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Results: 1 - 15 of 87
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2019-05-06 17:46 [p.27426]
Mr. Speaker, I always appreciate the intellectual arguments the member opposite brings forward, whether it is in the House or during filibusters. I would like to ask him about one he brought forward tonight related to victimless crimes. Does he believe that administrative penalties, such as not showing up for a parole hearing, etc., for any crimes are victimless crimes and therefore should not be crimes?
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2019-05-06 17:56 [p.27428]
Mr. Speaker, following up from the previous member, I would like to say that I too would not have to lie at the border, as I have never used marijuana or even inhaled a cigarette. I am happy to make that task easy.
I want to comment on several items that have come up in debate. The first is that one of the members suggested that one of the goals of legalizing marijuana was to take money away from organized crime and that it had not occurred. That is, of course, patently false. The facts are totally different. There have been a lot of legal sales of cannabis, so huge amounts of funds have been taken away from organized crime. I do not think anyone in this House would argue that is not a benefit to our community.
There was another point by the same member, that there was a danger of pardoning someone who had a more serious offence than simple possession of marijuana for personal use. That was a good point. The bill has been crafted to make sure that in the investigation of that pardon, it was not for some other crime. Sometimes the records may be vague and not specify exactly what substance was involved in the offence, or it may not be clear at the outset that the possession was not for personal use but was for the purpose of trafficking. That is one of the reasons that the bill was crafted the way it is, so that these things are investigated.
I have to agree that the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley brought up a good point. I hope that is looked at by the committee when witnesses are brought forward. The effects of an administrative offence coming out of the possession offence needs to be investigated, especially in difficult circumstances, to see how that should be dealt with.
One of the big points which was brought up quite well by the member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques related to crossing the border. Before I address that, I want to say that I have great respect for that member and the way he comports himself. I was hoping to meet him in the halls in the next few days to tell him this. He is very positive. He does not attack people personally. He makes his arguments in a very rationale, positive and diplomatic way, the way that parliamentarians should. I want to commend him for that.
However, on the point about crossing the border, expungement would make it easier. This is where some members might be confused. It could be more difficult. As members know, with an expungement, the record disappears. When crossing the border, a person could think that if the Americans ask if they have had a record for the use of marijuana, they could say no, thinking the record has totally disappeared. The record has totally disappeared in Canada. However, unfortunately, when there are pardons, expungements and things in Canada, the Americans do not erase their records. Something could show up in the American records that the person had an offence for marijuana, but they said no because they thought it was erased. That person is then caught not telling the truth to the border agents, and, of course, we know the serious results of not telling the truth to an American border official.
Expungement does not necessarily make crossing the border easier. In some ways, it could make it more difficult, especially if an American border agent wants reaffirmation from Canada of a record suspension and an assurance that everything is fine. If a Canadian official cannot find the suspension, then the American border agent will wonder whether this is because there was no record originally or because Canadian officials cannot find it because of poor administrative practices. This may, in some cases, make things more difficult under certain circumstances.
I will begin by noting that I will be referring to record suspensions as pardons, even though they are technically called record suspensions.
Bill C-93 is about making things fair for Canadians and their families. For far too long, many Canadians have had the burden of a criminal record simply for possessing cannabis. Imagine trying to apply for a job, only to be turned down due to something like this. Imagine being unable to find housing or even to volunteer in the community just because of a conviction for simple possession of cannabis. Imagine the stigma of a criminal record, which can be difficult to navigate even when the burden is removed.
Indeed, a pardon would help many Canadians get back on their feet. That is why the government wants to do the right thing and the fair thing.
Bill C-93 would streamline the pardons process by waiving the wait periods, which could last up to 10 years, for applicants whose only convictions were for simple possession of marijuana. This means that they will be immediately eligible to apply for a pardon, provided they have completed their sentence and have not incurred any other convictions.
An interesting point was brought up by the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley related to administrative convictions of simple possession. I hope the committee will look at this issue, should the bill pass second reading.
Previously I made another a point related to administrative provisions. I would like to remind members that the private member's bill I brought forward related to FASD. People with fetal alcohol syndrome disorder have brain damage, through no fault of their own. They do not necessarily understand that it is important for them to show up for their appointments and that there are ramifications for not doing so. As a result, they get into a never-ending spiral, going into and out of prison through a revolving door. This should never occur.
