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View Garnett Genuis Profile
Mr. Speaker, I know the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons was hoping this was an unlimited time slot. I want to share with him that the House can do whatever it wants by unanimous consent, so he can reflect on that opportunity. I want him to know that I am always prepared if he wants to hear more of what I have to say on an important subject. However, as I get into it, I wonder if he may be less interested in hearing what I have to say, quite frankly, but it is still important for him.
We are talking about Bill C-3 that deals with the work, in part, of the Canada Border Services Agency. This is timely because, especially today, many people are talking and thinking about the challenges in import and export and the transportation of goods. This is an area where the opportunity for public complaints and review is very important. Indeed, I hear many public complaints already out there about problems with regard to our ability to transport goods.
We are in the middle of a national crisis, where various protesters, a relatively small number, are openly trying to shut down Canada. They are blocking access to a border point and standing in the middle of train tracks. This is causing massive problems, and those problems are only going to continue. During discussions about this national crisis, members are raising fears about escalation and talking about the need for de-escalation.
All of us would like to ensure the situation does not get any worse, but inaction by the government is creating escalation, with more and more people thinking that they can ignore the law and protest illegally, and growing fears of Canadians that these blockades will result in long-term economic damage and the inability of people to access essential goods. I have been hearing from colleagues in the Maritimes and other parts of the country concerned about propane shortages and the impact it will have on people's ability to heat their homes and provide for their basic needs.
This bill speaks to accountability of our Canada Border Services Agency and the RCMP. It is ironic that the government is putting forward measures aimed at making other agencies more accountable when it is failing to be accountable itself for the real problems in our economy as a result of decisions it has made to not act or show leadership in the midst of this national crisis. It is important to underline why we are facing this national crisis. There is a very small number, a minority, of hereditary chiefs, not the elected representatives, who oppose a particular development project on Wet'suwet'en territory, but all of the affected band councils are in favour of this. Overwhelmingly, the people are in favour of this and a majority of hereditary chiefs are in favour of this.
I draw the attention of members of the House to this issue in this context. If every single time a development project happens for which there is a small amount of opposition with the result of shutting down national infrastructure, then it is going to be very difficult for us to ever move goods in this country in the future because there are always going to be controversial projects. Those of us on this side of the House have been raising the warning that this really is a warm-up act for larger, more controversial projects in the future.
If the government, instead of dialoguing with the elected leadership of communities, feels that it can negotiate with other people who are not connected to those communities in the resolution of these issues, then we are going to have a problem where the government is always negotiating with the wrong people and people not connected to these projects can claim the right to speak on behalf of communities. It is going to be very difficult for us to ever find agreement on moving forward on projects.
That is the context in which we find ourselves. That is the national crisis that our country is facing. I think all of our constituents would want us to speak about these issues, highlight them and call on the government to finally show leadership and allow us to move forward by supporting the rule of law and, at the very least, verbalizing the importance of enforcing the law and respecting the will of the elected representatives of indigenous people.
Now I will move to the specific provisions in Bill C-3. This is a bill that “amends the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act to, among other things, rename the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as the Public Complaints and Review Commission.”
We know how seriously the government takes naming things. Sometimes it does not always know what those names mean. Sometimes it likes to rename things as a way of claiming credit for a policy.
Under the Conservatives we had something called the universal child care benefit, and the Liberals renamed it the Canada child benefit. Then they declared it to have been a great social policy innovation, a brand new idea, without remembering that the Liberals actually ran against the Canada child care benefit in 2006. It was a Liberal strategist who said that parents would just use this child benefit money for beer and popcorn. The Liberals evolved, and it was progress. They evolved from opposing support for parents to saying that they were going to rename the benefit and claim it. Maybe when Conservatives come back to government, we will rename it again. It was all our idea after all. We brought in the Canada child care benefit in 2006.
This legislation has some element of renaming, but it is a little more substantive than that. “It also amends the Canada Border Services Agency Act to, among other things, grant to that Commission powers, duties and functions in relation to the Canada Border Services Agency.”
Essentially what this bill does, under what had previously been a review commission just for the RCMP, is bring the CBSA under that civilian review mechanism.
As my colleagues have said, this is a principle that we are supportive of. Conservatives will be supporting the movement of this legislation through to committee where, no doubt, it will be further analyzed and studied by our excellent public safety team.
There is some progress in this legislation. It is not, as we have seen in some other cases, purely a name without meaning. Unlike the Minister of Middle Class Prosperity, we actually know what the words mean to a greater extent, in the case of this piece of legislation.
I will just say, again, the irony here is the government is bringing in greater accountability for our border services agencies and yet we have seen a lack of willingness by the government to account for its own actions. We have seen so many instances of weak leadership.
Another area of a lack of accountability we have seen from the government is that it is already signalling, through things that private members have been putting out, that it is not supportive of the Teck project in Alberta. This is a critical project for the interests of Alberta, for the interests of our national economy. The government needs to approve it, and yet we are already seeing backbench members of the government putting out petitions encouraging people not to support it. That is fuelling further frustration in my province.
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