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Results: 1 - 15 of 256
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2015-06-09 15:56 [p.14823]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak at report stage. I understand I am speaking to my amendments that were the deletion amendments and that substantive amendments that I put forward still await a ruling.
As I have the floor now, just in brief response to the point made by the government House leader that he was somewhat caught unaware by my point of order, I have checked with my staff on the number of times the government House leader has risen on points of order directed at restricting my rights as a member of Parliament. I have not received any advance notice from the government House leader. Not that I was in any way suggesting tit-for-tat, but I did not realize it was a convention in this place to give the government House leader more notice of my points of order than he has ever given me.
Turning to the substance of Bill C-59, I appreciate the remarks from my friend from Skeena—Bulkley Valley. The substance of the bill needs to be put forward again clearly that this is an omnibus budget bill once again.
This is an omnibus budget bill that amends 20 different Canadian laws. These are 20 completely different things.
Therefore, there is no single unified purpose, which is the underlying principle of why we would ever have omnibus legislation in this country. Under this administration, the use of omnibus budget bills is unprecedented in Canadian parliamentary history, as is the use of time allocation. We have never had any other administration ever put forward so much legislation through the form of omnibus budget bills with sections that are unrelated to each other and equally unrelated to the budget.
This one is not as lengthy as others. Certainly, Bill C-38 had over 400 pages and was followed by Bill C-45 at over 400 pages. In earlier times, when the Conservatives were a minority, they brought forward 800 pages of omnibus budget legislation in 2008. I think it was over 900 pages in 2009. In terms of page length, this one is just under 160 pages. It is less lengthy but no less complex than previous omnibus budget bills. As a result, it has had inadequate study. It was pushed through committee and pushed through this place, with time allocation at every stage.
In looking at it in any level of detail, I think it is worth reviewing with other members of this House because we have had so little time to study it, how many different sections of laws are affected by this.
It affects parliamentary precinct security. That is one thing I want to return to because it is a fundamental and very important constitutional question of who is in charge of security in this place.
It changes the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, PIPEDA.
It makes amendments to the First Nations Fiscal Management Act, a good piece of legislation that we had been waiting for for some time, which really deserves its own care and attention through this place.
It makes changes to the Trust and Loan Companies Act.
It makes changes to the Public Service Labour Relations Act, which are quite egregious in that they pre-empt collective bargaining. I will stop at this point to say that this pre-empts collective bargaining to make changes to sick leave provisions for our very hard-working federal civil servants.
The changes that would occur to the National Energy Board Act would change the maximum duration of licences for the exportation of natural gas issued under the NEB Act.
It goes on and on in terms of the number of distinct and different pieces of legislation, none with a relation to each other, none receiving adequate study.
I will add one anecdote. I presented amendments at committee on a previous omnibus budget bill. It was not until I presented the amendments that the committee realized that there had been no witnesses on that particular section. None of the committee members remembered having read it, so my amendments could not be adequately discussed because nobody really knew about that section of the omnibus bill. There were just too many sections to give it adequate care and attention.
Let me just touch on some of the ones that are concerning.
I certainly was concerned to see the changes to the Copyright Act. These are changes that benefit the music industry, particularly the large U.S. companies, not the songwriters and not the musicians of Canada, by changing the copyright for a song recording from 50 to 70 years.
There are also changes in division 9. I mention these briefly but without describing them. The natural gas exportation licence would be extended to 40 years, up from 25. That is quite a significant change. It was opposed in committee by the witnesses from West Coast Environmental Law. I will just quote from their testimony. They said:
It is quite possible that something thought to be a good idea today may not, in 25 years' time, with the advent of climate change, economic shifts, an increasingly harmed environment, and other potentially unforeseen alterations in the landscape...
be considered a good idea in four years' time. These are significant changes that did not receive enough study.
We heard from the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, and I completely agree, about the precarious nature of interns working in the federal civil service. All parties have at various times said that they want to do something to ensure that unpaid internships and student work within the government are protected properly. The access is going to go in that direction, but as a submission from the Canadian Intern Association made clear, much more needs to be done if these workers are not to be exploited in the system.
