more explicit definition of consent, what it means and when consent is not given. While I am certainly one of those people who trusts in the power and ability of judges to make decisions, the judicial discretion, I align that thinking more with the decisions that they make and not in the interpretation of the Criminal Code. There is room in some parts of the Criminal Code to be very specific so that there is no judicial discretion, and that we are very clear on what consent means and what it does not mean.

  (1350)  

    Turning to the actual Senate amendments, they would be adding specificity in both clause 10 and clause 19. Basically, those particular aspects want to ensure:
(b) the complainant is incapable of consenting to the activity in question for any reason, including, but not limited to, the fact that they are
(i) unable to understand the nature, circumstances, risks and consequences of the sexual activity in question,
(ii) unable to understand that they have the choice to engage in the sexual activity in question or not, or
(iii) unable to affirmatively express agreement to the sexual activity in question by words or by active conduct;
    Adding this kind of specificity to the Criminal Code is very much a good thing. In paragraph (b), it says “including, but not limited to”. I think adding that kind of specificity will help with certain cases. From the very interesting Senate deliberations on this subject at third reading, we can see that senators were not very happy with how Bill C-51 left a bit of a hole.
    We have made much of the witness testimony at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. Professor Janine Benedet did look at this particular aspect of the Criminal Code. As I said in my exchange with the member for Mount Royal, one thing she stated was:
    Any clarification we can give will be beneficial. It doesn't have to be an exhaustive list, but there has to be the idea that consent has to be informed, that you have to have the ability to understand that you can refuse—because some individuals with intellectual disabilities do not know they can say no to sexual activity—and that it has to be your actual agreement. Those are all things that can be read into the code as it's currently written, but sometimes are not fully realized in the cases we see.
    Adding that specific part would be very much in line with what Professor Benedet was saying at the committee. That is why I will be rejecting the government's motion and voting in favour of the Senate amendments.
    Turning to the Senate deliberations on this bill, in some of that debate it was said that R. v. J.A. outlines the requirement for active consent. However, the Senate very much found that without the specific amendment by Senator Pate to Bill C-51, we would have failed to capture the scope of consent laid out for us by the Supreme Court, supported by experts in the law of sexual assault in Canada.
    Feminist experts in sexual assault law have advised that the inclusion of the word “unconscious” risks creating a false threshold for the capacity to consent. There were also deliberations that the current wording in Bill C-51 poses a serious risk that women who are intoxicated would be blamed if they are sexually assaulted. They would not be protected by this bill.
    Further, some have noted that the weakness is in the definition of what constitutes non-consent. According to a legal expert who provides sexual consent training to judges, there is not enough precedent or awareness among judges to believe that the proposed wording in clause 10 and clause 19 of the bill is clear enough.
    I see my time is running out, but I will end with some of the really scary statistics we face as a country. Statistics Canada estimates that some 636,000 self-reported sexual assaults took place in Canada in 2014. Shockingly, it also estimates that as few as one in 20 were actually reported to police. Those are statistics which should give us great pause and lead us to ask ourselves what more we could be doing. The Senate amendments are very much in faith with trying to keep that.
    I would also note that this is probably one of the last opportunities I will have to rise in this particular chamber to give a speech. I want to acknowledge the history of this place and what an honour it has been for me, in my short three years here, to have served in this House of Commons chamber. I know we will be going forward to West Block, and an admirable job has been done there.
    I finish by wishing all my colleagues a merry Christmas. I hope they have a fantastic holiday season with friends and family, and that we come back in 2019 refreshed and ready to do our work on behalf of Canadians.

  (1355)  

    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the member's comments, but I disagree with the member regarding the government's overall approach to legislation. Since the last election, we have seen a government that understands the importance of having safe communities in all regions of our country. Therefore, the government has developed pieces of legislation that ensure our communities are going to be safer, that there are actions against offenders, and that there is a sense we are moving forward with a comprehensive approach to make changes to the Criminal Code as necessary.
    Would my colleague recognize that the many different pieces of legislation when put together and passed in a timely fashion are actually significant changes overall which will be for the betterment of public safety here in Canada?
    Madam Speaker, with respect, I will have to disagree with my colleague. Yes, I agree there are some very substantive provisions in Bill C-75 and Bill C-51 which we do support. The problem is that in Bill C-75, the government rolled in those changes with other more contentious issues and therefore has forced the legislation down to a snail's pace where it now has been sent to the Senate.
    Three years into the Liberal government's mandate, when we look at its accomplishments at cleaning up the Criminal Code, so far nothing has been done. The zombie provisions of the Criminal Code are still on the books. The Criminal Code is reprinted every single year. The 2016 edition, 2017 edition and 2018 edition all contain those mistakes. If I am going to look at the government's performance based on its amendments to the Criminal Code, I am sorry but it is a failing grade.
    The hon. member will have eight minutes for questions and comments after question period.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[Translation]

Immigration

    Mr. Speaker, two years after the Prime Minister invited migrants around the world to Canada via Twitter, Ottawa still has not done anything to respond to Quebec's demands concerning immigration.
    Quebec has asked the federal government for $300 million in compensation to cover the cost of caring for migrants, but Ottawa is refusing to pay.
    Quebec has asked for a triage plan so that it is not the only province that has to deal with the arrival of migrants, but Ottawa has done nothing.
    Quebec has asked that asylum claims be processed quickly, but there are delays of several years.
    Quebec has asked the federal government to collaborate to reduce its immigration levels in 2019, but Ottawa is refusing to do so.
    That is the Liberals' record on immigration. Now, the Prime Minister has approved and wants to sign a migration pact telling Quebec how to act in its areas of jurisdiction without even consulting Quebec.
    He needs to start by taking responsibility here before—

[English]

Gavinna MacKenzie

    Madam Speaker, I rise today to pay my respects on the recent passing of Big Bras d'Or resident Gavinna MacKenzie.
     Gavinna was born in Black Rock, Victoria County, in 1922. While raising seven children, she worked as the central telephone operator in Boularderie. Gavinna was a founding member of the Big Bras d'Or fire department ladies auxiliary, the Munro Crafters Guild of Boularderie and the Arm of Gold Quilters. She was a long-time, faithful member of St. James Presbyterian Church, a life member of AMS and St. James Ladies Aid and a member of the Big Bras d'Or Home and School Association and the Alderwood Working Council. She was a busy lady. On top of all these commitments, Gavinna held various executive positions with numerous organizations and was recognized as an outstanding volunteer by several levels of government.
    Gavinna's door was always open for a visit from family and friends, and before the passing of her husband, Rindress, he and Gavinna celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary.
    I ask the House to join me in extending our condolences to her family and friends. Gavinna will be dearly missed.

  (1400)  

Christmas

    Mr. Speaker, on a recent flight, I noticed a beautiful sunset unfolding right outside my window. It was a stunning display of light, filled with a rainbow of colours. It lasted only a few minutes, and then it was dark again. Later, as we approached our destination, I could see the airport runway lights in the distance, guiding us in for a safe landing.
    At this festive time of year, we celebrate with lights all around us. We decorate our trees, our offices and our homes. As Christmas approaches, let us remember that there was and is one light above all others, and that is God's son, Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jesus called on us to be lights as well. He said, “You are the light of the world...let your light shine before others”.
    Let the lights all around us this Christmas remind us to be guided by the one true light and reflect the light of Jesus's love in our lives. May we all be the light that brightens this world.
    Merry Christmas.

Volunteerism

    Mr. Speaker, my community of Oakville North—Burlington has a long history of giving during the holidays and throughout the year. The 26th annual Oakville Professional Firefighters Association holiday toy drive, organized by firefighter Kurt Merriman, collects and distributes toys to the less fortunate in our community. Last year, toys went to 3,800 children and youth. I am excited to perform elf duty again this year to sort and package the toys.
    Halton Police organize the annual toys for tots program, which last year raised more than $350,000 in toys, gift cards, cash and food for almost 5,000 local families in need.
    The Gift of Giving Back food drive inspires and empowers Oakville and Burlington children through minor sports associations and schools. As the largest community food drive of its kind in Canada, the Gift of Giving Back has collected and distributed over 2.6 million pounds of food since 2005.
    These are just a few examples of those in my community who embody the true spirit of the season.

Alex Gyemi

    Mr. Speaker, Alex Gyemi was a social justice pioneer and NDP founder in Windsor—Tecumseh. He died last month, on November 20, at age 96, leaving behind Margaret, his wife of 68 years, and their five children and their families. If Alex were here, he would want me to stand up and herald the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the convention on the prevention and punishment of genocide. That is why this tribute is for Alex.
    There is an incredible pulse in Windsor that Alex was part of. It is the city where the first credit union was formed and with the first assisted living program, which is celebrating 80 years itself, by the way. It is no wonder Alex and Margaret's progressive politics flourished there.
    I was fortunate to have Alex's wisdom imparted to me. “Look at the politics of a recommendation versus its practicality”, he would say. As an incredible champion of people living free and equal in dignity and rights, Alex would also say, “Take words to deeds”.

Volunteer Awards

    Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege to inform you today that I am recognizing 21 Nickel Belt residents at a community volunteer awards celebration on December 18 in recognition of their outstanding contributions to their community through volunteerism. These 21 individuals each have, in their own way, gone above and beyond to make their community a better place to live and have touched the lives of many people around their neighbourhoods. They are unsung heroes.

[Translation]

    I invited the residents of Nickel Belt to nominate people of all ages who have had a positive impact on the lives of community members. These individuals were chosen from among those nominees.

[English]

    I truly felt compelled to highlight the many selfless acts that too many times go unrecognized and to make this an annual event.

[Translation]

    Talk to the volunteers at all of these organizations, give them a big hug during the holidays and tell them dhanwad, merci, meegwetch, thank you.

  (1405)  

[English]

Christmas

    Mr. Speaker, over 2,000 years ago, three wise men spotted a bright star in the sky. Bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, they travelled to the little town of Bethlehem. There they found God's greatest gift to humanity, and all these years later, the magnitude and the majesty of that gift is ever constant.
    Through the good news of salvation and relationship, the birth of Jesus Christ carries a transformative message of renewed hope. This Christmas, I hope that hearts and homes are all filled with the blessings of the season. It is my hope that all experience great love, peace and joy.
    Mr. Speaker, through you, I would like to wish everyone in this chamber, my constituents and all Canadians a very merry Christmas.

Hanukkah

    Mr. Speaker, as we near the end of Hanukkah, I would like to reflect on Guelph's response to the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, where, on Saturday, October 27 of this year, 11 people lost their lives.
    When Guelph's Jewish congregation gathered on the Saturday following, the door to the Beth Isaiah synagogue was filled with messages of support and condolence from other faith communities, businesses, organizations and people in Guelph. These are examples of the posts on the sticky notes that covered the door: “Keep faith with love”; “We are stronger together than divided”; “We stand with you”; “Grateful to be your neighbour”.
    Canada is a place of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, where many different religions and faiths are freely practised, and this makes our country stronger. We have to continually fight against the darkness. We have to continually fight against anti-Semitism and discrimination in all its forms.
     Chag Sameach to all my Jewish friends, and peace and prosperity for all Canadians in the year ahead.

Seniors

    Mr. Speaker, our seniors have earned the right to live their retirement years in dignity and deserve our respect and appreciation.
    In my riding of Brampton South, there are nearly 16,000 seniors, who account for 14% of the population. Over the weekend, we hosted a town hall on seniors issues, together with my colleagues from Brampton North and Brampton Centre, where we were joined by the hon. Minister of Seniors. I thank the over 100 residents, representing nearly 30 of Brampton's senior organizations, who came out to share their ideas, interests and concerns with us and to hear directly from the minister how important it is for our government to make progress on pensions, housing, health care, poverty and many other issues that affect them.
    Our seniors deserve a better life.

Christmas

    Mr. Speaker,

Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

    This is one of the Christmas carols I sang recently with my friends at Renaissance Retirement Residence in Langley. This carol reminds us of what Christmas is really all about: the birth of Jesus, God's gift to us.
    During this busy Christmas season, with lights, presents and shopping, let us remember that it is Jesus's birthday and join the angels as they sing, “Glory to the new born King”. Let us share God's love with everyone, especially those in need.
    On behalf of my beautiful wife Diane and I, we want to wish everyone a very merry Christmas.

Greater Vancouver Grandmothers

     Mr. Speaker, they tell the story of a frail 90-year-old grandmother trudging down a mountainside in search of water, pain and despair etched upon her face, and her 19 grandchildren trailing behind her.
    They are responding to the devastating impact of AIDS in Africa, to the grandparents who now care for their grandchildren, many grandmothers and many more children.
    Last month I had the privilege of being the master of ceremonies at the Greater Vancouver Gogos fundraiser. Gogo means grandmother and they are part of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which supports Grandmothers in Africa.
    These Canadian grandmothers and “grandothers” have, over their 10-year history, made a difference in the lives of so many. The Greater Vancouver Gogos has raised over $2.4 million to support community projects that support African grandmothers. The gogos are changing lives and they are saving lives. They are Canadian humanitarians making a profound difference in our world.
    I congratulate and thank Barbara Thomas and the gogos, great Canadians making our world more caring and more livable.

  (1410)  

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    Mr. Speaker, 70 years ago today, the then 59 member states of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

[Translation]

    John P. Humphrey, a Canadian jurist who had just become the director of the United Nations Secretariat Human Rights Council, was the lead author. This declaration, which was written in the wake of the two world wars, is one of the cornerstones of international legal order.

[English]

    In its opening paragraphs, it affirms the inherent dignity and equal, inalienable rights of all members of the human family as the foundation of freedom, justice and piece.
    In Canada, the declaration inspired the Bill of Rights and ultimately our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
    Seventy years on we continue to stand together to defend the universal declaration, because humanity is at greater risk every time human rights are threatened anywhere around the world.
    I invite all Canadians to join the conversation and share why human rights matter to us. The hashtags are UDHR70 and StandUp4HumanRights.

Trans Mountain Pipeline

    Mr. Speaker, a third of the Trans Mountain pipeline runs through the greatest riding in Canada known as Yellowhead.
    The people of my riding are hurting because of the Liberals failure to properly deal with the crisis facing Alberta. Thousands are unemployed and its vital resources are not getting to market.
    The Liberals new four and a half billion dollar pipeline sits in limbo.
    Residents of Drayton Valley, one of Yellowhead's largest communities, held impromptu meetings and a large rally, where over l,000 people joined last week along with national and local media. People voiced their concerns over the lack of action by the federal government and their local NDP government for having deaf ears to the plight and crisis of Albertans.
    The Trans Mountain pipeline needs to be built.

Retirement Congratulations

    Mr. Speaker, as we conclude the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, it is important to recognize the people and organizations that promote this deeply important initiative.
    One such person is Ms. Lucille Harper from Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Ms. Harper is retiring at the end of December after more than 30 years of service to our community.
    Throughout her incredible career, she has worked on behalf of women and victims of sexual assault at the Antigonish Women's Resource Centre & Sexual Assault Service Centre and was also a founding member of SAFE, a network of volunteers that has sponsored Syrian refugee families for resettlement and provides housing, clothing and other essential goods.
    In 2010, she was awarded the Governor General's Persons award for her work in advancing gender equality in Canada.
    As Ms. Harper is preparing to retire, I am pleased to share that the Antigonish Women's Resource Centre will receive nearly $1 million to help fight gender-based violence in rural communities at home.
    It is my pleasure to wish Ms. Harper a very happy retirement and a sincere thanks for her many years of service to our community. Lucille has set an example we should all wish to follow. I congratulate her.

Salmon Fishery

    Mr. Speaker, the CBC headline over the weekend in my riding was “Ucluelet on edge as Ottawa decides extent of fishing restrictions.” It got that right.
    Coastal communities have every reason to be on edge. Their fishing and tourism industries depend both on our fish and our killer whales.
    Meaningful consultation with first nations is a constitutional requirement and the application of local knowledge on fish management is just common sense.
    Regardless of the decision, substantive investment is required urgently for the Clayoquot and Somass River salmon habitat, among the largest in all of British Columbia.
    Please let us not doom our salmon to the fate of the Atlantic cod and other mismanaged fisheries. Our mayors, chiefs, fishers, tourist operators and environmentalists are all pulling together on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Canada needs to join this coalition, not sidestep it.

Government Programs

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are expressing buyer's remorse when it comes to the Prime Minister. It is hard to believe he could fit so much failure into just 12 months alone.
    He has failed to move even an ounce of dirt to build a single inch of pipeline. He has failed to fix the illegal border crisis. He has failed to get a better NAFTA deal. He has failed to remove steel and aluminum tariffs. He has failed victims of horrific crime, like Tori Stafford and Catherine Campbell. He has failed to support our veterans. He has failed to equip our military. He has failed to defend our industry. Of course, yet again, the budget has failed to balance itself.
    The year 2018 was the Prime Minister's year of failure. However, there is hope. The year 2019 can be a year of redemption, where Canadians will do away with this failed Liberal government and replace it with a brand new Conservative one. For most Canadians, 2019 just cannot come soon enough.

