Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Claude Patry Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
In one sentence, we want the agreement to be approved by the commissioner and for it to be set out in writing. That is what we are asking for.
Am I wrong? I apologize, Mr. Chair.
What people have been discussing is very interesting, but the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness told the committee that protestors, Aboriginal peoples, unions and separatists are not targeted by this bill.
We want that in writing, in black and white, so that it is truly clear. I come from a labour background, and if people had to go on strike tomorrow morning, then I want that to be clear in the legislation. For now, it is open to interpretation and that is what we are dealing with this morning at this table. It would be easier if it were written in black and white. That is what the Bloc Québécois is asking for.
View Claude Patry Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Our amendment pertains to the exchange of specific information. We are proposing that the information sharing agreements between organizations be concluded with the written approval of the Privacy Commissioner and that “any information shared in contravention of the provisions of this Act is to be deleted.”
We want there to be a written agreement that is approved by the Privacy Commissioner when information is requested on a certain subject. We are asking for oversight.
Thank you.
View Claude Patry Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
As we announced many times and as discussed when we examined the anti-terrorism bill, we are proposing that this legislation include an expiry date. We want the legislation and its application to be thoroughly reviewed by the committee three years after it has come into effect.
We want it to have an end date. That is what we are asking, Mr. Chair.
View Claude Patry Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
This amendment has to do with eliminating the expanded scope of arrests without a warrant. Under Bill C-51, there are fewer conditions to initiate an investigation or to arrest an individual by replacing words like “will commit” with “could commit”, and “necessary to prevent” with “is likely to prevent the carrying out of the terrorist activity”.
Our amendment would prevent these conditions from being lowered and eliminate the authority of the Federal Court to issue preventive detention warrants without acceptable proof.
View André Bellavance Profile
Ind. (QC)
Mr. Chair, can we discuss amendments BQ-3 and BQ-4 together? I know they pertain to two different clauses, but they both talk about exactly the same thing, prohibiting people from voting with their face covered. Amendment BQ-4 applies to clause 53.
I'm not sure whether that's standard practice here, but if we considered both amendments at the same time, it would save the committee having to listen to the same arguments over again.
View André Bellavance Profile
Ind. (QC)
Yes, we could vote on both at the same time, since they're about the same thing. It would shorten the process.
View André Bellavance Profile
Ind. (QC)
Just mine. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'll keep it brief, as everyone's familiar with the topic.
In 2007, the CEO decided to change certain rules to allow people to vote with their faces covered. At the time, the Prime Minister said he seriously disagreed with the CEO's decision. Bills to amend the Elections Canada Act were later introduced, one by the Bloc Québécois and one by the Conservative Party. The Conservatives also mentioned it in the Speech from the Throne. In 2011, the current minister, Steven Blaney, put forward a private member's bill requiring electors to show their face when voting.
The Bloc Québécois just wanted to bring the federal legislation in line with Quebec's: anyone who goes to a polling station must show their face when voting. It's a bit like passports, where the photo shows the person's face. The same applies to driver's licences.
Since the Conservative government has always supported the measure, I would ask its members to vote in favour of my amendment, because I already know the other parties are against it. Of course, if we could bring them around this evening, that'd be ideal. Voting with your face uncovered is simply a matter of fairness to all voters.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View André Bellavance Profile
Ind. (QC)
Mr. Chair, I want to let you know that we just received a document only in English. I assume this committee's rules are the same as across Parliament. The member's amendment has been distributed to us only in English. I don't think a document can be distributed in only one official language. I'm not protesting against you.
View André Bellavance Profile
Ind. (QC)
Mr. Chair, I will be brief.
I understand perfectly well what is happening, as I have been in Parliament for 10 years. I understand what Scott is doing, but they made an effort to print the document and to prepare it. So it should have been drafted in both official languages.
View André Bellavance Profile
Ind. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I listened carefully to my colleagues' comments on section 18. The government responded to concerns and even criticisms raised about this provision by moving amendments. The government put a great deal of emphasis on advertisement, but there is still some work to be done here.
That's why my colleagues and I put forward much more substantial amendments that help the Chief Electoral Officer regain his powers. We want the Chief Electoral Officer to be able to implement information programs and thereby communicate to the public any information he deems necessary to ensure that elections are conducted properly and that people participate in them.
