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42nd PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 389

CONTENTS

Thursday, February 28, 2019




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 148
NUMBER 389
1st SESSION
42nd PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Speaker: The Honourable Geoff Regan

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayer



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1005)  

[Translation]

Parliamentary Budget Officer

    Pursuant to subsection 79.2(2) of the Parliament of Canada Act, it is my duty to present to the House a report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer entitled “Fiscal Analysis of the Interim F-18 Aircraft”.

[English]

Government Response to Petitions

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

An Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families

     moved for leave to introduce Bill C-92, an act respecting first nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families.

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

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 Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association respecting its participation at the bilateral mission to the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria, in Algiers and Tipasa, Algeria, from October 7 to October 13, 2018.
    I would like to take the opportunity to thank the secretary of the association, Mr. Grant McLaughlin; the analyst, Mr. André Léonard; and Mr. Brian Herman for their assistance with this mission and with the production of this report.

Committees of the House

Fisheries and Oceans 

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 19th report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, entitled “Ensuring the Sustainability of the Small Craft Harbours Program”.
    I want to thank all members for their input into this particular report, as well as the table staff, clerk and analysts for all their help in preparing this report.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak briefly about our dissenting report.
    Throughout the committee's study of Canada's small craft harbours, we received testimony raising strong concerns regarding the government's inventory of small craft harbours, and particularly the absence of up-to-date data in the inventory reflecting current conditions of the inventoried harbours and associated infrastructure.
    We do great work at that committee. However, it would seem that although our government colleagues across the way put forth this study, when it came time to put the final touches on the report, for whatever reason, they chose to walk back on some of the strong testimony we heard throughout the study.
    It is our request to all Canadians that they take the opportunity to read this report carefully and review our additional recommendations.

Justice and Human Rights  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 26th report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in relation to my private member's bill, Bill C-417, an act to amend the Criminal Code with regard to disclosure of information by jurors, which would carve out a narrow exception to the jury secrecy rule so that jurors suffering from mental health issues could get the help they need.
    The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendments.

Health  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 22nd report of the Standing Committee on Health, entitled "Canadians Affected by Rare Diseases and Disorders: Improving Access to Treatment”.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.
    The committee heard from many witnesses who described the barriers they face as victims of rare diseases as a result of slow approvals for new drugs and the extremely high costs of drugs. I want to thank all the members from all parties who participated in this study and I hope it makes a difference.
    As well, I want to thank the staff who helped us prepare this report. It is most appropriate to be tabling this report today, because it is Rare Disease Day.

  (1010)  

Criminal Code

     He said: Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to introduce an important bill to Parliament. I would like to thank the hon. member for Port Moody—Coquitlam for seconding this motion.
    This legislation would amend the Criminal Code to require a court to consider that if the victim of an assault is a health care sector worker, this fact would be an aggravating circumstance for the purposes of sentencing.
     Violence against health care workers has become a pervasive and growing problem within the Canadian health care system. Over the last decade, violence-related lost-time claims for front-line health care workers has increased by 66%, three times the rate for police and correctional officers combined. National data also show that 61% of nurses experienced a serious problem with some form of violence over a recent 12-month period.
     This bill sends a strong message that those who provide such critical services must be treated with respect and security. They take care of our health and safety, and we must take care of theirs. I call on all parliamentarians to support this vital legislation.

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

Rare Disease Day Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, as members know, Rare Disease Day is today. It is held every single year on the last day of February, which means that every four years it will come on a leap day, the rarest day of all.
    As many members know, three of my living kids—my three young children—and my wife suffer from a rare disease. My youngest daughter, who passed away last year, suffered from a different rare disease, so this private member's bill has special meaning for me. It would proclaim in Canada a rare disease day.
     There are 7,000 rare diseases and over one million Canadians who suffer from them. Two-thirds of children who suffer from a rare disease will not live past their fifth year. It is high time for Canada to recognize the international Rare Disease Day.

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

Acromegaly Awareness Day Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today to introduce my private member's bill, an act to establish acromegaly awareness day.
    Today is Rare Disease Day, and acromegaly is one of those rare disorders. Acromegaly is most commonly caused by a benign pituitary tumour, leading to abnormal growth. It can result in the enlargement of the hands, feet and facial features, increased spacing of teeth, and headaches and problems with vision. Acromegaly patients may suffer from complications, including arthritis, diabetes, sleep apnea, hypertension, colonic polyps, carpal tunnel syndrome and enlargement of internal organs, such as the heart.
     Due to the lack of understanding of this disease, it often takes between 10 and 15 years to receive a proper diagnosis. Those left undiagnosed are susceptible to a premature death.
    This bill seeks to bring greater awareness to the disease, and therefore better treatment, by declaring November 1 of each year acromegaly awareness day.
    I want to thank a constituent, Deanna Badiuk, for bringing this matter to my attention and for her tireless efforts to raise awareness of this issue.

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

  (1015)  

Petitions

Natural Resources  

    Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to stand today to present a petition with the signatures of nearly 1,500 of my constituents.
    They are calling for Bill C-69, the no new pipelines bill, which will have significant ramifications for the economic future of Grande Prairie, the Peace country, Alberta and the country as a whole, to be withdrawn.
    They not only call on the government to abolish this bill but also to implement policies that encourage investment in the energy sector and provide a clear and reasonable process for the approval of pipelines, as well as to cancel the west coast shipping ban.
    I am very proud of my constituents. Over the last number of months, there have been significant job losses throughout the province of Alberta. This is a very meaningful petition, and we are hopeful the government will respond.
    While I thank the member for Grande Prairie—Mackenzie, I remind members that they are not to comment on petitions or provide personal views on them.
    The hon. member for Cariboo—Prince George.

Pensions  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to table a number of petitions.
    First, I am honoured today to table a petition on behalf of my constituents from the great communities of Williams Lake, 150 Mile House, Quesnel and Prince George in the incredible riding of Cariboo—Prince George. They call on the Government of Canada to withdraw Bill C-27, an act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985. In doing so, my constituents add that this is yet another broken promise by the Prime Minister.

Fisheries  

    Mr. Speaker, I also rise to table petitions from Canadians from coast to coast to coast who call upon Parliament to restore funding to the salmon enhancement program to support the promotion and conservation of the Pacific salmon fisheries.
    The government repeatedly cut funding to the salmon enhancement program in the 2016 and 2017 federal budgets. Since 1977, over 40,000 students in British Columbia have gone through the salmon enhancement program. The program provides funding essential to education and conservation activities benefiting from Pacific salmon fisheries. Funding cuts to the salmon enhancement program will eliminate education and conservation activities supporting Pacific salmon fishers.

Search and Rescue  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to present petitions from Canadians from coast to coast to coast to recognize the service of the over 60,000 search and rescue volunteers right across the country.
    There are over 60,000 volunteers for the search and rescue service, and they are the only volunteer service in our nation without any form of recognition medal. The petitioners are calling on the government to recognize the extreme service that search and rescue volunteers put forth. It is an honour equivalent to what other major first responder organizations are awarded. We are asking that the government follow through with its promise to implement a service recognition medal for search and rescue volunteers.

[Translation]

Trans Fats  

     Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by hundreds of people. The petition is about industrially produced trans fats, which are a leading cause of death. We know that cardiovascular health is crucial.
    Partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of industrial trans fats, have been prohibited since September 2018. However, the industry was given a very long grace period and can continue to use trans fats in foods until 2020.
    The petitioners are concerned about this and are demanding immediate prohibition.

[English]

Public Safety  

    Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today.
    The first is an electronic petition with 10,350 signatures, which is incredible. It is about Terri-Lynne McClintic, convicted of first degree murder, being moved from a secure facility to a healing lodge without fences when not being eligible for parole until 2031. They are calling on the Government of Canada to exercise its moral, legal and political authority to ensure this decision is reversed and cannot ever be allowed to happen again in other cases.

  (1020)  

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition draws the attention of the House to the issue of the trafficking of human organs. It points out that there are two bills on this issue in Parliament, Bill C-350 and Bill S-240, and they are urging that the Parliament of Canada move quickly on the proposed legislation so that we can begin to put controls on the issue of organ harvesting.

Questions on the Order Paper

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

Request for Emergency Debate

Alleged Interference in Justice System  

[S. O. 52]
    I have notice of a request for an emergency debate from the hon. opposition House leader.
    Mr. Speaker, I am rising today to seek leave for the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing an important matter requiring urgent consideration pursuant to Standing Order 52.
    Yesterday, we heard compelling, convincing and very credible testimony from the former attorney general at the justice committee. She told of unwanted, sustained and coordinated pressure that came to bear on her from the highest offices of this country, from the office of the Minister of Finance, from the Prime Minister's Office, from the Prime Minister himself, and from the Clerk of the Privy Council. She told of pressure that came to bear on her to interfere in a criminal trial.
    This has caused a crisis of confidence in the Prime Minister and in his cabinet, certainly in the Clerk of the Privy Council, in the Minister of Finance and in the current Attorney General. Her testimony was meticulous. It was detailed. It was believable.
    We have over the last three weeks been asking the Prime Minister about this. His response, from three weeks to yesterday, has not given us any confidence that he is being transparent. He in fact said yesterday that the former attorney general, whom he appointed and whom all of us have been trusting, he has been trusting for the last three years, his caucus has been trusting and the country has been trusting, was lying.
    Somebody is lying, and I would say that it is not the former attorney general. We need to find out what has happened, and we need to get to the bottom of this.
    We heard testimony that the Clerk of the Privy Council, in putting pressure on her, referred to board meetings of SNC-Lavalin. We heard that the Prime Minister, in putting pressure on her, referred to his own re-election. There were hours of very credible testimony given yesterday that begs that this chamber discuss this issue.
     We are certainly at a crisis. As opposition, we will not have a day to bring anything forward for 19 more days. As you know, Mr. Speaker, we will be rising for a two-week constituency break, and we will not have an opportunity to address this.
     This is a crisis, and that is why I am asking that we be given the opportunity to discuss this during an emergency debate.

  (1025)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am rising on the same matter raised by my colleague, to speak to the importance of this emergency debate because of the unprecedented testimony we heard yesterday about a sustained and coordinated campaign to interfere with an independent prosecution. It puts in question the entire credibility of Canada's justice system and the role of the attorney general.
    This warrants that Parliament be seized of this matter immediately. What is really concerning is the testimony that the former justice minister gave. She said she had copious notes, and she was very believable, but what she laid out were allegations that are very serious. They include the Clerk of the Privy Council, whose role it is to be the non-partisan voice for the civil service. For him to have sent clear threats to the Attorney General to stop a prosecution raises the whole question of the independence of the Privy Council, so Mr. Wernick is certainly questionable.
    Ms. Telford said she was not interested in legalities, but she has an obligation to uphold the law if she is in the Prime Minister's Office. Mr. Butts, according to her testimony, said that he did not like the law, and that it was Harper's law. The former attorney general, to her credit, said it was the law of Canada. The government does not get to pick which laws it likes and which ones it does not like. Then Mr. Butts said there was no way this was going to get done without interference.
    That is a clear statement of the attempt to undermine for partisan purposes, and the partisan purposes go right to the Prime Minister himself. He said he was worried as the MP for Papineau and that this was not going to happen on his watch. He was not speaking in the interests of all Canadians or in the interests of all the workers, who are very seized of this matter. He was looking at it from the point of view of his own particular re-election. That is not acceptable.
    We do not get the opportunity to get to the bottom of this at the justice committee, because the Liberals have not allowed the former justice minister to speak about what happened in the period between January 14 and her resignation. She has made it clear that something happened in that period, and she quit cabinet. We will not be allowed to hear that.
    The Prime Minister has refused the independent inquiry we have requested to take this out of Parliament and put it in the hands of a retired justice or a justice official, who could look at this and return. It therefore falls upon Parliament to address this, to look at this and to be seized of this matter, particularly since we will be going back to our constituencies for two weeks. We have to reassure constituents that the rule of law in Canada will not be monkeywrenched for partisan purposes. This is why this emergency debate is needed now.

Speaker's Ruling  

[Speaker's Ruling]
    I thank the opposition House leader and the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay for their comments, and I am prepared to grant their request.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

National Defence Act

     The House resumed from February 22, 2019, consideration of the motion that Bill C-77, An Act to amend the National Defence Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the third time and passed.
    The hon. member for Brandon—Souris has sixteen and a half minutes remaining in his speech.
    Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to continue where I left off last Friday.
    Just to recap, Bill C-77, which is before us today, aims to protect victims of military offences by providing needed updates to the current military justice system. Updating the judicial system of the Canadian Armed Forces can be a daunting task, but those in the service commit their lives to defending Canadian values and beliefs, and it is very worthwhile.
    Whether on foreign soil or right here at home, they must regularly deal with the high-tension situations they are faced with. Therefore, their decisions and reactions can often be the difference between life and death, or war and peace. The importance of their work cannot be overstated. As such, they hold themselves to a higher standard. The armed forces judicial system is in place to maintain discipline and structure.
    I am very proud to say that I represent Canadian Forces Base Shilo, our military base in Brandon—Souris, which is a very important part of our community. Many of us have family, friends and neighbours who serve on the base. They house the First Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery and the Second Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. It is worth repeating that the base is the home station of the Royal Canadian Artillery, as well as to a component of the Western Area Training Centre, 742 Signals Squadron Detachment Shilo and 11 Canadian Forces Health Services Centre. Other supported units include 26 Field Regiment and RCA Brandon's reserve unit.
    Westman is awfully proud to be the home of our brave men and women in uniform. They are an essential and prominent part of our community, and have been for many years. Many develop strong ties and settle here when they complete their service and return to civilian life and retirement.
    Bill C-77 seeks to align the military's justice system with the Criminal Code of Canada. I am pleased to see that it has built upon Bill C-71, which was presented by our former Conservative government, and seeks to enshrine the rights of victims in the National Defence Act.
    The main premise here is common sense, which is that victims of any alleged crime should have the right to feel safe when navigating the judicial system. Therefore, I believe it is our obligation to treat them with compassion and respect, and to provide a secure environment so that they may tell their story. Their testimony is essential in better understanding what has occurred, and it is paramount they be able to provide it without fear of consequences and reprisals.
    Victims are often overlooked in criminal proceedings, with most of the emphasis being on the offender. It is important they be given their opportunity to be heard. The system is there to provide justice, not only for the accused but also for the victim.
    In this regard, a key feature of the bill is that it strives to provide better protection for both victims and witnesses in military trials. Military communities are often smaller and more tightly knit. This serves to foster a strong sense of solidarity among those in the service. While they can be an exceptional advantage in the field, those strong ties sometimes make it very difficult for victims to speak out against their wrongdoer. Ensuring that due consideration is given to the safety and security of victims would help give them the courage to stand up and speak out against the injustice they have faced. They should be given every opportunity to be involved in the proceedings. At the conclusion of the proceedings, they should emerge fully satisfied that justice has been properly served.
    An important part outlined in this bill is that victims have the right to rely on the assistance of others when dealing with the justice system. If victims are incapable of acting on their own behalf, they may depend on their relatives to exercise their rights. Victims can now look to their spouses, parents or dependents to be their representatives during these proceedings, to help them through the difficult times.

  (1030)  

    The justice system can be intimidating. It encompasses many procedures, rules and regulations. Victims may not always be fully aware of their rights and can easily feel overwhelmed. Giving individuals the opportunity to request a liaison officer to help them navigate the workings of the case should encourage more people to come forward.
    We should ensure that these liaison officers are properly trained in order to guarantee that they can provide the most assistance possible. A lack of awareness of their rights or of standard procedure should not prevent people from seeking justice. It is important not only to provide safety to those who have suffered at the hands of others, but we must be able to reinforce their belief in the justice system in order to offer them better peace of mind.
    This would be best accomplished by making the process as transparent as possible. I firmly believe that all victims have the right to request information about the military justice system. They have been directly affected by a crime. They deserve to be assured of the fair proceedings of the case. These are people who have been wronged, hurt and betrayed. They need reassurance and evidence that their belief in the justice system is not misplaced. They need to see justice served.
    I understand that under certain circumstances there is a need for discretion. The military conducts many sensitive operations, and often information will be classified to ensure the safety of our troops and our civilians. Those cases notwithstanding, I believe, whenever possible, victims should be provided with information concerning their cases. They should feel completely included in those proceedings and not have to plead for the most basic facts. Victims should not have to rely on outside media or gossip to scrounge incomplete information on a case that may have deeply affected them.
    The bill would achieve a good balance between aligning with the current military justice system and still supporting victims within that system. The bill is very conscious of the importance of the chain of command within the military, and it makes sure not to impact the system in a manner that would hinder it.
    The declaration of victims rights contained in this piece of legislation is careful to describe the specific rights afforded to victims in this situation without creating any barriers that might impede the system. I am aware that circumstances in the military may differ widely from those encountered in civilian life, as I have said before. The bill would ensure that the victim's rights are properly represented within the important confines of the current system. It does not interfere with the more unique aspects of the justice system, such as the court martial process or the code of discipline.
    With the bill, we are taking a step in the right direction when it comes to defending the rights of victims of military offences. However, there is one area of concern with the current legislation that I would like to speak to. It involves the long-term consequences that minor military offences may have on individuals when they retire from service.
    Presently, there are uniquely military offences that do not have a counterpart in the civilian code. Among them are the five minor offences of insubordinate behaviour, quarrels and disturbances, absence without leave, drunkenness and conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline. These are infractions that can only be committed by members of the military, yet they can result in a criminal record in the civilian world.

  (1035)  

    People found guilty of insubordinate behaviour could retire from the military only to have this offence follow them into civilian life. As Lieutenant-Colonel Jean-Guy Perron said in his testimony to the Standing Committee on National Defence on this topic:
     The consequences of having a criminal record are significant. Applying for employment or attempting to cross the Canadian border are but two of the everyday consequences that can have an important impact on a veteran's life. Do we truly wish to burden a veteran with a criminal record, when he or she has committed a service offence, which may have no equivalent in our criminal justice system or in Canadian society?
    Imagine trying to look for work after leaving the military, only to be flagged with a criminal record due to being absent without leave. A large portion of veterans seek employment in the security sector, which requires security checks. When it is seen there is a criminal record, getting a job is all but impossible.
    It is important to remember that we have a separate justice system in the military for a reason. There are unique circumstances that apply to our forces that require a separate process to properly address it. It would not be fair to our Canadian Forces members that minor offences that occurred in a very unique setting, a setting known to be high stress at times, remain with them and affect their lives long into the future.
    Lieutenant-Colonel Jean-Guy Perron went on to provide a recommendation to the committee that stated, “The Criminal Records Act and the [National Defence Act] should be amended to only include service offences that truly warrant the creation of a criminal record.”
    Based on his testimony, there was an amendment to Bill C-77 proposed by my fellow Conservative members who sit on the defence committee to address this issue. The amendment put forth would have ensured that those five minor offences I listed would not be given a civil criminal record, no matter the severity of the sentence received. The amendment was flagged to be potentially outside of the scope of the current bill. As such, the committee on national defence did get the opportunity to briefly study the matter, but I would like a more in-depth analysis on the topic.
    I mention this because I firmly believe that it is an important issue that should be addressed, and that it would greatly benefit the present members of the House to examine. I wholly encourage members to study this subject, because it is a topic that should be reviewed in the near future so that we can do right by those who dedicate themselves to protecting us.
    There is still much that can be done when it comes to providing proper justice to our brave men and women in uniform. The bill before us today would do much to help protect victims of military offences, but we must always strive to do more to help those in our armed forces.
     Justice may be blind, but it should not be deaf. By better defining victims rights, we give a voice to those who seek justice. We give them a better platform to stand on and tell their story.
    I will be voting in favour of the legislation, as I believe this is a non-partisan issue, and we should all unite to support victims of crimes. It is important we review Bill C-77 and we move it forward, as there are many good things in it, but there are still some things that need to be reviewed.

  (1040)  

    I hope that there has not been any undue pressure put forward on any of the persons involved in the formation of Bill C-77, considering that the former attorney general was there. We have already seen that undue pressure was put on her in many other areas. This is one situation where I believe that it is not appropriate either.
    We need to make sure that we look at the Gladue decision. We are reminded that when sentencing is coming forward in those areas, the Supreme Court requires continuing to look at the situations facing our indigenous persons. We also must remember that there was a resignation that took place by the former attorney general when she was the veterans affairs minister, and also we are reminded that she was the associate minister of national defence at that time.
    With that I look forward to questions.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague, who covered a lot of ground. However, I would like to go back to the beginning of his speech where he referenced the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. I am not sure if my hon. colleague is aware of this, but the very first soldier who stepped foot in France from Canada came from the Princess Patricia's because they were the first to go over, at the end of 1914.
     The first person to step off with the Canadians in France then was Jack Munroe, who had fought Jack Johnson and Jim Jeffries, heavyweight champions of the world and who was famous in Butte, Montana. Mr. Speaker is probably aware of Jack Munroe because he was very famous in Cobalt, where I come from, with the silver rush. He was well known around the world and represented Canada.
    Given the storied past of the Princess Patricia's and how the feelings in my region are very strong towards them because of this connection to Jack Munroe and the soldiers who went over, I would like to ask my hon. colleague this. Does he have anything else to add that is really important about the role of that storied regiment in Canada's life?
    Mr. Speaker, I certainly want to thank my hon. colleague for enlightening us on that whole situation. I was not aware personally that Mr. Munroe was the first person to set foot on soil in those times. However, I appreciate my hon. colleague for bringing that forward.
    Second, the battalion of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry has been an integral part of our Canadian military throughout its existence. We are extremely proud to have it as part of our Canadian Armed Forces base in Shilo, which, as mentioned, is extremely integral to residents' lives and the community in Brandon and Shilo, which is about 20 miles east of Brandon, as well as the whole rural area around that community.

  (1045)  

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate a number of the comments that my colleague made across the way. One of the things that I would not mind getting his thoughts on is the importance of ultimately passing the legislation through.
    The former prime minister did do the legislation in good part, so I am expecting that we will get fairly good support coming from all members of the House. Given the significance of trying to have this put into place, I wonder if my hon. colleague could provide his thoughts on how the principles of this legislation will be for the betterment of our Canadian Forces and, in fact, of society. This is legislation that should, as much as possible, be allowed to continue through so that we can ultimately see it pass.
    Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague for Winnipeg North's question is allowing me to comment on the bill again. As he heard in my speech, I will be voting for Bill C-77. I believe it is a bill that is following the former Conservative Bill C-71. We will be moving it forward and I certainly will be supporting it.
    However, there are still situations that need to be looked at, as I outlined. We need to make sure that we are looking at exactly which areas of military law are carried forward into civilian law, as I pointed out earlier. I will be looking forward to seeing some of those changes, if possible, as well.
    Mr. Speaker, toward the end of my hon. colleague's speech he mentioned that the recently resigned minister of veterans affairs and former attorney general would have had some knowledge of different cases.
     Given that there is another trial related to military justice going on at the same time and considering what we heard last night in that the former attorney general was being pressured to have a deferred prosecution agreement with a Liberal-connected company, do you think she was also pressured to ensure that Vice- Admiral Norman was prosecuted?
    I want to remind hon. members to place their questions through the Speaker and not directly to each other when asking questions or answering questions for that matter.
    The hon. member for Brandon—Souris.
    Mr. Speaker, that is a very important question. I do believe there was interference, according to the testimony of the former attorney general and former veterans affairs minister last evening with respect to the prosecutorial area of the SNC-Lavalin situation.
    However, what I am referring to is what the member was talking about with those other cases before us. The former attorney general was not allowed to speak to those areas, so that is still something we need to have answers to as well. We need her to come and testify in regards to some of those areas. Perhaps the government could answer those questions, but the Liberals were trying to withhold information in that case as well. Even though the government released some information, there may be other parts to it that we do not know about yet and the former attorney general has been told she is not allowed to speak to those areas either.
    I want to remind hon. members that we are discussing Bill C-77, so the questions should be relevant to that. I have flashbacks to the debate on Bill S-6 the other day when Madagascar was mentioned occasionally, and it was not pertinent in the questions.

