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Results: 1 - 60 of 159
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2019-06-19 21:56 [p.29445]
Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and I think if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the following motion.
I move:
That, notwithstanding any Standing or Special Order or usual practice of the House:
(a) the motion respecting the Senate Amendments to Bill C-91, An Act respecting Indigenous Languages, be deemed adopted;
(b) the motion respecting the Senate Amendments to Bill C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, be deemed adopted;
(c) Bill C-98, An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and the Canada Border Services Agency Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be deemed to have been concurred in at the report stage, and deemed read a third time and passed;
(d) Bill C-101, An Act to amend the Customs Tariff and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act, be deemed to have been concurred in at the report stage, and deemed read a third time and passed on division; and
(e) when the House adjourns on Thursday, June 20, 2019, it shall stand adjourned until Monday, September 16, 2019, provided that, for the purposes of any Standing Order, it shall be deemed to have been adjourned pursuant to Standing Order 28 and be deemed to have sat on Friday, June 21, 2019.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
Before I go to a point of order, I want to remind the member that he may want to correct something. They are not our first nations; they are the indigenous peoples of Canada.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-06-11 21:16 [p.28965]
Madam Speaker, as I said, my family is first nations people. My family is first nations.
View Michael McLeod Profile
Lib. (NT)
View Michael McLeod Profile
2019-06-11 21:16 [p.28965]
Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I take offence to the fact that the member feels that I, as an indigenous person, belong to him. I also take offence to the comment that because the minister is wearing an indigenous scarf, it is offensive. That is totally wrong and unacceptable. I would ask the member to retract those statements.
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-06-11 21:17 [p.28965]
Madam Speaker, I deeply appreciate and respect my hon. colleague, but as someone who has first nations in his family and has hung on the hope that the minister would follow through on some of the promises—
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
The hon. member is getting into debate. He either wants to apologize or he does not.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-06-11 21:17 [p.28965]
Madam Speaker, if you will permit me, I believe I have the opportunity to respond to this. I will apologize and retract what I said, but it is shameful that the minister stands—
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
We do not need additional information. The hon. member either apologizes for what he said or—
An hon. member: He did.
The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes): We will accept that.
The hon. minister.
View Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet Profile
NDP (QC)
View Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet Profile
2019-06-04 12:48 [p.28483]
Mr. Speaker, everyone knows that a budget is always about making choices.
The government is currently making choices by leaving stock option deductions for CEOs in place and subsidizing big oil companies with its pipeline purchase. We are losing billions because of this, while there is a housing crisis going on across the country. The hon. member talked about the crisis in his riding. There is a crisis in my riding too, but it is a hundred times worse in the north, especially in indigenous communities.
The government is putting all sorts of things in the budget, so why did it not take advantage of this latest budget to introduce a targeted housing strategy for indigenous people that includes much-needed funding?
View Randeep Sarai Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Randeep Sarai Profile
2019-06-04 12:49 [p.28483]
Mr. Speaker, I am definitely concerned about housing, especially with respect to indigenous communities and bands. The current housing strategy will benefit thousands of urban aboriginals living in cities. In fact, Surrey is home to one of the largest urban indigenous populations. These measures will help them even more. There is still work to be done. A lot of work is being done on water treatment facilities. No band, no reserve and no place in Canada should have a boil water advisory.
When it comes to indigenous housing, the member is right. The government should and will commit to creating more housing in those communities, so everyone benefits from this great economy.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
2019-06-04 13:08 [p.28485]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today to speak to the 2019 budget. This budget is called “Investing in the Middle Class”. Improving life for middle-class Canadians has been our number one priority since we were elected.
Four years ago, the people of Brampton South elected me to represent them. Since 2015, I have been working in Ottawa to deliver on the promises I made throughout my campaign. Everyone in this House has made a commitment to serve Canadians. This is partly done by investing in initiatives that will boost the quality of life for all Canadians. The budget this year is an example of the opportunities that Canada can provide to Canadians.
Our government's commitment to serve Canadians through investment can be seen in Brampton. In 2016-17, Brampton was given almost $60 million through the gas tax fund, and in 2017-18 we introduced a one-time top-up to the gas tax fund for infrastructure investments. For the 2018-19 fiscal year, Brampton was given over $33 million.
Since November 2015, we have had millions of dollars in federal funding for infrastructure projects that will benefit the city of Brampton. In addition, Brampton will benefit from a federal investment in the GO Transit Metrolinx regional express rail. From the $1.9-billion investment, over $750 million will be invested in the Kitchener corridor to improve commute times for residents of Brampton, Peel, Toronto and Wellington.
People in the middle class deserve a government that recognizes their potential and encourages their growth. I believe that the budget represents our belief in them as it looks toward our promising future. Canadians have put their faith in our government to present new ideas and deliver results. The 2019 budget reflects the needs of families, employees, students and seniors. It is a solid plan to give them a better future.
A better future starts with investing in young people and their education. Students are often kept from pursuing their education because of financial obstacles. The 2019 budget would lower interest rates for students and give them a six-month period to pursue their future plans before gathering interest on loans. The budget also seeks to support students who are parents or have disabilities. It also promotes programs that encourage the enrolment of indigenous students in post-secondary education.
These are just some of the ways in which we advocate for the success of the next generation. Budget 2018 strengthened our economy and ensured a low unemployment rate.
This is also the time to address the climate emergency. Budget 2019 has a strong plan to create eco-friendly solutions while maintaining an affordable lifestyle for Canadians. The budget intends to make zero-emission cars $5,000 cheaper, as well as encouraging their building. The creation of a home retrofit program will lower electricity and energy bills for Canadians.
We have been fighting climate impact since 2015. We have invested $1.5 million in Brampton under Public Safety Canada's national disaster mitigation program for the riverwalk study. We committed $175,000 for an environmental assessment strategic plan and sustainability framework for it as well. We have also committed $10 million for 10 water projects in Brampton and $22 million in funding for erosion protection initiatives in the Toronto, Peel and York regions.
Thinking of the future generations also includes supporting new families. An issue we see come up again and again is the struggle for young families to invest in long-term housing. The 2019 budget introduced the first-time homebuyer incentive, which would encourage home ownership by making housing cheaper. The incentive would help thousands of first-time homebuyers over the next three years. Budget 2019 also makes plans to build 42,000 new rental housing units, as well as to provide $300 million to begin the housing supply challenge. Through these changes, we are promoting happy homes without unnecessary costs.
Access to affordable housing is essential to promote the security and well-being of all Canadians. When Canadians are provided with a comfortable home life, it is easier for them to do well in the workplace. So far, we have been successful.
However, because our workforce and economy are continuously growing, employees can be left without access to training that improves their professional skills in their present and future jobs. The 2019 budget introduced the Canada training benefit program, which would give working Canadians better and more consistent skills training, financial aid to pay for the training, employment insurance support and job security. This is the next phase in our plan to strengthen the middle class.
While the middle class flourishes, there is still a percentage that has been left behind. Without quality health care, Canadians face some of the highest drug prices, leaving them unable to afford the prescriptions they need. No one should have to choose between buying the medicine they need or putting food on their table.
I am proud to be a member of the health committee, where I helped study the development of a national pharmacare program. We then made 18 recommendations to the government through the report “Pharmacare Now: Prescription Medicine Coverage for All Canadians”. I am proud to see the government acting on the report.
Budget 2019 aims to make prescriptions more affordable by announcing plans for the Canadian drug agency, which will work to lower prescription costs. The Canadian drug agency will connect all provinces and territories, giving them access to prescriptions. Through this plan, Canadians will save $3 billion each year.
With less time spent worrying about their health, housing and job security, Canadians will have more time to focus on the things they care about. For many, this involves becoming more involved in their communities.
Infrastructure funding is necessary to get ahead with local and municipal governments, which is why we are investing an additional $2.2 billion into infrastructure funding, especially under the circumstances where certain provincial governments have not been doing their part. Budget 2019 recognizes that advances in public transit, housing and community facilities make all the difference.
Local projects and community services are at the heart of Canadian society. Included in these services are locally based projects that encourage seniors to be active members of the community. Seniors have made significant contributions in these areas and are now more than ever capable and interested in participating.
Budget 2019 aims to maintain the guaranteed income supplement to ensure seniors get the most out of their retirement. It also takes direct action to protect their pensions by automatically registering seniors who are 70 or older but have not applied yet to receive their retirement benefits with the Canada pension plan. This will help tens of thousands of seniors across Canada.
Our budget also supports pay transparency, something our government has pushed for relentlessly. These measures will make it easier for our government to look at wage gaps and begin to solve them. This will help improve the status of women further. We know that when women make only 87¢ on the $1 compared to men, something is wrong.
Several countries, including the United Kingdom and Germany, have pay transparency measures. Canada needs to join these countries in making wages available for public view. When we can inspire employers to act on unfair wage gaps, we will improve the status of women all over Canada. This is not only the responsible thing to do, but it is morally right.
Budget 2019 is not just a list of numbers, names and affected demographics. It is a detailed plan of action, which can lead Canada into a better and brighter future. By investing in the middle class, we invest in all Canadians. This budget represents what our nation's focus should be. Informed, careful and planned budgeting is what will lead to Canada's prosperity.
I urge my fellow members to support the budget.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-06-04 13:23 [p.28487]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address some of the failings of the Liberal government over the last four years and reflect upon just how disastrous it has been.
The heckling continues over there. The Liberals never miss an opportunity to get some good heckling in. Our colleagues across the way are chirping loud and doing all they can to throw us off. However, it will not work. I have been chirped at by the best and they definitely are not the best.
I rise today to talk to Bill C-97, the budget implementation act. Essentially, it is an extension of the government's attempt to cover up what could be actually the biggest affront to our democracy in our country's history. It has attempted to cover up potentially the biggest corruption at the highest levels of our government, and that is the SNC-Lavalin case. That is what we are seeing here today. I bring us back to that again because I feel I have to. The gallery is packed. I know Canadians from coast to coast to coast knew this speaker was coming up.
I would be remiss if I did not remind Canadians from all across our country that it was day 10 of the 2015 election when the then member of Papineau committed to Canadians that under his government, he would let the debate reign. He said that he would not resort to parliamentary tricks such as omnibus bills or closure of debate. He also told Canadians around that same time that he would balance the budget in 2019. Those are three giant “oops”, perhaps disingenuous comments. I do not think he has lived up to any of them at this point.
As of today, the government has invoked closure over 70 times. Why? Because the government does not like what it is hearing. If the Liberals do not like what the opposition is saying and they do not want Canadians to hear the truth, they invoke closure. This means we cannot debate really important legislation. They limit the amount of time for debate on that legislation. The BIA, Bill C-97, is just one of them. Does that sound like letting the debate reign? It does not.
It is interesting that whenever things go sideways for the Prime Minister, a couple of things happen. We see him even less in the House or something always happens to change the channel. That is what we have today.
Bill C-97 is really just a cover-up budget. We have talked about that. It just goes in line with more and more of the government's kinds of wacky ways, where it says it will spend money and perhaps it doles it out. However, the money is not really going to things that Canadians need the most.
We see $600 million in an election year being given to the media, a media that is supposed to be impartial. That is a $600 million bailout.
We also know that in the previous budget, approximately $500 million was given to the Asian Infrastructure Bank. That $500 million is not being spent in Canada for one piece of an infrastructure.
I rose to talk about a few things. One of the things that is really disappointing for me is this. When the Liberals came to power in 2015, a lot of promises were made, and this one hits home for us. I have brought this up time and again in the House. The Liberals said that they would put an end to the softwood lumber dispute.
I think it was in 2016 that the Prime Minister stood in the House and told Canadians that he was going to have a deal done within 100 days. He had a new BFF, the Minister of International Trade Diversification said. Both were just giddy. They were going to get this deal done and put an end to the softwood lumber irritant once and for all, yet last week, we found out from the Senate Liberal leader that the Prime Minister had other priorities ahead of softwood lumber.
Over 140 communities and over 140,000 jobs are tied to forestry in my province of British Columbia. Forestry is a cornerstone industry in my province, yet it was not a priority for the Prime Minister in renegotiating his NAFTA deal.
What we are seeing with the Liberal government is that rural Canadians are just not its focus.
Last week I also met with some real estate folks and some Canadian homebuilder folks. They told me that the Liberal government's B-20 stress test and the shared equity program, which is geared toward trying to get Canadians into homes, is actually hurting that industry. The real estate industry is saying that the B-20 stress test, which was geared more for Toronto and Vancouver markets but is all across the country, impacts rural Canadians negatively .
Almost $15 billion has been kept out of that industry, meaning that it is harder for Canadians to get into the home ownership they strive for. It is a step into the middle class. People put money toward something they own rather than putting it into something that someone else owns. The government's failed B-20 policy and the shared equity program is hurting Canadians. It is another example of how Canadians are worse off with the Liberal government.
I will bring us to a couple of years ago. The Prime Minister, the Minister of Veterans Affairs and the Minister of National Defence all have it down pat. They can put their hands on their hearts and say that they really care, yet it is the same Prime Minister who told veterans that they were asking for too much.
Yesterday was a very important day, because we saw the closure of the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls commission and we saw its report. The government knew that this day was coming, but did it put any money in the 2019 budget for that? There is nothing.
The Liberals like to say that Canadians are better off than they were under our previous Conservative administration, but it is actually the opposite. Canadians are worse off since the Liberal government took over. Eighty-one per cent of middle-income Canadians are seeing higher taxes since the Liberal government came to power. The average income increase for middle income families is $840. The government's higher pension plan premiums could eventually cost Canadians up to $2,200 per household. The Liberals cancelled the family tax cut of up to $2,000 per household. They cancelled the arts and fitness tax credit of up to $225 per child. They cancelled the education and textbook tax credits of up to $560 per student. The government's higher employment insurance premiums are up $85 per worker. The Liberal carbon tax could cost up to $1,000 per household and be as high as $5,000 in the future.
The Prime Minister called small businesses tax cheats. The government's intrusive tax measures for small businesses will raise taxes on thousands of family businesses across Canada.
The list goes on and on. Bill C-97 is just the capping of a scandal-ridden administration, and to that, I say, good riddance.
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to stand in the House tonight to speak to this important budget, budget 2019.
As members and Canadians know, the economy has been moving very quickly and successfully. Canadians have created over one million jobs since 2015, and over 110,000 jobs in the last month alone. That is extremely impressive.
We have also seen, with our investment of the Canada child benefit, that we lifted over 300,000 Canadians out of poverty. That is another very important signal of success that we have moved forward on for our economy. As well, we have seen and are seeing the lowest unemployment rate in 45 years. When we took office here, the unemployment rate was at 7.1%. It is now at 5.7% to 5.8%. That is a strong indication of how strong our economy is moving forward. That is because of the budgets and investments we have made over the last four years. This budget is a continuation of that philosophy.
I want to talk about veterans. As members know, I have the largest number of veterans in Nova Scotia and Nova Scotia has the highest number in the country per capita. We have made some big investments over the last three and a half years for veterans, of over $10 billion. Even in this budget, we have again made some major steps forward.
The first budget was on transition. We have been working hard to find a seamless approach with a joint committee between DND and Veterans Affairs. It is in place and we are seeing some very positive steps forward in that area. However, we were only focusing that transition on ill and disabled veterans. Now we have included, in this bill, non-ill veterans, which is another very important factor.
We have enhanced the education and training benefit for veterans, which is $40,000 for six years of service or $80,000 for 12 years. We have now added the reservists to the list of those who can benefit from those programs. Those are very big steps that the veterans community was asking for and that we were able to put forward.
The other investment is the veterans survivor fund. Prior to this budget, the benefits and pensions of veterans who got married after the age of 60 would not be moved over to their spouse or partner. We made sure that we would bring forward investments to correct that as well, which was another important ask from our veterans community.
There are also investments in the Juno Beach Centre. We are celebrating, on June 6, the 75th anniversary of D-Day. We want to remember the loss of over 14,000 Canadians during that important time.
That is just a quick run-through of some of the investments in the veterans sector. Let us talk about the young people in this country.
We need to make sure that we are helping those young individuals to move forward and we have included some major steps in this last budget. Regarding student loans, we know that if students get a job they have to make over $25,000. We talked about that in previous budgets. Now we are saying that they will pay a prime rate but will not have to pay the plus 3%, which was a big one. Also we said that there will be no interest on the loan and no payments for the first six months, which is a big change as well.
For first-time homebuyers, we have set up an opportunity for young people. If they are purchasing a home for $400,000, they would have to put 5% down, which would be $20,000, so their loan would be $380,000. However, with the shared-equity strategy that we have put in place, their loan now is $340,000 and that is major. That is a savings of $225 per month. If I run that through for 30 years, it is $81,000 that an individual would save. That is a very important investment, as members can note.
As for student summer jobs, when the Conservatives were in power the number of summer jobs was the lowest that had existed in this country. Now that we are in 2019, there is the greatest number of summer jobs. In my riding alone, there are 255 individuals who are going to or are working in those summer jobs. That is $770,000 invested in that portfolio for students in my riding. As members can see, it is a broad approach that we are bringing forward, a coordinated strategy.
Then, we have brought in some investments in the Canada training program, which is a very important new program. It is tax free and people can save up to $250 a year, $1,000 every four years, for upgrading. That is something that we did not have access to. All members in the House know that young people today will often change jobs. The technology is moving so rapidly that this training is essential. We also have a program where people can draw from EI during the four weeks they are attending upgrading courses, which is extremely important.
We need to talk about seniors. We know that by 2034, seniors will represent about 25% of Canadians. That is a very high number. In the Atlantic provinces, the number is even higher than that. We need to focus on seniors. My riding of Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook in Nova Scotia had the highest increase between 2011 and 2016. The Conservatives were going to move the retirement age to 67 and we said that was unacceptable. Canadians who have worked up to the age of 65, if they so desire to retire, they should be able to retire in dignity. Therefore, we ensured that the age of retirement stayed at 65, which was a crucial investment.
We have made investments to the GIS, the guaranteed income supplement, in two areas. The first one is a big investment of approximately $950, which allowed 700,000 seniors to move above the poverty line. That was very important, as well.
On health care, pharmacare, we are going to move forward. We have had a committee study a national pharmacare program. We should be able to deliver that in the very near future. We have made some investments in the Canadian drug agency to lower the costs. A national dementia strategy is very important. I met with a group in Sackville last week, in my riding. Northwood is trying to open an adult day program for dementia patients. Again, that is very important as well.
I must also include some of the investments on reconciliation with indigenous peoples. We have eliminated over 80-some boil water advisories. We have promised that by 2021 there will be no more boil water advisories. There is an investment for indigenous peoples for entrepreneurship and economic development, and for start-ups and expansion for Métis small businesses. Those are big investments for indigenous people.
I would like to finish off, of course, with the African Nova Scotian community. We have made some major investments there as well. The black community is the oldest black intergenerational community in Canada. It has the biggest Black Cultural Centre in Canada. Two months ago, the Prime Minister was in the Preston area. It was the first time a Prime Minister ever stepped into the Preston area.
There are some very successful initiatives that we are moving forward on. One is the anti-racism strategy investment, which will allow community-based focus groups to come forward with all kinds of different projects. There is also some capital investment, up to $25 million over five years, for projects and capital assistance to help the vibrant black community continue to grow.
I have to close with the trade deals. We have brought three trade deals to the table, successfully. That is 1.5 billion people trading in and out of Canada.
View Randy Boissonnault Profile
Lib. (AB)
View Randy Boissonnault Profile
2019-06-04 20:11 [p.28541]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a moment, as a first-term parliamentarian, to thank each of the hon. members who shared their remarks with us this evening, at the end of their distinguished parliamentary careers. There were many life lessons in those comments. There were many words of wisdom, a few funny stories and indeed things that I hope to be able to reflect on and learn from with multiple mandates in this chamber. However, as members know, that is up to our residents so I look forward to a vigorous campaign this summer and into the fall.
