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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2019-06-21 14:54 [p.29473]
I have the honour to inform the House that when this House did attend Her Excellency this day in the Senate chamber, Her Excellency the Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:
C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms—Chapter 9.
C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada—Chapter 10.
S-203, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts (ending the captivity of whales and dolphins)—Chapter 11.
C-82, An Act to implement a multilateral convention to implement tax treaty related measures to prevent base erosion and profit shifting—Chapter 12.
C-59, An Act respecting national security matters—Chapter 13.
C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence—Chapter 14.
C-77, An Act to amend the National Defence Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 15.
C-78, An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act—Chapter 16.
C-84, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting)—Chapter 17.
C-58, An Act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 18.
C-88, An Act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 19.
C-93, An Act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis—Chapter 20.
C-102, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020—Chapter 21.
C-101, An Act to amend the Customs Tariff and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act—Chapter 22.
C-91, An Act respecting Indigenous languages—Chapter 23.
C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families—Chapter 24.
C-75, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 25.
C-48, An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia's north coast—Chapter 26.
C-83, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another Act—Chapter 27.
C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 28.
C-97, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2019 and other measures—Chapter 29.
It being 2:55 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, September 16, 2019, at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Orders 28(2) and 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 2:55 p.m.)
The 42nd Parliament was dissolved by Royal Proclamation on September 11, 2019.
Aboriginal languagesAboriginal peoplesAccess for disabled peopleAccess to informationAdjournmentAgriculture, environment and natural res ...British ColumbiaBudget 2019 (March 19, 2019)C-101, An Act to amend the Customs Tarif ...C-102, An Act for granting to Her Majest ...C-48, An Act respecting the regulation o ... ...Show all topics
View Harjit S. Sajjan Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Harjit S. Sajjan Profile
2019-05-15 18:46 [p.27871]
Madam Chair, I see that nothing changes from question period to a committee of the whole, but that is okay. I will continue.
I am pleased to be here alongside the members of our defence team to update everyone on the important work that the Department of National Defence is doing for our women and men in uniform.
Throughout the evening, members will hear about how we are taking care of our people, how we are getting them the equipment they need and how we are supporting a rules-based international order as committed and engaged partners in the world.
Through our yearly departmental funding, we are able to deliver on the commitments we made in our defence policy, strong, secure and engaged, which we launched two years ago. “Strong, Secure, Engaged“ is a rigorously costed and funded transparent vision for the next 20 years of our defence policy.
After the Conservatives spent a decade cutting defence spending, we are increasing it by 70% to ensure that our women and men in uniform have what they need to do the important job we ask of them.
This policy guides how we support our nearly 67,500 regular force members, 29,000 reserve force members and 24,000 civilians. Our Canadian Armed Forces members operate across Canada and around the world. They stand ready to be deployed internationally in the name of Canada's safety and security, and they are always ready to assist Canadians here at home when disaster strikes in their communities, as we have seen this spring. More than 2,500 women and men in uniform answered the call to help those in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick hold back the flood waters and protect their homes. I would ask members to please join me in thanking each and every one of our members, our regular force members and our reserve force members, who help to keep our communities safe.
Our Canadian Armed Forces members contribute so much to our country, and they deserve policies and initiatives that support them through all stages of their careers. Initiatives like seamless Canada, the military spousal employment initiative and tax relief for our members who are deployed on named international operations, will all help to ease the stress on our military families.
Our full-time summer employment for reservists will allow them to gain unique and relevant work experience while learning valuable life and leadership skills that will help them find jobs. ln 2018, 7,200 army reservists from the country participated, and we hope to see that number grow every single year.
Bill C-77 is modernizing the military justice system by expanding the rights of victims to ensure that all voices are heard. I am proud to say that it is being studied at committee in the other chamber. Our sexual assault review program and Operation Honour are two of many efforts to address and eliminate sexual misconduct within the Canadian Armed Forces.