As for the amendment I am now talking about, I heard Mr. Scott add a paragraph (f). We did something very similar. We want the wording to be the following:
(1.1) the Chief Electoral Officer may
(a) implement public education and information programs to make the electoral process better known to the public, particularly to those persons and groups most likely to experience difficulties in exercising their right to vote.
We are also adding to that section another paragraph, which I will refer to as (b):
devise and test, in cooperation with the committees of the Senate and House of Commons that normally consider electoral matters—including studies respecting alternative voting means—an electronic voting process for future use in a general election or a by-election.
Let's be daring, let's be modern and help as many people as possible vote.
In closing, I would like to present an important point of view, that of the Chief Electoral Officer, Marc Mayrand. What he told us is actually very much in line with everyone's concerns. He said the following:
I am unaware of any democracy in which such limitations are imposed on the electoral agency, and I strongly feel that an amendment in this regard is essential.
We are responding to that statement by putting forward this amendment.
As this is probably the only amendment I will discuss this evening, I would like to hear my colleagues' opinion. So I am calling for a recorded division on this issue.
View André Bellavance Profile
Ind. (QC)
Mr. Chair, I am also happy to see you and the members of the committee again.
Mr. Scott, thank you for giving me a few minutes of your speaking time.
Mr. Mayrand, thank you for your testimony. It has allowed the committee to discover the Conservatives' new obsession: rooting out fraud. Since they came to power in 2006, I have never seen them as vocal as they are right now.
We all agree that fraud is and must remain the exception and that we must minimize the risks. However, we must make voting easier for anyone eligible to vote, which is your responsibility as Chief Electoral Officer. There is no such thing as zero risk.
Some Conservative colleagues said they had received three voter cards. I am 49 years old and I have been voting like everyone else since the legal voting age of 18, and I have never received three voter cards. Also, since I have been in politics, no one has ever told me about such cases. Having to show another piece of identification will probably solve a lot of the problems caused by multiple voter cards.
I know fraud can happen, but I think the government is using those cases as an excuse to introduce a bill tailor-made for the Conservatives in the next election.
Mr. Mayrand, this bill restricts your ability to consult with the public and political parties. The information that you see as your duty to provide before and during elections is very important and relevant. The bill also limits the power of the Commissioner of Canada Elections to conduct investigations.
Today's questions are about fraud. Will limiting your powers help root out fraud in any way?
View André Bellavance Profile
Ind. (QC)
My understanding is that the Conservative government's Bill C-23 is putting up barriers in the way of the commissioner of elections. They will not help you in any way to root out fraud.
View André Bellavance Profile
Ind. (QC)
Over the years, you and your predecessors have always made recommendations to improve the Elections Act. The political parties also participate in this exercise.
To your knowledge, have you previously heard of a government conducting an exercise like this, imposing its view of the Elections Act without you or your predecessors—
View André Bellavance Profile
Ind. (QC)
My time is already up? I don't often come here and I would like—
View Jean-François Fortin Profile
FD (QC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Good morning everyone. Thank you to the witnesses for being with us today.
My amendment is fairly simple. Although it's not very complex, its impact would be very significant.
One thing is obvious: the Gulf of St. Lawrence is a special body of water with an important and unique ecosystem. So we're talking about a fragile environment, a unique environment. Decisions regarding oil and gas development in the gulf will have an impact on all adjacent land. Today, beyond the land boundaries, oil and gas activities are having an impact on the gulf. Agreements with certain provinces are in place, but other provinces, like Quebec, have no agreement. The purpose of the amendment is to make it clear that an ecosystem-based approach must be adopted in the management of oil and gas development.
The Quebec government is currently in talks with the federal government to reach an agreement that could lead to legislation. As long as no such agreement exists, a sort of status quo must prevail. The goal of my amendment is to make sure that this bill comes into force on the same day that the agreement between the federal government and the Quebec government on the shared management of petroleum resources in the gulf comes into force.
It is important to respect the talks under way with the Quebec government and to ensure that the outcome achieved allows Quebec to voice its environmental and energy concerns, in order to adopt a fair approach to managing the gulf's ecosystem.
View Jean-François Fortin Profile
FD (QC)
No problem, Mr. Chair.
But even though you know that your amendment will be defeated, it is still important to come and propose it. That is all the more important now, given that the government has a majority. As chair, you, yourself, have witnessed the fact that most opposition amendments are defeated by members of the government party. Even though I knew my amendment had little chance of getting through, it was important for me to come and propose it. You would see that it was political in nature.
