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View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
View Paul Manly Profile
2019-06-20 10:21 [p.29510]
Mr. Speaker, the final petition is from my constituents and is about DND land. The petitioners call for the Department of National Defence to clarify the safe range of the DND rifle range for safe operation; to establish a schedule for public access to the land in the buffer zone of the range; to order a feasibility study to look at relocating the range to a more suitable, less populated site; and to engage in community consultation with recreational users in the regional district of Nanaimo, the city of Nanaimo and Snuneymuxw First Nation about future use of this land.
View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, the second petition is in regard to the DND rifle range in the Nanaimo area. This range was established in the 1920s and the city has grown substantially since then. This is an area that is surrounded on three sides by parks and it has residential areas nearby. The petition contains thousands of signatures.
The petitioners call on the House of Commons to clarify the safe operation of the DND rifle range, which has recently been closed for recreational purposes. They would like the government to establish a schedule for public access to the lands in the buffer zone of the range and order a feasibility study to look at relocating the range to a more suitable, less populated area. They would also like the government to engage in a community consultation with recreational users, the Regional District of Nanaimo, the City of Nanaimo and the Snuneymuxw First Nation about the future use of this land.
View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to stand here today and engage in the debate on NAFTA.
Many of my constituents in Nanaimo—Ladysmith will know that I am very passionate about trade issues and concerned about international trade and investment agreements.
First of all, I want to say that the Green Party of Canada supports trade. We think it is a vital part of our economy. However, what we want to see in trade agreements is respect for environmental regulations, labour standards, health and safety standards, and consumer protections. These things should be increased in trade agreements, the way that the European Union does. Countries that enter the European Union must increase their standards and regulations to meet the highest standards in the union. We think that those kinds of approaches to international trade are important.
About 15 years ago, I was focused on a lot of local issues and worked on films about local water. Somebody had asked me if I knew anything about the Security and Prosperity Partnership, the SPP, and I did not. Therefore, I went off to Ottawa to go to the people summit and learn about the SPP.
I went to Montebello to document the protests that were happening there, and I happened to videotape three police officers who were dressed as radicals with masks on who were attacking their own riot squad. They were unmasked in the process, and all of their boots matched with those of the riot squad. This raised questions for me about why the police would be involved in this kind of incitement, and I have footage of them banging rocks into shields, etc. I wondered why they would be involved in this kind of incitement at a peaceful protest, and they were later proven to be police officers.
I became interested in the Security and Prosperity Partnership and started to dig in. What I found was that in this process there was a deep integration of Canada, the United States and Mexico as part of a fortress North America after 9/11. It also included integration of our regulatory standards. I looked into who was negotiating on behalf of Canada for these regulatory standards. There were 20 corporations for each of three countries, Mexico, the United States and Canada. There were some great Canadian corporations representing Canada in this negotiation process, such as Home Depot Canada, Walmart Canada, Chevron Canada and Ford Canada.
I started to study trade agreements a little more and found that there really was no involvement of civil society in these agreements. These were corporate agreements. Therefore, I really appreciate in this new version of NAFTA that the government has involved labour organizations and environmental organizations as part of the negotiating process, and I see that as progress. This is what we need to be doing in our negotiations on international trade and investment. They cannot just be secretive processes where only the corporations and the bureaucrats are involved. We need people who represent consumers, workers and environmentalists so that we have a fair process that can look at all aspects of trade and make sure that our regulations and standards are protected.
One of the others things I learned working on this film was about investor-state dispute settlements. Chapter 11 in NAFTA was the first time that a developed country had signed on to this process. It was something that the Europeans had used with their former colonial states to kind of keep corporate control over mineral extraction, etc. However, when I looked into Chapter 11, there were cases such as Ethyl Corporation, which got $5 million when Canada blocked the use of MMT, an additive that was a neurotoxin in gasoline. Ethyl Corporation said that it was an unfair trade practice to ban it. There are also things in these investment chapters such as indirect expropriation, and we all know what expropriation is; national treatment; as well as most favoured nation status. These are all things that are used by corporations to challenge our laws and policies. Therefore, I was really happy to see that the investor-state dispute settlement was taken out of the new NAFTA.
Let us look at cases like Bilcon, where a foreign corporation is challenging our environmental assessment process and getting $7 million for doing nothing. It is not a process that makes sense. We see this used as a big stick by mining companies to get developed countries to accept mining and extraction projects.
We need to do something about softwood lumber. That is an important issue in my community.
I am also concerned about the extension of patents for pharmaceuticals from eight years to 10 years for biologics and how that will affect the cost of drugs. We see many people, seniors in particular, who are having to make decisions about what they spend their money on: rent, food or pharmaceuticals.
Article 22, the state-owned chapter, has a carve-out for the Trans Mountain expansion project. That is a concern for me as well.
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this debate, and I would like to thank the hon. member for Milton for moving this motion.
The motion comes just short weeks after Victims and Survivors of Crime Week. Members may know the objectives of that week.
The first objective is to raise awareness across Canada about the issues facing victims and survivors. They and their families must be treated with courtesy, compassion and respect at all stages of the criminal justice process. Victims, survivors and their families also have an important role in helping to ensure that justice is done, that during the parole process, for example, reliable and relevant facts about parole can be made.
