Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2019-06-17 21:22 [p.29239]
Mr. Speaker, I am going by memory here, but when the access to information, privacy and ethics committee undertook a review of the legislation at the beginning of this Parliament, there was some fanfare about the fact that we were, after somewhere between seven and 12 years, getting to the mandatory five-year statutory review. There have been mandatory statutory reviews of the access to information regime in the past. My understanding is that this is not new, but if there are no sanctions for not conducting those reviews, we get into a situation where committees have other priorities, particularly if they are led by a government that may not have a serious interest in substantially changing the access to information law.
My understanding, when we undertook our review at the beginning of this Parliament, was that we were actually, finally, conducting a mandatory five-year review and that it had been much longer than five years. It is not that I do not think it serves a purpose, but it made me a lot more skeptical about the force of a mandatory review. I do not think it is a bad thing, but there is the question of how we actually make sure that a mandatory review takes place and whether there is any consequence if it does not.
As we talk about other mandatory reviews, my understanding is that we are not talking about any kind of enforcement regime that would ensure that those reviews were undertaken. The member knows well that committees are masters of their own domain, short of an order from the House requiring them to do this, which apparently the legislation did not do, or we would have been doing a lot more mandatory statutory reviews around here than we have.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-01-31 17:36 [p.25127]
Mr. Speaker, within the Lobbying Act there is a statutory review of the legislation. My question to the member is related to that aspect of the legislation. Has she looked into the possibility of how she might be able to bring this type of issue up once that act is under review by the House of Commons?
Second, has the member anticipated what the additional costs incurred would be? Surely to goodness if we were to expand in this area, there would be a fairly substantial cost to it. I am sure she is not trying to imply that we would in any way not properly resource the current commissioner in being able to do the fine work that this office currently does.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-01-31 17:58 [p.25130]
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to address the legislation introduced by the member opposite. It provokes a great deal of thought that collectively, as a House, we should be looking at the broader issues related to lobbying, especially if we take into consideration, for example, technological changes. When I look at social media today and compare it to the day I was first elected back in the late 1980s, there has been a great deal of change. One needs to be aware of the potential influence that lobbyists or even, to a certain degree, individuals can carry nowadays through social media.
I listened to members on all side of the House address the issue and a couple of things came to my mind.
We need to recognize that lobbyists have rights also. We do not want to in any way prevent lobbyists from being able to approach public officials. There needs to be accountability for that. Let me provide a specific example I have really appreciated over the last couple of years.
The constituents I represent are very much in tune with the idea of having a national pharmacare program, in which prescribed medicines are made available to Canadians. This is long overdue. For the first time in decades, we now have a government that seems to be sympathetic to it.
Having said that, I use it as an example because I have been lobbied on this very issue. I was lobbied by unions and different types of health care workers. A few individuals have advocated as to why we should not move in this direction. I have tabled a number of petitions in the House, probably a couple of dozen, on pharmacare. In fact, I tabled one from my constituents earlier this week.
When we think about how policy comes to be, we often need to take into consideration that it is multi-faceted. Everyone has a role to play, even multinationals. For example, a corporation like Pfizer would have a vested interest in not having a national pharmacare program in Canada. I would be very interested in knowing the possible lobbying efforts in that area. Equally, in order to ensure the sense of fairness, we should know when lobbying takes place from different organizations, whatever they may be, that advocate for a national pharmacare program.
I invite and welcome all those interested in this subject matter. I know pharmacare is an important issue for my constituents. I know the government is, and I suspect all members are, following this issue very closely. The critical component is transparency. This is all about that. We need to know when money flows and when individuals, or corporations or non-profits are engaged in lobbying.
To me, that is very important. I believe we have seen a prime minister and a government demonstrate a great deal of goodwill, and even more than goodwill: We have seen legislation dealing with enhancing transparency for Canadians on issues such as lobbying, and in particular legislation dealing with election financing. That is something that I think is worth noting.
With regard to the question I forward to my colleague across the way, there is a statutory study that is done on the Lobbying Act. I would like to think that the issues she and others have raised this afternoon will come before the committee when it comes time to review the act, with the idea of coming up with some ideas and recommendations that would improve and enhance the position of lobbying commissioner. Part of that discussion also needs to incorporate the potential costs and value.
Hon. Scott Brison: A cost-benefit analysis. You are right.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: A cost-benefit analysis: The former Treasury Board minister knows this stuff like the back of his hand.
When it comes to accountability and transparency and the whole nine yards, I can assure members that this is a government that takes it all very seriously. That is one of the reasons I believe we need to recognize right up front that when we deal with issues of this nature, what we really need to spend a great deal of time talking about is the issue of transparency. Let me give members an example of something tangible that we saw in the last year from the government that dealt with the issue of transparency.
We talk about the engagements that ministers or leaders of political entities conduct. They call them fundraising events. Not that long ago, the Prime Minister indicated that we wanted to open the doors of accountability and transparency so that even during fundraising events, media members would be afforded the opportunity to participate and observe. We have nothing to hide. We want Canadians to know who is financing and lobbying the party once it hits a certain level.
We even went further than that. For people who ultimately want to become a prime minister—for example, the Leader of the Opposition or leaders of other political entities—there should be an obligation. That is why we brought that in through legislation. It was because there was resistance from opposition parties to making sure the public knows who is attending and lobbying our leaders, whether they are ministers or leaders of political parties. Therefore, not only are we a government that talks about the importance of transparency; our record clearly shows that we have acted on it.
One of the nice things about the House of Commons is that we have independent offices. The lobbying commissioner has done outstanding work. When we talk about ways we could possibly expand that responsibility, it is important that we go back and reflect on the issue of resources, because at times there may be a need for us to expand, whether in this area of Elections Canada or with other independent offices of the House. We want to make sure that they are properly resourced and that the ideas that ultimately flow into the legislation have been well vetted, not only by parliamentarians but also by our constituents. The constituents of Winnipeg North are very much opinionated when I go out to ask for their thoughts on issues, and the different stakeholder groups themselves have a great deal of input on issues of this nature.
I appreciate the bill coming forward. I look forward to the ongoing debate on the matter.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
View Candice Bergen Profile
2018-10-17 15:37 [p.22503]
Madam Speaker, the member is correct. On technology, on behaviour, we are learning more and growing as a society. This is an issue that will be changing. We support that this will be looked at every five years and that there will be a review so that we can ensure that we are using best practices to ensure that we have a harassment-free workplace and that our employees, the people we interact with day to day, are supported and are able to reach their fullest potential. Therefore, we support seeing this reviewed every five years and being able to change and evolve as the situation changes.