It is the great honour of my life to serve in this chamber and to represent the residents of Edmonton Centre. Therefore, tonight I would like to share my reflections on Bill C-97 and, more particularly, how this 2019 budget says very clearly that our government, budget 2019 and I are here for Edmonton.
I want to start with those people who paved the way for us. I want to start with the seniors and to acknowledge the tremendous sacrifice that seniors have made to build up our communities, to build up our country and, in my case, to build up the city of Edmonton. I honour and respect the wealth of knowledge that they carry with them and the experience and the skills that they continue to contribute and that we want to see them contributing today.
In budget 2019, we recognize the contribution that seniors have made to Canada and we are returning the favour by investing in them. Budget 2019 would help to support their active participation in society, including through work, and would smooth the transition to retirement for seniors when they choose to leave the workforce. I have seen the very good work that the horizons program for seniors has done to reduce social isolation.
I can see the work that we have done to make sure that seniors are able to retain more of the income they now spend. Seniors asked me at the doors why we were clawing back some of the money that they make when they go to work at the Walmart or their kids' school. They asked why we were taking some of that money and we listened. The Minister of Employment, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and the Minister of Seniors were very clear. Now seniors will not pay tax on the first $5,000, it is not going to be clawed back from their GIS and 50% of the next $10,000 will also be exempt. That is $7,500 on the $15,000 that seniors make that will now be in their pockets.
Unfortunately, some seniors are penalized. When they try to keep working, they see significant cuts to their benefits. That is why we listened to seniors and changed the program.
As I mentioned, that is why we are making changes to the GIS allowance benefit. It would begin in the July 2020 to July 2021 benefit year.
Our government respects seniors. Seniors are respected in the budget. We listened to them and we took action.
On innovation and jobs, our government and I are building, together with western Canadians, a strong and competitive west by focusing on business development, innovation and community development. We have pledged to do that by increasing support to Western Economic Diversification Canada with a $100-million increase over three years to increase its programming across western Canada. That means more jobs and more investment in companies. It means more companies will be able to scale up in Edmonton, in Red Deer, in Calgary and across the west.
We have also provided $100 million to the Clean Resource Innovation Network that will help make Alberta's oil and gas even greener and even cleaner.
As members know, when tragedy strikes every second counts, and that makes helicopters an indispensable tool for getting people the care they need quickly and efficiently, which is especially true across such a vast region as western Canada. Since 1985, STARS air ambulance, known as Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service, has provided rapid and specialized emergency helicopter ambulance service to patients who are critically ill or injured in communities across Manitoba, British Columbia and Alberta.
STARS has contributed to saving hundreds of lives and it has helped all of us in some of the worst tragedies: helping after the Pine Lake tornado in July 1999; saving people during the floods of Calgary in 2013; providing transportation away from the fires that swept through Fort McMurray in 2016; and, when the nation's heart sank at the Humboldt crash, helping get those survivors to safety.
Our government recognizes the vital role that STARS plays in delivering access to emergency care for the communities it serves. Our budget will put five new emergency medical helicopters in the air, with a $65-million allocation in budget 2019, making sure that STARS can renew half of its aging fleet and continue its life-saving work.
One of the key aspects of this budget, and even this government, is the hard work we do on behalf of all Canadians, including LGBTQ2 Canadians.
All Canadians deserve our respect, and that includes LGBTQ2 Canadians. That is why I am so delighted to state that in budget 2019 we have included, for the first time in the history of this country, an allocation of $20 million over two years for capacity-building and community-level work for LGBTQ2 service organizations in Canada. This means that community-based organizations that have been shut out and not able to apply to the federal government for anything, ever, will now have that opportunity, starting later this summer and into the new year.
I want to pause and thank the Minister of Finance and member of Parliament for Toronto Centre and his team for this historic investment in budget 2019. It did not have to be there, but it is there. I want to thank the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and MP for Peterborough—Kawartha and her team, because that is the department that will flow the money. I want to thank the LGBTQ2 Secretariat that resides in the Privy Council Office. Without its steadfast work, without its coordination, this would not be possible. I want to thank my own team. To each of them, I want to say that they have made history and they will change and save lives.
Why is the pan-Canadian suicide prevention service, money that we put aside for the national suicide prevention line, so important? It is $25 million over five years.
Earlier today, I was at something called Children First. It was a luncheon and colleagues from the other side of the aisle were also there. We each got paired up with a young person, and I was paired up with 11-year-old Ethan from PETES, an elementary school. We started chatting, in front of a hundred of his colleagues. I asked him what he likes to do. He said he was a video games guy; he likes to play, draw and dance. Then I asked him, “When you talk with your friends, what are some of the big things you want adults to fix?” He looked me straight in the eye and said, “Can you stop bullying? Can you stop people from hurting other people?” I asked if he knew someone who was bullied, and he said he was. It scared him. It ruined his life, and he was quiet for way too long. He became really depressed and had suicidal thoughts. This is an 11-year-old kid who was opening up to me in front of a hundred people at a luncheon today. He asked if we can do something to keep more kids safe.
He wanted to make sure that people would listen. He was not sure that if he told an adult, somebody would listen. The people we will employ on this pan-Canadian suicide prevention hotline will listen to people like Ethan, and that is why budget 2019 is going to make a difference in the lives of so many Canadians.
Turning to another pressing issue in Edmonton Centre, it is important that we do better for, with and by indigenous people, particularly urban indigenous communities. About 60% of indigenous people in Canada live in an urban setting, and Edmonton is home to Canada's second-largest indigenous population. That makes indigenous supports in urban settings a priority for me and for our government. We are investing in safe and culturally relevant community spaces, with $60 million over five years to support capital infrastructure in friendship centres.
With budget 2019, our government is on track to end boil water advisories in Canada by 2021. That affects first nations people whether they are in urban settings or across the country. I attended the Kehewin First Nation sod turning in February. By January 2020, that will be the last boil water advisory for any first nation in Alberta.
With the minute I have left, I want to talk about why an urban riding like mine needs infrastructure. We have the youngest city in the country, with an average age of 34, which is putting me on the other side of the young age now. When a city is that young and dynamic, we need infrastructure, like transit. We have invested almost $1 billion in the transit system that would go through my riding all the way to West Edmonton Mall and to Lewis Estates, so that parents can get home to their kids faster, so that young professionals can get to their activities after work, so that our dynamic economy can continue to grow.
In an urban riding like mine, we need to see commerce increase, and we need people to be able to get home to their families. Our government has listened. Our historic investments in infrastructure will continue, with $16 billion a year over the next nine years. That is improving lives. It is making things better. That is why, with budget 2019, our government and I are here for Edmonton.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2019-06-04 20:27 [p.28544]
Mr. Speaker, I want to go over some things in this budget that would benefit Yukon, in particular, and then some general things that would help the Yukon, as well as all Canadians.
First, as I said earlier tonight, Canada is the only Arctic country in the world, of the eight Arctic nations, that does not have a university north of 60. This budget is historic for Canada because of the $26 million going to Yukon College to build a science building, one of the key items that are needed. Next year, Yukon College will become Yukon university and Canada will be in line with the rest of the nations. The first course, which is not offered anywhere else and is also historic, will be a bachelor of indigenous governance. Because there are over 600 first nations in Canada, and Inuit, there will be a huge take-up on that particular course alone.
The territorial government has to deliver on education, health care, all of the things that provinces have to deliver, and there are great increases: $47.2 million for territorial financing, $2.3 million for health transfer and $0.6 million for social transfer, for a total of $50 million. Just to put that in perspective, Yukon is 1/1000th of the population, so if that were the same across the country, that would be $50 billion. It shows strong support for the territorial government. From what I remember, the other two territories will receive even more than that.
Before I go any further, I meant to start with something unrelated to the north. I am also the chair of the Northern and Prairie Caucus, and I want to mention another very innovative thing in the budget, the money for a water institution or program in the Prairies, which is hugely forward-thinking because it affects so much. The PFRA, one of the most popular institutions in Canada, was closed a number of years ago. The Liberal member from Saskatchewan brought this idea forward, and the Minister of Finance is financing a study to look at water, which is so important in the Prairies, including flooding, drought, the glaciers being reduced, water supply, irrigation, all of those things. This is a very forward-thinking item in the budget, and I thank the member from Saskatchewan.
I also have an ask for a women's centre in Watson Lake. I know those members are in Ottawa today.
In the north, the equivalent of western diversification or the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency is called CanNor. Once again, it is receiving a great increase. We lobbied hard for this. It will receive $75 million over five years for a diversification program. There was an increase for tourism in the north of $5.1 million over two years. Tourism is Yukon's biggest private sector employer. The two biggest industries are tourism and mining. I treat tourism like a lost sector in Ottawa. It is much bigger than many other sectors, but over the decades, it has not nearly gotten the attention or support that it should have. We have a tremendous tourism minister now, with a new tourism strategy and great funding. I will mention more later in my speech.
I will talk about the northern trade corridors. I talked about how big $50 million was, but the north has been assigned $400 million in the trade corridors program, which is a massive amount. It is far more than in other parts of Canada. I apologize to other MPs here, but, as everyone in the House knows, that infrastructure is needed in the north for a small population that is spread out over more than third of Canada.
There is another huge win in the budget for the north. As I said, the biggest sector for Yukon's GDP is mining, and the mineral exploration tax credit was increased for the first time ever for five years, which everyone in rural Canada will appreciate. It has always been yearly, which made it hard for exploration companies to plan. This is so instrumental in their programs because the vast majority of them need this tax credit to do their work, as there is no good reason to invest otherwise.
Another huge item that affects us more in the north than others, but also affects a number of areas in Canada, is loan repayments for the negotiations of first nations self-government and land claim agreements for modern treaties. The way it used to work in the Yukon was they took 30 years to negotiate. The first nations that were negotiating did not have the money to hire lawyers and negotiators so we loaned them the money. By the time they got their land claims, they already owed a good percentage back because we had loaned them the money for the negotiators. Therefore, this budget has made a historic move of committing to reimburse the first nations that have already paid the money or pay that money for the first nations that have not yet done so. Hopefully, that will encourage more first nations in Canada to become the success stories of the modern treaties. There are a number of them across Canada, but the biggest number is in the Yukon, in my riding.
There is one other thing with respect to the north, which I do not think anyone in this House would know. In fact, very few people in my riding would know this, only scientists, but it shows the finance minister's attention to value. There is no political gain in this. Very few people know about it, but it is very important. It is called the polar continental shelf program. When people research in the north, like other university researchers, they can get the money to do the research. However, to get to the north, it costs a huge amount of money. I remember going a small distance, approximately the distance most members would travel to get here to Ottawa, which would perhaps take a couple of hours, and it cost $5,000. Therefore, these researchers need the money to get to their location and cover what other scientists do. That is what the polar continental shelf program does. I give big kudos to the minister for that because very few people know about it.
The general items that would help Yukoners the way they help everyone else are as follows.
The first is more money for homes and businesses to be more energy efficient. A lot of people have suggested that. It would be done through the FCM program.
Another is the increase for seniors. We have seniors projects right across Yukon and in the rural communities in Whitehorse, and we have press conferences that are so moving. The seniors benefit so much and have so much fun. It keeps them healthy and reduces the costs to government.
I said I was going to get back to tourism. For years, there has not been nearly enough money for tourism in Canada in the lost sectors. There is an increase of $60 million this year in this budget for tourism marketing, added to the increases in previous years. That is great for me because, other than P.E.I., which is a little ahead of us, the biggest private sector proportion of our economy in the north is tourism. Therefore, that helps us more than everywhere else, but of course everywhere else in the country would benefit.
Another item a lot of people might not know about is that we can make Canada bigger. Most people think we are set at where we are at. However, we can expand the area of the continental shelf we are responsible for, but we have to do a lot of geological explorations and discovery, as well as scientific work, to determine that, which costs money. Canada, Denmark and Russia are all doing this in the same area, so we will have competition. If we did not have the science, we would not be able to compete or increase the area we have responsibility over.
In closing, because I am running out of time, there is a big increase in indigenous languages. In 2017, I think it was somewhere around $5 million and it has been increasing every year. By 2023 or 2024, it will be up to $116 million. Therefore, the increase from $5 million to $116 million really shows our commitment to how important that is to the life, strength and foundation of the culture of first nations people.
I am sorry I could not get to the environment and the 50 programs we have there, but I will leave that for the next speech.
View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2019-06-04 20:39 [p.28545]
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my friend and colleague from Yukon. He touched on something that is very important to the people in my riding and people right across this country, and that is indigenous languages. The member talked about the money that the Liberals are rolling out, and the scale of the rollout, gradually building to $116 million.
The Province of B.C. stepped in and invested $50 million to save languages, because of the delays from the federal government to invest in languages. In fact, we are losing many native language speakers, month by month, especially the Nuu-chah-nulth people who have made it very clear that they cannot deliver the language, and extend that knowledge in that language, which helps identify who they are as a people, that is how important it is, without funding. They are looking for funding.
I was just meeting with Tla-o-qui-aht chief and council. Councillor Anna Masso says that they need money to be able to save the languages of their culture.
Will the government commit to accelerating getting that money out the door, so that we do not lose those languages from those native language speakers right now?
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2019-06-04 20:40 [p.28545]
Mr. Speaker, obviously I cannot speak to specifics, but I really thank the member for that. He expressed very well the need for this and the support for this.
I want to say two things, and the member will really appreciate this. We had a group of aboriginal youth, and the idea was that if they do well in school and everything, then they could spend time to build their culture with our investments, doing that later. Of course that is what a lot of people said to the youth.
However, a tremendous young aboriginal lady said, “No, it is the foundation, the language, the culture. When you have confidence in yourself built from the support for our own language, our own culture, that is what catapults you into success in your life.”
I appreciate the member's support for that.
The other thing is congratulations to everyone in this House. In this Parliament, we passed the motion from our committee to have simultaneous translation of aboriginal language in this House and in committees, which is historic. It shows young aboriginal people, who see their language in the centre of democracy for Canada, that they can go anywhere with their language and they should be proud of it.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2019-06-04 20:42 [p.28546]
Mr. Speaker, people in Vancouver East expect their government to make life affordable, sustainable and fair for all Canadians. They expect their government to be on their side.
In Vancouver East, I have heard from my constituents time and time again that we need real measures to make life affordable for Canadians, that we need immediate and urgent actions to protect our climate and environment. On behalf of the constituents of Vancouver East, I have been strongly advocating for measures such as affordable housing, public universal pharmacare, environmental protections, climate action and tax fairness. Instead, we now have a country faced with many crises.
We have a climate crisis, where if we do not take immediate action our planet will not be inhabitable for our future generations. We have a housing crisis, where people are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless and getting priced out of their own communities. We have a criminal crisis, where billions of dollars in profits from criminal acts were laundered last year in Canada. We have an opioid crisis, where Canadians are dying every day.
We have a humanitarian crisis, where so many indigenous women and girls have gone missing and are murdered. The impact of colonialism is so deep and so rooted in systemic racism and failures that the national inquiry on the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls has declared that is a genocide.
It was deeply disappointing to see how budget 2019 failed to meaningfully address our many crises, never mind the many other challenges faced by Canadians.
For many constituents of Vancouver East, the number one issue facing our generation is our climate and environmental emergency. To meet our goals under the Paris Agreement, Canada has to lower its emissions to 325 million tonnes by 2030. According to the government's own performance report, we will only get down to 500 million tonnes, which means we are not even close.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report stated last year that we have 12 years to avert climate disaster through a drastic overhaul of all our current economic systems. We now have only 11 years left to achieve this. As the clock ticks, people have been demonstrating persistently for immediate action for climate protection and the preservation of natural resources from our leaders, especially our youth, who will be most affected by the consequences of our inaction. The government has a responsibility to create the systems and frameworks to protect our environment and our future generations.
Many scientists have stated that the technology already exists that can maintain quality of life without further impacting our climate and environment. We simply need the political will and courage to change. And yet here we are, buying leaky pipelines and adopting the previous Conservative government's weak carbon emissions target, as if we do not have a climate crisis at our door.
On another critical issue, we are still waiting on government action to address our housing affordability crisis.
Housing has long been declared a basic right by the United Nations, and Canada has signed and ratified a number of international human rights treaties that identify the right to adequate housing as a fundamental human right.
In our national housing strategy, most of the funding in that new strategy had been announced years earlier and most of that funding, a full 90% of what was announced in budget 2017, has been off-loaded for spending after the next election. Even at that, the vast majority of that funding will not flow until 2024. It is a cynical communications strategy that plays politics with people's real struggles.
The government, in an attempt to inflate the result of its limited housing programs, has even resorted to double-counting the results for “rhetorical advantage”. Instead of playing numbers games, what we need is for the government to make real investments now. To that end, the NDP is calling for a commitment of 500,000 units of affordable housing across Canada.
In addition, despite decades of promising a national pharmacare program, after being lobbied by big pharma 680 times, the government has once again let big pharma win the day.
I recently met an individual who told me that she is taking her daily medication every other day in an effort to save money. This is wrong. No more excuses. Canadians need and deserve comprehensive public universal pharmacare coverage now.
On a related matter, we also need accountability for the opioid crisis. While the U.S. has successfully taken on big pharma for misbranding OxyContin with the intent of defrauding and misleading, here in Canada, the government is refusing to take action. Instead, budget 2019 continues with the blanket tax break for the richest corporations.
Tax havens are still in place and will continue to take over $16 billion every year from much needed programs for all Canadians, and of course, big oil continues to receive subsidies. In fact, the “2019 Spring Reports of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development” was highly critical of the government's accounting of tax and non-tax subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.
As we now know, 47 billion dollars' worth of profits from criminal acts was laundered last year in Canada. It is extremely disturbing that money laundering has so extensively permeated the country. Equally disturbing is the fact that the report by Dr. Peter German, in B.C., revealed that no federal resources are being used to tackle money laundering. Literally, in the federal money laundering unit, no one is working on the issue of money laundering. This explains why there are so few prosecutions and convictions in money laundering cases.
During last year's statutory review by the finance committee of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, numerous expert witnesses agreed that to combat tax evasion and money laundering, the federal government needed to work with the provinces to establish a central public registry that would provide the identity of the beneficial owners of corporations and trusts. The Honourable David Eby, Attorney General of B.C., argued that this kind of registry is needed, in part by citing a study from Transparency International Canada. The study showed that it is impossible to determine the true owners of more than half the real estate properties for sale.
Denis Howlett, of Canadians for Tax Fairness, emphasized that the registry must be “in an open, searchable format”. Barrister and solicitor Mora Johnson added that a transparent public register would enable those searching the database to track the most common methods taxpayers use to avoid paying their fair share of taxes and to find individuals involved in money laundering. However, when all was said and done, the Liberals and Conservatives chose to join forces and ignore the recommendation of the majority of witnesses that a public register be established.
I also strongly believe that we need to increase oversight of home sales to ensure that sellers are not falsely reporting their secondary investment properties as primary residences, as this rule-skirting allows people to avoid paying capital tax gains.
I raised this issue when I was still the MLA for Vancouver-Mt. Pleasant. One way to address this is to ensure that proof of residency through income tax filing is provided at the completion of the sale transaction. With increased oversight and crackdowns on this behaviour, the increased tax revenue could be set aside in an earmarked fund dedicated to increasing the affordable housing stock in Canada.
Canada needs to put significant resources and effort into law enforcement, prosecution and adjudication to effectively tackle this problem. We can do this. We need to do this.
I have gone on also about the immigration issues that call for the government to not jam through the refugee determination process in this budget omnibus budget bill. The Liberals refuse to listen and are going ahead with it. Experts have already called on the government to stop this now. It would put people at risk, and most particularly, it would put women and girls at risk. For a feminist government, this is not acceptable. It still has a chance to do that. I hope that the government will listen to the experts.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2019-06-03 18:34 [p.28447]
Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
View John McKay Profile
2019-02-26 15:12 [p.25808]
Mr. Speaker, I will resume where I left off, which has to do with the utility of committees. I noticed that was a theme of question period, that committees are assigned tasks and committees doing their work make significant differences. Therefore, I want to go over a number of the significant differences the committee made with respect to the original Bill C-83 and the Bill C-83 that is before us as amended by the committee. We listened to witnesses and suggested changes to the government, and in many instances the government listened to the committee and made those changes.