Given the time I have at the moment, I will move on to other areas of the bill that really should have had greater study. The biometrics piece is one that came out with witness testimony at the very last minute. It was actually on the morning that we moved to clause-by-clause. We realized how sweeping the changes are in terms of collecting biometric information. They might even apply to people who want to come here as tourists, given the changes that were made in the fall of 2012 in Bill C-45. For people seeking to come here on vacation, if they are not in a country that requires a visa, these potential tourists would also have to apply to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration for permission to come to Canada. The sweeping nature of the changes under biometrics information could apply to tourists, even though I do not believe that that is the government's intent.
Let me just make sure that in the three minutes remaining, I concentrate on the two most egregious changes in Bill C-59.
I mentioned earlier the change in security in the parliamentary precinct. There could not be a more serious issue for those of us assembled in this place. We had the attack and the tragic murder of Nathan Cirillo on October 22, 2014, and what could have been a far more devastating tragedy had the security team of the House of Commons, the RCMP, and the Ottawa Police had not acted as they did and ended that crisis.
The conclusion being reached that we need a unified security team is exactly right. We do need to ensure that the outside grounds and the inside of Parliament are all protected by people who are in one unified system. The large question, and one that has been rushed through this place without adequate study, is which of the security agencies should be in control. It is deeply embedded in parliamentary tradition. The first reference to this that I could find goes back to the year 1500. It is deeply embedded in parliamentary tradition that you, Mr. Speaker, are the person, the entity and the office that protects the security of the members here.
A change to give control to the RCMP, which ultimately reports to the Prime Minister or to the executive part of government, is a fundamental change that is unconstitutional. However, because of the privileges that surround Parliament itself, it is unlikely that we will ever be able to challenge this in a court.
It should not be rushed through this place. It is a fundamental change in the relationship between the Speaker, the members of Parliament who look to the Speaker for the protection of their rights, and the risk of an abuse of that authority to impede access to this place, based on party membership. I am not going to suggest that it exists with any particular prime minister. There is a significant risk that remains for potential future prime ministers if we do not change this.
The last point I want to raise is best expressed in the words of the Information Commissioner of Canada about the changes to undo laws in effect. She said:
These proposed changes would retroactively quash Canadians’ right of access and the government’s obligations under the Access to Information Act. It will effectively erase history.
...[it] is not an attempt to close a loophole; but rather it is an attempt to create a black hole.
Such changes should not be allowed in any democracy. Bill C-59 should therefore be defeated.
View Joe Preston Profile
CPC (ON)
View Joe Preston Profile
2015-03-26 10:04 [p.12339]
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 34th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs concerning the question of privilege regarding the free movement of members within the parliamentary precinct.
View Peter Van Loan Profile
CPC (ON)
View Peter Van Loan Profile
2015-02-16 15:15 [p.11225]
Mr. Speaker, in relation to consideration of Government Business No. 14, I move:
That the debate be not further adjourned.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Peter Julian Profile
2015-02-16 15:15 [p.11225]
Mr. Speaker, we are now looking at the 87th time, nearly 100 times, that the government has imposed closure or time allocation. However, on this particular motion, we certainly understand why.
As the government surprised us with this motion a week and a half ago, not giving due consideration, not even allowing members of caucus to actually have a discussion prior to the motion being dumped in the House, we found out three things.
First of all, and this is extremely important, the heroes of October 22 are the Senate and House of Commons security guards who performed so bravely, and with such incredible courage, on the day when we had the incident of the man running into the House of Commons. At that time, as members know, the whole country was willing to call them heroes. What the Conservative government is doing with Motion No. 14 is actually demoting them, if members can believe that. They would be demoted for their bravery and courage.
The second thing that has come out in the brief debate of only a few hours that we have had on this issue is that the RCMP is far from ready to take over Hill security. It came out in the The Globe and Mail, which reported that the RCMP commissioner said that there is still so much work to do.
Third, of course, which is extremely important, comes from the Commons Protective Service, the women and men in uniform who protect us every day and have showed such courage and bravery, who said that the government's position is as follows:
an indefensible and dangerous interference of government into the independence of the legislative function, as well as a solid breach into one of the foundational pillars of our democratic system: the principle of separation of powers.
Is the real reason that the government is doing this because as the facts come out the public is opposed to this initiative that comes from the Prime Minister's Office?
View John Duncan Profile
CPC (BC)
View John Duncan Profile
2015-02-16 15:17 [p.11225]
Mr. Speaker, as usual, we are once again watching the politics of division coming from the House leader of the official opposition.
