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View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2014-04-03 16:05 [p.4255]
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hard-working member for Don Valley West.
I rise today to show my support for Bill C-31, Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1. I am pleased to see our government continue to focus so squarely on the economic challenges facing our citizens, our communities, and our country as a whole.
Bill C-31 will implement key measures of the economic action plan 2014 to help create jobs and opportunities for Canadians, and to return our nation's finances to balanced budgets.
Through the steady leadership of our Prime Minister, Canada's economy has seen the best economic performance among all G7 countries in recent years, both during the global recession and throughout the recovery.
Here are the facts. Over one million net new jobs have been created in Canada since the end of the recession in July 2009, of which 85% are full-time and nearly 80% in the private sector. Over that period, that has been the strongest job growth in the entire G7 by far. Canadians have also enjoyed the strongest income growth in the G7. Canada is the only G7 country to have more than fully recovered its business investment lost during the recession.
Both the independent International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development are projecting that Canada will have the strongest economic growth in the G7 in the years ahead.
For the sixth straight year, the World Economic Forum has ranked Canada's banking system as the soundest in the world. Moreover, Canada leapt from sixth to second place in the Bloomberg ranking of the most attractive countries for businesses to grow.
Canada has the lowest overall tax rate on new business investment in the G7. Canada is the only G7 country to have a rock solid AAA rating and a stable outlook from all major credit rating agencies, Moody's, Fitch, and Standard & Poor's. Canada's net debt to GDP ratio remains the lowest in the G7 by far. It is an impressive track record.
Throughout the year, I am always having discussions and consultations in my riding, the City of Barrie, talking to stakeholders about what they believe is in the best interests of Canada and what we can do to continue to spur economic growth.
I feel that the concerns in Barrie are pretty similar to those we see across the country in small communities. What is important in Barrie is that we focus on ensuring that good jobs are available, that taxes are kept low, and that sensible investments continue to be made to achieve our common goals of long-term growth and prosperity.
There have been many positive investments in communities across Canada in previous budgets. This budget does just that and continues that track record of strategic, smart investments.
I would like to give a few local examples. Federal investments in companies like IBM, with their university partnership, created over 100 jobs in my community; TNR Industrial Doors had a major expansion because of the support of the regional economic development agency; and Wolf Steel, which builds high-efficiency furnaces, doubled in size because of a partnership with the federal government, creating high-tech, high-paying jobs. Furthermore, my favourite local story, Southmedic, was able to move their factory from China back to Barrie. That was certainly a positive sign.
We have learned from these success stories that we must continue to work towards generating more manufacturing jobs in Barrie and across Canada, and that is achievable. Economic action plan 2014 is keeping us on that path to success.
Our Minister of International Trade attended as the keynote guest and spoke about how expanding our trade relationships can create a greater audience for manufacturers to sell their products and create jobs locally. It was a great summit. I know there was a lot of support at the summit for the economic action plan we have built because they recognize that it helps businesses in a meaningful way.
Many of the businesses at this manufacturing summit were small to medium-size businesses. They appreciated the government's commitment to further cut red tape for operations by eliminating the requirement for payroll remittances, and to support made-in-Canada products.
Companies, big and small, were all elated that we were reducing trade barriers within Canada and across the globe for the sale of their products. These stakeholders understand that these measures grow their businesses and allow them to hire more Canadians.
It is not just the manufacturing community that was pleased with our budget, but young people as well.
I am pleased to see that economic action plan 2014 confirmed our government's support for youth employment by investing $40 million for up to 3,000 internships in high-demand fields and $15 million for up to 1,000 internships in small and medium-size businesses. We are once again demonstrating our commitment to help our youth make a successful transition from school to work.
Each year, Barrie welcomes thousands of new students at Georgian College. I know they were very pleased with this budget and what it would do to help students.
Economic action plan also continues to support our seniors with an additional $5 million for the new horizons for seniors program so that more seniors can actively participate in their communities. I have seen firsthand how well this program works. I know about 30 new horizons grants that have occurred in Barrie over the last eight years and they are huge successes.
I think of the Tollendale seniors home where new horizons grants helped to finance a computer lab to connect seniors with relatives all over the world and actually trained seniors at Tollendale on computers. It was an absolute hit. At the IOOF seniors home, there was an art for the ages program. There were people who were struggling with early onset dementia, and having an active lifestyle, including things like painting, actually helps delay the onset. That was another fantastic new horizons investment. To see this program grow, I think, is a wonderful thing for Canadian seniors.
Economic action plan 2014 did something else, since I just touched upon Alzheimer's, that I want to highlight.
The economic action plan included a $15 million commitment to a neurodegeneration consortium on aging. This reminds me of a conversation I had with one of my constituents, Ed Harper, who was actually a member of Parliament from 1993–97.
Just a few months ago, Ed lost his wife, Rosemary, and I attended the funeral. He told me that he was writing a letter to our Prime Minister. He tremendously believed in our Prime Minister and knows what a great job he is doing for the country. However, he wrote a letter to talk about the need for more coordination on Alzheimer's funding and neurodegenerative research.
I know that he was one of the many Canadians who were so pleased to see that $15 million allocated. I think Mr. Ed Harper's comments highlight a feeling that many Canadians have.