The bill now includes a strengthened health care review system. If the warden disagrees with a recommendation from a health care provider to move inmates in or out of SIU or to alter their conditions of confinement, the committee or senior CSC personnel, external to the institution, would review the matter. That was a Liberal amendment.
The Conservatives contributed an amendment, which said that a new provision would allow CSC staff to recommend to a health care professional that an inmate be assessed under certain conditions, such as self-harm, emotional distress, adverse drug reaction, etc.
The NDP-Green Party amendment reinserted the principle that CSC and the parole board impose the “least restrictive” measures, consistent with security. The language existed for 20 years until the previous government changed it to “necessary and proportionate”. Least restrictive is back in, thanks to the amendments provided by the NDP and Green Party.
The NDP wanted a meaningful four hours of face time. Therefore, when CSC records the fact that an inmate did not get his or her four hours out, it would now have to include in the report the reasons for refusal.
About 14 or 15 different amendments were provided by all parties. Those amendments strengthen the bill and recommend the bill to the House.
The bill would enshrine in law the principle that medical professionals in CSC must operate independently of correctional authorities. It would also require CSC to consider systemic and background factors when making decisions that would impact indigenous people in federal custody.
None of this is a panacea. Even once the bill passes and the considerable resources to implement it are put in place, there will remain a lot of work to do.
One of the amendments I did not mention was that we insisted on a five-year review. Therefore, this is an open bill. It is not a panacea, but it is to be recommended. The effective rehabilitation and safe integration of people who have broken the law is essential for public safety. That is why I support the legislation and commend it to hon. colleagues.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
View Kelly McCauley Profile
2019-02-26 15:37 [p.25811]
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to stand to speak once again on Bill C-83, which amends the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.
The Liberals seem to have a long history and a running streak of putting forward bills focusing more on criminals' rights than on those of the victims, and in some ways this bill seems to be another one of those. It is mostly a poorly thought-out bill that provides no resources or thoughts to employee safety among those working in correction services.
The government should have spent time consulting with CSC workers, figuring out how it could reconfigure the prisons and how it would also pay for all of these changes. Bill C-83 is another example of the government making a big announcement and thinking that everything ends at the announcement, that everything is done, without putting any planning behind it.
We have seen this with the government and its infrastructure program. It announces $180 billion in infrastructure spending, but kind of overlooks the fact that $90 billion of it was commitments from the previous government.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer is not able to locate within the budget or the estimates a significant amount of the spending. The Senate committee did a study on the infrastructure spending, and it said that the only metric for success in infrastructure was how much money was spent, not how many roads were built or how many highways were upgraded; it was just how much money was spent.
We see the same thing from the Liberals with their housing plan. They make grandiose announcements, standing in this House again and again to say it is $40 billion. Kevin Page, the former parliamentary budget officer, reported that it is actually about $1.5 billion. The Prime Minister and the parliamentary secretary responsible for housing stood up in this House and said that a million families have been helped under this plan, believing that if they just make an announcement, then everything happens. It turns out that if we look at the departmental results plan, it was 7,500 families helped, not a million.
We see this again and again. Bill C-83 is no different. I will get to that later.
There are some things in Bill C-83 that I can support. The Liberal government is much like a broken watch, which is correct twice a day, and sometimes the government can be correct in its bills. The bill calls for body scanners to prevent contraband and drugs from getting into the prison. I fully support that. I wish the Liberals would modify it so that everyone coming in gets a body scan.
However, I do have to agree with the people I have talked to at corrections services. Why are we trying to stop drugs, but at the same time bringing in and handing out needles to the prisoners? These are needles that we have heard are being used as weapons against CSC workers.
I also like the fact that Bill C-83 gives more consideration to indigenous offenders. It is no secret that the indigenous population is overrepresented in prisons, and that has to be addressed, so I do agree with that measure. However, there are too many parts of the bill that would negatively impact the safety of corrections officers.
We all know of the Ashley Smith situation, which was a tragedy, and the government should do everything in its power to prevent such an occurrence from happening again. However, a poorly thought-out plan and an underfunded bill that just bans segregation is not the answer.
We have to keep in mind that it is not just inmates who are committing crimes who are going into segregation. Often it is a victim. They are put in there to assure their safety by moving them away from their abuser. They obviously do not want to name their abuser because of prison rules, so to speak, so the assaults continue unless the victim is moved into segregation. Unfortunately, that person eventually has to desegregate back into the prison system or change prisons. Nothing in Bill C-83 addresses that issue.
A CBC report says segregation is not the deterrent it once was. Prisoners now receive all of their possessions, their television and all of their belongings, within 24 hours of being put in segregation. Another CBC report quoted a couple of corrections officers. One of them stated that whereas the more violent inmates used to be in separate containers, now they are all in one bag, so they are just waiting for one to go off. That sets the rest of them off, and they end up with murder, stabbings, slashing, and officer injuries higher than ever.
Another one is saying that the inmates can get away with a lot more than they used to in the past, and that contributes to the growing violence and the crisis in corrections. Another says that all removing segregation does, especially disciplinary segregation, is soften reprisals for bad behaviour. Inmates know there is one less tool for corrections officers to use to maintain order and ensure their own safety.
In September 2017, with respect to a provincial study that I imagine would also cover federal, the CBC reported a massive upswing, a 50% increase, in inmate assaults over the five years that segregation had been removed or reduced.
Under this proposal, whenever inmates move from segregation to have their additional hours in the open, two officers will be needed to escort them. I have to ask where those resources will come from. If I look at the manpower figures in the departmental plan for the Correctional Service of Canada, which shows what its budget would be several years out, I see that the figures are identical in 2021 to what they are now. We are planning all this extra work for the officers, but there is no plan to provide extra officers. In fact, if we look at the plan, which has been signed off by the Minister of Public Safety himself, we see that the Liberals have cut the number of officers on staff from what it was when the Harper government was in charge. Again, where are the resources coming from?
As well, where are the added dollars coming from to renovate these new cells? I have heard the Minister of Public Safety stand and say that there is $80 million from the last budget and $400 million in the estimates. That is fine, but when we look at the departmental plans, again we see that from last year in 2017 to this year, the Liberals have cut $152.5 million from corrections services, and in the next couple of years, they are cutting an additional $225 million.
If they are spending $400 million on renovations and resources and the end result is $225 million less, where is the missing $600 million? I am sure the Parliamentary Budget Officer will be unable to find where this money is, as was the case with the missing infrastructure money.
Getting back to the departmental plans, these plans lay out the priorities for the government for this department. Again, the plans are reviewed and signed by the Minister of Public Safety. In this plan, there are 20 priorities, yet not a single one mentions or addresses officer safety or the safety of anyone working for corrections services.
The government, when discussing Bill C-83, brags about how it is the first time ever it has given the head of Correctional Services of Canada a mandate letter. I looked at the mandate letter. There are 1,400 words in the mandate letter for the head of the CSC. Let us keep in mind the government is so proud of this letter. Of the 1,400 words, 24 are about victims of crime, and just 52 are about the safety or well-being of corrections officers. The 52 words include this gem: “I encourage you to instill within CSC a culture of ongoing self-reflection.”
Can members imagine an inmate coming at them with a knife or a needle? What would their response be? If we looked it up in the manual, we would find “self-reflection”. Self-reflection sounds like something that would be more appropriate after being confronted after having groped someone at a concert, not when dealing with inmates in a criminal institution.
The president of the union of correctional officers, Rob Finucan, described how a guard in the Millhaven Institution was slashed across the face with a shard or knife. Why? It was because of the new rule that inmates can only be handcuffed in front and not behind. The inmate was cuffed and being moved to segregation. He had a shard of glass or a knife with him and cut across the face of the officer. Luckily, the officer's eye was not lost, but that happened because of rules we are putting into effect without any consideration for the officers.
In the minute I have left, I will end with the money set aside for mental health for inmates in the last budget. No one can argue with that, as it is obviously a very important issue.
Money has also been put aside for mental health for RCMP officers. There is 40% more money put aside per capita for inmates than for RCMP officers. That sums up the government's priorities in a nutshell: more money for criminals, less for the RCMP and less for our valued officers in prisons.
I think it is time for the government to show some self-reflection on this issue.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to stand and add my voice in support of Bill C-83, a piece of legislation that would make a number of changes to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. I am pleased to lend my support, as my colleagues have also done.
Bill C-83 proposes a number of important things. It creates the concept of patient advocates, as recommended by the inquest into the tragic death of Ashley Smith. Many of us in the House are very aware of the inquest and what happened to Ms. Smith, and the difficulties. We are very hopeful that Bill C-83 is going to help remedy some of those problems and prevent that from happening to some other young person.
The bill is meant to support inmates who need medical care, and ensure that they and their families can understand and exercise their rights. It would enshrine in law the principle that health care professionals working in the corrections system are autonomous and make decisions based on their medical judgment, without undue influence from correctional authorities.
It would enshrine in law the requirement that systemic and background factors be considered in all decisions involving indigenous people in custody, and it would expand the section of the law requiring the correctional service to be guided by respect for the diversity of the inmate population.
It would allow victims who attend parole hearings to access audio recordings of the proceedings.
It would create the legislative authority necessary for the Correctional Service of Canada to use body scanners to interdict drugs and other contraband, something that has been a problem for many years. There are people who have had to endure strip searches and so on. Having the body scanners would make it better for both the correctional service folks as well as for inmates. This technology is both less invasive than methods such as strip searches and less prone to false positives than the ion scanners CSC currently relies on.
It would also replace the current system of administrative segregation with structured intervention units, or SIUs, as they are referred to. This new system would ensure that when inmates need to be separated from the rest of the prison population for safety reasons, they would retain access to rehabilitative programming, mental health care and other interventions, something that was not happening before.
The bill deals with serious and challenging issues, and it is to be expected that Canadians and members of Parliament will have differences of opinion about them. So far, however, the Conservative contributions to this debate have been incredibly disappointing. At times, the Conservatives have blatantly contradicted themselves. For instance, in his speech, the member for Yellowhead complained that the changes made by the bill to administrative segregation are insignificant and superficial. However, in the very same speech, the very same member said that those very same changes would endanger inmates and staff. Which is it? Do the Conservatives think the bill is insignificant, or do they think it is catastrophic? It cannot be both.
At other times, the Conservatives have simply chosen to ignore the facts. They have been complaining over and over again that the government has not allocated resources to implement the bill, when they know that is not the case. On page 103 of the fall economic statement, issued by the finance minister last November, there is $448 million allocated to support amendments to transform federal corrections, including the introduction of a new correctional interventions model to eliminate segregation.
Also in November, the government sent the public safety committee a written response that went into more detail about the funding.
That response says that if Bill C-83 is adopted, the government will invest $297 million over six years and $71 million ongoing to implement the structured intervention units. The funding will be dedicated to providing focused interventions, programs and social supports and will include access to resources such as program officers, aboriginal liaison officers, elders, chaplains and others. That is in a document that all members of the public safety committee have had for over three months.
The document goes on to say that the remaining amount from the fall economic statement, $150.3 million over six years and $74.3 million ongoing, is for mental health care. That includes assessment and early diagnosis of inmates at intake and throughout incarceration, enhancements to primary and acute mental health care, and support for patient advocacy and 24/7 health care at designated institutions.
Again, this is all from a document that the Conservatives also have had since the fall, so when they complain about a lack of resources, they are either being disingenuous or they just have not had time to read the report.
The Conservatives' contributions to this debate have also been characterized by an unfortunate amount of self-righteousness. They position themselves as champions of victims, but it was legislation passed by the Harper government in 2015 that prohibited victims who attend a parole hearing from accessing an audio recording of that same hearing. Their bill said that victims who want recordings have to stay away from the hearing itself.
Parole hearings are often difficult experiences for many victims of crime, full of emotion, and the law should not expect them to retain every word of the proceedings at a time when they are immensely frightened and nervous and in an unfamiliar environment. The legislation before us today would finally let all victims access those recordings, whether they attend in person or not.
The Conservatives also position themselves as champions of correctional employees. Let me remind the House what the national president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers said in 2014. Kevin Grabowsky was head of the union at that time, and he said, “We have to actively work to rid the Conservatives from power.” He said the Harper government was endangering correctional officers with changes to the labour code, cuts to rehabilitative programming and policies that resulted in overcrowding in federal prisons.
The main question raised at committee by both correctional officers and the Union of Safety and Justice Employees, which represents other CSC staff such as parole officers, was whether Bill C-83 would be accompanied by sufficient resources to implement it safely and effectively. As I have already made clear, the answer to that is a resounding yes.
Finally, the Conservatives' interventions in this debate have been reminiscent of the very worst of the Harper approach to the legislative process. They have been actually attacking the government for listening to stakeholder feedback and accepting some of those amendments. Under the Harper government, that kind of openness was unheard of, but I am proud to support a government that lets legislators legislate.
I thank all members who have engaged in a serious study of the bill and proposed thoughtful amendments, which is exactly what Canadians sent all of us here to do.
We have before us legislation that would make correctional institutions more effective and humane, accompanied by the resources needed to implement it safely. It is important that we move forward and pass the bill at this time.
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Pam Damoff Profile
2019-02-21 15:48 [p.25642]
Mr. Speaker, I stand here today with a great deal of pride to speak for a second time in support of Bill C-83, which would amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.
Bill C-83 would strengthen our federal corrections system, making the rehabilitation of offenders safer and more effective. Crucially, the bill would end the practice of administrative segregation and establish structured intervention units, or SIUs.
I am extremely proud to have had the opportunity to work on this legislation at committee stage and I commend the government for introducing this important piece of legislation.
This legislation will be transformative for our federal corrections system. My friend Stan Stapleton, the national president of the Union of Safety and Justice Employees, said when asked by the media about this bill, that
There is evidence that shows that strong rehabilitative programs make communities safer and create a safer environment for both employees and offenders inside institutions. ... And so if we simply lock them up and throw away the key, we're not providing them with the tools that they require in order to safely reintegrate back into society.
I could not agree more.
The new measures introduced in Bill C-83 will create safer institutions and safer communities. By creating SIUs as a new approach to replace administrative segregation, introducing provisions for spending more time outside the cell, empowering health professionals and providing enhanced programming to offenders in these units, we will better equip offenders for safe reintegration, reduce their likelihood for recidivism and ultimately make our communities safer.
I am incredibly proud of our work at the public safety committee on the bill. We listened to feedback from witnesses and experts and worked across party lines to bring back to the House a strengthened Bill C-83. We listened to testimony from a diverse range of stakeholders and took their feedback to heart.
In addition, every party that submitted amendments to the bill saw some of theirs accepted. I would like to highlight some of those changes now.
The most significant amendment is the one I have introduced today at report stage, which would provide independent oversight of the new structured intervention units. I will not ever forget hearing the Speaker read that amendment into the record today.
My amendment would create an independent external decision-maker who will monitor a number of factors for inmates in SIUs, including whether inmates avail themselves of the time out of their cells or if there is a disagreement with a health care provider's recommendation to transfer an inmate out of an SIU.
With this amendment, if an inmate does not receive the required minimum hours outside of the cell or the required minimum hours of human contact for five straight days or 15 days out of 30, the independent external decision-maker can investigate whether the Correctional Service has taken reasonable steps to provide opportunities for those hours, make recommendations to the Correctional Service to remedy the situation, and if the Correctional Service has not acted accordingly after seven days, the decision-maker can direct it to remove the inmate from the SIU and give notice to the Correctional Investigator.
In addition, the independent external decision-maker will also have the power to review cases and provide direction in the event that the senior Correctional Service health care committee disagrees with the recommendation of a health care provider to transfer an inmate out of an SIU or alter conditions of confinement.
Finally, the independent external decision-maker will conduct a review of each offender's case after 90 days spent in an SIU and every 60 days thereafter.
The creation of an external oversight mechanism was supported by the majority of witnesses we heard at committee. I am so pleased that we were able to respond to their input and move forward with this vital independent oversight mechanism.
I applaud the government for listening and agreeing to the amendment, which would provide more confidence in SIUs and how they will function.
In addition to this report stage amendment, the committee made other amendments to the bill. We heard from indigenous groups who called for changes to the definition of “indigenous organization” to ensure that it properly captured the diverse range of those working on these issues across Canada. While the parties had some variations as to how best to do this, with the assistance of departmental officials the committee was able to unanimously approve an amendment that calls for indigenous organizations to have predominantly indigenous leadership. We also heard about the need for the Correctional Service to seek advice from indigenous spiritual leaders or elders, particularly in matters of mental health and behaviour. I was pleased that my amendment to that effect was adopted at committee.
The bill would also enshrine in law the principle that offender management decisions must involve the consideration of systemic and background factors related to indigenous offenders. However, our committee heard testimony that these reports can be misused in corrections to impact risk assessments. My amendment to ensure that these reports would not be misused was also adopted by the committee.
The member for Saanich—Gulf Islands introduced several amendments that would return the threshold of “least restrictive” measures, while maintaining the protection of society, staff and offenders, to the corrections legislation, a provision that had been removed by the Harper Conservatives. I promised the hon. member that I would work with her on amendments to Bill C-83, and I was extremely happy that the committee was able to include her amendments in the legislation.
We supported the amendment of my NDP colleague, the member for Beloeil—Chambly, which specified that corrections must take note of any reasons given as to why inmates did not avail themselves of time out of their cells.
We heard from corrections officers that they did not always have the skills or training to deal with mental health issues, so an amendment by the Conservative Party that would explicitly allow staff to refer a matter to health care professionals was a welcome addition to the legislation.
Indigenous offenders are the fastest-growing prison population. However, the member for Whitby highlighted to me that black offenders are the second-highest prison population, and their unique needs must also be addressed.
In addition, during my visit to a number of corrections facilities in Edmonton, a year ago January, I had the opportunity to meet a trans inmate and learned about their experience navigating the corrections system. I was pleased to introduce an amendment that would expand the guiding principles of CSC to respect sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and ensure that the service would be responsive, in particular, to the special needs of visible minorities.
My colleague from Toronto—Danforth introduced an amendment that would further define meaningful contact so that it would not be limited to physical barriers, an amendment that would enhance record-keeping, and an important amendment that would strengthen the role of health care professionals. Finally, we amended the bill to include a five-year review by Parliament.
There are two areas that were beyond the scope of the legislation but that the committee wanted to highlight for corrections. One is the fact that there are only 10 women in all of Canada currently in segregation, while there are 340 men. Therefore, we have asked Corrections Canada to review a proposal for a pilot program in women's institutes. We also used this opportunity to draw attention to the challenge offenders face when placements or transfers mean that they are located long distances from critical support systems.
We heard from many witnesses that significant investments in corrections would be required if SIUs were to work. The entire concept rests on the premise that there are adequate staff to ensure that offenders receive time outside their cells and the health care services and programming they need. With the $448-million investment in the fall economic statement to support this new approach, we have both the legislative framework and the financial means to transform how corrections functions.
This is a case of the parliamentary process working at its very best. We had government legislation that was transformative in its approach, witnesses who passionately shared their concerns and suggestions, committee members who worked diligently as a team, a minister who listened and responded, and a Prime Minister and government that were not afraid to let committees do the good work they are meant to in this place and amend the bill.
I also feel incredibly privileged, as the member for Oakville North—Burlington, to be able to introduce a major amendment to the bill, here at report stage, that would enshrine independent oversight in Bill C-83.
I know there are those who are skeptical about whether this system will work. However, I believe in my heart that under the leadership of our Minister of Public Safety and the new head of corrections, Anne Kelly, along with the fine men and women working in corrections, we will see transformative change in our correctional system.
I want to finish by thanking all the witnesses who appeared before committee; my fellow committee members; our chair, clerk and analysts; our staff, and in particular, Hilary Lawson, from my office; the Minister of Public Safety and his staff, in particular, Michael Milech; and everyone else involved who worked tirelessly on this legislation.
