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View Dan Harris Profile
NDP (ON)
View Dan Harris Profile
2015-06-19 12:19 [p.15358]
moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.
He said: Mr. Speaker, how befitting that we should engage in a slight bit of time travel to end this Parliament. That brings me back to a quote from the veterans affairs minister when he spoke in favour of this bill at second reading and said:
The specifics of the bill before this House are to correct a drafting oversight from the 1970s, when the Holidays Act treated Remembrance Day slightly differently from the way it treated Victoria Day and Dominion Day, now Canada Day. I am proud that it seems most members of this House will support the member for Scarborough Southwest in rectifying this oversight to ensure that as a federal holiday, Remembrance Day is treated in the same way as those other days that are important to our country.
I would now like to thank my colleague from Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier for seconding my motion today and for her excellent work on the military file in her role as deputy national defence critic. I would also like to thank my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue for seconding my motion at second reading and for having served in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Remembrance Day has always been a very important day for my family, and the reason I wanted to bring this bill forward is to rectify that drafting error from the 1970s so that Remembrance Day would stand on an equal footing under the Holidays Act with Canada Day and Victoria Day, the other two legal holidays that we observe in Canada.
Yesterday I had a very touching moment when I took part in a special ceremony at my father's elementary school, Donwood Park Public School in Scarborough. My father is retiring this year after 28 years as a teacher in Scarborough, the last 25 of them at Donwood Park Public School. During the ceremony at the school yesterday, one of the other teachers, Shane Matheson, said that when he joined the teaching family at Donwood Park, he asked the principal and other teachers which of them took care of the Remembrance Day ceremonies, because usually one teacher is designated. All of the teachers immediately shouted out that it was Mr. Harris.
Of course I mean my father, David Harris, who has taken care of the Remembrance Day ceremonies at the school for years and years. He had a talk with my father to find out how he could help to further improve the ceremonies. They actually got a letter from the current Minister of Veterans Affairs to thank my father for the tremendous work he has done over the years in teaching the next generation about the importance of Remembrance Day here in Canada. It is particularly important work for communities that have a large number of new citizens.
The veterans affairs minister wrote the letter, and it was a very touching moment for us. As I have said in the House before, my family has a long-standing military tradition. My great-grandfather served in the both world wars; my grandmother was in the Canadian Women's Army Corps; my great-uncle, Bill Riley, was in the service in the Second World War and served in Europe. Last weekend, for the very first time, we were able to find and visit his tombstone in Pine Hills Cemetery in Scarborough. My father just happened upon the tombstone. He was there for a memorial service for a friend of his and happened to walk by the tombstone. That was certainly a very sombre but important moment for my family.
This bill went before committee. It went before two committees, in fact. It was there for 205 days before it was reported back to the House. Witnesses appeared multiple times both in the heritage committee and the veterans affairs committee, and there seemed to be some confusion about what the bill would actually do.
Let me clear that up now.
Just as the Minister of Veterans Affairs said, this bill would correct a drafting error from the 1970s. It would elevate Remembrance Day to the same status as the other holidays.
This does not create a statutory holiday. We in Parliament cannot impose holidays on the provinces. That is provincial jurisdiction. The provinces get to decide which holidays to observe, and of course, every province does it a little bit differently.
With respect to Remembrance Day in particular, six provinces and three territories treat it as a statutory holiday. In Manitoba, businesses have to be shut down until 1 p.m. so people have the chance to go to ceremonies, and Nova Scotia has its own Remembrance Day Act. There are lots of models to follow. Ontario and Quebec do not do anything special with respect to a holidays act or changing the normal course of business.
I would like to quote my colleague from Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley in Nova Scotia. He said:
I want to thank you for bringing this legislation forward. I think it is a very interesting discussion.
I'm from Nova Scotia. We have the Nova Scotia Remembrance Day Act. It means a day off school. Businesses are closed. It's a really big event. It's become bigger over the years. I think your legislation is timely, considering the age of our World War II and Korean War veterans. I can remember, as a child, watching the World War I vets. All of them are gone. My grandfather was in World War I. I have military history in my family that is very similar to yours.
As a former elementary school principal, I can tell you that the local legions, in the 19 cenotaph services in my riding, are very active in all the elementary schools, the junior highs, and the high schools in the area, but particularly in the elementary schools. The schools embrace the legions. There's a really strong partnership.