  (1415)  

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    Mr. Speaker, world leaders came together 70 years ago today to sign the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to enshrine it in international law.
     Canadians through these decades have advanced human rights around the world, including one of the drafters of the declaration, John Peters Humphrey. In Canada, our Charter of Rights and Freedoms was inspired by the Universal Declaration, and our courts routinely invoke it.
    Despite these advances, human rights continue to be violated routinely across the world and human rights defenders are often the first line of attack. Let us remember and honour these heroes today.
    Much work remains to be done in order to attain human rights for all and to ensure that the key principles of the Universal Declaration are a reality. This year, our Parliament adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.
     On this human rights day, let us recommit to working toward a just society where human rights are universal, inalienable, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[English]

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, allow me to quote the Prime Minister, who said, “I am looking straight at Canadians and being honest the way I always have. We said we are committed to balanced budgets, and we are. We will balance that budget in 2019....”
     Despite a booming world economy and tax increases on the middle class of, on average, $800 a family, the deficit is three times what he promised and growing next year. Therefore, when will the budget balance itself?
    Mr. Speaker, in 2015, Canadians had a choice. There were two parties that believed in cuts, while we promoted investments for the middle class and those working hard to join it.
     We have lowered taxes for the middle class by raising them on the wealthiest 1%. We have delivered a more generous, fair and tax-free Canada child benefit. We now have the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years.
     While the Conservatives have no plan for the economy, we will stay focused on the middle class.
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians voted in the last election for a balanced budget in 2019. That was the Prime Minister's promise. However, despite the fact that taxes are up on the middle class by about $800 a family, he has failed to keep his promise. He likes to brag about his big family fortune, but Canadians who have not inherited a trust fund understand that budgets do not balance themselves.
     Therefore, simply put, when will the budget be balanced?
    Mr. Speaker, it seems the member opposite is having trouble with the facts. The average Canadian family is actually $2,000 better off every year because of decisions we have taken on this side of the House. After Stephen Harper's anemic levels of growth, which we had to return to the depths of the Great Depression to find a government with that bad a record on growth, we have grown the economy at an average of around 3%. We have created over 700,000 new jobs over the past three years. We had the best economic growth in the G7 last year.
    We are continuing to invest in Canadians. That is what Canadians voted—
    The hon. member for Carleton.
    Mr. Speaker, actually, the Conservative government had the best economic growth and the lowest debt levels in the G7, and we came roaring back with a million new jobs after the great global recession. We also had the best middle-class income growth in 40 years, according to the most recent Liberal budget.
     The Prime Minister can spread falsehoods about the past, but what he should do is tell the truth about the future. He said that the budget would balance itself in 2019. He is breaking that promise. Therefore, when will we have a balanced budget?

  (1420)  

    Mr. Speaker, in 2015, we committed to supporting the middle class and those working hard to join it. Middle-class families today are better off than they were under the Conservatives and they are finding it easier to make ends meet.
     With our plan, a strong and growing middle class is driving economic growth, creating new jobs and more opportunities for everyone to compete and succeed. However, we know there is more work to do. We will continue to invest in our communities, invest in Canadians and grow the middle class. What is becoming clearer every day is that the Conservatives have absolutely no plan for the economy.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the next election is less than a year away, and the Liberals have already racked up a deficit of $80 billion.
    Who is going to pay for it? Canadians will, by having to pay higher taxes down the line. However, it is primarily our children and grandchildren who will have to foot this massive bill.
    Why do we have this problem? Because the Prime Minister thinks budgets magically balance themselves.
    I have a simple question for the Prime Minister: when will the budget be balanced?
    Mr. Speaker, I would remind the member opposite and the Conservative team that they were the ones who added $150 billion to our national debt. They were the ones who had the lowest growth rate since the Great Depression.
    We made a commitment to Canadians to invest in growth and the middle class. That is exactly what we have done. Now we have the lowest unemployment in Canadian history, and last year, we had the fastest growth in the G7.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister can keep repeating the same thing over and over again like a broken record, but he is completely out to lunch.
    I have the Liberal Party election platform right in front of me. It states in black and white, “After the next two fiscal years, the deficit will decline and our investment plan will return Canada to a balanced budget in 2019-20.”
    He repeated that himself in the debates during the 2015 election campaign, specifically on August 6, September 17, September 25 and October 2.
    I will therefore ask the Prime Minister once again: when will we return to a balanced budget?
    Mr. Speaker, let's talk about sounding like a broken record. We chose to be different from the Conservatives. We decided to invest in Canadians, in infrastructure and in the middle class to create jobs and ensure better economic growth than what we saw during the Conservative decade. That is exactly what we did. We now have the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years in this country. We have created 700,000 new jobs in three years. That is what we will keep doing to invest in Canadians and in their future.

[English]

    Order. I have to ask the hon. member for Calgary Midnapore not to be yelling when someone else has the floor. I am sure he knows that is not permitted.
    The hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques.

[Translation]

International Trade

    Mr. Speaker, from 2014 to 2016, the United States got around our supply management system by exporting diafiltered milk here. The Liberals did nothing about it, so our producers had to fend for themselves and negotiate a separate agreement with the major processors. By signing CUSMA, the Liberals have undone all that work by giving the Americans unlimited access to the Canadian market for their diafiltered milk. Just so we are clear, we are not talking about a supply managed product, but a product that is circumventing supply management.
    The Liberals claim they will compensate dairy producers for the breaches in supply management. Will they also compensate them for the estimated additional losses of $200 million a year?
     Mr. Speaker, we said that we would protect supply management and that is exactly what we did. We also announced three working groups comprised of representatives from supply-managed sectors. Two of the working groups will collaborate to support dairy farmers and processors to adjust to the updated NAFTA as well as the CPTPP, while also charting a path to help the dairy sector innovate. We have protected supply management and secured long-term access to the U.S. market. We will work with producers to ensure that all goes well.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister does not understand. I just told him this is not a supply-managed product. It bypasses supply management. Dairy farmers have been waiting for compensation for three trade agreements for three years now, but there is nothing in the budget. I would remind the Prime Minister that there was no mention of compensation for dairy farmers in the economic update, nor was there anything about steel and aluminum tariffs. Those tariffs have been in place for months now, and some businesses are talking about closing. Some 35,000 direct jobs and 140,000 indirect jobs are at stake.
    The Liberals could have told Trump they would not sign the agreement unless the tariffs were lifted. The Liberals rolled over. The tariffs are still—

  (1425)  

    The right hon. Prime Minister.
    Mr. Speaker, we signed the new NAFTA because it is good for Canada, it is good for workers and it is good for businesses. I am not the only one saying so. I would like to read a quote from the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, who said to the Canadian negotiators, “I just want to congratulate everybody in this room for the fantastic job that you did.” He then went on to say that the USMCA is the best deal possible and that it protects workers across the country. This deal is in keeping with what we promised, and that is stability, job protection, future growth and the defence of millions—
    The hon. member for Essex.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, that tired line is not getting rid of the tariffs.
    Canadian workers, small businesses and farmers are paying the heavy price of the Liberals' decision to sign the new NAFTA. Giving access to U.S. dairy compromises our supply management system and hurts our farmers. Canadian farmers want to be able to produce and sell their milk without U.S. interference, and families want to be able to purchase milk made in Canada that they can trust.
    Farmers cannot understand why they were sold out by the current Liberal government. Why have the Liberals betrayed farm families and our food security in Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, we said we would protect supply management, and that is exactly what we did. Its future is no longer in doubt. We have also announced three working groups comprising representatives from the supply management sector. Two of the working groups will collaborate to fairly support dairy farmers and processors in adjusting to the updated NAFTA as well as to CPTPP, while also charting a path to help the dairy sector innovate. Supply management is protected, all while securing long-term access to the U.S. market.
    Mr. Speaker, this Prime Minister does not have a clue about the uncertainty our workers are facing. Just yesterday he admitted that steel and aluminum tariffs need to go, but what is confusing is why he still went ahead and signed the new NAFTA. The reason, according to the Prime Minister, is to make investors and big businesses happy. These are the Liberals' true colours: standing up for the richest corporations and failing to stand up for our workers. Worse, they have no strategy to remove these tariffs. They just want to wait and see. Do Liberals not understand that every day these tariffs remain is another day when jobs are threatened?
    Mr. Speaker, the attacks in the House by the NDP members on the renewed NAFTA are just a perfect example of how the NDP say one thing in the House, but behind closed doors, they admit that it is a deal that protects Canadian jobs. The NDP leader celebrated the deal at an event a few weeks ago, and the NDP member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, who is also the NDP Quebec lieutenant, called the updated NAFTA the “best deal possible”. Even the NDP privately admits that this deal is a good deal because they know it protects millions of Canadian jobs that were under threat.

[Translation]

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, it is clear to Canadians that the Prime Minister's word is worthless. Members will recall that, in 2015, the Liberals promised to run three small deficits and then balance the budget. The reality is that they ran three big deficits, three times higher than promised. They planned to balance the budget in 2019, but in 2019, there will be a $20-billion deficit. That is a colossal failure. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister has failed Canadians.
    My question for the Prime Minister is simple. Can he give us his word on when we will return to a balanced budget?
    Mr. Speaker, if the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent wants to talk about colossal failures, then I urge him to look at the decade spent under Stephen Harper's Conservative government. That was a colossal economic failure in almost every way. The Conservative government had the worst growth in exports, the worst job record, the worst wage growth, the worst growth, period. Growth was so slow that, during the 2015 election campaign, we were debating about whether Canada was in a recession.
    Our record speaks for itself. We had the strongest growth in the G7 last year.
    Mr. Speaker, I will always be proud to be a member of a party that guided Canada through the worst recession since the Great Depression, and ensured that the country had the best record in the G7. That is the Conservative Party's record.
    I would remind my friend from Louis-Hébert that he was elected in 2015 by stating, hand on his heart, that the budget would be balanced in 2019. The member for Louis-Hébert and the 185 Liberal members did not keep their promise.
    Since the Prime Minister refused to answer, would the member for Louis-Hébert rise and tell Canadians when the budget will be balanced?

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, in 2015, we made a very clear commitment to Canadians that we would not take the economic approach, which was an abject failure for 10 years under the Conservatives. They tried to stand in the way of prosperity and growth, and as a result, we had the worst economic record in almost all areas since the Second World War and even before that.
    Instead, we decided to invest in infrastructure, reduce inequality and give more to the middle class, and it is working. Last year, we had the best growth in the G7.
    I would like to remind the hon. member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier that the rules do not allow yelling in the House when someone else has the floor.
    The hon. member for Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister vowed that he would deliver big infrastructure projects and balance the budget next year, but now we know he has no intention of doing either. Even with the recent job losses and a destabilized energy sector, the Liberals continue to spend taxpayer dollars on their every whim, failing to heed the economic storm on the horizon. When will the Prime Minister admit that budgets do not balance themselves, brace our economy for the tough times ahead and balance the budget?
    Mr. Speaker, in 2015 Canadians clearly rejected the Conservative plan of austerity and cuts, which did not work and did not create the kind of growth Canadians expect. It did not result in more money in the pockets of the middle class, because they focused on the wealthiest. We took a different approach: investing in our communities, giving more money to the middle class, lowering the taxes of the middle class while raising them on the wealthiest 1% to deliver for Canadians. The results speak for themselves, with 700,000 jobs created in the last three years and our debt-to-GDP ratio is steadily going down. We are in the best fiscal position in the G7.
    Mr. Speaker, the facts do indeed speak for themselves. Foreign capital is leaving. Corporations are not investing and jobs are being lost. Canadians are not fooled. They know that spending money that we do not have today with zero results will mean severe cuts to critical services tomorrow when we need them the most.
    When will the Prime Minister stop failing Canadians with his reckless spending and do what every hard-working Canadian must do, balance the books?
    Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, our debt-to-GDP ratio is going steadily downward. We are in the best fiscal position in the G7. That is because we have managed to see growth in the country over the last three years with a plan that is working. Unlike the Conservatives, who failed on all economic fronts for a decade, we are seeing 700,000 full-time jobs created in the Canadian economy over the last three years, the fastest growth in the G7, and Canadian families by this next year will be $2,000 better off than they were under the previous government, which focused so much on the wealthiest, but so very little on the middle class.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has never had to worry about a paycheque. He has never had to wonder how he was going to put food on the table. He has never faced an unexpected expense that he could not pay. His inherited family fortune has taken care of everything for him. Since he has never had to worry about his own money, he is not worried about spending Canadian tax money either. He is racking up a huge bill that someone else will have to pay for, just like he has for his entire life.
    Could the Prime Minister finally tell us, when will the budget balance itself?
    Mr. Speaker, that is a little rich coming from the Conservatives who added $150 billion to Canada's debt and who gave tax break after tax break to the wealthiest Canadians. We took a different approach, lowering taxes on the middle class, and improving the Canada child benefit, which has lifted 300,000 kids out of poverty. I am very proud to work alongside the Prime Minister who has taken steps to make sure that Canada remains a fair and just society for all, with prosperity shared by all.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister took money away from Canadians while maintaining his own nannies. Canadians without trust funds have to make tough choices each month. They sit at their kitchen tables and decide what they can afford and what they cannot pay for. They know they cannot live off their credit cards forever. They know how difficult it is to pay off their debts. The Prime Minister knows none of these things. When will he finally agree to stop mortgaging our children's future and tell us when will the budget balance itself?

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, as I stated in a previous answer, our debt-to-GDP ratio is steadily going down. We are in the best fiscal position in the G7. The facts are clear. We lowered taxes on the middle class and raised them on the wealthiest 1%. They voted against it. We improved the Canada child benefit, lifting hundreds of thousands of kids out of poverty in our country, and gave more to the middle class. They voted against it.
    It begs a question. They say we raised taxes. The only taxes we raised were on the wealthiest 1%. Is that what they are so concerned about? I guess that is what it is.

[Translation]

Employment

    Mr. Speaker, business is good at the Montreal airport: profits are up, traffic is increasing and there are plans for an expansion.
    Nevertheless, the CEO is asking 93 employees to agree to a pay cut of 27% to 33%. Otherwise, they will be laid off and the work will be outsourced, all with Christmas a few weeks away. No one would agree to such an offer.
    Will the Liberals stand up for the workers or will they once again side with the bosses?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, our government believes in a fair and balanced approach to labour relations in Canada. That is why we repealed Bill C-525 and Bill C-377, the Harper Conservatives' anti-union bills, as one of the very first things we did when we came into office.
    We are aware of the situation at the Montreal airport and are monitoring it very closely.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, that is called the privatization of our services.
    The Liberals are letting the Montreal airport privatize its operations, while they themselves, champions of privatization, backed off because it was a bad idea.
    Threatening employees that they will be laid off if they do not agree to a pay cut of 27% to 33%, and just a few weeks from Christmas, is appalling. This is only possible because the federal government refuses to protect our good jobs.
    How many good jobs need to be lost before the Minister of Employment will put an end to outsourcing at public airports?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, on the topic of contract flipping, that is in fact something we are working on through the new decent work legislation that was approved in budget implementation act 2.
    On the topic of labour disputes and labour negotiations, our government stands behind fair and balanced approaches to labour negotiations, and we are monitoring the situation very closely.

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, under Conservatives, well over 8,000 kilometres of pipeline was built. The Liberals talk and talk, but they have deliberately blocked over 7,000 kilometres of pipeline already, and their no-more-pipelines Bill C-69 will guarantee that not a single kilometre of new pipeline is built in Canada again. That Liberal-made crisis harms all of Canada. Provinces, economists, industry and indigenous leaders are all warning of the damaging consequences.
    Will the Liberals withdraw their no-more-pipelines Bill C-69, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, we are moving forward with a plan that is going to implement better rules for considering major project development in Canada. This includes an approach that is going to help restore the public confidence that was lost after 10 years under Stephen Harper, where they disrespected our environment and ignored the concerns of Canada's indigenous people. I note, in particular, as we move forward with this important piece of legislation, that we received an endorsement from the Assembly of First Nations just last week.
     We are moving forward with a plan that is going to bring certainty to the regulatory process, respect our environment and give credence to the voices of indigenous people.
    Mr. Speaker, more than 30 indigenous leaders are going to sue the Liberals over Bill C-69, just like they are suing them over the tanker ban.
    The fact is, when the Liberals were elected, three companies planned to build pipelines in Canada, but they are gone now because the Liberals chased every single one of them away, and not a single new inch of pipeline has been built under these Liberals. They are directly responsible for the discount on Canadian oil. The Husky CEO says that the discount will continue “the rest of the year, all of next year, all of the year after that.” Their no-more-pipelines Bill C-69 will make that discount permanent. Will they withdraw their no-more-pipelines Bill C-69, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, we are moving forward with a plan that is going to grow the economy and protect the environment at the same time. When it comes to getting our natural resources to market, the Conservatives talk a good game, but after 10 years, no more of our resources were getting to non-U.S. markets than they were when the Conservatives first came into office.
    As I mentioned in my previous answer, we are giving certainty to business, we are respecting our environment and we are giving a voice to indigenous people who were ignored for 10 years under Stephen Harper. This represents better rules for development in Canada.