View Jean-François Fortin Profile
FD (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
First off, I'd like to mention that amendment BQ-2 and amendment BQ-3 are consistent with amendment BQ-1. I'll explain the principle underlying what I am proposing to the committee today.
The Bloc Québecois is glad that Bill C-6 was brought forward and sincerely hopes it will live up to the objectives laid out in the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Keep in mind that the importance of the convention cannot be understated. It prohibits the use of cluster bombs and establishes a framework for their destruction. The prohibitions that have to be included in the bill before us today, a bill to implement the convention, must be firm and comprehensive, while following through on Canada's commitment to never again use cluster bombs, a veritable scourge for civilian populations.
Unfortunately, we think clause 11 of the bill weakens the legislation and, to some extent, spoils its intent by setting out an exception for members of the Canadian Armed Forces participating in joint military operations. The reality is these members of the military could contravene the very spirit of the convention that Canada has signed. As we see it, the exception is so broad that it practically guts the bill of its substance and significance. Simply consider the fact that nearly all the armed conflicts Canada has played a role in recently have involved joint military operations with international troops, either under NATO or with partners who have yet to ratify the convention. Earlier, Ms. May said she hoped that all of our partners, all governments, would end up ratifying the convention. Canada has taken part in missions abroad, both NATO-led and others, and some of Canada's partners have stated their intention not to ratify the convention. In short, those operations, especially with the U.S., could put Canada in contravention of the very spirit of the convention it signed.
In its current form, Bill C-6 is merely window dressing because it has been gutted of any real meaning. And that is why we are proposing three amendments. They would amend the first sentence of each of the subsections in clause 11 and completely transform it, turning the exceptions, which currently allow for the continued use of cluster bombs, into explicit prohibitions, as required by the Convention on Cluster Munitions. With our three amendments, Bill C-6 could actually do what it is supposed to: implement the convention. It wouldn't simply be a public relations exercise to the detriment of civilians who are killed every day by cluster bombs.
Mr. Chair, I will wrap up my remarks with a brief comment so as not to take up too much more of the committee's time. I heard what the experts had to say earlier. I realize their arguments are well thought out, but Canada has a role to fulfill. As it contributes to operations abroad and passes legislation to implement the convention, Canada must show it is mindful of the situation and serve as an example to other nations involved in joint military operations. With a tougher piece of legislation, Canada could set the example for the rest of our international partners.
I urge the committee members to adopt my three amendments, which will give the bill the teeth it needs to do what it is intended to.
Thank you.
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Witnesses and experts who appeared before this committee said that they were afraid that Bill C-8 would have some unexpected negative consequences. For instance, one major consequence we can see is an unfair financial burden being imposed.
That is exactly what could happen as a result of subclause 44.07(1). In those specific cases, the charges for storing, handling and, if applicable, destroying the samples could fall on the shoulders of a victim whose copyright has been stolen, rather than on the shoulders of the importer of the goods in question.
A witness from Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters said: “We believe that the importers should be responsible for these costs, since they are the ones introducing these goods...”.
That is why I suggest replacing “The owner of copyright” with “The importer” in that subclause.
Since I unfortunately cannot discuss that with you, I hope you see my point of view.
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
Could you slow down a little, please? The interpreters are having trouble following you.
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you for allowing us to discuss this bill too.
I have just heard Mr. Caron present the NDP amendment. We share the same goals and we would have supported it if we had the right to vote on the amendment. This amendment completely eliminated the clauses in question; instead of eliminating all the clauses, our proposal is to amend the rate to go from 15% to 10% and then to 5%. For the next two years, we would like it to decrease by one-tenth of one percent, meaning that it would go to 14.9999%.
We deplore the fact that no negotiations took place with government, specifically with the Government of Quebec, since these labour-sponsored funds are extremely popular, and useful for Quebec's economic development. There were no negotiations; this is a unilateral decision. Therefore, for the next two years, the decrease would start with a minimal amount, but discussions would certainly start with a view to coming to an agreement. Perhaps the decrease could be up to 10% or similar, as the NDP suggests. But we have to sit down around a table and we have to avoid throwing out a system that was working so well, that had so many benefits and that cost the government practically nothing.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
I'll be brief, Mr. Chair.
It would involve increasing the planned reserve from $500 million to $650 million. I think that would be much more appropriate.
