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Results: 1 - 60 of 107
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)
I have to be there.
View André Bellavance Profile
Ind. (QC)
No, Mr. Chair. I was just asking one question. I want to make sure you understand what I mean.
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)
It's because the document was submitted. So I am protesting, but I understand that you are accepting this.
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
(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
(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
(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.
View André Bellavance Profile
Ind. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fraser, I would like to remind you of your last years as chair of the Board of Internal Economy, from 1993 to 1994. At that time, the Conservative Party and the NDP were not yet recognized. They had two and nine MPs, respectively. They certainly were not on the BOIE. Do you remember the two parties complaining about not being on the BOIE and not being sufficiently informed about what was being discussed there?
I'm going to relate a short anecdote about what we experienced on our side. I had no problems in the first seven years I was an MP because our party was represented on the Board of Internal Economy. But in 2011, when the board looked into a matter involving the Bloc Québécois, I asked to attend the meetings as an observer, but my request was denied.
For the sake of greater representation of all members of the House, when it comes to their own political party or, at the very least, when some files affect them, meaning almost all of them, should space not be made for MPs who are members of a party that is not recognized or who sit as independents?
View André Bellavance Profile
Ind. (QC)
When Ms. O'Brien was here, she said that the board was able to adapt to changing needs. Do you remember the main changes that took place in the 10 years you were chair of the Board of Internal Economy, particularly with respect to transparency? What changed the most from your first to your last year as chair of the board?
View André Bellavance Profile
Ind. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you for being here.
As a former journalist, I can understand this concern about transparency. I can understand it even more now that I belong to a non-recognized party.
As I said earlier to Mr. Milliken, in the first seven years I was an MP, my party was represented on the Board of Internal Economy. I trusted my whip, who reported what he could to us. Not all the discussions were systematically made public, even for party caucuses.
Now I am in exactly your position, even though I have been an MP for nine years. I don't know much about what has happened in the past two years. The Board of Internal Economy brags about transparency, but even the MPs, particularly those whose parties are not recognized or who are independents, are suffering from the lack of transparency. This is especially true for journalists, even though they in some way represent the public. But the money being spent is taxpayers' money, who deserve to have watch dogs—pardon the expression—check what is going on and how the money is being spent. Yes, there is a lack of transparency, internally and externally.
However, although Mr. Milliken said that there were no major changes in his 10 years as Speaker, I have seen a change. More information is available now, online for example, but there is much more on each expenditure.
Would you be satisfied if, rather than indicate a bunch of expenditures and the amount an MP spent on travel, we said what the trip was, and where the MP went and when, for example? All that information is submitted to the auditor anyway. As far as I'm concerned, I don't have a problem with it, but the 307 other MPs should do the same. It shouldn't be up to each individual to decide what information to provide.
What additional information would be useful to you in doing your job?
View André Bellavance Profile
Ind. (QC)
Mr. Lukiwski gave us an example earlier. But if this story about Ralph Goodale had happened in Quebec, it would have certainly been in the newspapers. I'm convinced of it. For us, the media report on details of MP expenditures at least once a year.
Far be it for me to tell you how to do your job, but I would still like to point out that every MP's reality is different. I myself am not one of the biggest spenders in Quebec: out of 75 ridings, I rank about 44th. Having said that, I don't want to judge the others who have higher expenses. Since my riding includes 40 municipalities and covers 3,000 km2, I have not one office, but three. So I need employees who drive two hours to get from one constituency office to another to work.
View André Bellavance Profile
Ind. (QC)
I'm telling you my life story. Interesting, isn't it?
Some hon. members: Oh! Oh!
View André Bellavance Profile
Ind. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Auditor General, your suggestions and observations are very relevant. Not that long ago, MPs and political parties wanted to make all decisions regarding the administration of their expenses behind closed door. Indeed, in 2010, when your predecessor, Ms. Fraser, asked to do an audit, the Bloc Québécois was the only party that accepted right away to divulge all of its expenses and be as transparent as possible. We can see that things evolved because I think that the population, as you said so well, no longer accepts that expenses be kept secret, since we are talking about taxpayers' money, their money. We are headed in the right direction.