Although I was not able to get that bill through during this Parliament, I hope that someone will move that concept through the next Parliament so that people with FASD are not unreasonably convicted for things they do not even understand are crimes.
In the past, there were barriers to applying for pardons. Not only could getting one take a huge length of time, but there was also a cost. The $631 Parole Board application fee was definitely a barrier for many people, especially because many of those convicted were earning low incomes.
Under Bill C-93, this fee would be totally waived. This would allow people to turn their lives around, as they would no longer have a criminal record for simple possession of cannabis. That is the approach the government has determined to be the fairest and most sensible.
Of course, there has already been a robust debate and conversation about how best to approach this issue. Much of it predates the introduction of the Cannabis Act itself. In fact, it goes back decades.
Recreational use of cannabis has been unlawful in Canada since the prohibition era of the 1920s. However, its use was not popular until the 1960s.
In 1961, following the enactment of the Narcotic Control Act, convictions for simple possession of cannabis began to rise. The Narcotic Control Act was replaced with the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which remains in force today.
We know that charges and convictions for simple possession have disproportionately targeted marginalized groups in society, including indigenous and black Canadians, which is definitely a point that should be dealt with at committee when this bill is discussed.
All of this underlines the fact that, in understanding that a legalized cannabis regime would someday be a possibility in this country, the debate about pardons for those convictions has been around for a long time.
Fast forward to the royal assent to the Cannabis Act in June of last year, and its coming into force in October, at which point we made the public announcement of our intent to provide recourse for those convicted only of simple possession of cannabis. We promised and we delivered.
On the topic of pardons, the debate has largely centred on amnesty in the form of either pardons or expungement as a possible recourse. A number of parliamentarians had also expressed public support for granting amnesty for simple possession. We now have a variety of experiences to learn from and a wealth of ideas at our disposal as we move forward. What we do now must be in the best interest of Canadians to make things as fair as possible, in the most sensible and practical of ways.
The government has chosen to allow Canadians who have served their sentences for convictions related only to simple possession of cannabis to apply for a pardon with no Parole Board application fee or wait period. This is a fair approach. For instance, we could have authorized the expungement of convictions for simple possession of cannabis, as was suggested earlier. However, possession of illegally obtained cannabis continues to be unlawful today. That is why a pardon, which we are proposing under Bill C-93, is a very effective remedy.
Under this proposal, it bears no extra waiting time following completion of the sentence, and it bears no $631 Parole Board application fee. Under this proposal, an individual's record would be sealed and sequestered. This record could be examined again only in extraordinary circumstances, for example if some other offence is committed in the future. The suspended record could be disclosed in those exceptional circumstances only with the approval of the Minister of Public Safety. As we can imagine, anything that needs the approval of a minister of the Crown would not occur very often, and the suspended record would be disclosed only in these very extraordinary circumstances.
The effect of a pardon is fully recognized and protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act, which means that the crime previously committed but pardoned cannot be used as any form of discrimination in areas of federal responsibility. Most provinces and territories have similar legislation that protects against discrimination. Usually, when the federal government issues a pardon or a record suspension, the province or territory will do the same.
Waiving the wait period and application fee is unprecedented, and it carries the impact we want, which is helping to lift the stigma and burden of a criminal record from many Canadians and allowing them to participate meaningfully in society. We can imagine how many members of society are affected. There are tens of thousands of people in Canada who have used marijuana for personal reasons. Therefore, the procedure of legalizing cannabis for personal use that is not harming anyone, and then granting pardon to those who were criminalized in the past for such use, is a very important thing for our society. People can feel good about themselves and be able to compete in society for jobs or houses or for anything else on a level playing field with everyone else.
The practical effect and purpose of a pardon is to reduce the barriers to reintegration so that people can apply for jobs without being discriminated against or so they can become involved in a number of NGOs, things which they could not participate in if they had a criminal record. Sometimes housing is not allowed for people who have a criminal record. When they apply for any of these things, if they have a pardon, people would not know their past because the records would be sealed and would not be available to the people asking about them. We believe it is the most effective tool at our disposal to achieve the result we want for those people who have been carrying that record and that stigma around for too long.
The first step is to get the pardon in place. Bill C-93 would allow Canadians who have been previously convicted of simple possession to apply for a pardon. Once their sentence has been served, there would be no application fee or wait period. Barriers to reintegrate into society would be reduced for those individuals.
