Skip to main content
Start of content

House Publications

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

For an advanced search, use Publication Search tool.

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

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

44th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • No. 085

CONTENTS

Thursday, June 9, 2022




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 151
No. 085
1st SESSION
44th PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Speaker: The Honourable Anthony Rota

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayer



Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1000)  

[English]

House of Commons Calendar

    Pursuant to Standing Order 28(2)(b), it is my duty to lay upon the table the House of Commons calendar for the year 2023.

[Translation]

Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner

    Pursuant to paragraph 90(1)(b) of the Parliament of Canada Act, it is my duty to lay upon the table the annual report of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner in relation to the Conflict of Interest Act for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022.

[English]

    Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(h), this document is deemed to have been permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

Government Response to Petitions

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8)(a), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to two petitions. These returns will be tabled in an electronic format.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.
    The Speaker: Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    While I am on my feet, I move:
    That the House do now proceed to orders of the day.
    The question is on the motion.
     If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes to request a recorded division or that the motion be adopted on division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.
    The hon. opposition House leader.
    Mr. Speaker, we request a recorded division.
    Call in the members.

  (1045)  

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

(Division No. 141)

YEAS

Members

Aldag
Alghabra
Anandasangaree
Angus
Arseneault
Arya
Ashton
Atwin
Bachrach
Badawey
Bains
Baker
Barron
Battiste
Beech
Bendayan
Bennett
Bibeau
Bittle
Blaikie
Blair
Blaney
Blois
Boulerice
Bradford
Brière
Carr
Casey
Chagger
Chahal
Champagne
Chatel
Chen
Chiang
Collins (Victoria)
Cormier
Coteau
Dabrusin
Damoff
Davies
Desjarlais
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Diab
Dong
Drouin
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Dzerowicz
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Erskine-Smith
Fergus
Fillmore
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fragiskatos
Fraser
Freeland
Fry
Gaheer
Garneau
Garrison
Gazan
Gerretsen
Gould
Green
Hajdu
Hanley
Hardie
Hepfner
Holland
Housefather
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Idlout
Ien
Jaczek
Johns
Jones
Jowhari
Julian
Kayabaga
Kelloway
Khalid
Khera
Koutrakis
Kusmierczyk
Kwan
Lalonde
Lambropoulos
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Lattanzio
Lauzon
Lebouthillier
Lightbound
Long
Longfield
Louis (Kitchener—Conestoga)
MacAulay (Cardigan)
MacDonald (Malpeque)
MacGregor
Maloney
Martinez Ferrada
Masse
Mathyssen
May (Cambridge)
McDonald (Avalon)
McGuinty
McKay
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod
McPherson
Mendès
Mendicino
Miao
Miller
Morrice
Morrissey
Murray
Naqvi
Noormohamed
O'Connell
Oliphant
Petitpas Taylor
Powlowski
Qualtrough
Robillard
Rodriguez
Romanado
Sahota
Sajjan
Saks
Samson
Sarai
Scarpaleggia
Schiefke
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Sidhu (Brampton East)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Singh
Sorbara
St-Onge
Sudds
Tassi
Taylor Roy
Thompson
Turnbull
Valdez
Van Bynen
van Koeverden
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Virani
Weiler
Wilkinson
Yip
Zahid
Zarrillo
Zuberi

Total: -- 167


NAYS

Members

Aboultaif
Aitchison
Albas
Allison
Arnold
Baldinelli
Barlow
Barrett
Barsalou-Duval
Beaulieu
Benzen
Bergeron
Berthold
Bérubé
Bezan
Blanchet
Blanchette-Joncas
Block
Bragdon
Brassard
Brock
Brunelle-Duceppe
Calkins
Carrie
Chabot
Chambers
Champoux
Chong
Cooper
Dalton
Dancho
Davidson
DeBellefeuille
Deltell
d'Entremont
Desilets
Doherty
Dreeshen
Duncan (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Ellis
Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster)
Falk (Provencher)
Ferreri
Findlay
Fortin
Gallant
Garon
Gaudreau
Généreux
Genuis
Gladu
Godin
Goodridge
Gourde
Gray
Hallan
Kelly
Kitchen
Kmiec
Kram
Kramp-Neuman
Kurek
Kusie
Lake
Lantsman
Larouche
Lawrence
Lehoux
Lemire
Lewis (Essex)
Lewis (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Liepert
Lloyd
Lobb
MacKenzie
Maguire
Martel
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
Mazier
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McLean
Melillo
Michaud
Moore
Morantz
Motz
Muys
Nater
Normandin
Paul-Hus
Pauzé
Perkins
Perron
Plamondon
Poilievre
Rayes
Redekopp
Reid
Rempel Garner
Richards
Roberts
Rood
Ruff
Savard-Tremblay
Schmale
Seeback
Shields
Shipley
Simard
Small
Soroka
Steinley
Ste-Marie
Stewart
Strahl
Thériault
Therrien
Thomas
Tochor
Tolmie
Trudel
Uppal
Van Popta
Vecchio
Vidal
Vignola
Villemure
Vis
Vuong
Wagantall
Warkentin
Webber
Williams
Williamson
Zimmer

Total: -- 135


PAIRED

Members

Anand
Boissonnault
Dowdall
Fast
Guilbeault
Hoback
Jeneroux
Joly
Ng
O'Regan
O'Toole
Patzer

Total: -- 12


    I declare the motion carried.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Criminal Code

Bill C-5—Time Allocation Motion 

    That in relation to Bill C-5, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, not more than five further hours shall be allotted to the consideration of the report stage and not more than one sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration of the third reading stage of the said bill; and
    That, at the expiry of the five hours provided for the consideration at report stage and fifteen minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at the third reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

[Translation]

    The hon. member for Laurentides—Labelle on a point of order.
    Madam Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and, if you seek it, I believe you will find unanimous consent for me to present the petition that I planned to table today.
    Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to table her petition?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

[Translation]

Petitions

Telecommunications  

    Madam Speaker, I am at a loss for words with regard to this petition signed by good people from the municipality of Notre‑Dame‑du‑Laus, which reads, and I quote:
     Whereas:
    We live in the 21st century;
    Our astronauts travel to the moon;
    We are controlling Perseverance on Mars;
    The next generation is leaving the crib with a cellphone in hand;
    Cellular phone service must be considered an essential service, just like high-speed Internet;
    We reject Bell Canada’s approach to wait until 2024–2025 to invest in a cellular network in our village because, in 2021, being able to use a cellphone is no longer a luxury but essential for safety;
    We are a tourist village in a beautiful part of the country that would like to attract young families and entrepreneurs, and we should be able to ensure the safety of the tourists on our roads and of all our residents.
    I want to commend the 2,067 people who signed this petition.

  (1050)  

[English]

    The hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands has a point of order.
    Madam Speaker, inspired by our hon. colleague from Laurentides—Labelle, I am wondering if there might be unanimous consent for me to present the petition I had hoped to present this morning.
    Does the hon. member have unanimous consent to table her petition?
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes): I am sorry, but there is not unanimous consent.
    I would ask members that if they are looking for unanimous consent on their motions, they should consult all parties of the House. It would make things a lot easier. I know this is something we have talked about on a number of occasions regarding other members as well.
    The hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.
    Madam Speaker, I think our rules on unanimous consent are for long preambular policy statements. In this instance, where it was unanticipated that we would move to orders of the day, I did not have any opportunity to consult anyone, as I think was the case for the hon. member for Laurentides—Labelle. I understand your ruling, Madam Speaker. I just wanted to clarify that I would never try to claim unanimous consent without having canvassed all other members of this place.
    I appreciate the hon. member's additional information, and I do want to advise her that the hon. member for Laurentides—Labelle did get unanimous consent from all parties prior to presenting it.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[Translation]

Criminal Code

Bill C-5—Time Allocation Motion  

    The House resumed consideration of the motion.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 67.1, there will now be a 30-minute question period. I invite hon. members who wish to ask questions to rise in their places or use the “raise hand” function so the Chair has some idea of the number of members who wish to participate in this question period.
    I see that many people want to participate, so I will have to put fairly strict time limits on questions and comments.
    The member for Barrie—Innisfil.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, once again we are privy to a front-row seat to the decline in democracy. Bill C-5, the soft-on-crime bill, has gone through committee, and there have been thousands and millions of dissenting voices on this bill. There have been advocates and stakeholders, and there have been police chiefs and police forces across Canada that have spoken against this bill, because it does diminish mandatory minimum sentences.
    Just to give an example, Bill C-5 would eliminate a number of mandatory minimum sentences related to gun crimes, including robbery with a firearm, extortion with a firearm, and weapons trafficking excluding firearms and ammunition. This would only embolden criminals, make them more brazen, in our communities in Canada.
    The Liberals have been aided and abetted in this time allocation, this motion of closure, by their puppy-dog partners in the NDP. They have pulled the choke collar on the New Democrats to get them to conform and sit and be good partners in this. This decline in democracy, this assault, will not make our communities safer and will threaten the lives of Canadians across the country.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

  (1055)  

    I hear other voices that I have not recognized, and I would ask those individuals to please hold on to their thoughts quietly until they are recognized to speak.
    The hon. government House leader.
    Madam Speaker, I would say that we diminish democracy when we talk to fellow colleagues in the way the member opposite just did. To talk about working collaboratively as parliamentarians and to categorize it in the way the member did is disrespectful to this place.
    We had a minority government that was elected in the last election, and there was an expectation that Canadians had of us that we would come together, work collaboratively, reach across the aisle and try to find common cause and common purpose, and that, even as we criticize each other and even as we are in different parties and often have different views, we would respectfully try to find middle ground.
    I would suggest that out of the gates the Conservatives were doing that on Bill C-3 and on Bill C-4, but somewhere along the line that disappeared. Suddenly, collaboration of any kind, working together in any way, is seen as undemocratic. That is preposterous. Having votes in the House of Commons is not undemocratic. Moving legislation through the House of Commons is not undemocratic. It debases this institution to say that it is, and it particularly debases this institution when the Conservatives themselves use time allocation more than anybody else in any government that has ever been, so it is dishonest—
    I have to allow for other questions.
    The hon. member for La Prairie.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I could talk about Bill C-5 and provide a detailed explanation as to why we should spend more time discussing it, but that is not even the issue anymore. It is as though we were starring in Groundhog Day, revisiting the same scenario over and over again. The government is bombarding us with gag orders day after day and limiting time for debate.
    Members of Parliament are supposed to fine-tune the bills tabled by the government. On top of that, this is a minority government. It needs to be said: Quebeckers and Canadians gave this government a minority mandate so that members of Parliament can do their work properly, rein in the government when necessary, work together, and make the government understand that any bill can always be improved. However, that is not what we are seeing here today, and the Bloc Québécois can only deplore it.
    I have a simple question. When will this never-ending string of gag orders stop?
    Madam Speaker, there is no doubt we have had plenty of time for debate. We debated at second reading for several days, and the bill was in committee for nine days. Now we are here debating it at third reading and then the Senate will have time to debate it, so there has been a lot of time to debate and propose amendments. There comes a point when we have to vote and move into the action phase.
     We see reducing the number of vulnerable people who come into the system having committed no serious crime as absolutely essential, along with reducing the number of indigenous and Black people in the system in general. That is our goal. We have spent a long time debating; now it is time to act.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, there are very important things in Bill C-5 in the reduction of mandatory minimum sentences, which have terrible impacts on indigenous and racialized Canadians. However, I have to correct the record for the Conservatives and the Bloc members, who seem not to have paid attention to what happened in committee.
    We did work collaboratively in committee, and government members accepted two amendments from the NDP, which have strengthened the bill. One of those amendments would get rid of criminal records for personal possession of drugs within two years, and the other strengthens the accountability mechanisms through record-keeping when police use their discretion to avoid charging people. Those are two important improvements in the bill.
    When they talk about how Parliament is supposed to work, that is exactly how it worked in committee. We got a better bill, a stronger bill, and today I am going to support this motion for time allocation, because we have to get this done on behalf of those Canadians who suffer from the mandatory minimums that were introduced at one time by the Liberals but also, primarily, by the Conservatives.

  (1100)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague opposite, and I completely agree with him that there were a number of amendments moved at committee that improved this bill. A number were moved by the NDP, which I think were very important, and there was one moved by the Conservatives, which was adopted. That is what Canadians expect: that, despite the fact that we have our differences and we come to this place with different ideas of how we can improve the country, improve the safety of the country and improve the condition of Canadians generally, we find ways to work together. That is exactly what happened with this bill.
    Addressing the absolutely terrible overrepresentation of indigenous people and Black individuals is something that is at the core of this bill, but really it is taking a lesson from what has not worked elsewhere: longer sentences, removing judicial discretion, and removing the opportunity to look at the individual circumstances of a case when we are dealing with somebody who does not represent a threat to community safety. When we are looking at first-time offenders when they are having that first intersection with their life turning down a dark path, we should make sure that we inject ourselves at that point, look at their circumstances and find a more positive way to redirect them. That is the right way to go. We have seen that in jurisdiction after jurisdiction that has tried the approach the Conservatives are pushing, it has failed. It has failed to increase public safety, and it actually makes things a lot worse.
    Madam Speaker, I very much support Bill C-5. I agree with everything the hon. government House leader has just said about the importance of criminal justice actually being effective in deterring crime and not resulting in the disproportionate convictions of people of colour and indigenous people in this country, which is clear on the record.
    My concern is about using time allocation. It is true that it was started under the previous Conservative government, but I have to say that it has been pursued with a vengeance by the current Liberal government. I do not see any difference in how frequently time allocation is being used. My concern is, as it is with everything in this place, that those things that start as bad habits quickly become rules. We are essentially saying time after time that parliamentary debate and our Standing Orders for how legislation proceeds through this place are just inconvenient and slow things down.
    I am not without sympathy for the government's point of view, because of the obstruction from other parties, but I will say this. I do not think we have an election looming. The Liberal-NDP confidence and supply agreement does not suggest that if we do not get this bill through before the end of June we will have a terrible calamity in getting the bill to the Senate.
    I would ask the hon. House leader to reconsider the routine use of shutting down debate in this place.
    Madam Speaker, to my hon. colleague, I will say that it is certainly not my preference. When we started, we actually had a really good beginning, I think, working with the Conservative opposition on Bill C-3 and on Bill C-4, where ideas came forward. We were able to work together and we were able to find middle ground. Then there was a change. All of a sudden, with Bill C-8 as an example, it took over four months. Consistently, we were told “just a couple more speakers, just a bit more time”. Four months disappeared, and an enormous amount of House time was used.
    At a certain point in time, I had to come to the realization that there was no earnest effort to move things through the House, that the interest was in obstruction. We saw that in Bill C-14. Bill C-14 is a bill that the Conservatives support. Even though they support it, they were moving amendments to hear their own members, shutting down the House, moving concurrence motions and using them to obstruct. I am left with one of two choices: get nothing passed or use time allocation. As they obstruct, on the one hand they block any legislation from moving forward and not even allow that as an option; on the other hand, they criticize the only tool we have to actually get legislation done, a tool they used with great frequency.

  (1105)  

    Madam Speaker, to the government House leader, conditional sentence orders are a very important tool to ensure that those who pose no risk to society are able to have alternatives to spending time in jail.
    I wonder if my colleague can outline how that is going to impact incarceration, particularly of indigenous and Black Canadians. I would note that prior to the many of the mandatory minimum penalties that came in, there were about 11,000 conditional sentence orders that were imposed. Right now, we are hovering around the 6,000 mark, so almost 5,000 Canadians a year spend time unnecessarily in detention and, as a result, face an increased risk of reoffending because of the system they are in.
    Madam Speaker, it was Newt Gingrich in the United States who started the movement on increasing the amount of time in incarceration. He called it the greatest mistake of his career. After reflection and seeing how disastrous it was in the United States, he said that policy was the biggest mistake of his political life. When we take a look at the United States, the United Kingdom or Australia, we see that in every instance where a policy has been pursued to increase incarceration, it has not led to lower crime rates. It has led to higher rates of recidivism, more problems and more crime.
    We need to move outside of the talking points and actually think about what is happening. As the question posed by my hon. colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, has indicated, when we have first-time offenders, low-risk offenders, rather than have them in prison, where they learn to be professional criminals and where they are in an environment that is not conducive to their rehabilitation, if we can divert them and redirect them to a different path, that is what augments and improves community safety.
    Madam Speaker, the hon. member keeps perpetuating the same myth. He mentioned Newt Gingrich and former prime minister Stephen Harper. The mandatory minimums that would be eliminated in Bill C-5, and it is important for Canadians to know this, are not from a Conservative government. They are from a Liberal government. I do not know why Liberals cannot accept that part of their past.
    The mandatory minimums for extortion with a firearm, discharging a firearm with intent, and robbery with a firearm were introduced by Liberal governments. I know the hon. member served with former Liberal MP and parliamentary secretary for justice Marlene Jennings. He knows her. She said, “It was a Liberal government that brought in mandatory minimum sentencing for gun-related crimes. This is a whole category of them, where currently it is a minimum of one year. There is a second category of designated offences where it currently is four years. Liberals sought to increase the one year to two years and the four years to five years at committee.”
    Is the hon. member suggesting that Marlene Jennings does not know what she is talking about?
    Madam Speaker, what I am suggesting is that science and evidence have borne out that giving judicial discretion improves community safety. What does that mean? It means that a judge can look at an individual situation and consider—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    I am going to interrupt the member. I did not hear any blowback when the hon. member from the official opposition was asking a question. I would ask for the same respect when the government is answering a question. If individuals have other thoughts or views, then they should wait until they are recognized during questions and comments.
    The hon. government House leader.
    Madam Speaker, I did listen very respectfully to my hon. colleague's comment and the discussion. I believe that he and I want to make sure that community safety is improved in this country, that our neighbours are living in communities that are as safe as they can possibly be, and that we adopt policies for that. If we both agree that is our premise, then obviously what we need to do is look at the evidence. The evidence says that judges are allowed to look at an individual situation, which, by the way, means that they can actually give a sentence that is greater than the mandatory minimum, but it means they might give one less than that if they determine it is not in the best interests of public safety and rehabilitation to have that higher sentence.
    What we have seen, particularly for vulnerable people, is that if they are incarcerated for a long period of time, the likelihood of them reoffending is much higher.

  (1110)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, Bill C-5, in and of itself, is an interesting bill, but we get the feeling that it comes with a poison pill, which bothers me. Two bills that do not necessarily have anything to do with one another are being lumped together to get the less popular one passed.
    As the government House leader, the member is responsible for the government's strategy.
    Why is the government trying to hand us poison pills yet again? Why can we not have transparent debates in the best interests of Canadians on issues that affect them?
    Madam Speaker, it is clear to me that this bill is extremely important to national security and public safety, in general, and I do not think it contains anything that is inappropriate. One of its objectives is to reduce the incarceration rates of indigenous people and vulnerable people. I think this bill has clear objectives and will work well for the country.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I rise today to echo the calls from the Black Legal Action Centre, the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies and the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund.
    We know that there have been some incremental steps that are, by and large, due to some of the good amendments that we were able to put forward as New Democrats. In the Liberals' submission to the committee, they called for the removal of mandatory minimums that were deemed to be unconstitutional, the removal of the band of conditional sentencing for offences that had mandatory minimum penalties, and the fulfillment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's call to action 32 to allow a trial judge, upon giving reasons, to depart from the mandatory minimum sentence.
    Finally, there are lots of conversations about these disproportional impacts on Canadians of African descent, yet the government still has not addressed an amendment to subsection 718.2(e) of the Criminal Code so that sentencing judges can have the information required to pass appropriate sentences on Black defendants.
    When will the government finally get around to listening to communities and taking substantive steps, rather than incremental steps, toward justice within this country?
    Madam Speaker, it certainly is an incredibly important matter. The Black Canadian justice strategy is being developed right now, and this is something that is being looked at. I encourage the member to continue to participate in that process as we take action to make sure that what we do in our criminal justice system actually achieves the objective of improving community safety and making sure we do not disproportionately affect vulnerable people.
    One thing is really unfortunate. We all hate crime, obviously. We all abhor it. We see violence and we want it to be over and to end it. When we play games with that and when we give overly simplistic solutions, it does an incredible injustice to what has to be done. What has to be done is to make sure that in each and every situation we look at what is in the best interests of rehabilitation, reducing recidivism and making our communities safe.
    That is what this bill does. It would allow judges to have discretion in those cases where community safety is not threatened. Where there are low-risk offenders or first-time offenders, there is the opportunity to have the discretion to make sure their lives get turned on to a positive path and that we do not overincarcerate, thereby having our prisons overrepresented by certain populations.
    Madam Speaker, it is time to dispel a myth that has been percolating in the House for some time now, particularly from the Liberal government and supported by the NDP. It is this notion that conditional sentences are going to substantially decrease the overincarceration of marginalized offenders, particularly Black Canadians and indigenous offenders.
    We heard at committee from two police chiefs. One was Chief Robert Davis, who is an indigenous police chief and the only indigenous police chief of a municipal police service. The other was Chief Darren Montour, who is an indigenous police chief on the Six Nations of the Grand River, which is the largest reservation in Canada. Both individuals, who have significant decades of policing, confirmed that conditional sentences do not work. They do not have the resources to monitor compliance. Working in the trenches, they are seeing prosecution after prosecution of offenders who continually repeat breaches of their conditional sentence orders.
    How can the government indicate now that this is somehow going to decrease the overincarceration rate? We have empirical evidence, particularly in my riding but as well as from across the country, that it does not work.

