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Results: 1 - 15 of 25
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, as I have said before, as someone who came to the House asking for oversight for the CBSA, I am really excited about the enthusiasm of the other two parties, late though it may be.
Bill C-23, which was passed in the last Parliament, granted extensive powers to U.S. border agents in pre-clearance areas in Canada without any oversight whatsoever, including over their use of force or complaints about things like harassment of religious or ethnic minorities.
If my hon. colleague has an enthusiasm for independent complaint mechanisms, why do we not have any mechanism at all that would apply to the U.S. border officers operating on Canadian soil in the pre-clearance areas?
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I am always disappointed to hear Conservatives using every opportunity to stigmatize refugees in this country.
I want to compliment the member for his speech on this topic and for recognizing that by and large Canada border services agents do a good job. However, having better accountability mechanisms would only increase the quality of the performance of those agents and help them establish public trust for the work that they have to do.
My question to him, because he is from Mississauga, has to do once again with pre-clearance, especially the very large numbers of people who are pre-cleared at Toronto's Pearson Airport. While we are establishing accountability for our border service officers, in the last Parliament the member's government put forward Bill C-23, the new Preclearance Act, that gives U.S. border agents the same powers as Canadian border agents and they are exercising those powers on Canadian soil. The bill even removes the right of U.S. citizens to withdraw from U.S. preclearance. There is no accountability mechanism in place for the activities of U.S. border agents in Canada.
I wonder if the hon. member has any comments on that problem.
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, in Canada we are seeing rapidly rising rates of new HIV infections in indigenous communities, racialized Canadians and young gay men. Over the last two years, the U.K. and New South Wales have managed to decrease new HIV infections by 30% to 40%, while Canada saw an 11% increase.
Science tells us that people knowing their status is the key to decreasing infection rates. On December 20, 2018, I asked the Prime Minister to expedite approval for new HIV self-tests, Canadian technology that has been in use in other countries since 2012, and more than a year later, we are still waiting.
Taking the low-cost steps of making home testing widely available, eliminating the need to see doctors to get tested and making retrovirals and PrEP readily available to high-risk populations will get us to the 90-90-90 goals of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. Having 90% of people living with HIV knowing their status, 90% in treatment and 90% with viral suppression would put Canada on the path to ending the HIV-AIDs epidemic once and for all.
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I share the member's sentiments about the fine work the CBSA does most of the time and about how this bill would enhance public confidence in the CBSA.
I have tried to raise several times with government members who were in the last Parliament the issue of Bill C-23 from the last Parliament, the new Preclearance Act, which created a situation where U.S. border officials would be exercising similar powers of detention, questioning and even use of force against Canadians on Canadian soil, without any accountability or complaint mechanisms in place for the actions of those U.S. officers in treating Canadians on Canadian soil.
Is the member not concerned that we have created a new category where there is no accountability for the actions of those officials?
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I welcome the member to the House. It is always hard for some of us when the previous member, who is a close friend, was the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam. When I hear that, I am going to have change who I expect to see.
My question is about the bill. I wonder if the member shares my concern that if we are going to have a robust review mechanism, it has to be adequately funded. I am concerned that when we do, as we seem to, agree that this bill should pass even with some amendments, that the government has to make proper resources available so that complaints against CBSA members will not hang over their heads for inordinate amounts of time, that we properly fund the commission so it can deal expeditiously with complaints.
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, it is nice to see you in the chair, and I will compliment the job you have done so far as long as you do not cut me off.
My question for the hon. member goes to the fact that all parties here are aware of the importance of the bill. It has been a long time coming, as I pointed out several times. I first raised this issue more than six years ago in the House.
Once these measures are implemented, I am concerned that review bodies need to have adequate resources so that when complaints are filed, they can be dealt with in an expeditious manner and not be left hanging over the heads of Canada Border Services officers, who by and large do an excellent job for us each and every day.
I am wondering whether the member shares my concern, and if so, whether he will make it known in his caucus that when the bill does pass, we have to make sure that the review agency is adequately resourced.