We are building a military that looks like Canada and making sure that all members feel safe and welcome as they defend our rights and freedoms at home and around the world. We have launched the Elsie initiative, which aims to increase the number of women in United Nations peacekeeping operations. We have made recruiting more women into our Canadian Armed Forces a priority, because we want a military that represents Canada. By 2026, we are aiming for 25% of our members to be women. That is not an end goal; it is just a guidepost for us to go to.
We are making progress. ln fact, right now, as part of our air task force in Mali, women make up 14% of Canada's deployed personnel. We will continue these efforts until our Canadian Armed Forces fully reflect Canada's diversity.
Our government is investing in the innovation and procurement that will better equip our women and men in uniform.
Unlike the previous government, which muzzled scientists and cut crucial research funding, we are supporting our people by investing $1.6 billion in innovation through our innovation for defence excellence and security program, or IDEaS, and also the mobilizing insights in defence and security program, which we call MINDS.
Both were created to tap into Canada's best and brightest minds, from individuals and small businesses to those at our world-class colleges and universities. They are helping to support defence innovation, and I am excited to see what comes from them next.
We have also made important progress on many of our capital projects, including our Arctic and offshore patrol ships. The first of our six ships, HMCS Harry DeWolf, is scheduled for delivery this summer. Just last month, I was in Halifax to mark the construction of our fourth ship, HMCS William Hall.
This winter, we announced the official winning design bidder for the biggest defence procurement project in Canadian history, the purchase of 15 Canadian surface combatants. Our future fighter capability project was also launched. The request for proposals will be issued in the coming months.
When we formed government, we recognized that years of underinvestment by the previous Conservative government meant that our air force could not generate enough aircraft to answer our NATO and NORAD obligations at the same time. We laid out a plan to deal with the shortfall, which included securing interim fighter aircraft to supplement our existing fleet of CF-18s, because we have missions to fly. The first two jets arrived in Cold Lake earlier this year, and they will be proudly flying in the Canadian colours soon.
As we work on each of these projects, we are following through on our commitment to greening defence. Regrettably, we are feeling the impacts of climate change, with an unprecedented number of floods and fires both here in Canada and around the world. While the Conservatives continue to ignore the science on climate change and offer no plan to tackle this global challenge, our government is taking action. That is why we have invested more than $165 million in green infrastructure projects since 2017. This investment will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% over the next decade. With each of these initiatives and projects, we are building a modern military that will be flexible enough to address current and future threats.
We are also stepping up on the world stage and equipping our Canadian Armed Forces with what they need to uphold our international commitments and be a valuable partner to our allies. In collaboration with our international partners, we are leading on efforts to prevent the use and recruitment of child soldiers. We launched the Vancouver principles at the United Nations Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial in 2017, and 84 member states have signed on since.
Right now, there are 250 women and men in uniform deployed in Mali as part of the United Nations' stabilization effort, providing life-saving aeromedical evacuations of injured soldiers and civilians, and critical air transport. Up to 780 of our members are involved in Operation Neon, Canada's contribution to a multinational surveillance initiative to counter North Korea's evasion of maritime sanctions. There are 540 Canadian Armed Forces members in Latvia on Operation Reassurance, where Canada leads a multinational battle group as part of NATO's deterrence and defence measures across central and eastern Europe. Two hundred of our Canadian Armed Forces members are helping to demonstrate our unwavering support to Ukraine through Operation Unifier, and upwards of 850 members are stationed in the Middle East on Operation Impact. They include Major-General Dany Fortin, who is commanding the NATO training mission in Iraq. The funds we are requesting in these main estimates would enable us to carry on this vital work and continue to build on our successes.
Beyond this funding, we are requesting $733 million for the Communications Security Establishment, to keep our institutions and Canadian citizens safe.
The $21.9 billion requested in these estimates is a $1.5-billion increase, or 7.4% over the amount we requested last year. It also includes new measures announced in budget 2019, including $18.9 million to help our Canadian Armed Forces members transition out of the military and into post-service life, and $2 million for National Defence to support our government's effort to counter economics-based national security threats. This funding will allow us to continue to pursue ambitious capital projects to provide our members with the best equipment available, and to make sure our infrastructure serves both their needs and the ongoing efforts to operate in an environmentally conscious way.