  (1115)  

    Madam Speaker, actually, the evidence goes in the opposite direction. We are talking in this instance about people who are going to be incarcerated for less than two years. We are talking about individuals who are a low risk to the community. Most often, they are dealing with addiction issues, which are in fact mental health issues. We know that when dealing with mental health issues, keeping families together and having access to community services is the best chance at rehabilitation and getting people on a positive path.
    It is not just that we do not want them to reoffend, because the objective in every instance in which there is intersectionality with our criminal justice system is rehabilitation. It is also fundamentally an issue of cost, if we want to look at it that way. Not only is it going to reduce crime, but conditional sentencing costs the system much less, which means we can put more dollars into preventing crimes from happening in the first place. Focusing on extending sentences, what it did in places like California and the U.K.—
    I am sorry to interrupt, but there are other questions.
    Questions and comments, the hon. parliamentary secretary to the Minister of International Development.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague about David Daubney, who was a predecessor of mine in my riding. He was a Conservative MP in the Mulroney years. He was actually chair of the justice committee during that time. He said that during the Harper years, the “departmental distaste for research and recommendations is the opposite of the situation under administrations such as those of Conservative justice minister Kim Campbell.” He also said that “mandatory minimum sentences have been widely condemned in corrections circles” and added that the previous Harper government “misrepresented conditional sentences as permissive even though lawyers, judges and the public know they can be made suitably restrictive.”
    What does my colleague think about my Conservative predecessor in my riding of Ottawa West—Nepean?
    Madam Speaker, I would say that is a reasonable position, and one that is rooted in science and evidence. One of the reasons why I reference other jurisdictions is because there was a movement, many decades ago, toward mandatory minimums and higher rates of incarceration. That resulted not only in much greater costs, much larger numbers of people in prison and much larger numbers of vulnerable people in prison, particularly from the mentally ill and vulnerable populations, but it resulted in higher crime.
    When one thinks about it, it is actually logical. When one expands a population and somebody has a first intersection with the law, and they made a mistake and have begun to head down a dark path, and one puts them into prison and keeps them there for a long period of time, instead of being rehabilitated, they are in a hardened environment where things get worse and they come out not as healthy. They are more likely to reoffend. That is why, and I will come to it in my next question, I think the example of California is very prescient.
    Madam Speaker, there has been some discussion about why it is urgent to pass this bill and there is the idea that we can somehow just let this drift on. If we do not pass this bill soon, it means that additional people will be sent to detention or prison under the mandatory minimums.
    Those people, through no fault of their own, will end up losing their housing, losing their jobs and having their kids apprehended. There is an urgency here that we correct this mistake. It does not matter to me who made it in the past. It is urgent to eliminate these 20 mandatory minimums so that people can get sentences that are appropriate to their crimes and get things that will help reintegrate them back into the community instead of forcing them into worse situations.
    Madam Speaker, I think that this is precisely right. The reality is that not only is this bill exceptionally important for what it is going to do in the circumstances that the member has just referenced, but we have a lot of other important legislation that we have to get done in the next 10 days. Therefore, it is important that we move forward.
    On the point that the member raised specifically, it is important to note that judicial discretion means that one can look at a case and if it is in fact very serious, one can go much higher than the mandatory minimum. If it is a circumstance where there were mitigating circumstances, community safety was not at risk, or an individual had an underlying mental health or other issue, there could be other means and other options available to make sure that this person was rehabilitated, healthy and back in the community. That means that this individual is less likely to reoffend and less likely to have violence in the community. It means that the costs are radically lower. It is proved in evidence. It is all there.

  (1120)  

    Madam Speaker, I find it fascinating that the member opposite talks about being in prison as a dark place for people's entire lives: the rest of their lives. We are talking about how hidden in this bill is human trafficking with material benefit. What does that mean? In the words of two women who live in my riding, Linda MacDonald and Jeanne Sarson, who wrote a book called Women Unsilenced, they talk about torture. They talk about the sale of women and girls.
    If that is not something that we need more time to talk about and make the House aware of, so that we can protect those who are vulnerable in our society, I do not know what is. For the government to talk about time allocation for such an important topic is absolutely untenable. It is unfathomable. It is absolutely ridiculous and, quite honestly, this is virtue signalling at its worst.
    Madam Speaker, the fact of the matter is that when a judge hears the matter of a serious crime of the nature the member is talking about, there will be serious sentences. In fact, they can go far beyond the mandatory minimums. That is not what we are talking about here.
    I will go quickly to the example in California. In California, people, for political reasons, decided that it was really worthwhile to play up the worst offences—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    There is no debate going back and forth. Again, I want to remind the hon. members from the official opposition that if they have further questions and comments, they should wait until the appropriate time to be able to do that. I am sure that they would want to listen to what the government House leader has to say, so that they can really understand what he is saying and be able to respond accordingly in future questions.
    The hon. government House leader.
    Madam Speaker, the reason we care about what happens in other jurisdictions is because when they try something and make a mistake, we avoid doing the same thing. It is the same reason why we look at what happened in California: It went to the approach that the Conservatives are talking about, and it led to an overburdened criminal justice system and a recidivism rate that was over 25% for violent recidivism. Ours is below 1%. The Conservatives' example cost more money, led to more crime and was a complete, abject failure, and that is the policy they are suggesting we pursue.
    Madam Speaker, the Liberals had an opportunity, with this bill, to provide full decriminalization for simple drug possession. In fact, this hon. member voted against the hon. member for Courtenay—Alberni's private member's bill, Bill C-216, which would have been an opportunity to provide justice to people.
    How does the hon. member reconcile blocking the decriminalization of simple drug possession, while understanding all the impacts this has on our community when it comes to extended sentencing?
    Madam Speaker, we worked with the NDP on every amendment its members put forward. This was not one of them, but I will say that, with respect to this item, we have to respect that every province has its individual jurisdiction.
    An hon member: Oh, oh!
    Hon. Mark Holland: Madam Speaker, we did do it in B.C. because we had co-operation working with the British Columbia government. What we need to be able to do is work with every province. We cannot just impose this upon provinces without the opportunity for provinces to prepare a plan and prepare for what they are going to do. That would be irresponsible. Frankly, that would be completely disrespecting our obligations under division of powers.
    I just want to remind the member that he had an opportunity to ask the question and he should take the opportunity to listen to the response without interrupting.
     It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith the question on the motion now before the House.

[Translation]

    The question is on the motion.
    If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes to request a recorded division or that the motion be adopted on division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.

  (1125)  

[English]

    The hon. member for Lambton—Kent—Middlesex.
    Madam Speaker, I request a recorded division.
    Call in the members.
    And the bells having rung:

  (1155)  

    The question is on the motion. Shall I dispense?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    [Chair read text of motion to House]

  (1210)  

[Translation]

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

(Division No. 142)

YEAS

Members

Aldag
Alghabra
Ali
Anandasangaree
Angus
Arseneault
Arya
Ashton
Bachrach
Badawey
Bains
Baker
Barron
Battiste
Beech
Bendayan
Bennett
Bibeau
Bittle
Blaikie
Blair
Blaney
Blois
Boulerice
Bradford
Brière
Carr
Casey
Chagger
Chahal
Champagne
Chatel
Chen
Chiang
Collins (Hamilton East—Stoney Creek)
Collins (Victoria)
Cormier
Coteau
Dabrusin
Damoff
Davies
Desjarlais
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Diab
Dong
Drouin
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Dzerowicz
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Erskine-Smith
Fergus
Fillmore
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fragiskatos
Fraser
Freeland
Fry
Gaheer
Garneau
Garrison
Gazan
Gerretsen
Gould
Green
Hajdu
Hanley
Hardie
Hepfner
Holland
Housefather
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Idlout
Ien
Jaczek
Johns
Jones
Jowhari
Julian
Kayabaga
Kelloway
Khalid
Khera
Koutrakis
Kusmierczyk
Kwan
Lalonde
Lambropoulos
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Lattanzio
Lauzon
LeBlanc
Lebouthillier
Lightbound
Long
Longfield
Louis (Kitchener—Conestoga)
MacAulay (Cardigan)
MacDonald (Malpeque)
MacGregor
Maloney
Martinez Ferrada
Masse
Mathyssen
May (Cambridge)
McDonald (Avalon)
McGuinty
McKay
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod
McPherson
Mendès
Mendicino
Miao
Miller
Morrice
Morrissey
Murray
Naqvi
Noormohamed
O'Connell
Oliphant
Petitpas Taylor
Powlowski
Qualtrough
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rogers
Romanado
Sahota
Sajjan
Saks
Samson
Sarai
Scarpaleggia
Schiefke
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Sidhu (Brampton East)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Singh
Sorbara
St-Onge
Sudds
Tassi
Taylor Roy
Thompson
Turnbull
Valdez
Van Bynen
van Koeverden
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Virani
Weiler
Wilkinson
Yip
Zahid
Zarrillo
Zuberi

Total: -- 170


NAYS

Members

Aboultaif
Aitchison
Albas
Allison
Arnold
Baldinelli
Barlow
Barrett
Barsalou-Duval
Beaulieu
Benzen
Bergeron
Berthold
Bérubé
Bezan
Blanchet
Blanchette-Joncas
Block
Bragdon
Brassard
Brock
Brunelle-Duceppe
Calkins
Carrie
Chabot
Chambers
Champoux
Cooper
Dalton
Dancho
Davidson
DeBellefeuille
Deltell
d'Entremont
Desilets
Doherty
Dreeshen
Duncan (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Ellis
Epp
Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster)
Falk (Provencher)
Ferreri
Findlay
Fortin
Gallant
Garon
Gaudreau
Généreux
Genuis
Gladu
Godin
Goodridge
Gourde
Gray
Hallan
Kelly
Kitchen
Kmiec
Kram
Kramp-Neuman
Kurek
Kusie
Lake
Lantsman
Larouche
Lawrence
Lehoux
Lemire
Lewis (Essex)
Lewis (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Liepert
Lloyd
Lobb
MacKenzie
Maguire
Martel
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
Mazier
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McLean
Melillo
Michaud
Moore
Morantz
Morrison
Motz
Muys
Nater
Normandin
Paul-Hus
Pauzé
Perkins
Perron
Plamondon
Poilievre
Rayes
Redekopp
Reid
Rempel Garner
Richards
Roberts
Rood
Ruff
Savard-Tremblay
Scheer
Schmale
Seeback
Shields
Shipley
Simard
Sinclair-Desgagné
Small
Soroka
Steinley
Ste-Marie
Stewart
Strahl
Stubbs
Thériault
Therrien
Thomas
Tochor
Tolmie
Trudel
Uppal
Van Popta
Vecchio
Vidal
Viersen
Vignola
Villemure
Vis
Vuong
Wagantall
Waugh
Webber
Williams
Williamson
Zimmer

Total: -- 140


PAIRED

Members

Anand
Boissonnault
Dowdall
Fast
Guilbeault
Hoback
Jeneroux
Joly
Ng
O'Regan
O'Toole
Patzer

Total: -- 12


    I declare the motion carried.

[English]

Report Stage  

     The House resumed from June 1 consideration of Bill C-5, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.
    I would like to remind members who are in the chamber that if they wish to have conversations, they should please take them out of the chamber so we can get to the orders of the day.
    We will resume debate with the hon. member for Miramichi—Grand Lake.
    Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to be here today and certainly, it is a pleasure to speak in the House of Commons. It is nice to see you again, as well.
    I stand today to speak to the utter hypocrisy of the Liberal government and to shine a light on the utter disrespect for law-abiding Canadians and victims of crime. The government, with the prop-up support of the NDP, is attempting to push through Bill C-5, which would see the removal of mandatory minimum sentences for serious criminal offences in this country. Let me be clear on this. The Liberals are eliminating mandatory prison time for criminals who commit robbery with a firearm, weapons trafficking and drive-by shootings.
    The Liberals' argument is that they are doing this because they feel these laws are unfair. I cannot make this up. What would the victims of these crimes consider unfair? I surely think they would feel that the person or persons who traumatized them through violent acts now being set free by the Liberal government is what is actually unfair.
    Can members imagine being the victim of a drive-by shooting, losing a loved one or being robbed or held at gunpoint? Let us imagine this. These are the mandatory sentences that the government is trying to get rid of. The Liberals are more interested in standing up for criminals than actually defending our communities. The blatant hypocrisy is apparent with the fact that they willingly want to let gun crime perpetrators free sooner so that they can go out into our communities and wreak havoc again, and yet, they stand in righteous defence of enacting gun laws in this country that only serve to punish law-abiding citizens.
    Let us look at some of the offences for which the Liberals feel the punishment is unfair. Bill C-5 would eliminate a number of mandatory minimums relating to gun crimes. Here they are: robbery with a firearm; extortion with a firearm; weapons trafficking; discharging a firearm with intent; using a firearm in commission of offences; and possession for the purpose of weapons trafficking.
    When we hear the list out loud, as parliamentarians we must ask ourselves, is this seriously what the government wants for Canadians? Can a government seriously think that mandatory sentences are unfair for these types of crimes? We might ask ourselves if we are actually living in Canada or if any of this is real to begin with. Sadly, this is real and the members of this House have to stand and speak to this. Quite frankly, it is making our country unrecognizable.
     The Liberal government believes the sentences are unfair. That is how it is putting it. The Liberals have no concern for the victims of these crimes. Their only concern is actually for the criminals who perpetrated the acts to begin with.
    There are a few other examples of who the Liberal government feels are being mistreated by the justice system. The Liberals would eliminate six mandatory minimums in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act that target drug dealers. Here they are: trafficking or possession for the purpose of trafficking; importing and exporting or possession for the purpose of exporting; production of a substance schedule I or II. Let me say that last one again: production of a substance schedule I or II. Examples here would be heroin, cocaine, fentanyl and crystal meth.
     If I were not standing here as the member of Parliament for the great riding of Miramichi—Grand Lake and I was actually home in the community, maybe at Tim Hortons having a coffee, upon hearing this, I would think that it had to be wrong and there could be no way that any of this was true. What government could ever think that someone who produces a poison like crystal meth should be considered treated unfairly because they had to serve a mandatory sentence for their crime?

  (1215)  

    Crystal meth is pure poison. It is creating rot and decay in every community, including all across rural Canada. The problem is so vast in the region of Miramichi that the public is left scratching their heads on a good day. Law enforcement clearly does not have an answer for it at present. It is very complicated. This issue is really complicating life in Canada. How can we not give the people who produce it mandatory sentences? They are just going to keep doing it.
    The members opposite who vote for this bill should be utterly ashamed when they go back to their home communities knowing the plague and rot of crystal meth abuse is rampant across the country. It would be in their backyards too, because it is everywhere in this country. The evil individuals who prey on their fellow man with the production of this drug should do every minute of time we can give them to keep them off our streets and hopefully keep them from enslaving more people with this highly addictive poison.
    Canadians will have to try to mentally process how the government can feel that a meth producer is being treated unfairly. At the same time they also must process how the government feels about other criminals. Again, I want to say that as members of the opposition, we are obviously not supporting this. We want people who are going to produce these types of poison to be behind bars, because that is where they should be, and if you are going to commit crimes with weapons and firearms, then you need to have mandatory sentences as well.
    I will remind the hon. member that I have no intention of committing such crimes.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Brantford—Brant
    Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague referenced Bill C-5 and how it would impact the trafficking of very serious drugs like fentanyl, carfentanil, cocaine and crystal meth. Bill C-5 would take away the mandatory minimum penalties, and it would also open up the possibility for conditional sentence considerations and house arrest.
    Knowing what we know about drug traffickers plying their deadly trade in the comfort of their own homes, how do you feel the government's narrative with respect to community safety is now being compromised?
    To the hon. member, this is just a reminder that I do not have feelings in this debate.
    The hon. member for Miramichi—Grand Lake.
    Madam Speaker, that is really the crux of it.
    The people who make this poison are not always the ones who go out and distribute it. If we are letting the people who make it sit at home on house arrest, we can guess what they are going to do. They are going to continue making it. Then they are going to continue finding new people to sell it. Then more and more Canadians are going to become addicted to things like fentanyl and crystal meth.
    I think there is an ideological difference in what our sides of the floor are saying, but I ask why, in this country, we would be protecting criminals and the production of things like crystal meth. We have to put them in jail. that is where they belong.

  (1220)  

    Madam Speaker, at points in my hon. colleague's speech, and he may have misspoken, he seemed to suggest that Bill C-5 would mean there are no punishments for these horrific crimes.
     I support Bill C-5. As a matter of fact, as the member will know, I put forward amendments to include other crimes that now have mandatory minimum sentences.
    The key point here, and it has been taken up by governments around the world, is that mandatory minimums are not a deterrent to violent crime. They have perverse results, in that they promote the district attorneys and prosecutors having more power than judges, in that they are able to force plea deals, because the mandatory minimums are so severe and a threat to people who have not been shown to be guilty of the crime.
     We are looking here at making criminal justice fairer and at ensuring the punishment fits the crime, but no one is suggesting these violent criminals should not be punished. We think that judges should decide.
    Madam Speaker, here is a scenario. If a criminal who has committed a robbery with a firearm is put on house arrest, he could sneak out the window, take out his gun again and rob again. Why would we do that? If we put him in jail, he would not have access to his gun and he would not be able to get outside and rob another person.
    What we are saying here is very simple. We cannot have these types of criminals out there, giving them options and new opportunities to commit the same crimes that they continue to commit. Basically, the government is looking past the victims, because it is the victims who will pay the price.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to hear my colleague's opinion. I think the best way to fight crime is often through education. This applies to both issues Bill C‑5 deals with and, moreover, to young offenders, those who have already committed a crime, to make them understand the consequences of their actions.
    The Conservative strategy is to treat them like criminals. When we look at the statistics in western Canada, compared to Quebec, we can see that the Quebec approach, namely social reintegration, works better.
    Why should we not be looking at this from the perspective of educating people to understand the consequences of their crimes, rather than a criminalization perspective? I cannot get my head around that.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I agree with my colleague on one point: education is key. It is key in our school systems. It is key from the parents on down. It is going to be a key part of anybody's life. However, we are not just talking about young offenders here. We are talking about offenders in general.
    We have to make sure that people know there is a price to pay if they are going to take their gun out and rob somebody or make crystal meth in our society. We have to have very strict punishments for these offences.
    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-5, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which returns to the House after having been studied by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
    Today, I propose to focus my remarks on the very important changes that the bill proposes to make to the conditional sentence regime in the Criminal Code. What we have seen consistently throughout the debate on this bill is that there remain some significant misunderstandings about the important function served by conditional sentence orders, or CSOs, in our society. In order to explain the importance of Bill C-5's amendments in this area, I would like to take a moment to speak about how and why CSOs came to be.
    CSOs allow an offender to serve a term of imprisonment of less than two years in the community under strict conditions, including house arrest, curfew and court-mandated treatment for offences that are not punishable by a mandatory term of imprisonment. They were enacted by Parliament in 1996 in response to the well-documented problem of the over-incarceration of indigenous people. The aim of the CSO regime was to promote the protection of the public by seeking to separate the most serious offenders from the community, while providing that less serious offenders could remain in the community if they adhered to important conditions.
    Amendments to the Criminal Code over the subsequent 15 years, however, significantly restricted the availability of CSOs. They were made unavailable for all offences punishable by maximum terms of imprisonment of 14 years or more, as well as some offences prosecuted by indictment and punishable by a maximum term of 10 years of imprisonment. The reform also introduced a list of ineligible offences to the CSO regime, including such offences as non-violent property crime.
    It is uncontroversial at this point to acknowledge that systemic racism and discrimination in the criminal justice system have resulted in the overrepresentation of indigenous people, Black persons and members of marginalized communities in the criminal justice system. One only needs to look at the country's track record to see the pressing need for change. Indeed, recent data from the Office of the Correctional Investigator demonstrates that indigenous people make up 32% of the federal prison population despite accounting for less than 5% of the total population. Indigenous women, meanwhile, account for 48% of the population in women's prisons.
    Members of the community who are overrepresented in the criminal justice system have long called for reform to address the systemic racism and discrimination they face at all stages, from their first contact with law enforcement through to sentencing. Indeed, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Parliamentary Black Caucus have specifically called on the government to revisit the restrictions placed on the conditional sentencing regime in the Criminal Code.
    Bill C-5 would make more offences eligible for community-based sentences while maintaining the importance of public safety in all circumstances. Let me repeat that last statement, as this point is too frequently lost in discussions about the proposed amendments. Removing these restrictions on the availability of CSOs will not negatively impact public safety. This is because in order for a court to impose a CSO, it must first be satisfied that this sentence would not endanger the safety of the community. If the offender represents a danger to public safety, then the court is precluded from imposing a CSO.
    In addition, a court must be satisfied that a sentence of less than two years is appropriate in the circumstances, and that the community-based sentence would be consistent with the purpose and principles of sentencing set out in the Criminal Code. That is the law, and the proposed amendments would not change that.

  (1225)  

    Moreover, the amendments proposed in Bill C-5 would not indiscriminately render all offences eligible for the CSOs. Currently, all offences that carry mandatory minimum prison sentences in the Criminal Code are ineligible for a conditional sentence, and that would not change. Similarly, all offences that are linked to terrorism or organized crime, for which the maximum penalty is 10 years of imprisonment or more when prosecuted by way of indictment, are ineligible for a CSO. This too will not change. The bill would also render the offences of torture, attempted murder and advocating genocide ineligible for a CSO.
    The evidence shows us that allowing low-risk offenders who do not jeopardize public safety to serve their sentence in the community under strict conditions is more effective at reducing criminality than institutional incarceration. This is because serving a sentence that maintains an offender's access to employment, family, community and health-related support systems allows them to avoid the stigma and trauma of a prison sentence and provides them with a prosocial alternative to criminal offending once their sentence is complete. Indeed, evidence gathered after the original enactment of CSOs supports this finding.
    Within the first few years of the implementation of CSOs, recidivism rates declined and incarceration rates decreased by 13%. During the bill's study at the justice committee, the committee heard from experts and stakeholders in the field of criminal justice in Canada. Many of these witnesses, including the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers, the HIV Legal Network, Dr. Julie Desrosiers of the faculty of law at Université Laval, the Criminal Lawyers' Association and the Canadian Bar Association, indicated that these reforms to the CSO regime represented a step in the right direction. I could not agree more. I firmly believe that these amendments strike the right balance between providing alternatives to incarceration where appropriate, while maintaining and prioritizing public safety where serious offending is at issue.
    This legislation is an important component of the government's ongoing efforts to reduce the overrepresentation of indigenous people, Black persons and members of marginalized communities in our criminal justice system, and would afford more opportunities for rehabilitation in appropriate cases. I urge all members to support these important reforms.

  (1230)  

    Madam Speaker, it is my privilege to speak today to Bill C-5.
    In the same month the Liberal government introduces legislation that specifically targets law-abiding firearms owners, the House is now debating a bill that eliminates mandatory minimums for robbery with a firearm, extortion with a firearm, willfully importing or exporting illegal firearms, discharging a firearm with intent, using a firearm in the commission of offences, possession of an illegal firearm and possession of a firearm obtained illegally.
    As people say, we cannot make this up. No one in my constituency has called me to tell me they want mandatory minimums repealed for these serious crimes. People are furious, and rightly so.
     As Sergeant Michael Rowe of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police said at the justice committee, “The police in Canada support the primary objectives of mandatory minimum penalties to ensure consistency in sentencing, to protect the public and to discourage others from engaging in similar conduct.” He also mentioned that these mandatory minimums “hold significant value when addressing public safety and gang-related violence: the use of a firearm or imitation firearm in the commission of an offence”.
    The government is not even listening to the recent report published by the public safety committee right here in Parliament. Recommendation 11 states:
    That the Government of Canada recognize that serious crimes involving firearms and drug trafficking should bear serious penalties given the threat to public safety, and that violent offenders should be kept off our streets to protect the public, while a public health response should be adopted to deal with people suffering from substance abuse.
    I have always believed that serious violent offences that are committed with firearms deserve mandatory prison time. It is astonishing that the Liberals want to weaken the punishment of these crimes in Canada. I also have grave concerns with the Liberals' proposal to allow criminals to serve house arrest rather than jail time for a number of offences, including those involving sexual assault, human trafficking and kidnapping.
    This bill is soft on crime and puts communities and victims at risk. The sad irony of the Liberals' plan to make our streets safer is, in fact, going after trained Canadian firearms owners, while at the same time reducing penalties for those who commit violent gun crimes and sell hard drugs. Bill C-5 is sending the wrong message to criminals and organized crime.
    I doubt any of these criminals are watching CPAC at this very moment, but I can assure members that law-abiding firearms owners are watching. The government is insulting hundreds of thousands of law-abiding firearms owners, who are being blamed for the government's lack of action to tackle gun smuggling and organized crime.
    Gun violence has gone up significantly over the past seven years of the Liberal government. That is a fact. It is also a fact that most guns used in violent crime are smuggled in from the United States. According to CBSA's departmental results report, almost 20,000 illegal firearms and prohibited weapons were confiscated before coming into Canada. Those are just the ones that were confiscated, and just the illegal ones we know about. No one knows how many slipped through the cracks and were used in a violent crime. Gun smugglers and gun traffickers are directly responsible for the murder of too many innocent Canadians.
    As the president of the National Police Federation said at the justice committee, “Bill C-5 strikes down some mandatory minimum penalties related to weapons trafficking and firearms offences. This is inconsistent with the expressed intent of the government to reduce firearms violence in Canada.” He went on to say that if the Liberals are going to repeal these mandatory minimums, they must provide “additional deterrence measures to address criminal activity, such as providing more resources to stop the import of illegal drugs and firearms at the border.”