However, I have questions on how the transparent governance you allude to would function. Is it really necessary to create another organization? We are already sending of all our invoices and supporting documents to the controller's office. Would it be possible to be totally transparent and divulge as much of this information as possible, while allowing the Office of the Auditor General to have the legal right to perform audits, either once a year or twice a year, with the necessary means? I am wondering about this hybrid system to provide greater transparency. Currently, we are divulging information by work station and this is on the Internet. That is already an improvement compared to what used to be done, but it seems to me that we can still improve this by providing more details and by allowing you to perform audits. A statutory report would really allow for recommendations and modifications, if need be, on certain practices that may still need to be improved.
View André Bellavance Profile
Ind. (QC)
I am going to use them, Mr. Chair.
According to you, this independent organization should be made up of representatives from the public, people who, of course, would have particular expertise. It is clear to all of us that in the current situation, with the Board of Internal Economy, it is difficult for parliamentarians to remove their partisan hats when they are discussing things together.
View André Bellavance Profile
Ind. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Sills, a first question comes to my mind. I am convinced that the population is asking itself the same question, and that when this happened, people in your country as well wondered how a system could have allowed such inappropriate expenses as home renovations, the purchase of electronic devices, etc.? How did MPs, ministers and even House personnel manage to fall through the cracks?
View André Bellavance Profile
Ind. (QC)
Mr. Sills, since IPSA took over the audits, do you receive a lot of claims that seem inappropriate to you? Have you had to refuse many expense claims from MPs or ministers, or have past practices been completely eradicated?
View André Bellavance Profile
Ind. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I plan to show you that I have not lost my touch, at least I hope I haven't.
Thank you for your testimony. I have two matters to bring up and not a lot of time to do it.
Times have changed in terms of transparency, and that is a good thing. You gave us a great example of that earlier on.
For the Bloc Québecois, it is quite normal for the public, and, by extension, the media, to be able to have access to our expenses, given that people have questions about them. It is their money, after all. We feel that this is a very important question.
With expenses posted, we might look forward to the time when even more details may be available on the Internet. Ms. May, for example, pointed out the costs of air travel. We do not know whether a member flew economy or business class, nor how many times he or she did so. But we know that business class is much more expensive. This possibility would answer the public's question about that.
My first question is for you, Ms. O'Brien, or for the person with you. It is about the importance of protecting privacy. We have a law about that. People might want to know whom we are meeting with, and why.
Also, there are all those cases of whistleblowing, including the one at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, where the person was fired because of the revelations she made.
Someone meeting with an opposition member of Parliament could be targeted by the government. It would not matter who, because in the list of expenses, you could see that they went to a restaurant, for example. I am sure that you will tell me that people will be more careful in cases like that. But it is a problem that we should think about.
Everyone feels that their consciences are clear by saying that they want more transparency. But it not the same for everyone at the moment. And it has to be. We cannot ask each member of Parliament to reveal more and more all the time, as if this was the dance of the seven veils.
The other part of my question deals with independence. Mr. Watters, you made me sit up and take notice when you said we have to be careful. Yes, but sometimes there is nothing better than a real example for showing the importance of independence.
With the exception of the Liberals, every party has been non-recognized at some stage, when they had fewer than 12 members. A non-recognized party can be subject to the scrutiny of the Board of Internal Economy. I will not remind you of the case, but it has happened to us, as you know full well. But despite our requests to the Board of Internal Economy and to the other parties, everyone washed their hands of the matter and it was decided that the discussions would be held without the party there. It took several meetings and, because it all went on behind closed doors, we knew nothing about it. This ties in with what my colleagues said earlier.
We suffered the consequences after the fact. In my opinion, the Board lacked all credibility and legitimacy in that study, given that the people affected were not able to be there.
So, in terms of independence, I also feel that there is certainly some room for improvement.
Could you comment on the two points I have raised?
View Jean-François Fortin Profile
(QC)
Thank you very much.