  (1050)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise in the House to provide some of my thoughts and comments.
    Over the last few years, I have witnessed a different approach to Canada's military, a positive approach. I want to take a more holistic approach in my address on this legislation. This is an important bill and opposition members have recognized that fact. They too feel this is good legislation.
    The bill has gone through first and second reading, through committee stage and report stage. We are now into the third and final aspect of its passage, and that is a good thing.
    Bill C-77 is long overdue. It proposes to make our military justice system a bit more in sync with our civil system. There is fairly universal support for the government in advancing the legislation in order to accomplish that.
    I had the good fortune to serve in the Canadian Forces for a few years. Even though I never experienced it directly, indirectly I got a sense of military justice and the justice regime. I can recall first-hand during my boot camp days the supervisor, or the master corporal in this situation, telling us what our obligations were.
    In the military justice world one has an obligation to show up when asked to show up. When members of the forces are scheduled to do something, they best be there unless they have some sort of medical condition or have a very good reason for not showing up. If a member is scheduled to be on duty, he or she is expected to be there. That does not necessarily apply with the same sort of weight in civilian life.
    The previous speaker made reference to the idea of being absent without leave. An important part of the training that was instilled in me and thousands of others as we went through boot camp was that there was a difference between military life and civilian life. One of the issues highlighted with respect to that was the idea of the military's ability to provide discipline to ensure its members would be where they were supposed to be. When I reflect on that today, I understand the importance of that.
    Serving in the military is very unique. It is an absolute honour and privilege. As a member of Parliament, as well as in my days as a member of a legislative assembly, I have always, without exception, acknowledged the fine work the women and men in our forces do, whether it is the air force, the special units, the navy or military. I appreciate and value their contributions to our society in both current and past military actions protecting Canadians. Whether in peace missions or fighting the mighty Red River when it has overflowed, our military plays a critical and vital role with respect to our country. We will always be there for our military.
    Even though we have only been in government for a little over three years, we have not only talked about taking action, but has also delivered on a number of different fronts.

  (1055)  

    What we are debating today is just one aspect of that. It is about military justice.
     Let me go back to the training I received. When we were told that we had to show up, that we had to be somewhere, the consequence of not being there could lead to a court-martial and a criminal record. Even though there might be a reason, a relatively weak reason at times, for an individual not being where he or she was supposed to be, it would potentially lead to a criminal record.
    I believe, as I would have believed back then, that this is not necessarily a fair consequence in all situations. That is why it is a good that the legislation brings the consequences more into line with what happens in civilian life. For example, now much more discretion will be allowed if someone is found to have been AWOL or has not shown up where he or she needs to be at a specific time. This does not mean the individual will receive a court martial. The same threat level is no longer there.
    Members of the forces are incredible individuals, with a very strong sense of commitment to duty and country. Ultimately this will have a minor impact with respect to service to country, yet can have a very positive impact on what happens when someone from the military retires.
     As we have heard from other speakers, when members of the Canadian Forces decide to retire or have the opportunity to retire, whatever the circumstances might be, we want those members to have the opportunity to continue with successful employment into the future. Having a criminal record has a negative impact on the ability of service members or former service members to get employment for which they are eligible. It is not fair that members of the forces would receive a criminal record for a charge that someone in the civilian sector would not receive. In part, I believe that is why we see good support for the legislation from members of the opposition. We recognize that we can do more to reform our laws that would allow that kind of an issue to be resolved positively.
    Insubordination is another example. In civilian life insubordination is treated quite differently than it is in the military. The legislation would also deal with that. This is an opportunity to look at good legislation that advances our Canadian Forces in a positive direction and to to get behind it.
    One encouraging issue in Bill C-77 is that we would ensure indigenous sentencing provisions would be taken into consideration. This has been taking place within our civilian population. This is different from what the previous government proposed. We need to understand and appreciate that the indigenous factor needs to be taken into consideration. We see that in our civil court system and it has proven to be successful. Therefore, I am glad to see that in this legislation.

  (1100)  

    There is something we often talk about in the House in regard to legislation on criminal matters. We often hear about the importance of victims and protecting or enhancing the rights of victims. It pleases me that we would establish something new with this legislation within the law on military justice, and that is a declaration of victims rights. That is long overdue. I am glad that we have a government that has incorporated into the legislation respect for victims rights.
    What does that mean? It would allow, for example, the right to have information. It would also allow a right to protection. Equally important is participation in the process. Where it is possible, restitution would be of critical importance.
    I had the opportunity to serve as chair of a youth justice committee. One of the more progressive changes we started to see at the tail end, before I actually had to leave the committee a number of years back, was the idea of restitution, or restorative justice. As much as possible, that is a wonderful tool that needs to at least be considered. When we think of victims and the idea of restorative justice, we need to incorporate victims whenever we can. It really makes a difference for victims.
     I would like to give an example of what that sort of justice means to victims. A victim subjected to an offence is afforded the opportunity to participate by sitting down with the perpetrator and assisting in developing the consequence for that behaviour. At the level of a youth justice committee, dealing with young offenders under the age of 18, I had the opportunity to witness that on a couple of occasions. I was very encouraged by it. The victim was better able to get an appreciation of what had taken place and at the same time feel that the impact on the victim was taken into consideration.
    With respect to other aspects of the legislation, it says the following:
    It amends Part III of the National Defence Act to, among other things,
(a) specify the purpose of the Code of Service Discipline and the fundamental purpose of imposing sanctions at summary hearings.

  (1105)  

    This legislation would ensure that there is a quicker processing of justice. It would also “protect the privacy and security of victims and witnesses in proceedings involving certain sexual offences”.
    Many Canadians who follow debates in the House might not be familiar with the fact that there is a civilian system of justice and a military justice system. Something I discovered in the discussions on this legislation was that in certain situations, a military person who commits an offence will go through the civilian justice system as opposed to the military justice system. An example is in regard to sexual assault. In certain situations, there is discretion in our system to enable civilian courts to deal with military personnel who are convicted of committing an offence.
    I mentioned that I served in the military. I served in Edmonton, in air traffic control, as an assistant at the time, working out of Lancaster Park. Just south of Lancaster Park, in Griesbach, there was a military detention centre on the base. It was somewhat new to me, but people being held in custody for a sentence of more than two years would go to a federal facility for civilians. For any sentence under two years, offenders would be detained, in part, in military facilities.
    The legislation would include the following:
(d) make testimonial aids more accessible to vulnerable witnesses;
(e) allow witnesses to testify using a pseudonym in appropriate cases;
(f) on application, make publication bans for victims under the age of 18 mandatory;
(g) In certain circumstances, require a military judge to inquire of the prosecutor if reasonable steps have been taken to inform the victims of any plea agreement entered into by the accused and the prosecutor.
    The legislation again highlights the importance of victims rights:
(i) provide for different ways of presenting victim impact statements;
(j) allow for military impact statements and community impact statements to be considered in all service offences;
(k) provide...that particular attention should be given to the circumstances of Aboriginal offenders;
    As I indicated earlier, that is completely new to the legislation, and I believe it has fairly good support on both sides of the House.
    The legislation would also,
(m) provide for a scale of sanctions in respect of service infractions and for the principles applicable to those sanctions;
(n) provide for a six-month limitation period in respect of summary hearings;

  (1110)  

    As I said, this legislation has some new aspects that would further enhance what was introduced in the House a number of years ago. Members across the way appear to recognize the value of the legislation, and I hope they will allow it to go to the next step, which is the Senate.
    The modernization of our military law is a positive thing, and it is part of a holistic approach this government is taking in being there for the Canadian men and women who serve in our forces. I am thankful for the opportunity to share some thoughts on the matter.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague, and I thank him for his service to our country.
    I am concerned and interested in the role we have regarding justice within the military for victims, particularly victims of violence.
     There is a code in the military of sticking together. A former veteran told me that he was the victim of a horrific assault 25 years ago by some of his fellow soldiers in his platoon. He was deeply ashamed. He also felt that he had failed his regiment and failed Canada because he was the victim of violence. He did not know how to even respond to this, yet he was the victim and had done nothing wrong.
    There needs to be a process so that victims feel that if they are subject to that kind of intimidation and violence, they can come forward in a credible manner and have those cases adjudicated fairly. If people are using violence against fellow soldiers, it needs to be dealt with in an appropriate manner.
    What in this bill would start to address those issues so that we can have a fair system of justice and people can come forward and testify?
    Mr. Speaker, Bill C-77, along with the minister of labour's legislation, Bill C-65, would build on the government's commitment to creating workplaces free from harassment and discrimination within the federal sphere. Let there be no doubt that inappropriate behaviour of that nature is inexcusable, and we encourage members of the Canadian Forces to raise it with their supervisors or through the mechanisms that have been put in place.
    When we talk about the military, and I reference boot camps, team building is really important. When we would go out and do an exercise, it would not be complete until the last person had completed that particular exercise. For example, if we were going for a jog, it might be the person at the front who would go to the back to encourage the person at the back to continue. That person would help motivate that particular individual.
    When people first start in the military, there is a great deal of discussion about being there for their teammates. Having said that, there is unacceptable behaviour. When people are witnessing unacceptable behaviour, there is an obligation to report it, because we want all work environments to be harassment free.
    Mr. Speaker, further to the comment and question that just transpired, I am wondering what the hon. member across the way would say to the current state of Operation HONOUR, given that the Prime Minister himself has not acted appropriately and in the way our soldiers are expected to act. The Prime Minister of Canada was accused of groping and then said that the person experienced it differently than he did. How are our soldiers to react and know to behave in the manner we have outlined, when the very head of the government is guilty of the same thing?

  (1115)  

    Mr. Speaker, virtually from day one when the Conservatives assumed the opposition benches, they have been solely focused on the character assassination of the Prime Minister and ministers of this government. I do not want to participate in that. We have a positive piece of legislation today. As I have indicated, we have a holistic approach to deal with the Canadian Forces and it was not that long ago we had the Canada defence policy, which talked about strong, secure engagement.
    This is a government that truly cares about our members who are serving in our Canadian Forces. We are ensuring that they have equipment. We are there to support them in real, tangible ways and once they retire, they know we will be there for them. Examples of that are many. One that comes to my mind is the reopening of the veterans offices, and also the hundreds of millions going into the billions of dollars that we have committed to our members in the Canadian Forces, either directly or indirectly through investments.
    Today, we are modernizing the military justice system so that members who are serving can get a better sense that the consequences for things such as not showing up are not going to be unduly unfair, which I believe will be well received among our Canadian Forces.
    If there were a message that I could send to members of our forces, in fact all Canadians, it is that we have a Prime Minister and a government that is absolutely committed to continuing to focus on what Canadians want us to do. In this situation, it is about building a healthier and stronger Canadian Forces.
    Mr. Speaker, the bill is very similar to a bill that the former Conservative government introduced in the dying days of the last session of Parliament, literally within days. The member would know perhaps better than most, given his extensive experience, how long it takes to get a piece of legislation through the House, going through the various processes, then over to the Senate and then back for final royal assent.
    If he had to speculate as to why the former Conservative government would bring this in literally just before the session of Parliament was to end, what would his speculation on that be?
    Mr. Speaker, it is a good question. At times, governments will bring in legislation toward the tail-end of a mandate, but generally speaking, that legislation is somewhat known about and the government has the intention and hope of getting support from opposition parties and getting the legislation through. In this case, it was literally the dying days of the Conservative government when it brought in the legislation.
    It is important to recognize that the legislation we are talking about that we introduced months and months ago, has some modifications that have really enhanced the legislation. The one that comes to my mind offhand is the indigenous factor, a very important enhancement, something that we think was overlooked. It might have been overlooked because the previous government was in such a hurry to get something together in order to introduce it at the last moment to try to make it look as if it wanted to be able to make a change.
    Whatever it might have been, the bottom line is that today we have the opportunity to ultimately see the bill have its final reading here and ultimately go to the Senate. For members of the Canadian Forces and those who are following the debate, that is a good thing.
    Mr. Speaker, I support Bill C-77 and look forward to it going to the Senate, but I am shocked at the comments the member just made, saying that if it is last minute in the dying hours of a Parliament, then it really was not important. We have seen that with the seniors file, where in the dying days the Liberals have appointed a Minister of Seniors and now consultation with seniors has begun.
    Would the member apologize on behalf of the government for ignoring seniors and making a last-minute, dying days gasp to deal with seniors' issues?

  (1120)  

    Mr. Speaker, I did not say that. At times there is a need for government to be able to bring in legislation in order to fulfill commitments from a previous election and so forth and there is still ample time to be able to pass legislation. l do not want to be misquoted on that.
    In terms of seniors, whether it is the guaranteed income supplement that we enhanced, lifting thousands of seniors out of poverty, or whether it is the creation of the seniors ministry, this government has been very much committed to seniors in all regions of Canada.
    We seem to be drifting again. I just want to remind hon. members that we are debating Bill C-77.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.
    Mr. Speaker, as the member of Parliament for Garrison Petawawa, the training ground of the warriors, located in the beautiful riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, I welcome this opportunity to speak to Bill C-77.
    The legislation would amend provisions of the National Defence Act governing the military justice system. As a veteran member of the Standing Committee on National Defence, I thank the women and men in uniform for placing their trust in me as a member of that committee.
    Before I get to my remarks, I join my leader and observe it is time for someone to take a walk in the snow. Unlike the current federal government that has gone rogue with the criminal justice system, the Conservatives are committed to standing up for victims of crime and ensuring that victims have a more effective voice in the criminal justice system.
    I am proud to confirm that it was as a member of the previous Conservative government that I supported the enactment of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. Just as I supported victims rights on behalf of the women and men serving in uniform, I support enshrining a parallel victims rights regime in the military justice system. Bill C-77, to a significant degree, replicates what the Conservatives brought forward in Bill C-71 in the 41st Parliament. So far as the current government follows our example, those elements of the legislation can be supported.
    Unlike the current ethically challenged government, the Conservatives believe victims of crime should not be forgotten in the criminal justice system. Our previous Conservative government focused on restoring victims to their rightful place at the heart of our justice system. That is why we introduced legislation that would mirror the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights and put it into military law. This was the result of several years of work and takes into account hundreds of submissions and consultations held with victims and groups concerned about victims and their rights for the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights.
     The proposed legislation would give victims enhanced access to information through the appointment of a victim liaison officer, and enhanced protection through new safety, security and privacy provisions, and the like. In addition to being the home of 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group and the 4th Canadian Division Support Group, which is made up of 2 RCHA, 1 RCR, 3 RCR, RCDs and 2 Combat Engineer Regiment, as well as 427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron, and 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, Garrison Petawawa is also home to the Canadian Special Operations Regiment, CSOR.
    The Canadian Special Operations Regiment, CSOR, which was stood up during the Conservative watch of the defence of our nation, is the first new regiment to have been set up in over 50 years. I am proud of the role I played in supporting that decision and the subsequent decision to locate 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron to Garrison Petawawa to train with the troops. The Chinook helicopters serve as strategic lifts, and helicopters save lives.
    As Garrison Petawawa was the last home of the Canadian Airborne Regiment before it was disbanded for partisan reasons by the Chrétien government, military justice is a volatile topic at Garrison Petawawa. The words “military” and “justice” do not need to be mutually exclusive. What we need to keep in mind, as parliamentarians debate legislation such as Bill C-77, is the effect that it has on the lives of individuals and service morale.
    Earlier, the parliamentary secretary to the House leader raised the issue of veterans and how they are now treated. I am going to expand on his comments.

  (1125)  

     I am now going to give voice to an individual who cannot speak in this chamber, by sharing the letter I received from that soldier. It states, “Good day, I am about to be released from the Forces after 28 years of service. I have sacrificed my mind and my body in the service of Canada. Having suffered physical injuries and PTSD, I have no complaints about anything that I did for the military and would do it all over again. I have received excellent medical care for all my injuries, as well as my treatment by VAC for almost everything. They have covered me for my physical injuries and my PTSD. I expect to be on long-term disability upon my medical release.
     “My issue is this. VAC went through the process to add detainee to the POW policy for compensation. I was at first happy with this change. I was detained by Serbian forces for 18 days while serving with the UN in Yugoslavia back in 1994, with 54 others, only to find out the federal government won't consider a claim until you've been a detainee for greater than 30 days.
     “I feel insulted by this policy. Apparently, fearing for your life for that time period is just not enough, and we did fear for our lives. We saw the atrocities the Serbs were capable first-hand. Then, to find out that the Prime Minister paid $10.5 million to an ISIS fighter because according to him we as Canadians did not protect his rights....
     “We were ordered to submit to being detained by our chain of command. Ordered not to escape, only to find out later that the order was an unlawful order. After all that, I have sacrifices, both professional and personal, and this is the only thing that still haunts me. I believe a change in policy is in order, even just to recognize what we did for our country.”
    First, let me thank this solider for his service to our country. He is a credit to his uniform, and I understand how hard it was for him to step forward and write that letter.
     I also understand that the Minister of Veterans Affairs for this government, whoever it was, as there have been so many it is hard to keep track, was made aware of the situation by the New Brunswick member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, or so the solider was told. Judging by the lack of government response, the Minister of Health could not be bothered to be concerned about the health of our soldiers. She is too busy staging photo ops with the Prime Minister, using soldiers as props, to be concerned about something as mundane as military justice. Justice in this case is for the sacrifice of 55 Canadian soldiers who were held prisoner as UN peacekeepers during the conflict in the Balkans.
    I was also shocked, but not surprised, to learn that the Chrétien government refused to recognize the heroism of all but one member of the Royal Canadian Dragoons battle group who were held hostage, who participated in Operation Cavalier, CANBAT 2.
    Where is the justice in the Liberal government coming up with the arbitrary number of 30 as the cut-off for the detention benefit that was announced in the new veterans charter? It would appear this is another example, like the critical injury benefit, where the Liberal government announces a benefit that excludes soldiers and veterans who should qualify. This is another fake promise to soldiers and veterans.
    I am honoured and privileged to put on the official record of the proceedings of the House of Commons during debate on military justice, the names of those soldiers who were held hostage, who their country refuses to recognize today. Many are still serving their country in uniform today. The rank mentioned reflects the rank at the time the incident occurred in 1994. While the listing includes the declared hometowns, 44 of the 55 were based out of Garrison Petawawa, which is located in my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke. The names of those soldiers are:

  (1130)  

     Major Dean Milner, 33, armor officer, Kingston, Ontario; Corporal Troy Cleveland, 24, crewman, Windson, Nova Scotia; Corporal Robert Carter, 26, crewman, Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia; Master Corporal Chris Maher, 31, crewman, Burlington, Ontario; Corporal Steve Tasnadi, 27, crewman, Toronto, Ontario; Corporal Richard Sheppard, 23, crewman, Fortune Bay, Newfoundland; Sergeant Daniel Berrigan, 31, crewman, Ajax, Ontario; Master Corporal Martin Nickerson, 34, crewman, Pembroke, Ontario; Corporal Sean Dunstan, 25, crewman, Petawawa, Ontario; Corporal Chris Neilson, 21, crewman, St. Catharines, Ontario; Corporal Brian Lecuyer, 28, crewman, Elliot Lake, Ontario; Corporal David Calissi, 33, crewman, Kelowna, British Columbia; 2nd Lieutenant Chris Renahan, 23, armor officer, Toronto, Ontario; Master Corporal Marc Tremblay, 31, crewman, Bagotville, Quebec; Master Warrant Officer Thomas Skelding, 39, crewman, Windsor, Ontario; Corporal Gordon Vanwesten, 25, vehicle technician, Ennismore, Ontario; Corporal Alex Vizino, 27, crewman, Port Colborne, Ontario; Lieutenant Chris Henderson, 30, public affairs officer, Ottawa, Ontario; Corporal Marc Bergeron, 33, photo technician, Alma, Quebec; Lieutenant Mark Poland, 23, reserve armor officer, Sarnia, Ontario; 2nd Lieutenant Greg Nette, 23, armor officer, Edmonton, Alberta; Master Corporal Stanley Potocnik, 27, crewman, Rawdon, Quebec; Corporal Paul Turmel, 28, crewman, Windsor, Ontario; Master Corporal Richard Biddiscombe, 27, crewman, St. John's, Newfoundland; Warrant Officer Richard Ritchie, 34, crewman, Cold Lake, Alberta; Corporal James Morgan, 23, crewman, Cormack, Newfoundland; Corporal Mark Jones, 24, crewman, Belleville, Ontario; Corporal Michael Meade, 24, crewman, Huntsville, Ontario; Corporal Mario Desrochers, 26, crewman, Petawawa, Ontario; Corporal Sean Donaldson, 23, reserve crewman, Windsor, Ontario; Corporal William Byrne, 29, crewman, Conch, Newfoundland; Corporal Sean Murphy, 25, reserve crewman, Brampton, Ontario; Master Seaman Kevin Kendall, 27, medical assistant, Esterhazy, Saskatchewan; Leading Seaman Daniel Williams, 23, medical assistant, St. John's, Newfoundland; Private Kristopher Boyd, 20, medical assistant, Forest/Sarnia, Ontario; Sergeant William Richards, 32, crewman, St. Stephen, New Brunswick; Master Corporal Michael Smith, 30, crewman, Kitchener, Ontario; Corporal Dana Crue, 30, crewman, Summerside, Prince Edward Island; Corporal David Walker, 30, crewman, Halifax, Nova Scotia; Corporal Marc Kemp, 23, crewman, Winnipeg, Manitoba; Master Corporal Dean Smith, 24, reserve crewman, Gooderham, Ontario; Master Corporal William Thomas, 32, infantryman, Canning, Nova Scotia; Corporal James Predo, 27, infantryman, Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia; Sergeant Tom Moran, 30, crewman; Master Corporal Richard Allinson, 31, crewman, Port Hope, Ontario; Corporal Michael Bolger, 27, crewman, St. John's, Newfoundland; Corporal Sheldon Clarke, 24, crewman, Grand Falls, Newfoundland; Corporal Scott Cairns, 27, crewman, Lachine, Quebec; Corporal Davis Balser, 22, crewman, Weymouth, Digby County, Nova Scotia; Sergeant Gordon Campbell, 31, crewman, Kensington, Prince Edward Island; Corporal David Clark, 30, crewman, Toronto, Ontario; Corporal Darren Burgess, 26, crewman, Windsor, Ontario; Corporal Russell Robertson, 23, Squamish, British Columbia; Corporal Bruce Rose, 27, crewman, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia; Trooper Paul Smith, 23, crewman, Oil Springs/Petrolia, Ontario.
    Military justice is about more than adding pages of rules and regulations filled with confusing words. Military justice should also be about recognizing the sacrifices soldiers and their families have made in representing their country.
    Does Bill C-77 contribute to or diminish camaraderie among soldiers? Does Bill C-77 hurt operational efficiency? We need to keep on asking these questions with real life experiences in mind, such as those of the people who were detained.
    That was my purpose when I put on the record the names of the 55 soldiers who were held hostage during the United Nations mission in Bosnia, Operation Cavalier, during the conflict in the Balkans. The government has forgotten these soldiers. The Prime Minister may state that veterans are asking for too much, as he did before. Veterans are only asking for what they are promised.