Canadians expect us to fulfill our commitments with the same transparency and care we have demonstrated over the last four years. We take that responsibility seriously, as we take seriously our responsibility to support our people as they defend this country.
Before I finish, I would like to thank the women and men of our Canadian Armed Forces. They ensure we are strong at home, secure in North America and engaged in the world.
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, each month, on average, the Canadian Armed Forces continue to lose one serving member to death by suicide. This is an epidemic that continues, despite some positive steps toward addressing mental health issues in the forces.
The House had a historic opportunity to address this issue directly earlier this year when we passed Bill C-77, the military justice reform bill. In committee, I proposed an amendment to remove paragraph 98(c) from the National Defence Act, the section which makes self-harm a disciplinary offence under the military code of conduct. Unfortunately, the Liberals defeated my amendment on procedural grounds.
I have reintroduced my proposal to remove paragraph 98(c) as Bill C-426. Soon I will be asking for unanimous consent for passing the bill at all stages in order to make self-harm in the Canadian Forces a health issue instead of a disciplinary matter.
The mere existence of paragraph 98(c) continues to be a barrier for Canadian Forces members seeking the mental health assistance they need and the House has only one more opportunity to fix this. I hope when the time comes, the bill will have the support of all members.
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
View Larry Maguire Profile
2019-02-28 10:27 [p.25890]
Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to continue where I left off last Friday.
Just to recap, Bill C-77, which is before us today, aims to protect victims of military offences by providing needed updates to the current military justice system. Updating the judicial system of the Canadian Armed Forces can be a daunting task, but those in the service commit their lives to defending Canadian values and beliefs, and it is very worthwhile.
Whether on foreign soil or right here at home, they must regularly deal with the high-tension situations they are faced with. Therefore, their decisions and reactions can often be the difference between life and death, or war and peace. The importance of their work cannot be overstated. As such, they hold themselves to a higher standard. The armed forces judicial system is in place to maintain discipline and structure.
I am very proud to say that I represent Canadian Forces Base Shilo, our military base in Brandon—Souris, which is a very important part of our community. Many of us have family, friends and neighbours who serve on the base. They house the First Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery and the Second Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. It is worth repeating that the base is the home station of the Royal Canadian Artillery, as well as to a component of the Western Area Training Centre, 742 Signals Squadron Detachment Shilo and 11 Canadian Forces Health Services Centre. Other supported units include 26 Field Regiment and RCA Brandon's reserve unit.
Westman is awfully proud to be the home of our brave men and women in uniform. They are an essential and prominent part of our community, and have been for many years. Many develop strong ties and settle here when they complete their service and return to civilian life and retirement.
Bill C-77 seeks to align the military's justice system with the Criminal Code of Canada. I am pleased to see that it has built upon Bill C-71, which was presented by our former Conservative government, and seeks to enshrine the rights of victims in the National Defence Act.
The main premise here is common sense, which is that victims of any alleged crime should have the right to feel safe when navigating the judicial system. Therefore, I believe it is our obligation to treat them with compassion and respect, and to provide a secure environment so that they may tell their story. Their testimony is essential in better understanding what has occurred, and it is paramount they be able to provide it without fear of consequences and reprisals.
Victims are often overlooked in criminal proceedings, with most of the emphasis being on the offender. It is important they be given their opportunity to be heard. The system is there to provide justice, not only for the accused but also for the victim.
In this regard, a key feature of the bill is that it strives to provide better protection for both victims and witnesses in military trials. Military communities are often smaller and more tightly knit. This serves to foster a strong sense of solidarity among those in the service. While they can be an exceptional advantage in the field, those strong ties sometimes make it very difficult for victims to speak out against their wrongdoer. Ensuring that due consideration is given to the safety and security of victims would help give them the courage to stand up and speak out against the injustice they have faced. They should be given every opportunity to be involved in the proceedings. At the conclusion of the proceedings, they should emerge fully satisfied that justice has been properly served.