The second goal of this special week is to let victims and their families know about the services, programs and laws in place to help and support them.
The motion before us states that:
the government should amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act prior to the next election, so as to provide victims with an explanation of how dates are determined for offenders’ eligibility for temporary absences, releases and parole.
I will point out that information about offender eligibility dates is provided to victims already, but it is always worth examining whether there is room for improvement.
That said, the government already provides victims with useful and timely information in a number of ways.
In fact, last week, the government announced an important new step, a new victim outreach strategy to ensure that more victims would be aware of the information available to them and the role they could play in the corrections and conditional release process.
There was a great deal of collaboration in creating this strategy. Correctional Services Canada worked with federal partners, including the Parole Board of Canada, Public Safety Canada's National Office for Victims and the Department of Justice Canada, in consultation with victims and survivors. The result is a suite of communication tools to inform the public and victims of the resources and services available to them. The tools include infographics, videos and a social media campaign.
Another way that victims can receive information is through the victims portal. The portal is a secure online service, available to registered victims to receive information about the offender who harmed them. They can submit information electronically, including their victims' statements. These communication tools help victims stay informed, engaged and empowered to make informed decisions.
The Public Safety Canada portfolio is also working to ensure that victims of federal offenders have a voice in the federal criminal justice system.
For example, there are now 8,000 victims registered with Correctional Services Canada and the Parole Board of Canada. They are entitled to receive over 50 types of notifications. Last year, they received 160,000 pieces of information.
Along with more avenues to obtain information and give their input, victims have access to resources such as dedicated victim service officers, who provide victims with information about correctional services and the offender who harmed them.
Victim service officers explain to victims how correctional planning works and how decisions are made. They provide victims with information on the offender's progress toward meeting their correctional plan. They advise when parole hearings are scheduled.
It is fair to say that the rest of the motion aims to ensure that victims are treated even more fairly and respectfully by our criminal justice system. For decades, Canada's criminal justice system has been getting better at attending to the needs of victims and survivors, whether it is a matter of providing information, delivering support, or simply showing empathy and respect.
When Correctional Service of Canada prepares an offender's case for a parole hearing, for example, it takes into account the concerns that victims have raised in their victims' statements. Last year, victims presented over 300 statements at parole hearings. We are also taking steps to make the parole hearing process less traumatic for victims and survivors.
Members may recall that as part of the implementation plan for the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, the National Office for Victims hosted consultations on the victims right to information, participation and protection in the corrections and conditional release system.
One of the early issues discussed at the round tables was the parole hearing process as legislated in the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.
Under its terms, victims unable to attend the parole hearing can have access to an audio recording of the hearing. At round tables held by the National Office for Victims, we heard that attending a parole hearing could be traumatic, such that afterwards many victims did not have a clear sense of what exactly was discussed.
Why not make the audio recordings available to those who have attended the parole hearing as well as those who could not attend? Why not enable them to listen again at a time and a place of their choosing?
That is one of the proposed amendments we have included in Bill C-83, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, to strengthen victims roles in the criminal justice system.
This is just one way we can increase the number of avenues through which victims can obtain information and participate in the processes of the criminal justice system. There is always more that can be done, but we continue to take steps in the right direction.
One of the most important things we can do is prevent people from becoming victims in the first place.
The national crime prevention strategy provides leadership on ways to prevent and reduce crime among at-risk populations and vulnerable communities. The strategy's goal is to mitigate the underlying factors that might put individuals at risk of offending in the first place.
The Government of Canada is making up to $94 million available over five years to develop inclusive, diverse and culturally adapted crime prevention projects right across Canada.
The national crime prevention strategy is another example of this government's efforts to reduce crime and by the same token, reduce the number of victims.
The government will continue to work with all our partners to support victims in every way possible.
Once again, I would like to thank the hon. member for introducing this motion and I look forward to continued debate on this very important topic.
View Brenda Shanahan Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Brenda Shanahan Profile
2019-06-19 18:43 [p.29470]
Mr. Speaker, although I am anything but a lawyer, my constituents and I are very concerned about long delays in the legal system. I see some major reforms in Bill C-75.
I would like to know if the minister thinks we held enough consultations. I believe this is a very important bill, and I want to be sure everything has been done properly.
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. The short answer is yes. We held consultations. We did a lot of work on different aspects of the bill.
This should be part of our response to the issue of delays in the judicial system. The reform of hybrid offences will give more discretion to our prosecution services. This will differentiate less serious cases from more serious cases, which will be allocated more resources.
This will also help indigenous people across the country, who are often overrepresented in the justice system. There are reforms of administrative procedures and also of administrative offences. This should help prevent revolving door justice for indigenous people. There is also a reform of preliminary inquiries.
View Kevin Sorenson Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, we are in the last few days of Parliament, and it seems like every day the government is saying it is going to invoke closure and bring forward time allocation to shut down debate.
Contrary to what the minister has just said, the process we go through here is this: Our committees look at these justice bills, and then we debate them here and send them to the Senate. Sometimes the Senate will send a bill back to us with amendments. Indeed, the Senate has sent this bill back with a number of amendments, at least 13 or 14, from what we hear tonight. However, we are not given the ability to debate those amendments. Our constituents expect us to do our due diligence.