  (1235)  

    Through Bill C-5, the Liberals are proposing to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for the very crimes that are putting illegal firearms on our streets in the first place. Tell me how the Liberals can justify placing heavy restrictions on law-abiding citizens while removing them for violent criminals on the streets. The short answer is they cannot. Let us not forget that last year, the same Liberals voted down a Conservative bill that proposed making the punishment harsher for criminals using smuggled guns.
    I received an email from John Schneiderbanger the other day, who asked me to share his comments in the House of Commons. Before any of my Liberal colleagues start smearing John as some sort of firearm lobbyist, let me tell his story.
    John proudly served in the Canadian Armed Forces and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He was posted to CFB Shilo, which I am honoured to say is in my constituency, where he served as base commander. He is a firearms expert and has decades of experience and a wealth of knowledge of which we should take heed.
    While Bill C-5 repeals mandatory minimums for actual criminals, the Liberals are going after sport shooters in his case. If the Liberals get their way, they will be impacting legitimate shooting sports such as Cowboy Shooting Action, International Practical Shooting Confederation, 3-Gun, IDPA and Cowboy Mounted Shooting.
    Many of these competitors participate in high levels of competition, some of them around the world, and there are governing bodies at the provincial, national and world levels. They are legitimate and organized sports that are recognized around the world and would no longer exist in Canada due to the Liberal government's inability to focus on correct root causes of violent crime committed by criminals with illegal guns.
    As John said, these shooting sports will wither away quickly as the current membership becomes older and leave the sport, as other sport shooters cannot replace the competition handguns over time. No new members will be able to join these activities, as there will be no legal handguns available to acquire.
     If the Liberals will not take my advice, they will at least listen to one of Canada's finest, Mr. Schneiderbanger, who also knows the Firearms Act inside and out.
    Along with eliminating sentences for gun crimes, this Liberal bill would eliminate mandatory prison time for serious drug-related offences. These include sentences for drug trafficking as well as importing, exporting and producing drugs such as heroin, fentanyl and crystal meth.
    Canada is in the midst of an opioid crisis. We all know that. In 2020, the opioid crisis claimed the lives of 6,306 people. That is the equivalent of 17 opioid deaths per day. The volume of police calls related to suspected overdoses has also been increasing. As of right now, police services across the country are dealing with an average of 687 calls per month of suspected overdoses. One would think the Liberals would have proposed some solutions in the latest budget to help, but they did not offer a single new dollar to assist police services with this increased demand.
     It gets worse. The Liberal platform promised $250 million in 2021-22 and $625 million in 2022-23 for a Canadian mental health transfer, but none of those dollars have materialized. While provinces and municipalities are in dire need of help, once again they were promised action but given platitudes. My Conservative colleague from Edmonton—Wetaskiwin has repeatedly asked why the Liberals did not keep this promise, and all he has heard back is useless talking points.
    I know my Liberal colleagues care about this issue; I just do not know why they are not holding their own government's feet to the fire. Why are they letting the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance get away with this broken promise and then voting in favour of Bill C-5, which is going to lessen the penalties for the gangs and organized crime that are peddling the opioids?
    I want my Liberal colleagues to know how bad drug-related offences are under their watch. Cocaine trafficking is up 24% since 2016. Trafficking of drugs other than cocaine and cannabis is up 73% since 2016.
    Contrary to Liberal talking points, Bill C-5 is not about reducing mandatory minimum sentences for simple possession. In fact, mandatory minimums for simple possession do not exist.

  (1240)  

    In closing, I want to say that it is unfortunate that the Liberals on the committee used their majority and turned the report into an one-page report that was void of any substance—
    I have to interrupt the hon. member. The time is up.
    Questions and comments, the hon. parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Justice.
    Madam Speaker, I note that my good friend was not at committee for the study on Bill C-5, but there was at least one amendment that we did accept, and we worked, I would say, collaboratively to make sure that we strengthened the bill, so I reject the premise that we did not work together on this measure.
    I want to ask him about the notion of systemic racism and whether he thinks it exists within the criminal justice system. If so, what would his solution be for that, and does he not feel that this bill addresses one of the core issues that we are trying to deal with?
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his commitment to the justice committee, which has been dealing with this issue. All I want to say on that is that the government is targeting the wrong sector of people with this particular bill.
    I have given the numbers here in regard to the drug crisis in Canada. I want to say that I was going to add that Bill C-5 is not about reducing mandatory minimum sentences for simple possession. In fact, mandatory minimums for simple possession do not even exist. We also know that in constituencies such as mine, the RCMP is spread very thin, and I mentioned the lack of resources for policing.
    My colleague from Lakeland passed her motion to conduct a study on rural crime, and that is the one on which the Liberals on the committee used their majority and turned the report into an one-page report that was void of any substance.

  (1245)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, it certainly was not the idea of the century for the government to introduce within Bill C‑5 two completely different problems, but my colleague did not say much about the issue of diversion measures for addiction. I want to know what he thinks about the fact that we are criminalizing people with addictions. Does he really think that this is the answer to ending the opioid crisis, for example, when this same approach has been used for about 50 years?
    I would like his thoughts on that.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, in response to some questions from my previous colleague and from our side of the House, I am very much in favour of using education as a better opportunity to be able to educate persons today in regard to the use of drugs.
    However, when we go ahead and license fentanyl at the levels that they are talking about today, at 2.5 grams, we know that many people can be killed by that amount of fentanyl. It is not the same as 2.5 grams of many of the other drugs that are out there today.
    I think education is a great opportunity to be able to do that, but in the meantime, people who are trafficking and selling these drugs illegally, which is what is happening, or making them available to our youth on the streets should be penalized.
    Madam Speaker, I believe I heard the hon. member suggest that this was targeting the wrong demographic. I will set that aside for a moment and ask the hon. member if he would least concede that the tough-on-crime war against drugs has been an absolute and abject failure and that this bill at least provides some relief through expungement so that people who are caught with simple possession do not have to spend the entirety of their lives with the stigma of having a record.
    Would he at least not concede that expunging non-violent simple possession charges is the right, appropriate and just thing to do?
    Madam Speaker, a mandatory minimum does not mean life in prison. I want to make that very clear to my colleague who was just indicating that, which perhaps would mislead people into thinking that this is what this bill is all about. I will just leave it at that as well.
    I am talking about those who are trafficking in these drugs, and drugs are only a part of this. We know that there is smuggling of drugs just as there is smuggling of firearms, and this bill does nothing to stop either one of them.
    Madam Speaker, today we are debating Bill C-5 at report stage. I am profoundly disappointed as a parliamentarian and deeply ashamed as a former Crown attorney that this seriously flawed, reckless and dangerous bill has made it this far in the process.
    I left behind a proud and rewarding legal career as a public servant for the Province of Ontario, a career defined by holding criminals accountable for their actions, which ranged from mischief all the way through to and including first degree murder. It was a career further defined by advocating for victims' rights, which is a concept that is completely alien to this virtue-signalling government. Neither this bill nor Bill C-21 makes any reference to the rights and protection of victims.
    I was frustrated as a Crown attorney that the judicial system was out of balance. The proverbial pendulum over my career was significantly shifting in favour of the accused at the expense of protecting victims of crime. There must be a balance.
    The government will repeatedly make statements in the House that it cares deeply for victims and that their rights matter, but it is simply talk with no action. An example of this lip service is the fact the government has not replaced the federal ombudsman for victims of crime, a position left vacant since last October 1. It is shameful.
    It is time to dispel the myths and misinformation coming from the government whenever its members speak about this bill.
    Number one, this is not legislation targeted at low-risk offenders. Use of a firearm in the commission of an offence, possession of an unauthorized firearm, possession of a firearm with ammunition, weapons trafficking, importing and exporting of firearms, discharging a firearm with intent, reckless discharge of a firearm and robbery with a firearm are indeed extremely serious violent offences for which judges across this country routinely impose significant jail sentences and often prison on the offenders.
    These are not the types of people described by our Attorney General when the bill was introduced. We all remember that story: We are to imagine a young man who has too many pops on a Saturday night and decides to pick up a loaded gun and shoot into a barn. According to our Attorney General, we should feel sorry for this individual, as it would be a cruel and unusual punishment to impose a mandatory minimum penalty.
    Number two, this is not legislation that would reverse former PM Harper's Safe Streets and Communities Act. Several of the charges outlined in Bill C-5 include mandatory minimum penalties that were introduced by Pierre Elliott Trudeau in 1977 and Jean Chrétien in 1995, two Liberal majority governments.
    Third, according to the government and supported by its NDP partners and Green Party members, mandatory minimums are ineffective in reducing crime or keeping our communities safe. The simple fact is that if they actually believed this, instead of virtue signalling to Canadians, they would table legislation to remove all mandatory minimums. There are 53 offences that would remain in the Criminal Code if this bill passes. This includes impaired operation of a vehicle. Apparently it is important to hold drunk drivers accountable while allowing criminals and thugs to terrorize our communities by shooting up our streets.
    The fourth point is that according to the government, courts from across this country, including appellate courts and the Supreme Court of Canada, are striking down mandatory minimum penalties as being contrary to the charter. For reasons previously described, mandatory minimums introduced by previous Liberal governments have been upheld by various courts for over 40 years.
    Five, this is not legislation targeting people charged with simple possession. Bill C-5 would eliminate six mandatory minimums under the CDSA, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. These include the very serious offences of trafficking, importing, exporting and production of controlled substances. Drugs such as fentanyl and carfentanil are the most deadly and lethal form of street drugs, and an amount the size of a grain of salt is capable of killing an elephant. These drugs are not serious enough for the government. These are the same drugs that are causing an opioid crisis that results in daily overdoses and deaths. Do these killer criminals deserve mercy from the Liberal government? What has this country become?
    Finally, this legislation is supposed to address racism and reduce the over-incarceration of Black Canadians and indigenous offenders.

  (1250)  

    The Alberta minister of justice, Kaycee Madu, a Black Canadian, noted:
    While Ottawa’s new justice bill...contains some reasonable measures, I am deeply concerned about the decision to gut tough sentencing provisions for gun crimes...
    Removing tough, mandatory penalties for actual gun crimes undermines the very minority communities that are so often victimized by brazen gun violence. I also find it disingenuous for Ottawa to exploit a genuine issue like systemic racism to push through their soft-on-crime bills.
     I have prosecuted in the trenches for close two decades, unlike the Attorney General and members of the Liberal government. I can state on authority that the overriding sentencing consideration associated with the crimes relating to Bill C-5 are denunciation, deterrence and separation from society. In other words, it does not matter one's gender, ethnicity or race. Upon conviction, criminals are going to jail, period. It is time for the government to be honest with Canadians and accept that Bill C-5 will not substantially address the over-incarceration issue.
    Throughout the entire time this bill has been debated, I and other colleagues, most notably the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, have argued that there is a compromise for the government to consider. A constitutional exemption to all the charges outlined in the bill would give trial judges the legal authority to exempt criminals from a mandatory minimum penalty if they belong to a vulnerable population that is overrepresented in the criminal justice system and who are disadvantaged with regard to sentencing. This exemption would preserve the mandatory minimum penalties, but give judges the flexibility to craft an appropriate sentence. My amendment to this bill at committee was summarily dismissed by the Liberal chair as outside the scope of the study, which is shameful.
    Brantford police chief Rob Davis, the only indigenous leader of a municipal police service in Ontario, testified at committee: “With Bill C-5 and the proposed changes now, we are going to see sentencing become a joke”. He continued, “With...turning sentences into conditional sentences...the justice system is being brought into disrepute. People will operate with impunity and the victims' rights are going to be given away [for] the rights of the criminal.”
    Chief Davis also said, “Victims of communities will live in fear of gun violence and fearful of retaliation by armed criminals, and people will continue to overdose”.
    The committee also heard from Chief Darren Montour from the Six Nations Police Service, whose testimony was clear. He stated:
...proposed conditional sentences for violent offences will not deter offenders from committing further crimes. We are not in a position to continuously monitor sentenced offenders to ensure their compliance with...restrictions handed down by the courts. Police services across the country, and especially those within indigenous communities, are significantly understaffed. We are continuously asked to do more with less, and we cannot sustain this workload.
    He also stated that he can appreciate the statistics regarding the over-incarceration issue, “but along with the rights of offenders, victims and victims' families deserve rights as well.”
    Hundreds of Canadians from coast to coast signed the petition on my website, which I recently presented in the House. They called on the government to immediately withdraw Bill C-5. Here is a news release for the Liberal government: Canadians are terrified at the prospect that criminals convicted of sex assault and kidnapping will also enjoy serving that sentence in the comfort of their homes, the very same homes in which they committed their crimes. It is deeply shameful.
    The number one priority for the federal government is to keep Canadians safe. The government has been derelict in its responsibility.
    I, together with my Conservative caucus members, will always stand on the side of victims and keeping our communities safe by holding criminals accountable for their actions. I will be very strongly voting against this bill, and I encourage all members in the House to do the same.

  (1255)  

    Madam Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's background and the points he is making in his speech, but I have a couple of quick points.
    First, currently the minimum mandatory sentence for the repeated smuggling of tobacco is four years, yet for most of the firearms offences is one year, so there is an imbalance there in the system. Second, we have seen many times in British Columbia Crown counsel refusing to approve charges simply because the courts are too full and people have walked. Third, if I were the Minister of Justice, I would make dealing fentanyl the crime of attempted murder.
    That said, I would ask the hon. member whether or not he trusts the judgment of judges to hand down appropriate sentences in the serious situations he mentions.
    Madam Speaker, I reflect on this often, and I often hear from government members, NDP members and Green members that we Conservative members can all calm down because the bill would keep communities safe. They say we can trust our judges to always do the right thing. However, judges come from various backgrounds, which is why we have a myriad of different judgements from across this country, from coast to coast to coast. There is no consistency in sentencing.
    In answer to the question, as a former prosecutor over the last two decades and previous to that as a defence counsel, I have repeatedly seen abuses by defence counsel who were properly retained with illegal funds from trafficking, etc., who shop for a judge, as there are judges who are more lenient than others. Bill C-5
    We will continue with questions and comments. The hon. member for Montcalm.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I will try to remain calm. I am not sure I properly understood the intervention of my colleague, who cynically described people with addictions as criminals who deserve mercy from the government.
    Is the Conservative member aware of what is happening around the world in the fight against addiction? Does he know how many heroin addicts there were in Portugal before diversion programs and decriminalization were brought in? There were 100,000. Today, there are only 15,000.
    I would like the member to clarify what he meant and drop the cynicism toward people addicted to heroin or other substances.

  (1300)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, perhaps it was lost in translation, but that particular statement in my speech was a rhetorical question put to the government because that is the type of language the government is using.
    The focus of my speech was not on those who are struggling with drug addiction. Our entire focus as a Conservative caucus, even in our platform in the last election, is all about taking steps to address rehabilitation. The focus of my speech and the focus of our opposition is on traffickers who are encouraging these individuals to continue their addictions, and that is where our focus ought to be.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his intervention, but there is one thing I will flag for him. I found it very interesting that he chose to use a quotation from the past justice minister of Alberta Kaycee Madu, considering that Mr. Madu lost his position as the justice minister because he phoned the police chief after getting a ticket he did not like. He seems like an interesting person to refer to when we talk about justice.
    However, more importantly, would representatives from the Conservative Party be prepared to support the calls from other leaders, mayors, health experts, health care providers, frontline care providers and police in Alberta to support the decriminalization of small amounts of narcotics? Would that be something the member would be supportive of?
    Madam Speaker, again,what we are continually hearing from the NDP and the Greens is very frustrating. They want to change the story and turn the page on what Bill C-5 is all about.
    Bill C-5, for the last time, is not about simple possession. This is a news release to the House: It is not. I am not going to respond—
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles has the floor.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, today we are discussing Bill C-5, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drug and Substances Act, at report stage. It is sponsored by the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard—Verdun, the current Minister of Justice.
    Bill C-5 acts simultaneously on two complementary fronts: It repeals mandatory minimum penalties, or MMPs, for certain offences in the Criminal Code and establishes diversion measures for simple drug possession offences. Indirectly, Bill C-5 also seeks to counter systemic racism by addressing the overrepresentation of Black and indigenous people in the prison system.
    My colleagues may know from my background that I was a criminologist. Far from me to claim I am an expert in the matter, but I can say that establishing diversion measures for these offences and repealing mandatory minimum penalties is fully consistent with many of my views and opinions.
    Before I get into the substance of my remarks, let us define the important terms we are using today. Too many people, including most of us, confuse decriminalization, legalization and diversion. First, mandatory minimum penalties are legislated sentencing floors where the minimum punishment is predetermined by law. I am reiterating this because I believe that there is some confusion in our colleagues’ remarks. Second, decriminalization is the act of removing from the Criminal Code an action or omission that was considered a criminal offence, or the act of reducing the seriousness of an offence or removing from it any of its so-called criminal or penal nature. Diversion means the suspension, in the normal course of events, of criminal justice mechanisms at every step of the decision-making process. These can include incidents settled within the community, cases not referred to the justice system by the police, conciliation before reaching trial, and so on.
    Overall, the Bloc Québécois supports the provisions proposed in Bill C-5. However, there are a few points about which we have serious reservations, but I will get to that later.
    First, with respect to mandatory minimum penalties, the Bloc Québécois advocates an approach that involves rehabilitating offenders, a term our Conservative colleagues do not appear to be familiar with, reducing crime and easing the burden on our penal and justice systems.
    MMPs, which became harsher under the Harper Conservative government, are totally useless. No empirical study has ever shown that these penalties reduce crime. First, they increase the burden on the criminal justice and correctional systems. Second, they cost taxpayers a fortune. Third, they undermine any chances of reintegration for many minor offenders after their first offence for a minor crime, such as simple drug possession.
    Although we agree with the principle, we must point out this is not the right time to eliminate MMPs for firearms offences. As I stand here addressing the House, a number of cities in Canada and Quebec are experiencing a veritable epidemic of firearms, mainly because of the government’s inaction when it comes to border control. Without the firm and concerted action of the federal government to stem the illegal importation of firearms across the border, repealing MMPs for firearms offences is sending the wrong message.
    With respect to diversion, obviously the Bloc Québécois supports it, and I am personally very eager to see it happen, because I firmly believe in the concept of rehabilitation. Diversion considers drug problems to be mental health and public health issues. That is important. Diversion measures are intended for persons with addictions, those who would normally be prosecuted for simple drug possession under Canada's Criminal Code.

  (1305)  

    The aim of diversion is to remove individuals struggling with problematic substance use, and who do not pose a risk to society, from the justice system.
    It is important to understand that diversion is not inconsistent with criminal prosecution. Diversion simply offers offenders the choice of a different path, an alternative to prison. Options for diversion include treatment information sessions, fines, community service and many more. Diversion is therefore not a solution to the criminality associated with the sale of illicit drugs; it is a solution to social and public health problems.
    Earlier, my colleague referred to Portugal, which gives us one of the best examples of the benefits of diversion. Faced with a serious drug problem in 2001, that is the path Portugal opted for.
    Diversion led to a decline in drug use. Incarceration rates for drug-related offences decreased as well, and the number of fatal overdoses like those we are seeing in British Columbia, for example, fell sharply. Another benefit was that the incidence of HIV-AIDS among drug users also plummeted.
    I think it is crucial to point out this achievement, which is attributable to a combination of diversion measures and Portugal’s massive investment in health care. The current bill does not contain anything about this second component, namely investment in health care.
    I would like to remind members that every Canadian province, including Quebec, is asking the federal level to cover 35% of their health spending so that they can support their health care systems, which are in dire need of funding. Another good reason to increase health transfers, as Quebec wants and is calling for, is to again move towards adopting an approach that would closely follow Portugal’s.
    In short, the Bloc Québécois supports Bill C-5. We support the introduction of the principle of diversion for simple drug possession offences. We also support the repeal of some mandatory minimum penalties. I say “some” mandatory minimum penalties to avoid falling into demagoguery.
    However, I will reiterate that the government is making a mistake when it proposes to repeal mandatory minimum penalties for firearms offences without doing anything about the source of the problem, namely the free movement of thousands of illegal firearms across our porous border with the United States.
    I will therefore vote for Bill C-5, but if the government really wants to make a difference, if it wants to ensure that repealing mandatory minimum penalties and establishing diversion measures will yield all the benefits we can expect, it must do two things. First, it must immediately implement all of the measures proposed by my colleague from Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia to reduce firearms violence. Then, it must immediately increase health transfers to the provinces to cover at least 35% of their spending.
    If it does that, I can guarantee the Liberal Party that Bill C-5 will have an extremely positive impact. If it continues to turn a deaf ear to the Bloc Québécois’s proposals, it will once again have missed a great opportunity.

  (1310)  

    Madam Speaker, my colleague mentioned Portugal. He raised the issue of the financial resources that must support such a process. João Goulão was the author of this reform in Portugal. In response to someone who asked if they should go ahead with this diversion, or decriminalization, as he called it, he replied that, if the means were not there, and if the necessary funding was not provided for frontline resources, it would be better to leave the problem to the justice system.
    I would like to ask my colleague if he feels the government is willing to inject the necessary funds to support a reform seeking to resolve such fundamental problems as the opioid crisis.
     Madam Speaker, unfortunately, I do not get the feeling that this government is willing to do that.
    We often say that the government prefers to react rather than act. That is often the case. The government does not walk the talk. The community organizations and semi-governmental agencies that could and should be taking over for the prison system when it comes to minimum penalties need money to do their work.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the bill before us raises some really fundamental questions about what is effective in terms of criminal justice. Of course, those of us on this side of the House in the NDP believe that the evidence is crystal clear that mandatory minimums are simply not effective in helping to reduce crime. One thing I think that we are well aware of is the very high degree of addiction and mental health issues among inmates in federal correctional institutions. In fact, we did a study about 10 years ago at the public safety committee, and found that about 70% of inmates in federal systems suffered from an addiction or mental health problem.
    I am just wondering if my hon. colleague has any thoughts on whether it might be a more effective public policy, and help keep the public safe, if we directed resources toward trying to help people deal with their mental health and addictions issues while they were serving at the pleasure of the Crown, as they say, as opposed to simply making them stay longer in prison without any access to services.