An important part outlined in this bill is that victims have the right to rely on the assistance of others when dealing with the justice system. If victims are incapable of acting on their own behalf, they may depend on their relatives to exercise their rights. Victims can now look to their spouses, parents or dependents to be their representatives during these proceedings, to help them through the difficult times.
The justice system can be intimidating. It encompasses many procedures, rules and regulations. Victims may not always be fully aware of their rights and can easily feel overwhelmed. Giving individuals the opportunity to request a liaison officer to help them navigate the workings of the case should encourage more people to come forward.
We should ensure that these liaison officers are properly trained in order to guarantee that they can provide the most assistance possible. A lack of awareness of their rights or of standard procedure should not prevent people from seeking justice. It is important not only to provide safety to those who have suffered at the hands of others, but we must be able to reinforce their belief in the justice system in order to offer them better peace of mind.
This would be best accomplished by making the process as transparent as possible. I firmly believe that all victims have the right to request information about the military justice system. They have been directly affected by a crime. They deserve to be assured of the fair proceedings of the case. These are people who have been wronged, hurt and betrayed. They need reassurance and evidence that their belief in the justice system is not misplaced. They need to see justice served.
I understand that under certain circumstances there is a need for discretion. The military conducts many sensitive operations, and often information will be classified to ensure the safety of our troops and our civilians. Those cases notwithstanding, I believe, whenever possible, victims should be provided with information concerning their cases. They should feel completely included in those proceedings and not have to plead for the most basic facts. Victims should not have to rely on outside media or gossip to scrounge incomplete information on a case that may have deeply affected them.
The bill would achieve a good balance between aligning with the current military justice system and still supporting victims within that system. The bill is very conscious of the importance of the chain of command within the military, and it makes sure not to impact the system in a manner that would hinder it.
The declaration of victims rights contained in this piece of legislation is careful to describe the specific rights afforded to victims in this situation without creating any barriers that might impede the system. I am aware that circumstances in the military may differ widely from those encountered in civilian life, as I have said before. The bill would ensure that the victim's rights are properly represented within the important confines of the current system. It does not interfere with the more unique aspects of the justice system, such as the court martial process or the code of discipline.
With the bill, we are taking a step in the right direction when it comes to defending the rights of victims of military offences. However, there is one area of concern with the current legislation that I would like to speak to. It involves the long-term consequences that minor military offences may have on individuals when they retire from service.
Presently, there are uniquely military offences that do not have a counterpart in the civilian code. Among them are the five minor offences of insubordinate behaviour, quarrels and disturbances, absence without leave, drunkenness and conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline. These are infractions that can only be committed by members of the military, yet they can result in a criminal record in the civilian world.
People found guilty of insubordinate behaviour could retire from the military only to have this offence follow them into civilian life. As Lieutenant-Colonel Jean-Guy Perron said in his testimony to the Standing Committee on National Defence on this topic:
The consequences of having a criminal record are significant. Applying for employment or attempting to cross the Canadian border are but two of the everyday consequences that can have an important impact on a veteran's life. Do we truly wish to burden a veteran with a criminal record, when he or she has committed a service offence, which may have no equivalent in our criminal justice system or in Canadian society?
Imagine trying to look for work after leaving the military, only to be flagged with a criminal record due to being absent without leave. A large portion of veterans seek employment in the security sector, which requires security checks. When it is seen there is a criminal record, getting a job is all but impossible.
It is important to remember that we have a separate justice system in the military for a reason. There are unique circumstances that apply to our forces that require a separate process to properly address it. It would not be fair to our Canadian Forces members that minor offences that occurred in a very unique setting, a setting known to be high stress at times, remain with them and affect their lives long into the future.
Lieutenant-Colonel Jean-Guy Perron went on to provide a recommendation to the committee that stated, “The Criminal Records Act and the [National Defence Act] should be amended to only include service offences that truly warrant the creation of a criminal record.”
Based on his testimony, there was an amendment to Bill C-77 proposed by my fellow Conservative members who sit on the defence committee to address this issue. The amendment put forth would have ensured that those five minor offences I listed would not be given a civil criminal record, no matter the severity of the sentence received. The amendment was flagged to be potentially outside of the scope of the current bill. As such, the committee on national defence did get the opportunity to briefly study the matter, but I would like a more in-depth analysis on the topic.