View Terry Duguid Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Terry Duguid Profile
2018-10-16 12:07 [p.22430]
Mr. Speaker, on the issue of data, under our gender-based violence strategy, we are creating a knowledge centre. We are going to be partnering with Statistics Canada to dutifully collect data on harassment and gender-based violence in the country. We are going to be sharing best practices with groups from across the country, such as unions, employers and others. The data issue is very important to our government. We are an evidence-based government.
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
2018-10-16 18:08 [p.22480]
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon for his speech.
[Member spoke in Cree]
[Translation]
I am very proud to be here today.
As leaders at all levels of society, as leaders in all organizations, as leaders in our communities, we have an individual and collective responsibility to ensure a harassment- and violence-free workplace. Too many women and men suffer harassment and violence in the workplace, and no one should be exempt.
I am also extremely proud to have the opportunity to talk about Bill C-65, which amends the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, and the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1, to eradicate harassment and violence from federally regulated workplaces, including the federal public service and parliamentary workplaces.
Bill C-65 draws on existing Canada Labour Code provisions pertaining to violence and sexual harassment to design a comprehensive approach that covers all forms of violence and harassment, from bullying and teasing to sexual harassment and physical violence.
This bill also applies to all health and safety protections, including measures relating to harassment and violence in parliamentary workplaces, such as the Senate, the Library of Parliament and the House of Commons, and to political staff working on Parliament Hill.
There are currently two separate regimes in place to deal with issues of violence and sexual harassment under the Canada Labour Code. They each have their own requirements and mechanisms for settling disputes, which creates an imbalance in how these matters are dealt with.
The current regimes do not apply to the same workplaces. Current sexual harassment rules only apply in the federally regulated private sector and most Crown corporations, whereas rules pertaining to violence also apply to the federal public service. Neither framework applies to parliamentary employees.
Bill C-65 would create a single, integrated regime to protect all federally regulated employees against harassment and violence in the workplace. As part of the Government of Canada's strategy to combat gender-based violence, the bill proposes a new framework that will prevent incidents of harassment and violence from occurring, respond effectively to these incidents when they do occur and support victims of harassment and violence while also protecting their privacy. Protecting victims' privacy is extremely important.
More specifically, Bill C-65 would amend the Canada Labour Code to expand the existing violence prevention requirements in part II of the Canada Labour Code, which deals with occupational health and safety; ensure that employers take preventive action and protect employees from harassment and violence at work; and repeal the existing sexual harassment provisions in part III of the code, which deals with labour standards, to create a single integrated regime to protect federally regulated employees under part II of the code.
Furthermore, the bill would amend the Canada Labour Code to require employers, through the regulatory framework and the corresponding regulations, to prevent harassment and violence. This includes ensuring that employees receive training, or even that they take the initiative themselves, and working with employees to develop a harassment and violence prevention policy.
The bill would also require employers to respond to incidents of harassment and violence, within a specified time frame; resolve the complaint and, if a resolution is not possible, designate a competent person to conduct investigations; inform the complainant and, in accordance with privacy measures, update the workplace committee on the investigation; implement the recommendations resulting from the investigation; and record and report all incidents of harassment and violence.
The bill would require employers to support employees who are victims of harassment and violence, as well as protect their privacy, which includes providing assistance and giving access to the workplace committees.
The bill will repeal the sections of the Canada Labour Code that permit exemptions to the establishment of a workplace committee, and will only allow exemptions when there is already a committee with the same health and safety responsibilities. It will broaden the scope of part II of the code to include staff of ministers' offices, who are also known as exempt staff.
The amendments to the Parliamentary Employment Staff Relations Act are extremely important. Bill C-65 would enact part III of the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, which incorporates by reference part II of the code. The act applies to parliamentary employers and employees, without limiting in any way the powers, privileges and immunities of the Senate and the House of Commons and their members.
More specifically, Bill C-65 would amend the act in order to incorporate by reference the provisions concerning workplace health and safety found in part II of the code with certain changes. First, the Deputy Minister of Labour will exercise the powers and perform the duties and functions of the minister when a member of the Senate or House of Commons is involved. Furthermore, the application of all directions and any appeals of these directions will be undertaken when they are tabled in the House of Commons or the Senate, or both. Appeals of these directions will be referred to the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board.
The bill would amend the act to ensure the protection of parliamentary privileges by stating that all powers, privileges and immunities conferred or imposed may be exercised as long as they do not interfere, directly or indirectly, with the business of the House of Commons or the Senate.
Bill C-65 would require annual reporting and a five-year review, which is also appreciated. More specifically, the bill's proposed amendments will require: the Minister of Labour to prepare and publish an annual report that contains statistical data relating to harassment and violence in federally regulated workplaces, including parliamentary workplaces; that the harassment and violence provisions introduced in the Canada Labour Code and the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act by Bill C-65 be reviewed five years after coming into force and every five years after that and that the responsible minister prepare and table reports on these reviews in every House of Parliament; and that the federal Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board submit an annual report on its activities under part III of the PESRA and part II of the code as it applies to parliamentary workplaces and that the responsible minister table the report in each of the House of Parliament.
There are 10 Senate amendments of which four will be accepted by the government, one is to be amended and five rejected.
The amendments that are to be accepted will strengthen the legislation to prevent workplace violence or harassment. They are: amendment 3, which will provide greater certainty to those who experience workplace violence and harassment by explicitly stating that nothing in this part shall be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from the rights provided for under the Canadian Human Rights Act; amendment 5(b), which replaces the term “trivial, frivolous, or vexatious” with the term “abuse of process” so as to eliminate negative associations regarding coming forward with complaint; amendment 6 so that the annual report prepared by the minister regarding incidents of workplace harassment and violence includes information that is categorized according to the prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act; and amendment 7(a), which will provide greater certainty to those coming forward with complaints, including complaints outside of harassment and violence, that Bill C-65 would not limit one's ability to take a case to the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
Amendment 4 is to be accepted with amendments. The suggestion from the Senate is to add two paragraphs to clause 3 of the bill. We are rejecting these two amendments and renaming them. The addition of these names aligns with the intent of Bill C-65 regarding the training of designated persons to whom complaints can be made.