  (1315)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I completely agree with my colleague. There is an obvious link between mental health and serious substance abuse problems. Unfortunately, the prison system is grappling with a large population with mental health issues because far too many people are being incarcerated for minor offences.
    Minor sentences do not solve anything. They are a waste of time for everyone, including the people directly affected by these problems. These minor offences could be dealt with by means other than prison sentences. They could be dealt with by society, with a view to rehabilitation, as I said before.
    To pick up on my colleague's idea, I also find it unfortunate that the Liberal government often talks about scientific studies and sound evidence, when all of that points to what is being done in Portugal. We need to start reading the scientific literature and listening to scientists. We need to follow their advice. I spoke about the Liberal government, but the Conservative government is even worse in that regard.
    Madam Speaker, I have already mentioned this here today, but I would like to hear my colleague's thoughts about human trafficking and the material benefit of eliminating minimum sentences.
    Madam Speaker, I had some trouble understanding the question. I apologize for that, but I think it is wonderful that my colleague is making an effort to speak in French, and I commend him.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, it is an honour to stand and speak to Bill C-5 at report stage. I would like to start by thanking all members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for the work they did in reviewing this bill and reporting it back to the House. As a former member of that committee, I know it is no easy task. I used to be a member, back in 2017. The bills that come before the justice committee are usually quite serious in nature. They demand a certain amount of responsibility to take up the task and make sure that the amendments we are making to the Criminal Code have in fact been vetted and that all of the implications of their passage are fully understood.
    This being Bill C-5, my remarks today, of course, are going to concentrate on two themes. One is on the question of mandatory minimums and whether they still serve any kind of useful purpose in our criminal justice system. The second theme is on the incredible harm that is a result of Canada's current federal drug policy, and not only the harm that is meted out to people who are arrested and have criminal records that they have to deal with for the rest of their lives, but also the lack of action in tackling the root causes of the opioid crisis that I have heard members from every political party and every region in Canada speak so passionately about.
    Bill C-5, like any piece of legislation, is not going to solve those problems by itself and I would argue that much more needs to be done. This is one small step on the path that we need to take, but it is nonetheless a step forward. That is why I will be supporting this bill and ensuring that the Senate receives it so that it can one day make its way to the Governor General's desk and be signed into law.
    It is important to set up the context, especially when we are speaking about mandatory minimums. I do not need to argue about the harms that they cause our society. It has been well documented by many, including none other than the Correctional Investigator. The statistics are there, for indigenous, Black and racialized Canadians, on their share of the population in Canada and their extreme overrepresentation in our criminal justice system.
    What is more is that there is simply no credible evidence that mandatory minimums work in any way to deter crime. That is a fact. I have had to sit in this place through question period after question period, listening to colleagues from the Conservative Party talk and deliberately misstate what is going on with this piece of legislation. The Conservatives are trying to weave a story for Canadians and trying to infect them with fear that with the passage of Bill C-5, somehow every person who is charged with a serious criminal offence is suddenly going to be placed on house arrest or released on the streets. Nothing could be further from the truth. What it speaks to is a distrust, among members of that party, in judges having the ability to make the right decisions for the cases that come before them. Mandatory minimums are a blunt instrument of justice. They do not allow a judge to take in the circumstances of a case and to look at the circumstances of the individual who has been charged with a crime.
    Furthermore, in all of the arguments I have heard from Conservatives on this bill, the part they leave out is that even though these sections in the Criminal Code are being amended, the maximum penalties are still in force. While the mandatory minimum penalties are being taken away, many of these serious offences carry prison terms of up to 10 years and of up to 14 years. There is no doubt in my mind that if a repeat offender has committed very serious criminal acts under the sections of the Criminal Code covered by Bill C-5, that person will receive jail time.
     A judge's solemn responsibility to society is public safety and ensuring there is justice for the victims of crime. Judges are always balancing society's best interests when a case comes before them. We have to trust them in that process. There is a reason that our legislative branch is separate from the judicial branch.

  (1320)  

    We have to trust in these men and women who are so very learned in law and who can appreciate all of the fine differences in each case that comes before them. We have to trust that they will always make the right decision. There are ways we can hold our judges to account. There are courts of appeal, and we can continue going up the judicial ladder until we reach the Supreme Court of Canada. I cannot accept the arguments that are being made against mandatory minimums in this place, because they are being made in bad faith.
    I want to turn to the main part I really want to hammer out here, which is the important amendments that are being made to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
    I was very honoured to stand in this place with my friend, colleague and neighbour, the member for Courtenay—Alberni, and vote in favour of his bill, Bill C-216. It would have essentially decriminalized personal possession. It would have set up a process of expungement. It would have set our country forward on a path of setting up a national strategy to deal with the opioids crisis.
    Unfortunately, there were only a few members who were brave enough to stand up for that bold, game-changing policy and trying to put this country on a path forward. Even though we lost that battle, I think that vote and the conversation we had have been important milestones for this country's evolving laws toward drug policy. I am certain that in the years ahead we are going to see some fundamental reform in this area.
    The main thing Bill C-5 would do with respect to our drug laws is set up a declaration of principles. We are at report stage now, but important work was done at committee. I have to take a moment to recognize the amazing and incredible work of my colleague and neighbour to the south, the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke. His knowledge of law, his expertise in that area and the diligent and hard work he has done at committee resulted in some very substantive amendments to Bill C-5. One of them in particular, although it is not going to be called expungement, is expungement by a different name.
    One of the main harms we have had to people who have have criminal records for personal possession amounts is that those records follow them throughout life. They can affect one's ability to get into certain lines of work, affect one's ability to rent a home and very severely affect one's ability to travel. The amendments that were made by the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke and accepted by a majority of the committee are essentially going to make sure that Bill C-5 would ensure that after two years those records are sequestered from the main records of that person, and no longer will anyone be able to find those records and hold them against that person.
    It is important, and it is certainly not as bold of a step as we would have wanted, but I think it goes to show that this small caucus of New Democrats has been able to make monumental reform to a pretty important government justice bill. I think this is going to leave a lasting mark for people who have been negatively affected by this.
    I will conclude by saying that when it comes to mandatory minimums, it is important for us to remember that the Criminal Code is a massive piece of legislation. There are already sections within the Criminal Code, specifically section 718.2, the sentencing principles, that allow a judge to increase or decrease a sentence based on aggravating factors. The sentences that are spelled out in the Criminal Code for the specific sections of Bill C-5, in fact, could be lengthened, if there were aggravating factors. If a crime was committed against a person with a disability or if racial hatred and bias were involved in a crime, judges could take that into account.
    I could say much more, but 10 minutes goes by very quickly. I will end by saying that Bill C-5 is a small step. We did our job to make it better. I will be pleased to vote in favour of this bill to send it to the Senate and hopefully into law in the very near future.

  (1325)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to hear my colleague's opinion on human trafficking with material benefit.
    Is it right for such a serious issue to be buried in the bill? Is this crime, which overwhelmingly affects women and girls, not important?

[English]

    Again, Madam Speaker, this is an example of the Conservatives completely ignoring what I just said.
    Of course I will acknowledge it is a serious crime, but what my hon. colleague failed to mention is that a judge would have the ability to look at the case before him or her, look at the defendant involved, look at the circumstances of the case, and if it is warranted, levy a hefty prison term against that individual.
    I have a counter-question for the member. Why does he and his party have so little faith in the judges? Why do those members not just come clean and say that to Canadians point blank?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I want tell my colleague that I truly appreciated his enlightening speech. We both served on the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying. I want to tell him that I agree with his analysis of the work that judges do, especially with respect to sentencing.
    I would like him to tell me about some of the negative effects of minimum sentences with respect to these changes, because minimum sentences do have negative effects.
    Can he provide some examples to help us understand why judges should have full responsibility over sentencing, which is the nature of their job?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, in my speech, I referenced the statistics, which are there for everyone to see, but I will go even further.
    There could be unique circumstances where charges have been levied against an individual who may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, mixed up with the wrong crowd, and the judge would have no choice on a guilty verdict. The judge may say, “I can see that the circumstances in which you find yourself are markedly different from the people I usually see before me, but my hands are tied and because of this mandatory minimum sentencing provision in the Criminal Code, I have to give you a three-year sentence.” It completely binds the hands of the judge.
    Justice is not black and white. As much as the Conservatives want to see that it is, it is not black and white. Judges need to have the ability to make sure that the sentence is appropriate to the person before them.

  (1330)  

    Madam Speaker, the member gave a thoughtful speech, as thoughtful as his colleague from Courtenay—Alberni and the bill that he had to decriminalize possession of small amounts of drugs. The first reaction to the bill that the House did pass was from Alberta, saying that what was happening in B.C., which was an agreement with B.C., is not good and it will not happen in Alberta.
    I would ask the member to reflect on that and Bill C-5, which again attempts to allow local jurisdictions to consider local circumstances and have judges make the appropriate judgment on what kinds of penalties should apply.
    Madam Speaker, on the last part, I agree that this is a fundamental reason that Bill C-5 needs to pass, but I will expand on it.
    The problem with the Liberals voting down Bill C-216 is that while there may be a jurisdiction like British Columbia which is very open to reaching agreements with the federal government, there will be other jurisdictions like Alberta that refuse to do that. While the agreement with British Columbia is a great thing, what about all the Canadians in other provinces who do not have progressive premiers? They have to wait for the law to be changed and they are out of luck. That is the problem. That is why it is shameful that the Liberals voted against Bill C-216.
    The government has claimed that the purpose of this act is to root out systemic racism in the criminal justice system and address the root causes of substance abuse in light of the worsening opioid crisis. Conservatives have another view. We have outlined the dangers in the government's Bill C-5 with regard to violent criminals, lessening sentences for gun crimes and the removal of mandatory minimum penalties, among other concerns.
    The Liberals are eliminating mandatory prison time for criminals who commit robbery with a firearm, weapons trafficking and drive-by shootings. They are doing this because they feel these laws are unfair. They are more interested in standing up for criminals than defending our communities. Tell that to the families of victims in my own riding of South Surrey—White Rock. As a member of Parliament from British Columbia and as a mother, I know illegal drugs are a scourge in our society.
    This enactment amends the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to repeal too many mandatory minimum penalties, allowing for a greater use of conditional sentences and establishing diversion measures for simple and first-time drug offences that are already in place. B.C. already has drug courts.
    Mandatory minimum sentences are not used for simple possession now; they do not exist. Despite what the Liberal government has said about Bill C-5, the Supreme Court did not declare all mandatory minimums unconstitutional. The courts have struck down some, but these punishments have been on the books for decades. In fact, a majority of the mandatory minimums were introduced under previous Liberal governments. For example, the mandatory minimum penalty repeal for using firearms in the commission of an offence dates back to the Liberal government of 1976.
    While the government claims to be undoing the work of the former Conservative government, it would truly be undoing the work of many former Liberal governments as well. This Liberal government is maintaining many of the mandatory minimums were introduced or strengthened by the former Conservative government.
    In Bill C-5, the government is eliminating six mandatory minimums under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act that target drug dealers: trafficking or possession for the purpose of trafficking; importing and exporting, or possession for the purpose of exporting; and production of a substance schedule I or II, like heroin, cocaine, fentanyl, crystal meth. The government is claiming this is solely to help those who struggle with addictions, but instead, the government is removing the mandatory minimums for those criminals who prey on those with addictions.
    Imagine what parents go through when their child is addicted to fentanyl. It is so addictive that it is only a matter of time before the person overdoses. With carfentanil, young people take it once; their first hit is their last, and their heart stops before they hit the floor.
    The bill allows for greater use of conditional sentence orders, such as house arrest, for a number of offences where the offender faces a term of less than two years' imprisonment. The offences now eligible include trafficking in, or exporting or importing schedule III drugs. That includes mescaline, LSD and others.
    What exactly is being done right now by the government to crack down on the drug trade? Why is the government not tackling the massive issue of supply in Canada?
    According to Criminal Intelligence Service Canada, which has strategically allocated resources to investigate organized crime groups with a higher threat level, there are over 1,800 OCGs in Canada. Larger OCGs do not generally restrict themselves to one illicit substance and are importing an array of illicit substances.
    Around 75% of OCGs analyzed by Criminal Intelligence Service Canada are involved in cocaine trafficking. The legalization of cannabis has done little to disrupt or displace OCGs due to the fact that 97% of them involved with importing cannabis are also involved in multi-commodity trafficking.
    It was noted that organized crime in Canada has grown due to an increase in criminal entrepreneurs who have harnessed the anonymity of the Internet to perpetrate crime. In addition, the dark web has given rise to an increasing number of criminals who are operating independently to implicate themselves in the fentanyl market and rapidly growing meth market due to the relative ease of obtaining precursor chemicals used in their production and synthesis.
    In addition to OCGs, there have been increasing threats observed from outlaw motorcycle gangs. For instance, the Hells Angels is an outlaw motorcycle gang with global ties to other active OCGs in Canada.

  (1335)  

    The organization has expanded across the country, and 50% of organized crime can be attributed to its operations. Hells Angels has increased the number of its support clubs from 40 to 120. This expansion has resulted in approximately double the amount of criminal activity. Hells Angels uses that coordination to ship fentanyl and methamphetamine together, contributing to the trend of polydrug trafficking.
    Their operations vary in terms of sophistication but pose a threat to public safety nonetheless. Violence surrounding OCGs is increasing and is commensurate with the increase in firearms-related crime in Canada, the expansion of illicit handguns westward from Ontario and the escalating use of social media to facilitate the illicit drug trade. It was noted that many key players from the largest OCGs have been killed in the past 18 months, both domestically and while brokering drug deals abroad.
    With respect to importation of illicit substances in Canada, existing OCGs with networks and smuggling routes for cocaine and heroin from Mexico are shifting focus. There has been a large increase in fentanyl and methamphetamine smuggling from Mexico. Favouring profitability, OCGs are moving away from heroin and toward fentanyl. As meth becomes less expensive to produce, its street value is declining, leading to increased demand for meth, as people who use drugs shift away from more expensive drugs to meth. Notably, Canada has been identified as a global transshipment country for fentanyl. Currently, there is a five-to-one import-export ratio, with 300 different OCGs involved in importation.
    The government has this woke view of criminal justice, that if people are kept out of prison, they will reform and all will be okay. I think drug dealers need to be in prison, not on house arrest where they can continue to ruin children’s lives and families' lives and devastate communities. Those most vulnerable in our society must be protected. I believe that is not in question.
    In my home province, according to preliminary data released by the B.C. coroners service, the toxic illicit drug supply claimed the lives of at least 2,224 British Columbians in 2021. Lisa Lapointe, the chief coroner, stated, “Over the past seven years, our province has experienced a devastating loss of life due to a toxic illicit drug supply. This public health emergency has impacted families and communities across the province and shows no sign of abating.” In 2021 alone, more than 2,200 families experienced the devastating loss of a loved one.
    In the past seven years, the rate of death due to illicit drug toxicity in our province has risen more than 400%. Drug toxicity is now second only to cancer in B.C. for potential years of life lost. Fentanyl was detected in 83% of samples tested in 2021. Carfentanil was present in 187 results, almost triple the number recorded in 2020. Illicit drug poisoning is now the leading cause of death among B.C. people aged 19 to 39, people in the prime of their lives. For men, the toxic drug crisis has been so severe that overall life expectancy at birth for males has declined in recent years in B.C.
    The townships that experienced the highest number of illicit drug toxicity deaths in 2021 were Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria. For me, representing and living in South Surrey—White Rock, these are not just statistics. We live it every day in B.C.
    I feel for those families that have lost loved ones to drugs. For that reason, I cannot support this government bill. Members can characterize me as they will, but six lives will be lost in British Columbia to drug overdose today, and I do not think Bill C-5 does a thing to deter drug dealers from killing my constituents. It makes their lives easier while they destroy those around them.

  (1340)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I am having a hard time understanding my colleague's logic. Bill C‑5 is not yet in effect, but she is saying that six people will die today. The current approach is rigid prohibition, rigid enforcement, an approach that has never worked.
    Does she know that harm reduction specifically means focusing police and judicial resources in order to fight back against traffickers and criminal organizations?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I have been accused of many things, but usually it is not that I am illogical. I think my arguments are extremely logical, in fact.
    We know that, in this country, we have very poor supervision of our ports. Resources have not been allocated by the government, either in personnel or in investment in money, to properly monitor the drugs that come into this country through the ports and through the mail. This is a global phenomenon, and they are very easily obtained. What we are talking about is looking to those who traffic in the misery and dependency of others. We should be focused on victims, not helping those who want to traffic in drugs.
    Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague quoted Lisa Lapointe, a very respected public health official in British Columbia. She has called for the decriminalization of drugs and for treating drug use and substance use disorders as health issues.
    My hon. colleague properly empathizes with the unbelievable, astronomical death rate in British Columbia. The New Democrats have pointed to the problem being the toxic street supply, and the fact that decades and decades of a “tough on crime, war on drugs” approach, which attempts to punish and interdict drugs, has been an absolute, abject, empirical, total failure.
    The member claims to be logical, so could she tell me if she thinks the war on drugs has been successful? Does she think that more punishment and trying to interdict drugs would give any different result than we have had over the last 50 years?
    Madam Speaker, I have a lot of respect for my colleague, who has been in this House a long time, even though we often approach things from a very different point of view.
    The fact of the matter is that just because a fight is hard or just because a fight is not immediate in its results does not mean that we give up the fight and say that we do not like the results of where things are right now, so we should just abandon that.
    The member mentioned Lisa Lapointe, the chief coroner. She is focusing on addicts and people who need help with drug addiction. That is my focus as well. We need greater and larger expansion of help, with drug treatment centres and with places for families to help their addicted loved ones have a place to go to get off those drugs and be able to embrace a different life. That has nothing to do with going soft on those who traffic in human misery.

  (1345)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by reassuring my colleague. I did not say that she was illogical; I said that I was having a hard time understanding her logic, which is not the same thing.
    That said, the Bloc Québécois stands up every day to tell the government that Bill C-5 is not enough and that we need to fight organized crime and create a registry of criminal organizations. Given what the hon. member was saying about borders and the current shortcomings in the fight against organized crime, I presume that she supports our bill and will vote for it.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, this is where there is an alignment between what I hear from the Bloc and my own personal feelings on this.
    The Bloc members talk about gang violence and crimes, particularly in Montreal, in their interventions in the House. We have the same issues in Surrey, B.C., where I am from. We have a rampant gang violence problem in that community. It pours over to innocents, such as a local man who is a coach and a nurse at our local hospital. Through mistaken identity and the car he drove, he was shot down in his driveway, leaving his family bereft and grieving. He had nothing to do with it.
    These are very serious issues, and we are in alignment on that.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, the government's Bill C-5 would amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to repeal certain minimum penalties, allow for a greater use of conditional sentences and establish diversion measures for simple drug possession offences. There are two parts to the bill. The first repeals 20 mandatory minimum sentences for offences involving firearms and drugs, and the second introduces the principle of diversion for simple drug possession.
    First, I must say that the Liberals' bill is certainly well intentioned. However, the timing of its introduction is rather odd, given that gun violence is spiking and the federal government, which is responsible for managing our borders, is being criticized for doing nothing to stem imports of illegal firearms. Not a day goes by without this issue being mentioned during question period in the House. The number of gun crimes has increased considerably over time. Between 2019 and 2020, the number of gun crimes committed in Montreal rose by 15%, and the number of firearms seized increased by 24%.
    In addition, the goal is to repeal certain mandatory minimum sentences for drug production, yet the opioid crisis is claiming more and more lives in Quebec and Canada. If I put myself in the shoes of the families who have lost a loved one to a shooting or to the use of drugs laced with fentanyl by a unscrupulous dealer, I am not sure this is the response they were hoping for from the government at this point.
     The bill repeals several minimum penalties for second and third offences. While it is true that mandatory minimum sentences for a first offence may impact social reintegration, keeping certain mandatory minimum sentences for second or even third offences could be justified as a way of upholding the credibility of our legal system. Maintaining public confidence in our justice institutions is also a concern that should not be dismissed out of hand.
     Let us remember that, under the Harper government in 2006, a number of mandatory minimum sentences were challenged. Section 12 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects individuals from cruel and unusual punishment in Canada, is often used as an argument against mandatory minimum sentences. Over 210 constitutional challenges have been filed. According to the Minister of Justice, 69% of the constitutional challenges involving mandatory minimum sentences for drug offences and 48% of those for firearms offences were successful. To be honest, we cannot call that a success.
    That said, we are supporting Bill C‑5 despite being somewhat dissatisfied with it. My esteemed colleagues from Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia and Rivière-du-Nord repeatedly asked the government to split the bill in two, because we believe that tackling substance addiction and abolishing mandatory minimum sentences are two fundamentally different issues. Unfortunately, the government rejected our request, so here we are now.
    We are disappointed with the part about mandatory minimum sentences, but we agree on the principle of establishing diversion measures as introduced in Bill C‑5. With respect to mandatory minimum sentences, the Bloc Québécois wants the legal system to adopt an approach that enables rehabilitation and reduces crime.

  (1350)  

     Considering that mandatory minimums have few benefits and introduce many problems, such as the overrepresentation of indigenous and Black communities in prison, in addition to increasing system costs and failing to deter crime, the Bloc Québécois supports the idea of repealing certain mandatory minimum sentences.
    However, we believe this is a bad time to repeal mandatory minimums for firearms offences, because many Quebec and Canadian cities are seeing a firearms epidemic, due in part to the Liberal government's failure to implement border controls.
    Repealing mandatory minimums without strong action by the federal government to counter the illegal importation of firearms at the border sends the wrong message. Although the Bloc Québécois can get behind repealing mandatory minimums for a first offence, we believe that keeping these sentences for second and even third offences can be justified, as this would maintain the public's trust in their justice institutions and the rehabilitation process.
    Believing in second chances does not mean that people's actions do not have consequences. It is a question of common sense.
    Although we think it is defensible to repeal mandatory minimum sentences for firearms possession, the fact that the bill repeals mandatory minimums for certain offences involving firearms, such as discharging a weapon with intent and robbery or extortion with a firearm, seems to contradict the government's claim that they are being maintained for certain categories of serious crimes.
    During the last election campaign and during the debate on Bill C-236, we expressed support for the introduction of the principle of diversion for simple drug possession. However, I would remind the House that such a measure will only be effective if investments are made in health care through transfers to support health care systems and community organizations, which need ways to support people grappling with addiction and mental health problems. They are doing amazing work on the ground, and they need resources to carry out their mission.
    We have said it before, but it bears repeating: The Bloc Québécois and the Quebec government demand health care funding. I think we have said this 572 times, but we want health transfers to cover 35% of the system costs. Unfortunately, the government has failed to respond. It is silent in the face of the unanimous demands of Quebec and the provinces. Those demands have been reiterated every year since the Liberals came to power, in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and today in 2022.
    Will they have the audacity to keep saying no until 2023? I hope not.