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-203, an act to amend the National Defence Act (maiming or injuring self or another).
He said: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce a bill that I had sincerely hoped to see adopted in the last Parliament.
The bill aims to remove a significant barrier to members of the Canadian Forces receiving the mental health assistance they need. It would do so by repealing subsection (c) of section 98 of the National Defence Act. This is the archaic section of the National Defence Act that makes self-harm a disciplinary offence in the military code of conduct.
The problem of death by suicide of Canadian Forces members is not going away. We are still losing more than one serving member per month to death by suicide, 17 in 2019 alone. We have lost 212 regular members over the last 15 years and of course the number is much higher when we include reservists and veterans.
Again, I am arguing that removing this section would send a strong message that self-harm is a mental health issue and not something to be addressed by discipline.
This is a matter I first brought forward in the last Parliament as an amendment to Bill C-77, the military justice bill. When that amendment was ruled out of order, I offered this private member's bill as an alternative way of taking the actions necessary to send a positive message to Canadian Forces members struggling with mental health issues. Despite support for my bill by opposition parties in the last Parliament, the Liberals blocked it from moving forward.
Today, I am introducing the bill in a minority Parliament, once again hoping MPs will now listen to the voices of the hundreds of families that have lost loved ones to death by suicide, that MPs will join together in this Parliament to tackle the ongoing challenge of death by suicide in the Canadian Forces and that MPs begin by passing this legislation.
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles. There is a veritable smorgasbord of things on which I disagree with him in terms of his characterization of what has been going on.
Even though the bill is about establishing a complaints procedure that would benefit Canadians and members of the Canada Border Services Agency and makes clear how we should deal with problems that occur at the borders, I take issue with the member's remarks on Roxham Road.
The solution at Roxham Road is very clear, and that is to terminate our safe third country agreement with the United States. Since the current President of the United States has added other countries to the list of those from which people cannot make refugee claims or claim asylum in the United States, we will perhaps see more people coming across the border at these illegal border crossings, as the Conservatives like to call them, which are, really, irregular border crossings. It is never illegal for refugees who are in fear of their lives to make a claim in Canada. The problem is our agreement with the United States, which says refugees cannot do that at border crossings.
The solution, which the Conservatives and the Liberals seem to fear, is to suspend our safe third country agreement with the United States. That would direct this traffic where it should be: to the regular border crossings.
Would the member agree with me that a much simpler solution is to suspend our agreement with the United States?
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Richmond Hill for his very comprehensive speech on the bill, which, of course, the NDP is supporting.
I first called for such a bill when I was the NDP public safety critic for the official opposition in 2014. There is no doubt that there will be both benefits for the Canadian public and trust in our institutions, for the individuals who have complaints.
As I said in an earlier question, I think there would be benefits for the CBSA officers themselves in having clear guidelines on what is expected of them as they do their jobs. I am disappointed that there was not further thorough consultation with the union previously, but I am sure that is going to be corrected by the government.
My question is about timing, given that this is something I have been talking about for almost six years here in the House of Commons and we have not seen any indications from the government. I wonder if the member has any information about how soon, once the proposed legislation is passed, we could expect to see the changes put in place so that the complaints, of which there are literally thousands every year, can begin to be dealt with. Also, what plan does the government have to adequately resource the complaints body?
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I am delighted with the enthusiasm of both the Liberals and the Conservatives with a proposal I made more than six years ago in this place. The Conservatives complain about the Liberals' tardiness, but they had plenty of time to do this when they were government.
My question for the member has to do with a topic that was raised by my hon. colleague from Hamilton Centre.
In the member's newfound enthusiasm for accountability for CBSA agents, he is also part of a government that passed the new Preclearance Act, Bill C-23, in the last Parliament, which gives extraordinary powers to U.S. officials on Canadian soil. The U.S. border agency will be able to detain Canadians, question them without representation and prevent them from withdrawing from the pre-clearance area.
I wonder why his enthusiasm for accountability of those working at borders does not extend to those U.S. border agents working in the pre-clearance areas.