The government respectfully disagrees with amendment 1. Replacing the word “means” with “includes” would result in a lack of clarity for both employers and employees.
The government respectfully disagrees with amendment 2. In focusing on harassment and violence, it would create an imbalance relative to all of the other occupational health and safety measures under part II of the Canada Labour Code.
We propose that the paragraph from amendment 4 be deleted because the addition of the proposed paragraph would mean that a single incident of harassment and violence in a workplace would be considered a violation of the Canada Labour Code on the part of the employer, which would undermine the framework for addressing harassment and violence that Bill C-65 seeks to establish.
View Doug Eyolfson Profile
Lib. (MB)
moved that Bill S-228, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (prohibiting food and beverage marketing directed at children), be read the third time and passed.
He said: Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to stand here today as a sponsor of Bill S-228, the child health protection act, at its third and final reading in Parliament.
I would like to begin by thanking my fellow colleagues on the Standing Committee on Health for their thoughtful review of the legislation. It was an honour to work with all of them and I look forward to continuing to work together on issues affecting Canadians.
Childhood obesity is an epidemic of such a magnitude that it is a matter of national concern. Today, one in three Canadian children is either overweight or obese. We know that obesity is linked to chronic conditions and illnesses, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers, and its effects are compounded if the onset is premature.
During my career as a physician, I noticed more of my patients were overweight or obese and I was seeing instances of heart disease and type 2 diabetes in younger and younger people. According to the World Obesity Federation, if current trends continue, more than 10 million adults in Canada will be obese by 2025 and treating health problems caused by obesity will cost Canada nearly $34 billion per year.
In its final report presented on January 25, 2016, the World Health Organization's Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity found that there is unequivocal evidence that the marketing of unhealthy foods and sugar-sweetened beverages has a negative impact on childhood obesity. The report recommended that any attempt to tackle childhood obesity should include a reduction in the exposure of children to marketing. This bill takes concrete steps to address this public health issue by eliminating the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children.
During the committee stage of this bill, I introduced two consequential amendments to the legislation. The first was to alter the definition of a child from 17 years of age to 13 years of age. During Health Canada's consultation with stakeholders, it became clear that any regime built on restrictions aimed at older teenagers would be subjected to considerable legal risks associated with a restriction on freedom of expression under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Currently, there is a strong precedent for defining a child as under 13 in the context of advertising restrictions in Quebec and the province has withstood a charter challenge that was fully upheld at the Supreme Court of Canada.
Recognizing there is evidence concerning the vulnerability of teenagers to marketing, as well as the experience in Quebec where industry shifted marketing efforts to teenagers when restrictions were imposed on younger children, I moved a second amendment that requires Parliament to conduct a mandatory review of the legislation, with a focus on the definition of children within five years of the act coming into force. Through the parliamentary review of the legislation, the government would also be obliged to report publicly on compliance with the bill and on progress toward our common goal of healthier children of all ages. This work would ensure that, if necessary, we will have the data needed to support a broadening of restrictions at a future date.
During this bill's second reading and committee stage, there were also questions regarding the regulations that would be established. Recently, Health Canada released the document, “Restricting Marketing of Unhealthy Food and Beverages to Children: An Update on Proposed Regulations”. In this document, Health Canada stated that the new regulations would define “unhealthy” food, set out factors to determine if an advertisement is directed at children and set out exemptions to the prohibition, such as for children's sports sponsorship.
There has been much discussion as to what qualifies as unhealthy foods and beverages. As such, Health Canada is considering a model to define “unhealthy” food as foods having a front-of-package symbol, as proposed in draft regulations, or exceeding the threshold for the nutrient content claims, such as low in sodium and salt, low in saturated fatty acids and/or low in sugars. The Specific Nutrient Content Claim Requirements, such as the ones previously listed, are used by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to quantify food claims made by manufacturers. I encourage my colleagues to review the Specific Nutrient Content Claim Requirements for salt, sodium, saturated fatty acids and Health Canada's proposed requirements for sugars, for the exact quantities under the proposed regulations and for what amounts of sodium, fats and sugars would qualify a food or beverage as being unhealthy.
With regard to the factors to determine if an advertisement is directed at children, we need to consider that the impact of marketing to children is a result of both exposure to unhealthy food ads through settings and media channels and the power of the marketing techniques used.
As such, the proposed approach addresses both by considering three primary elements: settings, media channels and advertising techniques. Settings would include places, events or activities, and could include day cares, schools and children's clubs, as well as children's concerts and festivals, among others.
Health Canada would determine certain factors related to the settings, such as whether the setting is one where children are generally or frequently in attendance, and the nature and purpose of the event or activity determining whether unhealthy food advertising is child-directed.
Under the proposed regulations, marketing to children would be prohibited in child-directed settings. Where the audience has both adults and children, the marketing of unhealthy foods would be restricted only if the advertisement itself is found to have child appeal and would be prohibited if the characteristics of the ad, such as colour, theme and/or language, were clearly directed at children.
Children are also exposed to advertising through a variety of media channels, including digital applications, Internet, television, films and print. Health Canada is currently exploring the use of factors such as the nature and purpose of the media, whether it was intended or designed for children and whether children constitute a significant portion of the audience when determining whether unhealthy food advertising is child-directed.
With regards to the audience portion, Health Canada is considering a prohibition of marketing to children when the proportion of children in the viewing audience is over 15%. For media channels where the proportion of children in the viewing audience is less than 15%, the marketing of unhealthy food will be restricted only if the advertisement is found to have clear child appeal. With regards to determining advertising techniques with child appeal, it must be understood that a wide range of powerful techniques are used to advertise foods to children. Therefore, Health Canada will need to determine whether the design, technique or characteristic of the advertisement target will influence or appeal to children. For example, an ad for confectionery treats depicting child-appealing elements such as cartoon images and/or children's toys would be prohibited.
Over the past several months, there have been concerns that there could be a negative impact on access to community sports if sponsorships were prohibited. In its proposed regulations, Health Canada will exempt children's sport sponsorships to address these concerns, with only specific techniques designed to appeal to children under 13, such as mascots or product giveaways, being prohibited.
Marketing to children would be allowed for community sports teams, sporting events, sporting leagues and associations, and individual child athletes. For example, in the context of a sporting event where a company is supplying sports jerseys to the team, its logo can appear on the sports jerseys.
