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View Yvonne Jones Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Yvonne Jones Profile
2019-06-13 13:15 [p.29050]
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House and speak in support of the third reading of Bill C-88. This bill would amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. These changes have been long awaited by governments, both indigenous and territorial, in the Northwest Territories.
On Monday, we heard colleagues in the House speak to this bill, including the member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories, who worked very closely with indigenous governments, treaty and land claim owners and the Government of the Northwest Territories to ensure that this bill would be in the best interests of the constituents he represents and would meet the standards they have been requesting from the Government of Canada.
I want to applaud the member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories for the great work he has done on Bill C-88 and for ensuring that members in this House on both sides fully understand this bill and the need for the changes being proposed.
Bill C-88 is based on a simple but wise idea, which is that the best way to regulate development along the Mackenzie Valley and in Arctic waters is to balance the interests of industry, the rights of indigenous governments and organizations, and environmental protection. The proposed legislation before us aims to achieve this balance in three ways.
First would be by foster certainty, which is required by industry. As we know, the Northwest Territories is no stranger to industry. It has been home to some of the largest mining developments in Canada and to some substantial energy, oil and gas developments. It is a region of our country that has been very active in engaging with industry.
Second would be by reinstating a mechanism to recognize the rights of indigenous communities to meaningfully influence development decisions. This would allow indigenous communities to have full input, full insight and full decision-making in industry and resource developments that are occurring within their land claim areas. This would allow them to be part of development, to look at the impacts and benefits of development initiatives, and to be true partners in decisions and outcomes.
Third would be by ensuring that scientific evidence on the state of the environment would inform development decisions. The indigenous governments of the Northwest Territories have set up a model that allows them to look at individual projects and their impact on the environment, not just today but for generations to come, and to make decisions based on scientific information. Scientific evidence ensures that decisions are informed, not just from an economic perspective but from an environmental perspective.
As it stands today, the regulatory regime fails to strike this balance. In particular, the regime currently in place fails to provide clarity, predictability for proponents who are investing, and respect for the rights of indigenous communities in that region and in the north. In large part, that is because of the Northwest Territories Devolution Act, which was endorsed by this House in 2015, and which I, too, voted for. However, it was subsequently challenged by a court order, which led the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories to effectively suspend key provisions of the act. This ruling caused uncertainty in the regulatory regime for the Mackenzie Valley, and as many of my colleagues have already stated, that uncertainty has not been good for business.
I voted for the bill in 2015, even though it contained clauses that would eradicate the treaty rights of indigenous people in the Northwest Territories. We knew it was wrong. We fought hard to change the bill. We proposed amendment after amendment, but the Harper government would have none of it. It accepted no amendments to the bill that would ensure the rights of indigenous people.
We were left to make a choice. Do we support the devolution of the Northwest Territories, which needed to happen and was long overdue, or do we not support it because of these clauses? We supported the bill but said that when we formed government, we would reverse the negative legislation in the bill that eradicated the rights of indigenous people and did not uphold the environmental and economic responsibilities that should be upheld in any major development. We made a commitment to the people of the Northwest Territories that when we formed government, we would change the legislation to reflect what they wanted. That is what we are doing today.
Over the last couple of years, we have worked very closely with indigenous governments in the Northwest Territories, its member of Parliament and the Government of the Northwest Territories to get this legislation right and change the injustices caused by the Harper government and imposed on people in the Northwest Territories. Today we are removing them.
We would be allowing companies that want to invest in the Northwest Territories through major resource development projects to have certainty. This would ensure that there would be no unforseen impacts for them and would ensure that they would know the climate in which they are investing and the process expected of them.
We would allow indigenous governments, which have had land claims, treaty rights and self-government agreements for many decades, to take back control of their own lands and to make decisions in the best interests of their people for generations to come, and to do so in a systematic and scientific way that looks at all the impacts and benefits. This would allow these indigenous governments to not only have a choice about whether a project went forward but to have the opportunity to partner with investors and resource development companies. Everyone can benefit when they work together.
That is the kind of relationship we have promoted right across Canada with indigenous groups, territorial and provincial governments, investors, resource development agencies and others.
Today we would legislate the changes we committed to in 2015 regarding the Northwest Territories. We know that the legislation would achieve the balance we are trying to establish in three ways. I have already outlined them in my speech.
I want to take a few minutes to talk about how Bill C-88 would restore certainty in the regulatory regime, which was a key aspect of the Northwest Territories Devolution Act. The act eliminated regional boards mandated to review proposed development projects that were likely to impact the traditional lands of three particular indigenous groups: the Tlicho, the Gwich’in and the Sahtu. Their rights were eradicated, and the impact on their lands and treaty agreements forced on them, by the Harper government.
Today we would be giving the Tlicho, the Gwich’in and the Sahtu the right to make decisions about their own lands. They could look at the impact on their traditional lands, their way of life and their environmental footprint and at how their people can benefit from development projects.
It is just common sense, so why would any government want to take that away from indigenous groups in Canada? We saw only a few years ago that the former Harper government had no shame when removing rights from indigenous groups and indigenous governments. That is exactly what it did to the Tlicho, the Gwich'in and the Sahtu in the Northwest Territories. They had spent years working and negotiating with the federal government and territorial government. Generations of elders never lived to see the day they reached self-government agreements in their own lands.