  (1135)  

     Psychological experiments and troop cohesion will end up getting soldiers killed, the same way that political expediency led to the loss of soldiers' lives in Afghanistan with the cancellation of the EH-101 helicopter contract by the Chrétien Liberal government. When Chrétien cancelled that contract, he also got rid of the Chinook helicopters in the military fleet.
     Just like the sponsorship scandal and the Lavalin scandal of today, the Liberals have not learned a thing with the decision to buy secondhand, cast-off jets from the Australians rather than equip our troops with what they really need. When Chrétien cancelled the sale of the new badly needed helicopters, he should have halted the sale of the Chinook helicopters to the Dutch government. A lot of good women and men died in Afghanistan as a consequence.
     Justice in the military should also provide the right equipment to do the job we ask our soldiers to do on our behalf. It should be about recognizing our soldiers, like the 55 forgotten soldiers.
     We need enhanced participation through impact statements at sentencing and enhanced restitution with the court martial required to consider making restitution for losses.
     The Auditor General's fall 2018 report on inappropriate sexual behaviour in the Canadian Armed Forces shows that there is a great need for victims' rights, which Bill C-77 is introducing.
    Again, I would like to offer my condolences to the family of our late auditor general, Michael Ferguson.
    Operation Honour is a plan to reduce inappropriate sexual behaviour toward women serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. The Auditor General's report found that Operation Honour was severely lacking in providing proper support for the victims of inappropriate sexual behaviour, which includes crimes like sexual assault, rape and harassment. In fact, the report found that Operation Honour was not even designed with victim support in mind and that the services it did offer were poorly coordinated. Even worse, the victims were often not even told that there were support services available to them, despite the legal requirement to do so.
     Disregard for legal requirements appears to be a theme with the government. Victims did not even have a say if their case was investigated, as the vast majority of reports were done via third party from a duty to report, which Operation Honour created. Investigations were undertaken inside the chain of command, whether the victim was ready or even willing to pursue justice for the crime against them. All reports were acted upon. Victims had no recourse to stop the investigation if they did not want to proceed with a complaint.
    The Auditor General's report also found issues with the training and briefings given to Canadian Armed Forces members regarding the inappropriate sexual behaviour. He found that the briefings were fragmented and led to confusion, frustration, fear and less comradery among soldiers. Briefings raised awareness of inappropriate sexual behaviour, but did little to nothing to address or bring awareness to changing habits or understanding the root causes of inappropriate sexual behaviour.
    The report also highlighted a lack of awareness of support services for victims, insufficient training to support the victims and a lack of availability to support those services. People providing services had a lack of subject matter expertise and there was little coordination between the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre, which handles the support services, and the Strategic Response Team, which has the actual investigative responsibilities.
    Operation Honour was inspired by an investigation and report by former Supreme Court Justice Marie Deschamps. We had Justice Deschamps appear before the Standing Committee on National Defence earlier this month and she gave us her insights as to whether Operation Honour aligned with her original 10 recommendations.
    It is important to remind the government that for the members of the Canadian Armed Forces, when they put on a uniform, they are soldiers first, and that is an important distinction. In an operational setting, they need to be able to rely on their fellow soldiers.

  (1140)  

    Mr. Speaker, I listened to the hon. member across the way with interest. She spoke a lot about various different aspects of the military, and the operations and what was going on.
    As we bring it back to Bill C-77, this legislation really goes a long way to declaring rights for victims and ensuring they have the supports they need in order to receive the fair treatment they deserve.
    However, I did not hear the member specifically reference whether she was supportive of the bill. My question is very simple. Will the member be voting in favour of the legislation?
    Mr. Speaker, as members know, the Conservatives introduced the original form of this bill. It is still lacking in a number of places. In fact, the Liberals made some amendments to the original Bill C-71 and shifted the burden of proof from beyond reasonable doubt to a balance of probabilities.
    What kind of precedent is this going to set? How is this changing the burden of proof from reasonable doubt to a balance of possibilities going to be applied in other areas, especially given the situation of constitutional crisis we find ourselves in this morning?
    Mr. Speaker, I really echo all the things my colleague just mentioned.
    I was a proud member of the Conservative government when we brought in the Victims Bill of Rights. The then attorney general was very clear that the purpose of the law was to protect victims, not criminals, and that justice needed to be done. That is why I supported the Victims Bill of Rights, because seniors were mentally, physically or financially abused.
    I want to correct the parliamentary secretary. He said that the Liberal government created the ministry of seniors. For the record, it was a Conservative government that created the ministry, had the first minister of seniors and also the longest-serving minister of seniors.
    I will go back to my question. I would like my hon. friend to tell the House how important it is that we value the contribution of the soldiers and veterans who have done so much, and yet they are still suffering because they were not well treated while serving in the forces.
    Mr. Speaker, part of the treatment of our soldiers involves fairness before the courts.
    Right now, certain punishments resulting from summary hearings can be penal in nature, however, there is no avenue to appeal to a higher or different authority. We put forth an amendment that would allow an appeal to a judge at the courts martial proceedings in the case of sentencing arising from a summary hearing that was penal in nature.
    However, further to that, there is still a glaring hole in the legislation, in how fairness is applied across the ranks, for example, the right of a soldiers, seamen or airmen to defend themselves. As we saw in the case of Vice-Admiral Norman, there was no clarity on why the Chief of the Defence Staff denied him the funds to defend himself.
    This legislation is still lacking, taking away the right of an individual, somebody who has served our military for so many years and with such honour, to be denied that, denying the individual the ability to defend him or herself based on the whim of the Chief of the Defence Staff who takes his orders from the Prime Minister.

  (1145)  

    Mr. Speaker, in response to the previous question I asked as to whether or not the member will be supporting this legislation, I really did not get a clear answer. She just spoke of problems that she sees with the bill. I am going to assume that she is going to support it, because other Conservative members have said that they will be supporting it.
    I have heard other members talk about the previous version of this legislation that was brought before the House. The member was here at the time, so could she comment as to why, if this issue is so paramount to the Conservatives, the former Conservative government waited until literally days before the end of the parliamentary session to bring forward that particular piece of legislation? There is no way that they could reasonably have assumed that the legislation would go through the entire legislative process and receive royal assent within such a short window of a matter of days.
    If the legislation was so important and is still so important to the Conservatives, why did they wait so long to bring that version forward and do it with literally just a couple of days left in the parliamentary session?
    Mr. Speaker, we had a very copious legislative agenda. We put forth many laws and we see that they are either being undone or just disregarded because the Prime Minister does not like them. We heard that in testimony from the former attorney general yesterday. We have a situation of the Prime Minister and members of his cabinet, his key advisers, just disobeying and disregarding the laws altogether.
    At the end of the day we are going to have to look at all of the legislation that the current Liberal government has brought through, because if we have a situation in which the Prime Minister himself has been obstructing justice, then we have to call into question everything that he has done. The only reasonable thing for the Prime Minister to do, as our leader stated, is resign.
    Mr. Speaker, I have to take exception with the comments by the member for Kingston and the Islands that we did not introduce our bill until the dying days.
    It is a fact that we brought forward two bills on military justice before Bill C-71 that passed.
    It is a fact that one thing that Bill C-71 in the old Parliament did and that Bill C-77 does is enshrine the victims bill of rights into the military justice system. That did not pass until the third year we were government.
    It is a fact that we moved that bill through as fast as we could at the end of the session.
    It is a fact that the Liberals sat on it for three years before they brought in Bill C-77, which is a complete replica of our Bill C-71.
    We did all the heavy lifting and we did all the hard work, but the Liberals sat on their hands.
    I want to ask the member, who has served so well on the national defence committee for the past 20 years, if she would comment on why the previous minister of veterans affairs and associate minister of national defence would have resigned when she has such a passion for indigenous issues which are now enshrined in Bill C-77 through the incorporation of the Gladu decision. Why would she have stepped back when she was the former justice minister who believed in having a strong law in our Canadian society, especially in the Canadian Armed Forces?

  (1150)  

    Mr. Speaker, like the people of Canada who need to hear more about what really went on behind the scenes with our former attorney general and associate minister of Defence, once I have heard all of the evidence—and we are still on third reading—I will make up my mind as to how I will vote. Canadians deserve a full investigation, a public judicial inquiry, so that they too can make up their minds about the legitimacy of the Liberal government to continue.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, before I begin my speech, I would like to inform you that I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Marc-Aurèle-Fortin.
    I am very pleased to rise today, as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, to support Bill C-77, an act to amend the National Defence Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts.
    I want to first acknowledge the hard work that has gone into shaping this bill and getting to this point. Obviously that includes the work of members of the Standing Committee on National Defence and their clause-by-clause consideration of the bill earlier this fall.
    I would also like to recognize the work and the outstanding dedication of the members of our Canadian Armed Forces. I think we all greatly appreciate the work they do every day. We are very grateful to them and we thank them.
    The study in committee made it possible to tweak the language used in the bill for clarity and to debate important ideas raised by the public, particularly with regard to mental health issues. The result is a better bill and parliamentarians who are more aware of these issues. I therefore thank the committee.
     The premise of the bill is simple. Our men and women in uniform deserve a military justice system that supports them in all they do, a military justice system that reflects Canadian values, works to eliminate discrimination of any kind, and ensures that victims are given a voice throughout the legal process.
    Through Bill C-77, we are proposing important changes to our current military justice framework, specifically by enshrining victims’ rights before, during and after court martial proceedings. We are also strengthening the summary trial process to ensure that minor cases are disposed of in a non-penal, non-criminal process called summary hearings. In addition, we are seeking harsher punishments and sanctions for services offences and infractions motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on gender identity or expression. Finally, we are ensuring that the specific circumstances of indigenous offenders are taken into account at the time of sentencing.
    For example, the proposed summary hearings will help improve the flexibility and effectiveness of the military justice system by allowing the chain of command to address minor service infractions quickly and fairly at the unit level. Naturally, the most serious cases will be referred to the courts martial. There will be no summary process anymore, and military commanders who preside over summary hearings will only be able to impose non-criminal penalties for service infractions.
     The changes we are proposing are long overdue. We recognize that we need to continually improve our military justice system so that it mirrors the civilian criminal justice system where appropriate, while acknowledging the important distinctions that exist between the two systems in order to account for the unique requirements of military life.
    Our government is committed to making the Canadian Armed Forces a safe and welcoming place for all Canadians, both civilian and military. It is this same commitment that continues to motivate us as we work to finalize these amendments and enshrine them in law.
    One of the most important sets of changes we are proposing is the introduction of the declaration of victims rights into the National Defence Act. This declaration mirrors the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, applicable in the civilian criminal justice system. It enshrines rights for victims of service offences and enhances the support provided to them as they navigate the court martial process.
    These changes include the right to information, which ensures that victims understand the process and the options at their disposal; the right to protection, which guarantees the victims' security and privacy; the right to participation, which allows victims to convey their views about decisions to be made by authorities in the military justice system; and the right to restitution, which entitles victims to seek restitution.
     In order to ensure that victims are able to exercise these rights, they will be entitled to the support of a victim liaison officer. The victim liaison officer will help them navigate the military justice system and inform them about how this system operates. They will explain to victims how service offences are charged, dealt with and tried under the Code of Service Discipline. These are important changes that help put victims first, and I am proud to support them in the House.

  (1155)  

    The second set of changes we are proposing have to do with how the military justice system handles minor breaches of military discipline. Through these proposed changes, a new category of minor breaches of military discipline, called service infractions, will be created. These service infractions will not trigger a criminal record.
    This change will allow the Canadian Armed Forces to handle minor breaches of military discipline in a fairer, simpler and faster manner. They demonstrate trust and confidence in our military leaders, who can address minor breaches of discipline at the base, wing or unit level.
    Through Bill C-77, we are also working to address issues of gender-based prejudice and hatred in the Canadian Armed Forces. The bill parallels provisions in the Criminal Code that propose harsher sentences and sanctions for service offences and infractions that are motivated by bias, prejudice or hate, based on gender expression or identity.
     The Canadian Armed Forces has zero-tolerance for discrimination of any kind. We are committed to eradicating these types of biases in our military ranks. That is why, through this bill and other initiatives, we are working to discourage behaviour motivated by prejudice or hate. This amendment will reflect this commitment and help the Canadian Armed forces continue to make progress in promoting inclusivity. We are ensuring that the military justice system is consistent with the civilian system when it comes to the human rights of the LGBTQ2 community. This bill represents another step in that direction.
    Finally, we have made a significant amendment to align with the Criminal Code provision relating to the sentencing of indigenous offenders. For Indigenous offenders convicted of military service offences, historic injustices will be considered during sentencing. This sentencing principle acknowledges the historic wrongs that still negatively affect indigenous Canadians across the country.
     These changes will also reflect the government's promise to advance reconciliation and renew our relations with indigenous people. We believe that these considerations are vital to the Canadian Armed Forces’ role in repairing our relationship with Canada’s indigenous peoples. Concrete measures like this will help us strengthen our nation-to-nation relationship and continue on the path to healing.
    I am extremely proud of the important role that indigenous Canadians play in the Canadian Armed Forces. There are nearly 2,500 indigenous CAF members serving in the regular and reserve forces.
     These proposed changes to the National Defence Act are key to supporting our women and men in uniform. Our military personnel are at the heart of everything we do. They are at the heart of the new defence policy, “Strong, Secure, Engaged”, because the women and men of the CAF make extraordinary sacrifices every day in service to their country. They deserve a return to a military justice system that ensures their voices are heard. They deserve a military justice system that maintains discipline and efficiency in the CAF while respecting our Canadian values. They deserve a military justice system that provides fair and equal treatment, regardless of race, orientation, or gender.
    Bill C-77 proposes the changes required to reform the military justice system so that it continues to meet the expectations of the people of Canada and the needs of the Canadian Armed Forces. It presents an approach that is more focused on the victims and protects their rights.
    This bill deserves our support because it seeks to establish a better military justice system for Canadians.

  (1200)  

[English]

     Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to be able to speak to this issue.
    As a former member of the Canadian Forces, I am deeply concerned by the state of our military justice system in Canada. We are finding that military members do not have access to legal representation to the same extent that they had formerly. We are finding that operational commanders are recommending to proceed with disciplinary charges and only 50% of cases are actually going through, which undermines the good order and discipline of the military. We have also found that there is a lack of experience among the judges within the military justice system.
    Bill C-77 does nothing to address any of those systemic challenges within the military justice system. I wonder if my hon. colleague could speak to that point. When will the government do something, and what, if anything, will it do to actually address the changes in the National Defence Act?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
    I can understand my colleague's concern. As we have said many times in the House, the former government had many opportunities to introduce this bill, but it chose to do so at the last minute, just before the last election.
    With this bill, we are strengthening victims' rights. We have included indigenous peoples and members of the LGBTQ community. This bill not only strengthens the rights of victims in those two communities, but it also strengthens our military justice system and makes it fairer and more just.
    That is the goal of the changes we are proposing; I hope my colleague will support the bill.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking my colleague for his speech. The general public may not be very familiar with military justice—as his colleague pointed out earlier—but there is no doubt these changes are desperately needed. They are tackling issues that have caused a lot of well-documented harm.
    Based on his experience, would my colleague agree that this government's legislative agenda will have been rather slim?
    Few substantive bills have been passed, and now that the end is in sight, they decide to move this sensitive subject forward. How long did it take them to get to this point—two years?
    Last fall, when Bill C-15 came into force, the government could have made amendments that would have implemented all this right away. Victims in the military community are suffering. Why did the government take so long to introduce this?
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
    As he indicated, the previous bill was quite different from our bill. We included indigenous people and LGBTQ communities in ours. We want a good bill, one that strengthens victims' rights.
    In his comments on the military justice system, my colleague mentioned that it can be difficult to understand. That is exactly why we want victims to be supported throughout the legal process.
    That is why we are bringing in measures to ensure that victims have a better understanding of the military justice system, and that is why we want to create a fairer, more equitable system.

  (1205)  

    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to this legislation, which will affect a part of Canada's justice system that is largely unfamiliar to many Canadians, including perhaps some members of this House.
    Bill C-77 makes important changes to our military justice system, bringing it more in line with our civilian criminal justice system with respect to victims' rights and sentencing for indigenous offenders. It also makes this unique system more effective in dealing with minor breaches of military discipline.
    Our government and the Canadian Armed Forces are committed to maintaining a military justice system that is fair, modern and robust. Canada maintains a military justice system that is separate from, but parallel to, the civilian system.
    Our department has been active on many issues, including military justice reform. We will continue making equity and modernization a priority as we go forward implementing these important initiatives.
    Canada has a world-class military justice system, which goes a long way toward helping the Canadian Armed Forces to accomplish their missions in Canada and throughout the world. The system reflects Canadian values and upholds the rule of law while meeting the unique needs of the military.
    Some people may wonder why we have a military justice system. The reason is clear. Simply put, we need such a system to maintain discipline, efficiency and morale among those responsible for protecting Canadians, our values and our national interests.
    There are many things that ordinary citizens can get away with doing without being sanctioned, even though those things may be inappropriate or even go contrary to relatively minor federal, provincial or municipal laws or regulations. However, it can be a lot more serious if a soldier does the same thing, particularly when he or she is participating in a military operation. A simple act of insubordination can compromise the cohesion of a military unit that must operate at the highest level of efficiency and solidarity. I am not exaggerating when I say that people's lives may depend on it.
     Canada's military justice system is rooted in centuries of practice around the world. Monarchs, army generals and political leaders have long recognized the importance of having a disciplined military.
    Just one year after Confederation, the new Parliament of Canada adopted the Militia Acts, which integrated the British Army Act into Canadian law. The Canadian Forces Legal Branch was created in 1918, just a few months before the end of the First World War. This was no coincidence. Canada's key role in the ensuing allied victory was a source of increased self-confidence.
    From that point on, our military justice system evolved gradually, more specifically with the increased involvement of our military lawyers in courts of law. However, it was always clear that the commanders controlled the martial law system, and they primarily used it as a tool to enforce discipline. The military lawyers representing the Canadian Forces Legal Branch were simply there to advise tribunal members on procedure and evidence and to look for errors in law.
    The first big change came after the adoption of the National Defence Act in 1950, which brought the military justice system closer in line with the civilian criminal justice system.

  (1210)  

    For instance, the act authorized appeals to the Court Martial Appeal Court and brought many penalties into line with those handed down in the civilian system. Only minor amendments had been made by the time two momentous events shook up the system in the early 1980s.
    The first was the enactment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982. Another reform stemming from a charter challenge allowed the accused person to choose between trial by a military judge alone or by a judge and a panel of military members.
    All of these challenges led to a radical change that caused the system to stray from its primary objective, which is to help commanders maintain discipline. This gave rise to a complex, polished system that has adopted many of the characteristics of the civilian system, which is, of course, one of the most widely admired systems in the world.
    Bill C-77 is the latest step in this process of evolution. If passed, it will make the military justice system fairer and more effective, without neglecting its key role of maintaining discipline and morale.
    I firmly believe that the military justice system will remain an indispensable aspect of the armed forces for many years to come.
    By passing Bill C-77 to improve and modernize this system, we will be helping the Canadian Armed Forces continue to meet their many crucial objectives, both in Canada and abroad.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the good work the hon. member does on the defence committee, where I am pleased to serve with him.
    When this bill was at committee stage, I proposed an amendment in committee to take advantage of this opportunity to remove the question of self-harm as a disciplinary offence from the military code of conduct. At that time, the Liberals in committee argued that it was beyond the scope of the bill and it was not the appropriate way to deal with this problem. Since that time, I have introduced a private member's bill, Bill C-426, which would do the same thing: remove self-harm from the military code of conduct as a disciplinary offence.
    I wonder whether the member, at this point, having not supported that amendment at committee, is prepared to support my private member's bill to take self-harm out of the military code of conduct.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to draw your attention to our judge advocate general, of whom we are very proud. We fully support her important work.
    Under the direction of the new judge advocate general, we have already started to act on some of the recommendations of the Auditor General. For example, we are implementing a case management system to track and manage cases as they progress through the system. We are extending assignments for defence attorneys and military prosecutors in order to better serve the accused and the Crown.
    Under the leadership of the judge advocate general, we re-established the military justice round table, which the previous government abolished. This recreated group will bring together representatives from the entire military justice system to find solutions to military justice challenges.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for those comments on the round table and the role of the Judge Advocate General, but my question was very specifically about the amendment that was defeated through procedural manoeuvring, I will call it, in committee.
    I will ask him once again. Does he support, at least in principle, the idea of taking self-harm out of the military code of conduct as a disciplinary offence? This stands as one of the major barriers, even if only at a symbolic level, to people in the Canadian Forces getting the mental health assistance they might need.

  (1215)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, our government is committed to the care, health and well-being of our military personnel and their families. We recognize that we need to continually adapt the way we care for people with mental illness. That is why the minister has asked the Standing Committee on National Defence to examine the issue of suicide and self-harm within the Canadian Armed Forces with a view to making recommendations to the government for dealing with these challenges.
    These recommendations will build on other investments we have made in mental health, including in launching the joint suicide prevention strategy with the Minister of Veterans Affairs. The strategy would promote the well-being of CAF members and veterans and provide help in times of crisis.
    Budget 2017 commits $17.5 million for a centre of excellence with a focus on the prevention, assessment and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and mental health issues among military personnel and veterans. Taking care of our soldiers, our veterans and their families is a priority for our government.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the legislation has had significant modifications since four years ago. There would now be indigenous considerations taken into account. Even though have seen the legislation around for a few years, it was really important for the government to take into consideration that aspect. I believe those changes to the legislation are very good and welcomed by the different stakeholders.
    I would like my colleague's thoughts on how important it is to incorporate the indigenous factor in the legislation.
    I asked for a brief question. Time is up.

[Translation]

    I will let the member quickly respond to the question.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that, from the outset, this new defence policy, which was unveiled in June 2017, put our people at the forefront of our priorities and of all we do within the Canadian Armed Forces for years to come.
    We have a concrete vision informed by diligent consultation with fellow citizens from coast to coast to coast. The commitments we have made to our men and women in uniform will provide them with a more dynamic, more prosperous and resolutely positive work environment that guarantees respect for individuals and individual rights.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to support Bill C-77. It has a title that would not let anyone know what it is about. It is called “an act to amend the National Defence Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts”. What it really ought to be called is “a bill to complete the process of military justice reform”. That is the basic reason we in the New Democratic Party are in favour of the bill. We are in favour of it despite its tardiness, and we are in favour of it despite it missing a major opportunity to take an action I will talk about later.
    Certain key provisions here are important, and I think we have all-party support for adding these to the military justice system. The first of those would provide greater rights and protections for victims in the military justice system. What the bill would do is align the military justice system with the civilian justice system and align it with the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. That means that there would be rights for those involved as victims in the military justice system to be kept informed of the progress of their cases and to get key information about the process in terms of timing: when things will be heard and when they will be resolved. This is something that is not in the military justice system presently.
    The second of those rights for victims is that victim impact statements would be allowed in the military justice system in the same way they are allowed in the civilian justice system. That is an important reason to support the bill.
    The second reason, which was mentioned just briefly before I stood to speak, is that the bill would bring the military justice system into conformity with the Gladue decision of the Supreme Court in 1999. which allows justices to take into account the circumstances of aboriginal offenders in determining sentencing. The same principle we have been using for 20 years in the civilian justice system would be applied to the military justice system. It is a bit tardy, but it is a good thing to do.
    The bill completes most of the military justice reforms that have been worked on for more than 15 years. They were mostly introduced by the previous Conservative government. In its bill, for some reason, the victims rights pieces were left behind. That was a bit surprising in that it was the Conservative government that was bringing forward the reforms, and it was the Conservative government that was the big proponent of the victims rights act. It was a bit peculiar that it was left out, but here it is again. It is a bit tardy, but it is in this bill.
    The government passed most of the major military justice reforms in 2013. Here we are, six years later, still dealing with a bill to complete those reforms.
    There are some oddities in the military justice system that would be cleared up here. One of those is the fact that there is no requirement to keep transcripts of all military justice proceedings. A summary hearing can be held without any record of that hearing being held. Therefore, it can become very difficult for anyone to appeal a decision from one of those tribunals when there is no written record of it. That is one of the things the Conservatives brought in in their original bill, which was quite positive, as well as better protections against self-incrimination, which did not exist in the military justice system, even though they are required by the Canadian Constitution and the bill of rights. Those were some of the things that were in the 2013 bill that were necessary. This bill would fully implement some of those changes.
    What I do not understand is the great delay in getting this done. Both the Liberals and the Conservatives were slow to act on what were clearly needed reforms in military justice. I am not sure why the Conservatives did not complete the job on their watch. They only got as far as Bill C-15, and they introduced Bill C-71 in the dying days of the last Parliament, which is essentially the same as Bill C-77.
    Having criticized the Conservatives for being slow, I will criticize the Liberals for being even slower, because they had the Conservative bill, Bill C-71. This bill, Bill C-77, is essentially the same bill, but it took them two years to bring it back to Parliament.
    The other part of this is that neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals acted expeditiously to get the sections of the original Bill C-15 proclaimed. That bill passed in 2013, and it was not fully proclaimed. It was not fully enforced until September of 2018. We had five years before the legislation was actually put into practice. Some of that was through funding not being made available for the necessary changes, especially in terms of staffing the military justice system. Some of that is simply inexplicable to me. I do not know why it took them so long to get this done.