There are so many positive initiatives in this budget that it is difficult to touch upon all of them in the short time we have allotted to us. This is a budget that supports our commercial sectors. It supports our workers, seniors, and families across Canada.
I want to stress what I think is most important about this budget, and something that is tremendously appreciated in Barrie, which is that it puts us on an immediate track for balanced budgets. That is very impressive, given the global economic recession that took every country in the world off course. I think it is really a feather in the cap for our former Minister of Finance who did such an incredible job of shepherding the Canadian economy. I know that our new Minister of Finance and his team are going to do an incredible job in laying out the vision that was put forward in Bill C-31.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2014-04-03 16:15 [p.4256]
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to correct the mistakes that were highlighted by the member opposite.
First, it is an absolute error to say that there were cuts in infrastructure. This government is responsible for the largest investment in infrastructure in Canadian history, and we are seeing that go forward in the next decade. It is a rock-solid commitment to municipalities.
I served on a city council for two terms. At the time, there was no support for municipalities. There was no audience, in Ottawa, for municipalities. The fact that we have had such an incredible investment in infrastructure has allowed municipalities, like the one I represent, to invest significantly in real and meaningful projects.
I would note that the member opposite said that unemployment has gone up and that we did not get those jobs back. The member is incorrect. I look at my own community. We had unemployment of 11.9% after the recession and we are down to 7% today. These are successful numbers. Progress is being made. If the NDP chose to support this economic progress, it would see, I think, more support in the polls.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2014-04-03 16:17 [p.4257]
Mr. Speaker, I recall when I was a city councillor, the Liberal government of the day had not a penny to support municipalities like mine in Barrie. We asked for funding to expand the GO train. Nothing.
However, when the Conservatives were elected, we expanded the GO train, built two new stations and, across our city, we have seen infrastructure investments, whether it is the expansion of the Georgian College, with the new campus, whether it is the new bridge at Duckworth Street, whether it is the expansion of the regional airport, whether it is the refurbishing of Eastview Arena. There are dozens of projects. I can tell members it is a stark contrast to what happened under the Liberals, where they did not care about infrastructure.
We have made a commitment that is a record investment in infrastructure. I am proud of that commitment to support Canadian municipalities. I am glad we have not continued the Liberal policy of doing nothing.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-10-29 16:09 [p.558]
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to speak to some of the key initiatives in Bill C-4, the economic action plan 2013 act no. 2.
As a government, we have much to be proud of. I am glad to see that we remain focused on the issues that matter most to Canadians, which are job creation, keeping taxes low and returning to a balanced budget.
Through Canada's economic action plan, Canada has experienced one of the best economic performances among the G7 countries, both during the global recession and throughout the recovery. We have created over one million net new jobs, of which 90% are full time and over 85% are in the private sector, which is an astounding figure.
Statistics Canada announced that 59,200 net new jobs were created in August and nearly another 12,000 in September. The national unemployment rate has fallen to 6.9%, the lowest level since December 2008.
I have seen the same recovery happen in my hometown of Barrie, Ontario. In September, the unemployment rate in Barrie fell to 7.2%, an improvement of nearly 2% from the September before, which is remarkably better than the 11.7% unemployment rate we saw a few years ago. Therefore, I am certainly seeing in Barrie the recovery that has occurred nationally. As Councillor Brassard said when I addressed the Barrie City Council in September, the federal government's initiatives have been the linchpin to this recovery.
Our strategies to create jobs are working. I am particularly proud of our government's support for job growth through the Canada job grant. As organizations grow, their success is often contingent upon knowledgeable staff. However, with a family to feed and a full-time job, it can be tough for staff to go back to school on a full-time basis. That is why our government created a program that would enable employees to train for better jobs without having to worry about the excessive costs to retrain. Canadians who have an offer of a new or better job might qualify for up to $15,000 or more to learn new skills to accept that job. This will serve as a tremendous help to both employees and employers looking to grow their business.
However, the job does not end there. There is still more to be done. While more Canadians are finding work, I sympathize with the many Canadians who are still searching for gainful employment. We are not immune to the economic volatility beyond our borders. This is especially true for Canada's key trading partners, the United States and Europe. With our big export consumers still on shakey ground, that will have an impact on Canada's economy. That is why our government is staying focused on the economy and creating jobs. One way we are doing that is through supporting small business.
As we all know, small business growth has been one of the key components of Canada's recovery. Since taking office in 2006, our government has supported small business by keeping tax rates low. Small business is the economic engine that drives our economy. Statistics show that 75% of workers in Canada are employed by companies with four or fewer employees. Our commerce relies on keeping taxes low to maintain our competitive edge over many of our trading partners. I have heard this in Barrie.
On September 23, I had the pleasure of having the President of the Treasury Board in Barrie for two round tables, one with Meridian Commercial Banking, hosted by Councillor Alex Nuttall, and one with the Chamber of Commerce, hosted by its executive director, Sybil Goruk. It was that focus on training and small business that we heard at both those local round tables and that they appreciate our efforts on both those fronts.
We have already extended the hiring credit for small business up to $1,000 for new hires, and over one million employers have benefited from that program. There has been some strong feedback from the small business community on this initiative. BIA 2 seeks to expand that recovery by freezing the employment insurance rates that employers and employees pay for the next three years. In Barrie, this means that businesses and their employees will be keeping more money in their pockets, which is great news for our local economy, especially our small businesses.