When they finally did, it was an opportunity for them. That opportunity was eroded by the Harper government overnight with one piece of legislation that said that it would now tell them how they were going to regulate resource development in their traditional lands and in the Northwest Territories.
We made a commitment then that if we ever formed government, we would reverse those changes, and that is exactly what we are doing today. Each of those communities concluded comprehensive land claim agreements. Doing so in this country guaranteed them a role on land and water boards and a mandate to review and make decisions on development projects on or near traditional lands. Parliament reviewed and endorsed each one of these agreements and authorized the establishment of the regional boards.
Bill C-88 proposes to reverse the board restructuring and reintroduce the other provisions that were suspended by the Supreme Court decision. These indigenous groups in the Northwest Territories knew that their rights were violated by the Harper government. They knew that what was happening was the epitome of colonization. That is why they fought in the courts. They went to the Supreme Court to argue their case, to say that they had negotiated these rights, that they were inherent rights, that they had treaty agreements and that no government should have the right to impose upon them the way the former government did.
The Supreme Court decision outlined several things that needed to happen to restore confidence in the regime, particularly among indigenous people and proponents and investors in resource development in the Northwest Territories.
The proposed legislation would build confidence in another way. It would clarify the processes and expectations for all parties involved in the regulatory regime. I happen to live in the north, and I represent a riding that is very engaged in resource development, the mining industry and the energy sector in particular. I also know that with every one of those development projects, there are major investments and major commitments. There is nothing better in moving forward on a project than knowing what all the expectations are of all the parties involved and knowing what the process is and what is expected of companies before they put a shovel in the ground. Those things are important.
The party opposite will say that Liberals are too engaged in regulating, restricting and putting too many demands around the environmental component. However, large-scale industries that care about the people where they want to develop want to do what is right. They want to ensure that their environmental footprint is as small as it can be. They want to have the support of the indigenous people and the communities in which they are investing. They want to have strong partnerships to ensure that their development projects are not interrupted by protests or by unforeseen regulations and can move forward and are sustainable. That is why many of these companies, and many I have known personally over the years, are happy to sign impact benefit agreements.
These companies are happy to work with indigenous governments to hire indigenous workers, to ensure that benefits accrue to their communities and to ensure that environmental concerns that indigenous and non-indigenous people have with development in their areas are going to be listened to and dealt with. These companies want to address those issues up front. They do not want to plow into communities and put pressure on them to do things. They do not want to rule what is going to happen. They want to operate in partnership, too.
It is the party opposite that has the idea that these companies are not interested because they have to follow regulatory regimes or look at what the environmental implications are. Very few companies would take that approach, and I am so proud that in this country there are companies investing heavily in resource development that really care about the footprint they leave behind for the environment and the people who live there. Those are the companies that are successful and that Canadians hold up as examples of how resource development partnerships work with communities and indigenous people in Canada. We should be very proud of that. We should not be trying to change how we do that through legislation and impose regulations on people because we think they should do it this way or that way.
People should understand that in the previous legislation by the Harper government, Conservatives wanted to get rid of the regulatory boards of the Gwich'in, the Sahtu and the other groups in the Northwest Territories. They wanted one megaboard to deal with all these issues. They even hired a consultant by the name of McCrank. When Mr. McCrank testified at committee, I sat in that day. One of the questions asked of him was where he came up with the idea that we should get rid of the regulatory boards in the Northwest Territories, that indigenous groups should no longer have control over what is happening on their own lands, their own regulatory boards or negotiating their own deals, and that we would infringe upon them and implement a super regulatory board in the Northwest Territories for the Mackenzie Valley.
When he was asked where that idea came from, he did not know. He did not know where that idea came from or who suggested it to him, but he wrote it in a report as a strong recommendation, and the Harper government at the time said it would run with it, yet everyone in the Northwest Territories, including the three aboriginal groups and the territorial government, knew this was not the right approach and wanted to stop it. This is what is happening today.
We are restoring confidence to the people in the Northwest Territories. Under this act, we would also make changes to the petroleum regulatory board. A moratorium would be implemented that would allow the reissuing of licences for oil and gas development in the Northwest Territories. This moratorium would be revisited every five years. As we know, there were no new applications for licences, no investment was being made. There was no projection for oil and gas, and there was no body to manage oil and gas development in the Northwest Territories to ensure there would be benefits to that region.
It is not like Atlantic Canada, which has oil and gas agreements that pay royalties to the provinces. There are agreements in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Quebec. When the Northwest Territories asked the former government for that agreement, the answer was no. It did not want to pay royalties to the indigenous groups or the territorial government on oil and gas. We are working with them to get it right, and that is why this bill is important today.
View Nick Whalen Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Nick Whalen Profile
2018-11-27 11:21 [p.24004]
Mr. Speaker, it is exciting to be here today to support the budget implementation bill and specifically the legislation establishing the college of patent agents and trademark agents. This is at subdivision D of division 7 of part 4 of the budget implementation bill.
This is an important element of the government's IP strategy. Taken as a whole, that strategy will ensure that Canada's intellectual property regime is modern and robust, and that it supports Canadian innovations in the 21st century.
Patent and trademark agents are a key component of the innovation ecosystem, as they help inventors to secure exclusive IP rights. I was the only Newfoundlander who was a patent agent at the time of my election. Although I am not practising in that area of law now, I have some pretty good information regarding the need for a college of patent agents and a college of trademark agents.