  (1220)  

    Again, as I mentioned, it took the Liberals two years to introduce a bill virtually identical to the one the Conservatives introduced in 2015. That makes no sense at all.
    What we are doing in Bill C-77 is important, not just in the narrow sense of the military justice act but because of lots of other provisions for military justice and the operations of the military. One of those is Operation HONOUR, which is the military's attempt to deal with sexual harassment and sexual assault in the military. One of the key things here in Bill C-77 is that better supports would now be mandated by law for victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault in the military justice system. This is a supporting measure to Operation HONOUR, which has its big challenges. It has not been entirely successful.
    We had former Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps before the committee on February 7. It was her report on sexual harassment and sexual assault in the military that sparked some of these changes that are now taking place. What she cited was a reluctance that remains in the military to report sexual harassment and sexual assault, and what she said very clearly to us in the committee was that the solution to that is better support for victims at all stages.
    Bill C-77 provides that support when we get to the formal stages for sexual harassment and sexual assault, but Madam Deschamps was very clear that there needs to be better support for victims before the formal processes begin. That is something that is not in Bill C-77. That is something that is not mandated by law. However, I do not think that is a necessity. The Canadian Forces could obviously begin to put in place those better supports for those who have been subjected to sexual harassment and sexual assault when they first make it known to their supervisors or to others in the military system. If they make those supports known and make those supports available, we will get better reporting and we will get better handling of all those cases.
    There is still more work to do before the formal legal stages that are being dealt with in Bill C-77. I certainly encourage the leadership of the Canadian Forces to act quickly to get those supports for victims in place.
    The other reservation I have in supporting this bill is that it has missed a huge opportunity. That is an opportunity to help deal with another serious concern in the Canadian Forces, and that is the problem of death by suicide in the military.
    Over the past 15 years, we have lost 195 serving members of the Canadian Forces to death by suicide. That does not include reservists. The government has admitted that we do not do a good job of keeping track of death by suicide among reservists. The 195 is only those in the Canadian regular forces. We know the number is far larger.
    We know that those who are young men between the ages of 25 and 30 are 250 times more likely to take their own lives if they are in the Canadian Forces or are veterans. Something is going on, with the difficult and dangerous work we ask people to do, that results in mental health challenges that we are not responding to in an effective manner.
    In November 2017, we had the announcement of a joint DND and Veterans Affairs suicide prevention strategy. I applaud the military for having such a strategy. Again, it is a little tardy, but okay, let us get moving on this. Its focus was on providing more support for those who are facing mental health challenges and more training for all staff within the military, including chaplains and others who are assigned to support those serving members, in how to spot signs of suicide and how to deal with those suffering this mental health injury that has led to self-harm.
    That strategy, as I said, was put in place in November 2017. Unfortunately, in 2018, we had 15 more serving members and two members of the reserves die by suicide. That is in one year, 2018. One of my colleagues is signalling that the government's count was two, but there were probably actually five—
    An hon. member: Forty-five.
    Mr. Randall Garrison: Forty-five? Again, we do not have a good count of the reservists.
    We know that even though the strategy was put in place, this continues to be a serious challenge for the Canadian Forces. It is a challenge, obviously, on the humane grounds of taking care of those we ask to do difficult and dangerous work.

  (1225)  

...it is disturbing that even today under paragraph 98(c), a service member could face life imprisonment for attempted suicide. It would be more appropriate to consider self-harm under such circumstances as being symptomatic of a serious and urgent mental health concern, and signalling the need for appropriate and immediate medical intervention.
    She is calling on us to make sure those supports are available, to make sure those barriers are removed. She said very clearly:
     There is no benefit to leaving paragraph 98(c) in the National Defence Act, nor is there a downside to removing it. In my heart, I believe it is morally responsible [to remove this section].
    I do not mean to be too crass here, but it is also a challenge when we invest in people to serve Canada and the result of that service is that we lose their skills and their contribution because of mental health problems.
    The Canadian military has said it is committed to removing obstacles to providing mental health assistance for those who need it in the Canadian Forces. When the bill came to committee, I moved an amendment to it that would remove the largest symbolic and practical barrier to providing mental health assistance for those who are considering self-harm. That is paragraph 98(c) of the National Defence Act, which makes self-harm a disciplinary offence.
    When I talk to people outside the Canadian military, their reaction to this situation is that 30 years ago, in civilian life, we moved way beyond regarding attempted suicide as the fault of the individual and began to treat it as a mental health issue, as an illness that could be dealt with and treated.
    In the National Defence Act, to which all recruits are trained, it says self-harming is a disciplinary offence. In practice, when I talk to leaders within the military, I hear that this measure is not used very often and is rarely applied, but the fact that it exists and presents self-harm as a disciplinary offence creates on onus on the individual not to seek help, because what they are considering may become not just a mental health issue but a blot on their military career. It creates another obstacle to reaching out for help.
    We heard moving testimony from witnesses at committee, including Sheila Fynes, whose son died by suicide while serving in the Canadian Forces and who did not get the help he needed despite repeated attempts to harm himself while serving. Instead he was subjected to discipline several times as the solution to his problems, instead of being recognized as suffering from a mental illness and receiving the treatment he needed.
    Ms. Fynes is most dignified and has resisted all tendencies to become bitter about what happened with her son, instead working tirelessly with 161 other families of those who died by suicide to try to make sure this does not happen to any other families. Here is what she said at committee:
    Other witnesses spoke from their experience within the Canadian military as commanders who faced these crises. One of those was retired Lieutenant-Colonel Jean-Guy Perron, who appeared before the committee last November, noting that paragraph 98(c) refers both to self-harm and also to asking someone else to do harm. He said clearly that there is no downside to removing section 98(c) as it refers to self-harm and went on to say that if the worry is about someone in the armed forces asking someone else to harm them, that's already covered by lots of other regulations. Assault is the main one that would apply. If a serving member asks someone else to harm them so they can get out of service, that person is already guilty of offences if they carry it out. He saw no downside to removing this section.
    The Judge Advocate General's office made it clear that this section is rarely taken through the formal process. In other words, it is not used very often. However, the fact that it makes it a disciplinary offence means that it is sometimes applied at the command level. I think there was only one case in the last 10 years of someone being prosecuted for self-harming through the military justice system, but the fact that it is there as a disciplinary offence allows lower-level decisions that apply discipline rather than assistance to these mental health issues.

  (1230)  

     It was a big missed opportunity. The Liberals, as I mentioned, argued that it was outside the scope of Bill C-77 to remove this section of the National Defence Act. That was a very technical argument and one that is very difficult for me to accept, in that Bill C-77 already amended eight other sections of the code of conduct, so it would have been very easy for the committee to decide to proceed with this amendment.
    Although the Liberals have not done so and the bill is now before us without my amendment, I still support the bill. I think there are many positive things in it. However, I have introduced a private member's bill, Bill C-426, which does the same thing. It is a very simple bill. It suggests taking paragraph 98(c) out of the National Defence Act.
    The Liberals argued at committee that doing it at committee was not the right way or the right place, but they were sympathetic, so my challenge to the Liberals now is this: If the committee was not the right place to amend Bill C-77 in this way, will they join the Conservatives and the New Democrats in now supporting my bill to take this section out of the National Defence Act and remove one of the major barriers preventing those who are suffering with mental illness from getting the treatment and help they need?
    With that, I will conclude my remarks, and I will be happy to take questions.
    I am happy the bill is moving forward. I am happy it is going to be done before we go to another election so that we do not have a further delay on victims' rights in the military justice system, but I remain disappointed that we have missed a big opportunity to do something about the crisis of death by suicide in the Canadian Forces.

  (1235)  

    Madam Speaker, I want to go back to the part of the National Defence Act that the hon. member was attempting to remove at committee. I am a member of that committee and have had a great working relationship with the hon. member over the last three and a half years.
     I think it is germane to note that it was not the Liberals who attempted to remove this section; in fact, it was a ruling of the chair. As we know, the chair consults with the clerk's office in terms of what is in order as we are studying a particular piece of legislation. I really hope that support for amendments to legislation with respect to mental health challenges specifically does not have to be a politicized matter.
    I would further indicate that after this issue was raised by the hon. member at committee, it did catch the attention of the Minister of National Defence. The minister then wrote to the national defence committee, encouraging it to study the issue so that recommendations for a proper amendment to the appropriate piece of legislation could be made and brought forward at that time.
    Would the hon. member at least not agree with me that this is what happened?
    Madam Speaker, I have three things to say.
    First of all, the minister wrote to the members of the committee 30 minutes before we were going to vote. It was clearly an attempt by the minister to influence the committee and to not allow the committee to be independent on this issue. That is the first thing I would say.
    Second, once the chair ruled that the amendment was out of order, I challenged the chair. We had a recorded vote on whether we would sustain the decision of the chair to rule it out of order. Each and every one of the Liberal members voted to sustain the chair's ruling that it was out of order. Each of those members is clearly on the record as doing so. I know that the hon. member was not present that day, so he is not on that list.
    That leads me to my third point. It is that these things happen, but now we have a private member's bill before the House that would allow us to do the same thing. Therefore, I call on those members to support the private member's bill and support the Conservatives and the NDP in getting this obstacle to getting mental health services that people may need out of the National Defence Act.
    Madam Speaker, it is the Liberal way. They have to study something that is just common sense. It is unbelievable. It is not that studying further is not common sense, but just getting it done, just action, is common sense.
    I thank my hon. colleague for bringing up two points that I feel are very important. Everybody in the House knows that I am passionate about doing everything in our power to provide those whom we trust to serve our country and community with the tools to both complete their mission and to come home and remain healthy.
    My hon. colleague brought up two valid points. They were on the unreported sexual assault that is taking place or could be taking place within our military, as well as the point on death by suicide, self-harm and post-traumatic stress disorder.
    We now know more about post-traumatic stress disorder, mental health injury and the mental illness that can be caused by the sights and sounds experienced by those who have served.
    There is so much that we can do, that our forces can do, by building trust at the very beginning, by building and creating more resources so that our new recruits know what they are getting themselves into on all sides. I agree with my hon. colleague that the first step would be removing paragraph 98(c), and the other part is Bill C-211
    Unfortunately, I have to allow for other questions. I would ask members to keep their preambles short so that we can get in as many questions as possible.
    The hon. member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke.
    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Cariboo—Prince George for his tireless work on behalf of veterans and on the issue of PTSD.
    What we are trying to do is change attitudes. I commend the senior leadership of the military for taking on the task for trying to change attitudes, but I do not commend the glacial pace at which we are working.
    Again, when I talked to the families, they identified that in the cases of the individual family members they lost, making self-harm a disciplinary offence and treating self-harm as a disciplinary offence was a barrier to getting assistance.
    I think this is one of the things we could easily do. However, when the minister says that we should study it again, it means that it would not get done in this Parliament. We are out of time. Therefore, we need to act more expeditiously, and that is why I am calling on all parties to support my private member's bill to get this done before the next election.

  (1240)  

    Madam Speaker, the member spent a great deal of his time talking about PTSD and mental health issues, and I think it is important to recognize that within the proposed legislation there are some measures bearing on these issues. I do not know if they are present to the same degree that my colleague across the way wishes to see, but what I do know is that over the last while we have had a commitment and a realization, in good part, of 200 additional medical and health care personnel to deal with the situation. Back in the 2017 budget, in fact, there was $17.5 million put aside for a centre of excellence focused on the prevention, assessment and treatment of PTSD and related mental health conditions for military members and veterans.
    Would the member not agree that while the legislation is one thing, we also need to look at other things that we could be doing to address this serious illness and treat it appropriately? One of the ways of doing that would be to increase the number of health care providers, which is something we have done.
    Madam Speaker, of course I agree that there are other things we have to do in addition to the legislation. However, one of the things that is most important in treating mental illness as an illness is changing those attitudes. When we enshrine in law that it is a serving member's fault and that they should be disciplined if they are suffering from mental health issues that lead to self-harm and even death by suicide, it is a major thing we could change at this point, which would flow into all of the other things we are doing.
    The member referred to money that was set aside for additional health professionals and a centre of excellence. However, without being too harsh, I would say that the Liberals are better at saying than doing. Those things appear in budgets, but they do not actually appear on the ground. When I go to the base in my riding, I see that there are still vacancies in existing positions and that they are having trouble hiring people to deliver those services.
    Of course, one of the reasons is that DND employees have the whole shemozzle of the Phoenix pay system, but I will not start into that issue as a part of this debate.
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for his comments, his tireless advocacy and his support for families in bringing their stories to light. He has enabled us to hear what the impact has been on families when we have something in law that does not make any sense and could do more harm than good.
    I brought this up with the minister when we were discussing the bill earlier in the week, and I want to underline it, because our hon. colleague on the opposite side brought it up. It does not matter how much investment we make in services if people do not access them because there is a stigma attached. We can all agree that there is a stigma attached to mental health; it is the biggest barrier. As my hon. colleague said, regardless of whether the military has ever used this part of the military code to prosecute people, the fact that it is there sends a message to people.
     I want my hon. colleague to add further comment on this. The money and the services might be there, but if there is a barrier preventing people from accessing the help, what is the point?
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Saskatoon West for her comments. She has restated the argument much better than I did originally. She hit the nail directly on the head.
    Certainly, what we hear from families is that the stigma prevents access to services. It causes people to hide their problems so as not to lose the confidence of their commanders or colleagues in the military, whereas if they break an arm, they would not hide it but would get treatment. If they have a different kind of illness that is not visible, the stigma makes them hide that illness, so it becomes worse and we eventually lose the services of that member to the Canadian Armed Forces, as well as the loved ones of those families.

  (1245)  

    Madam Speaker, I would like to inform you that I will be sharing my time with the member for Davenport.
     It is great to be in this chamber today and to hear the overwhelming support from all sides of this House on this very important piece of legislation. It is an honour to rise in the House today to share my thoughts on how the government is supporting victims of inappropriate conduct by members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
    When victims display courage by coming forward with a complaint, we must ensure that they are fully supported. Anything less is unacceptable. Every victim, whether a Canadian Armed Forces member or a civilian, deserves to be treated with trust, dignity and respect. We are fully behind the chief of the defence staff and his leadership team as they take steps to root out harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour in our military.
    Since General Vance launched Operation Honour in 2015, we are seeing progress. As former Supreme Court Justice Marie Deschamps recommended in her report in 2015, we put in place a sexual misconduct response centre, which provides support to those affected by inappropriate sexual behaviour. We established the sexual misconduct response centre and extended its services to 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. It is accessible no matter where a service member is deployed around the world. Last fall, the Canadian Forces provost marshal re-examined 179 sexual assault cases previously deemed unfounded, and determined that 23 should be reopened to further investigation.
    This past May, we introduced Bill C-77 to add the declaration of victims rights to the military's Code of Service Discipline. This piece of legislation before us today enshrines victims' rights in the military justice system. This is good news, because it shows that military justice in this country continues to evolve in the best interests of Canadians and the Canadian Armed Forces. It shows the government recognizes the harmful impact that service offences to victims have on the military and on society. It shows the government's commitment to strengthening victims' rights in the military justice system. It is our view that this legislation advances Canada's position as a global leader in supporting victims.
    The amendments in this bill would strengthen and uphold victims' rights within the military justice system while ensuring that these rights mirror those in the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. Simply put, the legislation creates and extends rights for victims in four specific areas: first, the right to information about how the military justice system works; second, the right to protection of their security and privacy; third, the right to participation by expanding how victim impact statements can be presented at courts martial; and fourth, the right to restitution for damages or losses. We have a responsibility to make sure victims are treated with dignity and respect. We are taking this responsibility seriously. We owe it to victims and their families.
    In his report last November, the Auditor General included a report on efforts to stop inappropriate sexual conduct in the Canadian Armed Forces. It came with a number of recommendations that will help lay the ground for the next steps of Operation Honour. Canadians can have complete confidence in both the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces to apply these recommendations. The chief of the defence staff has made it clear that serious administrative action will be taken against Canadian Armed Forces members who are found guilty of sexual misconduct. He has zero tolerance for Canadian Armed Forces leaders who fail to act when confronted with inappropriate behaviour within the ranks.
    When my colleague, the Minister of National Defence, reviewed the Auditor General's report, he had a clear message for Canadian Armed Forces members and victims. He said that this was about making sure we are doing the right thing for victims; we know we need to do better, and we will.
    This is why we are moving Bill C-77 through this House as efficiently and effectively as possible. It is why we expanded the sexual misconduct response centre, so victims can access support in Canada and abroad 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. It is why the SMRC is looking at ways to enhance service delivery to better meet the needs of all Canadian Armed Forces members, and it is why the sexual assault review program was established to conduct reviews of all sexual assault investigations deemed unfounded by the military police.

  (1250)  

    Our government wants the Canadian Armed Forces recognized as a respected leader on this issue, both inside the Canadian government and by militaries around the world. At the same time, we know this is not just a military issue. The Canadian Armed Forces is not alone in dealing with sexual misconduct. It is deeply rooted in society. Sexual misconduct is wrong wherever it happens, but when it happens in the military, it threatens the welfare of all members of the Canadian Armed Forces community, military and civilian alike.
    Our people are at the centre of everything we do. The way we support and treat them is directly related to the military's operational effectiveness. It is also directly related to our values as Canadians. The Canadian Armed Forces has put down a good, solid foundation on which to build. Now it is shifting toward sustained cultural change. Later this year, the Canadian Armed Forces is expected to release its fourth report to update Canadians on all progress made to date on Operation Honour, followed by a cultural change strategy.
    Along with Bill C-77 and through the declaration of victims rights, we are strengthening the rights and protections of victims who come forward when they have been wronged. In the passing of this legislation, we are reinforcing Canada's position as a global leader in maintaining a fair and effective military justice system, one that continuously evolves in harmony with our civilian laws. In passing this legislation, we are demonstrating clearly and without question that anyone who is victimized by inappropriate behaviour within the Canadian Armed Forces will be supported fully in the military justice system through these enhanced victims' rights.
    For these reasons, I appeal to all members of this House to support this bill.
    Madam Speaker, we had a good, vigorous debate and study of Bill C-77, and a number of shortfalls were identified by some of the witnesses: retired Lieutenant-Colonel Perron in particular, as well as the Barreau du Québec.
    One thing that came up that we did not get positive feedback from JAG on was the issue of changing the burden of proof from beyond a reasonable doubt to the balance of probabilities. The argument from National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces' legal advisers is that we do not need to have such regimented tests within a summary hearing process, unlike in the old-fashioned court martial and summary conviction process.
    I would ask the member if he feels we got to the bottom of it to protect those who are wrongfully accused in view of the potential punishments that will be laid down, such as confinement to quarters and being sent to the brig for a period of time, as well as a reduction in rank and pay.
    Madam Speaker, I know the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman would not overly criticize this bill, considering that earlier he said it is a complete replica of the Conservative bill that was introduced by the previous government. I am sure any criticism he might make about it now would equally apply to the former bill.
    His question digs into the nuances of what happened in committee, the various testimonies we heard and the results we came out with at the end of the day as a result of that deliberative process. When we had the opportunity to do that and when we heard from the various witnesses, that informed our opinions on how to proceed.
    However, what we end up with here is a bill that would put our military personnel within the same form of evolution in terms of their rights as people get outside of the military. That is the primary objective here. That is what has come forward through this piece of legislation.

  (1255)  

    Madam Speaker, I would like to pick up on my colleague's last point and cite an example.
    Under civilian law, if someone does not show up for work, there is a marginal consequence for that, whereas under military law, a service member could end up going to court and receiving a criminal record. If a criminal record is received, that has a profound negative impact once that service member leaves the military on things such as taking a trip to the U.S.A. or applying for a job. Bringing these things together, military law and civilian law, and making them closer in resemblance would be a good thing for the service member.
    Could my colleague comment on that?
    Madam Speaker, the bill is really about that. I talked about the evolution of putting it more in line with the similar supports and processes which people outside of the military go through. This is about that.
    We find that within the miliary, just like outside the military, not every case should be treated the exact same way, given the different significance of what was inappropriately done. This legislation would give the flexibility to allow the different processes to take place so people would not necessarily be subject to the exact rule depending on the particular violation.
     Madam Speaker, on behalf of the residents of Davenport, it is an absolute honour to have this opportunity to rise today and engage in the third reading of Bill C-77, an act to amend the National Defence Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts.
    This proposed bill amends the provisions of the National Defence Act with respect to the governance of the military justice system and it adds a new section on the declaration of victim rights to the Code of Service Discipline that specify the victims of service offences have a right to information, protection, participation and restitution in respect to service offences. It adds or amends several definitions, including victim and military justice system participant rights and specifies who may act on the victim's behalf for the purposes of that division.
    I am so pleased to speak about how Bill C-77 is part of a broader effort our government is making to increase diversity and inclusiveness within the Canadian Armed Forces. Canada's unique, diverse and multicultural population is one of its greatest strengths and we are determined to see that strength reflected in Canada's military.
    We know that embracing diversity and drawing on all the strengths of Canada's population will enhance military operational effectiveness. That is why Canada's defence policy “Strong, Secure, Engaged” makes diversity and inclusion a core institutional value for the Canadian Armed Forces. Canadians know diversity is our strength, and we will always champion that.
    A diverse and inclusive Canadian Armed Forces starts with a respectful and open work environment for all. “Strong, Secure, Engaged” has identified several initiatives that will help our military continue to cultivate a culture of respect, and it is delivering on all of them.
    We are ensuring that the Canadian Armed Forces has the ability to respond effectively and appropriately to anyone who discriminates against fellow service members. Through Bill C-77, we are calling for increased sentences and sanctions for service offences and infractions when there is evidence they are motivated by bias, hate or prejudice based on gender expression or identity. This focus on deterring crimes based in hate for those whose gender expression or identity differ from our own is an important step in the significant progress the forces has made in changing its culture to one of greater inclusivity and diversity. These changes will help the defence team ensure it remains an institution based in honour, integrity and honesty.
    However, the changes proposed in Bill C-77 are not the only steps the forces are taking. Through Operation Honour, the Canadian Armed Forces continues its vital work to eliminate harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour. Above all else, it is putting its focus on support for people affected by inappropriate sexual behaviour. That includes expanding the role and mandate of the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre, or SMRC, to make it the authoritative voice on victim support and advocacy.
    As the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre assumes this increased responsibility, it has already established itself as a leader in this field. This past December, the SMRC hosted the first-ever Five Eyes forum on preventing and addressing sexual misconduct, allowing experts from Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Australia and New Zealand to share with, and learn from, one another. These efforts will also help National Defence be an even greater leader in achieving a gender balanced military.
    We should all be proud that Canada is already a world leader in this area. As of this January of this year, there are 15,116 women in the Canadian Armed Forces. That is 15.7% of our military, and significantly more than the NATO average of 11%.