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, a global investment survey places nine of the top 10 most attractive jurisdictions for oil and gas investment in the U.S. No Canadian province made that list. In fact, Enerplus' CEO announced that this year and next, it will spend 90% of its capital in the United States.
     The Liberals' no-more-pipelines bill is making regulations even more complex and uncertain. When will the Prime Minister reverse course and kill Bill C-69?
    Mr. Speaker, there is $176 billion in potential investments planned over the next decade in the oil and gas sector. We are moving forward on expanding our pipeline capacity. We are the government that gave approval to Enbridge Line 3, which is under construction and will add 470,000 barrels per day in capacity. We are moving forward on the Trans Mountain pipeline in the right way and undertaking consultation with the—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order.
    The hon. member for Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock.
    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals cancelled northern gateway, changed the rules on energy east and now TMX is in limbo. The lack of pipeline capacity has resulted in staggering discounts for Canadian oil, underscoring Canada's problem in attracting investment. To make matters worse, the government has proposed Bill C-69. It will increase uncertainty, politicize the regulatory process and lengthen approval times.
    When will the Prime Minister reverse course on the no-more-pipelines bill and kill Bill C-69?
    Mr. Speaker, we absolutely understand the current crisis we are facing in Alberta, and we are working for solutions. However, it is because of the decade of failure by the previous government to build a single pipeline to non-U.S. markets. Ninety-nine percent of Alberta's oil is sold to one customer, the United States. When the Conservatives came into office, that was the case. When they left office, that was the case.
    We are moving forward to expand our non-U.S. global markets.

[Translation]

Indigenous Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the forced sterilization of indigenous women is a blatant violation of human rights.
    The Prime Minister keeps repeating that his most important relationship is with indigenous peoples, so will he implement the recommendation made by the UN Committee against Torture?
    Will the government investigate, provide redress to victims, hold accountable the persons responsible and, most importantly, pass legislation to outlaw the forced sterilization of indigenous women?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, this is a very important issue. Of course, we agree with the member opposite that coerced sterilization of any woman in this country is a violation of that woman's rights, including her reproductive rights.
     We are working with provinces and territories and we are working with health care providers and medical associations to make sure that the concept of informed consent is well understood and that culturally safe care is also well taught.
    Mr. Speaker, doing nothing is condoning the practice right now. The UN Committee against Torture urges Canada to stop sterilization of indigenous women by ensuring that all allegations of forced sterilization are investigated, by holding accountable the persons responsible, by providing redress to the victims and by adopting legislative policy and measures to outlaw forced sterilization.
    My question is simple: Will the minister implement the UN recommendations?
    Mr. Speaker, the coerced or forced sterilization of any woman in this country is and always has been against the law. It is against medical ethics and it is against human rights. We are working to make sure that this never happens again. We are working with medical associations and medical providers to make sure that it never happens.

[Translation]

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, the traditional drivers of growth are no longer sufficient in a digital economy. New technologies are changing the way we access information, shop, socialize and work.
    Artificial intelligence is helping doctors make more accurate diagnoses, helping farmers improve their crops and helping us find the shorter route to work.
    Could the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development tell the House what the government is doing to ensure that Canada is a leader—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

  (1445)  

[English]

    I have to ask the member for Vancouver Kingsway not to be yelling when someone else has the floor.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Alfred-Pellan for his question. Artificial intelligence is not just transforming our economy; it is changing our everyday lives.
    Last week at the G7 Multistakeholder Conference on Artificial Intelligence, the Prime Minister announced that the government signed a fifth supercluster agreement.
    SCALE AI will use Canada's world-class AI resources to create more than 16,000 jobs and contribute $16.5 billion to our GDP.
    Canada is a leader in the responsible adoption of artificial intelligence.

[English]

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, today Global News reported that a man who has been back in Canada for two years and has told reporters that he has been active as an ISIS terrorist has still not been arrested. The Prime Minister has failed to secure Canada's borders so badly that genocidal maniacs feel safe to brag to their friends about our Prime Minister's fecklessness. “No unbeliever can touch me,” Global News reported he texted his friend.
    Under the Prime Minister, is he right?
    Mr. Speaker, the police and security agencies of this country are far more proficient at securing the country and keeping Canadians safe than the alleged sources that are referred to by the opposition. The fact of the matter is CSIS, the RCMP, and the other security and police agencies of this country take every possible step to make sure that Canada is secure and that Canadians are safe. There is no higher obligation or priority.
    Mr. Speaker, why are the Liberals not doing their jobs? They have had three years to bring these terrorists to justice. Instead, they have paid for poetry lessons for them. They have tried to assist them in returning back to Canada. They have let them roam free without restriction or constant surveillance. They have introduced legislation that makes it harder to bring them to justice. They have allowed them to become so confident that nothing is going to happen to them that they text their friends and say that no unbeliever can touch them. Why?
    Mr. Speaker, every single item in that preamble is patently false.
    The fact of the matter is that every possible step is taken in relation to known terrorists to charge them and to prosecute them to the full extent of the law. There is also a full suite of other measures that the Government of Canada uses through the police, through our security agencies, through all of the departments and agencies of the Government of Canada to make sure that Canadians are safe in their homes and their communities. We are doing—

[Translation]

    Order. The hon. member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is working with the UN to sign the compact for migration just to look good internationally, but he cannot even control the problems at the border at Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle here at home.
    His irresponsible tweet in January 2017 resulted in illegal migration to Canada and he does not have the guts to admit it. In the meantime, Quebec and Ontario are still waiting to be compensated for the costs, wait times keep going up and the system is broken. It is a complete failure.
    When will he secure the border and restore order?
    Mr. Speaker, our support for this compact allows us to do exactly what the hon. member across the way is asking us to do.
    We are working with the international community to better manage our borders and ensure that people who enter our country do so through regular channels. Canada is a leader in global migration and we will be at the table to show our support for this compact to ensure that the rest of the world has the same tools Canada has to respond to this—

  (1450)  

    Order. The hon. member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles.
    Mr. Speaker, if I were in the other countries' position, I would be very worried. Considering Canada's handling of this problem, we should not be giving advice to anyone.
    This mess is still going on because of the Prime Minister's lack of courage. The cost to the federal government alone is over $1 billion, and the provinces are on the hook for another half a billion. Furthermore, thousands of illegals are getting lost in the woods, and law enforcement has no idea where they are. That is an abject failure.
    Could the Prime Minister tell us when he is going to stop playing fast and loose with Canadians' safety?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the fact is that we have been working diligently to uphold Canadian law for everyone who comes to our border, regardless of how people come to this country seeking asylum, to ensure that our laws are applied.
    We also take very strict measures to ensure that the safety and security of Canadians is maintained, and that work continues. We have achieved tremendous success. We have seen a significant reduction. We did not see the surge that occurred last year, and this is a direct result of very effective measures taken by the government to discourage irregular migration.

Indigenous Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister claims that survivors and family members are at the heart of the missing and murdered indigenous women inquiry, yet after-care for those who relive the trauma by testifying was a disaster. Many did not even know after-care existed, and those who did had a difficult time accessing it.
     Soledad, a survivor in my riding, struggled to the point where she lost her job. Her after-care plan fell through twice, and my office had to intervene in order for her to get the support she needed. Family members like Lorelei Williams were not even offered after-care.
    How is this putting survivors and family members at the heart of the inquiry?
    Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to ending the ongoing national tragedy of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. The independent commission's mandate was clear, that the families had to be at the centre of its work. We are working—
    Ms. Jenny Kwan: Where is the after-care for families?
    Hon. Carolyn Bennett: After-care was very much part of the plan of the commission and of its budget. After the interim report, we increased the money for healing. We will continue to do whatever it is to support those families.
    I remind the hon. member for Vancouver East that her opportunity to speak is when she has the floor, not when someone else is speaking.
    Mr. Speaker, 17-year-old Braiden Jacob came to Thunder Bay for grief counselling and now he is dead. He joins 14-year old Josiah Begg, 17-year-old Tammy Keeash, 15-year-old Jordan Wabasse, and so many other indigenous youth who have died violently in Thunder Bay. They were victimized after being forced to leave their communities because the government refuses to provide adequate schools or provide services.
    Will the Minister of Public Safety commit an RCMP team to work with indigenous leaders to find out why so many young indigenous youth are dying in Thunder Bay?
    No more fallen feathers.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for raising this solemn issue.
    Our hearts go out to the family of Braiden. We are grieving with that community. I reached out to the chief today. I also spoke to the grand chief of the region to express our condolences.
    The community where Braiden is from, the community of Webequie, is an area where we have made significant investments in mental wellness care. We will continue to make those investments. This is for all Canadians to work together to bring justice and ensure the safety of indigenous youth.

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, news is breaking right now that Michael Rafferty, the other cold-blooded killer of Tori Stafford, was moved to a facility with a lower level of security back in March. That was after Terri-Lynne McClintic was moved to a healing lodge, a decision which the Liberals had to reverse because of widespread outrage from Canadians.
    Can the minister tell us if this is true? Is Michael Rafferty behind bars where he belongs or is he in a cushy healing lodge somewhere in the woods?
    Mr. Speaker, I would remind the opposition that the decisions taken with respect to McClintic were in fact taken by the previous government when the classification was moved from maximum security to medium security.
    I will examine the facts of this case to ensure that all the proper rules and procedures have been followed and that Canadians are safe.

  (1455)  

Telecommunications

    Mr. Speaker, it seems that the only Canadians not concerned about the threat Huawei poses to our mobile network are sitting in the Liberal benches. This is a major security threat and the government refuses to do anything about it. A former security adviser to the Prime Minister has said, “Once Huawei is in, we will never get them out.”
    The time has come to make a decision. We either stand with our western democratic allies or with Communist China. Which one will it be?
    Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House we will never compromise our national security. We remain open to global investment. We understand that 5G is an emerging technology that has the potential to meet the explosion in consumer and industrial demand, and we want to make sure that Canadians have access to this latest technology in terms of quality and coverage.
    Our Communications Security Establishment provided us with guidance on the 4G network and it will continue to do so with 5G. As is always the case, we will follow the advice of our public security officials and never compromise security in Canada.

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals have a long history of attacking rural communities in Alberta. First they moved jobs from Vegreville and now they are taking aim at Cold Lake. Last week, we learned the Liberals are planning to move the aerospace engineering test establishment from Cold Lake to Ottawa. Will the minister cancel this plan to kill jobs at CFB Cold Lake?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for meeting with me last week to discuss this very important issue, when we discussed that the Canadian Armed Forces plays a very important role in NORAD missions and will continue to play a very important role. In fact, we are actually increasing our investments in Cold Lake, including making important upgrades to infrastructure.
    Both CFB Bagotville and CFB Cold Lake will benefit from decisions to acquire the fighter jets to replace our CF-18s, both through the interim and the future fighter missions. I am happy to carry on the discussion. In fact, I spoke with the mayor this afternoon and will—
    The hon. member for Scarborough Centre.

Status of Women

    Mr. Speaker, by failing to ensure economic equality for women, we are missing out not only as a society but as an economy. A McKinsey Global Institute report estimates that women's economic equality could add $150 billion to Canada's GDP by 2026 but women face barriers to full labour market participation, such as gender-based discrimination, patriarchal attitudes and lack of training.
     Could the minister please explain how this government is actually helping women and how the women's entrepreneurship strategy is working to help women overcome these challenges?
    Mr. Speaker, small businesses make up 99% of all businesses in Canada, yet only 16% are women-owned or women-led and they face unique barriers. This is why we recently invested $85 million in a women ecosystem fund to help support those women entrepreneurs and another $20 million to help those women grow their businesses. By advancing women's economic participation, we could add up to $150 billion in GDP to the Canadian economy by 2026.

[Translation]

    Women's success is everyone's business.

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, this past Friday, Quebec's National Assembly unanimously called for the Davie shipyard to get a contract to build the supply ship Obelix. The Prime Minister's failure to understand that our women and men in uniform need a second interim supply ship is unacceptable.
    The Davie shipyard in Lévis knows how to build these ships on time and on budget.
    The Liberal government's handling of this file has been a complete and utter failure. Will the Prime Minister make the only logical decision and award the Obelix contract to Davie as soon as possible?
    Mr. Speaker, our government is getting results for Canadians by providing the navy and the Coast Guard with the ships they need to serve the Canadian public. Through the national shipbuilding strategy, our government is creating good jobs for the middle class. We have awarded 17% of the strategy contracts, valued at more than $1.3 billion, to Quebec companies. We are getting results for Quebeckers and for Canadians.

  (1500)  

[English]

Transportation

    Mr. Speaker, incidents of cyclist deaths are increasing in Canada. Just last week, a man was killed here in Ottawa while cycling on the street. Other tragic deaths in Vancouver, Toronto, Port Alberni and elsewhere show the urgent need for cycling safety and better infrastructure in our municipalities. The FCM recently voted 95% in favour of a national active transportation strategy. It has been two years since the Liberals created a cycling committee, which produced a single report but no action.
    Will the Liberal government immediately introduce a national cycling strategy, or continue to do nothing?
    Mr. Speaker, I fully recognize the issue of vulnerable road users, whether they are cyclists or people on foot, and that is why I have been working with the provinces. We came out with a report last September, after extensive consultations across the country. I will be speaking to my fellow transport ministers in January on this very important matter.

[Translation]

Tourism Industry

    Mr. Speaker, tourism is an important economic driver for our communities from coast to coast to coast, and especially for Brome—Missisquoi, where our landscapes, our environment and our lakes serve as a standing invitation for people to come and visit.
    The tourism sector employs more than 1.8 million Canadians and is booming around the world, generating over $8,000 billion in economic benefits and growing by 4% every year.
    Can the Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie inform the House of the measures our government is taking to ensure that Canada is reaping its fair share of this growing global market?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Brome—Missisquoi for his excellent question. We are proud to give a strong voice to over 1.8 million Canadians who work in this sector. In fact, not only are we proud, but it is time that that sector got the recognition it deserves.
    If we combine the right economic conditions with smart policy decisions and ensure that the business community gets involved, the potential for development is huge: $25 billion more annually and 180,000 jobs.
    We are going to come up with a good strategy to develop tourism around the country.

[English]

Automotive Industry

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister promised that his policies would attract the jobs of the future. Oshawa's auto workers want those jobs. Auto manufacturers have announced that they will be building the electric and autonomous cars of the future, somewhere. Oshawa workers are ready, willing and able. They just want a chance to be competitive, a chance to bid on those jobs.
    Will the Prime Minister announce his plan for Oshawa workers by Christmas, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, we obviously feel for the workers in Oshawa, and their families. We have invested a great deal in the auto sector in Ontario. Almost $400 million in investments on our part has generated over $1 billion in investments in the auto sector in the car of the future. We are confident moving forward that Ontario will play a great role in the auto of the future, and we will continue to support the workers in Oshawa in the meantime.

[Translation]

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, the Premier of Quebec made it very clear that we want nothing to do with Alberta's dirty energy. There is no social licence. We do not want pipelines crossing our rivers, and we do not want tank cars rolling through our towns. Will the Prime Minister get the message that if they want to sell their tar sands oil to other countries, it will not be going through Quebec either by pipeline or by train?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, in the last federal election campaign, we made a commitment to grow the economy and protect the environment at the same time, and that is what we are doing. In particular, we are moving forward with a piece of legislation that is going to overhaul the environmental assessment project to ensure that we are able to get our resources to new markets, while at the same time mitigating the negative environmental consequences that can come when development happens in an irresponsible way. We are moving forward with a plan that is going to allow major projects to go forward, get our resources to new markets and protect our environment, all while incorporating the feedback of our indigenous people.

[Translation]

Rail Transportation

    Mr. Speaker, speaking of trains, VIA Rail, a Crown corporation, would rather give a contract to Berlin for work that can be done in La Pocatière. They are taking Quebeckers' money and giving it to businesses that are competing with Quebec companies. That is some nerve. We are proud of our workers, and we stand by them.
    Will the Minister of Transport stand by Quebec companies and workers and ask VIA Rail to reconsider that decision and award the rail car contract to our own companies?

  (1505)  

    Mr. Speaker, as I have said many times, VIA Rail is in the middle of a procurement process to replace its Quebec City-Windsor fleet. VIA Rail is a Crown corporation that makes its own decisions, and it has to take into account our free trade agreements—with Europe, in this case—as well as WTO rules. Everyone has to play by the rules of the free trade agreements we are part of.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the government says it will consider helping Alberta buy tanker cars. That is welcome news and I trust that the same offer will be extended to Saskatchewan. Transport in our region is limited not only for oil but also for people. The southern Prairies currently have neither passenger rail nor bus service.
    Will the government consider restoring VIA Rail service between Winnipeg, Regina and Calgary to help the Prairies get back on track?
    Mr. Speaker, VIA Rail is responsible for passenger traffic across this country. It must do so based on a number of factors. At the moment, as we know, VIA Rail does pass through Saskatchewan. The Canadian goes from the eastern part of Canada all the way to Vancouver, so VIA Rail, as far as I know, still goes through Saskatchewan.