Given the rising importance of IP in the innovation economy and the central role of patent and trademark agents, it is time to have a professional oversight body responsible for maintaining the high standards that are expected of trusted advisers. As a bonus, this would address long-standing gaps in the current framework for regulatory oversight, which previously lacked clarity and transparency and was without a binding code of professional conduct. Given the importance of the profession, good safeguards here are needed to ensure that agents do the jobs they do well and have the trust of their clients and of Canadians more broadly.
While there is no evidence suggesting a large problem with agent conduct, the need for modernization is imperative now that communications with IP agents are protected by statutory privilege in the same way as solicitor-client advice. This is an extraordinary right that requires ethical guidelines to prevent its abuse.
The college of patent agents and trademark agents act would establish an independent regulator, specifically a college, for the professional oversight of IP agents in the public interest. The college would administer a licensing system to ensure that only qualified professionals are authorized to provide agent services. As an independent regulator, it would also be responsible for enforcing a code of professional conduct to ensure that IP agents continue to deliver high-quality advice.
The college would also be responsible for implementing requirements for continuing professional development to ensure that agents stay informed of the ever-evolving IP practice landscape. Ultimately, these measures would raise the bar of IP professional services in Canada.
The college would have an investigations committee to receive complaints and conduct investigations into whether or not a licensee has committed professional misconduct or been incompetent. A separate disciplinary committee would have the authority to impose disciplinary measures if it is decided that a licensee has in fact committed professional misconduct or been incompetent.
Finally, this bill also creates new offences for claiming to be a patent agent or a trademark agent, or for the unauthorized representation of another person before the Canadian patent office or the office of the registrar of trademarks. These offences are intended to serve an important consumer protection function to ensure that innovators are receiving representation from qualified, licensed agents.
I would like now to speak about the important features that have been built into the legislation to ensure that the regulation is undertaken within the public interest and with the public interest as the priority.
Careful consideration was given to ensuring that the legislation supported the public interest in a competitive marketplace of well-qualified and professional IP agents. For example, the college would be governed by a board of directors that includes public interest representatives appointed by the minister, and patent and trademark agent representatives elected by members of the college itself.
Further measures directed toward safeguarding the public interest include providing the minister with the authority to review the board's activities and, if necessary, to direct the board to undertake any action to ensure regulation in the public interest. Another measure requires the board to report to Parliament annually on its activities.
The framework for the legislation takes into account comments from stakeholders over the course of several public consultations. During these consultations, risks were identified relating to the fact that many IP agents are also lawyers. Concerns were expressed about dual regulation, that is that lawyers and agents would be subject to two potentially conflicting regulatory schemes.
In recognition of this potential for overlap, the legislation would ensure minimal regulatory conflict for lawyers who may also be agents. In addition, where appropriate, the college's investigations committee would be authorized to refer a complaint to another body that has the duty to regulate another profession, for example a law society for a lawyer.
In fact, in my experience as someone who has been regulated as an engineer, regulated as a lawyer in three different jurisdictions, and regulated as a patent agent and a trademark agent in two different countries, I appreciate the concern that might exist about overrepresentation or over-regulation, as well as the concern that might be raised by conflicts in ethical obligations.
Whereas a lawyer, for instance, may have an ethical obligation to maintain strict solicitor-client privilege, an engineer is in fact required to put the public interest ahead of that interest. Therefore, it is important to note that there can be proper and reasonable conflicts in the ethics associated with different professions.
Patent agents are there to obtain the most protection possible for their clients' inventions or the broadest scope of trademark protection for their brands. Sometimes that might conflict with another ethical obligation that might apply in a different fashion to a lawyer or an engineer.
Balancing these is important and means making sure that when patent agents wear their patent agent hats, they are regulated as patent agents, and when they wear their lawyer hats they are regulated as lawyers, and when they wear their engineer hats they are regulated as engineers. This legislation allows for that nuanced differentiation.
We also heard during consultations that specific care must be taken to safeguard privileged information. Significant measures must be in place to ensure the appropriate handling and safeguarding of privileged information and to strictly control access to such information. To do so, the legislation draws upon safeguards and processes similar to those used by provincial law societies in order to safeguard privileged information in the investigation of college members.
More specifically, privileged information can only be used for the purpose of regulating agents. Disclosing privileged information to the college will not be considered a waiver of the privilege, and the privilege will be preserved for other purposes. Those purposes could be some type of lawsuit before the courts on solicitor-client privilege or the maintenance of the confidentiality of an inventor's right to an invention for having filed before first being disclosed to the public, for instance.
The act places strict obligations on employees and directors of the college, preventing them from disclosing privileged information, and further clarifies that the government cannot use its oversight authority to access privileged information. There is a strict process of court oversight to access and contest access to solicitor-client privileged information. These were of importance to the patent bar in the development of the legislation.
From my perspective, as someone who went through the process of becoming a patent agent, I can attest to the fact that an additional element is brought to bear on a regulated profession. Sometimes professions can be regulated in such a manner as to encourage more people to join the profession, and sometimes they can be regulated in a fashion that prevents new people from entering the profession.
The fact that the United States has 100 times as many patent agents or practitioners as Canada does with only 10 times the population demonstrates that our regime for licensing patent agents has become too restrictive.
The creation of an independent college will have the extra function of aligning the college's role of growing the profession with the public's interest in having more patent agents available to help inventors spur the creation of these assets. Patent and IP assets simply do not exist if they are not filed and registered, and if professional advice is not brought to bear.