I mention this because I firmly believe that it is an important issue that should be addressed, and that it would greatly benefit the present members of the House to examine. I wholly encourage members to study this subject, because it is a topic that should be reviewed in the near future so that we can do right by those who dedicate themselves to protecting us.
There is still much that can be done when it comes to providing proper justice to our brave men and women in uniform. The bill before us today would do much to help protect victims of military offences, but we must always strive to do more to help those in our armed forces.
Justice may be blind, but it should not be deaf. By better defining victims rights, we give a voice to those who seek justice. We give them a better platform to stand on and tell their story.
I will be voting in favour of the legislation, as I believe this is a non-partisan issue, and we should all unite to support victims of crimes. It is important we review Bill C-77 and we move it forward, as there are many good things in it, but there are still some things that need to be reviewed.
I hope that there has not been any undue pressure put forward on any of the persons involved in the formation of Bill C-77, considering that the former attorney general was there. We have already seen that undue pressure was put on her in many other areas. This is one situation where I believe that it is not appropriate either.
We need to make sure that we look at the Gladue decision. We are reminded that when sentencing is coming forward in those areas, the Supreme Court requires continuing to look at the situations facing our indigenous persons. We also must remember that there was a resignation that took place by the former attorney general when she was the veterans affairs minister, and also we are reminded that she was the associate minister of national defence at that time.
With that I look forward to questions.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2019-02-28 10:43 [p.25892]
Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague, who covered a lot of ground. However, I would like to go back to the beginning of his speech where he referenced the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. I am not sure if my hon. colleague is aware of this, but the very first soldier who stepped foot in France from Canada came from the Princess Patricia's because they were the first to go over, at the end of 1914.
The first person to step off with the Canadians in France then was Jack Munroe, who had fought Jack Johnson and Jim Jeffries, heavyweight champions of the world and who was famous in Butte, Montana. Mr. Speaker is probably aware of Jack Munroe because he was very famous in Cobalt, where I come from, with the silver rush. He was well known around the world and represented Canada.
Given the storied past of the Princess Patricia's and how the feelings in my region are very strong towards them because of this connection to Jack Munroe and the soldiers who went over, I would like to ask my hon. colleague this. Does he have anything else to add that is really important about the role of that storied regiment in Canada's life?
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
View Larry Maguire Profile
2019-02-28 10:44 [p.25893]
Mr. Speaker, I certainly want to thank my hon. colleague for enlightening us on that whole situation. I was not aware personally that Mr. Munroe was the first person to set foot on soil in those times. However, I appreciate my hon. colleague for bringing that forward.
Second, the battalion of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry has been an integral part of our Canadian military throughout its existence. We are extremely proud to have it as part of our Canadian Armed Forces base in Shilo, which, as mentioned, is extremely integral to residents' lives and the community in Brandon and Shilo, which is about 20 miles east of Brandon, as well as the whole rural area around that community.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-02-28 10:45 [p.25893]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate a number of the comments that my colleague made across the way. One of the things that I would not mind getting his thoughts on is the importance of ultimately passing the legislation through.
The former prime minister did do the legislation in good part, so I am expecting that we will get fairly good support coming from all members of the House. Given the significance of trying to have this put into place, I wonder if my hon. colleague could provide his thoughts on how the principles of this legislation will be for the betterment of our Canadian Forces and, in fact, of society. This is legislation that should, as much as possible, be allowed to continue through so that we can ultimately see it pass.
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
View Larry Maguire Profile
2019-02-28 10:46 [p.25893]
Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague for Winnipeg North's question is allowing me to comment on the bill again. As he heard in my speech, I will be voting for Bill C-77. I believe it is a bill that is following the former Conservative Bill C-71. We will be moving it forward and I certainly will be supporting it.