I would like to add to the comments of my colleague, Ms. May. In fact, this motion deprives us of a fundamental right, the right to submit amendments to the House of Commons. We understand the decision of the Speaker of the House to ask the committees to find a way so that we can play our role there. However, we think the wording of the motion prevents us from attaining the objectives the Speaker had in mind when he made his decision.
Like Ms. May, I do not think it is urgent that we pass this motion today; rather, it would be more appropriate for the committee to consider it in an organized way. What I mean by that is that we should introduce a process to conduct a study on the rights of independent members of Parliament and on the role we must give members of non-recognized parties; in other words, parties that do not meet the criteria, for example, having at least 12 members. The same goes for the members who have been expelled from caucus or who have been elected as independent MPs. So it would be appropriate to set up a process to study the rights of independent members and draw from other Westminster-style Parliaments that, like us, have thought about the role that MPs who are not caucus members or who are not considered independent must play.
For example, other places in the world with the same political system and the same parliamentary process as us, as well as legislative assemblies across Canada, have managed to make a place for independent members. We can look to the Quebec National Assembly, for example, which gave members the right to sit in a parliamentary committee. Not only does that include the right to suggest amendments, but also the right to explain them, argue and put questions to witnesses, whose answers may have some bearing on the proposed amendments.
This motion quickly rushes out the back door the prerogative of MPs to properly represent their constituents, not only in the House of Commons, but also using all the existing mechanisms in committees. We must be given the chance to fully represent our constituents.
The motion as worded proposes, among other things, that we make brief observations to support our amendments. It does not allow us to conclude that the rights of independent members or members from non-recognized parties would be preserved. According to the Bloc Québécois, serious harm will occur if this motion is passed as worded today.
I invite you to take the time to think about it. You have the means to put in place a thought process that is much more comprehensive and goes much further for society and for the Canadians we represent.
Thank you.
View André Bellavance Profile
Ind. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
That is one example of the issues faced by members of an unrecognized party, and even by independent members, although there is a difference between a member from an unrecognized party and an independent member. Since there are fewer than 12 members of the Bloc Québécois, it is not a recognized party; the same thing applies to Ms. May's party. Independent members have chosen their status, or they have been excluded by their caucus. Whatever the case, the difficulties I was referring to remain the same: the members from an unrecognized party have to ask for the committee's unanimous consent to speak on a topic that concerns them. That is one of the problems we encounter.
I will not take all of the remaining time to discuss this, but I would like to suggest the following: rather than debate a motion on the amendments, I would like the committee to devote a few sessions to studying the rights of members belonging to unrecognized parties, and those of independent members.
To illustrate what I mean, I would like to refer to what happened at the Quebec National Assembly. At the time, the Action démocratique du Québec party, which had four members, was an unrecognized party. The other parties had discussed the possibility of having these members take part in parliamentary committees, which are known as parliamentary commissions in Quebec. That had been accepted. The same thing goes for the party Québec solidaire. At the beginning, that party had only one member; today, it has two. These members also have the opportunity to take part in committee studies, and they have the same rights and privileges as the other members.
I'm not taking about equality here. We understand full well that the Conservative Party is the majority party and that the NDP is the official opposition, and then come the Liberals. We can't have the same speaking time as they do. Our interventions cannot be as long as those of the members of those parties. Nevertheless, we would like the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to examine this question more in depth, and not simply through a single motion.
As for the motion as such, I would simply like the “blues” to reflect what the Bloc Québécois has to say on the matter. I'm going to talk about the inherent rights of all of the members regarding the tabling of amendments. Following the speaker's decision last June, we went to a few committees to submit amendments, but that is all we did. We had the right to submit amendments, and perhaps to a few minutes to present our case. That is where there should be a difference. The motion should be clearer for the members. When amendments are tabled, at least in committees, the members of an unrecognized party and independent members should have the right to answer questions raised by their amendments and to question witnesses. We should also have the right to vote, at least on our own amendments. As you can see I am even limiting our rights there.