It is not like in copyright, where people create a new work and then own the rights to that work. In the patent and trademark space, it is the professionals who assist the creators or the brand makers in protecting, acquiring and preserving those rights, both at home and abroad. If that work is not done, there is no asset to protect. Canada needs probably 10 times more patent and trademark agents than it currently has in order to have the same level of asset creation as the United States. This is important in the 21st-century economy.
In conclusion, the college of patent agents and trademark agents will be responsive to stakeholder input and follow international best practices in professional regulation. Care was taken with the legislation to establish well-structured bodies to ensure proper independent oversight, with an option for the government to intervene only if necessary. The checks and balances included in the legislation will ensure regulation in the public interest.
As a whole, I would encourage all members to support the budget implementation act, including this subdivision of part 7.
View Ken McDonald Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Ken McDonald Profile
2018-11-06 17:49 [p.23362]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to support the budget implementation act, and specifically, the legislation establishing the college of patent agents and trademark agents. This is an important element of the government's IP strategy, a strategy that, taken as a whole, will ensure that Canada's intellectual property regime is modern and robust and supports Canadian innovation in the 21st century.
Patent and trademark agents are a key component of the innovation ecosystem, as they help inventors secure exclusive IP rights. Given the rising importance of IP in the innovation economy and the central role of patent and trademark agents, it is time to have a professional oversight body responsible for maintaining the high standards expected of trusted advisers. As a bonus, this would address long-standing gaps in the current framework for regulatory oversight, which lacks clarity and transparency and is without a binding code of professional conduct.
Given the importance of the profession, good safeguards here will ensure that agents do the jobs they do well and that they have the trust of their clients, and Canadians more broadly. While there is no evidence suggesting a large problem with agent conduct, the need for modernization is imperative, now that communications with IP agents are protected by statutory privilege in the same way as solicitor-client advice. This is an extraordinary right that requires ethical guidelines to prevent its abuse.
The college of patent agents and trademark agents act would establish an independent regulator, specifically a college, for the professional oversight of IP agents, in the public interest. The college would administer a licensing system to ensure that only qualified professionals were authorized to provide agent services.
As an independent regulator, it would also be responsible for enforcing a code of professional conduct to ensure that IP agents continued to deliver high-quality advice. The college would also be responsible for implementing requirements for continuing professional development to ensure that agents stayed informed about the ever-evolving IP landscape. Ultimately, these measures would raise the bar for IP professional services in Canada.
The college would have an investigations committee to receive complaints and would conduct investigations into whether a licensee committed professional misconduct or was incompetent. A separate discipline committee would have the authority to impose disciplinary measures if it decided that a licensee had committed professional misconduct or was found to be incompetent.
Finally, this act would create new offences of claiming to be a patent agent or trademark agent and of the unauthorized representation of another person before the patent office or the office of the registrar of trademarks. These offences are intended to serve an important consumer protection function to ensure that innovators receive representation from a qualified, licensed agent.
I would like to speak about the important features that have been built into the legislation to ensure that regulation is undertaken with the public interest as the priority. Careful consideration was given to ensuring that the legislation would support the public interest in a competitive marketplace of well-qualified and professional IP agents.
View Nick Whalen Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Nick Whalen Profile
2018-09-24 13:50 [p.21704]
Madam Speaker, I am absolutely delighted for the opportunity to speak to the accessible Canada act today.
Throughout the accessible Canada consultation, the broadest consultation on disability in our country's history, the Government of Canada heard from more than 6,000 people and over 90 organizations.
These stakeholders told us clearly and repeatedly that Canada needs disability legislation with teeth. We need legislation that would move us away from the current system of placing the onus on disabled Canadians to remove barriers. We need legislation that would help us build a more inclusive, accessible and tolerant society. We need legislation that would set in place a system to proactively identify, remove and prevent barriers in areas of federal jurisdiction.
To this end, Bill C-81 would create a dedicated accessibility commissioner within the Canadian Human Rights Commission who would be responsible for ensuring that organizations are in fact meeting their obligations under the proposed accessible Canada act.
The need is clear. Let me remind hon. members of a few of the most recent statistics published by Statistics Canada that elucidate this issue.
The employment rate of Canadians aged 25 to 64 with disabilities is a mere 49% compared with 79% for Canadians without a disability. The employment rate among persons aged 25 to 64 with a mild disability is 68% compared with 54% for those with moderate disability and 42% for persons with severe disability, and merely 26% among those with a very severe disability.
Approximately one in two university graduates with or without disability held a professional occupation. However, graduates with a disability were less likely to hold management positions and earned less than those without a disability, especially among men.
Among Canadians with a disability, 12% reported having been refused a job in the previous five years as result of their condition. The percentage was 33% among 25 to 34-year olds with a severe or very severe disability.
I am sure that members on all sides of the House would agree that the measures we are proposing today in Bill C-81 would help address this inequality and are long overdue.
This is how Bill C-81 would work.
With respect to compliance tools, the accessibility commissioner would have access to a variety of proactive enforcement tools to verify compliance and to prevent noncompliance with the act. Proactive inspections of regulated entities would be a large part of ensuring that the onus for removing barriers is not placed on individual Canadians. The accessibility commissioner would be empowered to conduct an inspection of any place that he or she considers necessary to verify compliance. In addition, the commissioner would have the authority to conduct paper-based inspections through production orders.