In my riding, I have seen first-hand how many local businesses have benefited from federal incentives and programs. Federal investments have also supported local businesses to create jobs. For instance, through a repayable contribution, Southmedic was able to take its plant from China to Barrie. It is providing medical masks. TNR Industrial Doors had a major expansion with another repayable loan. Those are good, high-paying jobs.
With a repayable loan, Wolf Steel, which does high-efficiency furnaces, was able to almost double the size of its company with an impressive expansion. Even more significantly, thanks to the southern Ontario economic development agency, we were able to convince IBM to put a plant in Barrie. A $20-million contribution has led to some of the highest-skilled jobs around just on Bayview Drive. Phase one is now open and phase two will be under way shortly.
I would also like to mention the federal contributions that led to the new wellness centre in Barrie. That was 400 construction jobs; 400 new full-time and part-time jobs for staff and faculty. The economic impact of this construction alone was approximately $98 million for my community, a pretty significant benefit.
Last week, the Minister of Finance released the annual financial report of the Government of Canada for 2012-13. This report shows the continued downward track of Canada's annual deficit. In 2012-13, the deficit fell to $18.9 billion. This was down by more than one-quarter, $7.4 billion, from the deficit of $26.3 billion in 2011-12, and down by nearly two-thirds from the $55.6 billion deficit recorded in 2009-10. I certainly hear from around Barrie that this disciplined approach to deficit reduction is applauded and appreciated across Canada.
This is an excellent example of our government's responsible spending of taxpayer dollars. Further direct program expenses have fallen by 1.2% from the year prior and by 3.8% from 2010-11. We have found these savings without raising taxes or cutting transfers to the provinces and territories. The 1990 approach by the Liberals was simply to slash transfers to the provinces and that meant huge cuts to health care and education. That certainly was not the approach we were prepared to make. This has been a much more fiscally prudent manner to approach the deficit.
Our support does not end there. Our government has also recognized the need for improved infrastructure. Not only have we recognized this need but we have taken action by investing over $4.5 billion into greater Toronto area infrastructure since we took office in February 2006. Since 2006, the City of Barrie alone, to give another example, has seen its share of the federal gas transfers not only become permanent, but they have risen from over $2 million a year to $8 million. There is a lot that can be done with that and the city certainly has. We have put $7.2 million into various road renewal activities, and $16.5 million into improvements of stormwater management, like Kidds Creek, Bunkers Creek, Sophia Creek, the Kempenfelt Bay shoreline, culverts and storm sewers. In fact, the City of Barrie got an FCM award this year for its excellent management of gas tax funding. We have also put $2.1 million into the landfill improvement projects up on Ferndale Drive.
Continued investments in my region's infrastructure have improved amenities for families across the board. Building a better community is something that we all have a stake in and a commitment to new infrastructure helps make Barrie an attractive area to live, work, play and invest. I am sure that is the case in every community across this country. Certainly, Bill C-4 provides those significant tools to build our communities.
Not only does Bill C-4 address this issue now, but it includes initiatives that will help Canadians into the future as well. Canada has free trade agreements in force with more than 10 countries and half of those agreements have been brought into force in just over the last four years. These agreements are strategic economic advantages for our country in a wide range of sectors. I think we see that in every community in Canada.
Bill C-4 also addresses the Government of Canada's intent to set public service pay and benefit levels that are reasonable, responsible and in the public interest. Through the much needed amendments to the Public Service Labour Relations Act, we will ensure that the public service is affordable, modern and high performing, as taxpayers expect.
There is one other item I want to mention that I was particularly proud of in Bill C-4. That was the investments that were made in Lake Simcoe. This government has put $59 million into the cleanup of Lake Simcoe. We have never seen a nickel put into Lake Simcoe before this government. Bill C-4 also puts in funds for protection against invasive species. Lake Simcoe is a tremendous jewel in our region. It contributes an estimated $200 million to our region and more than 400,000 people depend on the lake for drinking water. We have seen the phosphorous levels go dramatically down, and I am proud that our government has shown such significant leadership on Lake Simcoe.
I commend the Minister of Finance for his incredible hard work on Bill C-4 and the astute leadership he has shown, respecting Canadian taxpayer dollars and investing in a manner that supports the economic growth of our country.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-10-29 16:21 [p.560]
Mr. Speaker, in terms of small businesses, it is very clear and widely recognized across the country that this government has been incredibly supportive, whether it was when we first got to office and reduced the tax rate for small businesses, or more recently with the small business hiring tax credit.
Recognizing small businesses as the economic engine of the country has always been a priority of this government, has always been a focus. Certainly I find it almost comical that the NDP would be standing up asking a question about small business. As we know, in every case when there has been an NDP provincial government in this country, small businesses have fled. I am sure the member recalls that when the NDP were in power in Ontario, I think we lost close to 10,000 small businesses under its economic management.
The best support for small businesses in Canada is a Conservative budget. We are certainly seeing that with the incredible support for small businesses that we have seen under the leadership of our current Minister of Finance.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-10-29 16:23 [p.560]
Mr. Speaker, I would certainly disagree with the interpretation of the hon. member.