I urge all members of this House to support Bill C-83.
View Adam Vaughan Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam Vaughan Profile
2018-11-27 12:38 [p.24014]
Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to stand today to support the initiatives of our government that are expressed through the bill as we implement the budget promises we made last spring, and to deliver real hope, real change and real possibilities for growth in the country for some of Canada's most vulnerable populations.
The main focus of my comments will be on the poverty reduction strategy. It is Canada's first-ever poverty reduction strategy with real targets and real tools to measure not just poverty as it exists across the country, but also as it exists in specific regions, centres, and within specific populations.
The new strategy is critical, because one of the goals of the government—and we hear the phrase repeated often—is not just growing a stronger middle class, but the support that is required to help people join that middle class, to lift themselves out of poverty by giving them the tools they need, the support they require and the opportunities they desire to make sure their lives are transformed. This is critical for the success of our country, because as we build stronger families and healthier communities, we also build more resilient children. That gives us hope for the future that the next generation will have the capacity to provide much more support for all of us as we move forward together as a country.
To set the context, we need to understand that the poverty reduction strategy, while it is a new strategy enunciated in policy, is not something we just started to begin work on. The day we took office, we began making investments right across the country to make a transformational change in people's lives. In fact, well over 600,000 Canadians have been lifted out of poverty as a direct result of the steps taken by our government. That does not include the close to 500,000 new full-time jobs that have been created, which have also created a situation allowing people to avoid poverty. I say this because the prevention of poverty is just as important as its alleviation.
The $22 billion we invested includes about $5.6 billion invested in housing. As soon as we introduced our first budget, we tripled the transfers to the provinces and doubled the investments in community organizations that are leading the fight against homelessness.
We also introduced the Canada child benefit and changed its profile. Not only is it a more generous benefit, but it is also now tax free and means-tested, which means that those with the greatest need will get the greatest support. Unlike the previous government, we do not send the cheques to millionaires and we do not tax the dollars after they have arrived in families' bank accounts. This has probably been the most profound change in social policy in this country in a generation, and probably the most important component of lifting those children I just referenced out of poverty.
Additionally, changes have been made to the CPP as we move forward to secure people's retirement funds. We have also boosted the GIS to make sure that single women, in particular, who are often alone at the end of their lives, get the boost they need to make sure that their incomes are better supported, giving them the capacity to maintain their living standards.
In addition, $7.5 billion has been invested in early learning and child care. These transfers were delivered directly to the provinces, who since the collapse of the previous national day care strategy have evolved their programs and now have a more asymmetrical situation across the country. As we invest that $7.5 billion over the next 10 years, it has already started to sustain existing spaces, provide new capital for expansion, and also provide that critical expansion of the child care system. In fact, in Ontario, 100,000 new spaces of subsidized, quality, affordable child care have been created as a direct result of the investments in partnership with the provinces.
For the first time ever, child care support has also been directed toward indigenous organizations to make sure that distinction-based programs, led, designed and delivered by indigenous communities for their children, are now part of the program. We have also made those investments, which are having an impact on families outside the mainstream programs that have existed for a generation in our country.
On top of child care, substantial investments have also been made in indigenous communities, both on and off reserve, both inside and outside of treaties, both in rural-remote regions and urban centres. These investments have led to cleaner drinking water, better housing, better education and, most importantly, better health programs being provided. In particular on Jordan's principle, in comparison with the approval and enrolment rates under the previous government, which in 10 years managed to get only one child served under Jordan's principle, we are talking about thousands and thousands being served every single year.
These are transformational changes, which have set the base for an even more aggressive push to eliminate even more of the poverty we see in our country, because we cannot sustain poverty in a country as rich as ours with a clean conscience.
As we set the new poverty standard and come across a standard way of measuring it so that we can have a common base to understand exactly whom we lifting out of poverty and how our programs are having that impact, we are often criticized for not having announced new programs simultaneously to our establishing this poverty line.
Let me assure members that there are already programs and investments forecast into the future that have not been included in the 650,000 calculation we have already used to address the people we have lifted out of poverty. For example, we have the signing of bilateral agreements. I was just in the Northwest Territories doing exactly this, signing bilateral agreements on the Canada housing benefit.
The Canada housing benefit is a new way to subsidize people's living arrangements, giving agency and choice to low-income Canadians to choose the housing that best suits their needs. Those subsidies do not kick in until next year, but will have a dramatic impact on the quality of life and alleviation of poverty among those people who are in core housing need. In fact, when one includes all the other components of the national housing strategy, we seek to support well over 650,000 Canadians, and closer to 700,000. Then we get into repairs and some of the other programs that are part of the 10-year forecast.
Those dollars are locked in and are built on top of the $5 billion we have already spent. We have also reprofiled those dollars to make them more flexible, in particular in the way in which they impact women and children, to make sure that those housing needs are addressed specifically through a national housing strategy. They were not in the previous iteration of the program. The new national housing strategy re-profiles that $40 billion and projects it into those people's lives as yet another way to alleviate poverty.
This particular bill also addresses pay equity. I have heard the members opposite complain that the bill is too big. It covers seven distinct pieces of legislation, but the piece on pay equity covers the entire breadth of federally regulated and federally administered pay programs. It is a big, complex bill because pay equity touches virtually every corner of the government, as well as significant parts of the country's private sector. That is why the bill is 850 pages long.
The bill is a comprehensive all-of-government, all-of country approach to pay equity. We are very proud to push that forward, because pay equity, again, is one of the most important tools we can put together to ensure that we reduce poverty, in particular of women but also of families and Canadians right across the country. Pay equity, giving a fair chance to everybody, in particular women, benefits us all. As women's economic situations solidify and strengthen in this country, small and medium businesses and all our social dynamics strengthen as women become more powerful. That is one of the most important reasons to support pay equity. It is good for everyone, even those who are not women.
Additionally, we have also included an indexing formula in the Canada child benefit so that it will grow over time for families to ensure that inflation does not claw back the good, strong investments we have made to eradicate child poverty. Again, those dollars are not calculated as part of our poverty reduction plan, which was in place prior to the strategy, but will have an impact afterward.
Then of course there is the national housing strategy, the $40-billion investment. I have heard some suggest that the way to do a housing program, which we have seen in the platforms of previous parties as they tried to get elected to Parliament, is to put the money upfront and just let the program drift off into the future. As someone who has done much of the consultation work with the minister and CMHC to put this strategy together, I can say that the reality is that the advice we were given by academics, housing providers, municipal partners and provincial agencies was that the best way to build a housing program was to invest heavily to start and then grow the investment as the system gets bigger over time.
In other words, if a riding were to receive a thousand units of public housing this year, a thousand next year and a thousand the year after that, its housing needs would go from 1,000 to 2,000 to 3,000. Repair needs grow with that, as do subsidy requirements, and if the program is not back-end loaded, one will not be able to build a successful system while building good, strong housing programs. That is why the program not only lasts 10 years, past two elections, but also grows over time to support a bigger, stronger, more robust capacity to house Canadians in need.
Put together, this constitutes our government's strategy for housing, poverty and improving the lives of indigenous people, women and many of the marginalized and racialized communities in this country. We have focused our programs based on data, the information we have received from stakeholders, and partnerships with indigenous, municipal, provincial and territorial governments. In total, the early investments, the project investments, the new tools to measure, study and drive data into the system to alleviate poverty are the reasons this bill is large, why are ambitions are just as big, and most importantly, why the achievements are so profound.
We are very, very proud of this particular piece of legislation. I hope that all of Canada can support it. I hope that everyone in Parliament can support it. This is delivering real change, real housing and real support to Canadians from coast to coast to coast, and I encourage all parliamentarians to support it as such.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Peter Julian Profile
2018-11-27 16:16 [p.24047]
Madam Speaker, I am going to start where the Liberals just left off. The Liberals said, unbelievably, that somehow Canadians who are in the immense turmoil that exists currently with the housing crisis in so many parts of this country are happy with the government. I can say first-hand, from living in New Westminster—Burnaby, which is, in a sense, in the epicentre of the housing crisis, that tonight there are women, men and families wondering whether they can keep a roof over their heads. As rents rise, and they have limited pensions or are working at minimum wage, they do not believe they can keep up. There are women, men and families worried about whether they will ever have housing again. That is why so many shelters are filled to the brim. It is a national tragedy, yet what we have heard today from the Liberals is that everything is just fine. It clearly is not.
We need a federal government that understands the principle of a roof over every single Canadian's head and that will make the required investments so that housing becomes a priority again in this country. That is certainly something Jagmeet Singh has been speaking to right across this country as he talks with Canadians. There is no doubt in his mind that the housing crisis is critical and that we have to respond with the kind of effort we did after the Second World War.
I have mentioned this before in the House. We built 300,000 housing units in the space of 30 months. Governments at that time understood that the men and women in service overseas were coming back to Canada and deserved to have a roof over their heads. That is why in places like New Westminster, like 109 Glover, which is my address, those houses were built in 1947, 1948 and 1949. We built hundreds of thousands of units. Today the government pretends that it has done something. It has manufactured, in a bizarre way, some cooked-up figures, as if it is actually addressing the housing crisis. It is a tragedy that the government does not understand the importance of this. There is nothing in this budget implementation bill that addresses the housing crisis.
There is nothing in the budget implementation bill that addresses the crisis in pharmacare, either. The lack of pharmacare is something so many Canadians feel acutely. One in every five Canadians, as my colleague, the member for Vancouver Kingsway, has mentioned numerous times in the House, has no access to medications. They simply cannot afford to pay for them. Businesses have to pay billions of dollars a year for drug plans. The good businesses, of course, provide drug plans to their employees. Businesses that care less choose not to do that, but then those employees become part of the one in every five Canadians who cannot afford medications.
These are the big, glaring errors in this budget implementation bill. When the government could have chosen to take action, it chose, instead, to do nothing. It aggravated it, appallingly to me and to so many Canadians, with a massive $14-billion corporate tax writeoff scheme. That is $14 billion of taxpayers' money. Stunningly, when I talked to the finance officials and asked if it was true what I was reading on page 58 that plush corporate jets and stretch limousines were included as part of these massive corporate tax writeoffs that could go to Bay Street companies, they said yes, it was very true; stretch limousines, absolutely; plush private jets, absolutely.
The government is not prioritizing the needs of Canadians by putting in place single-payer universal pharmacare, putting in place housing in this country at a time when it is in crisis or responding to the needs of indigenous children. They are profoundly underfunded and disadvantaged for life because of the up to $10,000 funding gap per pupil per year in indigenous schools because of the chronic underfunding by the federal government.
Instead of responding to all of this, we have what is before us. What is before us had some good intentions. Pay equity was a very good intention. The federal government slapped itself on the back and said it did a good job. It was then referred to committee, which heard from witnesses. It heard from the Coalition for Pay Equity, CUPE, the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Canadian Labour Congress. It heard from a wide variety of activists who have been fighting for pay equity and making sure that women are paid equally for work of equal value for years. Each one of them said that there were major flaws and that this bill had holes that must be addressed.
The pay equity coalition was particularly eloquent in this regard. It said that unless these flaws were fixed, women would have to go back to court so they could actually get equal pay for work of equal value. That is a compelling argument. Parliamentarians from the Liberal Party were at the committee and heard from the Coalition for Pay Equity, the teamsters, CUPE, PSAC and of course, the CLC, all of them saying the same thing, to fix the flaws. Every single one of them said that if these flaws were not fixed, women would have to return to court. Therefore, the Liberals cannot brag about bringing pay equity. All they can brag about is bringing a flawed bill to the floor of the House of Commons.
The NDP, because we are the worker bees in this House, went to work. We worked night and day. We came up with dozens of amendments to fix all the flaws. The Liberals put forward a flawed bill. However, our job, as parliamentarians, is to fix the flaws. When I went to committee last week, my full expectation, despite the fact that the Liberals were bulldozing the bill through committee, was that the Liberals would accept the amendments and fix the flaws in the bill, even though we did all the work. Unbelievably, the Liberal MPs who sat at committee and heard about the massive flaws that would lead to women having to go back to court to achieve pay equity refused to entertain any amendments whatsoever.
Now we are left at report stage with a deeply flawed piece of legislation. Not a single Liberal can get up and say that the government has fixed pay equity, because it has not. The Liberals had a chance. We did the work for them. We were willing to let them take the credit, because the only thing that seems to concern them is who gets credit. We do not care. We just want this fixed. We want pay equity to be a reality. We do not want women to have to go back to court. The Liberals said no. Therefore, we are left with a bill with all the massive flaws identified by witness after witness. Not a single Liberal MP was willing to stand up for pay equity at committee. Not a single MP was willing to fix the flaws.
That is just one issue in a very sad narrative. I only have 10 minutes. I could speak for hours on this, because there are flaws identified in other parts of this massive omnibus piece of legislation. It is the biggest in our history, at 850 pages. It was thrown at the House of Commons with all kinds of flaws and mistakes written in, yet the Liberals were unwilling, even when other parties did the work for them, to entertain any fixes to the flaws.
Unfortunately, what that means is that this will be exactly like what we saw with the Harper government. Half a dozen times, a court threw out the legislation, because the Conservatives steamrolled it through the House of Commons rather than listening to elected representatives and experts so they could fix the flaws. Tragically, we are going to see women being forced to go back to court to throw out a piece of legislation on pay equity that could have been fixed. We did the work for them.
The most frustrating thing is that the current Liberal government does not have the character to understand that it is not who gets the credit; it is that the work is done right. We have always believed that the work needs to be done right. That is our role in Parliament, as Canadians chose in the last election. Up until the next election, we will continue to do that work.
I must oppose the bill at report stage. There are huge errors in this bill, and the Liberals rejected dozens of amendments that we proposed. They refused to improve the bill, and this is why I will vote against it.
View Ruth Ellen Brosseau Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in the debate on Bill C-86, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures.
The bill has made it to report stage. This is a mammoth bill that is more than 851 pages long. It is truly a massive omnibus bill.
If we combine this bill with the 2008 budget, that makes more than 1,400 pages of legislative changes that all members of the House have to study.
We have said many times that bills like Bill C-86 should be split so that all members of the House have enough time to debate and study them. When bills are this big, it is easy to hide things in them.
In 2015, the Liberals promised to do things differently. When the Conservatives were in power, they had a habit of introducing mammoth omnibus bills. During the election campaign, the Liberals said they would be different and everyone could trust them. However, right after they were elected, back in 2015, they started introducing omnibus bills.
When a government drafts a budget, it makes choices and sets priorities. We are really very disappointed with Bill C-86. More and more, people are hoping the government will enact measures to change their lives for the better. As the NDP sees it, the Liberals have missed that opportunity.
As everyone knows, Canada is a rich country. The gap between Canada's richest people and the rest of the population has never been wider. We believe that that is utterly unacceptable in 2018. Two Canadian billionaires own as much as 11 million Canadians.
Oxfam released a report revealing that the eight richest men own the same wealth as half of humanity.
About 4 million Canadians, including 1.15 million children, live in homes that struggle to put food on the table. Last week, following our weekly caucus meeting, I was able to go back to my riding of Berthier—Maskinongé to attend a Noël du pauvre fundraising dinner in Yamachiche. Volunteers work throughout the year to raise money so that families and children get Christmas hampers.
I would like to recognize the work of organizing committee chair Pierrette Plante and honorary chair Father Julio César Duran. A total of 550 people attended this dinner, which raised nearly $16,000 to help local residents in need.
We are pleased to see that Bill C-86 contains poverty reduction targets. Unfortunately, those targets are not accompanied by appropriate measures or funding so that they can be met.
The Liberals have ideas and targets, but they are not making any new investments to meet those targets. There is a poverty crisis in Canada. People are living in hardship and misery. There are still people struggling to make ends meet at the end of the month.
The important thing in this bill is pay equity. Women have been waiting for pay equity for over 42 years. It is a promise that was made by the Liberals. However, once again, we are waiting. The Liberals like to consult, but what it really boils down to is that they are buying time. They are still consulting about pay equity, when we really need it today.
Another thing we were hoping to find in the bill was a federal measure to tax web giants, but the bill contains no such measure. We are also calling on the government to put an end to pension theft and to give Canada a national child care strategy.
I had my son when I was a teenager, and at the time, it cost me $55 a day to send him to daycare. I had to take out additional loans so I could continue my studies and send my son to daycare. We need a Canada-wide child care system to help families, especially single parents.
Furthermore, we want stronger action to address tax havens, and we also want EI sickness benefits to be extended from 15 weeks to 50. There is a good public awareness campaign on that topic. I will come back to that. We also want a universal pharmacare system.
In addition, we want the needs of indigenous communities to be met, particularly with regard to access to safe drinking water and funding for educational institutions in their communities, which receive less funding than other institutions in the country. Lastly, we want assistance for rural regions.
Regarding the duration of EI sickness benefits, which we want to be extended from 15 weeks to 50, it is important to highlight the work of Marie-Hélène Dubé, who launched a petition called “15 weeks to heal is not enough!”. Half a million Canadians signed that petition calling on the federal government to take action, but we have heard nothing but radio silence so far in response. It is very frustrating.
In 2016, the Prime Minister himself and the Minister of Social Development promised to take action and extend the benefit period. In 2014, the Prime Minister even voted in favour of Bill C-291, which would have extended EI sickness benefits from 15 weeks to 50.
The government needs to walk the talk. Sick people need time to take care of themselves. They do not have time to fight. That is why we continue to pressure the federal government to extend EI sickness benefits.
I represent the riding of Berthier—Maskinongé, which includes the RCMs of Maskinongé and Berthier, as well as three municipalities in the RCM of Matawinie. I travel quite a bit across my riding, and people stop me to talk about the importance of having a national connectivity strategy, which is something we do not currently have at the federal level.
Access to high-speed broadband Internet is vital to strengthening Canada's social and economic fabric. Some businesses really struggle with connectivity issues. I know a business owner in Maskinongé who pays two ISPs and never knows which of the two will work when he needs it. When one does not work, he tries the other.
We have long called for a national connectivity strategy. Although the government offers programs and money from time to time, this is not enough. We need a Canada-wide strategy to connect Canada and Quebec to the Internet.
I should point out that a cell network strategy is needed as well. In my riding of Berthier—Maskinongé, people from Saint-Mathieu-du-Parc to Saint-Édouard-de-Maskinongé tell me how important cell coverage is. The mayor of Saint-Édouard-de-Maskinongé, Réal Normandin, has spoken to me about this, because people in his village have a hard time getting cell reception. The community of Saint-Élie-de-Caxton, the hometown of Fred Pellerin, is in the same boat.
At a coffee meeting last week in Lavaltrie, Sylvie Legault and Gilles Auclair collected signatures for a petition about the 34 homes on the Point-du-Jour concession that have no Internet access and limited cell network access. Lavaltrie is not far from Montreal. These people are calling for a national Internet access and cell network strategy.
We had hoped to find all kinds of good things in Bill C-89, but the NDP will have to oppose this bill, since it does not do enough to address pay equality. Women have been fighting for far too long for the right to equal pay for equal work.
This bill also does not do enough to help rural areas get access to the Internet and the cell network. We also need to improve the pharmacare system. In short, there are many reasons why we will be voting against Bill C-86.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2018-11-26 16:36 [p.23934]
Mr. Speaker, basically, it looks like we are in agreement in a lot of areas.
The member mentioned that there were a lot of poor people in the country. As I mentioned in my speech in detail, we have contributed to virtually all of those groups. First, for the working poor, we have helped over two million people. We have increased the amount of money for low-income students. We have increased the GIS for low-income seniors, bringing thousands of them out of poverty. There is the new Canada child benefit, which brings thousands of children out of poverty.
I am delighted the member raised the boiled water advisories. I do not have the exact figures, but a record number have been dealt with, I think 60 out of 120. We are well on schedule to eliminate them all. It is very important, and I am glad it is important for the NDP.