If, following an inspection, the accessibility commissioner found that an organization had contravened its obligations under the act, there would be a variety of different tools the commissioner could use to ensure compliance.
One of these tools is compliance orders. A compliance order would ensure that if an inspector sees a barrier that needs to be removed immediately, the inspector could order that this be done within a timeframe the commissioner considered appropriate. For instance, if an organization has placed garbage cans that block an accessible entrance, an inspector could order those garbage to be moved without delay.
The accessibility commissioner would also have the authority to issue notices of violation. These notices could be given with a warning or with a monetary penalty.
Under Bill C-81, the maximum penalty for a violation would be $250,000. The penalty issued for a given violation would depend on the nature and the severity of the issue, the criteria for which would be set out in regulations.
However, Bill C-81 also includes the idea of continuing violations, whereby a violation that continues more than one day would constitute a separate violation for each day and could result in separate $250,000 penalties each day the violation continues.
Additionally, if the possibility of an administrative monetary penalty is not enough to encourage an organization to comply with its obligations, Bill C-81 would also provide authority to publish the name of the organization or person who committed the violation, along with the amount of the penalty.
In terms of jurisdiction, compliance and enforcement under Bill C-81 would build on existing expertise within the Government of Canada and fill gaps where needed.
Bill C-81 expands on existing sector-based mandates, authorities, expertise and experience in relation to accessibility within the federal transportation network and broadcasting and telecommunications services.
Both the Canadian Transportation Agency and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission have existing accessibility mandates. Bill C-81 proposes to enhance these mandates and to expand the powers and responsibilities of the Canadian Transportation Agency as well as the CRTC in relation to accessibility. The Canadian Transportation Agency would continue to be responsible for the accessibility of passengers in the federal transportation network, with an enhanced mandate, responsibilities and powers. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission would continue to be responsible for accessibility in relation to broadcasting and telecommunication services with new responsibilities for overseeing accessibility plans, feedback processes and progress reports.
Through amendments to the Canada Transportation Act, the Canadian Transportation Agency would have new proactive compliance tools to ensure that those in the federal transportation network are meeting their accessibility obligations. These compliance tools would be very similar to those of the accessibility commissioner, including the ability to issue notices for violations, with fines again up to $250,000. Given the whole-of-government approach to ensuring the removal of barriers in federal jurisdiction, the bill requires that the various authorities put in place mechanisms for collaboration and coordination across organizations regarding their policies and practices in relation to accessibility.
In terms of remedies, although the focus of Bill C-81 is on proactive and systemic change, the bill also provides for complaints mechanisms for individuals who have been harmed by an organization's non-compliance with its accessibility obligations.
Bill C-81 provides individuals with a right to file complaints with the accessibility commissioner if they have been harmed or have suffered property damage or economic loss as a result of, or have otherwise been adversely affected by, the contravention by an entity of regulations made under the proposed accessibility act. If, after investigating a complaint, the accessibility commissioner finds that the complaint is substantiated, the commissioner could order a broad range of remedies, including that the entity that committed the contravention take appropriate corrective measures; make available to the complainant the rights, opportunities or privileges that they were denied; pay compensation to the complainant for wages they were deprived of, and for expenses incurred by them as a result of the contravention; pay compensation to the complainant for the additional costs of obtaining alternative goods, services, facilities or accommodation as a result of the contravention; pay compensation for any pain and suffering the complainant experienced; and pay the complainant an amount if the accessibility commissioner determines that the contravention is the result of a wilful or reckless practice.
The maximum amount that could be awarded for each of pain and suffering and wilful and reckless practice would initially be set at $20,000, but Bill C-81 includes a provision that would increase these amounts over time to account for inflation. If individuals and organizations think that the accessibility commissioner made an error in dismissing a complaint or in ordering a remedy, they would be able to make an appeal. For most complaints, these appeals would go to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. For complaints about parliamentary entities, appeals would go to the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board.
The accessibility commissioner would not be responsible for dealing with all complaints, however. In recognition of, and to leverage, the existing expertise of the Canadian Transportation Agency and the CRTC, these organizations would be responsible for dealing with complaints in the federal passenger transportation network and in respect of the Broadcasting Act and Telecommunications Act, respectively.
Through the amendments to the Canada Transportation Act proposed in Bill C-81, the Canadian Transportation Agency would continue to deal with complaints in relation to undue barriers to the mobility of persons with disabilities in the federal transportation network, with enhanced remedies, such as compensation for pain and suffering, which would be better aligned with the remedies available under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
The Canadian Transportation Agency would also deal with a new type of complaint that addresses contraventions of regulations made under the Canada Transportation Act that result in harm, similar to complaints made to the accessibility commissioner under the proposed accessible canada act, with similar remedies for individuals.
For complaints about broadcasting and telecommunications services, Canadians would continue to file complaints with the CRTC, which would use its existing authorities under the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act to address the complaints.
In the case of grievances, many public service and parliamentary employees have existing grievance rights. Bill C-81 builds on these rights. Through amendments to the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act, the Public Service Employment Act, and the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, these employees would be able to refer their complaints for adjudication.
I conclude by saying that I hope all members will support this bill at this reading so that it can go to committee, where it can be reviewed and sent back to the House for approval.