This budget is certainly about standing up for Canadian workers. It is about creating more jobs and more opportunities. The impetus is creating jobs.
If we look at every aspect of this budget, it is about ways to stimulate our economy, because more jobs in our community, more jobs in our country, means there is greater competition for workers. I have certainly seen that in Barrie where our unemployment rate dropped from 11.7% to 7.2%. We are actually starting to see competition for workers, and that drives higher wages, that drives better working conditions.
We saw that with the expansion of TNR Doors, with Napoleon, with the acquisition of IBM. We are talking about creating a vibrant economy. That is what our Minister of Finance has been doing, and that is a win for workers across Canada.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-06-13 13:33 [p.18288]
Mr. Speaker, I am sharing my time with the very hard-working member for Wetaskiwin.
I am pleased to say a few words about Bill S-16, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in contraband tobacco)
This bill contains a number of very important amendments to the Criminal Code aimed directly at the criminals who are flooding Canada with illicit tobacco products that undermine the Canadian economy, fuel addiction, and add to the already serious long-term health issues associated with smoking.
As we have heard, this is not the first time that Canada has faced the challenge of contraband tobacco. When the problem first arose some two decades ago, it had to do with our own legally manufactured and exported tobacco products being smuggled back into our domestic market at greatly reduced prices. Through a combination of tax policy and enforcement measures, we were able to stem the tide of this early onslaught of contraband tobacco.
Since then, the primary legislative vehicle for controlling this illegal trade has been the Excise Act. This legislation combines fines, jail terms and forfeitures to enforce the prohibition against selling tobacco products that have not been stamped. Stamping indicates that the excise tax has been paid. Unfortunately, despite this legislation and despite the efforts of dedicated law enforcement officials, contraband tobacco remains a serious threat to the public safety of Canadians, their communities and the Canadian economy.
Although there are several sources for the contraband tobacco products that are entering Canada, the illicit trade is driven largely by illegal operations run by criminal organizations in both Canada and the United States. In this regard, the provinces of Ontario and Quebec have the highest concentration of illegal manufacturing operations, the majority of the high-volume smuggling points and the largest number of consumers of contraband tobacco.
In response, the government launched the RCMP contraband tobacco enforcement strategy in 2008 with a focus on reducing the availability and demand for contraband tobacco and on weakening the involvement of organized crime in this illegal industry. At the same time, the task force on illicit tobacco products was formed to identify concrete measures to disrupt or reduce the trade in contraband tobacco. The next year, the task force presented a lengthy report to the Minister of Public Safety in which it noted that at least 30% of Canadian tobacco purchases involved contraband tobacco.
One of the primary drivers of this illicit trade, aside from the willingness of consumers to pay markedly reduced prices, has been the shift from single individuals or small groups conducting sporadic smuggling to organized crime groups doing the smuggling and distributing the illicit tobacco through their criminal networks.
Clearly, the time has come to take steps to come to grips with the growing nature of this illegal activity and the growing involvement of criminal organizations whose related activities include the smuggling of other items into Canada using the same networks, which is particularly alarming.
This is the context in which we must evaluate Bill S-16.
Briefly, the bill is one part of a two-part response to the issue I have described. The first part is the bill itself. It proposes to amend the Criminal Code to create a new hybrid offence of trafficking in contraband tobacco, with mandatory minimum penalties for repeat offenders. The second part of the response is the implementation of a strengthened anti-contraband enforcement strategy that includes the establishment of an anti-contraband force made up of 50 RCMP officers. Both of these proposals respond to the 2011 election platform commitments of this government.
I will go into a bit more detail on exactly what is contained in Bill S-16.
First, the bill would create a new offence in the Criminal Code to deal with contraband tobacco trafficking. Indeed, the bill would prohibit the possession for the purpose of sale, offer for sale, or the transportation, delivery or distribution of a tobacco product, or raw leaf tobacco that is not packaged unless it is stamped. The terms “tobacco product”, “raw leaf tobacco”, “package” and “stamped” have the same meaning as in section 2 of the Excise Act, 2001. This would ensure consistency in our national enforcement efforts.
Pursuant to these proposed amendments, the maximum penalty for a first offence would be up to six months' imprisonment on a summary conviction and up to five years' imprisonment if prosecuted on an indictment.
Repeat offenders, convicted of this new offence in cases involving 10,000 cigarettes or more, 10 kilograms or more of any other tobacco product or 10 kilograms or more of any raw leaf tobacco would be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 90 days on a second conviction, a mandatory minimum of 180 days on a third conviction and a mandatory minimum of 2 years less a day on subsequent convictions.
The amendments proposed in the, appropriately titled, tackling contraband tobacco act would not only respond to our domestic problems but would equally respond to the broader international efforts to combat trafficking in tobacco. Let us recall in this context that tobacco smuggling by definition means the illegal movement of goods over national frontiers. Tobacco smuggling is a particularly widespread illegal activity and has an impact on a great number of countries. Thus, Canada is not alone in wanting to put an end to this illicit commerce.
In any attempt to combat organized crime's involvement in tobacco smuggling, one must recognize that organized crime adopts all forms of corruption to infiltrate political, economic and social levels all over the world. This issue has been addressed at both global and regional levels and continues to receive substantial domestic and international attention.