  (1355)  

[English]

     Madam Speaker, I look at Bill C-5 as a positive piece of legislation. I understand the member's concerns with respect to dividing it, which is what the Bloc wanted to see, but overall I think it is important that we understand and appreciate judicial independence. The idea is that our judges need to have discretionary authority to deal with issues such as systemic racism, which is very real in our court system.
    I wonder if my colleague could provide her thoughts with regard to that aspect of the legislation and how it would benefit that issue.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I will not answer the question specifically, but I do have something to say.
    For weeks now, months even, the Bloc Québécois has been making proposals concerning well-being and suggesting solutions to the current government, which sometimes ends up in reaction mode because it has failed to prepare. This time, we are telling the government that it should split this bill in two because it covers two different things.
    I have a question of my own. Why are we once again faced with a mammoth bill at the end of the session while being hit with one time allocation motion after another?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, it is interesting listening to the debate. The government claims that this bill is about systemic racism and in particular about the overrepresentation of Black and indigenous people in our prison population. If we read the bill, the bill makes no mention of racism and no mention of Black or indigenous communities. There is nothing in there about programs or processes to address the inequalities. It is simply a bill about lowering sentences for broad categories of offences.
    When there is overrepresentation, reducing overall sentences or removing minimum sentences or sentencing starting points does not change the fundamental cause of overrepresentation. There is nothing in the bill that actually addresses the issue of overrepresentation whatsoever, and the government's rhetorical defence of the bill has nothing to do with what is in the bill.
    I wonder if the member has a comment on that.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, my answer is very simple. We need to start relying on science, legal experts and the right advisers who are giving us concrete proof that there is a right way of doing things.
    The right way of doing things is to invest in rehabilitation and support, because reducing minimum penalties will not reduce crime. The statistics make that clear.
    I hope that we will implement structures and concrete measures to help people, because, right now, there are flaws in Bill C-5.
    Madam Speaker, I share the concerns of my colleague from Laurentides—Labelle about having one bill with two goals. I fully support the elimination of mandatory minimum sentences, which do not work and are a problem for our justice system. At the same time, I am absolutely in favour of measures to achieve the objective of Bill C‑5, which is that problematic substance use must be addressed primarily as a social and health issue, not a criminal one.
    Both of these elements are in Bill C‑5, but as a result, each is weaker in achieving the results we need.
    Madam Speaker, I will be very succinct.
    I know that we can be proactive because I worked with community organizations in Laurentides—Labelle that work proactively to prevent crime. They have what it takes to help us. I agree that Bill C‑5 should be split in two.

Statements by Members

[Statements by Members]

  (1400)  

[English]

Filipino Heritage Month

    [Member spoke in Filipino]
    [English]
    June is the month in which we celebrate and recognize the importance of Filipino Canadian heritage. It is also the month in which the country of the Philippines celebrates its independence of 124 years. If we were to canvass the House, I am sure we would find a general consensus that the contributions of the Filipino heritage community are second to no other. It continues to grow. It is one million strong.
    It is with great pleasure that I encourage all members, rural and urban and from all sides, to recognize the important role the Filipino heritage community plays every day of the year.
    I give a special shout-out to my ate Clarita for the beautiful suit jacket.

Saskatchewan Roughriders

    Madam Speaker, the Canadian Football League regular season kicks off tonight, and the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ home opener is this Saturday at Mosaic Stadium in Regina. This year, the green and white will be victorious in all regions of the country, including Atlantic Canada, when Wolfville, Nova Scotia, hosts a game against the Toronto Argos on July 16.
    It has been a tough three years for Rider nation. Not only was the 2020 Grey Cup game in Regina cancelled due to the pandemic, but the 2019 and 2021 Grey Cups were both won by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. It is shameful.
    However, those dark times are behind us, and we are all looking forward to seeing the Riders win the Grey Cup on home turf in Regina this November 20. If anyone is still thinking about their fall vacation plans, the Grey Cup festivities in Regina this November are not to be missed.
    Go Riders, and have a great season.

Event in Oakville North—Burlington

    Madam Speaker, June 18 will be a big day in Oakville North—Burlington as we celebrate the arts, lacrosse and a renowned sports artist. On this special day, the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre in Oakville will host the Rob MacDougall Memorial Lacrosse Day and Celebrity Classic in honour of Rob MacDougall, while raising funds and awareness for KidSport Ontario.
    Rob was an artist, athlete, coach and leader who was known for his paintings of sports legends. He loved lacrosse and designed logos for teams like the Oakville Hawks, the Oakville Buzz, the Burlington Chiefs and the Toronto Rock. Not only that, but he revitalized lacrosse in our community. There are not many players who were not touched by him. Rob's leadership in the arts and in sports has not gone unnoticed.
    I enthusiastically encourage everyone to support this event, whether attending, donating or spreading the word, in celebration of Rob MacDougall and Canadian sports.

[Translation]

Sylvain Gaudreault

    Mr. Speaker, my friend Sylvain Gaudreault has just a few days left at the Quebec National Assembly as the MNA for Jonquière.
    A professor and historian who was first elected in 2007, Sylvain has filled almost every role a parliamentarian can hold, including serving as a “super-minister” in the Marois government from 2012 to 2014 and as interim leader of the Parti Québécois. However, by his own admission, the role of MNA was the most important.
    The people of Jonquière have trusted him to represent them for over 15 years because they know he is a humble, fair and devoted man. My MNA attributed his staying power in politics to the “Sylvain method”, which essentially meant always elevating the debate and remaining positive. That is the mark of a great politician and statesman.
    Sylvain proudly served the independence movement and helped Quebec move forward. I will always remember his courage and the strength of his convictions as he uncompromisingly defended the goal of a just and active transition to an independent Quebec.
    I want to thank Sylvain and wish him all the best for the future.

Situation in Ukraine

    Mr. Speaker, the Russian invasion began over 100 days ago. Since then, the people of Ukraine have been experiencing a massacre.
    In December, two months before the invasion, I proposed that the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development urgently examine the situation in Ukraine. Our work is not done, and I still think it is very important.

  (1405)  

[English]

    Our foreign affairs committee heard from the Ukrainian ambassador about the horrific acts of violence, rape, torture and cold-blooded murder of civilians. The Ukrainian ambassador invited our committee to come to Ukraine to bear witness to this, which I very much hope to do, but the Conservative Party refused. What is more, it has been nearly four weeks that the Conservatives have been filibustering the work of our committee, preventing us from hearing from witnesses and getting on with our work.
    Now, just this week, the Conservative Party officially proposed to the House to drop sanctions against Russia on certain agricultural goods. It is shameful.
    In times of crisis and in times of war, we must rise. We cannot obfuscate. We cannot back down. We must rise to meet the moment.

Filipino Heritage Month

     Mr. Speaker, I rise today to celebrate Filipino Heritage Month. Filipino Canadians have made tremendous contributions to the social, cultural and economic well-being of Canada.
    In my province of Manitoba, the first immigrants from the Philippines arrived in the 1950s. Today, Manitoba is proudly home to one of the most vibrant populations of Filipino Canadians in the country. Canada and the Philippines have an important and ever-growing relationship on the world stage.
    As the vice-chair of the Canada-Philippines Interparliamentary Friendship Group, I sincerely look forward to working with all Canadians and Filipinos to advance our nations’ shared interests.
     This morning, I was honoured to join members of the Filipino community at a flag-raising ceremony on Parliament Hill where we celebrated the Philippines' 124th Independence Day. I ask all Canadians from coast to coast to coast to join me in celebrating Filipino Heritage Month.

Filipino Heritage Day

    Mr. Speaker, it would appear that this is not only Filipino Heritage Month, it is Filipino Heritage Day here in the House of Commons and I join my colleagues in celebrating a community that has happily woven its way very deeply into our multicultural fabric.
    Celebrate is the right term. This morning we enjoyed raising the flag of the Philippines on Parliament Hill and we enjoyed our very own, very talented Glisha from Surrey as she sang the national anthems. We have enjoyed mixing and mingling with diplomatic representatives and Filipino community leaders.
    In that regard, we on the west coast and in Surrey are particularly honoured to be the home of Narima Dela Cruz, president of the Filipino National Congress. From the first Filipino sailors who came to our west coast in the late 1800s and those who worked in our lumber mills and mines in the early 1900s, to the workers who settled on the Prairies and founded Winnipeg's strong and robust Filipino community, we know them as friendly, hard-working, forward-looking people who are a valued part of every neighbourhood they are to be found in. In other words, they are really good Canadians.

Office Staff Thanks

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to you and all Canadians to four very important people: Ashley Lloyd, Maghnus Ryan, David Hickey and Jeannette Arsenault. They may not be as popular and as well known as Wayne Long in the riding of Saint John—Rothesay, but they are equally, if not more, important.
    They are part of Team Long. They are part of my constituency office and my Hill office, and we all know as MPs that we would not be here without them. They answer the phones, they answer the emails and the social media, they schedule the meetings, and they learn our programs and policies. They are on the front lines and on behalf of all of us, and all Canadians, I want to thank them for the wonderful jobs they do in our constituency and Hill offices.

John Smylie

    Mr. Speaker, it is with great sadness that I speak today on the passing last week of John Smylie of Quinte West, honorary colonel of CFB Trenton. John was a community leader, a loving husband, an incredible father and a more incredible grandfather.
    John and Angela Smylie operated grocery stores in Simcoe, Guelph and Brockville, and ended up as operators of Smylie's Independent in Trenton, Ontario. John showed his true love and philanthropy to his town and region. In the 2003 blackout, when other grocers were increasing their prices of batteries, John decreased his. When people needed baskets for the Salvation Army, he was the first in line.
    He championed the local Trenton Memorial Hospital and ensured that it would thrive today. He was the honorary colonel of 436 Squadron in Quinte West and when he passed, he was the honorary colonel of CFB Trenton, cherishing every moment spent there. He wore his uniform with pride.
    The Bay of Quinte mourns the loss of an incredible service person to our community. He was a true friend and family man. I thank John for his service to our region and to our country.
    May he rest in peace.

  (1410)  

Firearms Legislation

    Mr. Speaker, one of the greatest risk factors in a violent intimate relationship is gun ownership. Just by virtue of having a gun in the home, the lethality of intimate partner violence increases by 500%.
    A femicide occurs every two and a half days in our country. It routinely follows documented incidents of intimate partner violence, and it disproportionately affects indigenous women and women living in rural areas.
    Intimate partner violence and gun violence intersect, and they intersect in deadly ways. That is why Bill C-21's new red flag law is crucial: It would ensure that anyone who is proved to be at risk of harming themselves or those around them would not be able to possess a firearm licence.
    There are still too many women in this country who live in fear. These new provisions would save lives, and I hope everyone in the House will support the bill's speedy passage.

[Translation]

Tourist Attractions in Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier

    Mr. Speaker, my riding of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, located in the beautiful greater Quebec City region, is known for its many tourist attractions, its hospitality and its abundance of local products.
    Not to be missed are the farmers' markets, which are becoming a gathering place for passionate farmers, creative artisans and dedicated producers who are always ready to take good care of their customers. The wide variety of products and the friendly people always make for a pleasant experience.
    At the farmers' markets in Saint‑Augustin‑de‑Desmaures, Deschambault-Grondines, Pont‑Rouge, Saint‑Raymond, Saint‑Casimir, Stoneham‑et‑Tewkesbury, Saint‑Gabriel‑de‑Valcartier and Sainte‑Catherine‑de‑la‑Jacques‑Cartier, visitors are sure to discover something special that will make their visit more enjoyable.
    I invite all of Canada's foodies to come for a visit. They will receive a warm welcome in Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier.
    I wish everyone a good summer.

[English]

John Ware Memorial

     Mr. Speaker, thunderclouds rolled over the foothills of southern Alberta, bringing desperately needed rain for the grasslands of the foothills. It was a perfect backdrop for a celebration honouring a legendary cowboy.
     The stories of John Ware are almost too fantastic to believe. He would stop a steer head-on. He would lift small cows and he would break horses that others thought were unbreakable. What is indisputable is a story of survival and perseverance. John Ware embodied the strength and resilience of Black Canadians. He overcame racism, rough frontier conditions and slavery to build a life for himself and his family in the foothills, and he became a successful and renowned rancher. A highly skilled horseman, John joined a crew that drove a thousand head of cattle to the Rocky Mountains, where he built a life for himself.
    His achievements are now being honoured with a plaque at the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site in the saddle barn that he helped build. I would encourage all Canadians to learn more about this incredible pioneer so that the legend of John Ware lives on.

[Translation]

West Island Black Community Association

    Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today to talk about an organization that is doing fantastic work on behalf of the Black community in Pierrefonds—Dollard.

[English]

    The West Island Black Community Association, properly known as WIBCA, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this month. This wonderful organization provides a wide array of services to all segments of society while also empowering Montreal's Black community. Its services include a clinic, a scholarship program, its first-ever robotics expo being inaugurated this week and fitness programs, as well as security and financial literacy workshops for seniors.

[Translation]

    I want to thank the West Island Black Community Association for playing such a vital role in the pandemic response and for its hard work in our community.

[English]

    I thank them for making the West Island a better place. I look forward to celebrating this important milestone with them.

Ojibway National Urban Park

    Mr. Speaker, in the face of continued misinformation from the Prime Minister's Office, yesterday's passage of Bill C-248 establishing Ojibway National Park was a victory for Caldwell First Nation, the City of Windsor, Essex County and the environment. New Democrats, Conservatives, the Bloc Québécois, the Green Party and two courageous Liberal MPs voted to establish this historic park.
    I want to thank Chief Mary Duckworth and all of Caldwell First Nation for years of advocacy, Mayor Dilkens and all of the city council, Janet and Dave of Wildlands League, the Unifor Environment Committee, Friends of the Rouge, Friends of Ojibway Park, Essex County Field Naturalists' Club, ERCA, thousands of resident schools and businesses, Wildlife Preservation Canada, Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, Green Ummah, the Audubon Society and Save Ojibway.
    These remarkable organizations and people came together and worked hand in hand to make this park a reality. We now invite members who did not vote for this park to work with us on the next steps.

  (1415)  

[Translation]

Quebec's Political Weight

    Mr. Speaker, Liberal and Conservative members from Quebec showed their true colours yesterday. They voted against protecting Quebec's political weight in the House of Commons. They voted against maintaining the proportion of seats in Ottawa for the Quebec nation at 25%.
    Because of them, Quebec is doomed to slowly disappear. Maintaining Quebec's political weight at 25% is not a new concept. It was proposed as part of the Charlottetown accord in 1992. It was Brian Mulroney's compromise in order to accommodate Quebec within the Canadian system. It was known as the “beau risque”. That is what the Liberals and Conservatives said no to.
    It is even worse coming from the Conservatives, because they are abandoning the only real legacy they ever had in Quebec. In 1992, the Conservatives were in favour of protecting Quebec's political weight, while the Reform Party opposed it. This is basically proof that that party over there today is the Reform Party. It also shows how important the Quebec nation is to the rest of Canada. Let us face the facts.

[English]

Human Rights Work

    Mr. Speaker, the Chinese Communist Party continues to commit horrific acts of violence against Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims: acts that this House has rightly recognized constitute genocide. Actions by Parliament and the government continue to be vitally needed to more effectively block products made with Uighur forced labour, halt complicity in organ harvesting and prevent Canadian imports from supporting this repression, and to sanction perpetrators of violence.
    This week, I was very pleased to join Senator Leo Housakos in welcoming a leader in the fight for Uighurs and for human rights in general to Parliament: NBA star Enes Kanter Freedom. Honestly, I am not normally a big sports fan, but it was great to see the way that the convening power of celebrity could be used to constructively engage more people in an important cause. Mr. Freedom has leveraged his audience of millions to bring awareness and promote action in support of the world's most vulnerable. Uighurs in concentration camps often cannot have their voices heard, so Mr. Freedom is using his platform to magnify their voices.
    I also want to recognize his important work on human rights in Turkey to defend the rights of those persecuted by the increasingly authoritarian Erdogan regime.
    While many stars and corporate brands only stand for racial justice when it is convenient, Mr. Freedom is always a champion on the court that matters most. I thank him for being a voice for the voiceless.

Italian Week Ottawa

    Mr. Speaker, I am so pleased to rise today to welcome back, after two long years of waiting, the in-person Italian Week Ottawa celebrations in my community of Ottawa Centre. Italian Week is focused on creating exciting experiences that share Italian culture with all of us.
    The events scheduled this year include a film screening, master classes, children's bedtime stories and much more. The grand finale will take place from June 17 to 19 along beautiful Preston Street in Little Italy in my community.
    I encourage everyone to join us next weekend to see live entertainment, a soccer tournament, kids' rides, opera performances, street animations and the Ottawa bike race as we close out the week.
    I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Department of Canadian Heritage for the ongoing support it has provided to Italian Week Ottawa, and to applaud the festival organizers and board directors, Lydia Di Francesco and Gina Maddalena, along with all the volunteers for their tireless efforts in planning this fantastic celebration.
    Happy Settimana Italiana di Ottawa.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[Translation]

Health

    Mr. Speaker, soon masks will no longer be required on public transit in Ontario. Soon masks will no longer be required on public transit in Quebec. The provincial governments listened to the recommendations of their public health experts.
    Vaccine passports are no longer required in the country unless you are taking a plane, working for the federal government or entering the Parliament buildings. It is so ridiculous that some Liberal MPs have asked the Conservatives not to talk about it because they are afraid it will upset the Prime Minister and he will dig in his heels.
    What is wrong with the Prime Minister's political science?
    Mr. Speaker, first allow me to thank Canadians for the sacrifices they made to get through the pandemic. Our collective efforts have borne fruit: Canada has the second-lowest mortality rate in the G7 and the lowest unemployment rate in the last 50 years.
    Such effective outcomes are a result of the vaccines and all the public health measures we implemented.

  (1420)  

    Mr. Speaker, her talent for not answering questions is incredible. What is the difference between being crammed into a subway or lining up at an airport? People on the subway have physical contact with others, vaccinated or not, and public health is fine with that. At an airport, everyone is vaccinated and must still wear a mask.
    The Prime Minister has no science to justify this. Does the Prime Minister think that the provincial public health agencies, which are responsible for health, are wrong? Are all the agencies in all the provinces wrong, or is he the only one who is right? Why does the Prime Minister insist on making people wear masks and maintaining these measures?
    Mr. Speaker, the incredible talent is the Conservative's talent of not understanding that these public health measures and vaccines are the reason Canada has succeeded in the fight against COVID‑19.
    If the United States had matched Canada's vaccination rate, they could have avoided 690,000 hospitalizations and 163,000 deaths.

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, all we ever hear from the minister is “if”. She never gives real answers. Let us talk about real-life things.
    Even as shootings are on the rise in Montreal, the Liberals are in such a hurry to release criminals that they are going to gag the opposition to pass Bill C‑5, which imposes mandatory minimum sentences.
    Here is what one Montrealer said on TVA: “My mother and I were sitting on the porch after supper, and we had to go inside and hide because there was shooting. There was gunshot after gunshot.”
    This is not a war zone we are talking about; it is Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Why are the Liberals more interested in helping criminals than in offering reassurance to this woman and all Montrealers?
    Mr. Speaker, what we are interested in is taking concrete action to reduce the number of guns, such as handguns, in Canada.
    I find the Conservative members' questions absurd. They are against the important historic measures we are proposing.

[English]

     Mr. Speaker, Conservatives believe that meaningful and effective steps must be taken to end gun violence and gun crime in Canada. Canadians need to be safe, and victims of domestic violence need to be protected. While there are aspects of Bill C-21 that we can agree on, specifically on domestic violence issues, the rest of the bill falls short and would do nothing to end gun violence.
    Will the Liberals agree to split Bill C-21 into two bills? One would be to protect the victims of domestic violence, while the other aspects of the bill would be reworked to offer real and effective solutions to gun crime and gun trafficking.
    Mr. Speaker, speaking as a member of Parliament for downtown Toronto and as a mother of teenagers who live in my riding, I want to say very clearly that we will never water down our measures on gun control. We know that these are essential to protecting Canadians, and I just wish the members opposite would stop their posturing and join us in savings lives.
    Mr. Speaker, divisive policies do not protect people. Fear does not protect people. Virtue-signalling does not protect people. The Liberals are using U.S.-style wedge politics for their own political gain. It will not keep Canadians safe, and it will not stop violence.
    Conservatives will be putting forward a sincere offer to split Bill C-21 so that victims of domestic violence can be protected as soon as possible. We can work together to get this done, but it is up to the Liberals. They have two options: They can either accept the offer to protect victims immediately, or they can reject it and continue with their divisive rhetoric, which would leave victims vulnerable.
    Mr. Speaker, do members know what protects Canadians? What protects Canadians is banning military-style assault weapons, which have no place in our society. What protects Canadians is limiting access to handguns, and I will tell members what is entirely insincere. It is the Conservatives' fake concern for Canadians who are victims of gun violence. Conservatives could support those Canadians by supporting our legislation.

  (1425)  

[Translation]

Official Languages

    Mr. Speaker, the Government of Quebec gave all members of the Standing Committee on Official Languages a book of amendments for Bill C‑13, in which is sets out how to actually protect the French Language. Quebec reiterates that the bill must mention the particular situation of French as a minority language within an English-speaking continent. It also reiterates that the Charter of the French Language must apply to federally regulated businesses. Quebec has a unique expertise when it comes to the French language, earned over its 400-year history.
    Will the federal government meet Quebec's demands?
     Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister said last week, our government recognizes that the French language needs to be strengthened in Quebec and across Canada. Our government knows that the French fact is declining in Quebec and across Canada and that we need to halt that decline.
    With respect to expertise, it is clear that I am an anglophone and “ukrainophone”, but we have francophone members from Quebec and from all over the country in our party.
    Mr. Speaker, I have seen a lot of bills, and it is extraordinary for Quebec to officially submit amendments to a federal bill. It is extraordinary because it is existential. Bill C-13 is about our official, common and national language. Quebec is saying that, without amendments, Bill C-13 does not protect French in Quebec. Rather, it promotes bilingualism, which leads to anglicization.
    Does the federal government realize that there is one area, only one area, where Canada must must Quebec's demands, and that is the protection of the French language?
    Mr. Speaker, I completely agree that French in Quebec and Canada is an existential issue. I absolutely agree. As a Ukrainian Canadian, I understand full well, on a very personal level, the importance of language and culture. However, I must also say that Bill C-13 is an excellent bill that will protect French in Quebec and across the country.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, when we talk about the rising cost of living, the Liberals keep making comparisons rather than presenting solutions to help people. They say that things are better here than they are elsewhere. Basically, they are telling us to suck it up and stop whining.
    Here is the reality, however. Workers are having to turn to food banks. Under the Liberals, the cost of housing rose faster in Canada than in any other G7 country. Meanwhile, investors are getting richer while families are struggling. People want solutions, not excuses.
    When will the Liberals do something to make life more affordable for families?
    Mr. Speaker, we agree that affordability is very important for Canadian families. That is why we have implemented practical, targeted solutions that have already put money back in Canadians' pockets.
    For example, we increased the Canada workers benefit so that a family of three will receive $2,300 more this year. We are also making a one-time payment of $500 to people facing housing challenges. We are doing a lot more, but I see that I am out of time.

[English]

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, while families struggle to afford groceries, rent and gas for their cars, the Liberals shrug and say that things are better here than elsewhere. Since they like comparisons so much, I have one for them. Under the Liberals, the cost of a home in Canada has increased faster than it has in any other country in the G7. Canadians cannot find a home they can afford, and they want solutions, not excuses. The government must act now.
    Will the Liberals stop with the excuses and build 500,000 units of social housing and co-op housing to help families struggling to make ends meet?