We debated the bill prior to this, but the Senate has sent it back, and now the Liberal government is going to invoke closure. This is not just about closure and time allocation; it is about another promise of an omnibus bill. Bill C-75 is a 300-page bill that is an omnibus bill. The government has thrown everything in here, and now we are asked to shut down debate and get ready to vote on it.
The question that came from the Liberal side hit the nail on the head. That member said that one of the things we are concerned about is long delays in the courts. This bill is not just hybridizing many offences, but showing the failure of the Liberals to appoint judges throughout this country so these cases can be heard in the court system. Therefore, the Liberals bring this forward to basically push things through quickly, like a revolving door.
This is how the Liberals drew this up. Originally, offences like leaving Canada to join a terrorist group were part of this bill. It is basically allowing them to water down serious offences, such as advocating genocide, using a date rape drug and human trafficking. Yes, some of those may not be in there now, but that is the Liberal philosophy of criminal justice reforms.
I am sorry, but we are skeptical of the kinds of measures the current government brings forward, and we are very skeptical of the closure the minister is invoking.
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, I disagree not only with the facts as the hon. member has presented them, but also with his starting assumptions.
With respect to appointing judges, we have set up a rigorous and transparent system to appoint judges. At last count, I believe there were over 350 superior court judges appointed across Canada. There are not many vacancies left. I have appointed 50 to 60 since I was appointed Minister of Justice.
With respect to the examples the hon. member cited, those are precisely examples of how the justice committee worked and worked well. Changes to the bill were brought by the committee and accepted by the government.
This bill has been in front of us for over a year. It is not a question of anything being rushed through. We have been quite deliberate. We have accepted amendments at the justice committee level. We have heard and accepted amendments from the Senate. There has been a good to-and-fro in a number of different situations. Frankly, I have no problem whatsoever invoking closure on this bill, given where we are in this session and given the amount of input that all sides have had on this bill.
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Harder Profile
2019-06-19 19:43 [p.29474]
Mr. Speaker, today in the House we are discussing Bill C-75. The bill is supposed to strengthen the justice system. It is meant to better protect Canadians. It is meant to reduce delays and it is meant to modernize the criminal justice system.
In part, it does this by facilitating the administration of justice down to the provinces. However, the reality is the bill is yet another example of the current government's dirty habit of saying one thing but doing another. It is known as Liberal hypocrisy, or sometimes people refer to it as Liberal logic.
At the end of the day, this will in fact severely damage Canadian society and our justice system as a whole. Despite the rhetoric from across the way and despite the current heckles, the Liberals decided that they would not properly consult with stakeholders. They rammed the bill through without giving it careful consideration, without paying attention to the call for further discussion and certainly without adequate debate in this place.
As a result, Canadians are stuck with a piece of legislation that has a number of flaws that are very significant in nature. One of the flaws has to do with hybridization. Putting aside the issue of reducing the penalty of very serious crimes for just a moment, which I will come back to, hybridization also results in many crimes being moved from Federal Court into provincial court.
The Canadian Bar Association had this to say with regard to hybridization. It said this“would likely mean more cases would be heard in provincial court. This could result in further delays in those courts”. In other words, we already have a backlog within our justice system and the Canadian Bar Association is saying that Bill C-75 would result in an even further backlog, which is problematic because these individuals do need to go to trial. These cases do need to proceed, so holding them up even further is actually an injustice to the victim.
Furthermore, it should be noted that it is the government's chief responsibility to care for the safety and well-being of its citizens, to defend the vulnerable, to create laws that put the rights of victims first, which is why it is extremely alarming to see that the Prime Minister is actually pandering more to criminals than standing up for victims.
Bill C-75 reduces penalties for some very heinous crimes including participating in a terrorist group, trafficking women and girls, committing violence against a clergy member, murdering a child within one year of birth, abducting a child, forced marriage, advocating for genocide or participating in organized crime.
The members opposite do not like it when I say those things, it is an inconvenient truth for them, so their heckling gets louder and louder, but the truth cannot be concealed. These heinous, unthinkable acts would have a reduced sentence under Bill C-75.
Conservatives believe in the safety of Canadians being put first. They believe that it should be the number one priority of any government. We will continue to speak up on behalf of victims and we will continue to advocate for them to come first in our justice system. It is very important for me to stand here today and to speak to this piece of legislation because the rights of victims and the rights of communities must come first.
We have a Prime Minister who is much more concerned about pursuing his own agenda than he is about acting in the best interests of Canadians. It is not just with Bill C-75, it is with other pieces of legislation and other decisions being made by the government as well.
Bill C-71, which is the firearms legislation, was rammed through by the government earlier this spring. This was an attack on law-abiding firearms owners. Bill C-71 was rammed through without the government taking concern for the advice of law enforcement agents. It was rammed through without them actually consulting with legislative experts. It was rammed through without the Liberals taking the time to consult with and listen to Canadians.
When those in power turn a deaf ear to the people that they represent, arrogance incapacitates any ability for them to exercise logical thought or common sense. That is exactly what has happened under the current government.
The irony in all of this is that while the Liberals are letting criminals off the hook for committing atrocious crimes such as forced marriage, trafficking, terrorist activity and genocide, they insist on demonizing those who hunt or use their rifles for sport shooting. It is absolutely ludicrous. In what world does this make sense?