That is the important point. Everyone who works towards honouring and remembering our veterans and the brave service and sacrifice they have all made works together so that we can continue to impart to future generations the importance of that sacrifice and so that we never forget.
Regardless of what different provinces do, whether it is a day off school or not, that relationship between the kids and all the other groups that participate in Remembrance Day is what will help keep the spirit of that day alive for us so that we never forget.
I am certainly hoping today that we can actually end the 41st Parliament on a high note; more than likely we will not be coming back here until the election. We all came together as a Parliament on November 5 to vote on this bill. It was indeed fast-tracked through second reading. It passed second reading with a vote of 258 to 2. We were all able to come together in November to move the bill forward, and I certainly hope that now, in the waning hours of this Parliament, we will be able to do so again and get the bill through third reading before we all rise for the summer.
Some of our colleagues, and you, Mr. Speaker, are not coming back. I would like to thank you for the wonderful job you have done in that chair over the last four years I have been here. I am certain that you did a great job in your previous capacity, but I was not witness to it.
I just want to thank all the people who make Parliament work on a day-to-day basis: the clerks, the folks at the table; the pages and the incredible work they do; and the constables and security services here that work to keep us safe every single day. We would not be able to do the work we do on behalf of Canadians without all of them, and I just want to say thanks to them before we rise for the summer.
I am going to cut my remarks short, because I want to make sure that we get to the other speakers and that we actually have a chance to wrap up debate and move things forward. If we do not horse about here today, the bill will get through. I am certainly hoping that my colleagues, in particular those across the way, will agree to wrapping up the debate.
Again, I quote what the Minister of Veterans Affairs said:
The specifics of this bill before this House are to correct a drafting oversight from the 1970s,
He went on to say:
Bill C-597 would make it clear where the federal government stands with respect to the importance of Remembrance Day to our country. It would give provinces the opportunity to revisit whether they want to make it a statutory holiday as well.
It would not force them to do so.
That is what this bill does. It clarifies Remembrance Day within the Holidays Act by according it the same status as Canada Day and Victoria Day. It changes exactly one word by adding the word “legal” in front of Remembrance Day so that it matches what is says for Canada Day and Victoria Day.
I think it is a simple change that we can all get done today.
I want to thank all my colleagues and everybody who has been a part of this 41st Parliament. It has truly been an honour and a privilege to sit here and to represent the constituents of Scarborough Southwest, where my family has lived for almost 90 years.
View Dan Harris Profile
NDP (ON)
View Dan Harris Profile
2015-06-19 12:31 [p.15359]
Mr. Speaker, the bill would not create a statutory holiday, so there would be no cost with respect to that.
It is actually a little difficult to calculate the exact cost with respect to adding Remembrance Day as, say, a statutory holiday. If we were to add another new holiday, something else, it does not matter what, that would impact the entire country, it would be easy to measure that.
If Remembrance Day was made a statutory holiday, it would not impact six provinces and three territories; it would slightly impact a couple of provinces, and it would impact two provinces.
It is hard to find out what the cost would be to businesses right now. Businesses I have spoken to have said it is very confusing if they have an operation in Ontario and one in B.C. The folks in B.C. would be off for the day and the folks in Ontario would not be and if they tried to conduct business between the two, they could not get it done. That has a cost as well.
Businesses want predictability. Sometimes uniformity across the country is actually helpful to business. We only have to look to our neighbours to the south, the United States, for an example. The U.S. federal government passed a bill, and then every single one of the states passed their own bills. Now they have uniformity with respect to the observance of Remembrance Day, which they call Veterans Day.
View Dan Harris Profile
NDP (ON)
View Dan Harris Profile
2015-06-19 12:34 [p.15360]
Mr. Speaker, with respect to Remembrance Day, we have a situation here in Canada where every single Canadian who wants to go and pay their respects, however they want to do that, should have that opportunity. The model in Manitoba where businesses are shut down for half the day, certainly in the vast majority of instances would allow that to happen.
That is also why I have not been pushing specific suggestions with respect to what to do. Some of the provinces have done different things. Manitoba has gone in one direction. Nova Scotia has gone in another direction. Six provinces and three territories have decided to make it a full statutory holiday.
When we were hearing witnesses in committee, Canadian Veterans Advocacy said something that was quite poignant, that we were supposed to go and pay our respects and lay down our poppies, but afterwards we are supposed to carry on and continue to live our lives.