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I welcome you to the chair.
My question for the hon. member is about trade deals in general.
My perspective is that we can see some improvements in this deal, mostly brought by Democrats in the United States, not by the Liberal negotiators. We got rid of proportionality and investor-state provisions. There are some things that are clearly of concern, like dairy on Vancouver Island and the protection of it, and the protection of the aluminum industry in Canada.
My real concern is what happens in trade negotiations in Canada. In the House, we only get the finished deal at the last minute to comment on. Would the member agree with me that what we really need is a better process for involvement of parliamentarians at an earlier stage in trade negotiations?
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I listened to the hon. member's speech with a great deal of interest. I am perplexed by his argument that the NDP and the Bloc somehow joined together to block progress on the bill. What we have asked for is simply a full debate on it.
The member is concerned about how we move forward. If Parliament had been involved at an earlier stage, if the government had come to Parliament and presented its negotiation goals in this free trade agreement so we could have discussed it as a Parliament and presented reports on the economic impacts of this deal long before the present, we would have been able to move quicker at this point. Does he agree with me? Do we need a better process for involving Parliament in trade deals?
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I congratulate the member on his thoughtful intervention on free trade. I share his frustration that parliamentarians were presented with a finished deal. We have to decide what is good, what is bad, but it is a take it or leave it.
Would the member agree with me that we might look to other countries like the U.S., which has a much more robust process, earlier when considering trade agreements, which require the negotiators to table their objectives in the House so there could be a discussion among parliamentarians on where trade agreements are heading?
With perhaps the U.K. and China negotiations coming down the road, would the member agree that we need a better process here to involve Parliament sooner in trade negotiations?
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, sometimes British Columbia and Quebec seem oceans apart, even though it is all land in between, but when it comes to free trade, there are a couple of things that we have in common.
One of those, of course, is that we produce aluminum in British Columbia as well. The second one, which is very important to me, is dairy on Vancouver Island.
I wonder if the hon. member sees the same concerns that I do. Whenever we cut into dairy production in Canada, we endanger not only the income of farmers but also the quality of our dairy products in Canada because of the lower standards in the United States, and we endanger our food security locally and our ability to supply our own markets with good, high-quality food as well. That is very big issue on Vancouver Island.
I wonder if the hon. member shares those concerns.
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, as I begin, I would like to beg the indulgence of the House for one moment to mention the tragic loss of life in my riding Friday night in the community of Sooke, where flooding appears to have taken the lives of Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen. We will learn more about the details of this incident as time goes on, but I believe we also need to look into the larger context of climate change, more severe storms, clear-cut logging and all of these things contributing to more severe flooding in my riding. We want to see if there was a connection to that loss of life.
Many volunteers came out to search when these young men went missing on Friday night, which is a tribute to the strength of volunteerism in the community of Sooke, and I thank all of those volunteers who helped in the search.
Turning to the question before us this morning, I will begin by expressing my condolences to the family and friends of Marylène Levesque for this loss, which is a loss not only to them but to all Canadians.
The NDP will be supporting the motion put forward by the Conservatives today, because obviously we need an investigation as to how something like this could happen in Canada. This tragic incident raises questions about the specific decisions of the Parole Board and parole officers in this case. These are important questions, because our parole system, by and large, serves the public well and helps to guarantee public safety in this country. However, when something clearly goes so far off the rails as to result in a tragic incident such as this, we have to have answers about what happened in our system.
How could this have been allowed to happen when the perpetrator had a previous conviction for the murder of his wife and was under supervision? How in the world did we get to a situation of another young woman losing her life at the hands of the same person for whom Canadians had taken responsibility, through our parole system, and who had been guaranteed to the public would be safe from committing further violence and further actions? These are indeed important questions.
However, the motion perhaps does not go far enough in that it does not really tackle those larger questions about the role of gender-based violence in Canadian society, about how we value women's lives and how we sometimes do not value women's lives to the extent that we should. In particular, when it comes to incidents of intimate partner violence, somehow this is seen as a lesser form of violence and the perpetrator of violence on their partner is somehow seen as less of a threat to Canadian society as a whole than are other violent criminals. This simply makes no sense to me, but it is clearly a factor involved in this case.