From the start, the Liberals did not want to debate Bill C-71. They did not want to consult, because that would mean they would need to listen and then would be held accountable to act on the things that they heard. Instead, the Liberals decided to push Bill C-71, the firearms legislation, through the House. They told Canadians that the bill is for their safety and protection, but it does nothing of the sort. It fails to address gang violence, it fails to address illegal firearm acquisition and use and it fails to address rural crime and violence. Bill C-71 simply goes after those who are already following the law, while rewarding criminals with shorter sentences or allowing them to walk away altogether.
It is very clear that what the current government likes to do more than anything is deceive Canadians. It is less about the safety, well-being and security of our country and more about appearing to be doing something good. If the government took Canadians seriously and really took the position of honour that has been bestowed upon it seriously, then it would genuinely want to strengthen our justice system and our borders. It would genuinely want to invest in front-line responders and make sure that illegal firearms are taken off the street and that people are kept safe in this country, but the current government is not interested in actually governing well. The current government under the current Prime Minister is more interested in its appearance, its image.
The Prime Minister told veterans that they cost too much. Meanwhile, he handed $10 million over to a convicted terrorist, Omar Khadr.
An hon. member: Shame.
Ms. Rachael Harder: It is shameful. I'm glad you recognize it.
The Prime Minister insists consistently on putting criminals before victims. This is wrong, because Canadians elect a government to look after their safety, security and well-being, to ensure that this country is running on all cylinders, that Canadians have a vibrant future that they can dream for, work toward and step into and be excited about for their children and grandchildren. The bill we are discussing today, Bill C-75, which makes changes to the criminal justice system, actually puts this country at risk and victims in serious danger. It rewards criminals.
The role of every government is to keep citizens safe. It is to facilitate an environment of economic prosperity in which people are free to use their time, their talent and their energy to build wealth and achieve the financial outcomes they desire. This means protecting our borders, investing in necessary infrastructure, decreasing taxes, exercising fiscal restraint and scrapping unnecessary regulations. It means respecting the rights and freedoms of Canadians and celebrating the contributions of those who work hard, rather than turning them into criminals. I am talking about the retired widow who lives next door to me, the local business owner who serves coffee when I go there, the medical practitioners who look after our health, the students who dream for a vibrant future and the veterans who have faithfully served this country. These are the faces that government should be looking into when it makes decisions to rule this country.
During his time as prime minister, John Diefenbaker told party members, “I was criticized for being too much concerned with the average Canadians. I can't help that; I am one”, and so it is today. Just as the Right Hon. John Diefenbaker did all those years ago, my colleagues and I on this side of the House are committed to standing up for everyday Canadians, those who work hard and want a vibrant future not just for themselves but for their children and grandchildren.
When we mess around with the justice system with a bill like Bill C-75 and when we reward criminals who commit some of the most heinous crimes imaginable and allow them to go free or we diminish their sentence to a mere fine, we depreciate the value of our country and we fail to look after the well-being of Canadian citizens.
In this place, there are 338 of us who were elected to do far better than that. I would expect much more from the current Prime Minister and much more from the members who govern with him. There is no greater honour than to serve in this place, to be elected by the people of Canada and to have the opportunity to function as a voice on their behalf. I would call upon this House to steward that honour and to vote this bill down.
View Kevin Sorenson Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, I thank the chamber for doing that.
This undoubtedly will be the last time I ever speak in this place. As I rise on this night, I want to thank the throng of people that have come out to hear this speech.
I rise this evening to speak to Bill C-83, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another act.
This legislation seeks to eliminate administrative segregation in correctional facilities; replace these facilities with new structured intervention units, or SIUs; introduce body scanners for inmates; set parameters for access to health care; and formalize exceptions for indigenous offenders, female offenders and offenders with diagnosed mental health issues.
Just as we fundamentally opposed the bill in its original form, we oppose the government's motion respecting the Senate amendments.
We on this side of the House believe that this legislation has the potential of making prisons more dangerous both for offenders and for correctional officers. I will get into that in a bit.
Drumheller Institution, a medium security facility, is located within my riding of Battle River—Crowfoot. Over the many years I have represented this riding, I have developed a very good rapport with many of the good people who work there.
Correctional officers contact my constituency office on a regular basis, asking for assistance in resolving cases and issues they have within and with their institution. I would never support a bill that could potentially endanger their lives any more than they already are, given that they are employed in an inherently hazardous occupation. Currently, my office has 20 active files and 50 inactive files, but also unresolved files from Drumheller correctional workers with respect to pay issues due to the Phoenix pay system, as well as other issues. They are not alone. Nearly two-thirds of public servants have unresolved pay issues more than three years after the Phoenix system was launched.
Now the national union president representing correctional officers is raising serious concerns about the very real possibility of some new measures taking place within the institution. One of them is the first supervised drug injection site for prisoners. The Correctional Service of Canada has neither confirmed nor denied this is about to happen by the end of the month.
As National President Jeff Wilkins told the National Post in an article that appeared on June 9, “The correctional officers are dead set against the prison needle-exchange and the current way it's being rolled out.” It is a program that he says is unsafe for guards, as they are responsible for distributing needles to prisoners in their cells, a scheme that has done nothing to stop needle sharing and defies reason in that people in prison should not have access to those drugs.