  (1300)  

    I was honoured to recently visit the Canadian Armed Forces mission in Mali. It is participating in MINUSMA, which is the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission. Right now 14% of all those deployed there are women. That number compares to about 4% for all other UN missions.
    I know we have a long way to go, but we have already made great progress. We should celebrate the progress we have managed to make.
    Through “Strong, Secure, Engaged”, we are increasing the percentage of women in the military to 25% by 2026. That is our target. The Canadian Armed Forces has undertaken a number of activities to meet this goal. I will go through them in a minute.
    I want to add that right now the national defence committee is looking at how we can increase diversity in the Canadian Armed Forces. We are looking to put forward a number of other policy ideas and immediate action steps on how we can increase the number of not only women, but those from visible minorities, the LGBTQ community and the indigenous community, among others, in the Canadian Armed Forces.
    I will go back to the additional activities that the Canadian Armed Forces is undertaking to meet the goal of 25% of 2026.
    First, it has established a team of representatives from across the military, the federal government and the private sector to examine recruiting strategies for women joining the defence team. We have gone outside of government to get the best ideas so we can achieve our goal of 25% by 2026.
    Second, the Canadian Armed Forces has introduced policies and practices that promote a healthy family and work-life balance. I was blessed to join the Canadians Navy on the HMCS Charlottetown during the summer. When I talked to women there, I heard that more and more women were joining because the navy had done a wonderful job of improving the work-life balance, making it easier for people to have families and to support their families while they were pursuing careers in the Canadians Navy.
    However, diversity is more than gender. The Canadian Armed Forces also has specific initiatives under way to increase its diversity across a broad spectrum of ethnicity, religion, age, experience, language and more.
    The Canadian Armed Forces continues to modernize, streamline and standardize recruiting to ensure that it is truly welcoming to all applicants. It has recruiters who are multilingual and from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds. These recruiters receive extensive training designed to help them understand and be attuned to cultural norms that may differ from their own background and beliefs. This has helped improve communication with potential recruits, which in turn has alleviated many of the misconceptions that visible minority applicants sometimes have regarding the military.
    The Canadian Armed Forces has also made important changes to the way it welcomes people of different backgrounds into the military. While the military maintains strict dress regulations for professional and operational purposes, it refuses to allow those regulations to be a barrier to someone who wishes to join.
    As important as all these initiatives are, we also have to recognize the impact of past actions.
     In November 2017, our Prime Minister rose in the House to issue a formal apology to Canadian members of the LGBTQ2 community for historic injustices inflicted upon them in the country. That included many members of the Canadian Armed Forces who were not just discriminated against, but interrogated and persecuted for nearly forty years during what has become known infamously as “the purge”.
    We can never undo the damage of this persecution, but we can recognize and remember the pain it caused. We apologized in order for us to move on and make changes.
    We are doing just that with the Canada pride citation. Members of the Canadian Armed Forces who were directly impacted by anti-LGBTQ2 policies and practices can wear the Canada pride citation on their uniforms. The citation stands as an acknowledgement and reminder of past injustices and as an affirmation of our commitment to ensuring that this dark chapter in our history never happens again.
    I note that over a year ago, the military launched the positive spaces initiative to promote a safe and inclusive work environment for all employees regarding sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. I am happy to answer questions on that.
    I am very proud of the actions we have taken to date and I ask everyone in the House to support Bill C-77.

  (1305)  

    Madam Speaker, the member talked about some of the challenges that occur in the Canadian Armed Forces, and that Bill C-77 incorporates the Gladue decision from the Supreme Court, ensuring that indigenous members of the Canadian Armed Forces will have a chance, at the time of sentencing, to make sure that any cultural sensitivities are taken into consideration.
    We just witnessed an unfortunate event over the last few weeks, where the former associate minister of defence who is also the former attorney general, a very proud indigenous leader, was forced to resign. I would like to know, from the member, why the former associate minister of defence left her office.
    Madam Speaker, I will focus my comments on Bill C-77.
    The member talked about the indigenous population. As we mentioned, we are actually trying to increase the number of indigenous peoples within our Canadian Armed Forces. Two key things that we are really focused on in Bill C-77 are including indigenous sentencing provisions, which require military tribunals to consider the circumstances of indigenous offenders at sentencing, as is the case in the civilian justice system, and ensuring that indigenous peoples are given the same rights and respect in the military as in civilian courts.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Toronto—Danforth for her speech.
    I am not an expert in military justice. However, it has come to my attention that, in the military, acts of self-harm are considered an offence. This makes it punishable behaviour.
    I would like to know what my colleague thinks about the fact that the new legislation does not address this problem, even though it is a known issue. Self-harm is still considered an offence.
    Obviously, if an individual is struggling with this problem, it will be hard for them to seek help because they could end up being reprimanded under the Code of Service Discipline.

  (1310)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, that is an excellent question. I am the member for Davenport, although many people do confuse me with the hon. member for Toronto—Danforth, and that is okay. However, I did want to correct it for the record.
    I would say that self-harm is absolutely something that was brought to the attention of the committee. It was mentioned and we questioned whether there were some adjustments that we could make to Bill C-77 to address all of the concerns around self-harm.
    The context of the bill did not allow us to address that particular issue, but we recognize that we need to continue to adapt our approach to care and to those suffering from mental health issues. That is why our minister invited the national defence committee to study the issue of suicide and self-harm within the Canadian Armed Forces, with a view to providing our government with recommendations related to these challenges, specifically as it relates to self-harm.
    We have acknowledged that this is an issue. There was an impassioned plea by a mother who was affected by a Canadian Armed Forces member impacted by this particular issue. We made a commitment to look at it and we will continue to take this very seriously moving forward.
    Madam Speaker, there is a very important conversation that we need to have today regarding the amendments to Bill C-77, which seeks to amend the National Defence Act.
    The most important thing we have to talk about is why we have a National Defence Act and why people in uniform have a separate judicial system than those in the civilian world. The reason for that is very important. It is that people in uniform are the only people who are entrusted with the right to take a life in aggression, not in self-defence. They are entrusted with the responsibility and sacred reliability of taking a life.
    Therefore, as elected officials in a liberal democracy, we must ensure that would never happen without the authority of the citizens, who have entrusted the people in uniform with that responsibility. That is why we have a National Defence Act that separates them from regular citizens, because they have a responsibility and authority that the average citizen does not have.
     When we talk about amending the National Defence Act, we have to understand why we have it in the first place. A military is foreign policy by other means. Therefore, when, where, how and for what purpose would we use people in uniform to fight acts of aggression and take lives on behalf of the country? Our alliance in NATO and the Washington treaty, signed on April 4, 1949, after the Second World War, clearly outlines exactly why. It says:
    The Parties to this Treaty reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments.
    They are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.
     Therefore, why do we have a military? We have a military to ensure we can safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of our peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. That is incredibly important to remember, particularly in light of the conversations that have gone on over the last couple of months and the testimony of the former attorney general yesterday.
    Our foundation of democracy is based on the separation of the executive branch, the legislative branch, the judicial branch and the military under the National Defence Act. Those pillars are the checks and balances to ensure that individuals are not in a position to undermine the value of these institutions.
    Individuals take responsibilities in each of those institutions, just like I did when I swore an oath to serve in the Canadian Forces. The oath I swore was not to a person but to the position of Queen and country. I swore an oath to serve and defend the values of the nation for which it stands. The Prime Minister, members of Parliament and cabinet ministers are also not individuals but people who have also been entrusted with the roles and responsibilities associated with their positions. If and when we forget that these are positions, not individuals, and that the role is bigger than the individuals themselves, the very nature of our democracy is under threat, because, as we can see, those individuals think they have the authority to wield the system in their favour.

  (1315)  

    We heard from the former attorney general that the Prime Minister had an unrelenting and coordinated attempt at influencing her decision as the Attorney General, the top prosecutor in the land, to do something that was actually illegal so that he could achieve political gain.
    Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. We are debating Bill C-77 today. The previous Speaker had just cautioned members to try to remain relevant to the bill. I can somewhat sense that the member is trying to be relevant but is skirting around it, and now she is getting to a point of wanting to reflect on something that took place at committee yesterday.
    There has been an emergency debate requested and approved for tonight. Maybe the member could save that aspect until tonight and for now concentrate on Bill C-77.
    I want to remind the hon. parliamentary secretary that there is some flexibility, as he well knows, during the debates. However, I also want to remind those who are making speeches that their speech has to be relevant to the bill that is being debated at the moment. Therefore, I am sure that the member will come back to the bill itself and will ensure that her speech is surrounding the bill.
    The hon. member for Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill.
    Madam Speaker, the relevance is that we have a military to defend the very nature of our institutions, both at home and abroad, because we send them to save the world for democracy. If we do not understand what that democracy is and what they are defending, we risk undermining the nature and value of democracy. We certainly cannot be in a position to amend the National Defence Act if we do not uphold the values and the principles the National Defence Act was put in place to defend.
    Let us go to the chief of the defence staff. We have also heard in papers that the chief of the defence staff went directly to unelected officials to discuss an ongoing court case when Vice-Admiral Norman was actually undergoing a trial. For those who do not know, the chief of the defence staff does not report to unelected officials. The chief of the defence staff reports to the Minister of National Defence, under the National Defence Act, and through the minister, to the Governor General and the Queen. That is how we ensure that our ability to use the military is only exercised within its sovereign ranks. Therefore, we need to understand exactly what the chief of the defence staff was doing, potentially breaching the chain of command, going to dinner with unelected officials to discuss things that are within the purview of his responsibilities as chief of the defence staff.
    Furthermore, we need to look at whether there was political interference in Admiral Norman's ability to get a fair trial, because Admiral Norman was conducting military operations when he allegedly committed whatever offence he is being charged with, yet the Minister of National Defence has decided not to indemnify him. That means that he does not have the ability to have the military pay for his trial and his defence to ensure that he gets a fair trial. One could argue that this in itself is political interference, because trials can cost a significant amount of money, and this could potentially prevent him from getting that fair trial. Is that a good use of exercising the defence budget, and, under the National Defence Act, access to justice? Those are significant, serious concerns.
    Now we are talking about amending the National Defence Act, yet these amendments do not remotely address the effectiveness of the act. We found, through evidence, that we have issues with timeliness. People cannot get charges, courts martial and summary hearings in a timely manner. Because we are finding that charges are not being laid, it is undermining the confidence of the military in the justice system.
    We have judges in the military system who are not getting effective training or experience and who no longer have the extensive qualifications they need to execute on the National Defence Act.
    We are talking about fairness. We actually have people within the military justice system who have been charged and found guilty and have been given a punishment. However, other people have been given a different punishment within the military justice system for that same crime. There is no balance and equity among members within the military justice system or compared to their civilian counterparts or even compared to our allies and their militaries.
    All those things undermine the code of service discipline and the military justice system we are attempting to put in place, yet none of the amendments to the National Defence Act being put forward today address any of those things.
    Even more disconcerting, we have a justice system that is not delivering and executing on that justice, as we have seen in the fact that we can have members of the military who are not being held accountable when they have perhaps breached the chain of command or have acted in a partisan and political way.

  (1320)  

    Defence is not a luxury. Defence is the foundation of our society. It allows us to have the principles of democracy, individual liberties and the rule of law. We cannot have anything that undermines any of those clear checks and balances and the structures of our democracy, as we heard from the former attorney general, who was also the former associate minister of national defence. Thank goodness she recognized that she had two hats: one as the attorney general and one as the minister of justice. She could understand the rules and responsibilities that came with each of those hats. She knew that she was the last line of defence, the check and balance, that upheld the very structure and nature of our system. She did what needed to be done. She stood up and was counted.
    We need a military justice system that reinforces the ability to maintain our democracy and the principles for which it stands, and that is at risk right now.
    Defence is not a luxury. Defence allows us to have the freedoms and liberties we have. The more the Liberal government undermines its commitment to defence by not funding it, by giving the military terrible equipment, by not ensuring that the CDS is accountable to the Minister of National Defence and by politically interfering in the trial of a senior admiral, possibly preventing him from getting a fair trial, the more it calls into question not only the individuals and their roles but the very nature of what we are asking people to put on a uniform, swear an oath, serve and defend and give their lives for.
    Members of Parliament, cabinet ministers and the Prime Minister are more than just individuals. As we say in the military, I was an officer first, I was air force logistics second, and I was an individual far after that. The same is true of the people who sit in this place.
    There are partisan issues we are going to talk about. We are going to disagree on perhaps how and what and when we should prioritize, but at no time should any of us ever disagree or risk the actual structure and sanctity of the institutions and everything they stand for. If we do, we are no better than all those countries we are so quick to criticize that are not as fortunate as Canada in having democracy.
    It is a slippery slope. We have seen over the last 20 or 30 years the lack of independence and separation between the legislative branch and the executive branch. Now we are seeing the slippery slope moving into the judicial branch. With the lack of material in the National Defence Act and the inability of the justice system to execute military justice, it is also slipping there.
    It is very disconcerting. We have now come to a point when Canadians are giving up. They are looking at government, not only the individuals in government but government as an institution, and saying that we do not know what we are doing, that we cannot be trusted and that we are all the same. If we do not have our democracy, what do we have?

  (1325)  

    We owe a great deal to the former attorney general for having the courage and fortitude to stand and be counted and stand for democracy. She can recognize that she has a responsibility and has been entrusted with something that is bigger than she is, as the former attorney general and the former minister of justice. While they may be the same person, they are two separate roles and responsibilities.
    Members of Parliament, cabinet ministers, the Prime Minister, the Clerk of the Privy Council and all of us also need to remember our roles and responsibilities and the separation of the executive branch, the judicial branch and the legislative branch. Our system does not work when those things are intermingled.
    There is still much work to be done to amend the National Defence Act to ensure that we have a vibrant, modern military justice system that compares with our allies' justice systems. At the same time, we can never forget that defence provides the safeguards for our freedom, our individual liberty and the preservation of the rule of law. The minute we start to erode that, we have absolutely nothing left. It is very worrying, because we have arrived at a place in our history where I am concerned that our country is at stake.

  (1330)  

    Madam Speaker, listening to the member, one of the conclusions one can draw is that she believes that this legislation is falling short and that many other aspects should have been incorporated that were not incorporated.
    If we actually go through the bill, we see that this legislation has its founding in Stephen Harper's government. It was Stephen Harper who initiated the process. We have taken the process, have not deleted anything, and have added to it indigenous considerations and one or two other aspects after a series of consultations. We have enhanced the bill. When the member criticizes the government today for not doing enough, she is really criticizing her own party, the Conservative Party. She is criticizing Stephen Harper.
    We have a good piece of legislation that would help modernize our military law and makes it more in line with civilian law. That is a good thing. Would the member not agree that, for example, the modernization is to the benefit and in the interest of forces members who are serving today and even those who are retiring?
    Madam Speaker, it is a flawed argument to say that because people who came before us did not do it, we should not be held accountable for not doing it ourselves. That is like saying that we do not need stoplights for horses and buggies because we did not have cars. It does not make any sense.
    The current government put this legislation forward. The government is trying to amend the NDA. The amendments to the NDA far fall short. The Liberals need to be held accountable for the things that are missing.
    Would I say that modernizing the National Defence Act to make it more similar to civilian law is a good thing? Not necessarily, because as I said in my speech, there is a significant difference between the rights and privileges of someone in uniform and the rights and privileges of civilian society. That is why we have a National Defence Act, and that is why it—
    We do have to allow for other questions, so I would ask members to keep their preambles and their responses and questions to a minimum, which would be about a minute, if possible.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Oshawa.
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for her service. I know she is committed to the institutions we all hold so dear. Her comment that defence is not a luxury is important for people to realize.
    The member brought up the importance of avoiding political interference. We have seen the current government make extremely bad decisions. She mentioned the Norman affair, which many people are interested in, and the debacle of the jets. With the testimony yesterday on the SNC-Lavalin affair, I think Canadians are rightly concerned.
    What does the member think needs to be done to make sure that our military justice system is there for the people who are in the military and to attract the wonderful Canadians who will put on uniforms in the future?
    Madam Speaker, ultimately, we in the House, cabinet ministers and the Chief of the Defence Staff set the example. If we do not lead by example by fulfilling our roles and responsibilities free from political interference and recognize the independence of the judiciary and the responsibilities of the military, then there is no way we will have a national defence act that does so.
    The second thing for us to remember is the difference between the military and why it is subject to a National Defence Act and what their roles and responsibilities are. By ensuring that we have a military justice system that takes into account training, access to justice and all those kinds of things, we will ensure that members in uniform feel as though there is a code of service discipline and that it is fairly applied.

  (1335)  

    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her service. She brought up some concerns about an individual not receiving the right to counsel or perhaps having difficulty paying for it. What is her and her party's plan? I would like to hear more about universal legal aid and better access to justice principles.
    I know the hon. member was elected as a progressive, but I wonder if she could discuss better access to justice issues which she or her party sees for the future.
    Madam Speaker, that is a very simple question. The simple answer is that the military has a structure to indemnify members in uniform when they find themselves in legal difficulty. Mark Norman requested that, but was denied it by the government. Therefore, it is very easy. The government could indemnify him and could do it now. It could ensure that there is no political interference and that he has access to a fair trial.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my hon. friend a very simple question based on her experience in the military.
    She talked about how poorly equipped the military had become under the present government. Could she provide her views on how the present government is treating the military?
    Madam Speaker, I said that defence was not a luxury. The government said that it would invest, but it has not invested by over 50%. It has not even delivered the money it said it would. Of course, worse than that, the government is equipping our military with 40-year-old, used Australian F-18s.
    The Australians are smart. They would not be getting rid of fighter aircraft if they were still operationally capable. They are older than the ones we currently own, because they bought them before us.
    Therefore, it is not only embarrassing and not contributing to the security and safety of our nation, but it is humiliating. Our allies know we are not serious about defence, and that is because of the actions the government has taken.
    Madam Speaker, it is important to recognize that the functionality of an F-18 is not necessarily determined by years as much as it is hours flown.
    The question just posed was interesting. The Conservative Party was absolutely abysmal. It totally failed on providing. The Conservatives make reference to the aircraft. Stephen Harper was an absolute, total disaster in getting a replacement for the F-18. That is the core of the problem. The attitude of the member's party in not providing the proper resources in the 10 years of Stephen Harper has put the Canadian Forces in the position it is in today. This obligated us to get a replacement aircraft in the short term so that in the long term our Canadian military would be better served by more modern equipment.
    I wonder if she would agree that Stephen Harper should have done his job as prime minister and invested in our Canadian Forces when it was the right time to do it, which was 10 years ago.
    I want to remind the member for Cariboo—Prince George that the Speaker will determine when the time is up.
    The hon. member for Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill.
    Madam Speaker, there is that argument again. Because someone else did not do it, we do not need to do it and we do not need to be responsible or accountable for the actions we have taken, we can blame it on somebody else. When it comes to our military that is just highly unacceptable.
    Ultimately, though, the Liberals said that they would spend some money on defence and they have not done that. They campaigned on advanced fighter jets. There is no way that 40-year old, used F-18s from Australia are advanced capability fighter jets. Yes, it is about flying hours. The Australians flew them a lot and over oceans, so they have corrosion charges as well.

  (1340)  

    Madam Speaker, I am pleased this important bill has reached this advanced stage in the legislative process. I am equally pleased for the opportunity to say a few words in support of the adoption of Bill C-77 and to further illustrate the improvements it would bring to Canada's military justice system.
    By now, members have heard a fair bit of detail about how the bill would further modernize the military justice system; how it would ensure our military justice system would continue to evolve in harmony with the civilian justice system, while continuing to respond to the unique needs of our military; how it would enshrine victims' rights within the military justice system and ensure they would be well supported at all stages; and how it would support our government's commitment to repairing our nation-to-nation relationship with indigenous and protecting LGBTQ2 individuals from discrimination and injustices based on their gender expression or identity.
    Those are all much-needed steps to strengthen our military justice system to ensure it is responsive and reflective of our deeply held Canadian values and of our number one priority, to care for our people.
    However, there are other important changes in the bill, changes that will help streamline our military justice process, changes that will make those processes more efficient and better suited to meet the demands of a modern military. Today I would like to re-examine some of those changes.
    The legislation before us promises to reform the summary trial process in ways that will enhance the military's ability to maintain fast, fair and effective discipline. Canadians, military and civilian alike deserve a military justice system that is responsive to operational demands and that applies fair and proportionate disciplinary measures when dealing with minor breaches of military discipline.
    Our proposed changes will simplify the process of dealing with minor breaches of military discipline by replacing the current summary trial process with a new system of summary hearings, while continuing to process more serious breaches of military discipline through the court martial system.
    These summary hearings would make it much easier for the Canadian Armed Forces to address minor breaches in a fair and timely manner. Summary trials have generally tended to comprise approximately 90% of all service tribunals. Courts martial have made up just one-tenth.
    By creating the new summary hearing process, Bill C-77 would enable simpler and faster handling of minor breaches of military discipline. As members have heard us say before, this new process would be non-penal and non-criminal.
    It would focus exclusively on minor breaches of military discipline. These minor breaches, called service infractions, would be created in regulation and dealt with exclusively through summary hearings. They would not be considered criminal offences, so they would be dealt with swiftly and fairly at the unit level.
    Sanctions may be imposed in respect of a service infraction, such as reduction in rank, reprimands, deprivation of pay or minor sanctions that are non-penal, non-criminal and that would be prescribed in the regulations.
    Under the proposed changes, the new summary hearing will be conducted by officers who will have jurisdiction if the person charged is one rank below the officer conducting the hearing or if he or she is a non-commissioned member. That means military commanders will have more flexibility and thus be better able to maintain discipline, efficiency and morale. In this way, the summary hearing process will maintain the current responsiveness, while enhancing operational effectiveness.
    At the same time, the proposed reforms show trust and confidence in our military leaders and their ability to address minor breaches of military discipline. Of course the more serious breaches of military discipline, known as service offences, would continue to be tried under our system of courts martial.
    All of that means greater efficiency within the broader military justice system.
     Our military justice system is unique and necessary to meet the needs of our armed forces. The Supreme Court has affirmed this on a number of occasions. It is the solemn duty and responsibility of everyone here in this room to ensure we are supporting a military justice system that is set up to preserve the highest standards of conduct and discipline. We owe that to our armed forces, which must remain ready at all times to act decisively and effectively in service to their country.

  (1345)  

    Just as the civilian criminal justice system has progressed to reflect our current times, so too must the military justice system continually evolve.
    Bill C-77's proposed summary trial reform is about making that system simpler, more effective and more efficient. It is about making sure breaches of military discipline are dealt with appropriately and effectively, based on their severity. A new summary hearing process would help preserve discipline and morale at the unit level, with sanctions that are non-penal and non-criminal and would not trigger detention or criminal record.
    It would improve the chain of command's ability to address minor breaches of military discipline swiftly and fairly, which would enhance the operational effectiveness of the Canadian Armed Forces. All told, the legislation would create a fairer, faster and more flexible process, one that reflects our Canadian values while staying responsive to the unique needs of our military.
    Through our defence policy “Strong, Secure, Engaged”, our government is demonstrating its unwavering commitment to supporting the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces. The bill offers more opportunity for all of us to reaffirm our people are our number one priority. The bill is essential to ensuring our military members have the support and systems they need to remain ready to defend and protect Canadians at home and abroad.
    I am proud to be part of these efforts, and I thank my colleagues for their support in passing this important legislation.
    Madam Speaker, one of the things that are incorporated into the legislation is the issue of victim rights. This is something being welcomed universally and that is fairly significant. It takes into consideration a number of things that should be taken into consideration relating to victims. These are all very positive aspects of the legislation.
    I am wondering if my colleague can provide his thoughts on the issue of having victim rights put into the legislation, which is really outside the law we have today. It is something completely new that is going to make a very positive change to the law itself.
    Madam Speaker, victim rights are important in the civilian system. This is one of those issues that needs to evolve in the military justice system. I can only imagine the feelings someone who has been the victim of a serious criminal offence must feel in dealing with something that may seem like a closed system. Again, it is important for the military justice system to ensure victim rights are respected, and that is something we continue to put forward. It is something that is a priority in our civilian system, but it should be a priority in our military justice system as well.
    Madam Speaker, I believe the member for St. Catharines has a legal background. Bill C-77 is a bill we are supportive of, and it is based on the Conservatives' original bill, Bill C-71, from the last Parliament.
    The one change that was made that I struggle a bit with, which is something we discussed at committee for quite some time, is the question of the burden of proof when it comes to summary hearings, rather than summary convictions, which are carried out in the military and are penal in nature, often resulting in confinement to barracks, yet it does not have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the person was guilty. Now it is a balance of probabilities.
    Does the member think that would violate the charter rights of the Canadian Armed Forces members?