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, when it comes to co-op housing, and I did grow up in a co-op, our government, in the recent budget, put forward the biggest investment in co-op housing in a generation. That is something I am very proud of. I want to thank the MP for Milton for his hard work on that.
    When it comes to other solutions to help Canadians with affordability, let me point to a very important program, the Canada workers benefit, which we have increased by $9 billion over five years. A family of three, this year, is getting $2,300 more.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, it is disturbing that Conservatives needed to ask the police to find out that the minister's statement claiming that police recommended the government invoke the Emergencies Act was in fact false.
     No such recommendations were made by police. The deputy minister tried to explain the minister's claims, saying he was misunderstood. Why did the minister repeatedly fail to give Parliament accurate information? Was he just hoping he would not get caught?
    Mr. Speaker, let me quote from the testimony of Commissioner Brenda Lucki of the RCMP, from the committee my hon. colleague is a member of. Referring to the government, she said:
     When they did come up with measures, they came to us to ask if these measures would be useful.
     Then, when they were revoking it, of course, they came again to us and asked, “Are you in a position that you no longer need the additional authorities?” It was a consultation.
     That is precisely what we have said all along. It was the responsible thing to do to invoke the Emergencies Act. If we want to be a government, we have to know how to protect Canadians, and that is what we did.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister's story keeps changing.
    Invoking the Emergencies Act set a precedent in our country's history. There is no room for the government to mislead, equivocate or to be misunderstood. Parliament was led to believe by the Minister of Public Safety that police asked the government to invoke the Emergencies Act, but now we know that is false.
     Will the minister show some humility and apologize to Canadians for his inaccurate statements?
    Mr. Speaker, I would think my colleague, the hon. member of this chamber, would have the humility to recognize the words I just said were not from the government but from the RCMP Commissioner in front of the committee, which he was privy to.
     He heard those words that the commissioner said, that the government consulted, which is exactly what we have said all along. We sought the advice of law enforcement on the powers that they needed to restore public safety. What we did in invoking the Emergencies Act was the responsible thing to do to protect Canadians' safety.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, last night at the health committee, the president of PHAC confirmed that the Prime Minister’s continued mandates are driven by political science. He said that there were no metrics to justify these mandates and no metrics that can be met to lift them.
    While infectious disease experts and now PHAC are both pointing to politics as the reason for the federal mandates, officials are dropping the last of the provincial mandates. When will the Prime Minister and the government drop the politics and end the mandates?
    Mr. Speaker, I was at that meeting. I thank my hon. colleague for the collaboration on the health committee.
    All Canadians are sick and tired of COVID-19. We all agree that we want it to go away, but just wishing it away is not going to make it happen. Over the past few months we have made some amendments, we have made some changes, and we continue to see some deaths from COVID-19. In fact over 1,700 deaths from COVID-19 in May alone.
    The most important thing that we can do to get through this pandemic is to consider getting vaccinated. We will continue to be informed by science, not the political games of the Conservative opposition.
    Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary talks about political games. He is talking about vaccines. The Liberal government has already thrown five million doses in the garbage. We have heard from infectious disease specialists that their mandates are saving zero lives. They are ineffective. They are political in their entirety.
    Dr. Tam said last night that the government would not do away with mandates because they would be too hard to force upon Canadians later. Does that sound like medical science to anyone?
     The Prime Minister would not give up his control over Canadians because they would not let him take it from them again. Enough is enough. When will the Prime Minister end the mandates?

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives cannot seem to make up their minds about vaccinations.
    The member for Yorkton—Melville claims that the government has a secret agenda after refusing to get vaccinated.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Mr. Adam van Koeverden: Mr. Speaker, this type of rhetoric is divisive and all members of the House should stop trying to spread—
    I am just going to interrupt. We started off really well, but it seems to have gone downhill. I just want to make sure that everybody can hear the answer that is being given. The hon. member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes asked a question and I am sure he wants to hear the answer.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives cannot seem to make up their minds about vaccinations. A year ago, they were saying we would never have enough vaccinations to get every Canadian vaccinated, yet lo and behold, we have got many vaccinations in the arms of Canadians.
    The member for Yorkton—Melville claims the government has some kind of secret agenda after refusing to get vaccinated herself. Her colleague, the Conservative MP for Niagara West, has talked about banning mRNA vaccines in Canada. That is the same vaccine that has saved millions and millions of lives.
    The science is clear. Vaccines are safe and effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19, as well as reducing severe cases, hospitalizations and death.
    When will the Conservatives get on board and encourage their constituents to get vaccinated?
    Mr. Speaker, an RV dealer in Kelowna—Lake Country, a boat dealer in B.C., as well as their respective national industry organizations, all tell me that the normal delivery times for an RV, boat or their parts from the U.S. have gone from two weeks to up to four months and they will lose their summer sales season. They all said it is because of the federal border vaccine mandates affecting drivers that continue to hurt their small businesses.
    When will the Liberals wake up from their 2020 policies and remove these out-of-date, unscientific, unjustified vaccine mandates that are killing small business?
    Mr. Speaker, all Canadians are sick and tired of COVID-19. We all want to get back to normal, but just wishing away or ignoring COVID-19 is simply not going to work.
     Over the past few months, we continue to see more deaths from COVID-19. In fact, there have been 10,000 deaths in 2022 alone. The most important thing that we can do to get through this pandemic is to continue to ask Canadians to go and get a third dose and remain vigilant.
    Mr. Speaker, the EU and U.S. have dropped their mandates, while Canadian travellers still have to provide proof of vaccination, wear masks and be subject to random testing. Canadians want to travel again, but the backlogs created by these now unnecessary restrictions have become so extensive that Air Canada had to cancel 360 flights in one week at Toronto's Pearson airport.
    When will the government finally focus on economic recovery and lift these out-of-date, punitive travel mandates?
    Mr. Speaker, let me first start by thanking our health care workers who have sacrificed so much over the last couple of years. They have spent two years on the front lines to protect us all and one of the best ways that we can support them and ensure that they stay safe is continue to encourage our constituents to get vaccinated.
    Vaccines remain an important tool in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and variants, and as the federal government, we will keep doing everything that we can to support Canadians and keep them safe, which includes encouraging them to get vaccinated.

[Translation]

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, Quebec has had a carbon market with California since 2014.
    The Minister of the Environment actually went to California yesterday, but not to announce that he would be forcing polluting sectors to join the carbon market. No, he announced that the federal government will be creating its own pseudomarket, a system with no emissions cap that allows companies to exchange the right to pollute without actually reducing greenhouse gases.
    In a GHG cap and trade system, the “cap” part is not optional. Why is the minister creating a licence to pollute?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, establishing a federal carbon offset market is a win-win for the economy and the environment. Starting with landfills, we are putting in place a market-based mechanism to incentivize businesses and municipalities to invest in technologies and innovations that cut pollution. Over the coming year, we will roll out more offset protocols for activities in other sectors, such as forestry and agriculture. This is good for the economy and good for the environment.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it is actually a win-win for oil companies.
    This new scheme is not actually a carbon market. What it will do is let oil companies continue to pollute like there is no tomorrow while buying offset credits that will give the false impression they are reducing emissions. It is cosmetic, and Greenpeace agrees: “Offsetting doesn’t stop carbon from entering the atmosphere and warming our world, it just keeps it off the books of big polluters responsible.”
    Why is the minister creating a greenwashing system instead of promoting the carbon market?

  (1440)  

[English]

     Mr. Speaker, I would remind the hon. member that we are working on many fronts to reduce fossil fuel emissions. We are capping emissions from the oil and gas sector. We are implementing a robust clean fuel standard. Yes, we are creating a carbon offset market, as well as phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies by 2023, two years ahead of schedule.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, let us recap the Minister of Environment's actions this year.
    First of all, he approved an additional $2.6 billion in oil subsidies. That is his key budget measure on climate. Then, he approved the Bay du Nord oil project and its billion barrels of oil. Now he is creating a system that will enable oil companies to keep polluting, but to buy credits that will hide their real greenhouse gas emission numbers. What is more, he is a self‑proclaimed environmental activist. Sure. Okay then. Soon he will be making us drink oil.
    Does the Minister of Environment take us for fools?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, perhaps I should remind the hon. member of the emissions reduction plan the minister introduced just a few weeks ago, a very practical road map to fight climate change as we build a clean economy. Here are some of the really important and exciting measures: incentives and infrastructure for electric vehicles, energy retrofits for greener homes and buildings, capping oil and gas emissions and, of course, supporting our farmers for more sustainable agriculture.
    We are acting. We are acting very, very prominently.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, the cost of living in northern Saskatchewan has never been so high. Gas is over two dollars a litre and the ever-rising carbon tax has led to unprecedented freight costs. In Black Lake, Hatchet Lake and Fond du Lac, four litres of milk can cost nearly $14, a dozen eggs, $9, a kilogram of apples, $12.
    Everyone in Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River is suffering from these record price increases. The Liberals and the NDP continue to vote against Conservative measures that would provide relief. Why?
    Mr. Speaker, we understand that affordability matters to Canadians and we absolutely understand that Canadians living in rural and northern communities face particular challenges. That is why our government has taken action and is providing support that is arriving to Canadians right now.
    Let me talk about the Canada workers benefit. We have increased it by $9 billion over five years. The first increased support arrived this April. It is providing a family of three up to $2,300. There are minimum wage workers in northern Saskatchewan.

Northern Economic Development

    Mr. Speaker, 1,300 workers in Nunavut may soon be out of a job because the government refuses to act.
    Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation recently requested an emergency order to allow it to continue to ship six million tonnes of iron ore for 2022. The Minister of Northern Affairs denied the request.
    Why is the government forcing these workers out of a job?
    Mr. Speaker, our government supports a strong resource development sector that is sustainable, creates jobs for northerners and indigenous peoples and respects the environment.
    Last week, I spoke to the leadership of Baffinland mines as well as the Qikiqtani Inuit Association about this issue. I am happy and encouraged that they were both at the table to address outstanding issues and work toward an outcome that benefits both parties. Working together with all parties is the only way this issue will get resolved.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, Canada's skilled labour shortage has reached over one million jobs vacant. The shortage of labour is costing our economy $30 billion and is driving inflation. The government is focused on growing government, adding 61,000 federal positions since 2015, but Canadian businesses cannot find home builders, factory workers and truckers. This is costing Canadians more in food, housing and goods as lack of employees further chokes the economy and spikes inflation.
    When will the government put as much energy into filling Canadian vacant jobs as it does into growing its own bloated government?

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to place the response to this question in the appropriate economic context and I would like to remind the hon. member that, to date, Canada has seen 115% of the jobs lost during the pandemic returned. Our GDP is ahead of prepandemic levels. We are at the lowest rate of unemployment in the recorded history of Canada.
    At the same time, we are going to launch a number of measures to continue to recruit new workers, including through immigration. I am pleased to share with the House that, as of today, Canada will welcome its 200,000th permanent resident this year, more than a month and a half faster than any year in the history of Canada.
    We are going to continue to use every tool at our disposal to fill the gaps in the labour force and grow our economy.

Families, Children and Social Development

    Mr. Speaker, as the cost of living skyrockets, the Liberal government is abandoning families who are increasingly relying on food banks to feed their kids. Worse, while families are struggling, the PBO found that the Liberals cut the Canada child benefit. Families' budgets are already stretched and the Liberals are making it even harder for them by cutting the amount they currently receive. This is shameful.
    Why are the Liberals shortchanging families when they are already struggling to feed their kids?
    Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada is committed to giving families more money to help with the high cost of raising their kids and to making a real difference in the lives of our children. That is why, in 2016, the government introduced the Canada child benefit to provide increased support for low- to middle-income families with children.
    The Canada child benefit is tax-free and based on income, so it provides more support to families who need it the most. The Canada child benefit provides support to over 3.5 million families, including over six million children, putting more than $25 billion tax-free into the pockets of Canadian families.

Climate Change

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians want bold action that matches the scale and urgency of the climate crisis, but the Liberals are going about business as usual, failing to secure a livable future. This is the existential threat of our time, and we need a response not seen since the Second World War.
    The U.S. just announced they will use their Defense Production Act to build solar panels and heat pumps. Canada has a Defence Production Act that could be used to fight the climate crisis and create good, long-term jobs.
    We are in a climate emergency. When will the government start acting like it?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for her advocacy and her good work at the environment committee.
     I will just remind her that we have a very robust emissions reduction plan that is an ambitious sector-by-sector pathway for Canada to reach our 2030 emission reductions on our way to 2050 net zero. This has broad support from environmental groups to industry and to farmers.
    Canadians want us to deliver clean air, a healthy environment and a strong economy. That is exactly what we are going to do.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, climate change is the greatest long‑term threat we face as a global community.
    As the country's largest asset owner and public purchaser, can the President of the Treasury Board explain how the Government of Canada is doing its part to green its own operations?
    Mr. Speaker, first I want to thank the hon. member for Vaudreuil—Soulanges for his hard work and for his important question.
    The federal government is leading by example in the fight to reduce greenhouse gases. It is doing so by adopting low-carbon solutions for our buildings and vehicles, using sustainable products, reducing the use of single-use plastics, and purchasing greener power.
    Together we will take strong, concrete, meaningful and measurable action. Together we will reduce emissions from federal operations by 90% by 2050.

[English]

Sport

    Mr. Speaker, after four years, Canadians are learning about a settlement between a young woman and Hockey Canada. The victim states that she was repeatedly assaulted in a hotel room in London, Ontario, in 2018. We are hearing that Hockey Canada settled out of court in response to the accusations against eight CHL players.
     We had a chance to discuss this yesterday at the heritage committee, but the government members refused. Why is the government minimizing this type of violence?

  (1450)  

    Mr. Speaker, like all Canadians, I am disgusted and horrified by this situation. I want to make sure that no public funds were spent to cover up such actions. That is why I have ordered a financial audit to get to the bottom of this.
    Hockey Canada must explain why, despite these egregious actions, these players were in no way held accountable for their actions. Why did they face no consequences and continue on to a professional career?
    The culture of silence in sport and in society has been in place for too long. It must stop and it will stop.
    Mr. Speaker, we know that Hockey Canada is a recipient of federal funding and although we support athletes and coaches and recognize the importance of these investments, there must be accountability.
    Hockey Canada paid money for these perpetrators' bad behaviour. Who is being held accountable?
    If the Liberals really cared about women and children, they would have made this a priority at committee. The Liberals claim to be feminists, so why did they not prioritize this at committee?

[Translation]

     Mr. Speaker, like all Canadians, I am disgusted by this situation, and I want to make sure that no public funds were spent to cover up such actions.
    That is why I have ordered a financial audit to get to the bottom of this. Hockey Canada must explain why, despite the allegations of such egregious actions, these players faced no consequences and were allowed to continue on to a professional career.
    The culture of silence must stop, and it will stop, but using this situation as an excuse to block Bill C-11 at committee is unacceptable.

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, there was another shooting in the east end of Montreal last night. A woman from Rivière-des-Prairies who was sitting on her balcony went inside to hide out of fear of being shot.
    The Prime Minister's proposed Bill C‑5 would get rid of mandatory minimum sentences like the one for discharging a firearm with intent.
    The Prime Minister is telling us that Bill C‑5 has nothing to do with serious crimes. Is discharging a firearm with intent not a serious crime?
    Mr. Speaker, the level of violence caused by firearms is entirely unacceptable.
    That is precisely why we introduced Bill C‑21. The Conservatives need to stop with their delay tactics and obstruction. We need to start the debate to better protect Quebeckers and all Canadians.
    There are many good things, common sense measures, in this bill. We need to pass this bill to better protect all Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister is talking about Bill C-21, but I am asking him about Bill C-5.
    Gang crime in the streets of Montreal is currently on the rise. Gang members are walking around with their guns and showing them off to everyone. They are not afraid, because the message the Liberal government is sending is that there is no problem and that people can commit gun crimes and will not receive a minimum sentence.
    Why is the government going forward with Bill C-5 when it will increase crime on the streets of Montreal?

[English]

     Mr. Speaker, we need a justice system that makes sure serious crimes come with serious penalties, and that is exactly what we are doing. We are increasing the maximum penalties for certain gun offences from 10 to 14 years. That means we are allowing judges to impose longer sentences on serious criminals who endanger our communities.
    Based on what we are hearing from Conservatives, they will vote against Bill C-21 and against longer sentences for those criminals. We are taking a responsible approach to keeping our communities safe. The same cannot be said of the Conservative Party.

[Translation]

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, Quebec did not wait for Ottawa and just offered the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service $6.2 million to patrol the St. Lawrence river for arms traffickers 24 hours a day.
    It is a good thing that Quebec did not wait because Quebec's public safety minister informed us today that she still has not received a single cent of the money promised by Ottawa months ago.
    She said that she is still waiting to sign the agreement with the federal government for the money it put on the table to have Quebec police forces address armed violence. She repeated her appeal to the minister. Where is the money?

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, the government has already invested $350 million in the fight against violence caused by organized crime. We have already transferred approximately $50 million for assistance and support.
    We will continue to use our good communication channels to work with my counterparts, including Minister Guilbault. At the same time, we must begin debating Bill C‑21 to better protect Quebeckers. I hope that the Bloc Québécois will help us do that.
    Mr. Speaker, yesterday there were another three shootings in less than six hours in Montreal, and the Government of Quebec has said that it has not yet received the money it was promised to combat gun violence.
    Quebec is putting in the work. For example, it has announced a special patrol to combat gun trafficking in Akwesasne. Ottawa, however, has not even sent Quebec the money it was promised. How shameful.
    When will the government finally transfer the money it promised Quebec? Montreal has a gun problem right now, not “one day”, “maybe”, “if we have the time”, “if it is not too hot” or “if it is not raining”. The problem is now. I also want to inform the minister that this has nothing to do with Bill C‑21.
    Mr. Speaker, I assure my colleague and all members of the House that we are in communication with my counterpart, Minister Guilbault, about implementing these programs to prevent gun violence.
    I hope that the Bloc Québécois and all members of the House will allow us to start debate on Bill C‑21, which contains several concrete measures that will help the member's community.

[English]

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, a constituent of mine, Jaralaine, applied for permanent residence and a work permit under the caregiver category in April 2020, over two years ago, but IRCC stopped all caregiver applications, as they were not urgent. Now six months pregnant and diagnosed with a serious medical condition that may impact her health and that of her child, she has no health care coverage because of the government’s gross mismanagement of immigration.
    Will the minister help Jaralaine and others who have come to Canada for a better life?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his sincere concern for his constituents.
    With respect to caregiver programs, last year more than 4,000 permanent residents were welcomed to Canada through caregiver streams. We anticipate that this year the number will be 6,000. As I shared earlier in response to a separate question this afternoon, we are actually processing people for permanent residency faster than at any point in the history of Canada, with today being the day that 200,000 new permanent residents will have been welcomed to Canada.
    I look forward to taking further questions in private after question period if the hon. member wishes to discuss specific case files.

Airline Industry

    Mr. Speaker, it is not just passports and airports; the government is dropping the ball everywhere.
    Canadian pilots have been waiting over a year for Transport Canada to approve their category 1 medical exams. Without these medicals, aspiring pilots cannot continue their training, existing pilots cannot get relicensed and pilots on leave cannot return to work. Delays and inaction under the Liberals are grounding pilots and hurting our economy, despite the growing need for more commercial pilots.
    When will these backlogs be cleared so that pilots can get back in the air and back to work?
    Mr. Speaker, I share my hon. colleague's frustration. I know there are many pilots waiting for their medical examinations, and Transport Canada has been putting in place new measures to expedite these applications. Our government is responding to the surge in demand for these certificates. We have taken corrective actions to ensure that we expedite these applications.
    If the hon. member has a particular case that he would like to bring to my attention, I would be happy to work with him on it.

Passports

    Mr. Speaker, Passport Canada's website was recently updated, doubling the normal processing times for passports to over two months, plus time for mail.
    My question for the minister is very simple: Is nine weeks-plus an acceptable timeline for this most basic of government services?
    Mr. Speaker, as I have explained to this House before, we are experiencing unprecedented volumes when it comes to passports. It is important for us to share this information with Canadians so that they can plan accordingly. We know that this is frustrating and that this is stressful for them, but ensuring that we provide transparent information is important.
    When it comes to international comparisons, when we look at countries like the U.S., the U.K. or Australia, we see that they are, on average, processing passports in between nine and 11 weeks. In Sweden there is a wait time of almost 27 weeks. This is something that is happening around the world, but we are putting additional resources in place to deal with it here in Canada.

  (1500)  

International Trade

    Mr. Speaker, we know that around the world, including here in Canada, supply chains are facing disruptions due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and Russia's brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
    Can the Minister of Transport tell this House what the government is doing to strengthen Canadian supply chains and make sure Canadians have access to these central goods they require?
    Mr. Speaker, as my colleague accurately stated, global and domestic supply chains are under pressure, and our government is taking action.
    Budget 2022 has announced significant investment to strengthen supply chain infrastructure. I am also pleased to let my hon. colleagues know that we have established a supply chain task force that will provide our government with additional advice and recommendations. The task force is made up of experts and industry leaders, and I want to thank them for agreeing to join this task force and for their service to their country.
    I look forward to working with them to make our supply chains even stronger.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals' front-of-pack warning labels on ground beef and pork, something no other country in the world is doing, put our food security and our vulnerable supply chain at risk. Grocery costs are up 10% and almost a quarter of Canadian families are skipping meals because they cannot afford food, but the Liberals want to put a $2-billion bureaucratic burden on a wholesome protein, making the food affordability crisis even worse.
    Are these misleading and unnecessary warning labels on a single-ingredient, wholesome food really worth the crippling cost to Canadian farmers, businesses and, most importantly, consumers?
     Mr. Speaker, our government is concerned about the critically high rates of chronic disease in Canada. Across the country, two in five adults report having at least one of the 10 most common chronic illnesses, including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Poor diets, including those that are really high in saturated fats, sugar and sodium are primary risks for those diseases. That is unacceptable.
    Canadians deserve more information. Nutrient-specific high in front-of-package labels will allow Canadians to quickly and easily identify foods that are high in these nutrients of public health concern and make more informed, educated and healthier food choices when at the grocery store.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, Canada is poised to become the first jurisdiction in the world to self‑impose front‑of‑package labelling on ground beef and pork. These are single‑ingredient products we are talking about here. This government continues to add bureaucratic constraints that hinder our international competitiveness.
    What is the government basing its decision on? When will it abandon the implementation of this ridiculous regulation?
    Mr. Speaker, unlike the hon. members opposite, our government is concerned about the critically high rates of chronic disease in Canada. Across the country, two in five adults report having at least one of the 10 most common chronic illnesses, including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
    A poor diet, particularly one that is high in saturated fats, sugar and sodium, is a primary risk factor for these diseases. That is unacceptable.
    The “high in” nutrition label on the front of the package will allow Canadians to quickly identify—
    Order. The hon. member for Bow River.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the utterly nonsensical proposal for front-of-package labelling on ground beef and pork is another attack on our agriculture industry. Canada would be the first country to do this, despite already exempting other single-ingredient whole food products like dairy. Bureaucratic red tape is once again standing in the way of Canadian agri-food production.
    Can the Minister of Health justify this to Canadians, or is Health Canada intent on killing off the Canadian agri-food industry?
    Mr. Speaker, we on this side believe that more information for consumers is always a good thing. These labels are widely recognized by health organizations and the scientific community as an effective tool to help counteract rising rates of diet-related chronic disease that continue to rise in Canada. During our engagements with industry stakeholders, health experts and Canadians across the country, Health Canada analyzed the feedback received and made adjustments to the proposal, where supported by science.
    Our government will always prioritize health policies based on scientific evidence. Let me be clear to Canadians that they will still produce and purchase ground meat.

