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View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, the bill has the unprecedented support of parties across this House. It has the support of the environmental non-governmental organizational community, and it has the support of the Nova Scotia government. However, one of my colleagues, who purports to support the environment, is blocking the passage of the bill. I am outraged.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-06-18 11:29 [p.18517]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to add my voice to the debate on Bill S-14, an act to amend the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.
This bills makes six much-needed amendments to the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. First, it would remove the words “for profit” from the definition of business so that bribes involving non-profits and charities are included in the act.
Second, it would increase the maximum sentence of imprisonment applicable to the offence of bribing a foreign public official, from the current maximum of 5 years in jail and unlimited fines, to 14 years in jail and unlimited fines.
Third, it would eliminate the exception contained in the act for what are called “facilitation payments”. These are payments for carrying out acts of a routine nature. That exception would be eliminated.
Fourth, it would create a new offence relating to books and records, and the bribing of a foreign public official or the hiding of that bribery.
Fifth, it would establish nationality jurisdiction that would apply to all of the offences under the act, so that all Canadians, permanent residents, Canadian companies, etcetera, can now be charged for crimes taking place in foreign countries.
Finally, it would designate the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as the agency with the exclusive ability to lay charges associated with the act. This specifically refers to the RCMP international anti-corruption unit.
These changes, as we have already heard, are meant to bring Canada in compliance with the OECD conventions on combatting bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions, which this country ratified in 1998, as well as other international obligations. The Liberal Party will be supporting this bill, as it did through the Senate.
Despite widespread calls for Canada to step up its foreign anti-bribery measures, during the seven years the Conservatives have been in power, they have only begun to deal with the shortcomings of this statute that they propose to fix by this bill.
Bill S-14 updates Canada's anti-corruption laws and puts them in line with Canada's international anti-bribery convention commitments made with the OECD, as well as others made through the United Nations and the Organization of American States. In addition to meeting our commitments to various anti-bribery conventions, Bill S-14 allows Canada to be a country that demonstrates a high level of ethical standards for other countries.
There are important preventative measures that governments should be taking to ensure the RCMP has the resources to successfully investigate cases that are relevant to Bill S-14. A private member's bill, Bill C-474, proposed by the Liberal member for Scarborough—Guildwood, is one such measure, but sadly it is being opposed by the government.
Bill C-474 would attempt to make revenue transparency the norm in resource extraction industries. This transparency would allow for Bill S-14 to be more preventative instead of reactive.
Bill S-14, presently before the House, would result in more prosecutions and convictions for foreign bribery offences. Canada is a bit of a laggard in this regard, even accounting for size differences in population and economy. Canada falls behind, having only prosecuted three cases compared to other major economies. There were 227 cases prosecuted in the United States, 135 in Germany, 35 in Switzerland, 24 in France, 18 in Italy, and 17 in the United Kingdom, as examples.
This bill, as was indicated, would amend the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, which was passed in 1998 and came into effect the next year. Its passage meant that Canada ratified the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. The Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act also implemented Canada's international obligations under the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption. In 2002, there were several technical amendments that were made to the act because of amendments to the relevant sections of the Criminal Code.
The OECD working group on bribery has produced at least three follow-up reports on Canada's progress. The phase 1 report was released in July of 1999, the phase 2 report in March of 2004, and the phase 3 report in 2011. Each one commented on Canada's progress and set out areas where Canada needed to improve to stay on par with its international neighbours.
The phase 1 report, in 1999, was focused on the implementation of the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. It was almost entirely positive. It stated that the working group was of the opinion that the Canadian act met the requirements set by the convention. It did address the issues that might need to be discussed during the phase 2 evaluation in 2004, including the exemption for “acts of a routine nature”, which are the facilitation payments that I referred to earlier; the effectiveness of the penalties, including monetary sanctions; and the lack of the nationality jurisdiction. All of these things that were referenced in that phase 1 report, in July 1999, are now contained in Bill S-14.
Five years later, the recommendations contained in the phase 2 report included the following: giving a coordinating role to one of the agencies responsible for the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act's implementation; reconsidering the subsection 3(4) exemption for facilitation payments, which I referred to earlier; redefining the word “business” in section 2 to include “not for profit”; and reconsidering the decision to not establish nationality jurisdiction for the crime of bribing foreign officials. Again, all of these recommendations from the working group have been included in the provisions of Bill S-14.