If families were to have that opportunity to spend the rest of the day together and choose to use the day however they wished, I do not see a problem with that. They would get to spend time together. It would also offer the opportunity for Canadian society to perhaps even do something for veterans and their families if we were to start organizing things. However, that would be a much larger discussion and a different debate on a different bill at a different time. However, I am always happy to talk about Remembrance Day.
View John Rafferty Profile
NDP (ON)
View John Rafferty Profile
2015-06-19 12:55 [p.15362]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak on Bill C-597, on the last day of the 41st Parliament. This bill would amend the Holidays Act to make Remembrance Day a legal holiday. That is an important distinction. People watching and listening to this debate might be a little confused with the words “legal” and “statutory”. It is not calling for a statutory holiday. A statutory holiday would be a holiday like Canada Day, a day off that celebrates Canada right across the country. That is not what this bill is asking for.
It is simply asking for a one-word change to section 3 of the Holidays Act. I will read that section with the change in it. After this bill passes, section 3 would read as follows:
November 11, being the day in the year 1918 on which the Great War was triumphantly concluded by an armistice, is a [legal] holiday and shall be kept and observed as such throughout Canada under the name of “Remembrance Day”.
It would simply add one word, “legal”. Again, I have to emphasize that we are not talking about a statutory holiday; we are talking about a legal holiday. I will say a few more words about that in a moment.
Remembrance Day is important, and this change is important. There are four reasons why I think this change is important and I will go through each of them. The first is to commemorate and honour our fallen soldiers and veterans on a national level. Remembrance Day is celebrated and talked about in many different ways across the country, and there is no real unanimity. As we know, every year the number of veterans from past wars diminishes, and I think it is time that we show our support on a national level. Modern and wartime veterans are to be thanked for preserving the democracy that we live in and thrive in today.
I can only go by the experience in my own riding of Thunder Bay—Rainy River of what happens on Remembrance Day now. It is interesting to note that with the one-word change, things would likely not change in my riding.
In 1970, Thunder Bay became the city it is today from two separate cities. My riding encompasses the south side of Thunder Bay, which is the old Fort William. In Fort William Gardens every Remembrance Day, without any exaggeration, there are 3,000 to 4,000 people. The complete ice surface, which then is a cement surface, is covered with veterans, presenters, wreath layers, honoured guests, and so on. It is a wonderful celebration of what Remembrance Day means to so many people in Thunder Bay.
On the other side of town, in Port Arthur, there is also a celebration on Remembrance Day, which happens at exactly the same time. However, what is interesting is what happens in the rest of my riding on that day. I attended the Atikokan ceremony last year. I have to pick and choose each year and rotate where I am at 11 o'clock on Remembrance Day. I was in Atikokan last year, where there was a wonderful event put on by the legion. I should also mention that in Thunder Bay the legions are terrific, both on the day before Remembrance Day and the day of, in terms of how they treat everyone who attends to be part of Remembrance Day with them.
In the far west of my riding, at 11 o'clock, Fort Frances has its Remembrance Day ceremony. That is supported and organized by the legion. As one goes down Highway 11 to the end of my riding in Rainy River, the Remembrance Day ceremonies are staggered so that when I am in the west end for a ceremony, I can actually get to Fort Frances, Emo, Stratton, all the way to Rainy River without any problem to be part of the Remembrance Day ceremonies.
When I am in Thunder Bay, I attend the 11 o'clock ceremony. That is eastern time, do not forget. We gain an hour going to the west end of my riding because it is central time. I then hop in my car and drive all the way to the other end of my riding, 500 kilometres, to be at the legion supper in Rainy River. I know that many other MPs do the same sort of thing when they have large ridings.
The point of my talking about that is to emphasize that under this bill what happens now for schoolchildren attending and everybody else making time to be part of the various ceremonies right cross my riding. It would not really change under the bill because we are not talking about a statutory holiday; we are talking about a legal holiday.
A legal holiday would help to provide an equal opportunity for everyone in Canada to observe November 11. It is really a symbolic change and hopefully it would entice provinces that currently do not observe November 11 as a holiday to change their practice. Six provinces and all three territories already observe November 11 as a holiday. Again, the bill would not force the rest of Canada to have a holiday, but it would give it a slightly different status by using the word “legal”, which is an important distinction.
Many people in constituents in my riding, young and old, all attend Remembrance Day ceremonies. It is a solemn time in my riding. Members may or may not know that thousands of young men and women have been involved in war efforts over the years, including, most recently, in Afghanistan. There is a real understanding in Thunder Bay in particular of the importance of Remembrance Day.