Working on this legislation has been a long yet rewarding process. When I was practising medicine, I would too often treat patients suffering from the numerous medical complications due to obesity. While I am not in the emergency room to treat patients suffering from these illnesses now, I am here, in the House of Commons, as a representative of my community, to address the preventable issues that are hurting our society and burdening our health care system.
We now have an opportunity to address childhood obesity, which should frankly be a non-partisan issue. That is why I am calling upon all members of this House to show their support and prove we are united in fighting this epidemic.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2018-05-24 11:24 [p.19568]
Madam Speaker, the minister has talked about the importance of actually looking at and reviewing the act on an ongoing basis.
Could my colleague provide his thoughts on how important it is that this not be a static thing and that when we talk about sustainable development, we should continue to engage Canadians?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2018-05-24 11:39 [p.19570]
Madam Speaker, I can assure members, particularly the member who asked the question, that this is not the case. There is an expectation, and unlike the Conservative Party, we, as a political entity, believe it is important to listen to Canadians. Quite often the Conservatives are completely out of touch with what Canadians believe are important issues, but we, as a government, are responding to what Canadians expect of good government.
Today we have before us legislation that deals with sustainable development, and believe it or not, Canadians support sustainable development. That is why we believe they would support this legislation. It is encouraging, I must say, that we appear to have support from all members of the House. All members are speaking in favour of the legislation itself, and it would have been nice to be debating this particular piece of legislation at third reading.
I question why the member for Abbotsford brought forward an amendment. I would ask my colleagues to reflect on this. A standing committee reviewed the bill. This particular amendment would get rid of the advisory council. When the member for Abbotsford stood to give his explanation, what did he say? He said he wanted clarification that no one on the advisory council would get remuneration. That is what the member for Abbotsford was hoping to get all members of the House to appreciate and understand. He was, therefore, suggesting that this clause be deleted. By deleting this clause, we would get rid of the advisory council. The advisory council is something I understand every member of this House supports, and yet he wants us to get rid of it.
To further complicate it, the member for Abbotsford, who was at committee, proposed an amendment at committee stage. Get this: the Conservative Party, through the member for Abbotsford, moved an amendment providing clarification that members of the advisory council would have their expenses covered. If they have to fly to Ottawa, their plane tickets would be paid for. He suggested an amendment that in essence supported the advisory council. It is no surprise that it was accepted. It was not only the government that supported that amendment; New Democrats did too. Now the member for Abbotsford wants to delete it. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, unless, of course, the Conservative Party is moving an amendment for the sake of moving an amendment. Conservatives say they support sustainable development and the legislation, yet they move an amendment that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
What would have happened had the member for Abbotsford not moved the amendment? It would have meant that today we would be debating the bill at third reading. Instead of talking about an amendment that should never have happened, we would be talking about the important issue of sustainable development. That is why, with the remaining time, I would like to talk about the importance of that issue.
There has been a great deal of work on this legislation. The draft strategy was put together and presented to Canadians in different forums. There were hundreds of submissions from different stakeholders and individual Canadians who had the opportunity to express their thoughts, priorities, and ideas on important legislation. It was very much appreciated and welcomed. The minister responsible and the staff did a fantastic job in reaching out beyond the Ottawa circle.
However, we also had a standing committee, which came up with ideas, recommendations, and reflections on what could be done to give more strength to the legislation itself. We had a standing committee, and the parliamentary secretary made reference to it when he said that we had all parties build a consensus to move forward on the issue of sustainable development and what that should look like in the form of an act. We actually had Conservatives, New Democrats, and Greens working together with government to try to improve legislation. Personally, I think Canadians would have loved to have seen that. Canadians can be assured that there was a high sense of co-operation from all sides of this House. The minister and the parliamentary secretary did a fantastic job in putting together legislation that we could all get behind and support.
It goes to second reading, and again it receives a favourable response. It goes to committee, and once again amendments were suggested and brought forward. The amendments—not all, but in good part—were supported, and some were incorporated into the legislation itself.
I can appreciate that things can always be made better. The Prime Minister of Canada often talks about how we can improve and make things better. We are genuinely open. That is one of the reasons that in the legislation there is the reference to the need for an ongoing review over five years. For sustainable development, all sorts of ideas could be generated in the meantime, so we want to ensure that the dialogue, discussion, and debate do not end the day this bill receives royal assent. It is actually incorporated in the legislation itself.
My NDP friends often say “what about this?” or “what about that?”. They are very quick to be critical of government. Sometimes it is constructive and sometimes it is more of a filibuster. I believe that for the most part, on this legislation, their attempts were meant to be constructive. We appreciate that.
In the case of indigenous issues, it is about working with indigenous peoples so that projects can move forward with some sort of consensus-building with different stakeholders. In this legislation, we are saying we have this fantastic Sustainable Development Advisory Council, and within that council indigenous representation will be guaranteed. That is very positive.
It is in keeping with what the Prime Minister said we need to do: not only re-establishing but supporting and enhancing that relationship between indigenous people, the Government of Canada, and Canadians as a whole. This legislation makes a genuine attempt to do that, at least in part, in a small way that still counts, that still matters and is significant.
This is something we see as a very strong positive. Imagine more transparency through engaging additional departments and agencies by the dozen. We are going to have more accountability and transparency through other departments and agencies with the passage of this legislation. Again, we see that as a positive thing.
Let me conclude my remarks by commenting that I believe the constituency I represent believes it is important to see both economic action and action on the environment too. In fact, sustainable development is all about ensuring that the economy and the environment work hand in hand. That is something we have consistently said, not only prior to the election but after the election as well.
View Doug Eyolfson Profile
Lib. (MB)
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to stand here among my colleagues and thank them all for their efforts and thoughtful debate on the child health protection act. I also want to thank Senator Nancy Greene Raine for her tireless work on the legislation and for entrusting me with helping to shepherd it through the House of Commons.
Childhood obesity is an epidemic. We know obesity is linked to chronic illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. During my career as a physician, I noticed more and more of my patients who presented were overweight or obese, and I was seeing instances of heart disease and type 2 diabetes in younger and younger people. This bill takes concrete steps to address this issue.
I have heard concerns that the bill would interfere with consumer and parental choice. Nothing could be further from the truth. The legislation focuses squarely on marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children and does not dictate what can be served or sold.
It is an axiom that advertising plays a role in dictating preferences and choices. Companies would not spend billions of dollars if that were not the case.