I look forward to the tens of thousands of people who were unjustly harmed by these rules and considerations in the past now being treated the same as anyone else in society. I commend Canada's leading role in this. I think a previous speaker said that we are only the second country in the world to do this. It will be another example of how Canada has provided some examples for the world on how to provide true justice for individuals who really did not harm anyone but were charged with simple possession of the substance for their own use and enjoyment, which in and of itself has certainly not been harmful to other people. There are other substances that could be more harmful to people and society because of what people do while under the influence of those substances, some of which are legal, some of which are not.
Certainly, this has had such a massive effect on Canadian society and I think it is really uplifting that it is now legalized and many Canadians will be able to get a pardon so that it will not have a negative effect on their lives.
I thank those who are looking at this as a positive change.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2019-04-29 11:19 [p.27074]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member on speaking without notes. In the mother Parliament, the tradition was that members were not allowed to have notes or read speeches, so I would like to compliment him on staying with that precedent.
The member mentioned that other countries were planning, or have, legislation like this. I wonder if he could elaborate on that. That is part one of the question. The member said there was a law similar to his proposed law in the United States. Part two is, could the member mention a couple of the results of that law or cases, and how that law has been used?
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2019-04-09 13:10 [p.26866]
Mr. Speaker, one of my most cherished times in this House was when I got the Tlicho land claim and self-government agreement, which is referenced in Bill C-88, through the House of Commons. It was a very exciting day for the Tlicho people, but there were some objections from the Conservatives.
I would like to ask the member if the Conservative Party now agrees with the Tlicho self-government and land claim agreement.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2019-04-09 13:47 [p.26872]
Mr. Speaker, the last question suggested that the government would be shutting down energy resources. However, this would actually allow the protection of existing energy leases.
To let the opposition know, this bill would just reverse an attempt by the opposition to ride roughshod over the rights of the Sahtu, Gwich'in and Tlicho people by making unconstitutional changes to an act. This bill would reverse that, as indicated by a court injunction. I assume that the member agrees that we should not try to override the constitutional rights of indigenous people by passing laws that are not constitutional.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2019-04-09 13:57 [p.26874]
Mr. Speaker, I know you are very liberal in your interpretation of relevance, but the member has been talking for many minutes about a freezer in southern Canada when this bill is about the mess that the Conservatives created in the Northwest Territories. Perhaps she could actually refer to the act.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2019-04-09 15:39 [p.26891]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her excellent speech on this topic and I appreciate her support.
The member has been here long enough to know that the Conservatives tried to abrogate the Yukon land claim environmental process. That attempt was turned back. I think the member would agree that we are again turning back an effort by the Conservatives to abrogate the land claims, in particular the Tlicho and Sahtu, with an act. Those land claims, both the ones that occurred in the Yukon and the ones in the Northwest Territories, were constitutionally protected, so we cannot just pass a law that overrides that.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2019-04-09 15:43 [p.26892]
Madam Speaker, just to clarify part 2, Conservatives have been saying it inhibits oil and gas rights, but it actually protects them. It protects those leases by freezing them, the ones that were affected by the moratoriums, so again it is not accurate information.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2019-04-09 15:44 [p.26892]
[Member spoke in Dene as follows:]
Naya dak gwandii
[Dene text translated as follows:]
Territory
[English]
Madam Speaker, I stand today on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people to express my support for Bill C-88, which proposes to modernize the regulatory regime governing resource development projects in the north.
Before I start, one of the last Conservative speakers said the decision should be made in the north. The northern governments—the Sahtu, the Gwich'in, the Tlicho, the Government of the Northwest Territories—are all in agreement with this legislation. I assume that unless they are going to contradict their own speaker, the Conservatives will be supporting this bill, which leaves the decisions in the north as they were negotiated in the constitutionally protected land claims.
The key reason I support the legislation now before us has to do with the proposed enforcement system. As my colleagues know, the effectiveness of any regulatory regime depends largely on the quality of its enforcement system. As it stands today, the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act lacks an effective enforcement system when it comes to assessments of environmental impacts.
While the amendments to the Northwest Territories Devolution Act did create an enforcement system, the court challenges initiated by northern indigenous groups on the decimation of their boards effectively eliminated it. Bill C-88 would amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act to establish an enforcement system based on development certificates.