Finally, on Internet for rural areas, there is a special program. As an example, in my area, the federal government is investing millions to put a line up the Dempster Highway to Inuvik. Therefore, we will have redundancy with our line from the south from Alberta as it goes down whenever someone breaks a line from Alberta. I am very appreciative of that. I appreciate the fact that the member supports those types of initiatives.
View Ruth Ellen Brosseau Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I could have talked more than 10 minutes, because there are a lot of issues I would have liked to have brought forward on the floor of the House.
I mentioned the importance to act on ensuring we equalized and had better transfer payments to first nations schools. We hear stories, quite often brought up in caucus and in question period, of devastating circumstances, such as how the schools are filled with mould and people are getting sick. The government is not investing enough in building schools so kids feel safe and comfortable. It is completely ridiculous to think that in the 2018 there is such as injustice in the way kids are treated across Canada.
For the boiled water advisories, some people do not have running water. Parents are afraid to wash their kids because they might get sick. We have not seen a concrete plan and obviously the government has not invested enough.
These are human rights violations. These are important issues that the government talks a lot about, but when it comes to concrete action and money to back it up, it is far too little.
View Randy Boissonnault Profile
Lib. (AB)
View Randy Boissonnault Profile
2018-11-20 11:26 [p.23588]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my support for Bill C-75. I would like to use my time today to discuss the proposed changes to this bill that would affect the LGBTQ2 community, human trafficking and the victim surcharge.
As special adviser to the Prime Minister on LGBTQ2 issues, I am particularly proud of the work of our government in advancing the rights of LBGTQ2 Canadians and the work of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in making concrete, tangible legislative changes that would improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit Canadians.
Today, on the the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, when we pause to reflect on the lives of transgender people here in Canada and around the world that have been lost to murder, suicide, hatred and discrimination; the lives diminished due to overt transphobia and misogyny; and the daily discrimination faced by trans children, siblings, parents and their loved ones, I am proud, as the first openly gay MP elected from Alberta to the House, that Parliament passed Bill C-16 to protect trans persons in the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act. I am particularly proud that our government led this charge.
I am also proud of the work of our government in passing legislation to enable Canadians who have criminal records for same-sex consensual activity to have these records expunged, and I acknowledge the leadership of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness on this file.
I would also like to thank the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada for including in Bill C-75 the removal of section 159, which discriminates against young gay or bisexual men. That would now be removed from the Criminal Code with the passing of Bill C-75.
I also applaud the work of the committee and the ministry in responding to expert testimony for the repeal of the bawdy house and vagrancy provisions that were used by police forces to arrest gay men who frequented gay clubs and bathhouses. Men arrested in these police raids, many now in their 60s, 70s and 80s, still face criminal records as a result of these charges. We heard the testimony, and the committee and the ministry responded. Should Bill C-75 pass, these odious provisions in the Criminal Code would be removed and amends could thus be made.
Parts of the bill pertain to human trafficking and the victim surcharge.
I think it is very important to clearly state that human trafficking cannot be tolerated and that our government sees it as a very serious concern. That is why we continue to work closely with the provinces, territories, law enforcement agencies, victim services groups, organizations representing indigenous peoples, and other community groups, as well as our international partners. We are working together to combat all forms of human trafficking in Canada and abroad, to provide victims with special protection and support, to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice and to ensure that their punishment reflects the severity of the crime.
Human trafficking is a very difficult crime to detect because of its clandestine nature and victims' reluctance to report their situations out of fear of their traffickers. We heard testimony about that when the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights travelled across the country to listen to victims of human trafficking and to see how we could change the Criminal Code to provide more opportunities for police to work with those organizations that work with victims.
The legislative changes within Bill C-75 would provide police and prosecutors with additional tools for investigation and prosecution. These measures would bring the perpetrators of human trafficking to justice so they can answer for the severity of their actions.
The amendments proposed in Bill C-38 would bring into force amendments that have already been passed by Parliament, but were not promulgated in the former parliamentary initiative, Bill C-452. They would also strengthen the legislation to combat all forms of human trafficking, whether through sexual exploitation or forced labour, while respecting the rights and freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution.
We heard of heinous crimes being committed not just against those who are unknown to the perpetrators, but also against family members. Family trafficking exists in this country, and we must make sure that police forces are armed with the tools they need to be able to put an end to such heinous crimes.
More specifically, the proposed changes will make it easier to prosecute human trafficking offences by introducing a presumption that will enable the Crown to prove that the accused exercised control, direction or influence over the victim's movements by establishing that the accused lived with or was habitually in the company of the victim.
In addition, these changes would add human trafficking to the list of offences to which the provisions imposing a reverse onus for forfeiture of proceeds of crime apply.
I would now like to discuss the changes that would affect the victim surcharge. Bill C-75 proposes to restore judicial discretion to waive the victim surcharge by guiding judges to waive the victim surcharge only when the offender is truly unable to pay. For certain offences against the administration of justice, where the total amount would be disproportionate in certain circumstances, the bill would also provide for limited judicial discretion to not impose a federal victim surcharge amount per offence.
The federal victim surcharge, which is set out in the Criminal Code, is imposed on a sentencing basis, and revenue is collected and used by the province or territory where the criminal act was committed to assist in the sentencing process for funding victims services. Bill C-75 would maintain that the federal victim surcharge must be imposed ex officio and must apply cumulatively to each offence. However, to address concerns about the negative impact of current federal victim surcharge provisions on marginalized offenders, the bill would provide limited judicial discretion regarding the mandatory and cumulative imposition of the surcharge in certain circumstances.
Bill C-75 would provide clear direction as to what would constitute undue hardship. These guidelines would ensure that the mandatory exemption, or waiver, would be applied consistently and only to offenders who were truly unable to pay the surcharge. In addition, the bill would state that undue hardship would refer to the financial ability to pay and was not simply caused by harm associated with incarceration. We are trying to avoid the criminalization and over-criminalization of people simply because of their inability to pay a federal victim surcharge.
For certain offences against the justice administration, in the event that the cumulative surcharge was disproportionate to the circumstances, Bill C-75 would contain provisions allowing an exception to the victim fine surcharge ratio. This exception would apply to two types of offences against the administration of justice: failure to appear in court; and breach of conditions of bail by a peace officer or court order, and only when said breach did not cause any moral, bodily or financial damage to the victim.
Studies show that marginalized offenders, especially indigenous offenders and offenders with mental health and addiction issues, are more likely to be found guilty of offences against the administration of justice.
Under the existing victim surcharge provisions, it is unlikely that much of the money collected in the federal victim surcharges that are paid out to the provinces and territories comes from groups of offenders who are unable to pay the victim surcharge or who are only able to pay part of the surcharge because of their personal situation or because of their multiple offences against the administration of justice.
In addition, offenders who suffer undue hardship as a result of the mandatory victim surcharge are, by the current application of the provisions, hampered in their ability to regain financial stability. This places them in a situation where the surcharge does not allow them to successfully reintegrate into society after serving their sentences or paying their outstanding fines, and they risk reoffending. These types of situations do not help survivors or victims of crime or the provision of services to help them. This proposed exception would be consistent with the principles of fairness and equity.
I am confident that by maintaining a higher mandatory surcharge, this proposed legislation would support the objective of the victim surcharge to provide a source of funding for provincial and territorial victim services while strengthening offender accountability regarding victims and society in general. At the same time, the bill would be in keeping with the principles of proportionality, fairness and respect for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Not having gone through law school, I can say that it is an honour to serve on this committee and to be part of making Bill C-75 appear in the House today.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-11-20 13:07 [p.23603]
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to rise today at report stage of Bill 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. This is an omnibus bill that addresses matters related to the Criminal Code of Canada.
At first, everyone in our society who deals with major justice issues were quite pleased with what the Minister of Justice had to say. There is a clear need for reform. Unfortunately, many in the legal community and elsewhere who are calling for real reform are disappointed.
There is a great sense of disappointment. The longer we work with Bill C-75, the more the disappointment deepens. Michael Spratt, the former chair of the Canadian Criminal Lawyers' Association, has been quoted in this debate before. As he put it, “It all sounded so good. But it has all gone so wrong.”
I did attempt to make improvements to the legislation. Members of this place will know that while my status as leader of the Green Party of Canada does not allow me to sit on any committees, through the work of the PMO, first under former primer minister Stephen Harper and now under our current Prime Minister, I have what some might think of as an opportunity but I have to say it is an enormous burden that increases my workload. It is rather unfair because if it were not for what the committees have done, I could have been presenting substantive amendments here at report stage. That is my right as a member of Parliament and not of one of the three big parties. I have very few rights as a member of Parliament with one seat for the Green Party, but one of those rights was to be able to make substantive amendments at report stage. My rights have been subsumed into what, as I said, was done first by the Conservative government and now by the Liberals, to say that I have an opportunity to present amendments during clause-by-clause study at committee, although I am not a member of the committee. I do not have a right to vote, but I get a chance to speak to my amendments.
It was under that committee motion I was able to present 46 amendments. I participated vigorously in the clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-75. It was a very discouraging process as very few amendments from opposition parties were accepted. Most of my amendments went directly to testimony from many witnesses who wanted to see the bill improved and I am disappointed that none of my 46 amendments made it through.
I should say that some of the worst parts of Bill C-75 were changed on the basis of government-proposed amendments. One of the ones that had worried me a great deal was the idea that in a criminal trial, evidence from the police could come in the form of a written statement without proffering the police officer in question for cross-examination. That was amended so that the prosecutors cannot use what is called routine police evidence without having someone put forward to be cross-examined. There was also the repeal of the vagrancy law and repeal of the law about keeping a common bawdy house.
However, many other sections of this bill cry out for further amendment, so at this point I want to highlight those sections that really need to be amended. We are at report stage, and third reading will come in short order. We are already under time allocation. I hope that when this bill gets to the other place, as it inevitably will, the other place will pass amendments that are needed.
It is quite clear that this bill, in some key areas, would do the opposite of what the government has promised, particularly in relation to disadvantaged people, particularly in relation to the status of indigenous peoples in our prisons, and particularly in relation to access to justice and fairness which have actually been worsened in this bill. That is not something I expected to be standing up and saying at report stage, but there it is. It is massively disappointing, and I hope that the Senate will improve it.
One of the things that was done, and I am not sure it was the best solution, but it was clearly a response to the Stanley case where it was a massive sense of a miscarriage of justice. When there is a jury, it is supposed to be a jury of the accused person's peers. If the person is an indigenous youth and his or her jury is entirely Caucasian, it is not exactly a jury of his or her peers. One of the reasons this happens is the use of peremptory challenges. Therefore, I do appreciate the effort in Bill C-75 to eliminate peremptory challenges. However, I want to go over the way in which this bill actually takes this backward.
The effort here of course, as many other hon. members have pointed out, is that this bill is in direct response to the Jordan decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in 2016. In the Jordan case, the delays were so profound that the case could not proceed. Therefore, I think it is very clear that all Canadians feel the same sense of concern with the new trial timelines of 18 months for provincial courts and 30 months for superior court. No one wants people to be freed, who at this point still have the presumption of innocence, because they have not gone through their court case. If the evidence is good enough, the prosecutors bring those people forward. The idea that they are just let out of jail because the trial times and the processing of that person took too long offends our sense of justice. The Government of Canada and the Parliament of Canada were given a very quick jab toward justice by the Supreme Court of Canada. However, have we got it right?
In an effort to speed up trials, I will mention one thing first, which is the issue of eliminating preliminary inquiries. There was a great deal of evidence before our committee that the Government of Canada and the justice department did not have good data to tell us that preliminary inquiries were a source of great delay.
I want to quote from one of the legal experts. Bill Trudell is the current chair of the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers. He described preliminary inquiries like this, “They're like X-rays before an operation”. That is a very useful thing to have. They do not happen all the time, but when we remove them without good evidence as to why we are removing them, we could end up having innocent people convicted. In fact, Bill Trudell said that as difficult as it was for him to say, he thinks more innocent people will be convicted because we have taken out preliminary inquiries without quite having the evidence that that was a good thing to do to speed up trials.
We have heard a lot from my friends in the Conservative caucus about the question of hybridization. We have the problem that, having changed the range of sentencing, the effect of Bill C-75 is to also increase the sentencing for a summary conviction from six months to two years.
The Liberals have also added in Bill C-75 provisions about the use of agents that I do not think were thoroughly thought through. To give a better sense of agents, and this goes to the question of access to justice, suppose people are not quite poor enough to get a legal aid lawyer but are trying to navigate the legal system and they cannot afford a lawyer. In many of those cases, for a very long time, criminal defendants have had the benefit, particularly if they are low income, of law school clinics, which are young lawyers in training. They are student lawyers working as a clinic to provide legal services to people charged with lesser offences. It is too late to amend as here we are at report stage. I hope the other place will amend this to ensure access to legal aid clinics out of law schools in order to help marginalized groups navigating the legal system. I think this is an unintended consequence. I am certain that people in the Department of Justice did not ponder this and say that one of the problems is too many poor people are getting help from law students. That was not a problem that wanted solving, that was a very good and ongoing process that has been recklessly compromised in this bill. I have to hope that when it gets to the other place, we can fix this and make sure that in the definition of “agents” we exclude law students and law schools running clinics.
There are other aspects of this bill where the Liberals have just failed altogether to deal with the issue of the disproportionate number of indigenous people behind bars. They have taken in some aspects, in taking things into account. However, one of my amendments, that I really regret was not accepted, was we have no definition of “vulnerable populations”, and a lot of the evidence that came before the justice committee suggested we need such a definition. I tried one and it failed. Maybe the other place can try again. I hope that Bill C-75 will see more improvement in the other place before it becomes law.
View Doug Eyolfson Profile
Lib. (MB)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in today's debate of Bill C-75. I would like to use my time today to discuss some aspects of amendments to the selection of juries. As we know, jury reform is an area of shared jurisdiction and Parliament is responsible for the criminal law and the rules in the Criminal Code setting out the framework for in-court jury selection. The provinces and territories are responsible for determining, for example, who is eligible for jury duty and the process by which the jury roll is compiled. Bill C-75 proposes several reforms with respect to the in-court jury selection process.
First, is the abolishment of peremptory challenges. The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights heard several witnesses testify on jury reforms. Several legal experts and advocates expressed strong support for their elimination, as it would finally put an end to discriminatory exclusion of jurors.
Kent Roach from the University of Toronto stated:
The proposed abolition of peremptory challenges in s.271 of Bill C-75 is the most effective and efficient way to ensure that neither the Crown or the accused engages in discrimination against Aboriginal people and other disadvantaged and identifiable groups when selecting a juror.
Brent Kettles from Toronto said:
...having peremptory challenges cannot help but lower the public confidence in the administration of justice when members of the public and perspective jurors watch perspective jurors excluded on the basis of no reason, on the basis of no evidence, and without any information.
When those exclusions are based basically on the gut feeling of who is likely to be sympathetic to one side or the other, then that doesn't give the public or perspective jurors a feeling that jury selection is happening in a way that is fair and impartial, and also represents the community.
Legal expert Vanessa McDonnell noted:
It's important to recognize that these challenges have historically been, and can be, used against accused persons to their detriment. We have to balance the perceived benefit of having the peremptory challenge in your pocket to challenge someone whom defence counsel doesn't feel quite right about against the very real risk, I would suggest, that these challenges are going to be used in a way that disadvantages the accused person. My view is that, on balance, the potential harm, not only to the system but to accused persons, is greater than any benefit that accrues.
Discrimination in the selection of juries has been documented for decades. Concerns about the discriminatory use of peremptory challenges and its impact on indigenous people being under-represented on juries were raised in 1991 by Senator Murray Sinclair, then a judge with the Manitoba aboriginal justice inquiry.
More recently, we heard from retired Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci, who studied these issues in his 2013 report on first nations representation on Ontario Juries. Having read these reports and after hearing from many experts on the topic, I am confident that Bill C-75 proposes the right approach in abolishing peremptory challenges. It is a simple and effective way to prevent deliberate discrimination and the arbitrary exclusion of qualified jury members.
Furthermore, to bring greater efficiencies to the jury selection process and to make it more impartial, the bill proposes to empower a judge to decide whether to exclude jurors challenged for cause—for example, because they are biased to one side—by either the defence or prosecution.
Currently, such challenges are decided by two laypersons called “triers” who are not trained in the law. This process has been problematic, causing delays in jury trials even before they begin and appeals resulting in orders for a new trial.
The proposal would shift the responsibility for such challenges to judges, who are trained adjudicators and therefore better placed to screen out impartial jurors. The proposed change reflects a recommendation made in 2009 by the Steering Committee on Justice Efficiencies and Access to the Justice System, a group established by the federal-provincial-territorial ministers of justice, comprising judges, deputy ministers of justice from across Canada, defence lawyers, representatives of the bar associations and the police. It is also consistent with what is done in other common law countries, such as England, Australia and New Zealand.
I am confident that this change in procedure would result in improvements in the overall efficiency of our jury trials.
There are also several proposed changes to modernize and update the challenge for cause grounds. Notably, the proposed change to reduce the number of jurors with criminal records for minor offences who could be challenged and excluded from jury duty would help address concerns that excluding individuals with minor criminal records disproportionately impacts certain segments of society, including indigenous persons, as noted by Justice Iacobucci. It would also assist in improving broader participation on juries, and thus, jury representativeness.
In conclusion, the jury reforms in Bill C-75 would mark critical progress in the area of promoting fairness, diversity and participation in the jury selection process. These improvements would also enhance efficiencies, as well as public confidence, in the criminal justice system.
I call upon all members of the House to support this transformative bill.
View Marco Mendicino Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Marco Mendicino Profile
2018-11-20 15:24 [p.23625]
Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to rise and speak to Bill C-75, which represents a package of bold and comprehensive reforms. This is not the first time that I have spoken to this significant piece of legislation. I did have the opportunity to comment on it previously in my former capacity as the parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice and the attorney general of Canada.
I want to begin by expressing my gratitude to a number of people who have contributed to Bill C-75. First, obviously, I would like to thank the Minister of Justice for her leadership. I would also like to thank members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for their close study of the bill, and all of the stakeholders and contributors who through their testimony before committee and their written submissions provided for a very rigorous and thoughtful study of this bill.
Having had the benefit of reviewing those submissions and some of the testimony and seeing the hard work and contributing to it myself by participating in round tables around the country, consulting with stakeholders in conjunction with the Minister of Justice, I am confident in saying that Bill C-75 is a momentous piece of legislation. When it becomes law, it will improve our overall criminal justice system.
I also want to thank the thousands of people who work within our criminal justice system day in and day out, law enforcement, police, members of the judiciary, and all the social services which are wrapped around the criminal justice system. Having worked in it myself for over a decade, I can say without any hesitation that these are individuals who care about protecting our community while also offering the prospect and opportunity for people who find themselves caught within the criminal justice system to reform and to rehabilitate, which is a fundamental principle of the criminal justice system, especially as it relates to our sentencing processes.
There is obviously more to do. The Supreme Court of Canada put into very sharp focus the task that is ahead of us as a result of some of the ongoing challenges which the criminal justice system is confronted with every day. What are those challenges? They range from, obviously, the overrepresentation of marginalized individuals, in particular, members of the racialized community, as well as our indigenous peoples. Far too often, for reasons that are not their fault but rather a result of the systemic challenges which they face on an individual basis as well as the collective challenges that communities face, they find themselves caught in the web of the criminal justice system.
We need to be very candid with ourselves about what those challenges look like. We see overrepresentation of racialized members as well as indigenous peoples in our jails right across the country.
We also know there is an under-representation of those very same groups within the legal profession and within the judiciary. The work that the Minister of Justice has undertaken in appointing a judiciary which is more reflective of the diversity of this great country is in part a sincere effort to address that challenge. Having spoken with many members right across the continuum of our society, I can say that we have made progress, but there is still more work to do.
I also would note that the Supreme Court of Canada in Jordan did point out quite rightly and quite justifiably that there are serious concerns when it comes to delay, court delay in particular, and if not addressed, a denial of the right to have a trial within a reasonable period of time can amount to an infringement of a person's rights under the charter, particularly under section 11(b) of the charter. It was incumbent upon all of us in the words of the Supreme Court to address the culture of complacency which for far too long has shackled our ability to address delay.