The international community has adopted many international instruments dealing with criminal law. These international agreements attest to a country's recognition of the need for international co-operation to tackle international crime. One aspect of international co-operation that is repeatedly found in these instruments deals with mutual legal assistance. This form of international co-operation is one of the most powerful tools employed by governments to reduce the incidence of international crime.
Therefore, not only does tobacco smuggling necessarily contain an international dimension, one that sometimes involves several countries and the crossing of several borders; it also involves, as our own law enforcement representatives have informed us, significant organized crime group participation. Bill S-16 would not exist in isolation. While this new legislation would help Canada combat tobacco smuggling, it would also help us combat tobacco smuggling and organized crime outside our own borders, not just in Canada alone.
In closing, I thank hon. members for their attention and urge them to consider the broad context in which Bill S-16 must be assessed. Once they have done that, I am convinced they will agree with me that this bill ought to be passed and implemented without delay.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-06-13 13:41 [p.18290]
Mr. Speaker, I am not on the committee dealing with this bill, but I know these bills get looked at very seriously in committee.
I would agree with the hon. member on her concern about the importance of combating the dangers associated with tobacco. That is why, with the five-year renewal of the federal tobacco strategy in 2012, Health Canada will continue its very dedicated work on tobacco control initiatives that are aimed to preserve the gains we have made in the last 10 years, which are quite significant.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-06-10 12:06 [p.17951]
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill S-15. I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak in support of this bill.
Sable Island is one of Canada's great natural treasures, a windswept remote island renowned for its wild horses and its historical role as the site of the nation's first life-saving station.
It is a place of astounding beauty, with sand dunes, marram grass and freshwater ponds. Anyone fortunate enough to visit this unique environment is captivated by its diversity of plants, birds and animal life. The island is home to several endangered species.
This rare and remarkable place also has a rich cultural history. Sable Island holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Nova Scotians and Canadians. It has inspired artists and writers locally, across the country and internationally.
An island of such spectacular beauty, rare flora and fauna and cultural heritage is wholly deserving of our protection. That is why on October 17, 2011, the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia signed a memorandum of agreement to establish and manage Sable Island as a national park reserve of Canada.
Our objective is to protect Sable Island for all time for the benefit, education and enjoyment of the people of Canada. As the House is aware, the designation of Sable Island as a national park reserve of Canada takes into consideration the Mi'kmaq asserted rights and title in Nova Scotia. These are being addressed through the made-in-Nova Scotia process between the governments of Canada, Nova Scotia and the Mi'kmaq.
Moreover, the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia have agreed that Parliament will enact legislation amending the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act to prohibit drilling for petroleum in Sable Island national park reserve of Canada and to limit the range of surface access rights in respect to the petroleum work or activity in the park reserve.
We have done the essential preparatory work, and I would like to highlight the many reasons why Parks Canada is uniquely situated to oversee the protection of Sable Island.
The Parks Canada network now includes 44 national parks, 167 national historic sites and 4 national marine conservation areas. Since 1911, this agency has worked hard to ensure that Canada's historic and natural heritage is protected and that Canadians and people around the world can engage in inspiring discoveries of our treasured and natural historic places.
Let me give an overview of how we have expanded Parks Canada's protected areas network in recent years. In 2006, that network was 277,400 square kilometres in size. Since then, the Government of Canada has taken actions that would protect an additional 149,639 square kilometres. This would bring Parks Canada's network to more than 427,000 square kilometres, or a 54% increase.
What these numbers demonstrate is how completely Parks Canada is committed to taking care of our natural treasures and to acting as their ever-vigilant stewards. The early visionaries of our parks system recognized that connecting with the natural world can be a deeply meaningful and moving experience, and a fundamental part of that mission was a way to foster these connections. This is a principle to which Parks Canada remains dedicated.
Allow me to give some highlights of Parks Canada's achievements over the past few years, all of which provide ample evidence of this agency's fitness for the stewardship role with regard to Sable Island. Let me start with some recent top achievements, several of them marking firsts, not just in Canada but in the world.
In 2007, the Prime Minister announced the creation of the largest freshwater marine protected area in the world, Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area. This addition to our system comprises more than 10,000 square kilometres, including the lake bed, islands and north shore lands.
In 2009, we expanded the boundary of the Nahanni National Park Reserve sixfold to over 30,000 square kilometres. There is absolutely no doubt that this landmark conservation achievement is quite significant. In fact it is the greatest accomplishment for Parks Canada in a generation. I am delighted to note that it was done in close collaboration with the Dehcho First Nations.
Another outstanding accomplishment in 2009 was the establishment of the Saoyú-§ehdacho National Historic Site in the Northwest Territories. This marks the first of three firsts in Canada. This national historic site was the first northern cultural landscape commemorated by the Government of Canada; the first northern national historic site co-operatively managed by Parks Canada and an aboriginal group; and also the first protected area established under the Northwest Territories protected areas strategy. This historic site comprises two peninsulas bordering the Great Bear Lake. It is an area of 5,565 square kilometres, which is approximately the size of Prince Edward Island. This site protects a cultural landscape of great importance to the Sahtu people of the Great Bear Lake. The elders' vision for the site is one of continued teaching and healing, a place that forever helps to sustain the culture and well-being of the people.