One of my constituents wrote me, “As a Correctional Officer, I am opposed to the proposed Needle Exchange program, which is definitely defeating the purpose of the whole anti-drug thing that we were shooting for in jail. Is there any way that I and other co-workers can express our concerns with our MP?”
l told him that I was definitely open to hearing and discussing these concerns with him and his colleagues. I could not assure him, however, that the Liberal government would listen. I did in fact tell him that I would bring his concerns to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness but was not at all confident that he would be receptive to those concerns.
After 19 years in this place and a number of years as our party's public safety critic for the official opposition in 2001 until about 2005, I have learned that when it comes to justice, under Liberal governments inmates and their rights take precedence over victims and correctional officers' rights.
For the 19 years that I have been in this place, I have repeatedly stood in the House fighting for victims' rights, fighting for changes to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to end such things as statutory release and promoting the idea of protection of society as a guiding principle in our justice system.
I oppose conditional sentences as originally prescribed by the Liberals, which saw rapists and other violent offenders serve their sentences at home. My constituents back me up on that.
I am equally opposed to needle exchange programs in our correctional institutions, and I am opposed to injection sites. I wholeheartedly agree with the union president that rather than providing needle exchanges and designated sites within prisons for inmates to shoot up, we should perhaps have medical facilities closer to these prisons to deal with the drug overdoses that may result.
So much more should and can be done to stop the drug trade within the correctional facilities, which is leading to overdose, to death and to the continued gang wars that take place within our prisons. Canadians would agree that it defies reason that drugs make their way into the prisons, not to mention the huge amount of drugs and number of needles that circulate.
This is certainly not a new phenomenon. This has been going on for years. The Liberals' only solution is to give the inmates what they want. I disagree.
I fully understand that many inmates are drug addicts and that many of them are in prison as a result of criminal behaviour related to their addiction. They need help. They do not need more drugs, especially drugs that are bought or bartered for within prison. The fact that drugs cannot be stopped from entering our prisons certainly is a blight on the reputation of the Correctional Service of Canada.
As I pointed out this year when I last spoke to this bill, the Correctional Service of Canada certainly has been the subject of much criticism over the last number of years. In that speech, I mentioned one of the fall reports of the Auditor General of Canada, in 2017. It was entitled “Preparing Women Offenders for Release”. The objective of the Auditor General's report was this:
[to determine] whether Correctional Service Canada assigned and delivered correctional programs, interventions, and mental health services to women offenders in federal custody—including Indigenous women offenders—that responded appropriately to their unique needs and helped them successfully reintegrate into the community.
We heard our parliamentary secretary talk about correctional programs tonight, and this bill also deals with indigenous women offenders.
As noted by the Auditor General:
Under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, Correctional Service Canada is required to provide programs and services that respond to the needs of women offenders.
The report states:
Overall, we found that Correctional Service Canada had not implemented an initial security classification process designed specifically for women offenders.... As a result, some women offenders risked being held at inappropriate security levels....
Furthermore, and most relevant to our debate here this evening, the Auditor General concluded:
We found that Correctional Service Canada had not confirmed whether its tools correctly identified women offenders with mental health issues or assigned them the appropriate level of care.
I also spoke about report 6 of the fall 2018 Auditor General report on community supervision of offenders, in which the Auditor General found that while the number of offenders released into community supervision had grown and was expected to keep growing, the Correctional Service of Canada had reached the limit of how many offenders it could house in the community. Despite the growing backlog and despite research that showed that a gradual supervised release gave offenders a better chance of successful reintegration, the Correctional Service of Canada did not have a long-term plan to respond to its housing pressures.
The Auditor General also found that the Correctional Service of Canada did not properly manage offenders under community supervision. Parole officers did not always meet with offenders as often as they should have, nor did parole officers always monitor offenders' compliance with special conditions imposed by the Parole Board of Canada.
I continue today to implore the Liberal government to focus on ensuring that the Correctional Service of Canada fully meets its mandate. The safety and security of Canadians depends on the successful rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders into society upon their release. Given the findings of the Office of the Auditor General, I believe that uneasiness with respect to safety and security of Canadians extends well beyond Bill C-83.
I implore the current government to start thinking about those who find themselves in danger's way daily by implementing measures and policies to protect them. If it only took the time to consult them, I am confident their ideas, based on years of experience, would ensure Correctional Services Canada would be able to fulfill its mandate.
I am thankful for the opportunity to speak tonight. I look forward to any questions.
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Pam Damoff Profile
2019-06-19 22:36 [p.29493]
Mr. Speaker, while we are debating Bill C-83 tonight, the hon. member spent a great deal of time talking about corrections officers and the needle exchange program, which has absolutely nothing to do with this bill.
He mentioned that there has been no consultation with corrections officers. I would like to correct the record on that. I have met with them numerous time and the minister just recently spoke at their meeting in Calgary. Quite frankly, if we had not had the draconian cuts to corrections that were made over the last 10 years, our corrections officers would be much better prepared in their daily efforts at work. I have the utmost respect for corrections officers.
My question to the hon. member has to do with the Senate amendments, which is what the debate is about tonight. Will his party be supporting them?
View Kevin Sorenson Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, with respect to the consultations, let me quote what Jason Godin, president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, said. This is partly involving the costing of the bill. He stated, “Unfortunately, due to cabinet confidentiality, as our commissioner often tells us, we weren't really consulted.” That is what the union said.