While a lot of people already do attend, the bill would go further to encourage all the provinces to give an opportunity for everyone to attend Remembrance Day ceremonies.
My last point is that it important to have an additional opportunity to educate the next generation. I want to say just something very briefly about that. The school boards right across my riding make a terrific effort to have veterans come into the schools. The children enter the poster contests with the legions and so on. There is not one schoolchild in my riding who does not have an understanding and appreciation of Remembrance Day and what that means. The education of the next generation is already happening, and the next generation after that. I suspect it is much the same right across the country in just about everybody's riding. A lot of things would not change with the bill, but it would increase its status somewhat, and I that is important.
I am going to finish off with just a brief recap of the bill and bills like it, and what the history has been in the House. I hope people will get the idea that it is high time to give support a bill like this.
I will talk about the NDP first. The NDP has put forward similar bills in the past. In 2006, our MP for Hamilton Mountain brought forward Bill C-363. She did the same in 2009 with Bill C-287. There have also been two motions in the past: Motion No. 424, in the year 2000 by Nelson Riis; and Motion No. 27, in 2006 by our member for Sackville—Eastern Shore.
It is also interesting that in the past the Conservatives have brought forward similar bills. Inky Mark brought forward two bills: one in 2004, Bill C-295; and one in 2006, Bill C-354.
The Liberals have also brought forward bills that are much the same in the past. They brought in two bills and a motion. Ronald MacDonald from Dartmouth brought forward Motion No.699 in 1990, another one in 1991, and another in 1994. Roger Gallaway from Sarnia—Lambton brought forward Motion No. 298 in 2002.
Given the history I have ended my speech on, I can see no reason why we cannot get unanimous support right through the House for this.
View Dan Harris Profile
NDP (ON)
View Dan Harris Profile
2015-06-19 13:18 [p.15365]
Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. It seems as though all parties have been supporting this bill all along the way and congratulating me for this work. However, for some reason, the Conservatives seem to want to talk out the clock today instead of getting this bill over to the Senate for study and adoption. Here is the last chance.
Therefore, I would seek unanimous consent for the following motion: that notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House—
View Ève Péclet Profile
NDP (QC)
View Ève Péclet Profile
2015-06-18 10:42 [p.15261]
Mr. Speaker, in his speech, the parliamentary secretary spoke a lot about accessibility. However, there are no guidelines in the bill that would help determine the definition of accessibility. I therefore have the following questions. First, in the parliamentary secretary's view, what would be the definition of an accessible document? Second, does he believe that a document that the department charges Canadians for is an accessible document or not?
View Paulina Ayala Profile
NDP (QC)
View Paulina Ayala Profile
2015-06-18 10:48 [p.15262]
Mr. Speaker, I am a member of the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations. It was already a concern to see the department legislate more and more by way of regulations without respecting the spirit of the law. It is said that all Canadians should know the law. Here, we are talking about open incorporation by reference and laws that exist elsewhere. The members opposite talked about free trade agreements. That can change over time. If one day a ruling is needed on a case, which law will the ruling be based on? Where do we begin to assign fault to someone who did not obey the law if the law itself is not defined and it is always being added to and evolving?
I find that the analysis of the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations is being ignored. I would like the member opposite to comment on that.
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
View Don Davies Profile
2015-06-18 10:50 [p.15262]
Mr. Speaker, as the official opposition trade critic, I am most interested in this discussion. There are some very good points being made on both sides of the House.
Obviously, trading jurisdictions have a shared interest in making sure that goods and services can flow as freely as possible across borders. However, I am wondering about some of the difficulties that could come up in that regard. As an example, the United States allows hormones in its milk, whereas Canada does not. When there are different sensitivities and sensibilities of populations over something that may involve public health or different views on things like that, there could be difficulty determining which jurisdiction is going to prevail in that regard.
I am wondering if the hon. member has any comments on that type of issue and how he sees the ability of each country or jurisdiction to maintain democratic control over their standards. How does that play into the bill?
View Ève Péclet Profile
NDP (QC)
View Ève Péclet Profile
2015-06-18 10:53 [p.15263]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to this extremely problematic bill. I will provide more details in my speech.
This bill stems from the tabling of the 80th report of the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations in December 2007. The committee found that:
...the incorporation by reference of external material into regulations “as amended from time to time” should, in the absence of clear authority, be seen to be [inappropriate and] illegal.