Actually, there are two categories of members, the members from a recognized party and the members from an unrecognized party. There are also independent members who are in a second category and do not have the same rights as the others, with all due respect. Of course, the relative weight we have in the House of Commons has to be taken into account. I will never ask to have the same speaking time as the members of the official opposition or the government party, but I would at the very least like to be able to submit arguments on my amendments.
In light of what I have just said, this motion is incomplete. That is all I am going to say for the time being, but that is my party's opinion. I hope that I will be able to take part in your discussions again.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
According to the amendment we are proposing, the Canadian Museum of History would not include the Canadian War Museum or any other museum. If we want to have a museum of history, let's make one, but let's not damage the reputation of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, especially since there is a danger. If everything is grouped together, there is a risk that the current government will have control and provide its own interpretation of history, which is hardly reassuring. It would be sort of like revisiting history through the eyes of the Conservative Party.
Just think of the emphasis placed on the War of 1812 festivities. Yet, according to polls, less than one-tenth of 1% of Canadians said they knew the war existed. In fact, it is an insignificant part of Canadian history. That gives us an idea of what the party wants to do with our history, or rather with the rewriting of our history, which would then be very different. I think every museum has its own calling and, if we want to create a museum of history, it should focus on history only.
Thank you.
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
This amendment deals with clause 2 of the bill. We would like it to say: “History is to enhance Canadians' knowledge and understanding of events”.
This amendment removes the word “appreciation” from the wording of the clause. In our view, the sole purpose of a museum must be to enhance the public's knowledge and understanding. If we talk about enhancing appreciation, we suddenly see a desire to influence public opinion. Then there is the risk of propaganda. That is why I moved this amendment. It seeks to remove the word “appreciation”.
Thank you.
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
We moved this amendment to include the following words: “and have shaped Canada's history”.
This amendment actually removes the word “identity” from the wording of the clause. As we explained earlier, the role of the Canadian Museum of History is not to make history rosy to make it more popular and to determine Canada's identity. I think this clause would make things clear.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I would also like to thank the members of the committee for agreeing to let us make this amendment and for the brief opportunity to comment on it.
The amendment I propose to clause 10 is very simple. As the bill presently stands, this measure would end in 2018. With this amendment, we would like to remove the words “and ends before 2018”.
This tax credit for first-time donors is a very good initiative and we think that it should become permanent. It must be said that it generally takes three or four years for people to become used to this kind of measure. But just when many more people are becoming aware of the measure and able to take advantage of it, it will come to an end. That is why I feel that the measure should be permanent, Mr. Chair, and the words “and ends before 2018” should be removed.
Thank you for your attention.
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
We would like to restore the balance of Bill C-60 to what it was before. I feel that it worked very well.
Earlier, the NDP member reflected my own thoughts very well when he spoke about how important credit unions are in small communities. There are 51 municipalities in my riding, and at least 35 of them have no financial institution except the credit union. So we are not talking about competing with other financial companies.
This bill will have an effect on the dividends that go back to their members. By members, I include small businesses taking out loans. For example, a loan of $150,000 or $175,000 can result in a rebate to a business of $2,200 to $2,500 at year end. That is a significant amount for an SME. If they can no longer count on the dividends, economic development will be hurt.
I do not want this deduction to be progressively eliminated; I want it to be maintained as it is at the moment.
Thank you.
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
With this amendment, the wording would read as follows:
17. (1) The Governor in Council shall, by order, dissolve the Transition Office no later than July 12, 2013.
This is what was intended. The Supreme Court was consulted and it supported the provinces. Quebec, like three or four other Canadian provinces, disagreed. It has been established that securities are in provincial, not federal, jurisdiction. If we have the slightest respect for the Supreme Court, we must take its decision seriously and abolish the committee that is trying to centralize securities in a single place.
I remind the committee that, among industrialized countries, the current system is considered to be ranked second. In Quebec, at least, business, the four political parties in the National Assembly, academia and everyone consulted are unanimous. They all want to keep the current system because centralizing securities in a single location would harm the economic life of Quebec.
Thank you for your attention.
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
But it is a Supreme Court ruling. So you are saying that the committee has more authority than the Supreme Court.