[Translation]

    The hon. member for Montcalm on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, I seek the unanimous consent of the House for the following motion: That this House condemn the government's approval of the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration in Marrakesh without debate in this House.
    Does the member have the unanimous consent of the House?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I believe you will find unanimous consent for me to table the page from the Liberal Party platform showing the budget will be balanced by the year 2019.
    Does the hon. member have unanimous consent?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.

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 eight petitions.

Interparliamentary Delegations

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union respecting its participation at the 281st session of the Executive Committee of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the 139th IPU Assembly and related meetings held in Geneva, Switzerland, October 12-18, 2018.
    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the reports of the Canadian delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly respecting its participation at the 17th winter meeting of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Vienna, Austria, February 22-23, 2018, and the 27th annual session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Berlin, Germany, July 7-11, 2018.

  (1510)  

Committees of the House

Agriculture and Agri-Food  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 14th report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food in relation to Supplementary Estimates (A), 2018-19.

Finance  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 27th report of the Standing Committee on Finance entitled “Cultivating Competitiveness Helping Canadians Succeed”. This report is the work of hundreds of Canadians who drafted over 500 submissions for the committee's consideration and approximately 300 witnesses who appeared before the committee from coast to coast to coast.
    I want to thank members from all parties for their efforts and a special thanks on behalf of the committee to the clerks, David Gagnon and Alexandre Jacques, and to the analysts from the Library of Parliament, Andrew Barton, Brett Capstick, Michaël Lambert-Racine, Shaowei Pu and Ryan van den Berg. Without the efforts of the Library of Parliament, this fairly massive project would not be possible and I want to sincerely thank them and other committee members for their work and Canadians for their presentations.
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative Party feels that the report by the Liberal majority on the finance committee just reflects the broken promises of their government. Unfortunately, the Liberals have failed to balance the budget in 2019 as they promised, instead adding more multi-billion dollar deficits, more unchecked spending and more debt. The Liberals are also making it harder for our economy to grow through added regulations such as the pipeline-killing Bill C-69, payroll taxes and the carbon tax. As such, we are attaching a dissenting report that is also being tabled today.

Fisheries and Oceans  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 18th report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans entitled, “Protection and Recovery of Endangered Whales: The Way Forward”. I want to thank all committee members for their input. I want to thank the clerk and the analysts for getting this prepared.

[Translation]

Public Safety and National Security  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 29th report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security regarding Bill C-83, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another act.

[English]

Indigenous and Northern Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 17th report of the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs entitled, “The Challenges of Delivering Continuing Care in First Nations Communities”.
    In this process we heard from communities about the challenges with receiving care, as well as the many facilities that do not have culturally appropriate services for indigenous people.
    I want to thank everyone who raised the issues and brought them to our committee, as well as all of the people who participated.
    Mr. Speaker, this is a very important issue. If we look at the original motion for this committee report, it was comprehensive in nature, and we supported it. It was a Liberal motion. However, what we were most challenged by was the fact that the Liberals did not do what they said they wanted to do in their motion, so we called this report “A Missed Opportunity”, because it missed the opportunity to do the comprehensive work that I think the witnesses expected from us as a committee. Therefore, I table a dissenting report today.

Petitions

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table a petition signed by a number of residents in Ontario. As members know, Bill S-240 was passed unanimously earlier today. The petitioners are calling for the speedy passage of this bill through committee stage and finally passed through this House.

Vision Care  

    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to table a petition on behalf of constituents from coastal British Columbia, including Parksville, Ucluelet and Port Alberni. The number of Canadians with vision loss is expected to double in the next 20 years. In fact, just 1% of total expenditures on vision loss is invested in post-vision loss rehabilitation therapy. The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to commit to acknowledging eye health and vision care as a growing public health issue and to respond to it, particularly with respect to Canada's vulnerable populations of children, seniors, diabetics and indigenous peoples, through the development of a national framework for action to promote eye health and vision care. That would benefit all Canadians through the reduction of vision impairment resulting from preventable conditions and the modification of known risk factors.

  (1515)  

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to table a petition calling on the House to give speedy passage to Bill S-240. They will be pleased to know that it has now passed unanimously at second reading. However, it remains to be considered at committee and by the House again at third reading. The petitioners recognize the evil of international organ harvesting and call on us to move forward on this issue as quickly as possible.

Firearms  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by Canadians from the ridings of London West, London—Fanshawe and Guelph. The petitioners call on the House of Commons to respect the rights of law-abiding firearm owners and reject the Prime Minister's plan to waste taxpayers' money studying a ban on guns that are already banned.

Blood Donation  

    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to present e-petition no. 1589, originally sponsored by former Burnaby South MP Kennedy Stewart. This petition was sparked by the failure of the Government of Canada to end the unscientific one-year ban on blood donations by men who have sex with men. This petition now has over 5,000 signatures from across the country. It calls on the Government of Canada to repeal the gay blood ban in order to help end the stigmatization of men who have sex with men, and to end the misgendering of transgender women as men for the purposes of blood donation.

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Mr. Speaker, I have a petition today with respect to concerns about the international trafficking of human organs. The petitioners point out that there are two bills currently before the House of Commons and the Senate, the other place. They urge the Parliament of Canada to move quickly on the proposed legislation to prohibit Canadians from travelling abroad to acquire human organs removed without consent or as a result of a financial transaction, and to render inadmissible to Canada any and all permanent residents and foreign nationals who have participated in this abhorrent trade.

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, I am rising today on behalf of the residents of southern coastal British Columbia who are greatly concerned about the anchorages that are being used as a parking lot for freighters around the southern Gulf Islands.
    The petitioners recognize that the ships that are staying for longer periods of time and with greater frequency are causing some stress for a very sensitive marine ecosystem. They point out that the bright lights and noise are affecting nearby residents.
    The petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to use its power to fix this situation and eventually get us to a situation where these anchorages are no longer needed in this sensitive area.

Public Safety  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to table a petition signed by my constituents who are concerned about the alarming increase in crime rates in our rural communities. These petitioners are concerned about their safety and that of their families, friends and communities.
    The petitioners call on the government to ensure that law enforcement agencies not only prioritize crime prevention and investigation, but that they also have the resources they need to do it so people can feel safer in their own communities.

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present to the House today. The first is a petition in support of protecting the Thames River system.
    The petitioners draw attention to the fact that the Conservative government stripped environmental regulations covered in the Navigable Waters Act, leaving hundreds of rivers vulnerable, including the Thames. They note that the current government has failed to keep the promise to reinstate environmental protection gutted in the original act.
    Therefore, the petitioners ask the Government of Canada to support my Bill C-355, which would commit the government to prioritizing the protection of the Thames River by amending the Navigation Protection Act.

  (1520)  

Military Volunteer Service Medal  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is in regard to a Canadian volunteer service medal.
    The petitioners wish Parliament to recognize that Canadians who serve voluntarily in the Canadian Forces at one time were recognized for their volunteerism with a special medal. This was lost in 1947.
    The petitioners ask that the Government of Canada recognize the volunteerism of various members of the Canadian military, the regular forces, the reserves and the Cadet Corp, with a new medal that would be kept in perpetuity to honour the service of these individuals.

Animal Welfare  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition today from Canadians across Canada.
    These petitioners are concerned about the accidental poisoning of pets and wildlife. They are concerned that Health Canada still allows the use of strychnine, sodium cyanide and compound 1080 to kill wildlife, which they consider to be an archaic, inhumane and unnecessary practice. In particular, they are concerned about the use of this poison on the wolf and coyote population in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
    The petitioners are asking that the government reconsider its approval of these poisons for use in Canada.

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on the protection of the western basin of Lake Erie.
    The petitioners point out that the western basin of Lake Erie is home to Carolinian flora and fauna, migrating and passive birds, butterflies and marine ecosystems that need to be managed for sustainable use while protecting the area for future generations.
    The petitioners point out that conservation and protection practices need to be managed due to the high use of this area.
    The petitioners also point out that on June 30, 1997, the national parks directorate of Parks Canada, run through the heritage resource centre at the University of Waterloo, identified this region as a candidate for a national marine conservation area as an outstanding natural area with historic Canadian significance and encourage public appreciation, awareness, understanding and enjoyment of the area.
    The petitioners call on the Government of Canada to undertake an updated feasibility study.

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to present this petition signed by members across the greater Toronto area in support of this Parliament's moving very quickly on Bill S-240. As people may be aware from previous speakers, the bill did pass the unanimously to go to committee. The petitioners would like to see the House and the committee move very quickly on this.
    The petitioners call on Parliament to take a stance on and ban the international trafficking of human organs.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship  

    Mr. Speaker, I have four petitions to table today. Two of them are on the same topic, so I will present them together. The petitioners call on the government to repeal paragraph 38(1)(c) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. They note that the immigration law discriminates against people with disabilities. In particular, it makes excessive and arbitrary demands that are inaccurate, and does not account for the contributions of individuals and their families before determining that they are not admissible to Canada. It also notes that this is in contravention to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights.

  (1525)  

    Mr. Speaker, in the second petition, the petitioners call on the government to waive the requirement of travel loans by all refugees. It notes that refugees face extreme violence, conflict and persecution and are forcibly displaced from their countries of origin. The travel loan is something refugees have to take on as a burden when they come to Canada. Although the government recognized the significance of that burden by waiving the travel loan requirement for Syrian refugees from November 4, 2015, to February 29, 2016, no other refugees will benefit from that waiver. Therefore, the petitioners call on the government to waive the travel loan requirement for all refugees.

Natural Resources 

    Mr. Speaker, the final petition notes that the Trans Mountain pipeline brings massive environmental and economic risks with no substantive benefits to British Columbia or its local residents. It notes that an estimated 50 permanent jobs would be created by the pipeline, many of which would not be for local workers in our own country. It notes that the Liberal and Conservative governments have undermined the National Energy Board review process, resulting in many B.C. residents being unfairly prevented from stating their concerns.
    The petitioners note there is no known scientific technology to clean up bitumen when it is spilled. They also note the government approved the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion under Harper's process and are therefore asking for the government not to proceed with the pipeline expansion.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I must have missed your calling for motions, because I do have a motion that I would like to present, with the consent of the House.
    Is there unanimous consent to return to motions?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
     Mr. Speaker, I rise, seconded by the member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley to introduce Senate Bill S-248, an act respecting national physicians' day.
    This would not be under the rubric of motions. It would be under the rubric of first reading of Senate public bills. Therefore I should ask if there is unanimous consent for members to revert to that.
    Is it agreed?
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Speaker: There is no unanimous consent.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Questions Nos. 2012 to 2014, 2019 to 2021 and 2023.

[Text]

Question No. 2012--
Mr. Peter Kent:
    With regard to meetings between the RCMP and ministers, exempt staff members, or other government employees in relation to leaks of Cabinet confidences: what are the details of all such meetings, including (i) name and title of minister, exempt staff member or other government employee, (ii) location, (iii) date, (iv) subject matter discussed?
Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, given its mandate and operational requirements, the RCMP does not disclose details related to operational activities.
Question No. 2013--
Mr. Peter Kent:
    With regard to the government’s response to Q-1503 where it indicated that it was aware of six incidents of leaked information, but that only one individual had been under investigation for leaking information: broken down by each of the five instances where information was leaked but an investigation did not take place or no one was placed under investigation, what is the rationale for not pursuing an investigation into each of the instances?
Mr. Peter Schiefke (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Youth) and to the Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to the government’s response to Q-1503, in the five other incidents, following initial fact-finding work, it was determined that there was insufficient data and evidence to determine the source of compromise and no further action was warranted.
Question No. 2014--
Mr. Peter Kent:
    With regard to instructions or directives provided by the Office of the Prime Minister to the Privy Council Office (PCO) since November 4, 2015: what instructions or directives were given to PCO in relation to the release of documents as requested by lawyers in the Mark Norman case, or in relation to the alleged leak of information from a November 2015 Cabinet committee meeting, and on what date was each instruction or directive given?
Mr. Peter Schiefke (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Youth) and to the Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, there is an outstanding legal proceeding before the Ontario Court of Justice and the parties to that proceeding have sought disclosure of documents. The Government of Canada is collecting documents in its possession that are potentially responsive to the request, to provide to the court. It is up to the court to decide which documents should be released to defence counsel. It is accepted practice for the House of Commons to respect the sub judice convention and, as such, it would be inappropriate to comment.
Question No. 2019--
Mr. Tom Lukiwski:
    With regard to the terms used in Bill C-83, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another Act: (a) what is the government’s definition of “meaningful human contact” and what are examples of contacts that would or would not satisfy the Bill's requirements related to that term; and (b) what is the government’s definition of “leisure time” and what would be examples of activities that would or would not satisfy the Bill's requirements related to that term?
Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), in Bill C-83, the term “meaningful human contact” is intended to refer generally to social interaction and psychological stimulation conducive to mental health and rehabilitation. It is drawn from rule 44 of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, the “Nelson Mandela rules”.
    With regard to (b), in Bill C-83, the term “leisure time” is intended to refer to interactions with other individuals outside the context of formal CSC programs and interventions. Examples include sharing meals or engaging in physical activity with compatible inmates in a manner consistent with the secure environment of a structured intervention unit.
Question No. 2020--
Mr. Luc Berthold:
    With regard to changes or concessions made by the government to supply management in the United States—Mexico—Canada Agreement (USMCA): (a) what are the details of any studies the government has conducted on the impact of the changes to supply management in the USMCA, including the findings to any such studies; and (b) what projections does the government have on the impact of the supply management changes in the USMCA to each of the supply managed industries?
Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, including the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency, information on the economic impact of recent trade agreements that can be made public is available on Government of Canada’s websites.
    With regard to CPTPP, please see http://international.gc.ca/trade-commerce/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/agr-acc/cptpp-ptpgp/sectors-secteurs/agri.aspx?lang=eng
    With regard to CETA, please see www.agr.gc.ca/eng/industry-markets-and-trade/international-agri-food-market-intelligence/europe/canada-european-union-comprehensive-economic-and-trade-agreement-ceta-for-agri-food-exporters/ceta-a-competitive-advantage-for-the-canadian-agri-food-industry/?id=1505510292539
    With regard to CIFTA, please see http://international.gc.ca/trade-commerce/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/agr-acc/israel/benefits-avantages.aspx?lang=eng
    With regard to USMCA, please see http://international.gc.ca/trade-commerce/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/agr-acc/usmca-aeumc/agri.aspx?lang=eng
    The Canadian Grain Commission did not conduct any studies on the impact of the changes to supply management under the USMCA and does not have any projections on the impact of the supply management changes under the USMCA. The Canadian Grain Commission does not have any role or responsibility with respect to supply-managed industries.
    The Farm Products Council of Canada has not conducted any studies on the impact of the changes to supply management in the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement, USMCA.
    With regard to the Canadian Dairy Commission, information on the economic impact of recent trade agreements that can be made public is available on Government of Canada’s websites.
    With regard to CPTPP, please see http://international.gc.ca/trade-commerce/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/agr-acc/cptpp-ptpgp/sectors-secteurs/agri.aspx?lang=eng
    With regard to CETA, please see www.agr.gc.ca/eng/industry-markets-and-trade/international-agri-food-market-intelligence/europe/canada-european-union-comprehensive-economic-and-trade-agreement-ceta-for-agri-food-exporters/ceta-a-competitive-advantage-for-the-canadian-agri-food-industry/?id=1505510292539
    With regard to CIFTA, please see http://international.gc.ca/trade-commerce/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/agr-acc/israel/benefits-avantages.aspx?lang=eng
    With regard to USMCA, please see http://international.gc.ca/trade-commerce/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/agr-acc/usmca-aeumc/agri.aspx?lang=eng
    Farm Credit Canada has not conducted any studies on the impact of the changes to supply management in the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement, USMCA.
Question No. 2021--
Mr. Todd Doherty:
    With regard to instructions or advice provided by the Office of the Prime Minister (PMO) or the Privy Council Office (PCO) to departments and agencies regarding requests for the release of documents by a legal counsel to a party with matters before the courts: what are the details of any instructions which the PMO or PCO provided to any department or agency since November 4, 2015, including (i) sender, (ii) recipients, (iii) date, (iv) contents of the instructions or advice?
Mr. Peter Schiefke (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Youth) and to the Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada is bound by the Privacy Act and makes efforts to apply the principles of the Access to Information Act. In relation to matters before the courts, if such records exist, any instructions or directives would generally be subject to litigation privilege and potentially, to solicitor-client privilege.
Question No. 2023--
Mr. Bob Benzen:
    With regard to the government’s Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance: why are there no panel members from any province or territory outside of Ontario and Quebec, as of October 24, 2018?
Hon. Catherine McKenna (Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the ministers of Environment and Climate Change and Finance selected panel members based on their experience in diverse segments of the financial sector, their ability to engage financial sector executives and their understanding of both private sector and regulatory perspectives.
    The Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance is consulting broadly with industries and stakeholders across Canada.