In 2010, the Government of Canada formally established the Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, which some people call “the Canadian Galapagos”. This achievement was a result of historic and outstanding collaborative partnership between the Government of Canada and the Haida Nation. What is extraordinary about this unique protective measure is the combination of the existing park reserve with a new marine conservation area. In total, over 5,000 square kilometres are now protected: a spectacular wilderness that extends from alpine mountaintops to the deep sea beyond the continental shelf. The scope of this achievement is a first not only for Canada but also for North America and the world.
In 2011, Parks Canada oversaw the successful reintroduction of the plains bison and the black-footed ferret, an animal once thought to be extinct for most of the 20th century, in the Grasslands National Park. This measure was part of the $75-million investment to improve the ecological integrity of national parks and national park reserves across Canada.
It was also in 2011 that the Government of Canada announced it would create Canada's first national urban park in Toronto. The concept of a national urban park is an entirely new and unique one to Parks Canada and, indeed, to Canada. Once established, Rouge national urban park will provide an unparalleled opportunity to reach the 20% of Canadians who live within the vicinity of the park and in Canada's most culturally diverse city. Since the 2011 announcement of the Rouge national park, Parks Canada has made steady progress toward establishing this unique protected area in the heart of Canada's most populated area. The agency has worked with first nations and more than 100 communities and organizations including youth. I note that my riding in the city of Barrie is very close to this Rouge national park, and I know that across southern Ontario the commitment to it has been supported and appreciated.
I also remind members of the House about four successful multi-partnership expeditions that Parks Canada has led in Canada's Arctic, in search of the lost vessels of Sir John Franklin. This work has helped narrow our search, with the great added advantages of further asserting Canadian sovereignty and deepening our scientific knowledge in the Arctic. The work to protect our natural heritage is ceaseless, and it takes in all parts of our vast nation.
In May 2012, for example, the governments of Canada and Quebec announcement the creation of an advisory committee for the feasibility assessment of a marine protected area in Îles-de-la-Madeleine.
In August 2012, the Prime Minister announced the establishment and boundaries of Canada's 44th national park, the Nááts'ihch'oh National Park Reserve in the Northwest Territories. This new national park reserve will serve as a launching area for visitors to its northern wilderness, with its breathtaking landscapes of the upper reaches of the world-famous South Nahanni River. Together, the Nahanni and the Nááts'ihch'oh national park reserves protect habitat for mountain woodland caribou, grizzly bears, Dall sheep, mountain goats and trumpeter swans, while at the same time supporting the economic aspirations of first nations and the tourism industries of the region.
I need hardly tell members that the Parks Canada role in the protection of our diverse precious natural areas and species is one of which all Canadians can justly be proud. In its dedicated work as a steward, Parks Canada is an example to the world. In fact, its reach and influence extend globally, and it has received international recognition for its achievements.
For example, in May 2011, the World Wildlife Fund International recognized Parks Canada with its prestigious Gift to the Earth award. The award noted Parks Canada's outstanding conservation achievements, including the recent dramatic growth of Canada's system of national parks and national marine conservation areas.
In September 2012, Parks Canada led the development of the publication titled “North American Protected Areas as Natural Solutions to Climate Change”, released at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress in South Korea. This publication is a collaborative effort of the North American Intergovernmental Committee on Wilderness and Protected Area Conservation with the government representation from Canada, the United States and Mexico.
I would like to turn now to some of Parks Canada's achievements in the realm of historic and cultural commemoration. As I noted earlier, these are important aspects in the protection of Sable Island.
In fact, in 2012, Parks Canada received such a historic designation itself. That year, the Government of Canada honoured the agency as the world's first national parks service by commemorating the Creation of the Dominion Parks Branch and the birth of Parks Canada as an event of national historic significance.
Parks Canada's other commemorative highlights last year included the opening of the new visitor centre at Fort Wellington National Historic Site as part of the special War of 1812 commemoration. The Calgary Stampede, billed as the greatest outdoor show on Earth, was also recognized as an event of national historic significance as was the Grey Cup.
In August last year, our environment minister designated Canada's heritage lighthouses under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, which included the St. Paul Island Southwest Lighthouse in Dingwall, Nova Scotia and McNab Point and the Saugeen River Front and Rear Range lights in Southampton, Ontario.
On the 100th anniversary of the sinking of RMS Titanic, the government honoured the historic efforts of Canadians in the recovery of victims of the disaster.
Earlier, I mentioned Parks Canada's involvement in searching for the ships of the Franklin expedition. In July 2010, the agency embarked upon its 10 day archeological survey of Aulavik National Park to locate HMS Investigator wreck and document and map the land sites associated with Captain Robert McClure's expedition to find the Northwest Passage. This initiative produced a number of findings, including the shipwreck of HMS Investigator, three gravesites and new information on the equipment and provision cache site.
I said that Parks Canada's commitment to protecting our natural and cultural heritage is unceasing. So, too, are the agency's efforts to help connect Canadians with nature.
The early visionaries of our parks system recognized that when people connected with the natural world they could have an experience that was deeply meaningful and moving. A fundamental part of Parks Canada's mission is therefore to foster these connections.
