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View Doug Eyolfson Profile
Lib. (MB)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in today's debate of Bill C-75. I would like to use my time today to discuss some aspects of amendments to the selection of juries. As we know, jury reform is an area of shared jurisdiction and Parliament is responsible for the criminal law and the rules in the Criminal Code setting out the framework for in-court jury selection. The provinces and territories are responsible for determining, for example, who is eligible for jury duty and the process by which the jury roll is compiled. Bill C-75 proposes several reforms with respect to the in-court jury selection process.
First, is the abolishment of peremptory challenges. The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights heard several witnesses testify on jury reforms. Several legal experts and advocates expressed strong support for their elimination, as it would finally put an end to discriminatory exclusion of jurors.
Kent Roach from the University of Toronto stated:
The proposed abolition of peremptory challenges in s.271 of Bill C-75 is the most effective and efficient way to ensure that neither the Crown or the accused engages in discrimination against Aboriginal people and other disadvantaged and identifiable groups when selecting a juror.
Brent Kettles from Toronto said:
...having peremptory challenges cannot help but lower the public confidence in the administration of justice when members of the public and perspective jurors watch perspective jurors excluded on the basis of no reason, on the basis of no evidence, and without any information.
When those exclusions are based basically on the gut feeling of who is likely to be sympathetic to one side or the other, then that doesn't give the public or perspective jurors a feeling that jury selection is happening in a way that is fair and impartial, and also represents the community.
Legal expert Vanessa McDonnell noted:
It's important to recognize that these challenges have historically been, and can be, used against accused persons to their detriment. We have to balance the perceived benefit of having the peremptory challenge in your pocket to challenge someone whom defence counsel doesn't feel quite right about against the very real risk, I would suggest, that these challenges are going to be used in a way that disadvantages the accused person. My view is that, on balance, the potential harm, not only to the system but to accused persons, is greater than any benefit that accrues.
Discrimination in the selection of juries has been documented for decades. Concerns about the discriminatory use of peremptory challenges and its impact on indigenous people being under-represented on juries were raised in 1991 by Senator Murray Sinclair, then a judge with the Manitoba aboriginal justice inquiry.
More recently, we heard from retired Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci, who studied these issues in his 2013 report on first nations representation on Ontario Juries. Having read these reports and after hearing from many experts on the topic, I am confident that Bill C-75 proposes the right approach in abolishing peremptory challenges. It is a simple and effective way to prevent deliberate discrimination and the arbitrary exclusion of qualified jury members.
Furthermore, to bring greater efficiencies to the jury selection process and to make it more impartial, the bill proposes to empower a judge to decide whether to exclude jurors challenged for cause—for example, because they are biased to one side—by either the defence or prosecution.
Currently, such challenges are decided by two laypersons called “triers” who are not trained in the law. This process has been problematic, causing delays in jury trials even before they begin and appeals resulting in orders for a new trial.
The proposal would shift the responsibility for such challenges to judges, who are trained adjudicators and therefore better placed to screen out impartial jurors. The proposed change reflects a recommendation made in 2009 by the Steering Committee on Justice Efficiencies and Access to the Justice System, a group established by the federal-provincial-territorial ministers of justice, comprising judges, deputy ministers of justice from across Canada, defence lawyers, representatives of the bar associations and the police. It is also consistent with what is done in other common law countries, such as England, Australia and New Zealand.
I am confident that this change in procedure would result in improvements in the overall efficiency of our jury trials.
There are also several proposed changes to modernize and update the challenge for cause grounds. Notably, the proposed change to reduce the number of jurors with criminal records for minor offences who could be challenged and excluded from jury duty would help address concerns that excluding individuals with minor criminal records disproportionately impacts certain segments of society, including indigenous persons, as noted by Justice Iacobucci. It would also assist in improving broader participation on juries, and thus, jury representativeness.