Children in today's society have a marked preference for unhealthy foods in large part because they face a barrage of ads targeted toward them that encourage that preference. If we were to restrict children's advertising to healthy foods, this would help encourage preferences for healthy foods.
I have heard critics ask what proof there is that such an approach would achieve the desired objective.
Although it is notoriously difficult to conclusively prove causality in any public health measure, it should be noted that in 1971, Quebec passed the Consumer Protection Act, forbidding all advertising of unhealthy foods to children less than 13 years of age. In the intervening years, Quebec has achieved the highest rate of fruit and vegetable consumption among children and the lowest child obesity rates in Canada.
Whereas correlation does not necessarily equal cause and effect, we can find no other cause for this positive trend, and we are confident this trend will continue if established nationally.
As I stated previously, should the legislation pass second reading and be referred to the Standing Committee on Health, I will be submitting amendments to it.
The first amendment would change the definition of children from under 17 years of age to under 13 years of age. During Health Canada's consultation with stakeholders, it has become increasingly obvious any regime built on restrictions aimed at older teenagers would be subject to considerable legal risks associated with the restriction on freedom of expression under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There is a strong precedent for defining a child as under 13 in the context of advertising restrictions in Quebec, and the province has withstood a charter challenge that was fully upheld at the Supreme Court of Canada.
Recognizing there is evidence showing the vulnerability of teenagers to marketing, as well as the experience in Quebec where industry shifted marketing efforts to teenagers when restrictions were imposed on younger children, I will move another amendment to require Parliament to conduct a mandatory review of the legislation, with a particular focus on the definition of children, within five years of the act coming into force. Through the parliamentary review of the legislation, the government would also be obliged to report publicly on compliance with the bill and on progress toward our common goal of healthier children of all ages. This would ensure that, if necessary, we would have the data needed to support a broadening of restrictions at a future date.
Additionally, the Minister of Health clarified that sports sponsorships would be exempt to ensure activities promoting healthy lifestyles and choices would continue. This has been a concern for many of my colleagues, and I want to assure them little league hockey and other youth sports activities will not be jeopardized.
Before I wrap up, I want to make one quick aside.
Over a decade ago, I was involved in the debate on indoor smoking in Manitoba, as it is both a public health and occupational health issue. At that time, in an attempt to deflect, a number of people challenged me by saying that obesity was a much bigger threat than smoking, and asked what I was doing about that. Well, now, 15 years later, they have their answer. I am doing something to combat childhood obesity, and everyone in this chamber has the opportunity to do the same.
I am calling upon all members for their support to show we are united in fighting this epidemic.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2018-01-29 15:44 [p.16444]
Again, Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and I believe if you were to seek it you would again find unanimous consent for the following motion.
I move:
That the Standing Committee on Finance be the committee designated for the purposes of section 72 of the Proceeds of Crime and Terrorist Financing Act.
View Doug Eyolfson Profile
Lib. (MB)
moved that Bill S-228, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (prohibiting food and beverage marketing directed at children), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to stand here today as the sponsor of Bill S-228, the child health protection act.
I would like to begin by commending the hon. Senator Greene Raine for introducing this bill last fall, and for her tireless efforts to support healthy choices for our children.
This bill was grounded in the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology's own study on obesity in Canada, published in March 2016, and was debated by that committee during its review of the legislation.
It has long been established that advertising works. What I mean by this is that advertising is an effective tool for influencing potential customers' attitudes and behaviours. If this were not true, then advertising would not be a long-standing multi-billion dollar industry. This principle applies to all potential customers, including children. Now, more than ever, our children are exposed to a barrage of advertisements for unhealthy foods and beverages. It therefore follows that those who are marketing their products to children will be affecting children's eating decisions. In fact, recent trends confirm that this is indeed the case.
One in three Canadian children is either overweight or obese. We know that obesity is linked to chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. During my career as a physician, I witnessed these trends first-hand on a regular basis. I noticed more of my patients who presented were overweight or obese, and I was seeing instances of heart disease and type 2 diabetes in younger and younger people. Public health data across many countries confirms that this trend is widespread. Alarmingly, whereas 20 years ago type 2 diabetes was a disease primarily of older adults, this diagnosis is increasingly being made in children. It is obvious that we need to take bold action now. Our children's health and lives are at stake, and they deserve better.
This issue falls squarely within the Minister of Health's mandate to introduce new restrictions on the commercial marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children.
The extent to which our children are exposed to the advertising of foods and beverages that are high in sugar, salt, and saturated fats cannot be overstated. For example, according to a recent study of the 25 million online food and beverage ads that Canadian children see every year on their favourite websites, 90% are for unhealthy products. As a result, our children are eating fewer fruits and vegetables than recommended and more unhealthy foods and beverages.
Taking action today to restrict the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages means that we can help children have a healthy start in life, based on a foundation of healthy eating choices, and protection from the influence and manipulation of those who would market unhealthy foods and beverages to our children. Bill S-228 serves to provide such protection.
If Bill S-228 is to give our children the protection they deserve, it is imperative that, before being passed into law, we take steps to ensure that this legislation will withstand any legal challenges that may come about. This is why I will be introducing amendments to this bill.
The first amendment would change the definition of “children” from under 17 years old to under 13 years old. Although some stakeholders have expressed reservations with changing the age, it must be understood that there is a very real potential that this bill could be challenged in its present form under the law.
In recent months, as Health Canada has consulted with stakeholders, it has become increasingly obvious that any regime built on restrictions aimed at older teenagers would be subject to considerable legal risks associated with the restriction on freedom of expression under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. These are risks I cannot ignore, because a court loss could jeopardize this entire effort. The proposed change will allow us to take bold action to protect our most vulnerable populations now.
There is a strong precedent for defining a child as under 13 years of age in the context of advertising restrictions in the province of Quebec. In fact, the Quebec legislation withstood a charter challenge and was fully upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada. That clear precedent supports the decision to amend the definition of children to those under 13. However, I will not stop there.
Recognizing there is evidence showing the vulnerability of teenagers to marketing, as well as the experience in Quebec where industry shifted marketing efforts to teenagers when restrictions were imposed on younger children, I will move an additional amendment to Bill S-228 at committee. Specifically, I will move an amendment to require Parliament to conduct a mandatory review of the legislation, with a particular focus on the definition of children, within five years of the act coming into force.