  (1505)  

Seniors

    Mr. Speaker, seniors in my riding of Kitchener—Conestoga have worked very hard and helped shape this country. I am hearing from more and more seniors that they would like to stay at home and in their communities for as long as possible. Many vulnerable seniors are often forced to transition to residences and long-term care homes due to the lack of services.
    Can the Minister of Seniors please update this House on the important work the government is doing to support seniors who wish to age at home?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Kitchener—Conestoga for his advocacy for seniors.
    We know Canadian seniors want to age in their own homes and communities for as long as possible, and that is why I was pleased to announce yesterday that our government is investing $90 million over three years through our age-while-at-home initiative, which will provide eligible organizations up to $2 million per project through one of its two streams. Organizations will be able to apply through our online portal until July 22.
    Members can rest assured that our government will always be there for seniors, particularly those most vulnerable.

Indigenous Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, Poplar River First Nation, which has no all-weather road, depends on a barge in the summer to bring in essential goods and on the fishery as their economic engine. The engine on this barge literally blew up, leaving the community stranded. The first nation has declared a state of emergency. It has called for immediate help from all levels of government. Poplar River needs help now.
    Will the Minister of Indigenous Services meet with the chief as soon as possible and provide the immediate assistance that the community, including fishers, is asking for now?
     Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for advocating for Poplar River First Nation. The department is working with the community and has provided services and alternative means to get services and supplies to the community. We are working with the community to look at alternatives for replacing the barge. I will always meet with any chief who wishes to, at a time that works for both of us.

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, we are facing a housing crisis in this country, and my community is reeling. There are 53 people who have resorted to pitching tents on publicly owned land in downtown Kitchener, but they are being evicted at the end of the month. They are among the 412 people who we know are unsheltered in Waterloo region. Municipal leaders have been sounding the alarm for years, asking for more targeted housing funding and urgent mental health and addictions support.
    If the Minister of Housing were to visit this encampment, what would he say to those living in tents, who have been left behind by decades of unjust housing policies?
    Mr. Speaker, whenever Canadians find themselves on the street, it diminishes us all. We have invested over $562 million in the federal Reaching Home program, which targets the most vulnerable Canadians on the street.
    In addition to that, during the pandemic we invested another $400 million. We are giving stability and certainly to frontline organizations serving the most vulnerable. Through the rapid housing initiative, as well as the co-op housing program, we are providing permanent housing solutions to house the most vulnerable people in our community.

Presence in Gallery

    I wish to draw the attention of members to the presence in the gallery of the Hon. Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General for the Province of British Columbia, and the Hon. Josie Osborne, Minister of Land, Water and Resource Stewardship and Minister Responsible for Fisheries for the Province of British Columbia.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
    The member for Kildonan—St. Paul is rising on a point of order.

  (1510)  

     Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations, and I believe you will find unanimous consent in the House for the following: That, given that the debate on combatting gun violence needs to be depoliticized, centred on the rights of victims and the safety of communities, the House call on the government to divide Bill C-21—
    I am getting a lot of nays.
    I have been getting a lot of feedback from members on both sides on unanimous consent motions. I encourage members to maybe talk to people beforehand and make sure that there is unanimous consent before bringing motions forward. This is for all members; I am not pointing out anyone in particular. We do not want to cut people off when they are trying to get a point across and trying to get unanimous consent.
    I am sorry, but I do not believe we have unanimous consent.
    On a point of order, the hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
    Mr. Speaker, I wonder if you could clarify the process. Is it your ruling going forward that if a member is saying “no”, you will stop the reading of the motion? I think we have had cases where some members were saying “no” and yet the member continued with the unanimous consent motion.
    In fact, I have been getting this from both sides. Both government and opposition members have been asking for that exact type of behaviour, rather than let it all go through. Sometimes unanimous consent motions are used as a method of getting a message across, but that is what S.O. 31s are for. If we can just shift everything over, we can use it that way. We will do our best to make that happen.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[Translation]

Budget Implementation Act, 2022, No. 1

    The House resumed from June 8, 2022, consideration of the motion that Bill C-19, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 7, 2022 and other measures, be read the third time and passed.
    It being 3:10 p.m., pursuant to order made on Thursday, November 25, 2021, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the amendment of the hon. member for Calgary Forest Lawn to the amendment of the hon. member for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola to the motion at third reading of Bill C‑19.
    Call in the members.

  (1540)  

[English]

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

(Division No. 143)

YEAS

Members

Aboultaif
Aitchison
Albas
Arnold
Baldinelli
Barlow
Barrett
Barsalou-Duval
Beaulieu
Benzen
Berthold
Bérubé
Bezan
Blanchet
Blanchette-Joncas
Block
Bragdon
Brassard
Brock
Brunelle-Duceppe
Calkins
Carrie
Chabot
Chambers
Champoux
Chong
Cooper
Dalton
Dancho
Davidson
DeBellefeuille
Deltell
d'Entremont
Desilets
Doherty
Dreeshen
Duncan (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Ellis
Epp
Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster)
Falk (Provencher)
Ferreri
Findlay
Fortin
Gallant
Garon
Gaudreau
Généreux
Genuis
Gladu
Godin
Goodridge
Gourde
Gray
Hallan
Kelly
Kitchen
Kmiec
Kram
Kramp-Neuman
Kurek
Kusie
Lake
Lantsman
Larouche
Lawrence
Lehoux
Lemire
Lewis (Essex)
Lewis (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Liepert
Lloyd
Lobb
MacKenzie
Maguire
Martel
Mazier
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McLean
Melillo
Michaud
Moore
Morantz
Morrison
Motz
Muys
Nater
Normandin
Paul-Hus
Pauzé
Perkins
Perron
Plamondon
Poilievre
Rayes
Redekopp
Reid
Rempel Garner
Richards
Roberts
Rood
Ruff
Savard-Tremblay
Scheer
Schmale
Seeback
Shields
Shipley
Simard
Sinclair-Desgagné
Small
Soroka
Steinley
Ste-Marie
Stewart
Strahl
Stubbs
Thériault
Therrien
Thomas
Tochor
Tolmie
Trudel
Uppal
Van Popta
Vecchio
Vidal
Vien
Viersen
Vignola
Villemure
Vis
Vuong
Wagantall
Warkentin
Waugh
Webber
Williams
Williamson
Zimmer

Total: -- 140


NAYS

Members

Aldag
Alghabra
Ali
Anandasangaree
Angus
Arseneault
Arya
Ashton
Atwin
Bachrach
Badawey
Bains
Baker
Barron
Battiste
Beech
Bendayan
Bennett
Bibeau
Bittle
Blaikie
Blair
Blaney
Blois
Boulerice
Bradford
Brière
Carr
Casey
Chagger
Chahal
Champagne
Chatel
Chen
Chiang
Collins (Hamilton East—Stoney Creek)
Collins (Victoria)
Cormier
Coteau
Dabrusin
Damoff
Davies
Desjarlais
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Diab
Dong
Drouin
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Dzerowicz
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Erskine-Smith
Fergus
Fillmore
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fragiskatos
Fraser
Freeland
Fry
Gaheer
Garneau
Garrison
Gazan
Gerretsen
Gould
Green
Hajdu
Hanley
Hardie
Hepfner
Holland
Housefather
Hughes
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Idlout
Ien
Jaczek
Johns
Jones
Jowhari
Julian
Kayabaga
Kelloway
Khalid
Khera
Koutrakis
Kusmierczyk
Kwan
Lalonde
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Lattanzio
Lauzon
LeBlanc
Lebouthillier
Lightbound
Long
Longfield
Louis (Kitchener—Conestoga)
MacAulay (Cardigan)
MacDonald (Malpeque)
MacGregor
Maloney
Martinez Ferrada
Masse
Mathyssen
May (Cambridge)
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
McDonald (Avalon)
McGuinty
McKay
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod
McPherson
Mendès
Mendicino
Miao
Miller
Morrice
Morrissey
Murray
Naqvi
Noormohamed
O'Connell
Oliphant
Petitpas Taylor
Powlowski
Qualtrough
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rogers
Romanado
Sahota
Sajjan
Saks
Samson
Sarai
Scarpaleggia
Schiefke
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Sidhu (Brampton East)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Singh
Sorbara
St-Onge
Sudds
Tassi
Taylor Roy
Thompson
Turnbull
Valdez
Van Bynen
van Koeverden
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Virani
Weiler
Wilkinson
Yip
Zahid
Zarrillo
Zuberi

Total: -- 174


PAIRED

Members

Anand
Boissonnault
Dowdall
Fast
Guilbeault
Hoback
Jeneroux
Joly
Ng
O'Regan
O'Toole
Patzer

Total: -- 12


    I declare the amendment to the amendment defeated.
    The next question is on the amendment.

[Translation]

    If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes to request a recorded division or that the amendment be adopted on division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.
    The member for Longueuil—Charles‑LeMoyne.

  (1545)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I request a recorded division.

  (1555)  

[Translation]

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

(Division No. 144)

YEAS

Members

Aboultaif
Aitchison
Albas
Allison
Arnold
Baldinelli
Barlow
Barrett
Barsalou-Duval
Beaulieu
Benzen
Berthold
Bérubé
Bezan
Blanchette-Joncas
Block
Bragdon
Brassard
Brock
Brunelle-Duceppe
Calkins
Caputo
Carrie
Chabot
Chambers
Champoux
Chong
Cooper
Dalton
Dancho
Davidson
DeBellefeuille
Deltell
d'Entremont
Desilets
Doherty
Dreeshen
Duncan (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Ellis
Epp
Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster)
Falk (Provencher)
Ferreri
Findlay
Fortin
Gallant
Garon
Gaudreau
Généreux
Genuis
Gladu
Godin
Goodridge
Gourde
Gray
Hallan
Kelly
Kitchen
Kmiec
Kram
Kramp-Neuman
Kurek
Kusie
Lake
Lantsman
Larouche
Lawrence
Lehoux
Lemire
Lewis (Essex)
Liepert
Lloyd
Lobb
MacKenzie
Maguire
Martel
Mazier
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McLean
Melillo
Michaud
Moore
Morantz
Morrison
Motz
Muys
Nater
Normandin
Paul-Hus
Pauzé
Perkins
Perron
Plamondon
Poilievre
Rayes
Redekopp
Reid
Rempel Garner
Richards
Roberts
Rood
Ruff
Savard-Tremblay
Scheer
Schmale
Seeback
Shields
Shipley
Simard
Sinclair-Desgagné
Small
Soroka
Steinley
Ste-Marie
Stewart
Strahl
Stubbs
Thériault
Therrien
Thomas
Tochor
Tolmie
Trudel
Uppal
Van Popta
Vecchio
Vidal
Vien
Viersen
Vignola
Villemure
Vis
Vuong
Wagantall
Warkentin
Waugh
Webber
Williams
Williamson
Zimmer

Total: -- 140


NAYS

Members

Aldag
Alghabra
Ali
Anandasangaree
Angus
Arseneault
Arya
Ashton
Atwin
Bachrach
Badawey
Bains
Baker
Barron
Battiste
Beech
Bendayan
Bennett
Bibeau
Bittle
Blaikie
Blair
Blaney
Blois
Boulerice
Bradford
Brière
Carr
Casey
Chagger
Chahal
Champagne
Chatel
Chen
Chiang
Collins (Hamilton East—Stoney Creek)
Collins (Victoria)
Cormier
Coteau
Dabrusin
Damoff
Davies
Desjarlais
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Diab
Dong
Drouin
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Dzerowicz
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Erskine-Smith
Fergus
Fillmore
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fragiskatos
Fraser
Freeland
Fry
Gaheer
Garneau
Garrison
Gazan
Gerretsen
Gould
Green
Hajdu
Hanley
Hardie
Hepfner
Holland
Housefather
Hughes
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Idlout
Ien
Jaczek
Johns
Jones
Jowhari
Julian
Kayabaga
Kelloway
Khalid
Khera
Koutrakis
Kusmierczyk
Kwan
Lalonde
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Lattanzio
Lauzon
LeBlanc
Lebouthillier
Lightbound
Long
Longfield
Louis (Kitchener—Conestoga)
MacAulay (Cardigan)
MacDonald (Malpeque)
MacGregor
Maloney
Martinez Ferrada
Masse
Mathyssen
May (Cambridge)
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
McDonald (Avalon)
McGuinty
McKay
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod
McPherson
Mendès
Mendicino
Miao
Miller
Morrice
Morrissey
Murray
Naqvi
Noormohamed
O'Connell
Oliphant
Petitpas Taylor
Powlowski
Qualtrough
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rogers
Romanado
Sahota
Sajjan
Saks
Samson
Sarai
Scarpaleggia
Schiefke
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Sidhu (Brampton East)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Singh
Sorbara
St-Onge
Sudds
Tassi
Thompson
Turnbull
Valdez
Van Bynen
van Koeverden
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Virani
Weiler
Wilkinson
Yip
Zahid
Zarrillo
Zuberi

Total: -- 173


PAIRED

Members

Anand
Boissonnault
Dowdall
Fast
Guilbeault
Hoback
Jeneroux
Joly
Ng
O'Regan
O'Toole
Patzer

Total: -- 12


    I declare the amendment lost.

[English]

    The next question is on the main motion. May I dispense?
    Some hon. members: No.
    [Chair read text of motion to House]
    The Speaker: If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes to request a recorded division or that the motion be adopted on division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.
    The hon. member for Brampton North.
    Mr. Speaker, I request a recorded division.

  (1610)  

[Translation]

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

(Division No. 145)

YEAS

Members

Aldag
Alghabra
Ali
Anandasangaree
Angus
Arseneault
Arya
Ashton
Atwin
Bachrach
Badawey
Bains
Baker
Barron
Barsalou-Duval
Battiste
Beaulieu
Beech
Bendayan
Bennett
Bérubé
Bibeau
Bittle
Blaikie
Blair
Blanchet
Blanchette-Joncas
Blaney
Blois
Boulerice
Bradford
Brière
Brunelle-Duceppe
Carr
Casey
Chabot
Chagger
Chahal
Champagne
Champoux
Chatel
Chen
Chiang
Collins (Hamilton East—Stoney Creek)
Collins (Victoria)
Cormier
Coteau
Dabrusin
Damoff
Davies
DeBellefeuille
Desilets
Desjarlais
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Diab
Dong
Drouin
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Dzerowicz
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Erskine-Smith
Fergus
Fillmore
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fortin
Fragiskatos
Fraser
Freeland
Fry
Gaheer
Garneau
Garon
Garrison
Gaudreau
Gazan
Gerretsen
Gould
Green
Hajdu
Hanley
Hardie
Hepfner
Holland
Housefather
Hughes
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Idlout
Ien
Jaczek
Johns
Jones
Jowhari
Julian
Kayabaga
Kelloway
Khalid
Khera
Koutrakis
Kusmierczyk
Kwan
Lalonde
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Larouche
Lattanzio
Lauzon
LeBlanc
Lebouthillier
Lemire
Lightbound
Long
Longfield
Louis (Kitchener—Conestoga)
MacAulay (Cardigan)
MacDonald (Malpeque)
MacGregor
Maloney
Martinez Ferrada
Masse
Mathyssen
May (Cambridge)
McDonald (Avalon)
McGuinty
McKay
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod
McPherson
Mendès
Mendicino
Miao
Michaud
Miller
Morrissey
Murray
Naqvi
Noormohamed
Normandin
O'Connell
Oliphant
Pauzé
Perron
Petitpas Taylor
Plamondon
Powlowski
Qualtrough
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rogers
Romanado
Sahota
Sajjan
Saks
Samson
Sarai
Savard-Tremblay
Scarpaleggia
Schiefke
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Sidhu (Brampton East)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Simard
Sinclair-Desgagné
Singh
Sorbara
Ste-Marie
St-Onge
Sudds
Tassi
Taylor Roy
Thériault
Therrien
Thompson
Trudel
Turnbull
Valdez
Van Bynen
van Koeverden
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Vignola
Villemure
Virani
Weiler
Wilkinson
Yip
Zahid
Zarrillo
Zuberi

Total: -- 202


NAYS

Members

Aboultaif
Aitchison
Albas
Allison
Arnold
Baldinelli
Barlow
Barrett
Benzen
Berthold
Bezan
Block
Bragdon
Brassard
Brock
Calkins
Caputo
Carrie
Chambers
Chong
Cooper
Dalton
Dancho
Davidson
Deltell
d'Entremont
Doherty
Dreeshen
Duncan (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Ellis
Epp
Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster)
Falk (Provencher)
Ferreri
Findlay
Gallant
Généreux
Genuis
Gladu
Godin
Goodridge
Gourde
Gray
Hallan
Kelly
Kitchen
Kmiec
Kram
Kramp-Neuman
Kurek
Kusie
Lake
Lantsman
Lawrence
Lehoux
Lewis (Essex)
Lewis (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Liepert
Lloyd
Lobb
MacKenzie
Maguire
Martel
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
Mazier
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McLean
Melillo
Moore
Morantz
Morrice
Morrison
Motz
Muys
Nater
Paul-Hus
Perkins
Poilievre
Rayes
Redekopp
Reid
Rempel Garner
Richards
Roberts
Rood
Ruff
Scheer
Schmale
Seeback
Shields
Shipley
Small
Soroka
Steinley
Stewart
Strahl
Stubbs
Thomas
Tochor
Tolmie
Uppal
Van Popta
Vecchio
Vidal
Vien
Viersen
Vis
Vuong
Wagantall
Warkentin
Waugh
Webber
Williams
Williamson
Zimmer

Total: -- 115


PAIRED

Members

Anand
Boissonnault
Dowdall
Fast
Guilbeault
Hoback
Jeneroux
Joly
Ng
O'Regan
O'Toole
Patzer

Total: -- 12


     I declare the motion carried.

    (Bill read the third time and passed)

[English]

Business of the House

[Business of the House]
    Mr. Speaker, I am very glad to see you in the chair. I hope you are getting your strength back. You sound like it. You are doing a good job of keeping everybody in good spirits.
    Before my question, there are a couple of issues that I want to bring to the attention of the government House leader.
    Number one is that we are requesting a take-note debate on the issue of food security, which is having a significant effect around the world, as members know, as a result of many geopolitical issues.
    The second thing is a request to split Bill C-21 so that we can work on victims and the protection of victims in domestic violence.
    The third thing is that there have been significant concerns among stakeholders and advocates right across the country regarding Bill C-11. We are seeing some draconian measures being proposed by the government to deal with this piece of legislation. I am concerned about that.
    Before I ask for the schedule, I am wondering what the government House leader's plan is to effectively silence the voices of millions of people who voted for opposition MPs in this place and, furthermore, what his plans are to contribute to a further decline in democracy in this place over the course of the next week.
    Mr. Speaker, the cornerstone of democracy is voting and showing up to this place and participating, and that is of course what we do. Whether it is Bill C-11 or Bill C-21, there will be an opportunity, obviously, to continue debating legislation.
    On Bill C-11 specifically, there were nine days at committee and many days at second reading. We have opportunities at third reading, and it will be going to the Senate. It is taking essential action to protect Canadian creators and Canadian heritage. We are proud to support this bill, and part of the thrust and parry of this place is that sometimes we disagree. That is not a representation of a decline in democracy; it is proof of it working.
    This afternoon, we will continue with the report stage of Bill C-5 in respect of mandatory minimums. We will then call second reading of Bill C-21, the firearms legislation.
    Tomorrow, we will debate government Motion No. 16 regarding proceedings for Bill C-11, as I was mentioning, on the Broadcasting Act.
    When we return next week, we will focus on this government motion debate and continue our work on Bill C-5 and Bill C-11, as well as on Bill C-14 concerning electoral representation.

Criminal Code

[Government Orders]
     The House resumed consideration of Bill C-5, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak today to Bill C-5, a piece of government legislation aimed at reducing sentences for crimes, including very serious crimes such as sexual assault, kidnapping and weapons trafficking. Many of my colleagues on this side have ably spoken to the core issues in this bill, in particular the question of whether lower sentences and conditional sentences are appropriate for these kinds of very serious offences. I am not going to repeat their arguments today. Instead, I want to respond to what seems to be the main rationale that the government is using to defend this legislation.
    Comments from government members on this bill have generally avoided reference to the substantive measures in it and, in particular, to the changes to sentences for serious violent crimes. It is revealing that members of the government do not want to actually talk about and defend their decision to lower sentences for serious crimes.
    The government's attempt to justify this bill has focused on noting, correctly, how the problem of systemic racism leads to the over-representation of Black and indigenous people in our justice system, but then claiming, incorrectly, that this bill somehow addresses that problem. It is a fact that there is nothing in this bill to address any kind of racism. It contains no measures respecting anti-racism training, no measures to discourage racist behaviour, no funding for communities that are victims of racism and no special procedures to protect the rights of historically marginalized communities when they encounter the justice system.
    In fact, while the government evokes the challenges facing Black and indigenous Canadians every time this bill is discussed, the bill itself does not even contain the words “Black” or “indigenous”. A quick search of this bill shows that the bill actually says nothing about race or racism, either. This is a bill that is not about, and says nothing about, the racism facing Black and indigenous Canadians, yet the government's justification for this bill is to claim that it would do something that it demonstrably would not do for those communities.
    The government purports to believe that lowering sentences overall will somehow address the disproportionate representation of certain minority communities in the prison population. This seems, on the face of it, to portray a certain misunderstanding of how fractions work. Changing the average sentence for a particular crime from, say, four years to three years would do nothing to change the proportion of people from a particular community who are serving time for that crime. Reducing overall sentences would do nothing to change the proportion of those in prison who are from a particular community. Any mathematically sound strategy for reducing over-representation would obviously need to reduce sentences for the over-represented group only, increase sentences for the under-represented group only, or, best of all, identify and confront the root cause of over-representation in the first place. However, reducing sentences for both over-represented and under-represented groups by the same proportion would not actually address the phenomenon of over- or under-representation.
    In fairness to the government's position, it is not always quite that simple. It may be that there are certain crimes where the over-representation of certain communities is greater than other crimes. For example, in the case of drug crimes, there may be certain kinds of drugs that are more prevalent in some communities than others. There are cases and places where offences involving drugs that are more common in minority communities have carried more severe sentences than offences involving equivalent drugs that are more common in majority communities. In such cases, measures to equalize the sentencing for equivalent kinds of substances that are more or less common in different communities would be a step toward addressing the problem of over-representation. However, that is not what Bill C-5 would do.
    Bill C-5 would not make these kinds of granular adjustments. Rather, Bill C-5 is a relatively short bill that would lower sentences for broad categories of offences. I see no reason why these reductions in sentencing parameters would impact over-representation in any way.
    Perhaps I can make this point clearer with an analogy. We know that Black and indigenous people are over-represented in our justice system and also under-represented in our post-secondary system. We need to address the way that systemic racism leads to over-representation in penal institutions and under-representation in institutions that often lead individuals to positions of power and privilege. If members were to imagine—

  (1615)  

[Translation]

    Order. The hon. member for Rivière‑des‑Mille‑Îles on a point of order.
    Madam Speaker, with all due respect to my colleague, I should mention that he is speaking too quickly for the interpreters to keep up with him. They tell us that it is very difficult.
    He is hyperactive like me. Out of respect for the interpreters, I would ask him to slow down if possible.