Having had the benefit of reflection and having had the benefit of consultation and discourse in the context of Bill C-75, we now have a suite of reforms which will not solve all of the problems, but certainly will begin to dramatically rewire and hopefully create a criminal justice system, a set of processes, which will allow people to have access to justice, have the right to have their day in court, and begin that path to rehabilitation which is so important in order to create communities which are strong, resilient and safe.
I will now highlight some of the important components of Bill C-75, much of which has been debated for quite some time now in this House and at committee. Eventually, the bill will make its way over to the other place and then back.
It begins at the very start of the criminal justice system process when an individual is arrested and is brought before the court for his or her first appearance. It is at that moment the court is then asked to determine whether that person should be released or detained pending his or her trial.
We have enshrined a principle of restraint in Bill C-75, the point of which is to ensure that justice actors who are appearing in court, either representing the Crown or the defence or in their capacity as duty counsel, are not automatically overburdening judicial interim release orders with conditions which essentially are a prescription for reoffending and failure. Rather, through this principle of restraint, we are encouraging all of the parties who are involved in the determination of bail to assess the conditions which are necessary to address one of the three statutory grounds on which an individual is released.
From the perspective of the primary grounds, if the person is a flight risk, what are the conditions that are necessary to secure the person's ongoing attendance before the court? On the secondary grounds, is there a serious risk of reoffending? What are the conditions that are necessary for the purposes of ensuring that the community's concerns are addressed on secondary grounds? Obviously, under the tertiary grounds, we question whether there are additional conditions which are required to maintain the public's confidence in the administration of justice. Again, we look for some nexus between what are the conditions which are being asked for by either party and their advancement of the tertiary ground concerns.
We have, through the principle of restraint, really fostered a much more responsible approach. This is about addressing the culture of the criminal justice system right from the get-go, once a person is implicated with charges at the bail stage.
We have also, in the context of Bill C-75, introduced a suite of reforms that will, hopefully, reduce the number of administration of justice offences which are in the system. Looking at the statistics which are available right across the country, we see, for example in the province of Ontario, that over 40% of the charges in the provincial court system, the Ontario Court of Justice, could be classified under the administration of justice offences.
We are looking to find alternative ways to address potential breaches through the principle of restraint, to actually reduce the likelihood that there will be an unnecessary technical charge which is unrelated to the underlying substantive offence, but also to introduce a concept called judicial referral hearings, where even if there is a legitimate breach, to look for other ways to address it, short of introducing an entire set of new charges.
I would also point out that Bill C-75 addresses intimate partner violence. This is something that I heard very personally and I know the minister did as well in our round tables. There is the need to address the systemic barriers which for far too long have prevented victims from coming forward. How are we doing that? In the case of repeat offenders, people who have been convicted in the past of sexual offences or offences related to intimate partner violence, to put the onus on them to determine whether they should be entitled to bail, and also to look for additional factors to be taken into consideration.
At the back end there are more tools available both to the prosecutor as well as to the court to determine what is the appropriate sentence by lifting the maximum sentences available, again for repeat offenders. That, coupled with the investments which we are making in the victims fund, by looking at other ways in which we can make it easier for victims to be able to come forward to ensure that they are heard, to ensure that they have a voice in the system, is absolutely crucial in order to ensure that there is access to justice.
These are just some of the highlights in Bill C-75. Again, there is no one simple solution to solving all of the challenges which the criminal justice system is confronted with.
I rise with great pride to speak on behalf of the bill. I urge all members to support it. At the end of the day, it will bring the criminal justice system into the 21st century and therefore be a great service to our country.
View MaryAnn Mihychuk Profile
Lib. (MB)
View MaryAnn Mihychuk Profile
2018-11-20 16:42 [p.23636]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand here today in this honourable House to talk about Bill C-75.
This is a long overdue change to the legal system, which has been bogged down, in many cases to such an extent that cases have been found to have lost their meaning and been adjourned. People whom we suspected were guilty got away without going through due process at all. Those circumstances cannot happen. It is not justice. It is not fair.
This is one step towards making a fairer, more efficient and effective judicial system. Bill C-75 is a meaningful and significant approach to promoting efficiency, and I would assume that all members of the House would like to see that happen. Efficiency and effectiveness are what every member would like to see in our systems, because we would not want to waste one penny of taxpayer money on something that could be done better. It is always our goal to do better. That is exactly what this bill does.
This bill would, in a significant way, promote efficiency in our criminal justice system, reduce case completion times, as I mentioned earlier, and contribute to increased public confidence while respecting the rights of those involved and ensuring that public safety is maintained.
In terms of preliminary inquiries, this bill would restrict preliminary inquires to adults accused of the 63 most serious offences in the Criminal Code, which carry a sentence of life imprisonment, like murder; and would reinforce a judge's power to limit the questions to be examined, as well as the number of witnesses who will appear.
The Supreme Court of Canada in its Jordan decision, and the Senate legal affairs committee in its final report on delays in the justice system, recommended that preliminary inquiry reform be considered. We should be proud to support a bill that takes into account not only the recommendations of this House but also of the upper house and of the provinces and territories that have been working on this issue for many years. It has been discussed for decades.
Some say that restricting preliminary inquiries might have little impact on the delays. Even though it concerns only 3% of the cases, it would still have a significant impact on those provinces where this procedure is used more often, such as Ontario and Quebec. We know, because of the population base involved, that this would have a significant impact on the whole judicial system.
Also, we cannot overlook the cumulative effect of all of Bill C-75's proposals that seek to streamline the criminal justice system process.
It is of course for the betterment of both the accused and victims to have the system move fairly and efficiently in a timely manner. The proposed preliminary inquiry amendments are the culmination of years of study and consideration in federal-provincial-territorial and other meetings.
We know that it is not easy to negotiate a framework when we have many divergent views and jurisdictions involved, but this is going to be good for Canadians. It will be good for the indigenous population of our country, who have unfortunately been the victim of a system that many have called racist. If we look at the number of indigenous people in our jails, it is extremely high. One must ask why the system seems to incarcerate so many more indigenous people than their population warrants. These changes will be more effective and fairer for our indigenous population, and that is a commitment of our Prime Minister.
This is a balanced approach. We often see that in this House, in particular, where we have the left and the right, the positions can be quite separated, with the Liberals coming in the middle and providing a balanced approach and centre to both.
I think most Canadians are reasonable centralists and, as we have seen in the past, this type of negotiated solution means compromises on both sides. As we look at the balanced approach between opposing views put forward by both committees and those expressed by the House, they are considered and put forward in this bill.
This bill would make this procedure more efficient and expedient. Of course, that is the goal of all of our programs for Canadians, as well as being meaningful, respectful and available to all Canadians. It is important to respect the accused person's right to a fair trial. This would also help witnesses and victims by preventing some of them from having to testify twice. That is just not reasonable for the system. It is hard on victims, very hard on witnesses, so to eliminate this would be of benefit to all.
Let us look at the issue of case management. Bill C-75 would allow for the earlier appointment of case management judges. This recognizes their unique and vital role in ensuring the momentum of cases is maintained, and that they are completed in an efficient, effective, just and timely manner. This was also recommended by the Senate report on delays in the criminal justice system.
It is important to discuss, even if briefly, the use of technology and how it would provide fairness, particularly to the indigenous population of Canada. I come from Manitoba, which has the highest per capita number of indigenous people of any province. In many cases, they are in fairly remote and isolated communities where participating in a full process is extremely difficult because there are no roads, access is limited and broadband connections are poor. These are all issues that make justice much more difficult for indigenous people in those circumstances.
In terms of technology, the bill proposes to allow remote appearances by audio or video conference for accused, witnesses, lawyers, judges, justices of the peace and interpreters, under certain circumstances. This would obviously assist many people, although it is not always appropriate. Canada has allowed remote appearances for many years, and these amendments seek to broaden the existing framework.
These optional tools in Bill C-75 aim to increase access to justice, streamline processes and reduce system costs, such as the transport of the accused and witness attendance costs, without impacting existing resources such as those through the indigenous court worker program. The changes we are proposing also respond to the Senate committee recommendations, which called for an increase to the use of remote appearances for accused persons.
In conclusion, the proposals in Bill C-75 in relation to preliminary inquiries, judicial case management and remote appearances, together with all of the other reforms, would ensure that our criminal justice system is efficient, just and in line with the values of our communities and all Canadians.
View Gary Anandasangaree Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I am very glad to speak here in support of Bill 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.
I will start off by acknowledging that we are gathered here on the traditional lands of the Algonquin people.
To give members a sense of my involvement with the criminal justice system, I was a youth worker and ran a youth service agency several years ago. In fact, I came across a number of young people who had interactions with the criminal justice system. I found it quite frustrating that the young people were often looked at in silos with respect to the charges that were in front of them in their involvement with the criminal justice system.
Also, as a lawyer, I practised in this area very briefly. Over the years I have worked with a number of organizations that work with youth, especially those involved with the criminal justice system. Just last Christmas, along with the Toronto breakfast clubs and the Second Chance Scholarship Foundation, I was at the Roy McMurtry Youth Centre for young offenders and had a really good afternoon meeting with a number of young people who were involved in the criminal justice system and serving time.
As well, since my election as an MP, I have visited a number of institutions across Ontario, including detention centres and penitentiaries.
It is clear to me from my engagement with the criminal justice system that it is not fully working. There is a lot that we need to do to change it and to improve it. I believe Bill C-75 addresses a number of important issues. First and foremost are the issues of delay, safety in terms of our communities and, of course, the massive overrepresentation of certain groups within the system.
The reports of the Office of the Correctional Investigator are quite insightful, offering some drastic numbers that reflect what I believe are structural issues within our system. These issues often cause particular groups to be overly represented within the criminal justice system. For example, 40% of women in penitentiaries are indigenous, which is a gross overrepresentation in relation to the indigenous population in Canada.
Similarly, young black men represent roughly 8% of those serving time in penitentiaries, and indigenous men hover around 30%. We know that this representation is pronounced and disproportionate in relation to their overall numbers.
We can ask ourselves why this is so. In my current role as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, in undertaking some discussions and engagements on anti-racism, it is very clear that there are underlying structural and systemic issues within our criminal justice system that have some very specific outcomes. Coupled with issues of poverty, disenfranchisement, a lack of housing and a whole host of other social determinants is a system that in many ways is deeply problematic in terms of the manner in which it treats certain groups of people.
However, Bill C-75 goes to some length to address these issues. It is probably not to the full extent that may be required, but it certainly goes a distance in addressing some of these structural issues, and I will talk about a few of them this afternoon.
Bill C-75 would change the way our system deals with the administration of justice offences. I cannot say the number of times I have worked with young people who have been charged with an offence, where oftentimes the evidence against the individuals is quite weak, but unfortunately, because of the terms of bail and the terms of release they often find themselves back in jail facing additional charges. It is deeply frustrating when we see that.
One of the immigration cases that came to my office involved a young man, 40 years old, who came to Canada when he was eight. He was involved with the child welfare system. I believe his first charge was when he was about 13, as a young offender. He was found not guilty of those charges, but within a year, he was charged and convicted of an offence of breach of condition, namely, that he did not appear in court. We are talking about a 14-year-old young man who, by all measure, had many obstacles in his life including the fact that he was separated from his parents and was growing up in the child welfare system. This young man ended up missing court and was convicted for the first time. Then I saw his record, and over and over again it was not the issues of the actual crime, but administration of justice offences that he was convicted of.
This really tells us that our system is not working. We can look across the country at many young men and women who are serving time because the way we have set up our system is one which is very punitive and restrictive. While it is essential to ensure public safety, I do think we can do this by making sure that the terms of release are proportionate and reasonable and are acceptable to all the parties. That is something which I see very often.
When I worked with young people, one of the standard terms of release that I saw in bail was non-attendance. If an incident took place at school or near a school, oftentimes a condition is that the young person does not attend that school or go near the school. How is it fair that a 15-year-old in grade 10 who is having some difficulties in life is restricted from going to that school? A change of school, a change of circumstance, would obviously extenuate the challenges a young person has in life and often will lead to a greater involvement with the criminal justice system.
I thought I would have time to speak to this in more detail. However, I will say that this bill is very important. It goes part of the way in addressing some of the systemic issues that we see in the criminal justice system and particularly with respect to the racialization of incarceration in Canada and many parts of the world, but particularly in Canada as documented by the Office of the Correctional Investigator and others who have pointed to highly polarizing numbers that speak to systemic issues within our criminal justice system.
In summary, the issues addressed in this bill are important, namely, the delay aspect and making sure the delays are limited by eliminating undue processes, as well as the overrepresentation that I discussed, and making sure that issues such as intimate partner violence are addressed. I believe that this is a very important bill that warrants the support of all of our colleagues here and across the aisle as well.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2018-11-08 11:04 [p.23432]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague opposite for his speech and comments.
In his speech, he indicated that we, on this side of the House, spend too much time consulting and that we do not take real action.
I would like to point out some of the ways that we have taken action that he might agree with.
The issue is what we are acting on. A decision was made in this country with respect to the death of Colten Boushie. The individual involved in the death of Colten Boushie was acquitted by a jury that was entirely unrepresentative of that community. There was not a single indigenous person on that jury, for the simple reason that peremptory challenges were used as a sword by counsel in that case to ensure an all-white jury.
Liberals have acted quickly since that decision and in respect of what we have heard in Manitoba, from Justice Iacobucci and from aboriginal witnesses and indigenous intervenors at the committee, who asked us to do away with peremptory challenges because that would help ensure there are more representative juries in our criminal justice system. This will hopefully cure the overrepresentation of indigenous people in the criminal justice system. The overrepresentation of indigenous and racialized persons is something I believe my colleague opposite and I share as a preoccupation and a priority of the highest order.
I would elicit the comments of the member opposite on whether he agrees with those provisions of this legislation.
View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2018-11-08 11:06 [p.23432]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
We do in fact support those aspects of the bill. Since the devil is in the details, we will obviously have to see how those things will be implemented. The case my colleague mentioned is indeed very troubling. The matter of representation of indigenous peoples and racialized groups on juries in Canada must be resolved.
On the flip side, this bill does not fully resolve the issues related to mandatory minimum sentencing and all of the other aspects of the justice system that lead to an overrepresentation of vulnerable people in the correctional and justice systems.
It would be disingenuous of me to say anything other than the fact that I appreciate my colleague's goodwill. I do not want to diminish the importance of consultation, but I think that after being in office for a number of years now, the government could have done more to remedy the problems that perpetuate these social injustices. The bill contains good measures, but obviously more needs to be done.
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
2018-11-08 11:09 [p.23433]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on Bill 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.
I would like to begin today by acknowledging the contributions of all members of the House, particularly the members of the committee, for their hard work, engagement and debate on Bill C-75. It is clear that members of all parties learned a great deal from the testimony that was heard, and the country as a whole benefited from the committee's in-depth consideration of this transformative bill.
The committee heard from roughly 95 groups and individuals covering a broad range of issues, in addition to reviewing 58 briefs. I would like to take a moment to share some of the different perspectives that members heard and read on Bill C-75 in relation to its potential impacts on indigenous peoples and persons from vulnerable populations.
The committee heard significant praise of Bill C-75's proposal to codify a principle of restraint that would guide police and courts in making bail decisions. The principle dictates that police and courts would be required to give primary consideration to releasing an accused at the earliest opportunity and apply the least onerous conditions that are appropriate in the circumstances. Police and courts would be required to ask if the conditions are responsibly practical for the accused to comply with and necessary for public safety to ensure the accused's attendance in court. The proposed principle of restraint aims to remove unnecessary strain on the criminal justice system and reflects the principles set out by the Supreme Court of Canada.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Bar Association, the Society of United Professionals, the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform, Aboriginal Legal Services and the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres are just some of the witness groups that came forward and expressed support for these measures. The sheer diversity of support that this proposal has received speaks volumes about the significance of these reforms, which are long overdue. The Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres in particular noted that the principle of restraint would benefit indigenous persons who often have to travel away from their communities to get to court, far from their family and social support systems.
Bill C-75's proposal to codify the principle of restraint further requires police and courts to give particular attention to the circumstances of indigenous and vulnerable accused, who are overrepresented in the criminal justice system and disadvantaged in seeking bail. According to 2016-17 data from Statistics Canada, the proportion of indigenous adults admitted into a provincial or territorial correctional institution is roughly seven times higher than the rest of the Canadian population, and this figure has been steadily increasing since 2007. For indigenous women in federal correctional institutions, the proportion is eight times higher than for non-indigenous women. In 2012, Statistics Canada reported that individuals suffering from mental health disorders were four times more likely than those without a disorder to report being arrested by the police.
Moreover, indigenous people and vulnerable persons tend to be disproportionately impacted by onerous and unnecessary bail conditions, more likely to be charged with breaching minor conditions, and more likely to be caught in the revolving door of the criminal justice system. These facts are indicative of a systemic problem in need of comprehensive reform.
While some witnesses, such as Professor Marie-Eve Sylvestre from the University of Ottawa, suggested that the law should define vulnerable persons, we are confident that the current, broad approach will allow for its meaning to evolve over time by being interpreted on a case-by-case basis, and avoid excluding certain groups. I would also note that the existing provision gives direction in terms of which types of vulnerability are relevant, by specifically targeting groups that are overrepresented in the criminal justice system and disadvantaged in obtaining bail.
The proposals relating to administration of justice offences also received broad support from witnesses during the committee's review of Bill C-75. These proposals would involve an alternative process called a judicial referral hearing, which is essentially an off-ramp for minor breaches that do not involve harm to a victim or witness. These breaches would not result in criminal charges, but would instead be referred to a bail court so that a judge can review and reassess the bail status and conditions of the accused.
The committee heard moving testimony from Dr. Rebecca Bromwich from Carleton University. She reminded us of the tragic case of Ashley Smith, who was just a teenager when she died on suicide watch at Grand Valley Prison in 2007. According to Dr. Bromwich, Ashley was in custody as a youth and had over 150 convictions for administration of justice offences, many of which did not involve harm to the public and would not have been offences had she not previously been involved with the criminal justice system. This is precisely the type of situation that the administration of justice reforms proposed in Bill C-75 seek to address.
The judicial referral hearing is a new tool that police and courts may use, in addition to the principle of restraint, to streamline minor breaches out of the court system and free up resources for more serious cases. This proposal drew strong support from organizations such as the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres, Legal Aid Ontario, Aboriginal Legal Services and the Canadian Bar Association, as well as academics and private practitioners.
Last, I would like to speak to a proposal that did not get as much attention, but which some organizations and individuals acknowledged would have a positive impact for indigenous people and persons from vulnerable groups. Specifically, Bill C-75 would amend the plea provisions of the Criminal Code to require that courts be satisfied that the facts support the charge as a precondition for accepting a guilty plea. Legal Aid Ontario noted that the new process for guilty pleas would help to streamline these pleas and reduce subsequent challenges on appeal, thus contributing to reducing delays. I am confident that this proposal would provide an important mechanism for ensuring that guilty pleas are not used to further marginalize already vulnerable accused.
I believe the committee's review of this bill and the vast testimony heard strengthen an already robust piece of legislation and clarify how it responds to systemic issues. I am proud to say that we now have an even more comprehensive bill aimed at reducing delays.
I strongly support this bill. I believe it will make the criminal justice system a more efficient and effective tool for all Canadians, including indigenous people, persons from vulnerable populations, accused and victims. I urge all members of the House to support this bill.
View Kevin Sorenson Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, I want to share a quick quote. With respect to the current government's dealing with first nations indigenous programs, our Auditor General described it as an “incomprehensible failure of the federal government to influence better conditions for Indigenous people in Canada.” He went on to talk about a number of programs.