When I speak to my officers, they are not consulted about a whole host of issues.
A member of the committee said she spoke to a number of people. However, it should not just be a chat with someone on the sideline of a committee meeting, but deep consultations with not just the union but correctional officers.
Godin continues, “The bill was as much a surprise to us as it was to anybody. I don't see the bill before it comes onto the table, so we weren't officially consulted on Bill C-83.”
Here is our problem. I asked the parliamentary secretary tonight about the costing of the bill. She gave us a line item, but she did not specify what the costs would be for the scanners or the change to the integration system and no longer having the administrative segregation. We do not have those answers.
This is another one of these bills where we moved into tonight's last few hours of debate after the government invoked closure and time allocation.
I will go into some of what Senator Pate said. She stated, “If there have been no meaningful consultations to this point on this process, then I would not have faith that those mechanisms would be put in place within the prison setting”. Although the Senate has brought forth amendments, the senator is saying she recognizes there is a lack of consultation.
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Harder Profile
2019-06-19 22:39 [p.29493]
Mr. Speaker, talking about consultation, interestingly, two weeks ago there were several hundred correctional officers who gathered on the lawn here on Parliament Hill to protest the current government and its decision to introduce a needle exchange program within the federal prisons. Officers would say they were not consulted on this decision and that they very much feel they have been put in harm's way by the installation of this program.
I am wondering if the hon. member could comment on this further and highlight the importance of consulting with those who are on the front lines, day in and day out.
View Kevin Sorenson Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, I served in government. I know consultations. For me, it was budget consultations across the country, meeting with as many as we could, meeting with people in every community and every chamber. There were consultations online, as well as in person.
The hon. member is correct. When I spoke to my correctional officers, they said they were not consulted. When we speak to the union, it said there was inadequate consultation.
In the case the member is referring to, which is a little different than what the scope of the bill is, on the needle exchanges the officers are very concerned about their safety. We know that the needle that was maybe used to shoot up a drug could also be used as a weapon in the hands of that offender against other offenders and against correctional officers. It is one thing to say they are employed in an inherently dangerous surrounding, and another for governments to say they had better consult and make sure that what they are doing is the right thing. Unfortunately, the current government fails on consultation every time.
View Nathan Cullen Profile
NDP (BC)
View Nathan Cullen Profile
2019-06-18 19:45 [p.29392]
Mr. Speaker, I think the time ahead of us is somewhat short. This bill is now under a measure to allow it to proceed at a certain pace. For some, it might seem like a bit of a rush, that this is happening at some accelerated pace, but for those of us who make our homes along the north coast and the northwest of British Columbia, this has been a conversation that has gone on for more than a generation. We have been talking specifically about the transit of oil across the northwest and off the north coast to some other ports for almost 50 years. It has been 47 years.
Going back through some of the history would be important to help colleagues and people watching this debate understand how much this has been studied by Parliament, the National Energy Board, people living in the northwest and industry. I am not sure there is another transit route anywhere in North America that has been looked at so often and so often rejected as a good or potential route to pass oil products through because of some of the inherent risks that make the transit of that oil difficult to do securely.
Fifteen years ago, I started my career in federal politics. One of our objectives in running for office and ultimately achieving success at the polls was to put Skeena back on the map, to have the conversation that we were having between and within our communities as part of a national dialogue, issues about the environment and resource exploitation, about indigenous rights and title, and the obligation of the Crown of this place to do a much better job than we have historically done through our colonial past. Fifteen years ago, when I first rose in Parliament, the issue that we talked about was this. We were talking about attempts to protect the north coast, which by anyone's estimation is deserving of our respect and protection.
In the most recent election in 2015, four of the five major federal parties campaigned on the promise to do exactly what we are doing here today. Of the people sitting in this House of Commons, representing over 12 million Canadian voters, 70% campaigned on this promise throughout that election. Making good on that promise is the least we can do for the people in the northwest, who have again been discussing this for more than a generation.
In 1970, a House of Commons committee first studied this question asking: is this a good idea or not; is there a port to the north of Vancouver that would make good sense to transit oil? That review came up negative.
In 1972, the declaration of a voluntary moratorium, an exclusion zone, was put in place. Also, in 1972, one of my predecessors, Frank Howard, the MP for Skeena, as it was known at the time, passed a unanimous motion confirming that exclusion zone. All parties in the House of Commons at that time understood the importance of this. It was multipartisan. It was not even partisan or bipartisan; it had all parties in agreement.
The federal commission was struck in 1978.
The voluntary agreement with the United States came in 1988, which has been reviewed many times since and confirmed each and every time.
In 2009, Stephen Harper decided to ignore this long-held moratorium. He simply called it a cabinet utterance, which it was. It had never been written down into law. Therefore, as the then prime minister, he said he did not need to abide by it and then opened up the conversation for a proposed project from the company known as Enbridge, which hived off to become Enbridge northern gateway, a subsidiary, which is a neat trick an oil and gas company sometimes does to protect itself. It creates a subsidiary to run a pipeline, which indemnifies it against legal action if ever there was an accident. This is the same company that spilled massive amounts of oil and diluted bitumen into the Kalamazoo River, which cost hundreds of millions of dollars. It is unable to clean up the Kalamazoo, by the way, in Michigan in the States. It is a very shallow, slow-moving, warm river. For anyone familiar with the circumstances of our rivers in British Columbia, particularly northern British Columbia, they are not shallow, slow-moving or warm. Every oil cleanup expert in the world, those based in British Columbia and throughout North America, has described a successful cleanup rate for a diluted bitumen spill on the north coast at less than 7% recovery.