However, there are still situations that need to be looked at, as I outlined. We need to make sure that we are looking at exactly which areas of military law are carried forward into civilian law, as I pointed out earlier. I will be looking forward to seeing some of those changes, if possible, as well.
View Cheryl Gallant Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, toward the end of my hon. colleague's speech he mentioned that the recently resigned minister of veterans affairs and former attorney general would have had some knowledge of different cases.
Given that there is another trial related to military justice going on at the same time and considering what we heard last night in that the former attorney general was being pressured to have a deferred prosecution agreement with a Liberal-connected company, do you think she was also pressured to ensure that Vice- Admiral Norman was prosecuted?
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
View Larry Maguire Profile
2019-02-28 10:48 [p.25893]
Mr. Speaker, that is a very important question. I do believe there was interference, according to the testimony of the former attorney general and former veterans affairs minister last evening with respect to the prosecutorial area of the SNC-Lavalin situation.
However, what I am referring to is what the member was talking about with those other cases before us. The former attorney general was not allowed to speak to those areas, so that is still something we need to have answers to as well. We need her to come and testify in regards to some of those areas. Perhaps the government could answer those questions, but the Liberals were trying to withhold information in that case as well. Even though the government released some information, there may be other parts to it that we do not know about yet and the former attorney general has been told she is not allowed to speak to those areas either.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-02-28 10:50 [p.25893]
Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise in the House to provide some of my thoughts and comments.
Over the last few years, I have witnessed a different approach to Canada's military, a positive approach. I want to take a more holistic approach in my address on this legislation. This is an important bill and opposition members have recognized that fact. They too feel this is good legislation.
The bill has gone through first and second reading, through committee stage and report stage. We are now into the third and final aspect of its passage, and that is a good thing.
Bill C-77 is long overdue. It proposes to make our military justice system a bit more in sync with our civil system. There is fairly universal support for the government in advancing the legislation in order to accomplish that.
I had the good fortune to serve in the Canadian Forces for a few years. Even though I never experienced it directly, indirectly I got a sense of military justice and the justice regime. I can recall first-hand during my boot camp days the supervisor, or the master corporal in this situation, telling us what our obligations were.
In the military justice world one has an obligation to show up when asked to show up. When members of the forces are scheduled to do something, they best be there unless they have some sort of medical condition or have a very good reason for not showing up. If a member is scheduled to be on duty, he or she is expected to be there. That does not necessarily apply with the same sort of weight in civilian life.
The previous speaker made reference to the idea of being absent without leave. An important part of the training that was instilled in me and thousands of others as we went through boot camp was that there was a difference between military life and civilian life. One of the issues highlighted with respect to that was the idea of the military's ability to provide discipline to ensure its members would be where they were supposed to be. When I reflect on that today, I understand the importance of that.
Serving in the military is very unique. It is an absolute honour and privilege. As a member of Parliament, as well as in my days as a member of a legislative assembly, I have always, without exception, acknowledged the fine work the women and men in our forces do, whether it is the air force, the special units, the navy or military. I appreciate and value their contributions to our society in both current and past military actions protecting Canadians. Whether in peace missions or fighting the mighty Red River when it has overflowed, our military plays a critical and vital role with respect to our country. We will always be there for our military.
Even though we have only been in government for a little over three years, we have not only talked about taking action, but has also delivered on a number of different fronts.
What we are debating today is just one aspect of that. It is about military justice.
Let me go back to the training I received. When we were told that we had to show up, that we had to be somewhere, the consequence of not being there could lead to a court-martial and a criminal record. Even though there might be a reason, a relatively weak reason at times, for an individual not being where he or she was supposed to be, it would potentially lead to a criminal record.
I believe, as I would have believed back then, that this is not necessarily a fair consequence in all situations. That is why it is a good that the legislation brings the consequences more into line with what happens in civilian life. For example, now much more discretion will be allowed if someone is found to have been AWOL or has not shown up where he or she needs to be at a specific time. This does not mean the individual will receive a court martial. The same threat level is no longer there.
Members of the forces are incredible individuals, with a very strong sense of commitment to duty and country. Ultimately this will have a minor impact with respect to service to country, yet can have a very positive impact on what happens when someone from the military retires.