We also have to ask ourselves how much we value all women's lives, including the lives of sex workers.
The Parole Board and the parole officers clearly played a role in perpetuating these problematic attitudes about women and about violence toward women in our society, so yes, I support this motion, because we need to look closely at who is being appointed to those parole boards.
Do we have a sufficient number of women on the parole boards to help evaluate risk and set policies to evaluate risk? Are those people being appointed to parole boards for the right reasons? The Conservatives have raised this question. Parole Board appointments should not be a question of patronage, but a question of appointing people who represent the community and the community's values, people who can help set the very important policies that prevent innocent lives from being lost.
We also need to look at the question of the training that we provide to Parole Board members. Are we making sure that they are adequately trained in gender-based violence? Are we making sure that they are adequately trained in the rights and responsibilities that they have as Parole Board members and will not perpetuate these attitudes that sometimes value certain women's lives less than other lives in our society?
Let me talk a little more about the specifics of this incident.
There is the question we need to ask about how risk was evaluated. I will take a moment to read what was said by a UBC law professor, Isabel Grant, who I think raises some very important questions. She said:
I think that [the case] really shows the degree to which we do privilege male entitlement to women's bodies over the safety of women. I think it reflects, too, this idea that men who killed their girlfriends or wives or intimate partners don't present as much of a threat to the public as other men.
Professor Grant went on to say, “And I think that’s problematic, and it also shows how we see the safety of women, particularly the most marginalized women, and how little priority we give it,” meaning how little priority we give their safety.
We need to have this inquiry to ask those questions about risk evaluation and, in particular, how we evaluate the risk of men who have perpetrated violence on women in the past.
Then there is this whole concept that seems to have invaded this case, where the perpetrator had sexual needs that needed to be satisfied. I cannot imagine what this discussion is doing in a question of parole and risk. There is no right of men to have their sexual needs satisfied by women. No such thing exists. I cannot imagine how this became a subject of discussion on a perpetrator about whom the Parole Board had already said was not ready for relationships with women. However, it was suggesting that this person should visit sex workers for sex, as if this were not some kind of a relationship with a woman, for which he would obviously and clearly also not be ready. We have to look at specific cases and ask those tough questions of what attitudes lie behind these kinds of decisions.
Then there is the very problematic question to ask parole officers and parole boards. Since, under our current law, seeking sexual services from sex workers and paying for those services is illegal, are we really talking about a parole system that has suggested a perpetrator on parole should commit an illegal act? By its nature, the commission of that illegal act, should have cancelled his parole and returned him to custody. Are we really talking about the situation where somebody was, from within the system, advising a perpetrator to commit an illegal act? I would like an answer to that. I think all Canadians would like an answer to that very specific question.
That is why the NDP will support the Conservative motion. On those narrow questions, we have some very important answers to get and when we get those answers, we have to look very seriously at changes in policies that allowed these kinds of things to happen.
When we come to the broader context, we have to ask ourselves about a corrections system that had a perpetrator in custody for 15 years and failed to rehabilitate him. We all know there are challenges in our corrections system with lack of resources. We all know there are challenges raised by a very large number of people in our corrections system about offenders who have mental health and addiction problems. These are real challenges that our system has to face.
However, I would submit there are some cases where rehabilitation will fail and when that rehabilitation fails, we have a responsibility in our corrections system to keep the person in custody or to carefully supervise the individual's release. That broader question is raised again about how successful we are at rehabilitation and in the cases of violence against women especially, how seriously do we take the failure to rehabilitate men.
In the broader context of the safety of sex workers, there is what I call a very interesting twist, and I do not really like the tone of that word, in this case. Clearly the perpetrator had visited this massage parlour before, which we know from many reports. He had been banned because of his violence toward the women who worked in the that parlour. If this were a normal place of work at which violence occurred, it would have been reported to the police and would have resulted in the revocation of his parole. However, under the current legislation, a massage parlour is illegal. Therefore, it is illegal to provide a safe place for sex work to take place. We therefore have the cruel irony that the massage parlour could not report this person to the police without the risk of shutting down the safe place that had been established for sex work to take place.