In 2008, the RCMP formed an international anti-corruption unit, which became responsible for investigating bribes of foreign officials. It has two seven-man teams, one in Ottawa and one in Calgary, the latter being the centre of Canada's resource extraction industry. They work with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, which does the prosecutions in foreign bribery cases. As of May of this year, there are 35 ongoing foreign bribery investigations. There have been only three convictions against companies in the oil and gas sectors, with fines of $9.5 million and $10.35 million in two of those cases.
As the House is aware, one was the case of Griffiths Energy International, an engineering company that had an inappropriate financial relationship with the wife of the former ambassador from Chad. Another case was Niko Resources, for bribing a Bangladeshi official. SNC-Lavalin, Canada's premier engineering firm, was recently convicted on bribery charges in Bangladesh and has been barred from competing for World Bank contracts for the next decade.
In 2009, an attempt to implement similar changes to those that are in the bill before us today passed at second reading. It was at committee stage when it died, after the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament in December of 2009.
That brings us to the phase 3 report of the OECD working group from a couple of years ago. This report again found problems in several areas. These included only counting bribes for the purpose of gaining a business advantage for profit. These sanctions were not effective, proportionate and dissuasive. The extraterritorial jurisdiction issue, which I mentioned in connection with the nationality jurisdiction, only applies to bribery carried out overseas if there is a real and substantial link to Canadian territory. Considerations of national economic interest, the potential effect upon relations with another state, or the identity of the natural or legal persons involved, are only prohibited if improper.
In 2011, the Transparency International Global Corruption Report noted that Canada fell in the lowest category of countries since it had little or no enforcement in terms of following the OECD bribery standards and was the lowest ranked member of the G7.
As indicated, the measures contained in Bill S-14 are long overdue and are needed to bring Canada in line with its international obligations. They are measures that the Liberals will be supporting.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-06-18 11:42 [p.18519]
Mr. Speaker, I share the concerns expressed by the member. With Canada being such a significant player in the resource extraction industry worldwide, this is a real opportunity not just to meet and to be level with its international obligations, but to lead. An excellent example was just cited with respect to transparency. The private member's bill brought forward by the member for Scarborough—Guildwood would go a long way toward that goal of Canada being an international leader in transparency and ethical conduct.
Often, it is not good enough just to be level. In our case, there is a real opportunity to lead. This is an opportunity that should be seized both with respect to the initiatives that emanated from the G8 and with respect to the initiatives contained in the private member's bill, Bill C-474.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-06-18 11:44 [p.18519]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her question.
This remains a problem. Time and time again, budget cuts are being made to very important services that affect the public. We have here yet another example. These organizations need to have sufficient resources to accomplish essential tasks, such as the ones set out in this report.
Most of the time, there is a lack of consideration. Not enough good ideas are being put forward and not enough effort is being made before budgets are cut.
I absolutely share the concerns expressed by my colleague from the NDP that all too often with this single-minded focus on trying to balance the books as a result of the financial mess that we have been thrust into by the government, we see very important front-line services, very important international obligations, compromised because of some wrong-headed and misguided assessment of priorities.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-06-18 11:46 [p.18519]
Mr. Speaker, I have very high regard for the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, but I need to commence with a correction. I have been in this House exactly the same amount of time as she, having been elected for the first time in May 2011. Because of that relative newness, I cannot speak from a position of experience with regard to whether it is normal or whether it is not normal for bills to be emanating from the Senate.
In my view, this bill is something that has gone partway through the House, but was killed by prorogation. The fact that it is back before us is important. The House has had an opportunity to scrutinize it. It is fair comment that perhaps it is a troubling pattern that there are so many bills emanating from the Senate, but because this one is necessary, I do not think that we should be preoccupied by the manner in which it came before us. It is important to have it here, to get it done and to get Canada on an equal playing field with its allies internationally.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-06-18 11:49 [p.18519]
Mr. Speaker, if I understood correctly, the question pertains to Canada's standing in the world with respect to anti-corruption regulations. Of course, we should be concerned and perhaps even a little bit worried about this.