The member opposite stood and said that he likes Bill C-75 because it incorporates a principle of restraint as it relates to the circumstances of aboriginal accused or other accused from vulnerable populations when interim release decisions are made. In other words, if a police officer sees that indigenous individuals have a long record, they can bring a lesser charge or a quicker and maybe in some regard more compromised response to it. Then he cited all the different groups that supported that, which were typically indigenous groups. None of them were victims organizations or victims groups that have real concerns about this part.
Does the member believe this is another indictment on the government, in that it is looking for ways to deal with the high indigenous populations in prisons at a cost to the victims?
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
2018-11-08 11:18 [p.23434]
Madam Speaker, I mentioned at the beginning of my speech that numerous different organizations and groups had come forward, some representing indigenous communities and others representing very different fields of law throughout the country.
It became very clear from the information provided by Statistics Canada that indigenous people are more likely to enter into the criminal justice system, and that it then becomes a revolving door. I strongly believe that the provisions in this bill are going to further strengthen the ability of the court to deal with lesser offences, so we can stop that cycle and address the serious impact of this system on our indigenous people.
View Kevin Sorenson Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, it is a real pleasure to speak to Bill 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.
I have real concerns about the legislation, as do many stakeholders, including the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.
First, this is another omnibus bill, containing 302 pages of major reforms to our criminal justice system. For our constituents, that means we need to study 302 pages of legalized legislation. Similar to many other Liberal promises, this is another broken promise, as the Liberals promised not to bring forward omnibus legislation.
It also signals very clearly, the Liberals' reluctance to allow for a thorough review and debate on the modernization of the criminal justice system, including reducing court delays and judicial proceedings, an extremely important debate given the current congestion within our courts, which is resulting in serious offenders having their cases thrown out.
Second, the bill would somehow undo the mandatory victim surcharge that our Conservative government imposed in 2013 under the Increasing Offenders’ Accountability for Victims Act.
The federal victim surcharge is a monetary penalty that is automatically imposed on offenders at the time of their sentencing. Money collected from offenders is intended to help fund programs and services for victims of crime.
We made this surcharge mandatory, recognizing that many judges were routinely deciding not to impose it. While we did recognize that they were doing so with some offenders who lacked the ability to pay, we believed it should be imposed in principle to signify debt owing to a victim.
Like any penalty, fine or surcharge, if people do not have the means to pay, they do not pay. However, it is the principle of the matter, and many times the guilty party does have the ability to pay some retribution to the victim.
The Conservatives strongly believe that the protection of society and the rights of victims should be the central focus in the Canadian criminal justice system rather than special allowances and treatment for criminals. This is why we introduced the Victims Bill of Rights and created the office of the victims ombudsman.
On that note, I would like to thank Sue O'Sullivan for her tremendous efforts on behalf of victims. Ms. O'Sullivan, who retired as the victims ombudsman in November 2017, had a very distinguished career in policing before being appointed to this extremely important position in 2010.
We created the ombudsman's office in 2007 to act as an independent resource for victims to help them navigate through the system and voice concerns about federal policy or legislation.
While we placed such high regard and importance on this office, the prolonged vacancy in fulfilling the position after Ms. O'Sullivan retired demonstrates very clearly what the Liberals think of the office.
In April of this year, more than four months after Ms. O'Sullivan retired, the CBC revealed the frustrations of many victims and victims advocates, including that of Heidi Illingworth, former executive director of the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime.
Ms. Illingworth said:
...the community across Canada feels like they aren't being represented, their issues aren't being put forward to the government of the day...Victims feel that they're missing a voice. The people we work with keep saying, why isn't somebody there? Isn't this office important? Who's speaking for victims... who's bringing their perspectives to the minister?
I would like to congratulate Ms. Illingworth for those sentiments, which I think may influence the government, and also for her appointment on September 24 as the third victims ombudsman for Canada.
Third, Bill C-75 would effectively reduce penalties for a number of what we on this side of the House, and many Canadians, deem serious offences. The Liberals are proposing to make a number of serious offences that are currently punishable by a maximum penalty of 10 years or less hybrid offences.
Making these hybrid offences means they can be proceeded in court by other indictment or summarily. Summary offences are tried by a judge only, are usually less serious offences and have a maximum of two years imprisonment. These hybrid offences will now include: causing bodily harm by criminal negligence, bodily harm, impaired driving causing bodily harm, participation in activities of criminal organizations, abduction of persons under the age of 14 and abduction of persons under the age of 16.
As pointed out in their testimony before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police expressed significant concern about the proposal to hybridize the indictable offences. It said:
These 85 indictable offences are classified as “secondary offences” under the Criminal Code. If the Crown proceeds by indictment and the offender is convicted of one of these 85 offences, the Crown can request that the offender provide a DNA sample for submission to the National DNA Data Bank (NDDB).
If these 85 offences are hybridized...and the Crown elects to proceed by summary conviction, the offence will no longer be deemed a “secondary offence” and a DNA Order cannot be obtained. The consequence of this will be fewer submissions being made to the NDDB. The submission of DNA samples to the NDDB is used by law enforcement to link crime scenes and to match offenders to crime scenes. Removing these 85 indictable offences from potential inclusion into the NDDB will have a direct and negative impact on police investigations.
I realize that due to the pressure exerted by the Conservatives, last night I believe, two offences, primarily the terrorism offences, have been taken out of this and it is now 83 offences with the two terrorism-related offences being removed. However, according to the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the uploading of DNA taken from 52 indictable or secondary offences, which are among those initial 85 to be made hybrid offences, resulted in 221 matches to primary offences, including 19 homicides and 24 sexual assaults. At the very least, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police is recommending that this significant unintended consequence of Bill C-75 on hybridization be rectified by listing these 85 indictable offences as secondary or primary offences so DNA orders can be made regardless of how the Crown proceeds.
We watch CSI and other programs and we see the importance of this new type of science and technology. However, now the Liberals are saying that these 85 offences are no longer important for the DNA database.
Last, I would like to talk about the intent of Bill C-75 to incorporate a principle of restraint as it relates to circumstances of aboriginal accused and other accused from vulnerable populations when interim release decisions are made.
Section 493.2 places an unreasonable onus on police officers at time of arrest to make a determination on whether an offender falls within this classification. Furthermore, and more important, it wrongly uses the criminal justice system to address the problem of overrepresentation of indigenous peoples within the criminal justice system. Instead, the government should be dealing with the socio-economic and historical generational factors that are contributing to this problem.
I, unfortunately, do not believe that the Liberal government has any intention of redressing the plight of our indigenous people in any meaningful way and will continue to fail in this regard despite its promise of reconciliation and renewed relationship.
As chair of the public accounts committee, our Auditor General came with two reports this spring. The objective of one audit was to determine whether Employment and Social Development Canada managed the aboriginal skills and employment training strategy in the skills partnership. To make a long story short, the Auditor General said that when the government was dealing with many of these programs for indigenous people, it was an incomprehensible failure.
It is unfortunate that the government is using this one part of Bill C-75 to address the overrepresentation of indigenous people in our penitentiaries.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2018-11-08 11:31 [p.23436]
Madam Speaker, I confess to being surprised that the member opposite raised the plight of indigenous people, in light of the previous government's track record on indigenous reconciliation. I find it peculiar that he is criticizing our commitment to reconciliation, with the billions of dollars we have committed to the calls to action.
The member raised the question of how it addresses victims' rights. I will tell my hon. friend. When we stop the cycle of perpetually criminalizing individuals by piling charge upon charge on them, we stop the cycle of overrepresentation. That is what this bill would try to do. That is what the member for Kingston and the Islands highlighted in terms of the administration of justice offences. By taking people out of the cycle of criminal charge after criminal charge and penal sentence after penal sentence, we avoid over-criminalizing individuals, including indigenous and marginalized communities, and we avoid the types of crimes the member opposite is so concerned about in terms of the victims he rightfully defends. We stand by those victims, as does he.
I put it to you, sir. Do you not see a link between addressing the over-incarceration and overrepresentation of indigenous people in our system and the very crimes you seek to stop occurring?
View Kevin Sorenson Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, that is a very sad question from the member. He stated that we should look at how the Liberals have helped indigenous people, and then he said that they have put billions upon billions of dollars into it. We have a government that believes that throwing billions of dollars at a problem is going to solve it. It is not going to solve the problem. What does the hon. member suggest? He suggests that when there is charge after charge for an indigenous offender, we do not charge that person for all the offences.
With all due respect to the member and the government, I see that as an affront to victims, to the people who have been victimized by those crimes. Liberals are saying that they are going to whittle this down because they think there are too many first nations in our penitentiaries, and they do not want them to have records that are quite so long, unfortunately.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2018-11-08 15:36 [p.23473]
Madam Speaker, I first want to compliment the member, not just on his comments here today but on his tremendous work at the justice committee in terms of bringing his expertise to bear in the study that was undertaken.
The member commented on the importance of looking at reforms, and he highlighted some of the committee testimony, specifically around bail. We know that indigenous and other marginalized groups are overrepresented in the criminal justice system and are disproportionately impacted by the bail process. We know that they are disproportionately impacted because they are sometimes detained in custody for reasons that are entirely unrelated to the offence they are alleged to have committed, such as not having enough money or not knowing individuals who are suitable to supervise them if they are released on bail.
We are changing bail through certain key amendments in this legislation to take into account the overrepresentation of indigenous and other marginalized groups. I am wondering if the member could comment on how those changes will alleviate the plight of those groups in particular.
View Colin Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Colin Fraser Profile
2018-11-08 15:37 [p.23473]
Madam Speaker, through the testimony we heard at committee, it is obvious that the measures in this bill will go a long way toward dealing not only with the delays in our court system but with the unfairness as well. There is a patent unfairness that we see far too often when marginalized individuals come before the criminal justice system, and for one reason or another, are given conditions they cannot reasonably comply with and that are therefore breached. They do not comply with conditions they really had no ability to comply with.
It is important that the judicial referral hearings that are one aspect of this bill are put in place to not only deal with the backlog in our court system but to ensure fairness for all individuals who are facing a criminal charge.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-71 at report stage.
In my opinion, Bill C-71 is like a bad play. Let me explain. First, with regard to parliamentary work, the government shut down debate at second reading. What is more, the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security asked that it be allowed a sufficient number of meetings and witnesses, but the number of meetings was cut short. From the start, the government did not want to debate Bill C-71; it just wanted to impose the bill on us.
This bill was introduced for marketing purposes. We saw the government doing just that. The Liberals told themselves that they would introduce a bill on firearms to win votes and to get the Conservatives all worked up and drive them crazy. Well, we decided not to get all worked up. We have been smart about this. We looked at what was happening and we saw that it was not working.
Ultimately, Liberals in rural ridings are only hurting themselves. Those people are not fools. Canadians are not fools. Law-abiding Canadians can see that this bill plays politics by targeting the wrong people. It targets hunters and sport shooters while giving street gangs and real criminals a free pass. The Liberals tried to impress, but they ended up shooting themselves in the foot, no pun intended.
This also marks the return of a version of the gun registry, which was abolished a few years back. The Liberals resurrected a very insidious approach, in the form of reference numbers and records that gun retailers have to keep. When a retailer closes, the government takes possession of that information. Reference numbers are kept forever. The Liberals say there is no registry, they swear they are telling the truth, but all the elements are there. In a moment, I am going to talk about the amendments we proposed to fix these problems. All our amendments were rejected.
In order for us, the members of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, to do our job properly, we asked for at least seven meetings. We conducted an analysis and examined what had been done by the minister's much-vaunted committee. Incidentally, the Liberals provided a long list of witnesses they said they had consulted, yet those people said they had never been consulted, despite appearing on the list. That is another problem the minister needs to consider.
We, the members of the committee, determined we needed seven meetings to do our job properly. The Conservatives had a list of 21 witnesses representing a variety of perspectives, from firearms advocates to civil rights defenders. There was a little bit of everything. We wanted to do a good job, but the Liberals cut the number of meetings down to four and limited us to seven witnesses. We had to make some tough choices. The Liberals raced through the study of the bill. We were hoping to get things done so everyone would be happy, but it did not work. The government was in a mad rush to get it over with, because constituents in rural Liberal ridings were getting on their case, and rightly so.
The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness created a committee to discuss guns and street gangs. As I said at the beginning of my speech, all the focus is on hunting weapons instead of street gangs. I do not know what happened between the minister's consultations and the tabling of Bill C-71, but the bill contains absolutely no mention of street gangs. This has yet to be cleared up. It is a mystery worthy of Sherlock Holmes. Maybe one day we will find a solution.
When the minister introduced the bill, he wanted to scare people. He spoke about the serious problem of the rise in crimes committed with firearms in Canada. What he did not say was that the Liberals were using 2013 as their reference year. In the past 10 years, 2013 was the year with the fewest crimes in Canada. He spoke about a surge in crime, but the crime rate was returning to its usual levels. They used the 2013 statistics to indicate that there was an surge in gun crimes and that something had to be done about it. However, crimes are not committed by hunters and sport shooters, but by street gangs. Nevertheless, there is nothing about that.
The other serious problem, as I pointed out at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, concerns first nations. As much as the Liberal government cares about all issues that affect first nations, it did not consult them and is now to some extent ignoring the problem. In committee, a representative from Saskatchewan told us that first nations would not abide by Bill C-71, first, because it is unconstitutional, and second, because guns are traditionally handed down from generation to generation. Canada's first nations are saying that Bill C-71 does not apply to them and that they will go to court to have it declared unconstitutional if the government tries to impose it.
What are we to do, then? The Liberals introduced a bill that does not address the issue of street gangs and that indigenous people are going to disregard. The only ones left are the hunters and sport shooters, who will once more be subject to stricter gun controls, which are already the strictest in the world.
The first nations issue is not a partisan matter, but it is very troubling. When we return in the fall, we need to clarify that, because the fact that indigenous peoples are not concerned about Bill C-71 and are not following the rules is problematic. We cannot have one type of security for one group of individuals and another type for other groups. We must all be on equal footing.
Our committee meetings to ask witnesses questions were limited, but we still did our work. We brought forward 45 amendments to Bill C-71. We took our work seriously. I will list a few of them, so that Canadians can see that they were reasonable.
First of all, we addressed the issue of firearms classification. It is currently the government that determines which firearms are restricted or prohibited, but Bill C-71 puts that entirely in the hands of the RCMP. We proposed an amendment that would give the minister the authority to change the classification of firearms based on recommendations from the manufacturer and the RCMP. Thus, we are proposing that the RCMP and the manufacturers still do their jobs, but that the government retain the power to make certain decisions to prevent the RCMP from making all the decisions, without the government being able to intervene.
Then, there are the chief firearms officers, who will be able to visit the premises of firearms retailers and check their records without a warrant. The government can therefore enter into the place of business of law-abiding retailers with no particular reason other than they sell arms. I believe this needs justification and a warrant.
Now, I want to talk about the date. Today is June 18, and on June 30, a list of 20 prohibited firearms will come into force, even though the bill is still being debated in the House. The firearms that will be prohibited are currently restricted. We are not even at third reading, and the Senate has not yet studied it. We asked the government not to set a fixed date and to implement the act once the bill passes, but the government rejected this legitimate amendment.
As for the list of firearms, the RCMP will now decide which firearms are prohibited, but the bill lists the firearms that will be prohibited. The government lists the firearms in the bill, even though it says that the RCMP will draw that list sometime in the future. This makes no sense. We proposed another amendment to fix this.
Lastly, I want to talk about the reference number that will be required for a transaction. This number will be retained and recorded. This government is therefore creating a registry, no matter what it claims.
No matter what the government said, it is bringing back some form of registry through the backdoor.
View David Anderson Profile
CPC (SK)
View David Anderson Profile
2018-06-18 23:49 [p.21227]
Mr. Speaker, I have a number of questions I want to ask tonight to kind of wrap this up.
One of the main questions, as I sat here and listened tonight, is that I fail to understand why the Liberals do not even seem to know the basics of what this proposed law is about. I heard a number of things this evening that are concerning. They do not seem to know what the past requirements were for background checks. I heard a number of people talking about that. They do not seem to understand that they have been adequate in the past. There has been a good system in place for doing background checks, and it has worked well for Canadians. They do not seem to know that firearms owners have to be registered and be licensed themselves in order to own a firearm. Earlier we heard someone ask why we treat guns differently than some other things. Well, the reality with firearms is that one actually needs to be registered. One has to take the course and get the certification.
I was really concerned a little earlier about why the Liberals approach firearms owners in the way that they do. When the member for Oakville North—Burlington said that all gun owners are law-abiding until they are not, I wondered what she meant by that. There is some sort of attitude of superiority that the Liberals come with in regard to firearms owners, and we have seen this for 25 years. We saw it with Bill C-68 and the fact that they would never back down on that legislation. It cost them dozens of ridings across this country. Several elections later, they have come back with another piece of legislation. I think we are beginning to see both in Ontario, and with the results in Quebec tonight, that the attitude the Liberals have is starting to irritate Canadians. I think we are going to see a response to that, and an even better response from our perspective, in the next federal election.
Also, I do not think the Liberals understand that there is no right to firearms ownership in this country. I think everyone needs to be reminded of that. The only reason that we can own firearms is because the government gives us permission. When I talk to my friends with the Canadian Wildlife Federation on those kinds of things, they say that we need to help Canadians understand that. We do not have a right to own firearms. If we do not get licensed, we are criminals. They resent that, but they will accept the fact that we need to have a licensing regime in place.
Another concern is that I am wondering why those Liberals who have firearms owners in their ridings do not seem to be willing to listen to them. I want to point out that at the committee, the leader of the opposition in the Yukon legislature was not allowed to speak. I am told that there was not a single northern Canadian who was able to testify on how the bill would impact their way of life. I want to read a little from his briefing, which said, “unlike the provinces, Yukon only has one Member of Parliament. This leads to situations where the input of Northerners is often an afterthought and not taken into account. This is the case with this piece of firearms legislation..”.
I can tell members that there are others. I have another notice on this situation from members of the Yukon Fish and Game Association, who are very concerned that they cannot track down their MP and talk to him about this issue. This is a member who has been around on this issue before. He should be standing up for his constituents. Why is it that the Liberals in the rural ridings, the ones whose constituents depend on having access to firearms for much of their livelihood, are not speaking out?
As my colleague mentioned earlier, we heard about a few of the ridings where there was concern about this, but these Liberals need to speak out. We are getting to the end of the proposed legislation, and it is basically the re-establishment of a semi long-gun registry, where every transaction that takes place at a gun store is going to be recorded for 20 years. The firearm, serial number, the name of the person who bought it, along with their PAL number, will be recorded. That certainly has all the makings and all the components of a firearms registry, and we do not hear anything from the other side.
Another concern is why the Liberals always need to manipulate things on this file. I can go on about this for a long time. I found it very interesting that the public safety minister from Regina has appointed a number of people to the firearms advisory committee who are clearly against firearms in any way, shape, or form. It is interesting that one of them was appointed and ended up being in the vice-chair position. She was a lobbyist. She said she would step down from her lobbying activities. The agreement she signed said that she is not to “engage in lobbying activities or work as a registered lobbyist on behalf of an entity making submissions or representations to the Government of Canada on issues relating to the mandate of this committee”. However, 10 months after signing that, this person submitted a legislative demand to the Government of Canada under the letterhead of that organization, and with her signature on it.
I would go through it if I had more time, but many of the bill's provisions happen to be exactly as she has laid them out. Is she actually doing the government's bidding, or is the government doing the lobbyists' bidding, who have said they are not going to lobby the government and then turn around and do it?
I can give members another example in which the government has felt some sort of necessity to manipulate every piece of data it can on this issue. That is around the issue of statistics. As Mark Twain said, “Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.” With the Liberal government, that is certainly more true than almost anything else we can say about it.
It was mentioned earlier that 2013 had one of the lowest rates ever for firearms crimes. It is interesting that even CBC recognized that the Liberals are playing games with this situation. It writes, “2013 saw Canada's lowest rate of criminal homicides in 50 years, and the lowest rate of fatal shootings ever recorded by Statistics Canada” and “every year since 1966 has been worse than 2013.” The Liberals use a year in which the stats are lower than they have ever been, and then use that to set their base, and compare it to today. Today is still below the 30-year average, but the Liberals' news releases completely mislead Canadians. When the government has to resort to that kind of manipulation and misinformation, we can see that it is not very comfortable with the legislation that it is bringing in.