[English]

Questions Passed as Order for Returns

    Mr. Speaker, if the government's responses to Questions Nos. 2011, 2015 to 2018, 2022 and 2024 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.
    Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Text]

Question No. 2011--
Mr. Dan Albas:
    With regard to the government’s Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax incentive program, broken down by each of the last three fiscal years: (a) what is the number of businesses which applied for tax incentives under the program; (b) what is the average time between the receipt of an application and a decision; (c) what is the average time between the receipt of an application and the funding actually being delivered to the business; (d) what is the number of applicants who have received notice of an audit under the program; (e) what is the average length of time between the notice of an audit and the applicant being audited actually receiving funding under the program; and (f) does the government pay the applicant interest in the case that an audit delays payment or does the government simply put the interest towards general revenue?
:
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2015--
Mr. Tony Clement:
    With regard to the number of individuals placed under a lifetime non-disclosure or gag order since November 4, 2015, broken down by department and agency: (a) what is the total number of (i) government employees, (ii) contractors, vendors or their employees, (iii) others, who are under such an order; and (b) what is the number of individuals who have been found to violate such an order since November 4, 2015?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2016--
Mr. Tony Clement:
    With regard to requests made to government ministers: (a) did any minister, including the Prime Minister, ever receive a request, including via email, text message, written, or oral communication, from members of the Irving family, or representatives of the Irving Group of Companies, that an investigation take place, or that charges be laid, in relation to the November 2015 alleged leak of information from a Cabinet committee meeting; and (b) if the answer to (a) is affirmative, what are the details of all such requests, including (i) sender, (ii) recipient, (iii) date, (iv) form (email, text, etc.), (v) summary or nature of request?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2017--
Mr. Tony Clement:
    With regard to the meetings which took place at the Halifax International Security Forum, in November 2015, involving ministers and representatives from the Irving Group of Companies: what are the details of all such meetings, including (i) date, (ii) attendees, (iii) whether attendees were in person, or connected via teleconference, (iv) topics discussed?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2018--
Mr. Deepak Obhrai:
    With regard to government expenditures on sporting event tickets since December 1, 2017: what was the (i) date, (ii) location, (iii) ticket cost, (iv) title of persons using the tickets, (v) name or title of event for tickets purchased by, or billed to, any department, agency, Crown corporation, or other government entity?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2022--
Mr. Bob Saroya:
    With regard to government sponsorships: (a) what is the complete list of conferences or conventions which were sponsored by any department, agency, or other government entity, since November 4, 2015; and (b) what are the details of each sponsorship in (a), including (i) name of event, (ii) location, (iii) amount of sponsorship, (iv) date of event?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2024--
Mr. Larry Maguire:
    With regard to the increase in fuel costs for school buses as a direct result of the federal carbon tax: does the government have any plans to compensate every local school board which will have to pay increased fuel costs and, if so, how much will each local school board receive in compensation funding?
    (Return tabled)

[English]

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

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Government Orders]

  (1530)  

[English]

Criminal Code

    The House resumed consideration of the motion in relation to the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-51, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Department of Justice Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act.
    The hon. member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford has eight minutes remaining for questions.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for St. Albert—Edmonton.
    Mr. Speaker, during his speech, my colleague, the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, expressed understandable frustration over the failure of the government to move forward with the removal of unconstitutional sections of the Criminal Code. During her speech, the minister almost unbelievably encouraged opposition members to work with the government in moving government legislation forward in an expeditious fashion as though it was somehow opposition members who had been an impediment to getting these sections removed from the Criminal Code.
    In fact, two years ago, following the Vader acquittal that overturned a guilty verdict on two counts of second-degree murder, our justice committee wrote to the minister. I stood with the McCann family in December 2016. The minister finally got around to introducing a bill in March 2017, but it is stuck at first reading.
    Is there any possible explanation for how a bill that could be unanimously adopted in the House is still stuck at first reading almost two years later, other than the complete mismanagement and incompetence by the government of its own legislative agenda?
    Mr. Speaker, I will agree with my colleague from St. Albert—Edmonton. It is a real head-scratcher.
    He recalled a few hours ago that when Bill C-32 was introduced, the government made much fanfare. There was a huge press conference in the foyer of the House of Commons. A number of stakeholders were behind the minister. It made headlines across the country. That bill still remains in purgatory.
    It was then rolled into Bill C-39, and we had hope that this was moment we would be moving forward with the much-needed amendments to the Criminal. However, again, that bill remains in purgatory at first reading.
    Finally, Bill C-39 was rolled into Bill C-75. The House of Commons has only just passed that bill and sent it to the Senate.
    Here we are more than three years into the government's mandate and we have only just sent that package of Criminal Code reforms to the Senate. Who knows how long it will take in the other place, given how massive that bill is, how many debates will be needed in the Senate and how many stakeholders will appear before the legal and constitutional affairs committee.
    For a government that came to power with such a huge and ambitious mandate to reform our criminal justice system, the evidence of its legislative progress has been very lacking. I would agree with my colleague that the government's management of time in the House could certainly use a few lessons.
    Mr. Speaker, I am always happy to ask questions of the New Democrats.
    My understanding is that the NDP is supporting the legislation. A lot of work was done at the committee stage, as was referenced. Even the amendment before us from the Senate was also discussed at the committee stage. My understanding is that it was generally felt at that time that we should move ahead without making those changes.
    Could my colleague provide his thoughts and maybe even correct the record if I have misinterpreted this inappropriately? Did the NDP members participate in the discussion at that time? If so, what were their thoughts?
    Mr. Speaker, I did. I was not there for most of the committee's deliberations on Bill C-51 because of a family matter I had to deal with at home, but I was there for the clause-by-clause consideration.
     I moved an amendment at committee stage, which my Conservative colleagues supported. It sought to clarify some of the language. The hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, the leader of the Green Party, also moved an amendment that was very much in line with what the Senate has attempted to do. I voted in favour of that one as well.
    My short answer to the member is, yes, we in the NDP did support Bill C-51, with the constructive criticism that more could have been done. Now the bill has come back to the House with Senate amendments. While I still support the bill in principle, I will be voting against the government's motion. I very much agree with what the Senate has attempted to do to add more clarification to this part of the Criminal Code, which is warranted. With many sexual assault cases, the judicial discretion has sometimes left much to be desired. This is a crime in Canada that goes unreported much of the time. Adding more clarity to what does and does not constitute consent will be very valuable for Canadian society going forward.

  (1535)  

    Mr. Speaker, the Senate amendments relate to section 273 of the Criminal Code, which set out a whole host of factors in which consent is deemed not to have occurred. The issue relates to subsection 273.1(2) that codifies, on its face, the J.A. decision by adding the word “unconscious”. There was some debate and some disagreement among some witnesses about whether adding those words would be helpful or whether they would create uncertainty in the law. That was the basis upon which Senator Pate introduced her amendments, which ultimately passed in the Senate.
    A counter argument to that is that the wording is sufficiently clear because it does, yes, incorporate the word “unconscious”, but it goes on in paragraph 273.1(2)(b) to refer to there being no consent for any reason other than the one referred to in proposed subparagraph (a.i), which is the word “unconscious”. Perhaps the hon. member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford could address that point.
    Mr. Speaker, I recognize the deliberations that were made in favour of keeping the bill as is. However, when I was doing research for my speech on the bill today, I had the opportunity to look at the transcripts from the Senate's third reading debate on it. I was very moved by Senator McPhedran's deliberations on it.
     More than 30 years ago, she was one of the co-founders of LEAF, the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund. She knows many people in the legal community, especially feminist scholars of criminal law. I was very moved by her comments that without Senator Pate's amendments to Bill C-51, we would have failed to capture the scope of consent as laid out for us by the Supreme Court.
    While, ultimately, the New Democrats support Bill C-51 as is, I support what the Senate has attempted to do, and was very much moved by the senator's arguments in favour of it.
    Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to address the House, especially as we get closer to this beautiful building being shut down for many years to come.
    First, I would make reference to the other place. The Senate contributes a great deal to the public debate. It goes through amendments and gives an assessment of what has been proposed by the House of Commons through legislation. I truly appreciate the work of many senators and the amount of time they put into trying to improve legislation before them.
     However, from what I understand, a lot of discussion on the amendments proposed by the Senate took place in a standing committee of the House. I do not want to take away from the seriousness of the offence we are talking about, but I think a majority of Canadians see this legislation as positive and long overdue. It would go a long way in making our system that much better.
    I will start with the purpose of the legislation, what we have debated over the last while and the time frame. I want to address many other aspects that were raised by the opposition, particularly around the area of timing, the number of legislation and so forth.
    With respect to the purpose of the legislation, I will highlight four areas.
    First, the bill would clarify and strengthen certain aspects of sexual assault law relating to consent, admissibility of evidence and the legal representation for the complainant during rape shield proceedings. One only needs to listen to some of the debates we have had at second reading and some of the discussions that took place during the standing committee to get a good sense of the nature of the problem and why that aspect is so critically important.
    Second, the bill looks at repealing or amending a number of positions within the Criminal Code that have been found to be unconstitutional by appellant courts and other provisions that are similar to ones that are found as unconstitutional.
    Third, the bill looks at repealing several obsolete or redundant criminal offences.
    Fourth, which is a strong positive, the bill would require that a minister of justice table a charter statement in Parliament for every new government bill, setting out the bill's potential effects on the charter. A good number of members have raised concerns about this, but I see it as a welcomed addition.
     I have indicated on numerous occasions that the Liberal Party founded our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We take it very seriously. I like to think that this is a good example of a very tangible action that clearly demonstrates we are a government that genuinely supports Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Therefore, to have a minister responsible to give his or her interpretation on how legislation could affect laws is a positive thing.

  (1540)  

    It is something that could complement future decisions. A court could take into consideration ideas, concepts, thoughts and expressions that might have been raised while the legislation was being debated in the House. I would argue that it gives a little more depth to the legislation itself. I see it as a very strong and positive thing.
     Those are the four core points that I would highlight. However, I want to address some of the things I have heard during the debate earlier this morning and during questions and comments. Members across the way have asked why time allocation is important. I am often quoted by some members of the opposition, suggesting why I would support time allocation. I can remember sitting in the third party benches in the far corner over there, just a few years back. I recognized back then that time allocation is an effective and necessary tool at times in order for government to deliver on its commitments to Canadians. It is something we have taken very seriously.
    Let me give an example. Last Thursday we brought forward another piece of legislation. I believe it was Bill C-57. When we brought that bill forward, the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan started the debate at about 3:30 p.m., and he continued to debate the bill for two and a half, maybe three hours. There is no doubt that it was somewhat enlightening. Some might argue that we are looking at a limited amount of time, and we need to acknowledge that there is a limited, finite amount of time for the House to deal with legislation.
     If the opposition chooses to prevent legislation from passing, it does not take very much. The member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan is very capable of articulating at great length. He could stand in his place and talk for two or three hours. If I was provided the opportunity to talk about a budget and all the wonderful things we do, I would like to think I could probably talk for a few days because there are so many good things this government has done for Canada's middle class. It would be a wonderful thing to be able to share that information with my colleagues across the way. However, the reality is that if the opposition were to allow me to do that, I suspect it would be somewhat hurtful for the government, given the limited amount of time we have inside the chamber.
    I use this as an example because a number of members across the way have been somewhat critical of two things. One is why we found it necessary to bring in time allocation on this legislation. The other is related to the overall approach by this government on justice.
    On the time allocation issue, both the Conservatives and the NDP often like to get together on a united front, and if they were determined to prevent legislation from passing, they could put government in a very difficult position where it would need to try to push the legislation through. That is in fact a responsibility of government.

  (1545)  

    Many pieces of legislation that we brought forward, including this bill, are because we made a commitment to Canadians in 2015. This legislation is another commitment fulfilled by this government.
    If we were to give all the time asked for by the opposition, we would not have been able to pass a couple dozen bills. Canadians, rightfully so, expect the government to have a full legislative agenda. That is, in essence, what we have.
    A New Democratic member criticized the government by saying that we have legislation here and there, and why is this bill not passing, and why is this other bill still in the Senate, and why are we still debating it here. There are two reasons. One, there is a process that does have to be followed. Two, at times individuals or political entities have an interest, for whatever purpose, to not allow legislation to go through. That means there is legislation that is at different points of discussion and debate. We have legislation still with the Senate. We have some getting ready for committee stage, some at second reading and some at third reading.
    Let there be no doubt that when it comes to the issue of justice, we do very much take a holistic approach at delivering on that issue. I think it is safe to say that as a government, we want to ensure that legislation we bring forward is all about protecting Canadians.
    This is one piece of the whole pie that is having that desired impact. We want to show compassion to victims. The Conservatives often say we are not sensitive to victims, yet we have legislation that enshrines victims rights in certain situations. We as a government recognize the importance of not only showing compassion to victims, but also bring in legislation where we can and other measures through budgets, to demonstrate that compassion to victims.
    It is also important that we hold offenders accountable. Again, this government takes this very seriously. In the past, when I have addressed that particular issue, there has been a comparison made between the Conservatives and the Liberals. There is a big difference between the two parties on the issue of offenders. Within this legislation we talk about offenders. However, there is a significant difference. Many of the Conservatives like to take a hard line on crime, as if that rhetoric will make our society a better, safer place to live. We, on the other hand, have a different approach to it, which is seen in this legislation as I get back into some of the details of it.
    We recognize that incarcerated individuals at some point in time will be released back into society. There is a responsibility for us to ensure that we prevent victims in the future by ensuring that the majority of those individuals who are released become more productive citizens of our country.

  (1550)  

    We also recognize the importance of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I made reference to that at the beginning when I talked about the scope of the legislation. I made reference to the fact that we are the party that brought in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We understand it and this legislation would ensure there is a stronger place in recognizing the importance of the charter.
     I would like to cite something specific that was provided to me in recognizing the importance of charter statements:
    Respect for the Charter is a critical aspect of governing and legislating in Canada.
     That is something we would argue and one of the reasons we are asking members to support this legislation. It then states:
    Requiring the introduction of a Charter Statement for every new Government bill represents a new, more open and more transparent way of demonstrating respect for the Charter.
    The Minister of Justice has already tabled nine different charter statements in Parliament for her own bills. She has demonstrated leadership on that aspect. The proposed legislation would make the minister's existing practice a legal duty. The duty would extend to all government legislation.
    Obviously, there has been a great deal of discussion on clarity in regard to consent. That was very well discussed. There was a great deal of discussion at the committee stage, where from my understanding the committee members believed it was okay to proceed to third reading with what had come out of the committee stage. I cannot recall anything coming from the official opposition regarding the need to reopen the area of an additional definition of consent, and I am sure I will be corrected if I am wrong during questions and comments. That is a very important aspect of the legislation.
    I have heard a couple of members talk about a clause that dealt with religious freedom, something which was taken into consideration at the committee stage. I want to raise that because someone, in posing a question earlier today, reflected on how the government backed down on a clause in the form of an amendment. It is important to recognize that the minister and the department did a wonderful job in the work prior to the introduction of the bill in the House, in meeting with the different stakeholders and working with other jurisdictions to present the legislation. It comes through the department after that consultation.
     A clause came up which was looked at concerning something to be taken out of the Criminal Code and it was deemed that we did not want that to happen. That was at the committee stage. To me, that speaks well of our standing committee process. Within the standing committee, the members identified an issue that ultimately was amended and there was a change in the legislation. It is not the only change that occurred.

  (1555)  

    I raise that point because from the very beginning of the original consultations and the work done by the department, we have been working with stakeholders to ensure that we have good legislation that I believe will ultimately serve Canadians well.
    Mr. Speaker, one issue I want to ask the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader a question about is the defence disclosure requirements in Bill C-51. This would mark the first time there would be a positive obligation on the part of the defence to turn over evidence, other than a few minor exceptions that are not in the least bit controversial and are well accepted. In this regard, for a defence counsel to tender evidence and records that in any way related to the complainant, it would have to bring forward an application at least 60 days before the trial.
    We are not talking about records relating to the sexual activity of the complainant. Those are addressed in section 276. We are not talking about records in which there would be a reasonable expectation of privacy on the part of the complainant, such as therapeutic records. Those are dealt with in section 278. We are talking about any record relating to the complainant.
    I would submit that this expansive definition would create an unwieldy process that would result in significant delays, not to mention the real risk of mid-trial applications, and therefore adjournments, and would do much to undermine trial fairness. Could the hon. parliamentary secretary comment?