  (1350)  

    Madam Speaker, I do know there is a difference between those two different burdens of proof. However, when we are dealing with non-penal matters, my understanding, based on the discussions within committee, is that it was a matter of making it more like the civil courts and bringing it to the same level. If we are not dealing with an issue that is penal in nature, a different burden of proof may be acceptable in those particular circumstances.
    I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the members of the committee, including the hon. member, for their thorough debate on that matter. We all look forward to bringing the bill forward and ensuring its swift passage through this chamber.
    Madam Speaker, my friend has spoken quite well about the issues raised by the bill. There are some changes that add to inclusivity on the basis of changing some of the rules. I was wondering if perhaps he could elaborate as to how it helps inclusivity.
    Madam Speaker, the bill deals with inclusivity in two regards: in terms of indigenous rights, and also in terms of gender identity and expression and dealing with those concerns, issues and rights of the LGBTQ2 community.
    We talk about the military justice system evolving and meeting the civilian justice system. These are important rights as the Canadian Forces have become inclusive and have tried to lead the way to ensure the Canadian Armed Forces represent Canadian society and look like Canadian society does. There have been some strong efforts to move forward, but the criminal justice system has to move along with that as well.
    The bill is a wonderful opportunity to move the military justice system ahead, to bring it more in line with the civilian justice system and ensure the rights of all individuals are protected.
    Madam Speaker, to continue on that same point, earlier this morning I gave the example that an individual who does not show up for work in the military, under the current system, could be subjected to a court martial. That would then lead to a criminal record. Comparing that to the civilian world, if someone does not show up for work, he or she will not have a criminal record as a result. When we talk about modernization, having the current law better reflect some of the aspects of civilian law, this is a good example.
    I wonder if my colleague would provide his thoughts on someone not showing up for work. We understand and appreciate the difference between military service and civilian service, but at least there would be much more discretion to allow someone who is absent without leave the opportunity to have a disposition that does not allow for a criminal record, which is of benefit. That is one aspect of the legislation that is really encouraging.
    Madam Speaker, when I was a student at Queen's University, I had the opportunity to take a course at the Royal Military College in military history. That became clear when the professor yelled at the entire class because people were signing in for other students. As a civilian, I did not think that was such a big deal, but I immediately became aware that these students were absent without leave, which was skipping class.
    We want to deal with an issue like skipping class at a summary hearing in a way that is proportional and reflects the nature of the offence committed, rather than bringing it to a court martial, destroying a career and negatively impacting that person. The bill would give the commander the ability to deal with that in a proportional way and provide greater flexibility to deal with it and truly have justice, especially in minor cases like that. That was an example that became clear to me as a student and it is something we should strive for in all levels of our justice system.

  (1355)  

    Madam Speaker, one thing that was very disappointing in the committee study of Bill C-77 was around the issue of self-harm. It was proposed by the defence critic for the NDP, the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, that we eliminate paragraph 98(c) from the National Defence Act, where those who hurt themselves or try to commit suicide could be charged and imprisoned for violating the National Defence Act. That action stigmatizes those dealing with PTSD and other operational stress injuries.
    I would ask the member if he would support striking down that part of the National Defence Act so that we would end stigmatization and help those who would seek help.
    Madam Speaker, I had the opportunity to discuss this issue with the hon. member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke. The government cares deeply about this issue and has invested over $17 million in a strategy moving forward. I look forward to debating the hon. member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke's bill on this particular issue.
    I know the committee studied it and it was deemed outside the scope of this legislation. However, it is something I believe needs to be debated further and I look forward to the private members' debate on that subject.
    Before resuming debate, I want to remind the next speaker that unfortunately I will have to interrupt his speech because of question period. However, he will be able to continue when the subject comes before the House after question period.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Cariboo—Prince George.
    Madam Speaker, I want to preface my intervention by letting you know that I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague from Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound. As they say, “I get by with a little help from my friends”.
    It is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-77.
    We have such a short time to try to get in all these points. However, the bill really is a carbon copy of the bill from our previous parliament that the strong team of Conservatives put forth, which was Bill C-71.
    Having listened to the debate today, I want to congratulate our hon. colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke on his very measured approach. As we have learned, every day we sit in the House there is so much we can learn from all sides. His was an interesting intervention and I want to thank him for it.
    I want to focus my intervention on a couple of different areas. However, I imagine I will have to continue after question period, because I would not want to pre-empt that, as we must give question period its full allotted time.
    I thank the hon. member for Cariboo—Prince George for his co-operation. He will have eight minutes to resume his speech following question period.
    Statements by members, the hon. member for Nunavut.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

  (1400)  

[English]

Nunavut

    Mr. Speaker, this week the Government of Canada announced $1.6 million in funding to support the Kivalliq hydro-fibre link. This project will significantly reduce Nunavut's dependency on fossil fuels and for the first time bring reliable Internet connectivity to communities in the Kivalliq region. This represents a big step toward building a sustainable economy for Nunavut, and I was proud to be a part of that effort.
    However, a sustainable economy also requires the kind of social service supports most Canadians take for granted. In Nunavut there is not one mental health and addictions treatment facility, despite the fact that we have the highest suicide rate in Canada.
    Addictions are causing untold damage to families and communities, tearing at the very fabric of our society. It took Canada decades to get on board with the hydro-fibre link project. I can only hope they will recognize this urgent need and work with the Government of Nunavut to make a mental health and addictions treatment facility a reality.

Firearms

    Mr. Speaker, last week I attended an open meeting hosted by family and friends of people who were injured or lost in the Danforth shooting.
    At that meeting, they shared a letter for the Prime Minister. I would like to share part of it with this place. It reads, in part, “Having taken some seven months to grieve and consider what we should do to make a difference, we are urging that Canada follow the lead of other like-minded countries such as the U.K., Japan and Australia and impose a ban on the private ownership of handguns and military-style assault rifles.”
    The letter goes on to say, “We acknowledge that this action is not the only step that needs to be taken to stem gun violence; however, we believe that it will be impactful and effective as the results in other countries have shown.”
    I want to thank Noor Samiei, Ken Price, Quinn Fallon and Claire Smith for their advocacy, as well as members of the community, including the leadership of the Broadview Danforth BIA and the GreekTown BIA.

Retirement Congratulations

    Mr. Speaker, today I want to stand and recognize the director general of Encounters with Canada, Linda Brunet, who is with us here in Ottawa today. Encounters is the largest student exchange program in Canada.
    Ms. Brunet has been director general of Encounters since 1999. Her leadership has made a real difference in the lives of over 100,000 young Canadians. As a volunteer for Encounters, I have seen first-hand the incredible work she is doing. Every year, thousands of youths are afforded the opportunity to visit the national capital and learn about our Canadian institutions.
    Current members of Parliament for Calgary Nose Hill, Milton, Fredericton, Gatineau, Surrey Centre, Central Nova and Sturgeon River—Parkland are among the alumni of this great program.
     Ms. Brunet has been pivotal in ensuring Encounters stays a dynamic, exciting experience for young Canadians. She has announced that she will be retiring on March 1. I join generations of Canadians in thanking Linda Brunet for her dedication to Encounters with Canada and wishing her all the best going forward.

[Translation]

Transboundary Lakes in Brome—Missisquoi

    Mr. Speaker, the water quality of our transboundary lakes continues to be a major concern for my constituents.
    We share two beautiful lakes with our American neighbours, Lake Champlain and Lake Memphremagog. We are fortunate to have two organizations whose members devote much of their time and energy to protecting these two lakes. Memphremagog Conservation, which is led by Robert Benoit, works for the protection of Lake Memphremagog, which includes the issue of the Coventry landfill in Vermont. Five mayors of villages along Lake Champlain formed Actions Lac Champlain. This group is committed to doing what it takes to clean up the lake water.
    Jacques Landry, the mayor of Venise-en-Québec, told us that Lake Champlain is a source of great pride for the people of Venise-en-Québec and the entire region. The lake is a popular tourist draw during the summer, so it contributes greatly to the region’s vitality. As a result, it is vital we look after the quality of the water, especially since it is the source of drinking water for the towns of Bedford and Saint-Armand. Cleaning up this lake is a priority for the region.

[English]

B.C. Schools

    Mr. Speaker, last week the Vancouver School Board released a facilities plan naming some two dozen elementary and high schools that are in danger of being closed. This is the third time in 10 years that schools are at risk of being shut down, depriving thousands of students the opportunity to attend a quality school in their own neighbourhood.
     Many of these schools are slated for closure because they are at high risk in an earthquake. British Columbia sits on seismically active areas, and the next major earthquake is only a matter of time.
     The federal government plays an important role in emergency preparedness and ensuring the public safety of all Canadians. Parents expect their government to take every precaution to keep our children safe. That is why the seismic needs of Vancouver schools must be a top priority for all levels of government, including this one.
    Today, I am once again calling on the federal government to make funds available to help seismically upgrade B.C. schools, so that every child can attend a neighbourhood school and receive a quality education in safety.

  (1405)  

[Translation]

Regional News Media

    Mr. Speaker, keeping the public informed ensures the integrity of the democratic institutions that have made Canada what it is today.
    As a government, we fully agree with the need to support the news media. Regional news has long been a tool for community development. That is why we should celebrate the regional news professionals who work every day to protect the freedom of speech and freedom of opinion of our fellow citizens.
    Today, I would like to pay tribute to a Saint-Jean resident who has made an invaluable contribution to local news broadcasting in my riding. Éric Latour is a television host in Haut-Richelieu. He just presented his 2,000th show. Over his 30-year career in communications, Mr. Latour has always maintained the highest standards of openness and integrity.
    I want to offer Éric my congratulations and thanks.

[English]

Rare Disease Day

    Mr. Speaker, this morning I raised a flag on Parliament Hill in recognition of Rare Disease Day. The theme of this year's Rare Disease Day is “Bridging health and social care”, bridging the gaps between medical, social and support services for patients living with a rare disease and their families.
    Millions of Canadians, two-thirds of them children, are affected by one of over 7,000 rare diseases. Only one in three of these Canadians can access the treatments they need.
    One of the hardest experiences a family can face is caring for a loved one with an incurable condition. My family has been affected by two rare disorders, Alport syndrome and Patau syndrome, which members know claimed the life of my youngest daughter, Lucy-Rose, last year.
    I invite all members to join me in recognizing Rare Disease Day and to champion the medical pioneers looking for treatments. We should offer our support to reduce the stigma associated with rare disorders.
    As the slogan says, “Show your rare. Show you care.”

Homelessness Awareness Events

    Mr. Speaker, Richmond Hill is a compassionate community that lifts up those at risk. We do not allow the marginalized to go unseen or unassisted.
    This past weekend, Mosaic Interfaith held its Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser. This event raised over $43,000 to support homeless and at-risk people. Meanwhile, grade 6 students slept over at TMS Lower School to experience a simulated night of homelessness.
    Tonight, for the fifth year in a row, I will be joining 360°kids to take part in its 360°Experience, during which we will spend the night in the streets to experience first-hand what homeless youth endure.
    Tomorrow, Yellow Brick House will be holding its 14th annual gala, which raises money to support women and children escaping domestic violence.
    Richmond Hill's compassion and empathy are why I am so proud to represent my community in the House.

Recognition of Service

    Mr. Speaker, I want to recognize the inspirational work of Dr. Kevin McCormick, honorary lieutenant-colonel of the Irish Regiment of Canada. I also want to salute Brigadier Nicholas Orr, the United Kingdom defence military adviser.

[Translation]

    Founder of the Crown in Canada initiative and numerous international projects, Mr. McCormick works hard to educate the public about the vital role of the Canadian Armed Forces.
    On his travels, he has acquired thousands of historical artifacts, which he donated to museums and families.

[English]

    He attended the 70th birthday of the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace, and made a special donation of historic military scrolls and artifacts from 1872 to the regimental museum.
    Through his selfless efforts, honorary Lieutenant-Colonel McCormick demonstrates distinguished service to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II while promoting and educating the nation about the vital role that the Crown continues to play in our country's rich history.
    I thank the honorary Lieutenant-Colonel McCormick and Brigadier Nicholas Orr.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, I talk to a lot of people in my riding of Edmonton Griesbach. One thing is crystal clear: People are worried. They are worried because of the Prime Minister's out-of-control spending. They are worried because he has failed in his promise to balance the budget. They are worried because their children will be stuck with the tab for this.
    They know that this runaway train of spending makes life more expensive for all Canadians. They also know that more taxes are coming down the track.
    People in Edmonton Griesbach tell me that life is already more expensive under the Liberals. Seniors especially feel the pinch, when they are slapped with more and more taxes. We all know that today's deficits are tomorrow's taxes.
    However, they should not fear. Our Conservative team, with its strong leader, will win the election this fall and stop this Liberal train wreck.

  (1410)  

World Junior Curling Championships

    Mr. Speaker, I stand today to congratulate members of B.C.'s team Tardi, who successfully defended their title in the World Junior Curling Championships in Liverpool, Nova Scotia on February 23. Team Tardi now has three straight national and two straight World Men's Junior titles under its belt. Please join me in congratulating team Tardi.
    On a somber note, I would like to acknowledge the passing of a very well-known and respected Rotarian and community advocate of Langley, David Truman. David was a birder, golfer, friend and avid curler. He was also a strong advocate for my entry into politics. My deepest condolences go out to his wife, Nora, and two sons Douglas and Gregory.

Women's Contributions

    Mr. Speaker, in February, during Black History Month, we honour the legacy of black Canadians. As it draws to a close, I would like to recognize some remarkable black women from Canada's past and present, such as civil rights crusader Viola Desmond, trail-blazing politician Rosemary Brown and entrepreneur Ann Divine. Their contributions helped advance gender equality and build a more inclusive Canada.
    Honouring the contributions of women and girls will continue next week, on International Women's Day, when we celebrate the achievements of women and girls in fields where they are under-represented, including science, technology, engineering and math.
    We need women's voices in these fields to shape the innovations of the future. It benefits us all, it makes Canada more competitive, it drives our economy and it grows our middle class. We need to #InnovateForChange.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, my constituents in Oshawa, like all Canadians, are gravely concerned about the direction of the Liberal government's moral compass and ongoing mismanagement of our economy.
    As members know, the economic news for hard-working families in Oshawa has not been rosy over the past few months. However, while thousands in my riding agonize over future job prospects, retraining supports and their children's future, we see absolutely no sense of urgency from the ministers of industry or finance, or even the Prime Minister himself. He did not even bother to show up.
    Hard-working families in Oshawa and across our country desperately need immediate action on lower taxes, infrastructure and an immediate end to the unfair U.S. steel tariffs ravaging our industrial sector. If we add in the uncertainty of a carbon tax and the future of Oshawa's port, we see why families are worried.
    Canadian families need a government that works for them, not a protection racket in the PMO. It is time for Conservative economic policies that will again make life more affordable for working families in Oshawa and across the country.

Recognition of Service

    Mr. Speaker, Jean Guy Whiteduck was elected chief of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg in 1976 and led the community for 30 consecutive years until his resignation in 2006. He came back to lead this Algonquin community from 2015 until December 2018, when he resigned due to illness.
     Today, I pay tribute to Chief Whiteduck for his 40 years of public service, so that the House of Commons might honour his career commitment to Kitigan Zibi and the Algonquin Nation.
     He was devoted to Algonquin control over education, and now the KZ school has produced hundreds of graduates since 1980. These were children who became community leaders themselves. Chief Whiteduck staunchly supported the revival of the Algonquin language and culture, and pursued the recognition of indigenous rights and title everywhere on the Algonquin traditional territory on which Parliament Hill sits, in the heart of the Kitchissippi watershed.
     As Pontiac's MP, it has been an honour to work with Chief Whiteduck on the global settlement of Kitigan Zibi's specific claims. I trust we will have some good news to announce shortly.
     Even as he battles sickness, Chief Whiteduck's presence is felt, because the Algonquin Nation runs in his blood.
    [Member spoke in Algonquin and provided the following text:]
    Mìgwech Ogimà Jean Guy Whiteduck Kà iji mino wìdkokàzoyen ondaje Anishinàbewakìng.
    [Member provided the following translation:]
    I thank Chief Jean Guy Whiteduck for all the good work he has provided on this Anishinabe Algonquin territory.

Saskatoon West Forum

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all the wonderful constituents of Saskatoon West who participated in our recent forum.
     Using a world café method for our forum meant everyone's input was heard and honoured. Together we decided on the most important recommendations for action: support for a universal basic income; better care for those living with HIV and AIDS; upholding Canada's duty to consult first nations; eliminating barriers to post-secondary education; enshrining the right to housing in Canadian law; a $15 an hour minimum wage; and access for all to public transportation.
     As I promised, I have shared these recommendations and I have forwarded them in writing to the Prime Minister.
     I would like to share a wonderful quote from one of the forum participants, which sums up the spirit of our discussions, “Politicians should take the long view, and not be afraid to be idealistic. People need to hope.”

  (1415)  

Carbon Pricing

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's punitive 2019 carbon tax is the latest in a growing list of Liberal failures. For no environmental gain, Canadians will be unfairly punished by the Prime Minister for heating their homes, commuting to work, driving their kids to hockey or even buying groceries.
    The Prime Minister's carbon tax will add 11¢ to the price of every litre of gasoline and hundreds of dollars more per year for heating a home with natural gas. That is just the beginning. The Prime Minister's carbon tax will go much higher and perhaps, as government documents hint, 15 times higher. That is bad news for struggling Canadian when they say they can least afford it.
     In October, Canadians can choose to stop paying for Liberal failures and choose Conservative leadership to get ahead. Canada's Conservatives are fighting for better.

Rare Disease Day

    Mr. Speaker, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Phelan-McDermid syndrome, mutation of the Spatton One gene, these, like many others, are rare diseases. By definition, each one of them affects fewer than one in 2000 individuals, but those individuals have names, like Jesse, Lorena and Isabella.
     My own nephew Ethan lives with ATRX syndrome, one of less than 200 in the world afflicted. Today, on this 12th annual Rare Disease Day, I rise to celebrate his journey through life and his accomplishments, no matter how seemingly small.
    I would also like to acknowledge the caregivers of those with rare diseases, including my sister-in-law Kathryn and my brother-in-law Chris, who is a rare disease board member.

[Translation]

    I applaud their sacrifices, their resilience and their efforts to raise awareness, despite constant challenges and unforeseen circumstances.
    I call on all my colleagues and all Canadians to continue to promote awareness, today and each and every day, about people with rare diseases, their caregivers and their advocates.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[Translation]

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, the former attorney general confirmed yesterday that she was pressured by the offices of the Prime Minister, the Privy Council and the Minister of Finance to change her position on prosecuting SNC-Lavalin.
    The Prime Minister cannot continue to govern, plain and simple. Now that Canadians know what he did, he must resign. Will he do so?
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has said all along that he and his staff acted appropriately and professionally. Yesterday, the former attorney general confirmed that the Prime Minister had said the decision was hers to make. The members who sit on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights will do their job, and the Conservatives will continue playing politics instead of focusing on Canadian workers.
    All prime ministers must stand up for Canadian workers, which is what we are doing.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, this question is for the Prime Minister and he should have the decency to answer for himself.
    The Prime Minister says that there is a difference of opinion. I will ask him a very specific question. In a meeting with the Clerk of the Privy Council and the Prime Minister, the former attorney general said that the clerk indicated that they had to find a solution quickly because “There is a board meeting on Thursday...with stockholders.”
    Does the Prime Minister deny that these words were spoken, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, we know that the justice committee is looking at this file. Once again, it has continued to call witnesses. Members of Parliament from both sides of the aisle are working together to have those witnesses appear.
    Yesterday we heard from the former attorney general. She confirmed that the Prime Minister, at all instances, confirmed that it was her decision to take.
     We know that committees are doing their work. We also know that the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner is looking at this file. We also know that there are two ongoing court cases. We on this side respect the work of committees. We respect the work of officers of Parliament. We respect the independence of the judicial system.

  (1420)  

    Order, please. I remind the hon. member for Calgary Midnapore and others that each side will have their turn. The time to listen is when they do not have the floor, which is now.
    Mr. Speaker, these questions are for the Prime Minister and he should have the guts to stand and answer for himself.
    He stands accused of political interference in a criminal case. In one of those meetings, the Clerk of the Privy Council told the former attorney general that this was not about jobs, that this was about a shareholders' meeting that was happening the next Thursday, and that there was an election in Quebec soon.
    Once again, for the Prime Minister, did he hear those words spoken, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians wanted to hear from the former attorney general, and Canadians got to hear from the former attorney general.
    We on this side have confidence in the work that committees do. We know that members of Parliament from both sides sit on that committee. They have been able to have meetings. They are calling witnesses. Witnesses are appearing and answering those questions.
    It is important that witnesses be able to share their perspectives. We on this side respect that. We on this side will fight for Canadian jobs.
     Perhaps if the Conservatives, rather than playing partisan politics, focused on creating growth, they would not have had the worst growth since the Great Depression.
    Mr. Speaker, once again, the Prime Minister should not be hiding behind other members of his government. He should be answering these questions himself.
    We did hear from the former attorney general yesterday. Now we want to hear from the Prime Minister, the man who stands accused of major political interference in a criminal case.
    In one of the meetings between his staff and the former attorney general, Mathieu Bouchard said, “We can have the best policy in the world but we need to get re-elected.”
    Does the Prime Minister deny that those words were spoken, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, our government will always stand up for Canadian workers and the importance of the rule of law.
    We have been clear since day one, when it comes to the work of committees, this is the government, under the leadership of the Prime Minister, that increased resources to committees so they could do their work. They do very important work.
    The Conservatives will continue to undermine their work. The Conservatives are the party that has chosen a new leader, but it is clear that it remains the party of Stephen Harper. They put out a rule book to undermine and destroy the work of committees.
    We on this side will not do that. We will let the committees do their work. We will respect officers of Parliament as well.
    Order, please. I remind members that the rules of order continue to apply.
    The hon. Leader of the Opposition.
    Mr. Speaker, it is completely disgusting that the Prime Minister does not have the fortitude to answer these questions himself.
    Do we want to talk about respect for the rules? I will try another one on the Prime Minister. Gerald Butts, his principal secretary, said to the former attorney general that the statute was set up by Harper, but that he did not like the law. When the Liberals do not like the law, they try to break the law. The only job the Prime Minister was interested in protecting was his own.
    Does he deny that Gerald Butts said those words, yes or not?
    Mr. Speaker, we, on this side, will remain focused on Canadians. The former attorney general stated that the Prime Minister told her it was her decision to make. The former attorney general stated that it was appropriate to discuss job impacts. In the end, the former attorney general made the decision not to proceed. The law was followed every step of the way and the former attorney general confirmed that.
     The job of any prime minister is to stand up for Canadians and Canadian workers. We, on this side, will keep investing in Canadians. We, on this side, will keep fighting for Canadian jobs. That is what a government does. That is what a prime minister does. It is unfortunate that the Leader of the Opposition does not understand that.
    Mr. Speaker, the former justice minister has revealed that the Prime Minister of Canada has coordinated a campaign of intimidation and interference against her to protect his partisan interests as the MP for Papineau. The finance minister attempted to interfere in the course of justice. The Clerk of the Privy Council delivered the threats. Gerry Butts and Katie Telford said that they were not interested in what was legal. The former justice minister referred to the Prime Minister as Richard Milhous Nixon.
    Will the Prime Minister stop the ongoing smears against her and call an independent inquiry?