Let me repeat that. What would be deemed as a successful, A-plus cleanup operation in the event of a spill from a pipeline or an oil tanker on the north coast in the waters that we know, is 7% recovery and 93% lost into the environment. As we know, diluted bitumen sinks and causes havoc in a place that relies on our rivers and our oceans for our very sustenance.
The great privilege that I have had for this decade and a half representing the people of the northwest is to come to know in some small way the ancient indigenous cultures that have resided there since time immemorial: the Tsimshian, the Haida, the Heiltsuk, the Nuxalk, the Tahltan, the Gitxsan and Wet'suwet'en, all the way through and to the coast.
The privilege that has been mine is learning from that leadership that the responsibilities of leaders are not simply to care for ourselves in the moment in which we exist, but in all of our best efforts to represent people, to speak on their behalf and to leave the place better than we found it.
In Kitimat, British Columbia, which would have been the terminus for the northern gateway pipeline, it was the Haisla leadership in particular, elected and hereditary leadership together, who spoke with such firmness and declaration. They rejected the idea of bringing diluted bitumen to the north coast and sailing it down the Douglas Channel in super tankers, trying to perform three 90-degree turns before getting into the Hecate Strait near Haida Gwaii, the fourth most dangerous body in the world, in an attempt to move oil safely hundreds and thousands of times over the course of the life of a pipeline. There is no reasonable person who can offer the people I represent the assurance that an accident will not happen.
The Exxon Valdez spill of 1989 was just north of us. To this day, we can go on the shorelines where the Exxon Valdez went down and where it spilled. All we have to do is dig half a foot into the gravel banks and the water that fills back in comes with an oil sheen that is detectable as spillage from the Exxon Valdez so many years ago.
Most Canadians approach these questions in a relatively straightforward way: What are the risks versus the benefits, not just to us as a community but to us as a province and a nation? The risks that are entertained in trying to move diluted bitumen and any oil product off the north coast in super tankers that are not designed for our waters through very narrow and treacherous passageways so far outweigh any imagined benefits that it is a no-brainer.
I can remember a letter that was issued by the then natural resources minister. I do not know if colleagues remember. It was directed by the prime minister's office, we found out later. It said that those who are opposed to northern gateway are enemies of the state and foreign-funded radicals. That is what they called us. Not only was that an incredibly offensive and ignorant thing to say about fellow Canadians from the prime minister's office and his minister, but it ended up having the reverse effect in the place I represent.
What the former Harper government had not learned was that sometimes those people who are concerned about the environment and worried about oil spilling into our oceans and into our rivers are not all wearing Birkenstocks. They are not all fully paid members of Greenpeace. In fact, in the place I live, some of the most conservative people I know take that word “conservative” seriously, to mean they want to be able to take their kids fishing and to the out of doors. I need to respect that place in order to have that privilege and for them to have that privilege for their children. The former government accused us of being radicals, of being foreign-funded stooges to some great, grand conspiracy theory, which continues on today, unfortunately, for law-abiding, proper-thinking Canadians who are simply saying they want a voice in this conversation and that the government has to listen to them.
It was so shameful for any government of any political persuasion to stoop to those tactics, and it had the opposite effect. People where I live, those from the right, the left, the middle and outside all of our conventional thinking said, “How dare you” to the former government. In fact, it may have in part contributed to the Conservatives' eventual downfall; that the arrogance and the bullying represented in that attitude toward citizens whom we seek to represent backfired completely and exposed that government to something else.
To former colleagues and current provincial premiers who are waving the national unity flag, one way to not do national unity is by threatening and bullying other Canadians. We do not bring this country together by yelling at each other. We do not represent the best interests of Canada when we talk to another province in a disrespectful and offensive way. Unfortunately, what we are seeing out of some of our provinces is to suggest to British Columbia, the place that I call home, “How dare you stand up for things you believe in? How dare you represent your views politically and socially?” We can see what is coming out of Edmonton these days, and it will not have the effect that I suppose they are hoping for.
To my friends and family in Alberta, whom I have spoken to many times over these long years, and we have been campaigning and talking about this for a long time: We absolutely understand the fear that is exhibited, particularly by those who are involved in the oil industry, because they have had a hard go. Oil went up to extremely high prices, $140 a barrel, money was easily made through hard work and focus, and then, steadily, prices collapsed. The economy of Alberta, in particular, and of Saskatchewan as well, are very reliant on that particular economy. They fell on incredibly hard times, and things got more and more tight and desperate. It felt as if the world was lined up against them. However, no one is controlling oil prices, last I checked, effectively. Not the current government and not past governments. This is a cycle that we have seen many times.
In the face of this, we are also collectively challenged with what we are seeing in our world. The predictions and thoughts we were getting in the 1980s and 1990s about the impacts of climate change were that forest fires would become more intense and broader, that floods and storm events would no longer be single-century events but many times over many years, and that we are seeing the impacts and the weather pattern changes that are directly attributable to dangerous climate change. Albertans know this. We saw the floods in Calgary. We saw the fires in Fort McMurray, and we saw them in my region as well.