As we have heard from other speakers, when members of the Canadian Forces decide to retire or have the opportunity to retire, whatever the circumstances might be, we want those members to have the opportunity to continue with successful employment into the future. Having a criminal record has a negative impact on the ability of service members or former service members to get employment for which they are eligible. It is not fair that members of the forces would receive a criminal record for a charge that someone in the civilian sector would not receive. In part, I believe that is why we see good support for the legislation from members of the opposition. We recognize that we can do more to reform our laws that would allow that kind of an issue to be resolved positively.
Insubordination is another example. In civilian life insubordination is treated quite differently than it is in the military. The legislation would also deal with that. This is an opportunity to look at good legislation that advances our Canadian Forces in a positive direction and to get behind it.
One encouraging issue in Bill C-77 is that we would ensure indigenous sentencing provisions would be taken into consideration. This has been taking place within our civilian population. This is different from what the previous government proposed. We need to understand and appreciate that the indigenous factor needs to be taken into consideration. We see that in our civil court system and it has proven to be successful. Therefore, I am glad to see that in this legislation.
There is something we often talk about in the House in regard to legislation on criminal matters. We often hear about the importance of victims and protecting or enhancing the rights of victims. It pleases me that we would establish something new with this legislation within the law on military justice, and that is a declaration of victims rights. That is long overdue. I am glad that we have a government that has incorporated into the legislation respect for victims rights.
What does that mean? It would allow, for example, the right to have information. It would also allow a right to protection. Equally important is participation in the process. Where it is possible, restitution would be of critical importance.
I had the opportunity to serve as chair of a youth justice committee. One of the more progressive changes we started to see at the tail end, before I actually had to leave the committee a number of years back, was the idea of restitution, or restorative justice. As much as possible, that is a wonderful tool that needs to at least be considered. When we think of victims and the idea of restorative justice, we need to incorporate victims whenever we can. It really makes a difference for victims.
I would like to give an example of what that sort of justice means to victims. A victim subjected to an offence is afforded the opportunity to participate by sitting down with the perpetrator and assisting in developing the consequence for that behaviour. At the level of a youth justice committee, dealing with young offenders under the age of 18, I had the opportunity to witness that on a couple of occasions. I was very encouraged by it. The victim was better able to get an appreciation of what had taken place and at the same time feel that the impact on the victim was taken into consideration.
With respect to other aspects of the legislation, it says the following:
It amends Part III of the National Defence Act to, among other things,
(a) specify the purpose of the Code of Service Discipline and the fundamental purpose of imposing sanctions at summary hearings.
This legislation would ensure that there is a quicker processing of justice. It would also “protect the privacy and security of victims and witnesses in proceedings involving certain sexual offences”.
Many Canadians who follow debates in the House might not be familiar with the fact that there is a civilian system of justice and a military justice system. Something I discovered in the discussions on this legislation was that in certain situations, a military person who commits an offence will go through the civilian justice system as opposed to the military justice system. An example is in regard to sexual assault. In certain situations, there is discretion in our system to enable civilian courts to deal with military personnel who are convicted of committing an offence.
I mentioned that I served in the military. I served in Edmonton, in air traffic control, as an assistant at the time, working out of Lancaster Park. Just south of Lancaster Park, in Griesbach, there was a military detention centre on the base. It was somewhat new to me, but people being held in custody for a sentence of more than two years would go to a federal facility for civilians. For any sentence under two years, offenders would be detained, in part, in military facilities.
The legislation would include the following:
(d) make testimonial aids more accessible to vulnerable witnesses;
(e) allow witnesses to testify using a pseudonym in appropriate cases;
(f) on application, make publication bans for victims under the age of 18 mandatory;
(g) In certain circumstances, require a military judge to inquire of the prosecutor if reasonable steps have been taken to inform the victims of any plea agreement entered into by the accused and the prosecutor.