A development certificate is a form of authorization, a permission slip of sorts. For a project to proceed, an environmental assessment body must first issue a development certificate to the proponent. The Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act follows a similar approach.
Under such a system, that environmental assessment body can include specific mitigation measures in the development certificate. The proponent might be authorized to drive heavy vehicles only on frozen winter roads, for instance, or be banned from designated areas during the time of year when caribou typically birth and nurse their calves, which I wish the Trump administration would do in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Under Bill C-88, the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board would be authorized to issue development certificates listing mitigation measures within the jurisdiction of the responsible ministers. After completing an environmental assessment or environmental impact review, the board would issue a certificate to the proponent.
Under the enforcement system envisioned in Bill C-88, it would be a violation to proceed with a project without a valid certificate or to contravene the conditions of a certificate. These and other violations could lead to an administrative monetary penalty, or AMP. An AMP is a fine imposed by an inspector. It is a civil sanction imposed through an administrative process, rather than a criminal sentence imposed by a court.
Bill C-88 would amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act to provide all the necessary and appropriate authorities for AMPs and associated regulations. The regulations would specify penalty amounts, as well as the method of calculating penalties for each type of violation. The amendments also specify the maximum fine would be $25,000 for individuals and $100,000 for organizations. A violation that continues for multiple days would be subject to a separate AMP for each day. I am convinced that the threat of such potentially large fines would promote compliance with the proposed legislation.
There are many advantages to an enforcement system based on development certificates. The threat of a hefty fine removes the potential financial benefit of non-compliance, for instance. By imposing particular restrictions on a project through a development certificate, the system helps regulators to achieve particular goals, such as environmental protection. Civil sanctions such as AMPs tend to be more efficient than criminal prosecutions, which can be lengthy and expensive undertakings.
The enforcement system proposed in Bill C-88 is consistent with those authorized in other federal legislation, including the Environmental Violations Administrative Monetary Penalties Act, the National Energy Board Act and the Nuclear Safety and Control Act.
Another worthwhile feature of the proposed enforcement system is that it features many effective checks and balances. Development certificates, for example, could not include measures within the jurisdiction of a designated regulatory agency, such as the National Energy Board or the Tlicho government. Anyone issued an AMP could seek to have the notice investigated by an official review body. The review would determine whether the penalty was issued in accordance with the regulations, whether the person committed the violation, or both.
For violations related to part 5 of the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act, which pertains to environmental assessment, the federal minister would be empowered to act as a review body. For violations related to part 3 of the act, which deals with land and water management, the board that issued the original authorization would serve as the review body. If a violation was related to an activity that did not involve an authorization, the board responsible for the region where the violation occurred would serve as the review body.
The enforcement system would also include a reconsideration process. A proponent could request an adjustment to a development certificate to address changing circumstances, ineffective or unclear project conditions or new technologies. Reconsideration would be limited to the area of change and to any effects the change may have had on the project. The proponent would not be required to complete another full environmental assessment, and the original decision to authorize the project could not be challenged under reconsideration.
Inspection is another important aspect of the proposed enforcement system. Qualified persons, such as federal or territorial officers, would be authorized under the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act to inspect projects for compliance with the conditions of development certificates. The inspectors would have broad authority to enter and examine premises. They could also prohibit or limit access to premises. If an inspection uncovered evidence of an activity that contravened part 5 of the act, the inspector could issue an order to cease the activity and to mitigate the effects of the activity.
To deter proponents from interfering with the work of inspectors, this part of the enforcement system would include more stringent measures. Rather than civil sanctions, violators would be subject to criminal prosecution. It would be a criminal offence to obstruct inspectors, for instance, or to knowingly provide them with false or misleading information. It would be an offence to carry out development without the proper authority or to contravene an order to cease an activity.
Offenders would face stiff penalties. Conviction for a first offence, for example, could lead to a fine of up to $250,000 and a one-year prison sentence. The maximum fine for subsequent offences would rise to $500,000. This part of the enforcement system would also feature important checks and balances. For instance, an action could not be subject to both an AMP and a criminal sanction.
As my hon. colleagues can now appreciate, the legislation before us envisions an effective enforcement system. Proponents would be required to abide by specific conditions set out in development certificates. To promote compliance, the system would include sanctions corresponding to the seriousness of a violation or offence. As well, the system would incorporate a series of checks and balances to prevent potential abuses of process.