The objective of the parliamentary review will be to monitor whether the lower age limit results in increased advertising to teenagers and whether any provisions of the act need to be adjusted to ensure the continued and full protection of our children.
I have also been informed that the Minister of Health has instructed Health Canada to invest significant resources over the next five years and to work closely with the health stakeholder community to ensure the necessary research is undertaken to determine whether new forms of advertising are impacting children and whether teens are being exposed to more marketing as a result of restrictions on marketing to younger children. I applaud the minister for her leadership in this area.
Through the parliamentary review of the legislation, the government will also be obliged to report publicly on compliance with the bill and on progress toward our common goal of healthier children of all ages. This work will ensure that, if necessary, we will have the data needed to support a broadening of restrictions at a future date.
While parents have an important role in choosing what their children eat, it is difficult for them to compete with or to completely control their children's exposure to marketing. Parents and caregivers deserve a supportive environment where children are not constantly targeted by unhealthy food marketing.
Bill S-228 is but one effort to tackle the epidemic of obesity and chronic disease in our country. If anyone doubts my resolve or the resolve of our government, he or she need only look at the comprehensive suite of measures we have under way. These initiatives range from restricting marketing to children; to new front-of-pack labelling to flag foods high in sugar, salt, and fat; and to a revamped Canada Food Guide.
One of the fundamental responsibilities of a government is to protect its most vulnerable citizens and few citizens are more vulnerable than our children. I expect that everyone in the House can appreciate how significant Bill S-228 is for the health of our children today and for generations to come.
We will not let up in the fight to reduce obesity and chronic disease. I ask all members for their support on this important issue.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2017-12-05 11:54 [p.15999]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by reflecting on one of the questions that was posed as to why the Liberals want to push this forward, yet no one else inside the chamber sees its merit. It is like a flashback of sorts, because this is not the first time that has taken place in regard to this very same issue.
In looking at access to information, the minister responsible, the President of the Treasury Board, has pointed out how long ago it was that substantive changes were previously made to the act. We have to go back to the late 1970s. Ultimately the credit goes to Joe Clark, who introduced the legislation. Nonetheless, let us not confuse the Progressive Conservatives of 1979 with the Conservatives/Reformers of today because there is a substantial difference. There might be some members within that caucus, very few, who could relate to the Progressive Conservatives, but it is more of that Reform faction that is still there in a very real way. It was Pierre Elliott Trudeau then, who took idea of Joe Clark and put it into place, but no prime minister since Pierre Elliott Trudeau has taken on the task of looking at modernizing the legislation. Even though Stephen Harper in a campaign said he would reform the act, that never took place.
Let me focus on the flashback I referred to. When our current Prime Minister became leader of the Liberal Party, the members who served a few years back will recall that the leader of the Liberal Party said he believed in proactive disclosure and that the Liberal Party in third-party status wanted it to apply to all members and political parties inside the chamber. My colleagues will remember the reaction at the time. It was an outright no from the Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party. We stood alone as the official opposition, and the government of the day said no to proactive disclosure, to the idea that was being promoted by the leader of the Liberal Party. A few months later, and even before that, the leader said that Liberal members of Parliament were expected to provide proactive disclosure of their expenses, of their members' office budgets, and the Liberal Party on its own moved in that direction.
To the credit of the former Conservative government, its members recognized there was merit to that. In fact, it was not that long afterward, a few months later, that the Conservatives said that they too would participate in proactive disclosure. I give them credit for recognizing that as something Canadians wanted to see. My friends, the New Democrats, on the other hand, fought it tooth and nail. They did not want anything to do with proactive disclosure. In fact, if my memory serves me correctly, it was the Liberal Party that brought forward an opposition motion that obligated the NDP members to stand in their place and say it was a bad idea. Before that, it was behind the curtains that they were yelling, “no, no, no, bad idea, we do not want it”, saying no to unanimous leave inside the chamber. The New Democrats were almost embarrassed to support it, and ultimately because of that round of embarrassment, they came onside months later, probably closer to a full year later.
When my colleague on the New Democrat benches across the way talks about the government not having the support of the official opposition or the NDP for the bill, I would point out that we did not have their support back then either. The Conservatives saw the light a little sooner than the New Democrats. The New Democrats saw the light after being shoved into it.
What we are debating today is further proactive disclosure to include not only members of Parliament but also the Prime Minister's Office, ministers' offices, and other independent offices. Why would the NDP, in particular, but the Conservatives also, not recognize the true value of what is proposed in this legislation? I can understand the unholy alliance that has taken place, especially during question period and on certain issues, between the New Democrats and the Conservatives, but I do not quite understand why they persist in saying that this is bad legislation. Access to information has not been modernized for decades. As my colleague from the Atlantic coast pointed out, not only will this legislation be changed today, but within the legislation we also have a review clause. Therefore, by passing this legislation, we would be mandating in law that the legislation be reviewed periodically so that we do not have a 30-year gap between the times that we look at ways to improve access to information.
Another aspect worthy of note is how we are empowering and enabling the commissioner to require and request reports or comments on specific issues that have been brought to his or her attention by members of the House and others. I would argue that is a significant and positive achievement. I would have thought that members would easily support this expansion of the commissioner's ability to require comments.
Many of those who are listening to or following the debate might ask what proactive disclosure is. Often, there are individuals who want to try to draw out more regular information from government. We have seen that with governments of all political stripes. Proactive disclosure is one of the ways we can deal with the many different types of questions being asked of the commissioner or the departments in the first place. As opposed to requests having to come in, the information would automatically be made available. This service will better facilitate the flow of information. It will ensure that there is a higher sense of accountability and transparency in government. Members should not be surprised by this. Not only did the leader of the Liberal Party initiate the debate on transparency and accountability through proactive disclosure, but we even talked about enhancing it more in the last federal election. That is exactly what we have done. For example, we require that mandate letters and revised mandate letters to ministers be incorporated. Some might ask why we would do that. It is because this Prime Minister has made that information public. There is great value in that. For the first time, the public has access to what the Prime Minister is mandating ministers do within their departments and what some of those expectations are. The briefing packages to ministers are also being considered for proactive disclosure.
There is a list of things that are eligible and will be incorporated under proactive disclosure. There is a litany of things that I believe clearly demonstrate that this Prime Minister wants to and is prepared to bring in legislation to ensure we are more transparent, accountable, and that future governments would also have to live within this legislative framework. I believe this is a very strong positive.