Today, that mission is more urgent than ever before. As many members of the House know, North Americans are becoming more and more disconnected with nature. Tackling the disconnection and fostering Canadians' close relation with the natural world is therefore a task for Parks Canada, and it takes it very seriously.
It is typical of the agency's dedication to this vision that it used its own anniversary to further this crucial work. In its anniversary year of 2011, Parks Canada introduced a series of ongoing programs to reach Canadians and youth in particular.
Among these were the innovative and highly popular learn to camp initiative, overnight camping events aimed at introducing city dwellers, many of them young families or recent immigrants, to camping and other fun outdoor activities.
Through its my parks pass program, the agency provided every grade 8 student across the country with passes to enter all of Parks Canada's sites free of charge for 12 months.
Parks Canada also introduced a promotion called “Canada's coolest school trip” in which a grade 8 class could win a school trip to visit a national park or historic site.
Using multimedia, the agency's national parks project brought together 52 of Canada's best musicians and filmmakers to create music and film inspired by Canada's most breathtaking national parks. These films are available online. The soundtrack album is in stores and on iTunes and a documentary TV series is running on Discovery World.
Also on television, Parks Canada premiered Operation Unplugged, a reality show in which eight urban young people traded their techno-dependent lifestyles for a summer unplugged in the national parks.
In all these ways, Parks Canada's centennial celebrations help the agency meet its target for public engagement so Canadians' awareness of Parks Canada and support for its work are growing across the country. Parks Canada reports the visitation to national parks is now slowly increasing, helping to reverse a downward trend seen over many years.
In my overview, I have touched on many areas of Parks Canada's achievements, all of which demonstrate the agency's long history, experience and passion for protecting our natural and cultural heritage. I noted its international recognition and that it was the first national parks agency in the world. I am fully confident that this superbly well-qualified federal agency will make an ideal steward for the wondrous beauty and unique character of Sable Island. I am therefore urging all members in the House to support the bill, which would make this exquisite island one of the jewels in our national parks system with Parks Canada as its able steward.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-06-10 12:24 [p.17954]
Mr. Speaker, first, since 2006, this government has put significant investments into Parks Canada. More significant, we need to look at the overall numbers. One could say that in this year or that year there was small cut or a large increase, but the bottom line is if we look at an overview of Parks Canada, the protected areas in 2006 went from 277,000 square kilometres in size to an astounding 427,000 square kilometres today, a 54% increase to Parks Canada. That is an accomplishment for the Government of Canada. It shows the commitment of the Conservatives to Parks Canada, which is quite astounding.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-06-10 12:25 [p.17954]
Mr. Speaker, first, let me note that it is great to have such an advocate in the member for Calgary Centre-North. Her commitment at the environment committee and to Parks Canada is simply incredible.
She is absolutely correct that it is a mistake for the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands to try to block or build support against investing in Parks Canada and against creating national parks. It does an incredible amount of good. When it comes to ecological protection, I think this is something all Canadians value to ensure the partnership created with first nations and with the Government of Nova Scotia is honoured at the multi-level agreement. We should honour that ecological protection. I am so proud to be part of a government that is so committed to doing so.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-06-10 12:27 [p.17954]
Mr. Speaker, this government has shown a tremendous commitment to the environment. Rather than just talk about it, like the NDP likes to, the Conservative government has taken tangible action. In my own home area in Simcoe county, for the first time in history, the Government of Canada, rather than leaving it to local authorities to invest in, invested in the cleanup of Lake Simcoe, with a $30-million initial grant and a subsequent $29-million grant. Phosphorous levels are now at an all-time modern low. It is not just Lake Simcoe, it is Lake Winnipeg and across the country that there has been a commitment to cleaning up the environment in a very real and meaningful manner.
In terms of the international forums the member mentioned, I would note that we are being honoured in Canada for Canada's unique and zealous commitment to the environment. A good example is in 2001 the World Wildlife Fund recognized Parks Canada with its prestigious Gift to the Earth award to recognize Canadian efforts. Additionally, we were recognized at the World Conservation Congress in South Korea in 2012.
This is certainly a government with a track record of success and accomplishments in the environment. I know my home community in Barrie, Ontario, tremendously appreciates the cleanup that has happened on the shores of Kempenfelt Bay.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-06-10 12:31 [p.17955]
Mr. Speaker, certainly the member's support for this bill is appreciated. Sending this to committee is an important step in the process, so that is encouraging to hear. I understand that the member will have a role in suggesting witnesses so that we can see some of the structure associated with the conservation process and hear appropriate guidelines and suggestions.
There is already an ongoing dialogue between the Government of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada. I know that the member for Calgary Centre-North has spoken in the House of Commons in great detail to some of the elements of conservation and what they would entail. The member may want to take a look at that in Hansard.
Overall, this is a fundamental commitment to the province of Nova Scotia and to Canadians that we value our natural heritage sites. If we look at the big picture, it is about supporting ongoing efforts to expand our national parks system. Since 2006, we have seen not only a net increase in the budget for Parks Canada but an astounding 54% increase in the number of square kilometres associated with Parks Canada.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-05-27 22:15 [p.17093]
Mr. Speaker, I am thankful to have the opportunity today to contribute to the second reading debate on Bill C-54, the not criminally responsible reform act. The bill proposes to amend the mental disorder regime in the Criminal Code and the National Defence Act to strengthen their ability to better protect the safety of the public, as well as do a better job at responding to the needs of victims in the mental disorder regime.