In conclusion, the jury reforms in Bill C-75 would mark critical progress in the area of promoting fairness, diversity and participation in the jury selection process. These improvements would also enhance efficiencies, as well as public confidence, in the criminal justice system.
I call upon all members of the House to support this transformative bill.
View MaryAnn Mihychuk Profile
Lib. (MB)
View MaryAnn Mihychuk Profile
2018-11-20 16:42 [p.23636]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand here today in this honourable House to talk about Bill C-75.
This is a long overdue change to the legal system, which has been bogged down, in many cases to such an extent that cases have been found to have lost their meaning and been adjourned. People whom we suspected were guilty got away without going through due process at all. Those circumstances cannot happen. It is not justice. It is not fair.
This is one step towards making a fairer, more efficient and effective judicial system. Bill C-75 is a meaningful and significant approach to promoting efficiency, and I would assume that all members of the House would like to see that happen. Efficiency and effectiveness are what every member would like to see in our systems, because we would not want to waste one penny of taxpayer money on something that could be done better. It is always our goal to do better. That is exactly what this bill does.
This bill would, in a significant way, promote efficiency in our criminal justice system, reduce case completion times, as I mentioned earlier, and contribute to increased public confidence while respecting the rights of those involved and ensuring that public safety is maintained.
In terms of preliminary inquiries, this bill would restrict preliminary inquires to adults accused of the 63 most serious offences in the Criminal Code, which carry a sentence of life imprisonment, like murder; and would reinforce a judge's power to limit the questions to be examined, as well as the number of witnesses who will appear.
The Supreme Court of Canada in its Jordan decision, and the Senate legal affairs committee in its final report on delays in the justice system, recommended that preliminary inquiry reform be considered. We should be proud to support a bill that takes into account not only the recommendations of this House but also of the upper house and of the provinces and territories that have been working on this issue for many years. It has been discussed for decades.
Some say that restricting preliminary inquiries might have little impact on the delays. Even though it concerns only 3% of the cases, it would still have a significant impact on those provinces where this procedure is used more often, such as Ontario and Quebec. We know, because of the population base involved, that this would have a significant impact on the whole judicial system.
Also, we cannot overlook the cumulative effect of all of Bill C-75's proposals that seek to streamline the criminal justice system process.
It is of course for the betterment of both the accused and victims to have the system move fairly and efficiently in a timely manner. The proposed preliminary inquiry amendments are the culmination of years of study and consideration in federal-provincial-territorial and other meetings.
We know that it is not easy to negotiate a framework when we have many divergent views and jurisdictions involved, but this is going to be good for Canadians. It will be good for the indigenous population of our country, who have unfortunately been the victim of a system that many have called racist. If we look at the number of indigenous people in our jails, it is extremely high. One must ask why the system seems to incarcerate so many more indigenous people than their population warrants. These changes will be more effective and fairer for our indigenous population, and that is a commitment of our Prime Minister.
This is a balanced approach. We often see that in this House, in particular, where we have the left and the right, the positions can be quite separated, with the Liberals coming in the middle and providing a balanced approach and centre to both.
I think most Canadians are reasonable centralists and, as we have seen in the past, this type of negotiated solution means compromises on both sides. As we look at the balanced approach between opposing views put forward by both committees and those expressed by the House, they are considered and put forward in this bill.
This bill would make this procedure more efficient and expedient. Of course, that is the goal of all of our programs for Canadians, as well as being meaningful, respectful and available to all Canadians. It is important to respect the accused person's right to a fair trial. This would also help witnesses and victims by preventing some of them from having to testify twice. That is just not reasonable for the system. It is hard on victims, very hard on witnesses, so to eliminate this would be of benefit to all.
Let us look at the issue of case management. Bill C-75 would allow for the earlier appointment of case management judges. This recognizes their unique and vital role in ensuring the momentum of cases is maintained, and that they are completed in an efficient, effective, just and timely manner. This was also recommended by the Senate report on delays in the criminal justice system.