View Maria Mourani Profile
Ind. (QC)
View Maria Mourani Profile
2013-05-06 16:59
I want to start by thanking all of my colleagues for letting me be here today to discuss the proposed amendments. I could have commented more, but unfortunately, I did not receive them until this morning.
I fully appreciate my colleague Mr. Goguen's position. But what is being added here does not have to do with extraterritorial jurisdiction. It addresses a point that was repeatedly brought to my attention: as things stand now, be it prosecutors or the police, when deciding whether the offence constitutes human trafficking or not, they do so more or less as they see fit.
When it involves foreigners coming to Canada, the trafficking is truly considered international, but when we're talking about domestic trafficking, between cities or provinces, for example, there is a subjective element there. In some cases, it's considered trafficking and in others, it's seen as procuring, if there's sexual exploitation involved. So this doesn't pertain to extraterritorial jurisdiction, which is already dealt with in the Criminal Code. It was Ms. Smith who introduced the measure, for that matter. The purpose is merely to clarify that, in cases where individuals are moved from one city to another or from one province to another, the offence constitutes trafficking and isn't necessarily just a matter of procuring.
The witnesses we heard from today said that, because of the technicality, the Criminal Code could be interpreted differently in some cases, depending on the individuals involved. All this does, then, is make things clear.
View Maria Mourani Profile
Ind. (QC)
View Maria Mourani Profile
2013-05-06 17:16
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I want to thank my colleague for that amendment. I think it provided more teeth. In the French version, however, if possible, I would like to add the word “et” after “exploitée” so that it reads “qui n'est pas exploitée et vit”. That reads better than “qui n'est pas exploitée vit avec une personne”, which sounds a bit funny to me.
In addition, I'd like to ask Ms. Levman a question about adding “proof that the person exercises control, direction or influence over the movements of that person for the purpose of exploiting them or facilitating their exploitation”. Won't that makes things harder for the police who have to collect the proof, even though the onus is reversed? Under the original clause, as soon as a person who is not exploited lives with a person who is exploited, that person is deemed to be exploiting the person being exploited, in the absence of evidence to the contrary. That is very broad, making the police's job much easier in terms of proving the offence beyond a shadow of a doubt using other methods of investigation.
So doesn't adding the words “control”, “direction” and “influence” create obstacles for police, who have to prove the offence? With the amendment, won't they have to first prove the person exercised control, direction or influence before the reverse onus can be applied?
View Maria Mourani Profile
Ind. (QC)
View Maria Mourani Profile
2013-05-06 17:19
Thank you very much. That's a good point.
View Maria Mourani Profile
Ind. (QC)
View Maria Mourani Profile
2013-05-06 17:29
As I understand it, point (a) of the amendment is intended to remove the redrafted version of subsection 279.04(1) of the Criminal Code, from clause 3.
Perhaps Ms. Levman could confirm this for us, but currently, the English version of subsection 279.04(1) reads “to provide, or offer to provide”. But the French doesn't have that nuance. It says “à fournir son travail”, and not “à fournir son travail, ou à offrir de fournir son travail”. There's an inconsistency between the English and French versions.
This provision is supposed to correct that inconsistency. Is that correct?
View Maria Mourani Profile
Ind. (QC)
View Maria Mourani Profile
2013-05-06 17:30
I would point out to my colleague that, by stating “par substitution, à la ligne 7, page 2” in amendment G-3, it actually reintroduces the old subclause in French, which is not the same as it is in English. So we're back to square one.
As it stands now, subsection 279.04(1) of the Criminal Code doesn't contain the same nuance that the English does. By doing this replacement, we're likely to end up back at square one. That's the first point I wanted to make about the amendment.
I'll let you respond to that, Mr. Goguen.
View Maria Mourani Profile
Ind. (QC)
View Maria Mourani Profile
2013-05-06 17:32
By correction, then, you're referring to adding the words “ou à offrir de fournir”. Is that what you're saying? You say you're supporting the correction, but I can't see that. Forgive me.
View Maria Mourani Profile
Ind. (QC)
View Maria Mourani Profile
2013-05-06 17:32
I am indeed a visual learner. Go ahead.
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