View Churence Rogers Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join today's debate on Bill C-69. The proposed changes are important, because they build on and strengthen the legislation that has been described as historic, groundbreaking, and a major turning point for resource development in Canada.
There is a good reason for all these superlatives, because Bill C-69, even more so now that it has been amended, is a potential game changer in the way Canada reviews new major resource projects by creating greater investment certainty; restoring public confidence; advancing indigenous reconciliation; strengthening protections for our environment, fish, and waterways; and establishing better rules for co-operation among the various levels of government and federal regulatory agencies.
For example, there is a proposed early engagement and planning phase that would bring the proponents of new projects together with local communities and indigenous peoples to identify priorities and concerns. This would have two immediate benefits. First, project proponents and their investors would get a clearer lay of the land before they spent a lot of money advancing their proposals. Second, by identifying the key issues early, the project reviews would be shorter and more focused.
These kinds of results would be transformational for Canada's resource industries. They would enhance our competitiveness at the same time that we are ensuring sustainability, demonstrating yet again that economic prosperity and environmental protection are not competing interests but equal components in a single engine that will drive clean growth.
Bill C-69 features many other innovative measures that are equally significant. I am pleased to see that the amendments proposed at committee are consistent with the spirit and intent of the legislation. They include amendments that would further advance the recognition of indigenous rights, amendments that would enhance public participation and transparency, amendments to improve timelines and predictability, and amendments to clarify both ministerial discretion and the factors to be considered during impact assessments and regulatory reviews.
Many of these amendments extend across all acts within the bill, but I would like to focus my time on how the proposed changes would reinforce the goals of the Canadian energy regulator act.
For those who may be watching at home and are new to Bill C-69, the proposed new Canadian energy regulator would replace the National Energy Board. Our aim is to create a more modern federal regulator, with the required independence and the proper accountability to oversee a strong, safe, and sustainable Canadian energy sector in this clean-growth century.
The Canadian energy regulator act proposes to do this in these five key areas: more modern and effective governance; greater certainty and timelier decisions for project proponents; better public consultations; greater indigenous participation; and stronger safety and environmental protections. The amendments before us would move the yardsticks in each of these areas.
For example, we have a proposal from committee to clarify the factors to be considered by the Canadian energy regulator to ensure that climate change is considered when the regulator is making decisions about non-designated projects, such as pipelines, powerlines, and offshore projects.
I am disappointed in the opposition for how it has treated this historic piece of legislation. During the committee review, opposition members attempted to completely remove the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board from the review panel process. This was quite shocking, as it was proposed despite massive objections from Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, as well as the experts.
In fact, the biggest single criticism of the 2012 changes by the previous government in Newfoundland and Labrador was that it left the CNLOPB out of the entire process. It is clear that the opinion of the Conservatives has not changed. I am proud that Bill C-69 incorporates the critical role of the CNLOPB.
In its appearance before the environment committee, the CNLOPB said that Bill C-69 would provide for improvements over the current process and would allow it to work more closely and more collaboratively with federal agencies and regulators. It also said that regional assessments allowed for in Bill C-69 would strengthen the process.
Other amendments propose ways to enhance the new energy regulator's transparency and to provide for more meaningful opportunities for Canadians to participate in the regulatory process. This includes a requirement for processes and funding to support indigenous and public engagement. Further, there is an important amendment stipulating that whenever a project proponent issues a notice, which means that it has submitted information to the Canadian energy regulator, that the regulator would be required to put that notice on its website. This is an important step to inform the public about projects.
As for discretionary powers, the only exemption orders that would now be allowed under the Canadian energy regulator act would be to ensure safety and security or for the protection of property or the environment.
Other proposed changes build on the principle of one project, one review. For example, we see an amendment proposing that integrated review panels be allowed to include other jurisdictions, thereby ensuring a single impact assessment that still meets all requirements.
Also, other amendments that would provide greater certainty about the transition to a new review process. This includes adding objective criteria to determine which projects would continue to be reviewed under CEAA 2012, as well as a provision to encourage proponents to opt in to Bill C-69's new process. Of course, there are further clarifications that no project proponent will be asked to return to the starting line.
These are all good amendments that our government welcomes.
These changes will help to create an even better Canadian energy regulator. They will ensure good energy projects go ahead with timely and transparent decisions reflecting common values and shared benefits. They would lead to smarter resources, more effective reviews, and better results.
Taken together, Bill C-69 and its amendments are appropriately ambitious and historic. They reflect the adage that one has to swing for the fences if one wants to hit a home run. Bill C-69, as amended, does that.
I hope all members will support Bill C-69 and its changes so we can get on with the business of building an even better Canada, one where the way we manage and develop our natural resources truly reflects who we are as Canadians and the values we cherish most.
View Nick Whalen Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Nick Whalen Profile
2018-06-05 11:27 [p.20231]
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for her views on this topic. They are informed and important.
In the case of Newfoundland and Labrador, I think most Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are very proud of the Atlantic Accord. They appreciate the role the life cycle regulator plays. We understand that when the regulator says “no”, it says “no”, but it does not just say “yes”; it asks “how?”
Why does the member not feel that the life cycle regulator has an important role to play in setting conditions at the impact assessment stage?
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, I want to say to all my colleagues in the House, congratulations on a great debate thus far. I have been in this House since 2004. I have been involved with the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association. I am now proudly president of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association. We have talked a lot with our counterparts in the EU, both with individual members of Parliament from member states, whether they were U.K. MPs or senators from Italy and the like, and also the members of European Parliament, who are expecting a vote on this debate, just as we are here today, in the month of December. In a few weeks from now our counterparts in Brussels will be doing much of the same.