  (1600)  

    Mr. Speaker, on the issue of defence disclosure, I do not have the background to provide the type of detailed answer the member would like to hear.
    What I do know is that at times, we need to recognize that there is a need for change. I talked about compassion for victims. This is a good example that could be used, when we talk about defence disclosure. As we evolve our court system and the way trials are conducted, at times we need to recognize that there is a need for change. Will it have a negative impact in terms of delays in justice? I am not in a position to provide the type of answer the member across the way may be looking for. However, I believe this is the right direction to be going.
    If the member wants a more detailed answer, I would suggest that it might be more appropriate to ask the minister or the parliamentary secretary.
    Mr. Speaker, excuse me while I shed a few tears for the troubles of being in a majority government. The parliamentary secretary should have an inkling of understanding, because he once sat in this corner, of the vast amount of power a majority government wields in this place. Frankly, I find it inexcusable at this stage in the 42nd Parliament that the only substantive justice bills that have been passed by the current government are Bill C-14, which was the result of a court-ordered deadline, and Bill C-46, which, of course, was the companion bill to Bill C-45.
    Our contention on this side of the House has been that it would have been unnecessary to even use time allocation if the government had taken the non-contentious parts of Bill C-32, which was rolled into Bill C-39, which was rolled into another bill, and made those a standalone bill. For example, we have provisions in the Criminal Code such as challenging someone to a duel, possessing crime comics and fraudulently practising witchcraft. For decades, legal scholars have complained that these faithful reproductions in the Criminal Code lead to confusion. It should have been no secret to officials in the justice department that as soon as the justice minister assumed her mandate, we could have moved ahead with a bill to get rid of those inoperable, redundant sections of the Criminal Code, probably with unanimous consent.
    Looking back at the last three years of the government's legislative agenda, particularly with justice bills, would the parliamentary secretary not agree with me that it would have been smarter to package the non-contentious reforms of the Criminal Code in a standalone bill, rather than having us, at this stage, at three years, with not a single reform of the Criminal Code yet passed by this Parliament?
    Mr. Speaker, from day one, this government has been introducing legislation. I believe the first piece of legislation was Bill C-2, which gave the tax break to Canada's middle class. From that day to this day, this government has been very diligent in trying to pass legislation in as orderly a fashion as possible. At times we have had support from the NDP to use time allocation. The NDP on occasion has recognized the odd piece of legislation it prioritized. The idea of using time allocation has been recognized by all parties in this chamber. It is just that we have different priorities.
    The government's priorities are to fulfill the commitments it made to Canadians in the last election as much as possible, and a good number of those commitments have to be done in the form of legislation. It might not meet the timing of my New Democratic friends, but this has been a very busy government on a number of fronts.
    The justice file has been an important priority for this government. That is one of the reasons there are a number of legislative items in different stages. If the member wants to see them pass, it should make a suggestion. I would definitely recommend to the government that it accept unanimous consent to have this bill and other pieces of legislation passed right now. If the NDP has identified legislation it wants passed, I will be pleased to advocate on the NDP's behalf that we allow for the unanimous passage of government legislation. I do not know if the Conservatives will agree. We might have to lobby them together.

  (1605)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to follow up on my colleague's comments on the promises of the Liberals during the election on the substantive changes they were going to make. In particular, in my province of Saskatchewan, many people were swayed by the Liberal promise that it would get rid of mandatory minimum sentences. We will not all agree on that issue, I know, but in my province, the rates of incarceration for indigenous people are horrendous. It is a human rights issue by any stretch of the imagination. We have been waiting a very long time for the government to do something substantive on justice issues that will make a difference to people's everyday lives and bring justice and honour their human rights.
    I would share with my hon. colleague how very disappointed I am at this point in the Liberals' mandate to not see the issue of getting rid of mandatory minimum sentences. If the most important relationship to the government is the relationship with first nation people, it was a TRC call to action to get rid of mandatory minimum sentences, and I would be the first to stand up to pass that bill with unanimous consent.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's comments. If we were to look at the amount of legislation the government has brought forward over the last few years, there are a lot of good things in it. I am hoping that we will get as much of it, if not all of it, passed, because it is something I believe Canadians would be very supportive of. I will concede that we might need that second mandate to achieve all the wonderful things we want to achieve. That is not up to me. It will be up to Canadians to ultimately decide in 2019.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform you that I will be sharing my time with the member for Saskatoon—University.
    I find it very impressive that my colleague opposite hopes to have a second mandate. I hope that will not be the case.
    I am rising today in the House to speak to Bill C-51, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Department of Justice Act and to make consequential amendments to another act.
    This bill has sparked lively discussions and important debates because it deals with sensitive subjects both for parliamentarians and the general public.
    The bill has some value because Canada's Criminal Code needs to be updated. Passages or provisions that have been deemed to be unconstitutional or that could result in challenges based on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms need to be amended, removed or repealed, as do any passages or provisions that are obsolete or unnecessary or that no longer have a place in today's criminal law.
    Bill C-51 has four main sections, namely the provisions pertaining to sexual assault, the provisions that have been deemed unconstitutional or that are similar to other provisions that were, the obsolete or needless provisions, and the charter statements.
    I would like to focus on the part of the bill that would amend certain provisions of the Criminal Code pertaining to sexual assault in order to clarify their application and to establish a regime concerning the admissibility and use of a plaintiff's or witness's private records in possession of the accused.
    In light of all the much-needed efforts made by all parties concerning the reporting of sexual assault, I agree with the provisions of Bill C—51 pertaining to sexual assault because they are very reasonable, and the Conservative Party has always advocated and voted for improving laws when they strengthen the rights of victims of crime, including victims of sexual assault.
    The changes proposed by Bill C-51 are necessary if we are to be consistent in our efforts to support victims of sexual assault.
    As a woman, a mother of two daughters and an advocate for enhancing the rights of victims of crime, I fully support the changes proposed by the bill, which would clarify and strengthen the sexual assault provisions of the Criminal Code.
    It is obvious that these changes will help the government provide solid support to victims of the serious and deeply traumatizing crime of sexual assault.
    Despite this positive step forward, it is vital that we also amend the Canadian Criminal Code to toughen penalties for criminals convicted of sexual assault, so that victims feel supported from the moment they decide to report their attackers.
    Furthermore, the Criminal Code should have significant minimum sentences for perpetrators; otherwise, victims will never feel like justice has been done.
    It is indeed important to modernize the Criminal Code and keep it up to date in order to ensure that justice is done, eloquently and effectively, for the sake of victims and their loved ones. However, as I was saying earlier, the Criminal Code needs to have significant minimum sentences, not maximum sentences. We already know that in most cases, these sentences are rarely imposed by judges. A minimum sentence is a stronger and far more effective deterrent for perpetrators and also sends a positive message to victims.
    Parliament has adopted clear provisions that define the concept of consent in the context of sexual assault.

  (1610)  

    Section 273.1 includes an exhaustive list of factors pertaining to situations where no consent is obtained. I am pleased that Senator Pate's amendments on this were not adopted. It is essential to keep the concept of consent intact. Consent can never be obtained when a person is unconscious.
    The wording in Bill C-51 clearly recognizes the many possible reasons why a person cannot provide consent even if they are conscious.
    We had to preserve one of the primary objectives of this bill, namely to ensure that we did not make legislative measures more complicated than they already are or make the concept of consent contentious. Far too often, in court, defence attorneys use the concept of consent against victims.
    For the victims, nothing must undermine the definition of consent, which requires the complainant to provide actual active consent through every phase of the sexual activity. It is not possible for an unconscious person to satisfy this requirement, even if they express their consent in advance.
    I can only imagine what state sexual assault victims would be in, if, during an evening, they provided consent to “normal” sexual relations but were drugged with the date-rape drug and violently sexually assaulted.
    If the government wants to better protect victims of sexual assault, it is vital that it keep this provision, especially since we also support former MP Rona Ambrose's private member's bill, Bill C-337, an act to amend the Judges Act and the Criminal Code with regard to sexual assault. This bill would restrict eligibility for judicial appointment to individuals who have completed comprehensive education in respect to matters related to sexual assault. Furthermore, it amends the Criminal Code to require that reasons provided by a judge in sexual assault decisions be in writing.
    In closing, I would like to add that this bill, if it were serious about this matter, could have proposed that the Department of Justice be required to assess the impact of any change to the Criminal Code on the rights of victims of crime contained in the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. That is the only reason for my strong reluctance to vote for this bill. I believe that, without this provision, we run the risk of passing legislation that could negate the rights contained in the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights.
    However, I will agree to vote for Bill C-51 because, on the whole, it is a good bill.

  (1615)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the member is right that there are a number of aspects of Bill C-51 that are welcome in clarifying, in some cases, the law around sexual assault.
    I think everyone in this House would agree that sexual assault is an extremely serious offence. The lives of those who are victims of sexual assault are forever changed. It is why I have to say I am very disturbed that, on the one hand, there are some positive aspects to Bill C-51 but, on the other hand, the government would turn around in Bill C-75 and hybridize the offence of administering a date-rape drug. The government is actually reclassifying that offence from what is now a solely indictable offence, the most serious type of offence in the Criminal Code, to an offence that could be prosecutable by way of summary conviction.
    I was wondering if my hon. colleague could comment on what kind of a message it sends to water down sentencing for administering a date-rape drug. I would submit it sends exactly the wrong message.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. He is right. It does send a strange message. On the one hand, they want to clarify a situation, but on the other, they make it impossible to clarify.
    I have always advocated for victims of crime. What bothers me the most about Bill C-51 is that it mentions the Charter of Rights and Freedoms a lot but does not mention the Victims Bill of Rights at all, even though it is supposed to help victims. Plus, the Victims Bill of Rights takes precedence over the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
    Unlike their attackers, victims of crime get life sentences. In many cases, there is no minimum sentence for perpetrators. A judge may hand down a maximum sentence knowing full well that the offender will never serve it in its entirety. Many offenders get out of jail after serving a third of their sentence, and that is what makes victims of crime nervous. Sexual assault and rape are life sentences for victims. We have no idea what those women and young boys go through. Yes, boys can be victims too.
    For those people, and as far as I am concerned, Bill C-51 does not go far enough. I would have liked an explanation as to why Bill C-75 was scrapped when it should have been kept. I would also like someone to mention the bill introduced by our former leader, Rona Ambrose, that addressed this problem.
    Bill C-51 is a good bill, but there is still more work to be done.

  (1620)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, one of the happier moments in the deliberations on Bill C-51 was the decision by the committee to reinstate section 176 of the Criminal Code that goes after people who, by threat or force, unlawfully obstruct or prevent an officiant from celebrating a religious or spiritual service. The committee heard from a lot of witnesses that this was very important to keep in the Criminal Code. I am wondering if my colleague has any thoughts about the all-party consensus to keep that in the bill and what it may mean for constituents in her riding.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I think everyone agrees that we need to keep that particular aspect.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to discuss Bill C-51, an act involving a variety of issues that have been put together. I will not deal with the entirety of the bill, but I will give a brief summary and deal with certain sections that are of particular concern.
    This legislation has been described as consisting of four separate parts. The first part is provisions that deal with sexual assault and rules around that. I do not pretend to be an expert on this, and my speech will not concentrate on those areas of the bill, but what I am hearing from some of my colleagues is how certain sexual assault offences would be treated less seriously in this legislation than in previous legislation. That does concern me. I wonder why the government is making these changes. I do not see any reason to treat sexual assault offences less seriously in the future than we have in the past.
    There are a couple of other provisions where it makes sense that they are grouped together. They are dealing with things that may be obsolete, or provisions that have been found to be unconstitutional. It makes sense those two would be together in this legislation, as they are sort of a cleanup in the legislation. They are no longer functional, and it is a housecleaning bill in that sense.
    Then, for some strange reason, the government has put a provision in the bill about charter statements. It would require that statements and legal opinions about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms be attached to all government bills.
    If I could give some advice to the government for the future, perhaps it should not try to package these four separate areas together. Issues around sexual assault in particular need their own legislation to be dealt with so members can properly discuss it and look for ways to provide justice both to the accused and to victims going forward. As has been mentioned, this is a criminal offence that has very profound life-changing consequences for those affected by it.
    I am particularly interested in a couple of things the government has put together as far as obsolete provisions or provisions that have been found to be unconstitutional or are similar to other provisions that have been found to be unconstitutional. I understand the government's reason for putting in clause 28, where it repeals the offence to supply or procure a drug or instruments used to cause the miscarriage of a female person. I understand why it is putting that clause in to get rid of that element of the legislation.
    Let me express my disappointment with it, because what that is doing is cleaning out what is left of the abortion legislation that we have in Canada. I know with the Morgentaler rulings and so forth it was struck down, so I can understand the government's legal reasoning on this makes sense. If I shared its philosophical perspective I would do this as a matter of housecleaning, but it does bring to the notice of the House that Canada is the only democratic country in the whole world that does not have legislation dealing with abortion. I, and I know other members of the House find that to be an absolute disgrace. This is really the last housecleaning aspect to get rid of what is left of legislation in our Criminal Code dealing with abortion.
    Members of the House, particularly members who agree with me that this is a disgrace, should contemplate on this final bit of housecleaning to get rid of what is left of legislation that protected the life of the unborn and should actually think about possibly opposing this legislation on the final vote to send a message that we think something needs to be done to defend the life of the unborn. Again, I understand the government's legal reasoning behind it. I am not questioning it. However, I think the duty of the House is not just to always rubber-stamp what the courts have said. It also needs to send a message about what we feel is right and moral, even when the courts, in my view, usurp the role of the House.

  (1625)  

    The other change in this legislation that has caught the attention of a considerable number of people, including me, is regarding obstructing or violence to or arrest of officiating clergymen. Originally the government was arguing that this was an obsolete provision that needed to be taken out. However, I think what has happened in regard to this clause actually demonstrates that our democratic processes do work well in this country. Many Canadians were very concerned, because this clause has actually been used. I have been informed that not that many years ago it was used, I believe, with respect to St. Patrick's here in Ottawa. Members can understand why this would be of major concern.
     I think the government was right to expand the definition beyond Christian clergy, such as a Roman Catholic priest. One can see very clearly how a rabbi conducting a service in a Jewish house of worship could be very concerned if someone came in to do a demonstration with respect to Israel, or if at a Muslim service something were to take place. A lot of foreign policy questions are, in some people's minds, now tied to religion. I think it was very important that the public spoke out and clearly said to the government that it is unacceptable to remove this and that it is something they want protected.
    All forms of freedom of speech need to be protected and are of importance. Religious freedom of speech is not a singular, individual one, but rather it is done collectively. When a clergyman is officiating a service that is interfered with, it is interfering with something that is very profound and sacred to a group of people. It is invading their privacy. It is taking away from them an intimate, special moment, an act of connection with their god. The government's original suggestion was that this was redundant to other pieces of legislation, but I think it is clearly understood that is not the case. This is something special and distinct. The government did a wise thing by backing down under public pressure and to understand what this means to many Canadians.
    My final concern with this legislation has to do with the requirement for charter statements being put into this bill. The bill is suggesting that every time the government brings forward a piece of legislation, it must table a charter statement in Parliament with the bill. If the current government wants to do that, that is its choice. I understand it has been done eight times. However, I have a couple of concerns with this.
    When a legal statement involving the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is attached to a bill, it may very well give the public an incorrect impression as to the legality or illegality of the bill. I would expect all governments to check and be very thorough about whether or not a bill or a piece of legislation they are putting forward is just. However, a legal opinion from one, two or even three lawyers in the Department of Justice may be seen as something more than it is, something more consequential and more powerful.
    My other concern about this is it could very easily be a way for the Department of Justice to steer, through its own opinions, political opinions of the government. Governments have the right to disagree with their own lawyers. They have the right to put forward legislation that pushes the grey line of charter rights. We have a notwithstanding clause. Governments do not even have to universally follow the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That is the way it is construed. That is a concern I have. Again, if the government wishes to do it, it should feel free to do so. However, this is something that is creating an extra hurdle or perception that I am not sure members of this House would universally agree with.
    Those are my concerns. I understand the basis for the legislation. However, there are things about this bill that I cannot support.

  (1630)  

    Mr. Speaker, I want to ask my colleague for clarification. He was speaking about the hybridization of section 176 sending the wrong message that unlawfully obstructing, threatening or harming a religious official is not a serious offence. With the experience that he has had and the discussions that have taken place on previous bills in this House, I wonder if he could elaborate on whether or not he believes that the government is serious about keeping the act the way it is or changing it to be softer.
    Mr. Speaker, generally when the government hybridizes an offence, it allows the prosecutors to put the charge in a less serious form, whether it is a year, two years or more or two years less. This allows the government to keep the crime in the Criminal Code legislation but allows prosecutors to put a much softer charge to it. I think the message is that the government still views it as a crime, but not that serious of a crime, and it is sending a message to prosecutors that if they do prosecute, not to prosecute all that hard and go for a very minimal sentence.
    I do not think that is a good message to be sending. Offences against religious worship are very serious. We can ask people in the Jewish community how they would feel if a neo-Nazi came in to intimidate them.
    Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that the member would see hybridizing as a negative thing. It would allow our courts, Crowns in particular, the opportunity to ensure that certain situations would not go through a criminal court if it was not necessary. The example I used before was kidnapping. If someone stalked and apprehended a child from a schoolyard, who knows the horrors that could happen. However, that is quite different from a hotly contested divorce settlement where a child takes it upon himself or herself to leave one parent to go to another parent. Both situations would be classified as kidnapping. When we hybridize something, it allows the Crown to use more discretion.
    Is my friend suggesting that we should not have hybridization in our justice system?