This is a situation where we would have an integrated security unit, which would consist of both parliamentary security personnel and the RCMP. This is something that was called for as long ago as the Auditor General's report of 2009. It has been thoroughly discussed many times. The only reason we have not had it in place is because we did not have a catalytic moment. We certainly had a catalytic moment on October 22, 2014.
The Auditor General's report from June of 2012 expected this integrated security unit to be in place by 2015. It is 2015. It is long overdue.
The motion calls for the coordination of the new responsibilities and roles to be through the Speakers' offices. The Speakers are the ones who would ensure that the parliamentary separation of powers and so on would be maintained. It is not the RCMP who would be in charge. It will be the Speakers and Parliament.
With that, I think I have answered the questions more than once. The same questions keep coming up, but this is an absolutely essential thing to do.
View Mauril Bélanger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mauril Bélanger Profile
2015-02-16 15:20 [p.11225]
Mr. Speaker, when I was on that side of the House as chief government whip and deputy House leader, we had requests from the official opposition and the third party not to introduce a motion to put time allocation on a debate until the respective caucuses had a chance to discuss the matter in their caucus meetings.
This came up on the last Friday that the House sat, and today we are asked to end the debate without the caucuses having had a chance to discuss this very important matter. My question for the chief government whip is, why would he not respect what they asked for when we were on the government side, to allow the different caucuses to have a chance to debate these matters within their own caucuses?
View John Duncan Profile
CPC (BC)
View John Duncan Profile
2015-02-16 15:21 [p.11225]
Mr. Speaker, the whips and the House leaders have been involved in discussions regarding the motion. The motion is a common sense motion that builds in everything needed to be consistent with the recommendations from the Auditor General's report, and other considerations, such as separation of powers.
Therefore, regarding the need for further consultation, based on the fact that we already debated it in the House prior to the one-week recess we just had, it has given everyone ample opportunity to weigh in on the matter, and that it is well in hand.
View Raymond Côté Profile
NDP (QC)
View Raymond Côté Profile
2015-02-16 15:21 [p.11225]
Mr. Speaker, the Chief Government Whip himself admitted that the deadline set out in the Auditor General's report was not respected.
It is rather strange to see the government attempt to limit debate on this topic. If the government had been even remotely thorough, we could have previously held a full debate on this coordination. We could have had a discussion on how the various security forces and the RCMP could be coordinated and have a unified command.
How can the whip claim, two years after the Auditor General's deadline, that we need to cut off debate on this?
View John Duncan Profile
CPC (BC)
View John Duncan Profile
2015-02-16 15:22 [p.11226]
Mr. Speaker, the whole question of an integrated security force was recommended, and the recommended time, not a deadline, to have it in place, was 2015.
There has been no shortage of discussions between the security advisory committees on the House of Commons side and from the Senate side. We have had integration with the House of Commons and Senate security forces, which has been ongoing for some time now. We are moving to the next step.
I would remind the member that this all happened within 24 hours when they were presented with a clear and present danger in Australia. We need to exercise some sense of urgency about moving forward with an absolutely essential measure.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2015-02-16 15:24 [p.11226]
Mr. Speaker, I have to disagree with the hon. Chief Government Whip.
This House was presented with this motion on the last day that we were in session before the constituency break week. There have been no witnesses before this House. In an emergency, it is possible for the government to turn the House into a committee of the whole and bring forward security witnesses.
I am not the least bit comfortable with this motion. I want to know what our former sergeant-at-arms, Kevin Vickers, was saying about it at the time he was appointed away from Canada, in Ireland, and who has not participated in this debate.
The House of Commons security force is equipped, well trained, and has the constitutional and professional track record to be the unified force that takes over control of Parliament Hill. What is being proposed is rushed, potentially unconstitutional, and should not be done under the guise that we have had lots of discussions. We have not. We have not had one single security expert as a witness in this place where we are being asked to vote on something with closure on debate and a completely inadequate sham of a process.
View John Duncan Profile
CPC (BC)
View John Duncan Profile
2015-02-16 15:25 [p.11226]
Mr. Speaker, well, I am not surprised that leader of the Green Party is not happy. However, I would like to say from the get-go that her attempt to continue to put words in the mouth of our former sergeant-at-arms is absolutely and totally inappropriate. It is political theatre and political opportunism on her part.
Second, this is not a rushed exercise. There have been discussions going on for a very long time.