The EU represents a very important economic partner. It is the world's second-largest economy and Canada's second-largest trading partner after the United States, of course, so this is a monumental agreement.
In addition to that, I know we are second to the United States as far as that is concerned, but consider this for a moment: This is not one particular bilateral agreement, this is one agreement with 28 nation states. It is comprehensive to say the least. Not only did we include the fact that we are dealing with 28 member states in the European Union, but it had an unprecedented involvement of the provinces of this country in the forefront of negotiations way back when.
We talked in the past about how involved provinces have been, and in a piecemeal kind of way. Some successes include the Rideau conference on the environment. There were talks on the free trade agreement with the United States that took place in the late eighties, but they were never involved to the level that they are now, because a lot of this CETA deal will involve provincial jurisdiction. Procurement is one of the big ones, and this is one of the original demands of the European Union to discuss how to get the provinces involved in the discussions so that they will not turn their backs on some of the issues contained within this agreement, and rightly so.
Although they do not have the ratification authority, I can honestly say, and this is from a personal standpoint, what I have seen in the involvement of all the provinces with the federal government in negotiating this have been quite thorough. I have spoken to officials from my home province, Newfoundland and Labrador, who have been involved quite a bit.
There was, in the beginning, some trouble regarding seafood, regarding seals and that sort of thing, and certain trade embargoes and bans, but we have gotten over that at this point. I am still working, trying to convince European parliamentarians that their ban on seal products is something they should not proceed with and we should look at changes in doing that from a commercial aspect, but that is a battle for another day, as they say.
My hon. colleague from British Columbia talked about some of the numbers and about $21 billion in seafood. Think about this for a moment. On a personal level, in my particular riding, I had a shrimp plant. It was northern shrimp, the little ones. They are called salad shrimp in Europe, and there is an insatiable appetite in the United Kingdom for this type of shrimp, and we export quite a bit of this.
Over the past 15 to 20 years, shrimp has represented a large portion of income for a vast number of fisheries throughout northeastern Newfoundland, and a lot of it was exported to Europe. They were slapped right away with a 20% tariff on top, and it was a very difficult situation. We made a lot of sales despite that, but I think of the opportunity lost.
A large shrimp plant closed down in my riding about four years ago in Port Union. I truly believe to this day that if this deal had existed back then where there were no tariffs on the shrimp, that plant would have survived today. We have had a resource issue on shrimp, but I think this particular plant would have survived, based on the sales that they could have had with the European Union, in particular, western Europe, and that is a shame. They made some qualifications where the first 20,000 tonnes of shrimp would be subject to a 7% tariff instead of 20%. Thanks to this, now we go to zero.
As was pointed out earlier as well, 96% of these tariffs vanish on entering into force. It is an incredible opportunity for seafood, processed particularly, because we want to provide employment for our plants no doubt.
I heard some of comments about agriculture, and quite frankly, from some of the numbers that have been thrown around here, especially in pork, there is an incredible amount of money to be made in revenues from this trade agreement.
In the beginning, we talked about some of the hiccups or issues that the European Union had with us, such as fuel quality directives, and I spoke of the seal issue. However, we have managed to overcome that to the point that, not only do we have a commercial trade agreement, we also have a strategic partnership arrangement, or SPA, as well. Basically, we have political lines when we talk about human rights, and the fact that we will uphold the values that we hold dear in human rights to parallel with this commercial agreement. Of course, if we do something that is a violation of human rights, then we must look at this commercial agreement and question it as well, which is a good thing. This is why I think the agreement will hold as a gold standard for other bilateral or multilateral agreements.
Labour and environmental standards were also addressed. Of course, in the legal scrubbing of the legal agreement, we discussed the dispute settlement. Personally, I have always questioned the dispute settlement in this arrangement, simply because there has to be one, and I will give an example.
In my riding, there was a mill that was confiscated by the former premier. A mistake was made, and the province wanted to take back the rights of the water to flow to the rivers and the forestry. In essence, it ended up confiscating a mill at the same time, and was fined for it under NAFTA. These are the types of things where we need to settle disputes. I believe in them, and we have a tribunal set up to do that.
On the tribunal going forward, of course, it would come into force once the member states ratify this agreement, and is part of the less than 10%. For the most part, a little more than 90% will come into effect following the vote of the European Parliament and sanctioning by the European Commission.
I want to mention a few other things as far as the agreement is concerned.
Procurement is also going to be a golden opportunity for us as we look to share expertise in the jobs that we do and export some of our skilled trades. Over the past 20 years in my area in central Newfoundland, in Newfoundland and Labrador in general, and all rural areas really, one of the greatest exports we have right now are skilled trades.
The collapse of the cod industry in 1992 saw a rash of smaller private colleges opening up to compensate, because a lot of people were getting remuneration for training. At the time, these colleges were able to gear people toward the new world, oil and gas, and mining, where a lot of technical trades are involved. Now for these people, after being educated and with 10 to 15 years in the workforce, as someone described it, they do not go to the wharf as much to go fishing, they go to the airport and bring their skills with them to places such as Africa, Russia, Norway, and Alberta.