  (1635)  

    Mr. Speaker, I was not saying that as a broad principle for every situation every time, but with some of the examples being put forward in the legislation, it is not particularly wise to be hybridizing particular offences.
    Mr. Speaker, one of the most troubling things I find with the bill is that we have had to, once again, shame the government into removing something it ought to have known should not have been in there in the first place. I am speaking about the protection for religious services and the ministers associated with them.
    I wonder if my hon. colleague could comment on the fact that the bill is so far delayed that it probably will not make it out before the election year is upon us.
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is asking me to comment on how the government mishandles its own schedule. I should leave that for our House leaders. We do not want to necessarily teach the government how to actually handle its own schedule. Suffice it to say that, yes, the Liberals are often incompetent and do not know what they are doing when it comes to handling legislation, legislative timetables and things like that.
    I am not always sure I want the government to be more efficient, since most of the legislation it puts forward is poor legislation. Therefore, to some degree, I actually appreciate the fact that the Liberals do not pass a lot of legislation, as they are inefficient and often do not have a real idea of where they are going, because the direction in which they do head tends to be net negative, in my opinion, for the country.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to participate in the debate on Bill C-51 and, in particular, the Senate amendments.
    My intention in my remarks today is to focus on two issues that arise out of this bill. One is the question of advance consent in general, at a philosophical and practical level, and whether we think that a person ought to be able to consent in advance to something happening in the future and some of the issues related to that in this bill. The other is I want to talk about section 176 and the way in which the government approaches our response to potential acts of hate and violence and disruption that are perpetrated against faith communities in Canada.
    The issue of advance consent is very much one that has been discussed back and forth and from different perspectives. I note that with respect to the idea of someone consenting in advance to sexual activity, this is a subject on which the Supreme Court of Canada and the Ontario Court of Appeal, at certain points in time, disagreed. There was a court decision in R. v. J.A. in which the person accused of sexual assault argued in the context of that particular case that sexual assault had not taken place because the complainant had consented to being rendered unconscious, allegedly, and consented, allegedly, to engaging in sexual activity. The Ontario Court of Appeal actually agreed with the arguments of the accused in this case, and said the “only state of mind ever experienced by the person is that of consent”.
     I think the Ontario Court of Appeal got it wrong. Many people would say that it is not only wrong but deeply offensive to suggest that a sexual act could be performed without a person's explicit consent in the moment, on the basis of alleged prior consent in advance.
     In my view, the Supreme Court got it right when it said:
    It is not possible for an unconscious person to satisfy this requirement, even if she expresses her consent in advance. Any sexual activity with an individual who is incapable of consciously evaluating whether she is consenting is therefore not consensual within the meaning of the Criminal Code.
    Bill C-51 puts that legal court decision into the Criminal Code by noting that there is never consent when a person is unconscious. Proposed paragraph 273.1(2)(a.1) states:
    For the purpose of subsection (1), no consent is obtained if
(a.1) the complainant is unconscious;
     The decision of the Supreme Court in this case is the right decision. It is one that I agree with and it is one that is reflected in the law.
    It is noteworthy at the same time that the Ontario Court of Appeal thought differently and indeed advanced arguments for the idea that a person could provide so-called advance consent in this case. It reflects the fact that in different contexts around different debates, people have made arguments about the supposed legitimacy of advance consent. We see in another case the use of that argument, and I will get to that in a few moments.
    The cases against so-called advance consent as something we should allow or accept are myriad. One of the obvious arguments against it is that one's past self, in one's wishes and inclinations, might disagree substantively from one's future self. One might think that at such and such a point in the future under certain circumstances one will want this or feel this or accept this. However, in reality, when one experiences those things, one feels totally differently in the context of that new situation. The idea of a past self irrevocably dictating the conditions and events that are going to occur with a future self is unjust to the future self and it violates the autonomy of the individual at that point in time in the future. Our past selves differ from our future selves, and perceptions about how we will experience certain events in the past might differ from how we actually experience them in the moment when they are taking place.

  (1640)  

    It is on this basis of recognizing the importance of autonomy, not in the sense of a past self-binding and future self-binding but autonomy in the sense of individuals making determinations about themselves in the moment and being able to ensure that they are comfortable with and accepting of everything that is happening while that thing is happening, that the court, the House, and this legislation recognize the fundamental wrongness of advance consent in the context of sexual activity.
    I develop this point in spite of the perhaps pre-existing agreement in the House because it has some relevance to our discussion of other issues with respect to consent. In particular, some members would like to see us allow advance consent in the case of euthanasia or assisted suicide. It is important for members to reflect on the argument for and against allowing advance consent in the one case when we consider the possible application of that same principle in a different case.
    Questions were asked in the House, for example, about the case of Ms. Audrey Parker, a tragic situation for her, and other cases, where the idea of advance consent was brought up. Some have argued, especially some of my friends in the NDP, that people should be able to provide consent in advance that their life be taken if their condition advances to a certain point and if certain conditions are met.
    I find that prospect very troubling, that a present self could irrevocably bind a future self, especially that the person could establish parameters under which that future self would be bound even in a case where that future self might, in the moment in terms of practical expression, not want that to happen.
    The particular context in euthanasia of providing advance consent is, of course, that people have to imagine how they would experience certain conditions, certain development of a disease, and how they would feel about it, how they would respond and what they would want in the moment. The idea and the argument that some advocates have made is that the person should be able to issue an advance directive, so that even if they in that moment do not have the capacity to make a decision, their past self would decide for them in the present.
    This can create a situation, though, where one might ask what happens if a person with somewhat lost capacity, but nonetheless with a condition set out by their past self, then says he does not want his life taken. His past self had established this living will, this advance directive of sorts, that would then theoretically involve the state and medical professionals taking his life in a case where he did not want that to happen in the moment based on something his past self said.
    This is not a purely hypothetical case. There is currently a case before the Dutch courts in which a patient was held down by family members while a physician injected her with lethal medication. The doctor was acting based on an interpretation of an advance directive and of past statements made by the patient.
    We do have cases where there is an application of the idea of advance consent to euthanasia, and we have a very scary situation, frankly, where a person's life is taken when he or she is saying in the moment, “No, I don't want this to happen”, but someone else is interpreting something the individual said in the past as overruling the individual's expression in the moment.
    The present self who is facing this kind of violence, I would argue, is maybe at a point of lower capacity than the person previously had, but I still think it is a very scary situation or proposition.

  (1645)  

    I would encourage members to reflect on the question of advance consent and to take a consistent position on it. I would suggest that members set a similar standard for consent in these cases. It does not seem, to me, to make sense to have a lower bar for the consent required to die than consent required for sexual activity, to abhor advance consent in the case of sexual activity, and yet to support it in the case of death and dying. We do not know exactly where the debate on advance consent in the context of death and dying is going to go. I know there is an expert panel the government has put forward that we expect to hear a report back from relatively soon. I know there are members of the government caucus who have said that they are supportive of the idea of advance consent.
    However, if we think about the case that I spoke about in particular and how we would feel if a past version of ourselves had said we wanted something, which all of a sudden, in the moment, in a situation, we really do not want to have happen, and yet we are told that we had said we had wanted this in the past, so our past self can dictate to our present self. I would see that as really going against a pretty basic principle of autonomy that I know is important to many members.
    I leave that for the consideration of the House. It is very relevant to our discussion of Bill C-51, in terms of the way in which the bill codifies the point that in the context of sexual consent, one cannot consent in advance, that a person who is unconscious can never consent, regardless of what they said beforehand. Again, to underline this, I very much agree with that particular change to Bill C-51. I want to encourage members to think about what that means for some of the other conversations that are happening.
    This bill deals with Senate amendments. There is a proposed Senate amendment that provides some specific language around that section. I know that some of my colleagues are favourably disposed towards the intent of the senator who brought this forward, but are concerned about some of the unintended legal implications of it, namely, that if certain things are spelled out explicitly, there might also be things that are not spelled out in the section. The sense, and I think it is a good sense, is that the existing language in that particular section of Bill C-51 does the trick in hitting the particular point on the mark. That is what I wanted to say about the issue of advance consent.
     I would like to make a few comments about section 176 of the Criminal Code and the back and forth we have seen in our discussions on that section and on some of the other actions the government has taken in this regard.
    Section 176 deals with the disruption of a religious service and vandalism against church property, and so forth. Our caucus has done a great deal of work with civil society to bring attention to the importance and value of this section, and to oppose initial efforts by the government to remove this section.
    The government argued that section 176 could be removed, because it was redundant. Clearly the offences that are covered by section 176 are things that other charges could apply to, but that does not mean that the offence, in terms of putting a particular emphasis on it and ensuring fulsome prosecution in these cases, is redundant. By analogy, our Criminal Code speaks specifically of hate crimes, and I have never heard anyone argue that hate crimes legislation is redundant because the violence associated with hate crimes, namely, vandalism, but more particularly assault and those sorts of things, are already illegal.
    I have never heard anyone ask why we need hate crime provisions because those things are already illegal. I think all of us accept that the message sent by having a particular category of prosecution associated with hate crimes is appropriate, because hate crimes are not just aimed at doing violence to a particular individual but also at making an entire community feel threatened and unsafe in living their lives as they do, including the practice of their faith and the public actions they take that are associated with their identity, and so forth.

  (1650)  

    Hate crimes legislation is about ensuring that groups of people are not targeted on the basis of their identity. That is why we treat a hate crime as something distinct from an act of assault on its own. If members accept that principle with respect to hate crimes and hate crimes in prosecution, it would seem to me that the same principle goes to section 176. Someone who actively disrupts a church service or commits acts of vandalism or violence against religious clergy are not just trying to enact specific violence against an individual or place. It is not merely an act of trespassing or vandalism, rather an action that carries with it a real chill for the ability of people of faith to live freely and confidently without worry of that kind of violence. That is why section 176 is not redundant. It is critically important.
    Another argument the government used was to say that the language in section 176 is outdated because it refers to a clergyman and is not, in its textual implications, inclusive of all faiths and genders. However, in reality, the section was clearly being applied in a way that was fully inclusive. It really was an odd argument to make that we should take the section out completely because it was not, in its language, inclusive when all that was really required was to change the language. Even changing the language did not change the actual practical effects of the law.
    In the end, in response to a really strong reaction and groundswell from different communities working collaboratively with our party, the proposed deletion of section 176 by Bill C-51 was abandoned. We were pleased to see that.
    At the same time, we then saw the government, in Bill C-75, proposing to hybridize offences under section 176, effectively reducing the sentence for these offences. In the previous discussion in the House on this issue, my friend from Winnipeg North offered a defence of the idea of hybridized offences. I do not think anyone has argued there should not be any cases where the level of available discretion would not cover a spectrum associated with hybridized offences.
    However, I think a lot of those who advocated significantly for section 176 to be preserved, and were initially pleased by the government's stepping back from their decision, kind of saw in the hybridization of this particular offence yet another indication that the government does not really understand the importance of this and does not accept the value of having strong, clear language with appropriate associated sentences in the Criminal Code to protect the practice of faith in this country.
    It is ironic because the government talks a good game a lot of the time when it comes to fighting hate. When it comes to motions or statements around these kinds of issues, the government always seems to be ready.
    We had considerable debate in the House on Motion No. 103 on the question of “Islamophobia”. All of us in the House should read that it is important for us to take a strong stand against, in this case, anti-Muslim violence or hatred, and that it is important for us to take a strong stand against those who express bigotry against any community. However, we wanted the government to provide a definition of what it meant by “Islamophobia”, and it refused to do that. Unfortunately, the House was not able to come together in a way that might have been desirable to send a clear unified statement on that issue.
    Despite the specific language of Motion No. 103 speaking of the need to “quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear”, the government's actions with respect to section 176, an actual section of the Criminal Code that provides real legal protection for those practising their faith, show that in so many cases, it is only interested in the statement and not the substance.
    For faith communities and leaders across the board who wonder what substantive protections exist, they should look to and expect the government to underline the importance of section 176, not to be weakening its application as we are seeing.

  (1655)  

    Mr. Speaker, when I look at the existing text of Bill C-51, where it attempts to amend the Criminal Code with respect to consent, some of the main issues that the senators had, and I very much agree with them, was that while we had a clear definition of what consent meant, where the vagueness became problematic was in no consent.
    The existing text of Bill C-51, under section (2.1), it has “(a.1) the complainant is unconscious” and then follows up with “(b) the complainant is incapable of consenting to the activity for any reason other than the one referred to in paragraph (a.1)”, which is kind of vague. I know a lot of senators had problems with that.
    Given the concerns that experts in sexual assault law have, what does my colleague think about the Senate's attempts to clarify that part of the Criminal Code? If the Senate amendments were allowed, we would basically have no consent defined as being unable to understand the nature, circumstances or risks, unable to understand that a person has a choice and unable to affirmatively express agreement to the sexual activity.
    My colleague talked about judicial discretion. Certainly we have different opinions on that when it comes to sentencing. However, it seems to me that in the interpretation of this very important part of the Criminal Code, given the problems we have had with case law in sexual assault, this is perhaps one area of the Criminal Code where we do not really want to have too much judicial discretion, where perhaps it is good to have a very clear road map of what precisely no consent means. Would my hon. friend comment on that part?
    Mr. Speaker, I hope my colleague and his party will consider the arguments I made with respect to advance consent and its other application as well. It is important to reflect on that. I know they have been very clear on the issue of advance consent in this case, but it is important to consider in the other context that it can be asserted as well.
    With respect to the Senate amendments, the existing language in Bill C-51, as proposed when it was sent to the Senate, was, “For the purpose of subsection (1), no consent is obtained if...(a.1), the complainant is unconscious; (b) the complainant is incapable of consenting to the activity for any reason other than the one referred to in paragraph (a.1).”
    This clearly sets out the conditions in which a person is unable to consent. The proposed amendment from the Senate says, “For greater certainty, capacity to consent at the time of the sexual activity that forms the subject-matter of the charge cannot be inferred from evidence on capacity to consent at the time of another sexual activity.”
    The question is whether that addition adds anything, given the certainty already established under the new section 2. We agree with the principle. It is just a question of the practical legal application. My judgment at present is that the existing language in Bill C-51 is sufficient.

  (1700)  

    Mr. Speaker, the member mentioned section 176, which is the part of the Criminal Code that deals specifically with protection for the clergy. However, it also deals with protection for houses of worship and for worshippers at those places. He said that rather than consider removing it, that the section should have been strengthened. I would like to hear his ideas on that.
    Mr. Speaker, if we look at strengthening the legal mechanisms in place that address the issue of violence against clergy, the targeting of people on the basis of their faith or attacks against houses of worship, section 176 is the place to look. We often hear about the importance of these issues from the government and yet it is weakening the one section. An important discussion would be how we might be able to strengthen it. I am not sure I can say exactly whether the numbers are increasing or decreasing, but it is something that has hit home for a lot of people.
    I was recently at a Hanukkah event in Toronto and had an opportunity to meet someone who was recently the victim of an anti-Semitic attack. This is a case that has been in the news, where a number of Jewish boys were attacked with what seemed to be a clear intention around hate and faith-based intimidation, intimidation against a faith community associated with that.
    Also, when I was recently in Halifax, I visited Saint Benedict Parish, which is a Catholic church. A friend of mine is a priest there. That church was subjected to vandalism on Easter Sunday.
     Many members of Parliament have had an opportunity to interact with people and see these cases. They do happen and they happen far too often in the country. We can take steps to address them. However, expressing the opinion of the House through a motion does not necessarily make that much of a difference to the people on the ground. It is really a question of what the law says and what we do as legislators, as lawmakers, and not simply what we say expressively about these issues.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to pick on section 176 of the Criminal Code and the whole idea of freedom of religion and ensuring that services are 100% functional. I would argue that it demonstrates how effective a standing committee can be. It is not necessarily a government backing away as much as it is committee membership listening to what presenters and Canadians as a whole have to say.
    An amendment was brought forward and it was unanimously accepted. Therefore, members from all political parties at committee recognized the importance of keeping it within the Criminal Code, and that as a positive thing. It shows that standing committees can make a difference. Could my colleague comment on that?
    Mr. Speaker, on that point, the government proceeded with hybridizing offences under section 176 in Bill C-75. Although members of the standing committee chose to make that change with respect to Bill C-51, we saw new government legislation in the form of Bill C-75 that again showed a lack of appreciation for this important section.
    It would have been great if the same standing committee had shown the alleged independence that the member speaks of by fixing it the second time around as well. Unfortunately, sometimes, even on relatively independent committees, the PMO's hammer comes down and we do not see that change.
     It is frustrating to see repeated attempts by the government in its legislation to weaken section 176. Yes, there was an amendment the first time around on this bill, but there was not an amendment the second time around.
    In so many different areas, the government tries to do something, there is a public backlash, it waits a while and then we see it do something similar. Talking about the impact on faith communities, the Canada summer jobs issue has been in the news recently. I do not think Canadians are going to be fooled by the fact that the government is trying to make what looks like a change in an election year. Many faith communities have seen what the government's intentions are with respect to their freedoms and liberties. To change the tone of the discussion in an election year is not the best indication of what it has in mind or what it would likely do if it were re-elected.