That is why it is important to adopt the measures set out in the bill. The hon. member has reason to be a bit concerned about Canada's standing, but that is also why she should support the bill. Of course, the bill is not perfect. The bill could and probably needs to be improved, but it is a good start.
View Deepak Obhrai Profile
CPC (AB)
View Deepak Obhrai Profile
2013-06-18 12:15 [p.18523]
Mr. Speaker, I was quite interested to understand that the NDP is going to be supporting the bill. To get the NDP to support any bill that deals with the growth of trade or business is quite welcome by our government, considering its opposition to all trade deals. However, we note also that, as usual, it has its caveats.
What is important is that this is a bill that would make Canadian companies accountable. We are talking about a public registry. Whenever a Canadian company is not accountable and it becomes a public issue, it is a message to other Canadian companies that the government and Canadians are very serious about transparency. That, by itself, would ensure that businesses comply with the legislation.
We are thankful that the NDP will be supporting it. Three convictions have already happened, and the publicity would ensure that Canadian companies will comply with transparency, as expected by all Canadians.
View Deepak Obhrai Profile
CPC (AB)
View Deepak Obhrai Profile
2013-06-18 12:37 [p.18526]
Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the hon. member's response to this bill. Although that party is supporting the bill, I want to tell him quite clearly that this government has provided strong leadership not only around the world but also in Canada, and every given time the NDP opposes it.
The member talked about Canada being named and shamed internationally. The record is that the NDP leader goes overseas and has no shame in condemning Canada. What a pity. What kind of official opposition goes overseas to condemn Canada?
Most importantly, when I raised the point that three companies had been convicted, I received very strong laughter from members on the other side. They may think Canadian companies are corrupt and they may think Canadian companies are bad, but we are confident that Canadian companies are doing well. That we have few convictions for bribery speaks very well for Canada. Those members should not laugh at these things.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-06-18 14:37 [p.18542]
Mr. Speaker, I cannot speak to the details of any ongoing investigation, but I can assure the hon. member that although ECBC is an arm's-length crown corporation, I expect officials to co-operate with any investigation that is ongoing.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-06-18 14:38 [p.18543]
Mr. Speaker, I can assure the hon. member there was no whitewashing of any report.
The Public Service Commission found no evidence of any political interference, which not surprisingly is in stark contrast to a 2006 report on the Liberal phantom job scheme. Maybe the Liberals could talk about that.
View Deepak Obhrai Profile
CPC (AB)
View Deepak Obhrai Profile
2013-06-18 14:41 [p.18543]
Mr. Speaker, our legislation fully implements Canada's commitment to the convention and is in line with our key allies, including Australia and the United Kingdom. The Canadian Forces will make its policy to prohibit its members from using cluster munitions.
This legislation preserves Canada's ability to work alongside our allies.
View Deepak Obhrai Profile
CPC (AB)
View Deepak Obhrai Profile
2013-06-18 14:42 [p.18543]
Mr. Speaker, our government is proud to have participated actively in the negotiations of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. We were one of the first countries to have signed on to the convention in 2008.
The prohibiting cluster munitions act would fully implement Canada's commitment to the convention and would strike a full balance between humanitarian obligations, while preserving our national security and defence interests.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-06-18 14:47 [p.18544]
Mr. Speaker, we cannot speak to the details of any ongoing investigation, but as soon as I became aware of these allegations, I did direct ACOA officials to refer the matter to the Ethics Commissioner.
We do expect ECBC to conduct business with integrity, with accountability and with respect for Canadian taxpayers.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-06-18 14:48 [p.18544]
Mr. Speaker, ACOA is actually busy doing a lot of good work in that member's riding.
What the member is alleging is completely false, and he knows it. The Public Service Commission was very clear in its report. The member obviously has not read that report, which he should do before making all these ridiculous allegations.
We did not write the report, so we could not change something that we did not write.
View Ted Menzies Profile
CPC (AB)
View Ted Menzies Profile
2013-06-18 14:52 [p.18545]
Mr. Speaker, we continue to meet with our provincial counterparts because we share the jurisdiction on the Canada pension plan with them.
That hon. member should understand that the last three times that we met with the provincial finance ministers there was no consensus among those ministers to move forward with any expansion of the Canada pension plan. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business actually encouraged us not to move forward with expanding the Canada pension plan but to move forward with pooled registered pension plans, and that is what we have done.
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