In fact, the parliamentary secretary just confirmed that incorporation by reference is a long-standing practice in the departments. However, we have a report here that says that without a clear law to that effect, these incorporations should be considered inappropriate and illegal. I will read the last clause of the bill:
18.7 The validity of an incorporation by reference that conforms with section 18.1 and that was made before the day on which that section comes into force is confirmed.
I will explain to those watching today—I know many people are—what this government has just done and what the parliamentary secretary has just confirmed to us. The parliamentary secretary just acknowledged that incorporation by reference is currently illegal, but now he is making it legal. Material was incorporated by reference without enabling power and without enabling legislation, which means that, unfortunately, we could have hundreds of thousands of incorporations by reference. I do not know exactly how many. Thousands of incorporations by reference may have been done without legislative authority. That is a problem.
One has to wonder what the purpose of such a bill is. We know that the Conservatives' budget contained a small provision—hidden in a large budget that is hundreds of pages long—that legalized an illegal act committed by the RCMP. Here, the Conservatives are legalizing incorporations by reference that the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations would consider inappropriate and unlawful. I have here the findings of the report. The first thing that came to mind was the following question: how can we really vote for a bill that would make retroactive amendments to allow actions that were not allowed before Bill S-2 was passed? I would like to remind members that this bill has not yet passed. In accordance with this bill, incorporation by reference is unlawful and inappropriate right now. I would simply like to put that out there, and members will have to decide whether it is acceptable or not. However, in my opinion and in the opinion of the NDP, this sort of retroactive amendment cannot be allowed without a law that allows regulations to be incorporated by reference.
That is some of the background behind Bill S-2. The government said that there was a problem because it did not have regulatory power so it was going to pass a law that would give it this regulatory power to incorporate regulations by reference.
In his speech, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice said that this bill gives guidance and direction with regard to the various incorporation by reference mechanisms. I would like to remind him that I asked this question to a number of witnesses who appeared before the the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
These witnesses clearly told me that the bill unfortunately did not address their concerns and that it did not create rules and guidelines for making regulations and incorporations by reference. I have the minutes of the meeting. The witnesses clearly told me that Treasury Board and the government must adopt directives and guidelines as quickly as possible for making regulations and for incorporations by reference. There are currently none, and Bill S-2 does not change that. All it does is grant the general authority to make regulations by reference. It does not include directives or guidelines.
I will give a very quick overview of incorporation by reference. It is a technique for drafting laws or regulations that refer to another piece of legislation, in order to avoid having to recopy everything in the bills. I will concede that we save a lot of paper by doing this. This technique is used to incorporate legislative texts, for example, regulations, rates, texts from other jurisdictions—provincial or federal—or other legislative texts from other governments, meaning other states.
There are two types of incorporation by reference. There is static incorporation, which means that when a reference is made to a regulation, the reference is made to the regulation as it exists at the time the legislation is passed, without any amendments that are made in the future.
There is also dynamic, or open, incorporation, which automatically incorporates changes to other incorporated regulations. This means that if we incorporate regulations from another country, like the United States—the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice mentioned international trade—and that country amends its regulations, ours will also be changed. Governments change and we have no way of knowing what kind of amendments a new government might make, but these amendments will automatically be made to Canadian laws.
This means that these amendments will never be reviewed by parliamentarians. That is a problem. Canadians, who are supposed to know the law, and parliamentarians, who are supposed to study it, will not be able to do so. They will not necessarily be aware of all of the changes made to the hundreds of thousands of regulations pertaining to legislation in other countries. In addition, incorporations by reference will not even have to be published in the Canada Gazette.
That is a big problem because all of the government's regulations must be published in the Canada Gazette before coming into effect, to prevent abuses. The problem is that clause 18.4 states that the requirements in the Statutory Instruments Act for registration and publication of regulations do not apply to documents incorporated by reference. That means they do not have to be published in the Canada Gazette. The government is creating an exception. Usually, as I said, all laws and regulations have to be published in the Canada Gazette. However, clause 18.4 confirms that documents incorporated by reference will not have to be published.
There is a double standard here. I can imagine what the Conservatives are thinking. They will say that this has already been published, but that is not the problem. Perhaps it has already been published as it stands, but it did not say that it would apply to another law or another regulation. The problem is not that the regulations have already been published. What matters is knowing that the application of the regulation to another regulation will never be published. How, then, is anyone supposed to know what anything applies to, if it is not published in the Canada Gazette? That is very problematic.