Therefore, now we are into the broader question of our laws on sex work in Canada. Members in the House will know, as I have spoken on this many times, that I have worked with sex workers in my riding on a harm reduction strategy, not a judgment strategy, and a rights-based strategy, not a rescue-based strategy. It is very important that we look at this case as an example of what is wrong with our current restrictive laws on sex work. Many people say that we only criminalize the johns. That is not actually true. This is not what happened in the legislation.
We criminalize all kinds of things around sex work that makes sex work more dangerous. We criminalize the safe places for it to take place, such as brothels or massage parlours. Those really are safe places for women to perform sex work. We criminalize hiring security to provide safety, as that would be under the provision that someone is somehow profiting from sex work. while being hired to provide security.
I could go on with a list of things that we criminalize all the way around sex work. Each and every one of those provisions makes sex work more dangerous for the women involved.
I have the privilege of having the PEERS sex worker drop-in centre in my riding. Also, when I was on council, it was in my municipality. I learned from meeting with sex workers in my riding and from the staff at the PEERS centre what sex workers' organizations can do when they are empowered to provide safety to their members.
Rather than criminalizing sex work, I would like to see us take a harm reduction strategy that empowers sex worker organizations. What do I mean by that? It is more than just a nice phrase. It means, who provides “bad date lists”, as they are called? Who keeps track of the men who are violent toward sex workers? Sex worker organizations have that information. One of the functions they perform in every local venue is to make women who are involved in sex work aware of those men who are violent and dangerous. We need to support sex workers in providing the service. Unfortunately, we cannot involve the police in that at this time, because of the criminalization of all these pieces around sex work.
The PEERS drop-in centre in my riding provides many social services for women in the sex trade who are faced with housing and child care crises and who face all the same challenges that other workers face in our society. Once again, the key to all those services is not judgment about why women are in sex work, not judgment about whether sex work is a good or a bad thing, but how we can make lives better and safer for those who are already involved in sex work.
We have a charity based in Victoria called “HeroWork”. HeroWork provides volunteers to help renovate the premises of community social service organizations. Most members of Parliament will be quite aware that one of the problems our charities have is that their infrastructure is quite old and decrepit. Their workplaces are not very good places to work. Many of them are mould infested and have other real health challenges.
HeroWork selected as one of its projects the renovation of the PEERS drop-in centre. It mobilized literally hundreds of volunteers around the community to go in and makeover the drop-in centre and to make it a more welcoming and supportive place, including creating a community kitchen so it could provide meals, showers and other services to those who were involved in sex work in my community.
The interesting thing we found was that the project of renovating the drop-in centre brought volunteers from all over the community, who may not have otherwise gotten to know sex workers. This played a large role in changing their attitudes toward what happens in sex work in my community.
In this debate, it is important that we extend our thinking to whether we have taken the right approach to harm reduction in sex work and how that connects directly to the incident we have in front of us, which caused the loss of life. Many hundreds of sex workers have lost their lives in the country.
It beggars belief that those involved in our parole and corrections system could think that sending a person, who has a record of violence with women, to the most vulnerable women in our society and not expect a bad and tragic outcome, like the one that occurred in Quebec City.
First, we need to look at the specific decisions that were taken by the Parole Board in its review of the actions of the parole officer. Again, after teaching criminal justice for 20 years and having a a federal prison in my riding, I know that most of the time this system does very good work on behalf of all Canadians. Let us look at the specific decision and figure out what went wrong.
Second, I am supporting the motion, but I would like to see us expand the terms of reference, so we think about those larger issues in our society of gender-based violence, intimate partner violence and the safety of sex workers. When we have taken a look at those issues, then we will have a responsibility to act, as legislators in the House, to make this a better and safer Canada for all women, including sex workers.
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