I sat down with a forest firefighter just last season, which was another record and devastating year. For those who have ever experienced or been in proximity to an out-of-control forest fire, it is devastating. It is so shaking to our very understanding of home and security when we see the full rage and power of Mother Nature in effect. However, I was sitting across the lunch table from a firefighter who had blackened eyes and was completely covered in soot. He had just got off the line. He has been fighting fires for 30 years. I asked, “How are you doing?” He said, “It's different”. This guy is to the right of Attila the Hun and way out there in terms of his conservative views on the world and so I asked, “How is it different?” He said, “The impacts of climate. I'm watching it”. I said, “You're putting me on.” He replied, “Absolutely not. It's the way the fires are behaving; the way the things are conducting themselves is not the way that we know.”
Now, with the bill before us, many in the oil industry are seeking certainty. It is a common refrain: “We want certainty. We just want to be able to know what the landscape is”. I will offer this to those interested in certainty: We want certainty too.
For millennia, the people of the north coast have relied upon the oceans and rivers for our economy, our basic social fabric and the sustenance that builds the incredible cultures that we now celebrate and enjoy across the globe. The certainty that we require is that these moratoriums that were voluntary, that were utterances from the government, will no longer be uncertain; they will be certain, and that is what the bill would do. However, the bill would also bring certainty to the industry, because last I checked, and someone can correct me, there is no one knocking on the door to try to build a diluted bitumen pipeline to the north coast, because the risks so far outweigh the benefits. It is because the political and social environment of the northwest is so connected to the land, so connected to the oceans and the rivers, that the viability of anyone proposing to build a big old diluted bitumen pipeline and put all of that in supertankers with some faint promise to get it off to overseas markets is not a reality. So let us create that certainty.
I mentioned in a question earlier in the debate that I worked alongside Jim Prentice, who has left us, while he was environment minister for the former government. Jim had come to the north coast, unlike many people who speak with some sort of authority as to how the north coast works.
Jim came many times. He saw the splendour and the grandeur. He worked with us on bringing forward the Great Bear Rainforest initiative. It had started under a previous Liberal government but had never come to completion. I worked with Rona Ambrose and John Baird. It was all these folks who had not exactly hugged a tree every day, but who understood the importance of this part of the world. We funded that initiative, protecting the largest tract of temperate rainforest in the world, and protecting it in such a way that includes the people who live there. We did not draw a line on a map around people, saying that the local communities were not important. We included them in the creation of a global leading conservation effort.
We bought back some, and some companies just simply forgave the permits they had to drill for oil and gas in the Hecate Strait, a preposterous notion for anyone who has ever been across the Hecate Strait. It is incredibly shallow, prone to storms, and has some of the strongest winds in the world. It is a place that so relies on the ocean being intact for the survival of the people there.
It was through a Conservative, and I got in a lot of trouble for it. Some people said, “How dare you work with Conservatives to get something done?” There was a headline in the Toronto Star, claiming I had sold out. People wonder sometimes why we lose faith in politics. Something good was done, and I did not care who did it. I did not care who got the credit for it. I just cared that it got done. It was something people in the region wanted. It was through the Conservative government that we did it.
This is a strange, circular moment for me. When we came into this place, we were fighting to protect the north coast. As this parliamentary session winds down and my colleagues turn their eyes toward the next election, those who are re-offering, I think sometimes life offers us a little bit of a bookend to a story, that where one starts ends up being where one finishes.
For the people I represent, who have been engaged in this battle, indigenous and non-indigenous, right and left, rural and urban, for more than 40 years, to see this bill come to pass as one of the last acts of this Parliament, in which there have been disappointments, failures and mistakes as there always are, they can look to this piece of legislation, know that it is in fact founded in science, know that it is in fact founded in deep and profound consultations that have gone on for decades, and know for a fact that what we are doing as a Parliament here today is good.
What we are doing here as colleagues, as parliamentarians, who are called to serve, and in our best ways represent the people of this great country, is something right. There will be those who think it is wrong. I would invite them to come to the place where I live. I would invite them to see this place and meet the people who rely on this place for their very survival.
Allow me to end with this. I was in Bella Coola in Bella Bella, Heiltsuk and Nuxalk territory just last week. It was in the Heiltsuk territory where the Nathan E. Stewart went down. It is a relatively small, segregated barge. The world-class oil spill response that this country has claimed to have for 20 years was unable to handle a relatively small spill that took place on the clam beds and areas where salmon spawned, vital to the Heiltsuk Nation.
That experience was traumatizing for people there. It was traumatizing because they had been warning the federal government for many years that the clean-up for spills was insufficient, our navigational responses were insufficient, and what they were trying to protect was so precious to them. They could not go anywhere else. This was their home, this was where their ancestors were buried.
In watching the response, the brave response from that community, and knowing the risks posed by a much larger and more devastating spill, the least we can do is listen. Politicians are not always great at that. We like to talk. I have been talking for a bit here.
We have had many failures in this place. Parliament has failed rural people and indigenous people more often than not. Every once in a while, we can do something right and we can do something good. Passing this bill, enshrining what has existed for many decades into law, will be doing something right, and I believe doing our jobs on behalf of all Canadians.
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