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Dan Vandal Profile
2017-09-26 11:23 [p.13511]
Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure to rise today to speak to this bill, a comprehensive set of amendments to the Access to Information Act.
It is always with great pleasure that I rise in the House on behalf of the constituents of Saint-Boniface—Saint-Vital to discuss important amendments to the Access to Information Act.
Bill C-58 would enact a number of the reforms called for on numerous occasions since the act first came into place some 34 years ago. I think we can all agree that the current act is out of touch with the expectations of our citizens in today's digital age. This is hardly surprising when we consider that the act has not been updated significantly since it received royal assent in 1983. That was a time when most government records were on paper. Today, the vast majority of government records are digital, and Canadians increasingly expect to be able to find information online instead of having to request it.
To appreciate the groundbreaking nature of Bill C-58's reforms, it is worth looking at recommendations that have been made over the years to improve the act. In 1987, 30 years ago, the first review of the act by a parliamentary committee identified inconsistencies in its administration across government and recommended clearer Treasury Board policy direction. The committee also made two noteworthy recommendations: first, that the act be extended to ministers' offices, administrative institutions supporting Parliament and the courts, and crown corporations; and second, that the Information Commissioner be granted order-making powers for the disclosure of records. In the end, the government adopted some administrative proposals, but neither of these two key recommendations. The bill before us today would finally put these two reforms into law, some three decades after they were first proposed.
In 1990, the Information Commissioner, academics, and parliamentarians requested additional improvements. Let me highlight two of interest. First, there was a recommendation to extend the act to all government bodies, and second was a recommendation to grant the Information Commissioner order-making powers for the disclosure of records. Neither of these recommendations was implemented. Instead, over the next decade the government made several targeted amendments to the act. For example, in 1992, it enabled requesters with sensory disabilities to obtain records in alternative formats. In 1999, the act was amended to make it a criminal offence to intentionally deny a right of access under the act by destroying, altering, hiding, or falsifying a record, or directing someone else to do so.
In 2001, it added more national security protections. Around that same time, the access to information review task force commissioned numerous research papers and consulted Canadians, civil society groups, and experts across Canada. The task force's 2002 report, “Access to information: making it work for Canadians”, made 140 recommendations for improving access to information at the federal level. These included extending the act to the House of Commons, Parliament, and the Senate; establishing broader access to government records, including those in ministers' offices and those produced for government by contractors; permitting institutions to not process frivolous and vexatious requests; granting the Information Commissioner order-making powers; providing more training and resources to federal institutions; and strengthening performance reporting. While these proposals were not acted upon at that time, I am pleased to report that the bill before us today addresses many of these important recommendations. I will highlight a few in just a moment.
Returning to the history of reform of the act, in 2006 the Federal Accountability Act expanded coverage of the Access to Information Act to officers of Parliament, crown corporations, and institutions created under federal statutes. This increased the number of institutions to which the act applied to about 240. The 2006 amendments also established a duty to assist, meaning an obligation on institutions to make every reasonable effort to assist requesters and to provide a timely and complete response to a request.
Finally, in 2009, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics undertook a review of the act. The committee consulted with civil society, media, and legal organizations, as well as provincial information and privacy commissioners. Its report made a number of suggestions, including granting the Information Commissioner the power to order institutions to search, retrieve, and reproduce records; granting the Information Commissioner a public education mandate; requiring a review of the act every five years; and extending the act to cover the general administration of Parliament and the courts. Once again, regrettably, these recommendations were not implemented at that time.
The bill before us today takes on the challenge of addressing issues that governments have been avoiding for over 30 years, and while there is legitimate debate about ensuring that we get these changes right, our government has the conviction to welcome debate and to listen.
Our bill would break new ground by giving the Information Commissioner the power to order government information to be released. That is very significant. For the first, the act would also include ministers' offices, the Prime Minister's Office, officers of Parliament, and institutions that support the courts, all through a legislated system of proactive publication.
At the same time as we are breaking new ground by providing the Information Commissioner the power to order that government information be released, and legislating a system of proactive publication across government, we are also developing a new plain-language guide that would provide requesters with clear explanations of exemptions and exclusions. We are investing in tools to make processing information requests more efficient, allowing federal institutions that have the same minister to share their request processing services for greater efficiency, and supporting the new legislation with training across government to get common and consistent application of the changes we are introducing.
Another important change would give government institutions the ability to decline to act on overly broad or bad-faith requests that simply gum up the system. This would be subject to the oversight of the Information Commissioner. If a department decides to decline to act on a request, the requester would have the right to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner, and the commissioner could use the new order-making power to resolve the issue. Finally, Bill C-58 would entrench a requirement that the Access to Information Act be reviewed every five years.
This is the first government to bring forward legislation to enact the important improvements that have been proposed at one time or another over the last 30 years. That is because we believe that access to information is an important pillar of a democratic system of government. It allows citizens to request records about the decisions, operations, administration, and performance of government, subject, of course, to legitimate and very rare exceptions. In short, it allows Canadians to know and understand what their government is doing, and when people have timely access to relevant information, they are better able to participate in the democratic process.
I am proud to be part of a government that has the courage to act on these principles, and I encourage my hon. colleagues to join me in supporting this bill, a bill that would dramatically improve the Access to Information Act and thus strengthen our democracy.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2017-09-25 13:31 [p.13451]
Mr. Speaker, the member knows quite well that it is not a valid point of order. Trying to attempt to change the topic is not going to stop me from telling the truth as to what actually took place. I know that the member across the way might be a little sore, because we remember that it was the leader of the Liberal Party back then that mandated that all Liberal MPs participate in proactive disclosure. As a party, we dedicated the resources to ensure that it would be the case.
A couple of months later, the Conservatives saw the light and agreed that because the Liberals were now doing it, maybe they should be doing it too. They succumbed to public pressure, or common sense, as we would like to think, and we had the Conservatives agree that they would buy into proactive disclosure. We were grateful at the time.
Our New Democratic friends, on the other hand, needed a little more persuasion. A number of months went by, and we introduced an opposition motion, which the government of the day supported. The Conservatives and the Liberals were onside. The NDP did not want to be the odd ones out, so its members supported it. We are grateful. Today we have proactive disclosure for members of Parliament. We saw that as a positive thing. Today the constituents we represent can, through the Internet, find out where or how much individual MPs are spending through proactive disclosure. Again, we see that as positive.