If we cannot figure out what anything applies to, and it is not published in the Canada Gazette, what is the Conservatives' idea of accessibility? Do they think that everyone should just know how to find that information online? If so, I would remind them that the Canada Gazette website is usually where people look up which regulation applies to which law or which regulation by incorporation applies to which regulation.
If it is not published in the Canada Gazette, then where? Will it be posted on the department's website? If that is what they mean by accessibility criteria, then I hope there will be no fees involved because the Canada Gazette can be accessed for free. Will there be fees? Will it be translated in both official languages?
In any case, I sincerely hope so because the United States is not subject to bilingualism requirements. If we incorporate U.S. regulations by reference, I hope that the government will ensure that these regulations are translated into French and English for all Canadians.
A letter sent by the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations raises some concerns that I raised in committee and for which the government has not provided a response, unfortunately. Generally, ambulatory incorporation by reference of administrative documents produced internally by the federal government should not be allowed in federal regulations.
Why not? When documents are incorporated by reference by the regulatory authority itself, there is a risk of abuse and of creating a system where that authority has a free pass to incorporate by reference and make changes to the regulations without submitting the material for review by parliamentarians. That is very problematic.
Several thousand regulations could be incorporated by reference every year, without parliamentarians being notified and without these regulations being subject to review by a parliamentary committee. I find that very problematic. That shows that the Conservatives are not at all concerned about creating a parallel means of making regulations and opening the door to abuse by using incorporation by reference.
Only when this is deemed to be essential should it be permitted, and that should be clearly indicated in the enabling legislation, not in Bill S-2. This is general enabling legislation concerning the general authority to adopt measures by incorporation, not a specific power given to a department or departmental agency, for example.
It is no big deal for the Conservatives. They will just pass Bill S-2 and create a general power that applies to all departments and departmental agencies. That way, they will not have to include it in specific enabling legislation. That is what Bill S-2 does.
For example, the bill talks about the power to incorporate by reference rates, numbers and indices established by, for example, a body other than the regulation-making authority. However, we do not know what body is being referred to. The bill refers to persons or bodies other than the regulation-making authority. Could that be public servants or peace officers? I do not know.
When we pass a law we generally want it to be clear. What is a person or body other than the regulation-making authority?
This came up a number of times in the debates on Bill S-2 in the Senate. It was said that the bill was not clear enough and that guidelines were necessary. Unfortunately Bill S-2 will not fix that because it does not include guidelines as to who can use this new power or who or what is considered a person or body other than the regulation-making authority. As I already said, this came up a number of times during the Senate's studies.
Incorporation by reference of foreign legislation, as amended from time to time, is another problem. Once again, in the report and in the letter sent to the minister, the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations clearly stated that ambulatory incorporation by reference of foreign legislation should not generally be permitted.
It goes on to explain that with ambulatory incorporation by reference of federal, provincial or foreign legislation, parliamentarians do not have the option of reviewing the amendments. I am not making this up. It was in a report and in a letter from the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations. The committee provides some examples, such as the fact that Ontario, Australia, New South Wales, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory have all prohibited the incorporation by reference of foreign legislation.
There are already some Commonwealth countries that say that foreign legislation should never be incorporated by reference, especially not as amended from time to time, because parliamentarians then do not have the opportunity to examine any amendments that may be made to the law. We cannot allow amendments to be incorporated into Canadian laws without debating them in the House of Commons. That is clear. Any amendments to regulations must be put before the House. That is clear. That is how a parliament works. It is a legislature.
The report of the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations also talks about how such power should not necessarily be exercised without guidelines. For example, the report indicates that the regulation-maker who drafts the actual text of the regulations or who decides to incorporate material by reference must act within the clear limits of the authority bestowed upon him by law. The enactment of general provisions governing incorporation by reference could raise questions about whether those provisions constitute autonomous authority or whether they are subject to the conditions of the enabling legislation under which the regulation-maker makes a regulation by incorporating a document by reference.
It says here in the report that the passage of Bill S-2, which is a general authority for incorporation by reference, unfortunately may not meet the conditions and guidelines. Since no such conditions exist, that is a bit difficult. However, that could mean that this does not meet the conditions of the enabling legislation that falls within the purview of a department or agency.
That is very problematic. I think all members need to think about this before they allow hundreds of pages of regulations to evade parliamentary scrutiny. I am asking members to vote against this bill.