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, we know that the justice committee is looking at this file. We know that members from both sides of the aisle are working together to have witnesses appear. Witnesses are appearing and responding to questions. We also know that the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner is looking at this file.
    We, on this side, respect the work of officers of Parliament and we think the commissioner should do his work. We also know on this side that it is the job of any prime minister to defend Canadian jobs. There was a time that the NDP used to fight for jobs and workers. Obviously, those days are gone.
    That member talks about providing advice. Where was his advice in December 2018 when he was making accusations on—
    The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.
    Mr. Speaker, jobs? Job one of the Prime Minister is to be more ethical than Richard Nixon. Let us talk about the threats, like when Michael Wernick said that the Prime Minister “is going to find a way to get it done, one way or another. He is in that kind of mood, and I wanted you to be aware of it.” He further said that she did not want to be on a collision course with the Prime Minister. I asked her if she felt threatened. She said she was not threatened once in that meeting; she was threatened three times.
    It is not the role of the Clerk of the Privy Council to act as the personal goon of the Prime Minister. At the very least, will they call on Michael Wernick to step down today?
    Mr. Speaker, when members such as that member start mis-characterizing witness testimony, it actually takes away from the debate and the level of discourse in this place. We know that the former attorney general stated that the Prime Minister told her it was her decision to make. We know that the former attorney general stated that it was appropriate to discuss job impacts.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order, please. I am having difficulty hearing the answers. I should be able to hear them. All members need to be able to hear both the questions and the answers.
    The hon. government House leader has the floor.
    Mr. Speaker, the former attorney general stated that it was appropriate to discuss job impacts. In the end, the former attorney general made the decision not to proceed. The law was followed at every step of the way.
     The job of any prime minister is to stand up for Canadians and Canadian workers. That is exactly what we do on this side of the House.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday, people were appalled at the former attorney general's account of the inappropriate pressure the Prime Minister himself and his staff subjected her to.
    The Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance, the chief of staff, the principal secretary and seven other highly placed individuals put inappropriate, repeated and sustained pressure on the former attorney general. She repeatedly said no, and she was fired.
    How low will the Prime Minister go to get a good deal for wealthy friends of his with strong ties to the Liberal Party of Canada?
     According to the former attorney general of Canada, the Prime Minister told her it was her decision to make. The former attorney general stated that staff in the Prime Minister's Office said they did not want to act inappropriately. The former attorney general stated that it was appropriate to discuss job impacts. In the end, the former attorney general made the decision not to proceed. The law was followed every step of the way.
    Mr. Speaker, people want the truth, the whole truth.
    After the former attorney general testified, the prime minister said that he disagreed with her testimony. Then he admitted that he did not even listen to all of it. He is changing his story again. Canadians want the truth and they deserve the truth from their Prime Minister. The question is very simple. We need a public inquiry into the wrongful pressure by the Prime Minister and his office.
    Will the Prime Minister agree to a public inquiry to shed light on this issue and to get the entire truth?
    Mr. Speaker, we know that the members of the justice committee are doing their work. We respect the work of the committee members.
    We know that the Ethics Commissioner is conducting an investigation and looking into this file. We know that the commissioner can do his work.
    We believe that we must have confidence in our institutions. We know that Canadians must also have confidence in our institutions.
    We will let them do their work.

  (1430)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday Canadians were told by the former attorney general that on September 17, in relation to the SNC-Lavalin affair, the Prime Minister told her that there is an election in Quebec and that “I am an MP in Quebec, the member for Papineau.”
    Does the Prime Minister deny saying that?
    Mr. Speaker, what we know is that the justice committee is doing its work. The justice committee is actually having witnesses appear and answer those questions.
     We also know that the former attorney general confirmed that the Prime Minister told her it was her decision to make. We also know that the former attorney general confirmed that it was appropriate to discuss job impacts. We also know that the former attorney general made the decision not to proceed. We also know that the law was followed at every step.
    The job of any prime minister is to stand up for Canadians and Canadian workers. That is exactly what we do on this side of the House.
    Mr. Speaker, he does not deny it. Clearly, the former attorney general is telling the truth.
    I have another question for the Prime Minister. Yesterday, the former attorney general also testified that Mathieu Bouchard, a senior adviser in the Prime Minister's Office, tried to pressure her in regard to the SNC-Lavalin deal by saying, “We can have the best policy in the world, but we need to get re-elected.” Again, does the Prime Minister deny that this was said?
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister will always stand up for Canadian workers and the importance of the rule of law. Prime ministers should fight for Canadian jobs.
    On this side, we respect the work of committees. We have confidence in our institutions, as all Canadians should.
    What is clear is that the Conservatives will continue their partisan ways. They will put politics ahead of Canadians. We will not do that on this side. We are fighting for Canadians and we see the results. We know that Canadians are better off today than they were under Stephen Harper's Conservatives. The Conservatives have chosen a new leader, but it remains Stephen Harper's party of austerity.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it is clear: they do not dispute it, they admit it. In her testimony, the former attorney general of Canada said, “Various officials urged me to take partisan political considerations into account, which it was clearly improper for me to do”.
    Can the Prime Minister tell us whether he disputes her testimony?
    Mr. Speaker, we know that members of the justice committee are doing their job. They are calling witnesses, and witnesses are appearing and answering questions. We know that the Conservatives continue to talk out of both sides of their mouths. They say one thing in French and another in English.
    Canadians will have a choice to make between our plan to invest in our communities, grow our economy, and support middle-class jobs or the party of Stephen Harper that wants to divide Canadians and has no plan for the economy or jobs.
    Mr. Speaker, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights will call on the 11 people mentioned in the former attorney general's testimony, and I hope that the Liberals will agree to let those 11 people appear.
    However, in response to the former attorney general's testimony, the Prime Minister said that he completely disagreed with her when she stated that Gerry Butts told her that there was no solution that did not involve some interference.
    Does that mean the Prime Minister is disputing what the former attorney general said?
    Mr. Speaker, it was important for Canadians that the former attorney general be able to speak openly before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
    The members of that committee are doing their job. They are calling witnesses, and witnesses are appearing before the committee.
    We, on this side of the House, respect the work of the members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. We will not interfere, as the Conservatives like to do. We know that committees are capable of doing their job, and we have confidence in them.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the former attorney general testified to the impact that the anonymous smear campaign had on her and her office, and we saw the Prime Minister come out and supposedly apologize for not speaking out sooner. Now the Liberal member for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon is declaring that her statements yesterday were merely sour grapes and that her father was pulling her strings. What disrespect to the former attorney general.
    Is this the line of the Liberal Party? Will the Liberals apologize for these sexist, misogynist comments?
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

  (1435)  

    Order. I would ask the hon. Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues to come to order.
    Mr. Speaker, we on this side know that it is never acceptable for such comments to occur. We on this side respect the work of committees. We on this side respect the work of officers of Parliament. We on this side respect the independence of our judicial system.
    We on this side recognize the importance of the issue. We recognize that it is important that Canadians get to hear all of the different perspectives. Committees are doing their work. Witnesses are appearing to answer those questions.
    We will not play the politics of division, as the Conservatives always continue to do.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister declared that the testimony of the former attorney general was false before he had even heard it or read it. Now the Liberal member for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon is sullying the name of the member, saying that it is just sour grapes and that it is her father, a respected chief in British Columbia, who is pulling the strings. This is absolutely unacceptable. It is beneath a member of Parliament, who continues to laugh about this.
    Will the Prime Minister denounce it today?
    Mr. Speaker, there is no place for misogyny or sexism. We know that is very much the case.
     I will remain focused on the issue. I can assure that member that we will look into this matter. We take it very seriously. I take it very seriously. The Prime Minister takes it very seriously.
    When it comes to the matter before us, if we remain focused on the issue, we know that the former attorney general was able to appear at committee. We know that the former attorney general stated that the Prime Minister told her that it was her decision to make. We know that the former attorney general stated that it was appropriate to discuss job impacts, and we know—
    The hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.
    It is a feminist government, Mr. Speaker. I remember.

[Translation]

    It has now been established that the Prime Minister's Office repeatedly pressured the former attorney general. At least 11 individuals, including the Prime Minister himself, engaged her on the subject at least 20 times.
     Were they doing this for jobs? No. For the economy? No. The revolting answer is that they were doing it for themselves. They were doing it for the Liberal Party of Canada.
    Adviser Mathieu Bouchard and the Prime Minister made it clear that they were only doing this to get re-elected.
    Will the Prime Minister drop the spin and admit that the only job he wants to save in Quebec—
    Mr. Speaker, we on this side of the House are going to look at the facts. We believe that Canadians are capable of making up their own minds.
     The former attorney general stated that the Prime Minister told her it was her decision to make. She also stated that it was appropriate to discuss job impacts. In the end, the former attorney general made the decision not to proceed. The law was followed every step of the way. The job of any prime minister is to stand up for Canadians and Canadian workers.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday we heard explosive testimony from the former attorney general. It directly involved the Prime Minister of Canada, and Canadians still have not heard the whole story. The Prime Minister is not allowing the former attorney general to discuss anything that happened after she was removed from her role. Yesterday the Liberal majority on the justice committee voted no when I asked that she be able to tell us what happened after that date.
    Will the Prime Minister stop trying to save himself and remove the restrictions that he imposed on her so she can tell her entire story?

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is important that Canadians be able to hear from witnesses, including the former attorney general. Members who sit on the justice committee work together, members from both sides, to ensure that witnesses are appearing. Witnesses are appearing and answering questions. Yesterday we heard the former attorney general confirm that the Prime Minister told her it was her decision to make. The former attorney general stated it was appropriate to discuss job impacts. In the end, the former attorney general made the decision not to proceed. The law was followed every step of the way.
    Mr. Speaker, yesterday we heard disturbing testimony from the former attorney general of a coordinated campaign directed by the Prime Minister to obstruct justice. The former attorney general stated that there were communications relevant to getting to the heart of the truth that she cannot speak of because the Prime Minister is silencing her.
    Enough is enough. It is time for the Prime Minister to immediately lift all solicitor-client privilege and all cabinet confidentiality. Why will he not?
    Mr. Speaker, it was extremely important for the former attorney general to come to the committee and to share her views on this important issue. The waiver of cabinet confidences and of solicitor-client privilege is an exceptional form of relief, and it was provided here because all Canadians needed to hear the former attorney general speak to this important issue.
    We want to assure Canadians that they are getting the answers to the information they are seeking. It is important for Canadians to hear the diverse perspectives on this matter.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and top PMO officials repeatedly allowed political considerations to trump the rule of law. Gerald Butts said, “there is no solution here that does not involve some interference.” Katie Telford said, “we don’t want to debate legalities anymore.” This is shocking.
    Canadians deserve to hear the full truth, so why does the Prime Minister not simply let her speak?
    Mr. Speaker, as was indicated in the House of Commons, the government's goal has been to allow the former minister to speak freely about the matters that relate to this issue that has been raised. The integrity of judicial proceedings is also a priority for our government. The waiver that has been provided does not cover any information shared by the director of public prosecutions with the former attorney general. That information is protected because two ongoing prosecutions are en route now.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, let us be clear. Canadians heard some very troubling testimony yesterday, which clearly showed that there was consistent and sustained pressure from the PMO and the Prime Minister to politically interfere in a criminal case.
    Upon reading the testimony, it is clear that we still do not have all of the information and that we are missing an important piece of the puzzle.
    When will the Prime Minister waive all his privileges and let Canadians hear the rest of this scandal?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated in this House, it was extremely important for the former attorney general to speak to the issues at hand. Waiver is an exceptional remedy, specifically when it relates to cabinet confidences and solicitor-client privilege. Every lawyer in this House who has a seat in the chamber knows that to be the case. The waiver was provided in this case so that the former attorney general could speak to this issue and address the concerns of not just parliamentarians but all Canadians.

[Translation]

     It is obvious that the Prime Minister is choosing the truth he wants to hear.
    Since yesterday evening, the Minister of Infrastructure has been taking every opportunity to repeat that we must hear the testimony of the 11 other people named by the former attorney general. He said that those 11 people have things to say and that he wants to hear from them. We agree with the minister. Canadians have the right to hear those individuals' side of the Liberal scandal.
    Can the Prime Minister tell us today when we will hear his testimony, as well as the testimony of Gerald Butts, Katie Telford, Mathieu Bouchard and all of the others who applied consistent and sustained pressure on the former attorney general?
    Mr. Speaker, as I said, we, on this side of the House, have confidence in the members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. They are doing their job. They are calling witnesses, and witnesses are appearing and answering questions.
    Members on both sides of the House sit on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. We, on this side of the House, are letting those members do their job. However, the Conservatives obviously like to interfere. Nothing has changed since Stephen Harper's time.

  (1445)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, does anyone still wonder why the Prime Minister made sure his last question period happened before the explosive testimony from the former attorney general? Because I do not.
    Then the Prime Minister had the audacity to tell Canadians that he rejected this damning and detailed testimony, and then admitted that he had not actually listened to it all. Talk about arrogance. Talk about tone deaf. She told us of a consistent and sustained effort to politically interfere in a public prosecution, and a B.C. Liberal said that this was all sour grapes and she just was not a good “team player”. I guess being a good team Liberal player means a willingness to break the law.
     When will they stop with the misogynistic smears and just agree to a public inquiry?
    Mr. Speaker, the justice committee is looking at this file. We on this side of the House respect the work of committees and that is why we increased resources for committees so that they could do their important work. There was a time when that member used to respect the work of committees in this place and our institutions.
    We also know that the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner is looking at this file. We have confidence in our officers of Parliament, as all members should and all Canadians as well.
    There are two court cases proceeding. We on this side have respect for the independence of the judicial system, as I would encourage all members to as well.
    Mr. Speaker, the former attorney general gave a detailed and devastating account of a relentless campaign to try to force her to break the law. The Prime Minister first said that if the former attorney general had a problem, she should have complained. Well, she did, and the bullying and the pressure and the veiled threats got worse. Then he said that she just should have quit. Well, thank God that she did not, because when she was there, she was standing up for the rule of law.
    Yesterday, Canadians watched a fearless and courageous indigenous woman who stood up against the most powerful men in this country. When are the Liberals going to have even a scintilla of that courage to call for a full public inquiry?
    Mr. Speaker, let us look at the facts.
    Yesterday, the former attorney general stated that the Prime Minister told her it was her decision to make. The former attorney general stated that it was appropriate to discuss job impacts. In the end, the former attorney general made the decision not to proceed. The law was followed at every step of the way.
    The job of any Prime Minister is to stand up for Canadians, Canadian workers and the rule of law. It was important for Canadians to hear the testimony of the former attorney general. Committee members made sure that happened. That member should stop putting words in other people's mouths.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, our government has led the world in creating a special program for Yazidi and other survivors of Daesh and in recognizing the genocide that was perpetrated against these communities. Even more so, countless Canadians and Londoners have welcomed victimized families and helped them find a new peace in Canada.
    Some Yazidi refugees have close family members that they would like to see join them in this country. Can the minister update the House on what the government is doing to facilitate family reunification for survivors of Daesh?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for London North Centre for his amazing advocacy on this issue. In fact, I joined him recently in London where we met members of the Yazidi community and we heard first-hand not only of their triumphs but also some of the challenges they continue to face.
    We are very proud on this side of the House to offer protection to over 1,400 survivors of Daesh atrocities. I am happy to update the House that our government has taken the extra step of extending the one-year window to allow more Yazidis to sponsor their family members. On this side of the House, instead of engaging in fearmongering, we will stand up—

[Translation]

    The hon. member for Lévis-Lotbinière.

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, Canadian laws should apply to the Prime Minister just as they do to all Canadians, which means that “no” means “no” for this Prime Minister, just as it does for all Canadians.
    The former attorney general told the Prime Minister and his team no several times, but they refused to accept her response. When she refused to reverse her decision, the Prime Minister simply relieved her of her duties.
    Why would the Prime Minister not take “no” as the former attorney general's final answer?

  (1450)  

     Mr. Speaker, it was important for Canadians that the former attorney general be able to speak openly at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. Yesterday we heard from the former attorney general. She confirmed that the Prime Minister told her that it was her decision to take.
    In the end, the former attorney general decided not to proceed. The law was followed every step of the way. Every prime minister has a duty to stand up for Canadians, including workers. That is exactly what we are doing on this side of the House.

[English]

     Mr. Speaker, we have heard a lot today from the members opposite about letting the justice committee do its work, but the Liberals on the justice committee said it was a witch hunt. That is absolutely unacceptable. The Prime Minister put his re-election above the judicial system when he cited the Quebec election and that he was an MP from Quebec, when he pressured the former attorney general to drop the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. She said no.
    As the former Ontario Liberal attorney general has said, interfering with a criminal prosecution is what despots do. Why did the Prime Minister put his personal political interests ahead of the integrity of our government?
    Mr. Speaker, once again for the record, the justice committee is meeting. It has called witnesses. Witnesses are appearing and answering questions.
    There was a time not too long ago that the opposition was denying that the committee would ever meet. The committee is meeting. They were denying that witnesses would appear. Witnesses are appearing, and they are answering. They were denying that the former attorney general would be invited. She was invited, and she appeared. They denied that the former attorney general would be able to share her perspective and share her side. She appeared yesterday and she shared it.
     She confirmed that the Prime Minister at every step told her it was her decision to take. In the end—
    The hon. member for Calgary Nose Hill.
    Mr. Speaker, at the heart of the conversation on women's rights over the last year has been the need to believe women. Yesterday, the former attorney general presented evidence, texts and emails that show a campaign by the Prime Minister to intimidate her into politically influencing the outcome of a criminal corruption investigation.
    However, the Prime Minister is saying that we should not believe her or her evidence. Why is the Prime Minister telling Canadians that we should believe all women, except his accusers?
    Mr. Speaker, there is a clear difference between the way this Prime Minister and our government governs versus the approach of the previous government. We on this side respect the work of committees. We on this side respect the work of officers of Parliament. We on this side respect the independence of the judicial system.
    The justice committee members have asked for witnesses to appear. Witnesses are appearing and they are providing answers. It was important for Canadians that the former attorney general be able to speak openly at the justice committee. The Prime Minister worked with the current Attorney General to ensure that solicitor-client privilege would be waived, as well as cabinet confidence.
    Mr. Speaker, here are the Liberal lines on the mountain of evidence that were presented yesterday by the former attorney general: Her dad is pulling her strings. Why didn't she say no more forcefully? Why didn't she report it sooner? She experienced it differently.
    Gaslighting a strong woman, especially one with a mountain of evidence, at the behest of the fake feminist who through his actions uses women instead of supporting them, sets women back. Why are not all women in that caucus, and their so-called feminist allies, calling for the Prime Minister's resignation?
    Mr. Speaker, we on this side have confidence that the justice committee will have witnesses appear. Witnesses are appearing. They are answering questions. We on this side have confidence that it will be able to do that work.
    We on this side also know that the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner is looking into this matter. We have confidence in our officers of Parliament. We also know that there are two ongoing court cases. We on this side have respect and confidence in the independence of the judicial system.

Employment

    Mr. Speaker, on that side no one is standing up for women. While Canadians are fighting for their jobs, the Prime Minister has been busy pressuring the former attorney general to break the law for his rich corporate friends. Imagine if the PMO put all those efforts into standing up for working people. Instead, he invested time and energy into pressuring the former AG to change her mind to help his rich corporate friends.
    This is about the choices the Liberals make. They will not fight for GM auto workers. They will not fight for steel and aluminum jobs and they failed Sears pensioners. Why will the Liberals not just admit that the middle class and those working hard to join it just do not matter to them?

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would encourage the member to have more regard and respect for the former attorney general's testimony yesterday. She confirmed that the Prime Minister told her it was her decision to make. The former attorney general stated that it was appropriate to discuss job impacts. In the end, the former attorney general made the decision not to proceed. The law was followed every step of the way.
     The job of any Prime Minister is to stand up for Canadians and Canadian workers and that is exactly what this Prime Minister did. We, on this side, have confidence in the work of committees. We know that witnesses will appear and—
    The hon. member for Jonquière.

[Translation]

International Trade

    Mr. Speaker, small businesses and workers in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean have been in limbo for months because of the steel and aluminum tariffs. The entire region is waiting for the Prime Minister to do something, but nothing is happening. I guess he is too busy putting pressure on the former attorney general instead of Trump.
    When friends of the party call, the Prime Minister always picks up. Workers, though, do not have a direct line to his office.
    Will the Prime Minister admit that he has never been on the side of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean and that he works only for friends of the Liberal Party?
    Mr. Speaker, the illegal and unjust American tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum must be lifted. We are consistently sending this message to the United States, and it is being received.
    American legislators have asked Ambassador Lighthizer to lift these tariffs. Republican Kevin Brady recently said that the tariffs should be lifted. On Monday, I raised this issue directly with the Vice-President of the United States, Mike Pence.

[English]

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, when the former attorney general resigned in protest of political interference, the Prime Minister said that he was “both surprised and disappointed by her decision to step down” and “she said nothing of that to me”. Yesterday, we learned that she said to him in September, “Are you politically interfering with my role, my decision as the Attorney-General? I would strongly advise against it.”
    Why did the Prime Minister tell Canadians the opposite of the truth?
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has been clear since the beginning that he and his staff always acted appropriately and professionally. It was important for Canadians to be able to hear from the former attorney general. The members of the justice committee have been working together, members from both sides, to have witnesses appear. Witnesses are appearing. They are answering those questions. Canadians are able to hear that testimony and it is important that they do.
    Our government will always focus on jobs, growing the middle class and strengthening our economy. There were, of course, discussions about the potential loss of 9,000 jobs in communities across the country, including a possible impact on pensions. It is a job of—
    The hon. member for Carleton.
    Mr. Speaker, we now know that the only job the Prime Minister was interested in protecting was his own. Yesterday's testimony revealed that the Prime Minister looked Canadians in the eyes and he said that the former attorney general had never raised concerns about his political interference. We now learn that she did raise her concerns in September.
    If the Prime Minister does believe that her testimony under oath is false, will he show up to committee to refute it?
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister, in the House, as well as outside of the House, has said that it is important that Canadians be able to hear from witnesses, including the former attorney general. The Prime Minister worked with the current Attorney General to ensure that solicitor-client privilege could be waived as well as cabinet confidence.
    The former attorney general, yesterday in her testimony stated that the Prime Minister told her it was her decision to make. The former attorney general stated that it was appropriate to discuss job impacts.
    In the end, the former attorney general made the decision not to proceed. The law was followed every step of the way. Why can the member not accept that?
    Mr. Speaker, it is clear the current Prime Minister would go to the moon to avoid answering questions on this issue. In fact, he has so far refused to summon the courage that yesterday the former attorney general demonstrated when she came with copious notes, saved text messages and other documentary evidence proving the veracity of her comments. She exposed a pattern of systematic political interference by the Prime Minister in a criminal prosecution. Will he show the same courage and show up and answer under oath?

  (1500)  

    Mr. Speaker, it was important for Canadians to hear from witnesses on this matter, including the former attorney general. We know the justice committee is doing its work. We on this side respect the work the committees do. That is exactly why this government increased resources for them.
    We also know the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner is looking into this matter. We on this side respect our officers of Parliament.
     We also know that there are two ongoing court cases. We on this side respect the independence of our judicial system. That is unfortunately not the case for the Conservatives.
    I will advise the member from Calgary that he shall not interrupt when someone else has the floor.

[Translation]

    The hon. member for Brossard—Saint-Lambert.

Innovation, Science and Economic Development

    Mr. Speaker, Canada has made major contributions to space science and technology, such as satellite communications technology, the Canadarm and satellites in space. When we invest in science, innovation and research, we foster economic growth, create thousands of jobs for Canadian workers and gain a better understanding of our world.
    Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development tell us a bit more about this?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member from Brossard—Saint-Lambert for her excellent question.
    This morning, the Prime Minister was in Saint-Hubert to announce an investment of more than $2 billion in Canada's space program. This historic investment is part of Canada's new partnership in the Lunar Gateway project.
    This NASA-led project will make it possible to return to the moon and to prepare for more thorough exploration of Mars. This partnership provides new opportunities for our astronauts to participate in space missions and for our scientists to conduct groundbreaking research. Our investments will create hundreds of well-paid jobs and make it possible for Canadian explorers—

[English]

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, on September 17, I left the Liberal Party because I lost confidence in the current Prime Minister. I know what it is like to trust the Prime Minister and have that trust broken. Canadians have had their trust in the Prime Minister broken. He has lost the moral authority to govern. Will the Prime Minister resign?
    Mr. Speaker, I can say that I ran for the Liberal Party because this Prime Minister had a plan, a plan for the economy and a plan for kids. What is interesting is that every step of the way, the Conservatives voted against it. We brought forward the Canada child benefit, a tax-free benefit to help families with children who need it the most. This week it was confirmed that close to 300,000 children have been lifted out of poverty, and over 800,000 Canadians are benefiting from this program. The Conservatives voted against it every single time. Over 800,000 jobs have been created by Canadians because of our investment. The Conservatives—
    The hon. member for Saskatoon West.

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, on this day last year, every single Liberal member voted against my motion to create a national plan to end and prevent homelessness. This week, they announced funding for urban and indigenous homelessness but have no idea where the money will go or when it will be spent. Instead of working on ending homelessness, the Prime Minister has been busy pressuring the former attorney general to break the law for his corporate friends. When will he finally turn his attention to the real issues facing Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to be part of a government that has invested $5.7 billion in the national housing strategy. That money arrived in our first budget, and we are now spending $40 billion over the next 10 years. Every one of those programs is eligible to be subscribed to by indigenous groups across this country. In fact, the $13.2-billion co-investment fund is building real housing for real people, led by indigenous communities, as we speak. However, there is an additional program that was announced on top of that, which is a program to try to build more indigenous housing off reserve. That program is now financed and is delivering real housing for real people.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Mr. Adam Vaughan: I only wish the NDP were as effective at building houses as they are at screaming.