The article goes on to say that the “homicide rate in 2018 will be similar to or lower than it was...in 2008...or in 1998”, and well below 1988 and 1978, and similar to what it was in 1968. We certainly did not get that from the Liberal press release we saw.
There are a number of other important issues we need to touch on. A member across the way was speaking tonight about the Assembly of First Nations. I wanted to ask him a question. The AFN has said that it was not consulted before Bill C-71 came forward. The AFN also said that the bill violates first nations treaty rights, and that it is going to launch a constitutional challenge. It is interesting to note that we have heard nothing about that, and there has been no response to it from the government. The Liberals claims to want to work with these communities, but when it comes to their legislation, they are very happy to set these communities aside, and ignore what they have to say about it and just go on.
We have heard comment tonight about Bill C-75 and Bill C-71 playing off each other. Bill C-75 has all kinds of penalties that are basically being written off for serious crimes. For things like terrorism, we are reducing the charges. Imagine there being a summary conviction for terrorism activity. The punishment for genocide is being reduced in Bill C-75. The penalties for organized criminal activity, municipal corruption, and so on are being reduced in Bill C-75, and Bill C-71 is making the lives of honest gun owners even more complicated and bureaucratic than ever. Why is the government doing that? Why are the Liberals ganging up on Canadian citizens, while they are happy to leave all of these other gangs to go through life the way they want?
There is another issue around mental health. We heard a member earlier tonight talk about how proud she was of her amendment. I am sure she had good intentions when she put it forward, but we are not just criminalizing activity anymore; we are criminalizing possible intent. She mentioned that CFOs will make the distinctions. How are the CFOs going to decide if someone is suicidal or not? What CFO wants to take on the responsibility for the entire province in trying to find every person with a mental health issue? It was pointed out earlier that there are police and veterans who have PTSD who want some help for their mental health issues. Are they going to come forward? Why would they do that with a bill like this when those kinds of things come into play in their lives and in their careers, and with a tool they use every day in their occupation?
We can be very proud of the record we have. We brought in a number of pieces of legislation, which have been criticized tonight. In terms of youth violence, we brought in the youth justice fund. The guns, gangs, and drugs component of the youth justice fund was launched to focus on the rehabilitation of youth. We created the youth gang prevention fund. We are very proud of that. We supported a national crime prevention strategy, and there is the northern and aboriginal crime prevention fund. We passed bills that dealt with organized crime and the protection of the justice system. We were always trying to protect the victims, while making sure criminals were the ones who paid the price for their crimes.
This bill is a long way from that. Why an entire bill that is supposed to deal with gun violence and gangs does not mention either of those things, and targets normal, law-abiding citizens, I will never understand.
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-68 following the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans' review and analysis of this bill.
We thank the committee members for their careful study of this legislation and their thoughtful amendments. During this review of Bill C-68, my colleagues in committee heard from many different witnesses and experts. I would like to take this time to talk about what they heard. I would also like to share the concrete steps proposed to make improvements and move forward with this legislation.
From the environmental NGO community and members across the aisle in the Green Party and the NDP, the committee heard about the importance of water flow for fish habitat. The government supported the associated amendments put forward in committee.
The committee also heard from industry groups seeking amendments to the rules proposed for the processing of applications for habitat authorization during the transition from the current to the new legislation. In response, the committee adopted the amendment to provide clearer transition provisions.
The committee also heard about strengthening the federal government's legal obligations when major fish stocks are in trouble. This is why the committee proposed the inclusion of requirements, under the legislation, that the minister sustainably manage or rebuild fish stocks that are prescribed in regulation. However, the legislation would require that when such cases arose, Canadians would be informed and provided with a rationale. Our aim is to sustainably manage fisheries resources for the long-term benefit of Canadians.
As members know, in 2012, the previous government decided to change habitat protection without the support of or consultation with indigenous peoples, fishers, scientists, conservation groups, coastal communities, and the Canadian public. In contrast, our government has worked with all Canadians and has encouraged everyone to be part of this process. The proposed amendments to Bill C-68 are part of our government's broader review of environmental and regulatory processes under Bill 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, which was reviewed by the committee.
The Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development also adopted some important amendments, which have been reflected in Bill C-68. These include better protections for indigenous knowledge and clearer transition provisions that would ensure better business continuity.
The changes proposed in Bill C-68 would support several government priorities, such as partnering with indigenous peoples; supporting planning and integrated management; enhancing regulation and enforcement; improving partnership and collaboration; and, finally, monitoring and reporting back to Canadians. This is transparency.
This bill would include the reintroduction of the prohibition against the harmful alteration, disruption, or destruction of fish habitat as well as the prohibition against causing the death of fish by means other than fishing. There are measures to allow for better management of large and small projects that may be harmful to fish and fish habitat through a new permitting scheme, for big projects, and codes of practice, for smaller ones.
The amendments would enable the regulatory authorities that would allow for establishing a list of designated projects, comprising works, undertakings, and activities for which a permit would always be required. We have been, and will continue to be, engaged with indigenous peoples, provinces and territories, stakeholders, and others to capture the right kinds of projects on the designated project list.
Habitat loss and degradation and changes to fish passage and water flow are all contributing to the decline of freshwater and marine fish habitat in Canada. It is imperative that Canada restore degraded fish habitat. That is why we proposed changes to the Fisheries Act that would include the consideration of restoration as part of project decision-making.
The bill is motivated by the need to restore the public's trust in government, which was lost following decisions made in 2012.
In order to re-establish the trust of Canadians in government, access to information on the government's activities related to the protection of fish and fish habitat, as well as protecting information and decisions, is essential. We listened and we proposed, through Bill C-68, measures to establish the public registry, which will enable transparency and access. This registry will allow Canadians to see whether the government is meeting its obligations and allow them to hold the government accountable for decision-making with regard to fish and fish habitat.
The addition of new purpose and consideration provisions will more clearly guide the responsibility of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard when making decisions and provide a framework for the proper management and control of fisheries, and for the conservation and protection of fish and fish habitat, including by preventing pollution.
Fisheries' resources and aquatic habitats have important social, cultural, and economic significance for many indigenous peoples. Respect for the rights of the indigenous peoples of Canada, taking into account their unique interests and aspirations in fisheries-related economic opportunities and the protection of fish and fish habitat, is one way we are showing our commitment to renewing our relationship with indigenous peoples.
We listened to Canadians on the need for modern safeguards. That is why we have proposed changes to the Fisheries Act that provide a new fisheries management order power to establish targeted fisheries management measures for 45-day increments where there is a threat to the proper management and control of fisheries or to the conservation and protection of fish. This will help to address time-sensitive emerging issues when a fishery is under way and targeted measures are required.
Proposed changes to the Fisheries Act include a new ministerial authority to make regulations to establish long-term spatial restrictions to fishing activities under the act, specifically for the purpose of conserving and protecting marine biodiversity. This will support our international commitment to protect at least 10% of our marine and coastal areas by 2020. Proposed changes also include authority to make regulations respecting the rebuilding of fish stocks.
As I mentioned earlier, our government reached out to Canadians to help put the bill forward. We listened to the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development and the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans and provided direction for the restoration and recovery of fish habitat and stocks. We were pleased with the amendments of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans during its clause-by-clause review. We listened to environmental groups, and the committee proposed provisions aimed at implementing measures to promote the sustainability of the major fish stocks.
In addition, in keeping with modernizing the act in line with other federal environmental law, changes are being proposed to the Fisheries Act to authorize the use of alternative measures agreements.
Through Bill C-68, the Government of Canada is honouring its promise to Canadians. By restoring the lost protections and providing these modern safeguards, the government is delivering on its promise as set out in the mandate letter from the Prime Minister to the Minister of Fisheries.
Since introducing this bill, we have heard support from a broad range of Canadians for these amendments that will return Canada back to the forefront when speaking about fish for generations to come.
I urge all hon. members on both sides of the House to join me in supporting this bill, which is so important.
View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2018-06-11 20:45 [p.20660]
Mr. Speaker, reconciliation should be a part of all legislation and the federal government's commitments to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and working in true nation-to-nation relationships with Canada's indigenous people should be consistent with the Canadian Constitution and should be reflected in the Fisheries Act.
Keith Atleo addressed federal staff in Ahousaht. He told them that DFO was served notice because Ahousaht felt that it was not adequately consulted about the changes to the act.
Our party supports the bill, but I have concerns, and I shared them with Mr. Atleo. He said that the word “may” consult first nation and “may” recognize first nations rights was disheartening. He asked if DFO was wasting its breath around the table if the minister “may” consider what the Ha’wiih, which is the hereditary chiefs of the Nuu-chah-nulth, were saying.
Does he believe it is “may” or does he believe we should be implementing the rights of indigenous people?
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I am so glad my colleague touched on consultation. Over the 10 years of Conservative government, it did not consult in any way, shape, or form. When the former prime minister visited a province, he would not even let the premier know. That was disrespectful.
With respect to indigenous people, a large majority of them support the pipeline, for example. We are not going to get 100% support. What is important to note is that the minister will have the authority to enter into any agreements with indigenous people, and this is in the bill as well. They will not be consulted but they will be part of the solution, and that is really good when it comes to what we are trying to accomplish as a government.
View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2018-06-11 22:17 [p.20672]
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise to speak on Bill C-68, an act to amend the Fisheries Act and other acts in consequence. As members can imagine, as a coastal British Columbian, I understand the importance and significance of protecting our fish. Where I live, it is not just our food security, our economy, or our culture, but it is integral to everything and is what connects us. It is even in our language. As saltwater people, fish and the protection of fish is given utmost priority. We always say that the health of our fish and our salmon is a reflection of the health of our communities. The importance and significance of this bill would restore the act that needs to be put in place as soon as possible so that we can protect our fish and bring ourselves back to abundance.
One of the key changes made to the Fisheries Act in 2012 that removed protection for fish and fish habitat, and that will be restored, is the harmful alteration and disruption or destruction of fish habitat. It goes further by restoring the definition of fisheries to include all fish. However, it still does not address the conflict mandates, which Commissioner Cohen identified, of conserving wild salmon while protecting harmful salmon practices. This was in the mandate letter to the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. The Prime Minister himself instructed the minister to act on the recommendations of the Cohen commission on restoring sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser River.
In recommendation 3 of his report, Justice Cohen recommended, “The Government of Canada should remove from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ mandate the promotion of salmon farming as an industry and farmed salmon as a product.” DFO is still continuing to promote salmon farming, its industry, and the product. We are concerned that the government has not followed through with this promise. It is impossible for the government to be an agent and also promoting an industry that might have detrimental impacts and effects on our wild fish. The goal and mandate of DFO should be restored to that of just protecting wild salmon and wild fish. New Democrats would like the government to follow through with the promise it made in the 2015 election campaign and that was outlined in the Cohen commission.
It has not done that, and it is something that is raised repeatedly. In fact, the Pacific Salmon Foundation just came out against open net salmon farming. Many groups in my riding are raising concerns about the impact it is having. Many indigenous communities in my riding are raising concerns around the impact of salmon farming. We would like that to be split out so that we can make sure DFO is doing its historic job of advocating for and protecting our fish. That is not happening now, and it is not in this legislation.
It is the first time that rebuilding of depleted fish stocks has been included in the Fisheries Act. However, details on rebuilding this will be in regulations. Those regulations need to be strong, with timelines and targets, and it needs to take into account the impacts of climate change and species interactions. We know in my area that climate change is real. In 2014, it was so dry—and then rained just in time, in August—that we were worried we would lose all of our fish as the streams ran dry at the time when the fish needed to spawn upstream. It is important that is integrated in the legislation, but also setting clear targets and necessary investments. The government keeps talking about its oceans protection plan and its record investments in coastal restoration, but in fact we are not seeing that on the ground.
As I said earlier, the Somass River still has no coastal restoration funds. It is expecting about 350,000 pieces of sockeye salmon this year, which is well below the average of just over a million and the high of 1.9 million. How do we get back to abundance? We need to make adequate investments, and we are not doing that. The salmon industry in British Columbia brings in well over $1 billion, yet we do not even invest $50 million in that sector. As a former business person, I know that is far from adequate in terms of investment in an industry that is so critical to British Columbians, in tourism, the commercial sector of fishing, the recreation sector, and for food security.
It feeds many people, especially indigenous people who rely on that fish, people living in poverty. It is important that the government backs it up with real investment. The bill states the following:
require that, when making a decision under that Act, the Minister shall consider any adverse effects that the decision may have on the rights of the Indigenous peoples of Canada recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, include provisions respecting the consideration and protection of Indigenous knowledge of the Indigenous peoples of Canada, and authorize the making of agreements with Indigenous governing bodies to further the purpose of the Fisheries Act;
It is concerning that it is still far from free, prior, and informed consent, a specific right that pertains to indigenous peoples and is recognized in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
I am going to quote from the Nuu-chah-nulth's Ha'wiih, who are the hereditary chiefs of the 14 Nuu-chah-nulth first nations on the west coast of Vancouver Island. They have identified five concerns, and one is the purpose of the Fisheries Act, which must include reconciliation with aboriginal people. They said there is no reference to aboriginal people or unique and important ties to the fishery.
The Prime Minister has said that the “failure of successive Canadian governments to respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada is our great shame. And for many Indigenous Peoples, this lack of respect for their rights persists to this day.”
Second, there is another quote from the Prime Minister: “We now have before us an opportunity to deliver true, meaningful and lasting reconciliation between Canada and first nations, the Métis Nation, and Inuit peoples.
Lastly, he has stated before that, “We are all in this together, and the relationships we build need to reflect this reality. In Canada, this means new relationships between the government of Canada and Indigenous Peoples – relationships based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.”
They would like to see this mean true, meaningful, and lasting reconciliation that includes reconciliation with aboriginal people in the purpose section of this legislation, and say, “We do not submit that Reconciliation is achieved by the Fisheries Act alone; rather, we submit that the Fisheries Act can assist in achieving Reconciliation.”
They would like to see incorporating respect for indigenous law. They say, “We respectfully advise that section 2.5 should be amended by adding the following: the traditional and contemporary laws of the Indigenous peoples of Canada, as provided to the Minister.”
Third, they are concerned about controlling ministerial discretion. They say “that the minister 'may' consider certain named issues when making a decision.” They recommend that the word “may” in section 2.5 be changed to the word “shall”. They say that, “We remain to be convinced that the government of Canada will always be a government that shares the need to preserve the environment, conserve and manage fish species conservatively, and respect the rights, laws, and traditions of Indigenous people.”
Fourth, they would like to see consistency of the reference to aboriginal peoples.
Fifth, with regard to restoring fish habitat, they say, “While we approve of the protections being given to the Fisheries habitat, we cannot concede that enough is being done to restore the habitat and repair the damage done by industry, over-fishing, or mismanagement. We therefore recommend that the purpose of the Act be amended further by adding the following: 2.1(c) the restoration of damage for compromised fisheries and fish habitat”.
They would like to see that in there. They say the time is now for the federal government to take the lead in habitat restoration. This legislation provides the perfect vehicle to do so.
Last, the bill gives a great deal of discretion around decision-making to the minister, allowing decisions to be made based on the minister's opinion rather than on scientific evidence.
In closing, we support the bill. We support restoring fish habitat. We would like to see some of these concerns addressed. These are concerns that are shared widely in my riding of Courtenay—Alberni, that are shared by many of the groups that are doing the hard work, many of the groups that are advocating for our salmon in particular, and our fish.
Many of the salmon enhancement groups have identified that they have not seen an increase in 28 years in many of the hatcheries.
This has been a failure of repeated governments. Hopefully the government will put forward a real plan so we can bring back our fish stock to abundancy.
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2018-06-11 22:29 [p.20674]
Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government continually talks about how the nation-to-nation relationship is the most important one, but then what it does is disastrous. We have heard my colleagues talk about how the murdered and missing aboriginal women inquiry and the pipeline were inadequate.
I would like to hear more detail from my friend in the NDP about the consultation that has happened on this legislation and how he feels it has helped indigenous people.
View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2018-06-11 22:30 [p.20674]
Mr. Speaker, we do not agree with the Conservatives around this legislation. We are trying to restore and implement things they cut when they were in government that did not protect our salmon.
The member has raised a valid concern about consultation with indigenous people. The letter I have from the Ha'wiih, the hereditary chiefs of the Nuu-chah-nulth people, is because they have not been adequately consulted around the bill. They have brought forward their concern that they “may” be consulted instead of “shall” be consulted. That is a huge concern. It flies in the face of Bill S-262 that was recently passed, which was put forward by my colleague around applying UNDRIP. I am calling on the government to change the wording of that.
The government is currently fighting the Nuu-chah-nulth people in court. The government has repeatedly fought the nation in court, and the judge has ordered the government to get to the table and negotiate responsibly. It has not done that. It is carrying on the same policies from the Harper government in the past. The Liberal government has failed to sit down and have meaningful dialogue with the nation and negotiate fairly. It was in the recent judgment with the Nuu-chah-nulth, Ahousaht et al v. Canada, that the government had done everything it could to stymie negotiations.
If the government is going to honour and respect indigenous peoples, it should get to the table and negotiate with the Nuu-chah-nulth, who have won repeatedly in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Canada needs to stop fighting indigenous people in court and show respect.
View Ken Hardie Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Ken Hardie Profile
2018-06-11 22:57 [p.20678]
Mr. Speaker, sitting on the fisheries committee, I had an opportunity to question many of the witnesses who came in as we looked at aspects of the changes that were made back in 2012 versus the gaps that people perceived. Notwithstanding my friend's comments about consultation, when I asked a panel of people from industry, particularly industry on the Prairies, in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, they certainly agreed they had been consulted. However, we consistently asked members of the indigenous community what kind of consultation they had been involved in, and they consistently told us that they had not been consulted. Not only that, during the course of our hearings we were constantly challenged by the Conservative members about accepting submissions from indigenous groups who had prepared material with financial assistance from the department for other purposes.
It was very clear that during our most recent deliberations they were not interested in hearing that input from indigenous communities, and it would not appear that they very actively sought it out when they did their process. I am wondering if my friend could comment on those reflections.
View Mark Warawa Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Warawa Profile
2018-06-11 22:59 [p.20678]
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member. He is in a neighbouring riding, and I think we live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world.
It is interesting that we invite the witnesses and often the Liberals will invite people knowing what the answers are likely to be, but he said it was perceived that they had not been consulted. Then he connected the dots and said the previous Conservative government was not interested because there is this perceived lack of interest. In fact, science will show us, if he goes to Hansard he will see the long list of people who actually were called as witnesses, who were given the opportunity to testify over those many years before those changes were made.
There was, therefore, a massive amount of consultation. What we heard often was that sometimes within the process they found it frustrating when a provincial assessment would be done and finished and then there would be a federal environmental assessment. The same witnesses were called twice. They asked to just be called once because they did not like being called twice, and asked if people had not listened to them the first time. That was a common concern.
View Ken Hardie Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Ken Hardie Profile
2018-06-07 23:01 [p.20518]
Mr. Speaker, I sit with the gentleman on the fisheries and oceans committee. I thought we did an awfully good job on Bill C-68. We went back and forth, we discussed amendments, we accepted some of each other's, and worked it right through. We were fixing years of neglect and cuts, cuts to science. Yes, it was easier for the DFO to administer the old act because the Conservatives gutted DFO's ability to do anything by cutting it back. It is pretty easy to follow the rules when there are only a few rules.
Does the member remember the testimony we heard from first nations, reflecting upon the fact that back in 2012-2013 it was very clear that the only voices the Conservatives heard in that consultation were the voices of industry, which showed in full measure in the bill they produced? Maybe the member can recall what we heard from indigenous people who felt totally shut out by that earlier process.
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