Finally, this is not unconstitutional. The Speaker, in many ways, is the keeper of that very point. I am confident, as are others who have looked at this question, that the motion is absolutely consistent with our constitutional separation.
View David Christopherson Profile
NDP (ON)
View David Christopherson Profile
2015-02-16 15:26 [p.11226]
Mr. Speaker, the government needs to understand that there is a world of difference between the government and Parliament.
We are talking about the security of Parliament, not the security that the government is responsible for. The fact that it would attempt to ram this through without agreement is unacceptable.
I think all of us here accept that we have to act with some urgency. This is not something that can sit on the back burner and have a review of it happen whenever it happens.
I want to add my voice to support the members for Ottawa—Vanier, and Saanich—Gulf Islands. The member for Ottawa—Vanier asked, at the very least, whether we could not stop for a moment to see if we cannot reach an agreement whereby all the members here are comfortable going forward.
This is not a matter of whether we should do something, whether we should combine the two services in terms of security, the other place and here. We all agree with that. That is the easy part. The hard part is who is in control. In this Parliament, and in all parliaments, the separation of government from parliament is superior. We need to ensure that no matter how this is structured that the government at the end of the day does not call the shots, pardon the pun, on what happens vis-à-vis security in Parliament. That is the problem with the government rushing it through.
There is ample time for the government to consult with all members in all caucuses, to ensure that for once something that they say is the right thing, we can actually say is the right thing. The government saying it is not good enough, and it does not address the important parliamentary principles that are stake. There is a separation between the government and the Parliament, and this motion crosses every line. It is unacceptable and fixable, if the government, for once, would just be reasonable and allow others to have their say.
View John Duncan Profile
CPC (BC)
View John Duncan Profile
2015-02-16 15:28 [p.11226]
Mr. Speaker, we do have an integrated security unit and force in the mother Parliament in London, as well as in Australia. They were responding to events, modernizing and doing what is necessary when there is recognition that it could be a place that is targeted. We have a living example of that now. We did not have that in June of 2012.
In the latter part of the motion, it very clearly states:
—as recommended by the Auditor General in his 2012 report and as exists in other peer legislatures; and call on the Speaker, in coordination with his counterpart in the Senate, to invite, without delay, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to lead operational security throughout the Parliamentary precinct and the grounds of Parliament Hill, while respecting the privileges, immunities and powers of the respective Houses, and ensuring the continued employment of our existing and respected Parliamentary Security staff.
We are all aware of the concerns that have been expressed on this subject from all parties and various people, such as the experts who have looked at security on Parliament Hill. This motion respects all of those principles.
View Wayne Marston Profile
NDP (ON)
Mr. Speaker, with due respect to the government side on this issue and the debate we are having, I thought the debate was on closure, not on the bill.
When we have repeated closures in this place on a variety of issues, we do not get the opportunity to offer due diligence. This has happened 87 times in this place. This bill is probably the most significant bill I have seen in the nine years I have been in this place. When we give consideration to the implications, King Charles I of England lost his head for things very similar to this. When that sovereign tried to enter Parliament, ultimately that was the end.
The reality is that we are looking at a position where the source of control of our Parliament, which is supposed to rest with the Speaker, is going to a national police force that is accountable to the government. Therefore, from the standpoint of not debating it, it is the simple fact that we have not had the opportunity to give it proper study. If there is ever a bill that comes before this place that needs proper study, proper airing, anything that could be potentially contrary to our Constitution, the government says that it is not. I am saying that we have not had the opportunity to prove or disprove that.
The government is going way too far on an issue that is of great importance to the House and to Canadians.
View John Duncan Profile
CPC (BC)
View John Duncan Profile
2015-02-16 15:32 [p.11227]
Mr. Speaker, we are not debating a bill; we are debating a motion. This motion does not fetter the Speakers in any way, shape or form. The Speakers would have to negotiate or come up with a memorandum of understanding, a contractual agreement, some kind of agreement that deals with the details of how this is to be derived. That could all happen without this motion. However, this motion brings it to life and expedites it.
If anybody here wants to suggest that we do not have some sense of urgency about moving on, then they are out of step with where the Canadian public is. We have a responsibility in this place to protect much more than ourselves. It is all about the people we invite to this place. The Canadian public and all visitors who come to this place deserve a certain standard of care. That standard of care is something we need to improve. This integrated security exercise is all about that.
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