View Ève Péclet Profile
NDP (QC)
View Ève Péclet Profile
2015-06-18 11:15 [p.15265]
Mr. Speaker, every time I stand in the House and raise concerns, the only criticism my colleagues from the Conservative Party have against me is that I do not make sense. I do not know if that is unparliamentary, but those criticisms were not only raised by myself, but were raised by the parliamentary committee on regulations and by the Senate committee on regulations.
If the hon. member really thought I did not make sense, then he probably thinks the parliamentary committee on regulations and the Senate do not make sense, with which I totally agree. My speech was only based on the report from the hon. member's committee and the Senate. There are deep concerns that we let go of our privilege of studying law just because the Conservatives want to adopt Bill S-2, which is ridiculously large to implement right now, and it would ignore the study of regulations by the people who are elected by Canadians to study law.
If the hon. member thinks this does not make sense, then it is time for the government to go.
View Ève Péclet Profile
NDP (QC)
View Ève Péclet Profile
2015-06-18 11:17 [p.15266]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleagues's deep knowledge, as a lawyer, on this kind of legislation. She knows the implications of what a bill like this could have on Canadian legislation.
I will go on to say that, unfortunately, if the government’s only excuse is that this has already been done in the past, that this has always been done and that, today, we must legalize everything that was done before without it being authorized by law, this clearly shows just how little concern the Conservatives have about creating a whole incorporation by reference system that would not be subject to scrutiny by officials or by Parliament. The way they see it, if something has been done since time immemorial and was not legal, then today it is all right to pass a bill that would legalize everything that was done in the past.
This is not how Canadians want their country to be governed. We need to make regulations that are legal and authorized by law. Today, what the Conservatives are telling us is that they have done this for years and we just need to pass a bill today to authorize them to act in that manner. I do not think this is a good reason to allow the creation of a whole parallel system for scrutinizing regulations just because there are things that have already been done in the past.
View Ève Péclet Profile
NDP (QC)
View Ève Péclet Profile
2015-06-18 11:20 [p.15266]
Mr. Speaker, to answer the member’s question, I refer to section 18.4 in the bill. The exact wording is as follows:
For greater certainty, a document, index, rate or number that is incorporated by reference in a regulation is not required to be transmitted for registration or published in the Canada Gazette by reason only that it is incorporated by reference.
This makes it clear in the law that the incorporation by reference of regulations, either those from other countries or other jurisdictions, will ensure that they will not have to be published. They will not even have to be transmitted for registration. This means that, at that time, the regulation-making authority will not even have to transmit for registration the incorporations that it makes. This is a huge problem.
View Charmaine Borg Profile
NDP (QC)
View Charmaine Borg Profile
2015-06-18 11:21 [p.15266]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague on her analysis of this extremely technical bill. She painted a very good picture of the problems we might face if we pass this bill hastily, particularly since no amendments were agreed to in committee.
I would also like to point out that this bill will be retroactive. It seems to me that we are seeing things that we have never seen before. The government seems to be setting a precedent with Bill C-59, which retroactively authorizes the destruction of the gun registry so that it will not be subject to the Access to Information Act. I am very concerned about the fact that the government realized something was illegal and chose to fix things by retroactively amending legislation. Consider a criminal who commits an offence: he cannot go back in time and change the law to make what he did legal.
I would like the member to comment on that.
View Ève Péclet Profile
NDP (QC)
View Ève Péclet Profile
2015-06-18 11:22 [p.15266]
Mr. Speaker, 50 seconds is not enough time to answer the question, but I will do my best.
The problem here is that anything that has been incorporated by reference in the past, before the passage of Bill S-2, does not have to be published in the Canada Gazette. Those regulations will not be forwarded to be registered and will not necessarily be examined by Parliament.
Accordingly, even if changes have already been made to a regulation through incorporation by reference, passing Bill S-2 will not solve that problem. It will only make matters worse. It will be impossible for us to look at everything that was done in the past. Bill S-2 will not solve the problem that, in the past, that was illegal.
View Joe Comartin Profile
NDP (ON)
View Joe Comartin Profile
2015-06-18 11:43 [p.15268]
Order, please. I am not sure, but I think the parliamentary secretary perhaps thought that I had called for questions and comments. I thought he was standing on a point of order.
I will go back to the member for Winnipeg North, who has about 30 to 35 seconds remaining.
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