  (1505)  

Health

    Mr. Speaker, over the past two weeks, I have heard from several constituents concerned about the outbreak of measles in Alberta and British Columbia. While measles was eliminated in Canada over 20 years ago, we know that outbreaks sometimes do occur. I would like to ask the Minister of Health, what is the most effective way to fight measles?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam for his passion for the health of Canadians. The answer is simple. The best way to fight measles is by getting the measles vaccination. Vaccines are one of the most powerful public health tools we have, and they are the reason measles was eliminated in Canada. Our government knows this, which is why we have committed $25 million over five years to get more Canadians vaccinated. The evidence is clear. Vaccines are safe and effective and save lives.

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister coordinated a sustained effort to politically interfere in a criminal prosecution. He pressured the former attorney general to end the trial of SNC-Lavalin for political reasons. She refused, but he would not take no for answer. As the clerk said to the former attorney general, the Prime Minister was going to “get it done, one way or another”.
    The Prime Minister has lost the moral authority to govern this country. When will he resign?
    Mr. Speaker, let us look at the facts. Yesterday at the justice committee, the former attorney general stated that the Prime Minister told her it was her decision to make. Yesterday at committee, the former attorney general confirmed that she had made up her mind. In the end, the former attorney general made the decision not to proceed. The law was followed every step of the way.
    The job of any prime minister is to stand up for Canadians and Canadian workers. If the Conservatives spent half their time on Canadians rather than on partisan politics, perhaps their record would not show them having the worst growth since the Great Depression.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday evening, the NDP and the Conservatives cheered the former attorney general on as she settled scores with the Prime Minister's Office.
    Not many people seemed all that concerned about the real issue: Why did she decide to sacrifice thousands of jobs in Canada and Quebec for the sake of standing up to her leader?
    Now that the Liberals have made a huge mess of the SNC-Lavalin affair, what exactly is the government going to do to save the company's head office and the jobs of thousands of Quebeckers?
     Mr. Speaker, from the beginning, the Prime Minister has said that he and his staff acted appropriately and professionally. We will always focus on jobs, the middle class and the economy.
    There were, of course, discussions about the potential loss of 9,000 jobs across the country, including a possible impact on pensions.
    The job of any prime minister is to stand up for Canadians. That is exactly what our government and our Prime Minister will do.

[English]

Health

    [Member spoke in Inuktitut]
    [English]
    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Indigenous Services will be aware that in my riding of Nunavut, there is not one mental health and addictions treatment facility. The need for such a facility has been well documented and is exemplified by the highest rates of suicide in the nation and alcohol and drug addiction. The Government of Nunavut has recognized this need and has identified it as a priority.
    The previous minister stated in the House that she had heard the call for a treatment centre and looked forward to moving forward with this work. Will the minister commit to funding this much-needed centre?
    Mr. Speaker, my heart goes out to the member opposite. In my previous work, I worked extensively with people who are indigenous and who suffer from mental health and addictions every single day. We need to do more. That is why our government is working closely to close the gap between health services for indigenous people and non-indigenous people. To close that gap, we are investing in 52 new community-led mental wellness teams that are now serving over 344 communities.
    I will take the request from the member back to the new minister and make sure that he has an opportunity to meet with the member at his first availability.

  (1510)  

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, advice from my heart to my friends in the Liberal Party: do not dispute the truth of what our former minister of justice has said; do not attempt to question or undermine or impugn her integrity. No one will believe them if they do.
    What the Liberals must do is tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may, starting with these three steps: call for a public inquiry, release the former minister of justice from restrictions on her evidence and fire the Clerk of the Privy Council office.
    Mr. Speaker, as we have always said, it was important for Canadians to be able to hear from witnesses, including the former attorney general. We know that the Prime Minister worked with the current Attorney General to ensure that we could waive solicitor-client privilege as well as cabinet confidence.
    Yesterday we saw that Canadians were able to hear directly from the former attorney general. Canadians are able to watch the justice committee look at this file, look at witnesses appearing and their answers. We recognize that the committee system is working, because even that member, yesterday, was given the opportunity to ask questions directly of the witness.
    We on this side have confidence in our institutions.
    Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I will be asking for the consent of the House in a moment as I need to give some context to the matter in question and underscore just how serious it is. There are confirmed reports that earlier this week, the member for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek engaged in behaviour that could only be described as that of a bully toward a delegation of representatives from the United Steelworkers.
    There have been consultations among the parties and I believe that if you seek it, there would be unanimous consent for this motion.
    I move that the House condemn the inappropriate behaviour of the member for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, who, according to reports, during a meeting with a delegation of representatives from the United Steelworkers from Hamilton, Ontario, verbally abused the delegation; attempted to physically intimidate them by striking various pieces of furniture and violently slamming his office door; insulted and disparaged the organization, including the retirees of Stelco Inc., and expelled them from his office, and that the House call on the member to give a full and public apology for his unacceptable and unparliamentary behaviour.
    Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.

Points of Order

Comments to Abbotsford News  

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order to apologize, without reservation, to the member for Vancouver Granville. My comments were inappropriate. Whether inside or outside this House, it is incumbent on all of us to treat each other with respect at all times.

Business of the House

[Business of the House]
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to ask the government House leader to let us know what we might be doing when we return. We are very concerned with some of the things that are happening and we would like to get some clarity on what is going to be happening the rest of this week and the week we return.
    Mr. Speaker, this afternoon we will continue with debate at third reading of Bill C-77, the victims bill of rights.
    Tomorrow we will debate Bill C-83, the administrative segregation legislation, at third reading.

[Translation]

    For the next two weeks, we will be working with our constituents in our ridings. Upon our return, Monday shall be an allotted day. Tuesday we will start report stage and third reading of Bill C-84, on animal cruelty. At 4 p.m. on Tuesday, the Minister of Finance will present budget 2019. Wednesday will be dedicated to the budget debate.

  (1515)  

[English]

Points of Order

February 25 Meeting of Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration 

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, my point of order relates to the meeting held by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration on Monday, February 25.
    I understand that the Speaker does not normally become involved with committees, but there are occasions when the Speaker is obliged to intervene, and I will lay out why I believe this situation constitutes such an occasion.
    First, the Speaker may intervene in cases when committees adopt amendments to bills that go beyond the scope of the bill or require a royal recommendation. The Speaker may intervene as well when committees attempt to operate outside the authority granted to them by the House. My point of order relates to such an occasion.
    To cite precedent in support of my case, on June 20, 1994, and again on November 7, 1996, the Speaker ruled that:
    While it is a tradition of this House that committees are masters of their own proceedings, they cannot establish procedures which go beyond the powers conferred upon them by the House.
    I would also refer you, Mr. Speaker, to Standing Order 116(1), which states:
    In a standing, special or legislative committee, the Standing Orders shall apply so far as may be applicable, except the Standing Orders as to the election of a Speaker, seconding of motions, limiting the number of times of speaking and the length of speeches.
    As such, I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to examine the following situation and provide a ruling in the context of the two points I have just stated.
    The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration on Monday, February 25, was interrupted by votes. The chair suspended the meeting at this point in time.
    At the time of the suspension, a motion had been moved and was being debated. After, not prior to, gavelling the meeting suspended, the chair indicated that the committee would reconvene after the vote. When members returned to the committee room, we waited some time for the quorum to be met, which never occurred. Finally, the chair decided to leave the room without ever reconvening or ending the meeting.
    I assumed that the meeting would continue at our next scheduled meeting on Wednesday. Conservative members came to this meeting prepared to continue debate on the motion that was being discussed on Monday, given that the meeting was suspended. To our surprise, the chair informed us that the meeting on Monday had been adjourned, despite the suspended meeting never having been reconvened.
    I find this unilateral decision of the chair to adjourn a meeting outside a committee meeting and without the support of the committee members to be disturbing and in violation of the rules governing such meetings, and potentially a damaging precedent for future Parliaments.
    When the committee met again, Conservatives raised a point of order to ask that meeting number 145 continue, as it was suspended and not resumed, and that the member for Brandon—Souris be allowed to resume where he left off. When this request was denied, we challenged the chair's ruling. The ruling was sustained by Liberal members.
    While I appreciate that in upholding the ruling of the chair, the committee in effect made a decision and that in the normal course of things, it should be left at that. However, on the strength of the Standing Orders, the chair was prohibited from terminating debate, and a committee decision cannot override the House. As I pointed out earlier, committees cannot go beyond the powers conferred upon them by the House, and in particular, the committee cannot override Standing Order 116(2).
    The committee's decision to support the chair's decision to adjourn the meeting outside of a duly called committee meeting without the consent of committee members was, in my view, an attempt to indirectly circumvent the relatively new rule found in subsection 2 of Standing Order 116. Standing Order 116(2) states:
(a) Unless a time limit has been adopted by the committee or by the House, the Chair of a standing, special or legislative committee may not bring a debate to an end while there are members present who still wish to participate. A decision of the Chair in this regard may not be subject to an appeal to the committee.
(b) A violation of paragraph (a) of this section may be brought to the attention of the Speaker by any Member and the Speaker shall have the power to rule on the matter. If, in the opinion of the Speaker, such violation has occurred, the Speaker may order that all subsequent proceedings in relation to the said violation be nullified.
    The committee brought the debate to an end while the member for Brandon—Souris still had the floor and wanted to continue his remarks, a clear violation of Standing Order 116(2).
    In addition, I would also argue that the Chair did not have the right to unilaterally adjourn Monday's meeting outside of a duly called committee meeting.
    To first prove this point, I would draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to rules pertaining to quorum. With respect to quorum, the rules governing the House are covered in chapter 9 in Bosc and Gagnon. At page 401, it states:
    If fewer than 20 Members are present, the Speaker may adjourn the House until the next sitting day. The Speaker may take such an initiative only until the moment when he House is called to order; once the sitting has begun, “control over the competence of the House is transferred from the Speaker to the House itself...the Speaker has no right to close a sitting at his own discretion”.

  (1520)  

    Pages 402 and 403 refer to the business before the House at the time quorum was lost.
    However, should the House adjourn for lack of quorum, any Order of the Day under consideration at the time, with the exception of non-votable items of Private Members’ Business, retains its precedence on the Order Paper for the next sitting. The lack of quorum means only that the House adjourns for the day.
    I would also argue that the chair of the standing committee went beyond his authority and breached the rules laid down by the House on a number of fronts, specifically the rules respecting the role of the chair and the business before the committee in the absence of quorum and the attempt to circumvent Standing Order 116(2)(a).
    While the chair of the committee has implied consent to adjourn a meeting and if there is a loss of quorum during the sitting of a meeting, then a meeting can be adjourned. However, if a chair suspends a meeting, then the meeting must reconvene to then adjourn. The chair should not and cannot adjourn a meeting that he has suspended on his own.
    When committee members questioned him about this on Wednesday, he attempted to quote precedent to justify his decision. However, he falsely quoted precedent. The instance he cited was an instance in which a committee was adjourned through all-party agreement between whips and House leaders on the last day of a sitting that was then prorogued and therefore was in no way congruent to the situation currently at hand.
    In conclusion, the chair had no right to adjourn a meeting that had never started without the consent of the members, and he had no right to effectively terminate debate on a motion when there were members wishing to participate in said debate.
    Should this decision of the chair be allowed to stand, it could have very serious consequences on the future democratic nature of committees.
     I ask, Mr. Speaker, that you nullify all business of the committee that was conducted after the suspension of said meeting and allow the member for Brandon—Souris to continue debating the motion where he left off.
    Mr. Speaker, I very much welcome your wisdom on this matter.
    The decisions that I took were very much done in consultation with the clerk of the committee and very much done with reference to the Standing Orders, some of which were referred to by the previous speaker and some of which were not. It was done very much in conversation with the table officers, who helped us through this decision. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I welcome your ruling on this when it is appropriate for you to do so, and that will help our committee to continue its work, which it has always meant to do in good faith.
    It can be assumed that when our committee lost quorum, we would obviously have wanted to continue, but the suspension of the meeting was based on a precedent from 2013 and deemed adjourned, so our meeting could go on.
    The committee was advised at the subsequent meeting that they could resume that debate based on a motion to change the agenda for that committee, and that would have been a non-debatable motion; however, it was not moved.
    The member for Calgary Nose Hill is rising again on the same point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, I have additional information for your consideration.
    What I observed to transpire at that meeting was that the Liberal members of the committee went down to the committee meeting, and it appeared to me that they were advised to leave the room so that quorum could not be obtained. I would ask you to look into this in great detail, because I would refute my colleague's assertion that this was done in good faith. I also would refute the assertion that the government members on the committee have the intent to proceed in an orderly fashion.
    The motion that was before the committee on which the government did proceed in this manner and subsequently adjourned the meeting was a motion to study the family reunification of the Yazidi victims of genocide. There were members of the community in the room, and they have observed this. I think that it is very important that we look at all the facts that occurred in this meeting, because, to me, it sets some very dangerous precedent in the ability of a chair to unilaterally end debate on a motion that the government members may or may not like.
    I thank the hon. member for Calgary Nose Hill for raising the matter and the hon. member for Don Valley West for his comments. I will take the matter under advisement and come back to the House.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

  (1525)  

[English]

National Defence Act

     The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-77, An Act to amend the National Defence Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the third time and passed.
    On debate, the hon. member for Cariboo—Prince George has eight minutes remaining in his speech.
    Mr. Speaker, I will remind the House that I am splitting my time with my hon. colleague from Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound.
    Before question period, I was talking about the intervention by our hon. colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke on Bill C-77. The beauty of the House is that when one pays attention to debate, we can learn things. So many of our colleagues bring expertise and knowledge to the debate. One only has to just pay attention and listen.
    My hon. colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke brought up two areas of Bill C-77 that were missing. I want to bring them up as well and address them.
    One is the issue of mental illness and injury of those who serve in our Armed Forces and their death by suicide, self-harm, and the fact that section 98(c) is still in military law. The simple act of removing that could do so much to break down the stigma for those who still suffer in the shadows.
    I worked tirelessly in getting my Bill C-211 through the House and to royal assent, which took place on June 21 of last year. I am proud to say that the round tables for Bill C-211 are taking place within a month in Ottawa. Stakeholders, representatives from the provinces and territories, ministerial colleagues from across the way as well as military from Veterans Affairs and National Defence are coming together to have that overall discussion on mental health and how we can stem the tide of the epidemic of suicide due to mental illness and mental injury. This is so important.
     It is very important that at all times we build trust not only for those who suffer from mental illness and mental injury, but fort hose who suffer from sexual assault as well so they know they will be believed and they can get the services they require. It is very important we build that environment of trust so they feel they can come forward and there will not be that stigma attached to them. Throughout this debate, we have heard that this still remains, because Bill C-77 does not address that.
    My hon. colleague talked about his Bill C-426, which could address the removal of section 98(c). Again, it is a simple thing. I do not accept the argument that we need to study it. The wheels of bureaucracy move slowly. We tend to study things to death and then we are victims of our own inaction. We refuse to act when simple things could be done that would have such a major impact. Section 98(c) is one that my hon. colleague from Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman mentioned it as well.
    This is not my file, but I read some of the amendments put forward by the my colleagues in the official opposition, and this was brought up by a number of colleagues. I did not know that in military law there there is no provision for reporting the proceedings of a summary hearing. There is also no provision compelling an officer presiding over a summary hearing to give reasons for his or her findings. I had no knowledge that no notes were taken or recordings of proceedings. I am shocked that there would be not requirements in military legal procedure to take copious notes. That makes it very difficult for the appeal process.

  (1530)  

    As Conservatives, we always believe that the rights of victims should come before those of the criminal. We will always stand tall to ensure the rights of victims and their families are considered first and foremost.
    Over the course of the last week, and indeed leading up to Christmas, we had a lot of opportunity to talk about victims' rights and ensuring that those who we trusted to protect us and serve our country were armed with the tools to complete their mission. We must ensure they are safe and secure and remain healthy when they come back to their families.
    Earlier this week, we were talking about the rights of victims. I brought up Cody Legebokoff, Canada's youngest serial killer and how the families of his victims had been re-victimized time and again. We recently found out that he was transferred from a maximum-security to a medium-security facility.
    Our hon. colleague, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, has committed to reviewing that case. It is my hope that he will take swift action to reverse the decision, similar to what he did with Terri-Lynne McClintic. I am not sure why things always have to get to this point.
    Going back to my earlier comment about subsection 98(c), I note there are simple things we can do as leaders and elected officials within the House. The 338 members of Parliament have been elected to be the voice of Canadians. There are simple things we could do to make the lives of Canadians better. Rather than overthink things, we should use a little common sense.
    Sometimes in this place we get mired under the bubble in which we work. If common sense could prevail, we would be far better off.
    Madam Speaker, the member across the way seemed to focus a great deal on removing subsection 98(c) or that aspect of the legislation. The member indicated before question period that he had been following the debate. Certain elements currently in the legislation were generated in the dying days of the Stephen Harper government.
    We have added a couple of things to it. I note in particular the indigenous factor, which is so critically important to take into consideration when administering military justice, like our civilian courts do.
    With respect to the subsection he has referred to, could the member tell the House why Stephen Harper would not have addressed that point in the Conservative legislation? We have made it very clear that this is of interest to us and we would like to explore it. At the time, when it was in committee, it was considered outside of our scope, yet now the Conservatives and the NDP are telling us we should be making changes. Stephen Harper did not do this.
    We as a government are saying that we will take a look at it to see what can be done. That seems to be the responsible approach to deal with this.
    Madam Speaker, I took a very non-partisan approach to my intervention. My hon. colleagues across the way, as the Liberals do, always has to place blame. I was merely offering that when the committee was studying Bill C-77, our hon. colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, with the best intentions, put forward a motion for us to consider the removal of subsection 98(c). That would have been an opportune time to get Bill C-77 right.
    I also have offered that Bill C-77 is being supported by all opposition members on this side of the House. It is almost a carbon copy of Bill C-71, which was put forward by our strong Conservative team in the previous Parliament.
    It is unfortunate that our hon. colleague has taken the opportunity to turn things partisan when we are having a reasoned debate and discussion on the merits of Bill C-77 and the opportunities to amend it.

  (1535)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, as my colleague knows, removing paragraph 98(c) is about removing self-harm as an offence. He talked about that himself.
    When the amendment moved by my colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke was rejected, he decided to introduce his own private member's bill, Bill C-426, to correct this issue.
    Does my colleague plan to vote in favour of Bill C-426 to correct the problem he was talking about?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I have not had the opportunity to see Bill C-426 in its entirety. I only just heard about it an hour ago from our colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke. It seems well-intended. I imagine that our national defence critic will provide a reasoned approach to it.
     I believe our colleague from Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman also referenced Bill C-426 in his intervention. While I have not seen the full text of the bill, I look forward to seeing it. I am sure it will have support from all sides of the House.
    Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to have the opportunity to again speak to Bill C-77. This is important legislation that I believe has a good amount of support from all sides of the House.
    Before I get into the heart of my remarks today, I want to take a few moments to applaud the hon. member for Vancouver Granville, the former attorney general, for the courage she showed yesterday at the justice committee. All Canadians have been watching this story very closely. The hon. member laid out a very clear picture of what has happened.
     It is now crystal clear that the Prime Minister and his office carried out a coordinated effort to try to obstruct the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. It is shameful, and it needs to be looked into further.
     The Criminal Code defines the charge of obstructing justice as anyone who “wilfully attempts in any manner to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice in a judicial proceeding.” Applying sustained pressure to the former attorney general once she had already made the decision to proceed to trial would 100% constitute a wilful attempt to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice.
    The RCMP needs to look into this and needs to hold all of those responsible accountable for their actions, including the Prime Minister. The buck stops with him. It was his office and people in his government who carried out this pressure, and he needs to own up to it, something he is not very good at.
    Further, the Prime Minister has to agree to call for a public inquiry so all Canadians can once again have faith in an independent judiciary.
    Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There is some onus on the member to be relevant to the legislation at hand. We are talking about Bill C-77. The member is reading, verbatim, a speech that he has prepared and it is completely irrelevant to the legislation. At least, if he is going to be off topic, he should try to make it a little more spontaneous.
    I would suggest that the member is not being relevant to the bill at hand. Bill C-77 is a good bill that should be debated.

  (1540)  

    The hon. member knows full well that he should not be talking about spontaneity or anything like that. However, I do want to remind members, as the parliamentary mentioned a while ago, that there is some leeway when speeches are being given.
    For the members who are delivering speeches, their speeches do have to be relevant. They may have some stuff that may not be as relevant to the legislation before us, however, they need to bring in that relevancy. Therefore, I would ask the member to ensure the relevancy is part of his speech.
    Madam Speaker, if my partisan colleague across the way had just given me another 10 seconds, that is where my next paragraph was going. The issue of carrying the course of justice is, in fact, not out of place within the context of the debate here today on Bill C-77, so there is relevancy.
    Bill C-77 is all about carrying out the course of justice within our military in a way that protects victims. The legislation would bring forward changes to our military justice system that would give some protection to victims. That is something the Conservative government was working on, and as we heard earlier today from my colleague for Cariboo—Prince George, the bill is almost a duplicate of what we had proposed in the last Parliament.
    As I said, the legislation would bring forward changes to our military justice system that would give some protection to victims, which is vitally important. Our previous government recognized this. It is why we brought in the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights and worked to enshrine those rights within our military justice system.
    Former Bill C-71, which did not pass before the last election, looked very much like the legislation before us today. Our proposed legislation would have given victims the following: first, enhanced access to information through the appointment of a victim liaison officer; second, enhanced protection through new safety, security and privacy provisions; third, enhanced participation through impact statements at sentencing; and four, enhanced restitution, meaning a court martial would be required to consider making a restitution order for losses.
    Imitation is the greatest form of flattery and that is on full display here. The Liberal government knows that what the Conservative government tried to do in the previous Parliament was the right thing to do, and that is why it is copying it with this legislation. However, there are a few differences that I would like to highlight.
    Perhaps the most glaring difference between the two bills would be the addition of the Gladue decision, in relation to paragraph 718.2(e) of the Criminal Code of Canada, into the National Defence Act. This addition would mean aboriginal members of the Canadian Armed Forces who face charges under the National Defence Act may face lighter punishment if convicted.
    There is absolutely no place in the Canadian Armed Forces and in Canadian society, for that matter, for discrimination of any kind. No one should ever be discriminated against based upon race, gender, religion, culture or any other factor. That being said, the insertion of this principle has the potential to result in different consideration of offences committed by aboriginal forces members than for those committed by non-aboriginal forces members. This could lead to sentences that are less harsh, could undermine operational discipline and morale in the forces and could even undermine anti-racism policies.
    I truly believe, and I think all of us in this place do, that judicial systems, military or otherwise, operate most effectively when the defining principle is equality before the law. By definition, equality applies to all. If we want true equality before the law, we cannot have separate levels of standards or sentences for some segments of the population. It must be applied uniformly.
    Furthermore, while I am pleased the government is moving forward with legislation to help the men and women who are currently serving our country, it must be reminded that our veterans need our support as well.
    A recent report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer confirmed our veterans are paying for the mistakes of the government. The PBO's report, titled “The cost differential between three regimes of Veterans Benefits”, is clear proof that the pensions for life scheme by the government is falling well short of the mark when it comes to supporting the men and women who have served our country. The report confirms veterans with severe and permanent injuries will be worse off by an average of $300,000 under this scheme. This is unacceptable and needs to be addressed.

  (1545)  

    That said, it is my hope that Bill C-77 moves on to consideration in the Senate and that those in the other place will conduct a fulsome review of the bill to ensure that military justice reform works for all those who serve our country.
    We cannot ever do enough for our veterans. A lot of veterans from the Second World War and many from the Korean War have left us and there will be more as time moves on. It is times like this, in their later yea