[English]

    I know that we have raised this in the past, so once again, I am wondering if the hon. member could slow down a bit to ensure that every parliamentarian hears what he has to say. It is very difficult for the interpreters to interpret properly if the speed of the speech is too quick.
    I am not sure if the hon. member has provided a copy of his speech to the interpreters. If not, again, I would remind all members to please do so. It is something that we hear about on a regular basis. It is very difficult for interpreters to be able to follow the speakers in the House.
    Madam Speaker, if I could speak to the same point of order. In this case, I provided my notes in advance to the interpreters. I have a great deal of respect for what they do.
    It is a bit of a challenge when members want to deliver a certain amount of content in a limited time frame, and we are under time allocation of course as well, but I think it is a question of the ability of members to need to convey ideas in a limited time frame, so—
    Again, we have to ensure that all members are able to understand what is being said in the House. That is what we need to do. Hon. members generally know how much they can put within the 10- or 20-minute time frame, so it is not about rushing but about making sure the speech is being delivered as it should.
    The hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan can continue.

  (1620)  

    Madam Speaker, I hope the interpreters are able to deliver the content, but I am entitled to give my speech as a member, and I hope that, given I have provided the notes in advance, this issue will be addressed.
    I was speaking about under-representation in post-secondary institutions. I imagine if I were to propose that the way to reduce under-representation of Black and indigenous peoples in universities was to reduce the length of degree programs, we would recognize that did not make sense. If I were to claim that reducing the length of an undergraduate degree from four years to three years would address the under-representation of people from particular communities, we would recognize that is obviously absurd, because changing the length of a degree program does nothing to change the proportion of people from different communities who are there or to address the underlying factors that lead to under-representation. What is true for the length of degree programs is also true for the length of criminal penalties, which is that changing the overall length does not change the proportion.
    I want to now speak about the relationship between racial justice and judicial discretion. Bill C-5 lowers sentences for a variety of crimes, including very serious crimes, and does so in part by widening the window for judicial discretion. I believe that judicial discretion, as well as the setting of benchmarks and parameters by the legislature, are both important elements in sentencing. In a democratic society, it is right and important for the people's representatives to deliberate and give direction about the kinds of sentences they see as appropriate for certain categories of crimes. It is also important for judges to be able to exercise their discretion in accordance with the particular facts of each case, using the parameters and formulas established by the people's representatives.
    One key function of sentencing parameters set by the legislature is to help ensure relative consistency. If the facts of two different cases are virtually identical, then the sentences should also be virtually identical, even if the two defendants go before two different judges. The most effective way to ensure that two different judges in two different courtrooms apply a similar sentence to a similar set of facts is to have something such as sentencing starting points set by the legislative branch. Too much individual discretion leads to inconsistent decision-making. One risk of giving too much discretion to judges is that they, like all of us, have unconscious bias, a possible partial explanation for the over-representation of Black and indigenous peoples in prisons is that the unconscious bias of judges leads to relatively longer sentences being applied in cases with Black and indigenous defendants.
    To be fair to judges, I do not know for sure if that is the case or not, but insofar as parliamentarians regularly identify the presence of systemic racism and unconscious bias in virtually all other institutions, it seems at least consistent to acknowledge that unconscious bias impacts the decisions of judges as well. If that is the case, then widening the range of judicial discretion, as Bill C-5 does, actually risks exacerbating the problem of over-representation by allowing more space for subjective determinations based on how a judge evaluates the character and motivation of a defendant.
    Relying more on the work of legislatures to establish that a certain type of crime should carry a certain type of sentence in general reduces the range of difference that could be informed by unconscious bias applied to individual cases. This is not necessarily a defence of the idea of mandatory minimums as such, but I simply want to point out that, insofar as unconscious bias leads to differential outcomes when a decision-maker has broad discretion, a law which broadens the range for that discretion is more likely to increase than decrease the problem of over-representation.
    I suspect many members of this House will be familiar with the iconic opening of The Godfather trilogy. It is a scene about criminal justice and also about racism. The character Amerigo Bonasera, a Sicilian immigrant who had long trusted the American justice system, is seeking justice for a daughter who was violently beaten by two privileged young men. The racial element implied in the film is clear in the original novel, with Bonasera noting that the parents of the perpetrators in this case were “his age but more American in their dress”. The judge opts to be lenient to the perpetrators saying, “"because of your youth, your clean records, because of your fine families, and because the law in its majesty does not seek vengeance.... Sentence to be suspended.'” This injustice, the exempting of two young men from the consequences of their crime because of their so-called “fine families”, leads Amerigo to lose faith in the legal system and instead rely on the mafia to get what he considers justice.
    This is fictionalization of course, but it is compelling because it is very real to the circumstances and experiences of many people. Judicial discretion creates the space for preferencing those whose experience and background the decision-maker identifies with and, in this case, drives a further wedge between a minority community and the state, because Bonasera sees how the system is less likely to have the back of a person who comes from his background.
    This raises a critical question: What does this bill do for Black, indigenous and other minority communities who are victims of crime and who want the police and courts to be present and consistent in order to protect them and their families from crime? What does Bill C-5 offer them? It offers them nothing. In fact, it offers them worse than nothing because it does not actually address the real problem of racism. It does not address differential outcomes, and it makes every community less safe by causing the early release of serious violent criminals from any and all backgrounds.

  (1625)  

    I have one more point I want to make. Black and indigenous people are over-represented in the prison population. Another group that is over-represented in the prison population is men. Men actually account for over 90% of adult admissions to federal custody. That is a very significant over-representation problem.
     It becomes even more striking when we overlay statistics for race and gender. Indigenous women make up about 2.5% of the total population and 3% of federal prison admissions. That is relatively close. Statistically speaking, the phenomenon of indigenous over-representation in prison is overwhelmingly a problem of the over-representation of indigenous men. Over 25% of total federal prison admissions are indigenous men. Clearly, gender as well as race has to be part of the conversation about over-representation.
    This raises challenging questions. Does our justice system have a problem with systemic sexism? How might the government go about trying to address the over-representation of men in the system?
    I do not have time to answer those questions, but what is clear is that Bill C-5 does nothing to address the issue of over-representation of particular communities. The bill itself makes no mention of the issue of over-representation or racism, and it contains no measures which targets those problems. Reducing sentences for serious crimes makes our communities less safe, and it makes victims and potential victims of all races and from all communities more vulnerable.
    Madam Speaker, I listened to the member's speech, and in it he purports that mandatory minimum penalties do not contribute to over-representation of Black, indigenous and racialized folks across the country.
    That is not the opinion shared by those from the Black Legal Action Centre, the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Frye Societies and the Women's Legal Education & Action Fund who have called for the repealing of all mandatory minimum penalties for exactly that reason.
    What does the member have to say to experts like these?
    Madam Speaker, the member identified a number of stakeholders who have a particular point of view, and I do not doubt that the committee heard from a broad range of stakeholders with different points of view on the bill.
    My point was fairly specific. It was simply to say that when we broaden the range of discretion for decision-making in a situation where the decision-maker may, or likely does, have unconscious bias, broadening the range of discretion for that decision-maker does not make the problem better. It makes the problem worse.
    We could talk about alternative mechanisms, like sentencing, starting points or clearer parameters for judicial decision-making, but in the absence of those things, when the government proposes a bill that widens the latitude for judicial discretion and there are concerns about unconscious bias, it does not make any sense to me to say that that is somehow going to address the problem of over-representation. It is not.
    I had the opportunity to sit on the justice committee where the bill was deliberated. We heard from witness after witness talking about the negative impact of mandatory minimum sentences, especially on those who are of indigenous or racialized backgrounds.
    I want to talk to the point around discretion. In the member's opinion, is it not better and more appropriate for judges who are presiding over cases, who have the benefit of listening to detailed evidence and cross-examinations, to be able to determine, if someone is found guilty, what the appropriate sentence should be, as opposed to legislators preordaining a mandatory minimum sentence when we do not know what the circumstances may be?
    Madam Speaker, clearly, judicial discretion and parameters set by legislators both have a role.
    The question of what is the appropriate sentence for a particular category of crime is a philosophical question. It is a moral question. It is something that in a democratic society the legislature, in general terms, should pronounce on.
    The question to what extent those broad parameters apply to the particulars of a case is a question of the facts of the case at hand, a question that requires surgical discretion that responds to the particular factors. That is why the legislature should not say this particular offence always or in every case carries exactly this sentence. It is legitimate for the legislature to say that, in general, we wish to express that we think this type of crime proportionately accords with this type of sentence.

  (1630)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I have a question for my colleague.
    Is he aware that incarceration is completely ineffective in the case of minor sentences and especially sentences given to offenders with respect to drugs and drug use?
    There are no empirical studies that show that these prison sentences are effective.
    Is he aware of that and does he agree?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, we need to be very clear that there are no mandatory minimums for personal possession-related offences for drugs. Our party does not support mandatory minimums for personal possession for personal use offences. We do believe that it should be against the law to possess drugs for personal use, but we do not support mandatory minimums in those cases.
     I am concerned about the fact that this legislation reduces sentences for very serious violent crimes like sexual assault, kidnapping and weapons trafficking. Those are clearly very different cases from the cases the member spoke about.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, to begin, I would like to say that I am both pleased and disappointed to be speaking to Bill C-5. I am pleased because it makes several advances in the area of diversion, and the Bloc Québécois fully believes that it is a step in the right direction. However, I am disappointed because Bill C-5 addresses the issue of mandatory minimum sentences, but it does not get to the heart of the problem or offer any solutions. I will come back to these two aspects in detail a bit later.
    First of all, I want to condemn the fact that our request that the government divide this bill went unheeded. I want to be clear: Diversion and the abolition of mandatory minimum sentences are two very different issues. That is why the Bloc Québécois feels that it would have been preferable, in the interest of transparency towards our constituents, for elected officials to have the opportunity to vote on each of these subjects separately. Since I cannot do that, I will spend the next few minutes sharing my reservations about the bill.
    I will start with what I do not like about Bill C-5. First, it does not solve the fundamental problem with mandatory minimum sentences. Minimum sentences are problematic because they are subject to Constitutional challenges for a simple reason: They apply to all adults without regard for the circumstances in which the offence was committed. The outcome is that sometimes a harsh sentence is handed down when the extenuating circumstances would warrant a lesser or different sentence. The very principle of justice is sacrificed when judges are not given any flexibility to assess each situation and its special circumstances.
    However, there is a simple solution that we, the legislators, can implement to address this problem. We can introduce a clause that would enable a judge to depart from the mandatory minimum sentence when warranted by exceptional circumstances. With such a provision, we could have prevented many injustices and saved public financial resources, which are getting gobbled up by legal challenges of mandatory minimum sentences instead of being used to fund programs or infrastructure for Quebeckers and Canadians.
    This amendment was proposed by the Bloc Québécois in committee but was rejected. The Liberal Party also moved a similar amendment, but when the time came to defend it, the government simply lacked the political courage to do so. It chickened out and did not even have the decency to defend it.
    To all that, I would add that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's call to action 32 recommended that a similar provision be added to the Criminal Code. Basically, the government messed up the opportunity to listen and do what needs to be done to move forward as a society along the path to reconciliation with first nations. That is deplorable.
    The other thing that bothers me about mandatory minimum sentences is that there is a lack of consistency with respect to which ones will be abolished. When the government announced the bill in February, it said it would be abolishing mandatory minimum sentences, except for serious offences. That makes sense. As lawmakers, we do want to maintain some degree of control over sentences for crimes against the person. However, the bill abolishes minimum sentences for crimes such as discharging a firearm with intent or recklessly and robbery or extortion with a firearm. We see those as serious crimes.

  (1635)  

    It would have been preferable to maintain mandatory minimum sentences for these serious crimes, especially in a context marked by an increase in gun violence and in which public concern is palpable. In short, we would have preferred a less ideological approach from the government on these issues. I hope that the criticisms and suggestions I have raised will be heard by the government.
    Now that I have outlined the areas where an amendment would be required, I would like to take the time I have left to talk about what we like about Bill C‑5, or, more specifically, the diversion measures.
    We must recognize that the war on drugs has never been, is not, and will never be the solution to the opioid crisis and to other drugs that are wreaking havoc in Quebec and Canada. After decades of gathering evidence leading to this inevitable conclusion, it is time to acknowledge this reality and change our approach to treating addiction problems. We need to recognize them for what they really are and that is health problems, first and foremost.
    That is the main principle behind Bill C-5, and I must admit that, like all of my Bloc Québécois colleagues, I am relatively satisfied with the progress made. We understand that the government wants to emulate the success Portugal has had in tackling drug abuse. I think it is entirely appropriate to rely on the evidence and follow best practices to move forward on this issue.
    I firmly believe that the benefits of offering diversion measures will soon be felt in our communities and our justice system. Rather than dragging people through the courts unnecessarily and at great expense, we can dedicate those resources to treatment and education. This will also enable our justice system to focus on the cases that are truly problematic, in other words, the drug traffickers.
    The only caveat I would add about Bill C-5 on these issues is a simple reminder to the government that Portugal's success relies on frontline services. In order for these services to be delivered, additional resources will be needed. Of course I am talking about an increase in health transfers and an increase in social transfers.
    Someone who is trying to recover from addiction needs access to a series of support measures during their most vulnerable period in that transition to recovery. These measures include housing, employment assistance, psychological support and, of course, health care services.
    I remind the government that it also has health care responsibilities and that it must sit down with Quebec and the provinces and increase health transfers to 35% of system costs. This is how we can achieve our objectives when it comes to tackling drug addiction.
    I want to conclude by talking about decriminalization for simple possession. I think that we have found a balance with Bill C‑5 and that expungement of a criminal record after two years for this type of offence is a good compromise. It will take some time for our procedures to adjust to this new approach. I believe that we must consolidate our network before we move forward with decriminalization and that diversion programs are the best approach for the time being.

  (1640)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the balance the member brought to his speech. I wanted to hear a bit more on the diversion of those with addictions to treatment and other things since it is such a pressing issue. The member said he believes that is the way to go but that we need to build up programs. I would love to hear from the member what he thinks Canada and the provinces should be doing to help those who are facing these addictions.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, it is not a question of what the provinces should do, but what the federal government should do. This is the federal Parliament; we are the federal lawmakers.
    As I said in my speech, if the federal government wants to facilitate the diversion process, it must increase health transfers. The premiers of all the provinces, including Quebec, and the Quebec National Assembly are unanimously calling for that. This request has support, even here in the House of Commons, from the Conservative Party, the New Democratic Party and, of course, the Bloc Québécois.
    I would like to remind my colleague from Brampton North that, here, we are the ones who decide what happens in the federal Parliament. The provinces are autonomous and it is not up to the federal government to impose its legislation and decide for Quebec and the provinces.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to follow up on what my colleague just said about Bill C‑5 in terms of helping people who have addiction problems, among others. This is a public health problem, so it is important to increase health transfers.
    It seems to be hard for the federal government to understand what its responsibility is and what it needs to do. The same thing is happening at the Standing Committee on the Status of Women. For example, yesterday, even the Conservatives opposed the fact that health transfers and social services are needed to help women experiencing intimate partner violence. Something is not getting through. It is the federal government's role to make these transfers so that organizations in Quebec can then help women experiencing intimate partner violence, as well as people with addiction problems. Once again, I get the impression that the Bloc Québécois is the only party defending this idea.
    I would like to hear my colleague's thoughts on that.
    Madam Speaker, Quebec has fantastic social programs. However, these programs require financial support from the federal government, and that support is completely lacking. The fiscal imbalance is a well-known problem.
    There was nothing in the federal government's latest budget about increasing health transfers. Now it is proposing something new, diversion and decriminalization. Making all these changes requires resources.
    Obviously, if we want to be proactive in providing assistance, helping people heal and preventing addiction, we will have to take certain approaches, and the federal government can definitely help by increasing health transfers.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague. I enjoyed working with him at the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans today.
    Given that criminal records for personal possession of drugs are a significant barrier to employment and housing, which are two important factors in recovery from addiction, why does the Bloc Québécois oppose the NDP's amendment to expunge all criminal records for personal possession offences within two years?
    Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is not necessarily closed to the NDP's proposal. We are saying that Quebec and the provinces will need some time to adjust. All these legislative changes have tremendous consequences for people on the ground who will have to deal with the repercussions of these decisions.
    What the Bloc Québécois is saying today is that there needs to be better planning to prevent things from derailing. It will be much more difficult later for the people working directly on the ground to deal with the consequences of the legislative decisions we are making in the House.

  (1645)  

    It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, Public Safety; the hon. member for Chatham-Kent—Leamington, Fisheries and Oceans; the hon. member for Regina—Lewvan, Health.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure and an honour to rise in the House today to speak to this important bill.
    By way of introduction, it is important to note that this bill was reintroduced from the 43rd Parliament. It is an almost identical copy, with no changes except for the omission of coordinating amendments, which made some changes to the Firearms Act and adjusted some penalties for firearms offences. The reason I point out that it has been reintroduced is that this shows how slowly sometimes very important legislation moves in this place. That is particularly regrettable when we see the profound impacts that this legislation has on communities and people in this country.
    Bill C-5 is the result of the justice minister's 2021 mandate letter, in which he was instructed to “introduce legislation and make investments that take action to address systemic inequities in the criminal justice system, including to promote enhanced use of pre- and post-charge diversion and to better enable courts to impose sentences appropriate to the circumstances of individual cases.” This bill responds to that, in part, and it does so by proposing to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for all drug offences. It would also remove mandatory minimums for some tobacco and firearms offences. It is important to note that all of these mandatory minimums were added by the Conservatives in their Safe Streets and Communities Act, Bill C-10, in 2011. This bill would also make conditional sentencing orders more widely available by removing the prohibition of using them for more serious offences, and it would make it possible for police and prosecutors to divert more drug cases from the courts.
    This bill raises fundamental questions of effective criminal justice in Canada. It is fair to say that all parliamentarians across party lines share a number of goals in this area. We all want to see reduced crime, and we all want to keep people safe. We all want to protect victims, and we recognize that there is much more work to do in that area. We all want to reduce recidivism and make sure that in our criminal justice system, when people transgress and are part of the system, they come out and hopefully do not reoffend. Finally, we all want to address the root causes of crime.
    I will pause for a moment and speak about the root causes of crime.
    I was part of the public safety committee back in 2009 and 2010, when it conducted a study of mental health and addictions in the federal corrections system. In conducting that study, we toured federal corrections facilities across the country and went into federal penitentiaries to meet a wide variety of stakeholders. Among other facilities, we went into the Kent, Mountain and Pacific institutions in British Columbia. We went into an aboriginal healing lodge in British Columbia, as well as Ferndale. We went to an aboriginal women's corrections facility in Saskatchewan called Okimaw Ohci. We went to Kingston, an infamous Canadian federal penitentiary that is now closed. We went to Dorchester in New Brunswick and Archambault in Quebec. We also, by the way, went to the U.K. and Norway and toured institutions in those countries as well, to get a comparative example.
    We talked to everybody in these institutions. We talked to offenders, guards, wardens, nurses, chaplains, families, anybody who had anything whatsoever to do with working inside a federal institution. What is burned into my brain to this day is a shocking number, which is that across all institutions in Canada, the common number we heard was that 70% of offenders in federal institutions suffer from an addiction or a mental health issue. Probingly, we asked everybody, including the guards and wardens, what percentage of those people they thought would not be in prison but for their mental health issues or addictions. The answer we got, again reliably and consistently, was 70%. What that told us was that we are not, by and large, locking up criminals or bad people. We are locking up people with mental health issues and addictions, and most of their crimes are related to those two issues.

  (1650)  

    I think it is important to pause for a moment and talk about social determinants of crime, because there are highly correlated factors, like poverty, marginalization, childhood trauma and abuse, and others, that go into that prison population. By and large, I did not see a lot of white-collar millionaires in a single one of those institutions. What I saw were a lot of poor, indigenous, racialized, addicted and mentally ill Canadians.
    The other thing I think we need to talk about, when we talk about root causes, is how well Canada's justice system and our federal corrections institutions respond to that. At that time, the answer was “not very well”, and worse. At that time, the Conservatives did something that I consider to be politically worthy of condemnation, which is that they politicized the issue of crime for political gain. They pursued a tough-on-crime agenda, because they thought that by preying on people's fears and sense of victimhood, they could gain political points, and they used prisoners and the prison system as pawns in that regard. By doing that, the very small number of rehabilitative services in Canada's correctional system at that time were closed by the Conservatives.
    For instance, when I was visiting Kent, I walked into a huge, dark room, and when the lights were turned on, I saw it was full of equipment, such as band saws, Skilsaws and all sorts of construction equipment. There was a program where federal offenders were taught basic vocational skills, and they were making things like furniture, which was then purchased by the federal government at cost. Not only were we teaching marginalized people actual skills that they could use in the workplace when they got out, since more than 95% of offenders in federal institutions come back into society at some point, but the federal government was getting quality furniture at a below-market price. It was a win-win. However, that program was closed by the Conservatives.
    When I visited the Kingston penitentiary, and also Dorchester, they had extraordinarily successful prison farm programs where the people inside were able to earn credit for good behaviour and gain privileges to work with agricultural projects and farm animals. By the way, there was a prize cow population at Kingston. The bloodlines were fantastic, and it was an absolutely outstanding herd. Members should have seen the impact that these programs had on the emotional and rehabilitative personalities of the people inside. However, those programs were closed by the Conservatives.
    To this day, I say that we are doing a terrible job in Canada's correctional institutions of actually responding to the real needs of most offenders and ensuring that when they come out they do not repeat their offence. Here is the bottom line: I am not saying this out of a sense of compassion only; I am saying this because I do not want a single offender in Canada's correctional institutions to come back into society and reoffend, and that is exactly what they are going to do if we do not adjust and respond to their real needs.
    I want to talk quickly about mandatory minimums. The bottom line is that I, and my party, oppose mandatory minimums, except for the most serious of crimes, where, of course, they are appropriate. Why? It is because they do not work; they do not have any deterrent effect. It is because they have a discriminatory effect. It is because they are largely unconstitutional. All we have to do is look to the United States, which is the pioneer of using such sentences, to see what effect they have on crime. The United States locks up the largest percentage of its population of any country on the planet.
    I support Bill C-5. It is time that we start adopting progressive, rational, effective policies to keep Canadians safe. Punishing and keeping people in prison longer without access to the services they need does not work. It is