It may be useful to provide a bit of background on the existing mental disorder regime before I outline the amendments proposed in Bill C-54 and why they are important reforms.
A fundamental principle of our criminal law, including the mental disorder regime, is that a person must be morally blameworthy to be criminally liable for a wrongful act or omission. They must have the mental capacity to know and appreciate what they are doing and the mental capacity to distinguish between what is right and wrong. Also, they must be able to communicate and give instructions to their lawyer and understand the nature and consequences of a criminal trial in order to be tried.
If, at the time the act was committed, a person suffered from a mental disorder that rendered that person incapable of knowing what they did or that it was wrong, the trial court can find the person committed the act in question but order a verdict of not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder. If at that time of trial the mentally disordered person does not have the capacity to understand the nature and the consequences of the criminal trial, they may be found unfit to stand trial.
After either of these findings, the person will be dealt with according to the mental disorder regime, which is designed to balance the twin goals of public protection and fair treatment of the accused, usually by provincially appointed review boards. The review boards are composed of at least five members with legal and psychiatric expertise.
As I noted, the bill contains elements that address both public safety and victims. In terms of the public safety reforms, the bill would amend the Criminal Code and clarify that public safety is paramount in consideration for the review board decision-making process. Although the Supreme Court of Canada has said that public safety is already the paramount consideration, most recently in its 2010 judgment of Regina v. Conway, the proposed amendment would ensure consistent application in cases across the country.
The reforms would also codify the Supreme Court of Canada's interpretation of “significant threat to the safety of the public”, which is the current test for determining whether review boards can continue to supervise the not criminally responsible accused. The Supreme Court interpreted this phrase in the Winko case in 1999.
The amendment would also clarify that the accused need not pose a threat of violence, but must pose a real risk of physical or psychological harm to members of the public that is more than merely trivial or annoying and must be criminal in nature. This would ensure this test is applied consistently across all jurisdictions.
Bill C-54 also proposes to create a new high-risk mentally disordered accused designation scheme. This new scheme would only apply to the accused who were found not criminally responsible for a serious personal injury offence. The mental disorder regime would define a serious personal injury offence as an indictable offence involving the use or attempted use of violence, conduct endangering life or safety, or sexual offences. In these cases, the Crown would apply for the high-risk designation to be made by the court.
This designation could be made in two situations. The first would occur when the court was satisfied that there was a substantial likelihood that the not criminally responsible accused would commit violence that would endanger the life or safety of another person. The second situation would be if the court was of the opinion that the offence for which the not criminally responsible accused was found to be not criminally responsible was particularly brutal, so as to indicate a risk of grave harm to the public.
Accused persons who are found to be unfit are not included in this high-risk designated scheme because they have not yet been tried and determined by a court to have committed the act. The effect of such a judicial designation is to protect society from a high-risk individual and prevent the accused from being conditionally or absolutely discharged.
As well, a high-risk not criminally responsible accused would not be permitted unescorted passes in the community. This is particularly important. Escorted passes would only be permitted for medical reasons and only when a structured plan was in place to ensure the safety of the public.
It is important to clarify that the high-risk designation would not be permanent. Once a review board was satisfied that the high-risk, not criminally responsible accused no longer posed a substantial likelihood of committing violence that would endanger the life or safety of another person, it would make a recommendation to the superior court of criminal jurisdiction for review. The court would then hold another hearing to determine whether the designation should be removed. If it reached the same conclusion as the review board, the designation would be revoked. The accused would then become a regular not criminally responsible accused and would be dealt with under the regular procedures of the mental disorder regime. These are balanced proposals that seek to protect both the safety of the public and the rights of accused persons to fair and appropriate treatment.
I would like to return to the victim-related reforms. The mental disorder regime already offers many opportunities for victims to be involved in this process. They can attend hearings and present victim impact statements.
The proposed reforms would enhance victim involvement by providing that victims be notified, on request, when a discharge order has been made. This would ensure that victims have advance notice about the fact that they may run into the mentally disordered accused. This is especially concerning if the person is released into a small community.
The law would also be clarified explicitly to provide that the safety of victims be considered in the decision-making process. Further, Bill C-54 proposes to clarify that the review board shall consider whether it is desirable to issue a non-communication order between the not criminally responsible accused and the victim. The review board would also consider whether to order the not criminally responsible accused to not attend a specific place, such as the victim's home or place of work.
In closing, I would like to encourage all members to support this bill's passage at second reading. This is a bill that would provide balanced measures to protect public safety and enhance victim involvement in the mental disorder regime. These are reforms we should all support.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-05-27 22:22 [p.17094]
Mr. Speaker, one of the important aspects of this bill is that it takes into consideration the role of the victims.
To go through an ordeal as a victim is a huge challenge, but to then have this memory revisited by potentially having the person who was convicted in your small town or place of work and not know about it would be harrowing. That is why this bill takes the rights of the victims into consideration and involves them in the process by giving them advance notice and the ability to have conditions placed upon the release.
It is the right balance. The bill recognizes the role of the victims. I applaud the minister and the team for putting that in Bill C-54.
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