The legislation again highlights the importance of victims rights:
(i) provide for different ways of presenting victim impact statements;
(j) allow for military impact statements and community impact statements to be considered in all service offences;
(k) provide...that particular attention should be given to the circumstances of Aboriginal offenders;
As I indicated earlier, that is completely new to the legislation, and I believe it has fairly good support on both sides of the House.
The legislation would also,
(m) provide for a scale of sanctions in respect of service infractions and for the principles applicable to those sanctions;
(n) provide for a six-month limitation period in respect of summary hearings;
As I said, this legislation has some new aspects that would further enhance what was introduced in the House a number of years ago. Members across the way appear to recognize the value of the legislation, and I hope they will allow it to go to the next step, which is the Senate.
The modernization of our military law is a positive thing, and it is part of a holistic approach this government is taking in being there for the Canadian men and women who serve in our forces. I am thankful for the opportunity to share some thoughts on the matter.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2019-02-28 11:11 [p.25895]
Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague, and I thank him for his service to our country.
I am concerned and interested in the role we have regarding justice within the military for victims, particularly victims of violence.
There is a code in the military of sticking together. A former veteran told me that he was the victim of a horrific assault 25 years ago by some of his fellow soldiers in his platoon. He was deeply ashamed. He also felt that he had failed his regiment and failed Canada because he was the victim of violence. He did not know how to even respond to this, yet he was the victim and had done nothing wrong.
There needs to be a process so that victims feel that if they are subject to that kind of intimidation and violence, they can come forward in a credible manner and have those cases adjudicated fairly. If people are using violence against fellow soldiers, it needs to be dealt with in an appropriate manner.
What in this bill would start to address those issues so that we can have a fair system of justice and people can come forward and testify?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-02-28 11:12 [p.25895]
Mr. Speaker, Bill C-77, along with the minister of labour's legislation, Bill C-65, would build on the government's commitment to creating workplaces free from harassment and discrimination within the federal sphere. Let there be no doubt that inappropriate behaviour of that nature is inexcusable, and we encourage members of the Canadian Forces to raise it with their supervisors or through the mechanisms that have been put in place.
When we talk about the military, and I reference boot camps, team building is really important. When we would go out and do an exercise, it would not be complete until the last person had completed that particular exercise. For example, if we were going for a jog, it might be the person at the front who would go to the back to encourage the person at the back to continue. That person would help motivate that particular individual.
When people first start in the military, there is a great deal of discussion about being there for their teammates. Having said that, there is unacceptable behaviour. When people are witnessing unacceptable behaviour, there is an obligation to report it, because we want all work environments to be harassment free.
View Cheryl Gallant Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, further to the comment and question that just transpired, I am wondering what the hon. member across the way would say to the current state of Operation HONOUR, given that the Prime Minister himself has not acted appropriately and in the way our soldiers are expected to act. The Prime Minister of Canada was accused of groping and then said that the person experienced it differently than he did. How are our soldiers to react and know to behave in the manner we have outlined, when the very head of the government is guilty of the same thing?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-02-28 11:15 [p.25896]
Mr. Speaker, virtually from day one when the Conservatives assumed the opposition benches, they have been solely focused on the character assassination of the Prime Minister and ministers of this government. I do not want to participate in that. We have a positive piece of legislation today. As I have indicated, we have a holistic approach to deal with the Canadian Forces and it was not that long ago we had the Canada defence policy, which talked about strong, secure engagement.
This is a government that truly cares about our members who are serving in our Canadian Forces. We are ensuring that they have equipment. We are there to support them in real, tangible ways and once they retire, they know we will be there for them. Examples of that are many. One that comes to my mind is the reopening of the veterans offices, and also the hundreds of millions going into the billions of dollars that we have committed to our members in the Canadian Forces, either directly or indirectly through investments.
Today, we are modernizing the military justice system so that members who are serving can get a better sense that the consequences for things such as not showing up are not going to be unduly unfair, which I believe will be well received among our Canadian Forces.
If there were a message that I could send to members of our forces, in fact all Canadians, it is that we have a Prime Minister and a government that is absolutely committed to continuing to focus on what Canadians want us to do. In this situation, it is about building a healthier and stronger Canadian Forces.
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