  (1705)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is always a privilege to stand in this place, especially as we approach the time when it will be closed and the last week we will be here.
     It is an august place, a place where many interesting debates have happened since it reopened after the fire. As for the one before the fire, we are coming up the 100th anniversary of Prime Minister Laurier, who was a leader of note. He established Alberta and Saskatchewan as provinces, and passed away the following year. Not only did he establish Alberta and Saskatchewan, he was in favour of free trade agreements. In 1911, he lost an election on a free trade agreement. We may see that happen again in 2019.
    Also I remember well the debates on the flag issue, which was a focus for the country in the sixties. The debates between Diefenbaker and Pearson are legendary in this place. The flag issue is one that had a lot of Canadians focused on this place and on the debates, which resulted in the maple flag we have today.
     I also remember when we had a loyal opposition party leading a charge to leave the country. A lot of people were a little confused about the debates that went on in this place when the leader of the loyal opposition wanted to split up the country.
    Many debates have happened in this place, with many people who are orators, intelligent people expressing their opinions and representing Canadians. At this time, I am one of 338 who has the honour and privilege to stand in this place, but not for much longer as this building will close this week and we will move to another place. Again, it is a privilege to look around and see the magnificent edifice and beautiful place in which we get to work.
    Today I rise to speak to C-51, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Department of Justice Act and to make consequential amendments to another act. Since it was introduced the first time, and again as it has come back from the Senate, there have been learned people standing and speaking to this. It is an omnibus bill. It is very complicated and one some people in the House are able to understand, comprehend and speak very clearly about. Others speak of its broad issues, but not as intelligently as some of the members in the House who have legal backgrounds.
    However, it should not be a surprise there are issues when we get a bill this big, although many people would agree with some of the things in it.
     I will be sharing my time, Mr. Speaker, with my colleague from Niagara West.
    We agree with some things in this omnibus bill. It contains some worthy provisions. Clarifying the law in relation to sexual consent is very important. Repealing unconstitutional provisions in the Criminal Code is a positive aspect. I was also very happy the government backed down, as we have heard many times, on the removal of section 176 of the code. I heard a lot about this one from my constituents. Many faith groups, including those in my riding of Bow River, were deeply concerned about that section.
    The section provides protection to those practising their religion. We have freedom of religion in Canada. One of thing I may not agree with everybody on is religion, but I would fight to the death for those people to be able to express their religious beliefs. Religious communities need to be able to worship without fear of interference and disruption. This is truer now than ever. Hate crimes against religious groups are on the rise in Canada. A section of the code that gives these groups clear, unambiguous confidence in their right to worship as they please is far from redundant.
    When we were talking about the inoperative sections of the Criminal Code and Bill C-51, it was the unfortunate decision by the government to initially include section 176 of the Criminal Code among the sections it deemed to be obsolete. Section 176 is hardly redundant, hardly obsolete and certainly not unconstitutional. Indeed, section 176 is the only section in the Criminal Code that protects clergy from having their services disrupted, something which is very serious and goes to the heart of religious freedom.

  (1710)  

    The government turned a blind eye when it introduced this, and the Conservatives called them out on it. As a result, tens of thousands of Canadians spoke out, telling the government that it was wrong.
    My learned colleague on the other side previously mentioned that a committee was able to resolve this. It was one of the outstanding features of the committee that it unanimously came to that. However, it is my belief that there was such push-back in religious communities that the people sitting on that committee realized the mistake in that initial document and changed it.
    Municipal governments must react much sooner when they may have made a mistake. If in coffee shops they hear about something, they pass it the next day, and at the next meeting, they can fix it. This is a much longer process, but at the committee level, members heard from religious people of faith in our country that this was not the appropriate thing to do.
    I will move on. Clause 14 of Bill C-51 proposed to repeal section 176 of the Criminal Code, which makes it a crime to unlawfully obstruct a religious official. Conservatives were the first to identify this clause. As a result of the public backlash, the Liberals on the justice committee amended Bill C-51 to remove it.
    However, only months later, the Liberals hybridized section 176 in Bill C-75. Currently, it is a solely indictable offence, which is reserved for the most serious offences. However, by hybridizing section 176, it could be prosecuted as a summary conviction offence, which is reserved for less serious offences. That means that offenders could just get a fine, and I think that would downgrade the importance of religious freedom. For people who practice it and leaders of religion, this would be downgraded to a less serious offence. That is not right.
    While the specific changes would not have a significant impact on the maximum sentence, unlike some of the other offences the government is hybridizing, it would send a message. I would submit that it would send exactly the wrong message. It would send the message that disrupting a religious service and infringing on the freedom of religion of Canadians, which is not just any freedom but a fundamental freedom in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, is not that serious. That is just wrong. It is why the Conservatives opposed it and stood up to fight Bill C-75.
    Then there were amendments that came back from the Senate. The Senate put forward amendments because there was concern that this would add confusion in cases where a person was not unconscious but was, for example, highly intoxicated. Unfortunately, while the Senate amendments may have been well intentioned, they would simply cause more problems and solve a problem that really does not exist. We would support voting against these amendments, because we believe that they do not clarify; they just make things more confusing.
    Conservatives fully support all changes in the bill to clarify and strengthen sexual assault provisions in the Criminal Code. These changes would help support victims of horrific sexual assault crimes. Conservatives also support repealing or amending sections of the code that have been ruled unconstitutional by the courts.
     It is important to keep the code clean and up to date for efficient and effective justice for victims and their families. Bill C-51 would merely clarify that consent can never occur when an individual is unconscious. That is consistent with the J.A. decision.
    Bill C-51 would not, as the Senate amendment argues, potentially create a bright line for consent on the basis of consciousness. In that regard, proposed paragraph 273.1(2)(b) provides that “no consent is obtained...for any reason other than [unconsciousness].” This language clearly acknowledges that there are many possible reasons a person may be incapable of consent, despite being conscious.
    The Senate amendment would likely lead to additional complexity and confusion over what evidence was relevant to determine consent. Instead of adding certainty to the law, it would lead to further litigation involving these factors. For those reasons, we oppose this amendment.

  (1715)  

    Mr. Speaker, my friend from Bow River is quite right. It was only after Conservatives pointed out the attempt by the Liberals to remove section 176 of the Criminal Code, the only section of the Criminal Code that protects religious officiants, and tens of thousands of Canadians lent their voices in opposition to the removal of section 176, that the government finally got the message and backed down. The member also noted, disappointingly, that, after backing down, the government reclassified section 176 so that it would be a hybrid offence. As the member pointed out, that sends exactly the wrong message.
    We also saw recently the government back down from the changes it made to the Canada summer jobs program. It had imposed a Liberal values test on organizations that wished to hire summer students. Contrary to their charter rights, the government forced them to check off a Liberal values box to receive funding. We saw more than 1,500 applications rejected, and thousands more organizations simply did not apply.
    I see a theme in all of this, and it is a theme of a government that really does not take religious freedom, which is not just any freedom but a fundamental freedom under our charter of rights, seriously. Would my friend agree?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question and leadership on this particular file. His knowledge of it is tremendous, and I acknowledge the fact that he is able to speak so clearly about many parts of it.
    When it comes to religion and the guarantee we have in this country for it, it is basic to the fundamental rights we have. It needs to be protected at all costs and not removed, as initially it was. It was wrong to say that this was obsolete and should not be in here. That was a mistake. I think that is why we saw every religion across the country uniting against this.
    It was so important that people out there understood what this particular proposed legislation was about. They understood from coast to coast to coast, in every religion, that this was wrong. It was against the principle of religious freedom. It is important that the Liberals finally backed away, but they still hybridized it. It is still not as it should be and not as strong as it should be.
    Mr. Speaker, I wonder if my colleague could continue on section 176. This is one of the things that generated a lot of emails in my office.
    As my colleague mentioned, this is a fundamental right in Canada. He also mentioned the fact that the values test for Canada's summer jobs was something the government was promoting. Again, people in my riding of Oshawa who wrote to me felt that they were under attack for their beliefs.
    This is something our country has stood for, the right to have one's own beliefs. I wonder if the member could say what he thinks is motivating this, because I do not see any solid reason for it. What does he think is motivating the government to do these things and makes these changes?

  (1720)  

    Mr. Speaker, what the Liberals might be thinking in introducing this, I am really not sure. People talk about sending out trial balloons to see how people might respond, but this is too serious an issue. As my colleague has stated, we do not run trial balloons about taking away fundamental rights in our country. That is not why people run political trial balloons.
    We had outright anger from people asking how the Liberals could do this. It is part of the fundamental rights we have in this country. To understand why they would want to take this away baffles me. That is why the response across the country was so significant.
    Mr. Speaker, the member for Bow River mentioned that this is the last week we are going to be in the House. I never really thought about that in terms of this being maybe the last time I rise in this building before it is shut down for what could be the next decade or so. I want to just comment on what the member for Bow River said.
    It is an honour and a privilege for all of us to serve in this place. This building is certainly historic, and the fact that we have an opportunity this one last week to rise is not lost on me. As I said, I do not know if any of us will make it back here 10 years from now. Who knows? Some of my younger colleagues over there may.
    It is great to get a chance to stand and talk about Bill C-51, the justice omnibus bill. It contains a number of changes on a variety of matters. One of the things I find interesting, and I know it has been mentioned before, is that the Liberal government railed on and on about how omnibus bills were so bad and the fact that Conservatives would put so many things in them and how the Liberal government was going to be different and would not behave this way.
    I find it interesting and somewhat comical that the Liberals railed about what the Conservative government did in the past, yet here they are, and some of the Liberal omnibus bills are actually greater in size than the ones we moved forward during our time in government. I needed to mention that. I think there is some irony there. I know the Liberals campaigned on that.
    I am here to talk about Bill C-51, but I would love to talk about how the Liberal government said it would act differently when it got into government, yet we see that this has not necessarily been the case.
    I will give credit where credit is due. I know there are some things in the bill we were encouraged to see the Liberals move on. There was some strengthening of penalties for sexual assault. These are definitely important things. I will talk about that briefly. The Liberals got rid of some obsolete laws as well. There is some cleanup there.
    There are some things we still have concerns about. My colleague from Bow River and other colleagues have mentioned it, but it is somewhat troubling that the Liberals would even consider the removal of section 176. This is something that is very near and dear to the hearts of a lot of my constituents in the Niagara West area. I come from an area where there are a tremendous number of churches, a number of Dutch Reform churches, but not just Dutch Reform. There are all denominations. The fact that the Liberal government would actually consider removing that just shows how out of touch the government is sometimes when it comes to some of these issues. I will get to that in a second.
    I want to talk about the sexual assault piece. I want to say that I am pleased. As I said, I will give credit where credit is due. The Liberals followed our lead to strengthen the sexual assault provisions in the Criminal Code around consent, legal representation and expanding rape shield provisions. Standing up for the rights of victims of crime is something our party has always been very serious about. We are aligned with the provisions the Liberals have in this legislation in terms of strengthening those issues.
    Among other things, there is a private member's bill introduced by our former Conservative leader, Rona Ambrose, Bill C-337. This bill would make it mandatory for judges to participate in sexual assault training and ensure awareness among the judiciary, in addition to education about the challenges sexual assaults create. The bill was designed to hold the Canadian judiciary responsible for the ongoing training of judges. We were pleased to see this bill passed in the House. Now that it is in the Senate, we hope it will move it forward.
    I want to talk a bit about section 176. That the government would consider removing it is certainly troubling. It is good to see that it backed away, as has been mentioned. This was the only section of the Criminal Code that directly protected the rights of individuals to freely practise their religion, whatever that religion happened to be.
    In fact, section 176 was recently used, on June 9, 2017, in a criminal case here in Ottawa. It is imperative to see that interrupting a religion service is really not the same as interrupting other services. If we think about the various religions that are practised in this country, with the Sabbath maybe being on Saturday for some and on Sunday for others, the fact remains that people are there to worship. That fact that it would even be considered that they would not have the ability to do that or that it would be okay to interrupt is very troubling.

  (1725)  

    It is good to see they have backed off on this, but we are still concerned with the message the government sent to religious communities, that they are not important.
    My colleague, the member for Bow River, mentioned last summer's summer jobs program, which was a concern. I had a number of churches in my riding that did great stuff. They were running day camps for disabled, helping to feed people and doing a ton of things that I thought were great in nature, just for the overall encouragement of the community. A lot of these organizations were not even considered. We will see how it works this summer. I see there have been some changes.
    I really believe that churches, especially in my community, regardless of the denomination, are great community leaders. I always say we have a great community spirit in Niagara West. It has a lot to do with the people in my community of Niagara West, but also there are a number of churches that encourage volunteerism and that give back, feed the poor and do a number of these things that are all very fundamental to healthy communities.
    A safer Canada is certainly a concern. It is a government's responsibility to make sure its citizens are kept safe. We see what is happening with gang violence in Canada. When we soften penalties for gang crimes and reduce them to administrative fines, we are not only doing ourselves a disservice, but there are real consequences for Canadians when gang members are being let off in our streets.
    One of the things we want to do as a Conservative government is put an end to the revolving door for gang members. Now, even if someone is a known notorious gang member they are entitled to bail. We would make sure repeat gang offenders are held without bail. I think that is reasonable when we look at what gang members may do in a community, how they might terrorize a community. We would also make sure it is easier for police to target and arrest gang members.
    Canada's Conservatives always put the safety and security of Canadians ahead of the interests and comfort of violent criminals. We would work hard to impose tougher federal prison sentences for the leaders who order others to do their dirty work for them.
    The other thing that is important is we want to make sure we are recognizing and supporting the rights of victims over the rights of criminals. We have seen some troubling things that have happened in recent days in the country. We saw issues with Terri-Lynne McClintic and with Christopher Garnier, and the fact that Tori Stafford's killer was in a healing lodge instead of behind bars. We have seen cop killers who have not served a day in the military getting services. These are things that are all troubling, not just to us as Conservatives, but to Canadians at large. We just learned recently that Tori Stafford's father is now reporting that her co-conspirator, Michael Rafferty was transferred to a medium-security prison in March. He was just informed about this happening.
    We can see some of the things we are dealing with in the country. We realize violent repeat offenders are people who probably should have a harder time getting bail if these are things they are doing on an ongoing basis.
    As we look at what is going on right now in our justice system, I think there are opportunities to make sure we are looking at returning terrorists from ISIS. That is another issue. I realize I am almost out of time, but I could spend a lot of time on that. We realize that some of these individuals who have gone over purposely to kill and destroy are people we should be looking at, and making sure we are doing our job to keep them behind bars to ensure they are not a threat to society here in Canada.
    In conclusion, the government is failing to protect victims of crime. The Prime Minister did nothing after learning of Catherine Campbell's killer receiving taxpayer funds, having never served a day in the military. We have pushed and pushed the Liberals to put Tori Stafford's killer back behind bars, and to transfer her from the healing lodge. We believe we need to continue to work to protect the rights of those who need it.

  (1730)  

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Niagara West, my neighbour in the Niagara region, spoke about a potential provision that was released by the Leader of the Opposition in regards to bail. He makes it seem as if everyone is eligible for bail all the time, which is not necessarily true. It is a bit misleading.
    In terms of the provision that the Leader of the Opposition outlined, constitutional experts have suggested that it is somewhere on the spectrum between unconstitutional and grossly unconstitutional.
    I am wondering if his party is going to listen to experts on this. Is his party going to push forward with these types of provisions? Why are the Conservatives not listening to the experts in terms of the constitutionality of what they are suggesting?
    Mr. Speaker, one of the challenges we have here is that there are certain groups in society that continue to reoffend and at the end of the day, the job of any government is to protect the victims. Of course we are going to consult with experts and talk to people.
    One of the challenges we have is the fact that we feel that the government does not worry about the rights of victims as much as it worries about the rights of criminals. This is the thing that we need to address. We have to find a way to stop the revolving door in our justice system. We need to make sure that we stand up for the rights of victims.
    Mr. Speaker, like my colleague, I have been here since 2004. It is interesting to realize that for 10 years the House will not be located here. It reminds me of how honoured I am to be here.
    I do want to ask the member about this whole soft on crime agenda of the Liberals. He mentioned section 176. In my community, people perceive that as an attack on religious freedom.
    He also talked about the Canada summer jobs program.
    Bill C-75 would actually change indictable offences into summary convictions.
    My colleague asked if we on this side have consulted experts. It seems members on the other side do not want to consult with Canadians.
    The entire agenda of the Liberals moving forward is soft on crime policies, especially policies that would change something that was an indictable offence into a summary conviction. What kind of message does that send to Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, that is one of the things that we are talking about