Bringing it forward to today, we are talking about an expansion of proactive disclosure. The leader of the Liberal Party back then suggested that we have proactive disclosure for MPs. It took a while, but eventually, opposition parties and the government of the day agreed, and we were able to implement it. Now we have the Prime Minister, through the minister, talking about expanding proactive disclosure.
There are a number of parliamentary groups that will have to participate in proactive disclosure: the Library of Parliament; the parliamentary budget officer; the Parliamentary Protection Service; the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner; the office of the Senate Ethics Officer; the administration of the House of Commons, including the Board of Internal Economy; the office of the Speaker of the House of Commons; the administration of the Senate, including the standing committee on internal economy; and the office of the Speaker of the Senate.
This would be legislated proactive disclosure for institutions that support Parliament.
When we think of the benefits of proactive disclosure, there is the natural benefit, the one that is the most visual of them all, and that is that people can now click into the Internet and garner information that was not there before. That is a direct benefit.
One of many indirect benefits would be that people would no longer have to put in a request, an ATIP. I would suggest that hundreds, if not thousands, of ATIPs would become redundant. They would not be necessary because of this legislation. I see that as a strong positive, because prior to our having proactive disclosure, when it came to members of Parliament, we had to ATIP the information. If we did not like the information, we could appeal it. It would take weeks, in some cases months, before we might get the answer.
Now what we see is a more all-encompassing approach to dealing with proactive disclosure. Why would the opposition not acknowledge that as a benefit, because that is something this legislation would do.
I started by talking about how important it is that we recognize the need for change. Liberals talked a lot about real change in the last election, and this is yet another piece of legislation that would implement real change. I highlighted one aspect and hope to highlight more, but I can say that this is the type of legislation that was meant when we talked about real change.
For example, the commissioner would now have order-making power for information. What does that mean? Today, the commissioner, on receiving an appeal and looking into a matter, might make the suggestion that the information should be made available, and that is the way it has been for decades. For the first time, we would now have legislation that would enable the commissioner to order that the information be released. There are all sorts of things that might have to be taken into consideration, which I will get back to in a moment, but that is an example of real change, in a micro way, in one piece of legislation that we have put forward. It is something that I would think opposition members would see as a very strong positive, and I question why they would not want to support it.
For well over 30 years, we have had ATIP legislation. This is the first time that there has been any real, substantial change to the legislation. Within two years of being in government, we have a cabinet and a caucus on this side of the House that is prepared to debate this legislation, ultimately send it to committee, and pass it, because we recognize there is a need to modernize and we are not scared to modernize legislation. When the opportunity is there, we are interested in doing that. This is something our Prime Minister talked about in the last election. He said that we want to modernize.
To modernize does not necessarily mean to say that it is absolutely 100% perfect. It is one of the reasons we have standing committees. However, I give full credit where full credit is due and I compliment the minister responsible for the hard work done thus far in presenting the legislation and my caucus colleagues for recognizing how important this legislation is. That is the reason the minister has the support to advance it even further.
We talked about the legislation sitting on our books for decades with no substantial change, no modernization. Now we mandate in the legislation that every four or five years it would be up for legislative review.
I have heard some concerns from across the way, to which there could be a lot of validity. I am not going to discredit the ideas in some of the comments made by my colleagues across the way, but I also recognize that there are two things one should take into consideration. One is that this government has demonstrated time and time again that if a member has done the research and the work and has come up with a good idea at committee stage, the committee has the ability to advance changes to the legislation. That is very important to highlight. When I sat in opposition, it was very rare. In fact, I do not think any opposition member actually got an amendment passed. The same cannot be said about this government. We recognize good ideas that can improve the legislation, and that is one aspect that members across the way might want to consider.
The other consideration is, of course, that every four or five years this legislation will come up for a legislative review. When we look at that, we realize that we have a government that is committed to the ongoing needs of modernizing this piece of legislation.
Why is this legislation so important to this government? I would argue that the primary reason is that the government believes in accountability. It believes in transparency. This is something that is not new, particularly to the Prime Minister. Virtually within days, if not weeks, of becoming the leader of the Liberal Party, he was advocating for more accountability on the types of issues we are debating with respect to this particular piece of legislation.
I hear the criticisms from across the way. I can assure members that when they look at the election platform, they will find within this legislation a genuine attempt to deliver on something that was important to all candidates, because these are the types of things that we talked about at the door. We wanted to ensure that there would be more accountability. However, that does not mean we are going to stop here. There are always opportunities going forward.
I will reinforce one of the things I made reference to in the past. I like it when I hear our Prime Minister talking about the importance of representing our constituents in our communities here in Ottawa, whether it is inside this chamber, in standing committees, or in our respective caucuses. On the Liberal benches, we take that quite seriously. At the end of the day, ideas and thoughts that are generated and talked about do, somehow, in some form, make others aware of what is happening in communities across the country.
I want to highlight one of the greatest strengths of this legislation. It is the order-making power for the Information Commissioner. I believe that is a significant aspect of the legislation. It gives the Information Commissioner the power to issue orders in relation to complaints under section 30 of the ATI Act, with the exception of some of the clauses.
Order-making power will not apply to self-initiated complaints under subsection 30(3). It provides the commissioner with the discretion to make orders in relation to disclosure of records after the commissioner has investigated a complaint and determined it was well founded. It provides that orders issued by the commissioner will not take effect for 30 days.
Members across the way have been asking about the Prime Minister's office and about influence within the Prime Minister's office. In terms of what the legislation is doing within the Prime Minister's office, it is important that we look at the requirements with respect to proactive disclosure, mandate letters, and revised mandate letters for the ministers. I really thought that was a fantastic initiative by our current Prime Minister.
When the Prime Minister first announced the cabinet and provided the mandate letters, it gave a clear sense of what all Canadians could expect of the Government of Canada's cabinet. I see that as a very strong positive. Now we would have briefing packages for incoming ministers, titles and tracking numbers of briefing notes for ministers, question period binders as prepared by the departments, and travel and hospitality expenses for ministers and exempt staff.
I am really happy with that. I can recall that during the proactive disclosure debate when I was in the third party, there was the idea that not only should we be having proactive disclosure for individual members but that it should be extended to include the cabinet of the Harper government.
There is so much more to talk about. I always appreciate the privilege of being able to rise and share a few thoughts.
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