Let's keep in mind the repercussions in the United States, in the case of the Kalamzaoo River. Based on recent estimates, the cost would exceed $750 million.
So, it's better to err on the side of caution. I think $650 million would be more appropriate.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'll also speak to clause 472 because it's the same thing the Bloc Québécois is proposing. We recommend removing those sections because they would stop the federal government from having obligations to appoint Supreme Court justices. We aren't fools: these two sections are the federal government's answer to challenges to Justice Nadon's appointment to the Supreme Court.
Let's keep in mind that three seats are set aside for Quebec. A list of candidates is provided by the Government of Quebec, and the federal government chooses from that list. This time, the government did not, and it did not meet the usual selection criteria. Therefore, these sections should not be in the bill. That's why we suggest they be removed.
Mr. Chair, I know that you will reject the two amendments because we can't remove sections in committee, but only propose amendments to the sections.
Thank you for listening.
View André Bellavance Profile
Ind. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Ms. Legault, for your input.
I had wanted the committee to hear from the Privacy Commissioner, and she sent us a brief. Nothing you are saying contradicts what the commissioner said about personal information and privacy. But I would like to hear your thoughts on a point Mr. Lamoureux brought up.
How much information should we disclose? It's important for us, but there are two sides to disclosure. To my mind, it makes perfect sense for my constituents, or the general population, to know how my budget is being spent, because, at the end of the day, it's their money. That's no problem. Like it or not, however, other people are sometimes involved.
For instance, if I sign a service contract with the community television people in my riding, what problem could that cause for them, in terms of other media, since they are also involved? Kevin mentioned taking someone to lunch. Obviously, someone who wants to keep the discussion completely confidential will come to my office, where we can close the door. And the discussion will remain confidential. But even in that case, I have to tell you that my office is located right across from a local newspaper, and the reporters have called me up before to ask why so-and-so came to see me. In those situations, we don't give them an answer.
Basically, if we go out to eat with someone, do we have to disclose who the person is and what the meeting was for? We also want to know whether certain pieces of information need to be disclosed when it comes to the contracts for our employees.
Of course, there are guidelines. But I would like you to elaborate on what we need to do to prevent certain pieces of information from getting out and being made public, information that could harm people who are not members of Parliament.
View André Bellavance Profile
Ind. (QC)
Again, thank you, Ms. O'Brien, for joining us today. You were here when the committee began its study and here you are again as we wrap things up. We have come full circle.
Since your first appearance before the committee, we have heard from other witnesses, including two former House speakers, Mr. Milliken and Mr. Fraser yesterday. Their remarks shed light on progress as it relates to the Board of Internal Economy. Mr. Milliken told us that, in 10 years, he had seen very little in the way of change with respect to how the board operated.
Something former Speaker of the House John Fraser said really struck me. I was asking him about the representation of the Board of Internal Economy. Yesterday, we also heard from someone representing the Canadian Association of Journalists. We've talked a lot about transparency as it relates to the public and the media. But we haven't really discussed what happens on the inside. As I said yesterday, during my first seven years as an MP, our representatives on the Board of Internal Economy were Michel Guimond and then Claude DeBellefeuille. We had a rough idea of what went on and we trusted our whip to look after our affairs. We didn't ask too many questions.
Today, I'm in a different boat. The NDP and the Conservatives experienced the same thing from 1993 to 1997. The members of my party are in the dark. We don't really know what goes on at the Board of Internal Economy. The minutes barely tell us anything about what's going on or how matters are progressing.
Former Speaker Fraser told me that it was definitely possible to make adjustments as far as our representation in the House of Commons was concerned. Belonging to a party that isn't recognized or being an independent doesn't make us second-class citizens. And yet that's how the Board of Internal Economy treats us. If the solution ends up being business as usual and that's how it is, I completely disagree.
The first thing we need to do is stop navel gazing and make the changes required internally to improve representation. Next, the Board of Internal Economy needs to be more transparent to the public. What's more, whether it's legislated or at the Auditor General's request, once or twice a year, he or she should conduct the necessary audits of the board's activities. The Information Commissioner mentioned some requests to that effect that could be granted.
I don't want to put words in the mouth of former Speaker Fraser, given that, in his case, we were talking only about representation. Nevertheless, I would like to know whether we could overhaul the Board of Internal Economy, rename it and transform it into a different organization, one that was more in line with what I was talking about.
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