I am convinced that such an enforcement system would enable northerners to maximize the potential benefits of resource development and to minimize the potential environmental impacts. I will vote in favour of Bill C-88 at second reading, and I urge my hon. colleagues to do the same.
The years involved in negotiating these settlements, land claims and self-government settlements are a remarkable testament to parliamentarians and to Canada. These agreements are working very well. As I said previously, one of my greatest moments in Parliament was to get the Tlicho land claims and self-government agreement through Parliament.
We have to maintain the honour of the Crown, maintain respect for those constitutionally protected agreements and make sure that we do not pass legislation that would infringe on those agreements.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2019-04-09 15:54 [p.26894]
Madam Speaker, my constituents are not telling me much about this bill, because as the Conservative member referred to obliquely, it is not related to Yukon. It is not in Yukon. I asked the Conservative member a question about the Tlicho, and she answered that the Tlicho are in the Northwest Territories.
That being said, there was a similar situation recently where the same thing happened in Yukon. There was a constitutionally protected land claim and a process requiring consultation and working with first nation governments, as constitutionally protected in the land claim. There was a bill by the previous government that abrogated the spirit, if not the letter, of the law in those agreements. The same thing happened, and it was replaced. In this particular case, the first nations went to the government and won an injunction. What this law does is basically reinstate the law so that it stays in the spirit of the injunction and allows the land claim and self-government agreement to exist as it was originally created.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2019-04-09 15:56 [p.26894]
Madam Speaker, the land claims in the north are a remarkable achievement of successive federal governments, in spite of some opposition. They are unique, so we should apologize for the Conservatives, as they may not understand the differences or may not understand that those agreements are constitutionally protected. We cannot abrogate constitutionally protected land claims by passing a law that changes what has already been protected.
The difference is that the Liberals observe those land claims agreements as they have been negotiated. Ours, in particular, took over 30 years just to negotiate. We respect them with the honour of the Crown. We try to have them as living documents in a government-to-government relationship with first nations people so that we can work out any kinks in those agreements and in the implementation of those agreements.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2019-04-09 16:07 [p.26896]
Madam Speaker, I expected the member to talk about the relationship with first nations and the importance of the honour of Crown and having a trusted relationship. He has good relationships in his riding, and I know that has been assisted by the fact that all parliamentarians have agreed to having indigenous languages spoken in the House of Commons and at committee. The indigenous languages act would increase the trust and reconciliation.
Could the member give us any experiences from his riding of how important this trust and these relationships are with first nations and their governments?
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2019-04-09 16:24 [p.26898]
Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member on his tone. I want to make a clarifying comment.
In earlier comments it was suggested that this act was detrimental to oil and gas. In fact, the opposite is the case. Certain oil and gas leases would have expired in the next few years and the act would freeze them so they would not expire. Therefore, when activity becomes available again, they will still be eligible for that. That was created in discussions with those companies.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2019-04-09 17:10 [p.26903]
Madam Speaker, I congratulate the member for Northwest Territories. He has worked so hard to get the bill forward for his people, or as the Conservatives say, “the local people”, who really want the bill.
I would like to ask the hon. member this. He is the second Conservative member who I heard say that he wants the decisions to be made by the local people. The vote on this bill is a decision that the local people want. The governments that it would affect are the Tlicho government, the Sahtu government, the Vuntut Gwitchin government and the GNWT. As the previous Liberal colleague from NWT mentioned, those governments were consulted extensively on the bill while it was being created. The member wanted the decision to be made by local people. The bill is totally about that. All of the local governments want the bill. Therefore, I assume the member would support it.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2019-04-09 17:37 [p.26907]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's support of our first nations, particularly the battle we have had for over a decade in trying to prevent drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
She mentioned that we are taking back a law that was unfortunate or wrong, but I would say it was illegal, because land claims agreements are constitutionally protected. A law cannot be passed that retracts a constitutionally protected item.
There was a parallel exercise that happened in Yukon on the environmental assessment process. There they once again tried to make a change that was not in line with the spirit or the law of the constitutionally protected land claims, on which the member supported us. We have retracted that change and gone back to the spirit of the agreement and the letter of the law that was originally contemplated in 30 years of negotiation.
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