The recognition of skills in this agreement is a major part that I am glad to see. There is a chapter on that, which I think will prove to be another gold standard as to how we can recognize the work that we do and are able to go to other markets exporting these skilled trades.
However, there is an alarming trend. The most recent report for the World Trade Organization and other international institutions on trade barriers published in June noted that G20 economies introduced 145 new trade restrictive measures between mid-October 2015 and mid-May 2016, which is the highest monthly average since 2009. I witnessed this myself.
The anti-trade movement and some of these concerns were brought up here earlier. I share the same concerns, such as dispute settlement concerns, pharmaceuticals, and concerns in the seafood and agriculture industries. I believe that a progressive trade agreement such as this will help this country simply because, as has been said probably hundreds of times today, Canada has to punch way above its weight when it comes to trade. We have no choice.
For a nation of this size, with an economy of this size, and with 35 million people, I mean, it is almost to the point where free trade or no free trade is a ridiculous argument. It has gone way past that. It is like an argument over whether the earth if flat or round. No, we are free traders, it is as simple as that. We have no choice.
I do believe that this goes a long way to providing us an example of how we can do this in the future. For example, we know Brexit is going to happen. I would encourage our government and others to start a negotiation with the United Kingdom to make sure that the standards that have been set in CETA follow through on what I guess we would call “Brexit plus one”.
That being said, I look forward to the questions and comments.
View Seamus O'Regan Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise in the House today to speak to this important piece of legislation. March 22 was an important day for Canadians. When the Minister of Finance introduced budget 2016, the first glimmers of hope were restored to Canadians who for too long had been made to work too hard, but just could not seem to get ahead.
Middle-class families, vulnerable seniors, veterans, and indigenous people were all given hope for a more secure tomorrow and a brighter future.
The Canada child benefit, a simpler, fairer, and tax-free solution to child benefits, will deliver more money to nine in 10 Canadian families and end the practice of sending benefit cheques to millionaires. More importantly, it will lift 300,000 children out of poverty and give them the start they need.
The rollback of changes to the age of eligibility for old age security and the guaranteed income supplement, from age 67 to 65, will allow people who have worked their whole lives to get the income security they deserve when they retire without having to wait.
For veterans who have bravely dedicated their lives to the defence of our country, we will enhance services and benefits in light of their dedicated service. This will help those veterans who have become injured and disabled and aid all veterans in the transition to civilian life, an all-too-challenging feat for those who have experienced the trauma of war.
For indigenous people who have suffered for too long from neglect and failed policies, the budget provided a new beginning. A first step in the nation-to-nation relationship with the fastest-growing segment of the Canadian population, our investments will contribute to improving economic prosperity for them, and for this country.
Today, it is my honour to rise in this esteemed House to speak in favour of the budget implementation act no. 1, a piece of legislation that will move forward many of the provisions contained in the budget.
The BIA is about many of the things I have already spoken to, but it also takes critical action in some areas that are occasionally overlooked in the fog of budget day. Importantly, it implements key measures designed to ensure tax fairness and a strong financial sector in this country.
As a matter of principle, our government is committed to tax fairness. We believe fundamentally that all Canadians, individuals and corporations alike, must pay their fair share of taxes so that all Canadians can benefit in return.
Tax evasion and avoidance put strain on this principle. They negatively impact the revenue collected through taxes, in turn compromising the services offered to Canadians.
The budget implementation act contains important provisions to cut down on the people's ability to use increasingly sophisticated means to avoid paying their fair share. This is combined with the budget's increased funding to the Canada Revenue Agency to hire additional auditors and specialists to undertake better-quality investigative work and improve its ability to collect outstanding debts.
As well, this budget addresses unintended tax advantages that businesses and high-net-worth individuals may be able to obtain through sophisticated tax planning techniques involving private corporations.
These actions are consistent with the principles of fairness, economic efficiency, and responsible fiscal management.
The government will continue to identify and address tax planning schemes to ensure that the tax system operates as fairly and effectively as possible.
We need to know that the system is working as it should, to ensure the economy is working for everyone. This is a critical part of strong fiscal management. Strong fiscal management also depends on ensuring our financial sector remains competitive and efficient.
Canada's financial sector is world-class and has remained resilient and stable even in the face of the great recession and throughout the slow recovery. However, we must keep the financial sector strong, especially at a time when new market forces like digital currencies and rapidly changing global regulations are precipitating equally rapid change.
Canada's financial sector remains the envy of many countries around the world. This reputation was the result of hard work and prudent decision-making by financial institutions and by the actions of the federal government in the 1990s and by our regulators. We want to keep it that way.
To ensure that Canada continues to benefit from a strong financial sector, the government proposes to introduce a bail-in regime for Canada's largest financial institutions, which would promote financial stability and reinforce that bank shareholders and creditors are responsible for the bank's risks, not taxpayers.
In the highly unlikely event of a system bank failure, we want to ensure that Canadians will not be on the hook and that banks will convert their debt into equity rather than force the government to bail them out.
It is important to add that this provision would not hurt depositors, as all insured and uninsured deposits will remain protected.
The budget implementation act is a critical step on the path to a fairer and more prosperous Canada. It brings into effect much-needed relief for Canadian families, for vulnerable seniors, and for veterans. However, it also takes action to close tax loopholes that hurt all Canadians and to ensure that our financial institutions remain strong, so that Canadians can continue to rely on them in the years to come.
For these reasons, I would encourage all members to support it.
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