It is important to discuss, even if briefly, the use of technology and how it would provide fairness, particularly to the indigenous population of Canada. I come from Manitoba, which has the highest per capita number of indigenous people of any province. In many cases, they are in fairly remote and isolated communities where participating in a full process is extremely difficult because there are no roads, access is limited and broadband connections are poor. These are all issues that make justice much more difficult for indigenous people in those circumstances.
In terms of technology, the bill proposes to allow remote appearances by audio or video conference for accused, witnesses, lawyers, judges, justices of the peace and interpreters, under certain circumstances. This would obviously assist many people, although it is not always appropriate. Canada has allowed remote appearances for many years, and these amendments seek to broaden the existing framework.
These optional tools in Bill C-75 aim to increase access to justice, streamline processes and reduce system costs, such as the transport of the accused and witness attendance costs, without impacting existing resources such as those through the indigenous court worker program. The changes we are proposing also respond to the Senate committee recommendations, which called for an increase to the use of remote appearances for accused persons.
In conclusion, the proposals in Bill C-75 in relation to preliminary inquiries, judicial case management and remote appearances, together with all of the other reforms, would ensure that our criminal justice system is efficient, just and in line with the values of our communities and all Canadians.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2018-06-06 22:11 [p.20396]
Mr. Speaker, this is a piece of legislation that advances a number of issues in terms of protecting the environment, fish, and waterways, and it rebuilds public confidence and trust with respect to indigenous rights and so forth. It ultimately will strengthen the economy as we strive to achieve balance in advancing both the economy and the environment, all of which supports Canada's middle class.
I wonder why the Conservatives would not see the merit in advancing legislation of this nature, which will restore public confidence in the balancing of the environment and the economy.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2018-06-06 23:24 [p.20407]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-69. I want to take a moment to talk specifically about some of the deficiencies of the bill. Then I would like to talk a bit more about a general pattern of behaviour that the bill fits into, which is problematic in and of itself.
With respect to the bill, Canadians were upset with the previous government and its approach to environmental assessment, if we can call it that. The previous government really gutted the existing environmental assessment process. The key feature of that gutting in my opinion and the opinion of many Canadians across the country was that the Harper government essentially made the final approval of large natural resource projects a political decision at the cabinet table. It became a decision that was not inherently tied to evidence, to science, to predictable impacts with respect to the effect of these projects on the climate. It was not tied to the rights of indigenous peoples to have a say over what happens on their own land. It was simply a political decision to be taken by cabinet. Therefore, one would think that a party that ran against the Harper Conservatives, in part because the latter had gutted environmental assessments and the Liberals committed to Canadians in the election that they would fix that, would have to address the issue of that approval becoming essentially just a prerogative of the government to make according to its own reasons.
The problem with Bill C-69 is that after waiting well over two years for the government to present its fix to the Harper approach to approving these projects, the bill does not in fact do that. It maintains the absolute prerogative of the government to plow ahead, irrespective of the facts, the science on a particular project, or the views of many first nations that may be affected by a particular project. To me, that is a clear and obvious deficiency in the legislation. It does not meet the commitment the Liberals made in the last election to Canadians who are really concerned about this issue. One of the clearest and most obvious things those Canadians wanted was to try to depoliticize the approval process for many of these projects and to have decisions based on science and evidence. It was not to allow the government a choice as to whether or not to go along with the science and the evidence, but to bake it into the process so that the government would not have a choice other than make decisions based on that evidence, or to have an independent body make that decision based on that evidence and science. That is a clear deficiency with the bill, and one that is very disappointing.
With regard to the rights of indigenous people being respected in the approval of these kinds of projects, my colleague, the member for Edmonton Strathcona, presented a number of amendments that would not have put that commitment in the preamble alone, which is what the government ultimately decided to do. The government's decision to put that commitment in the preamble gives us a measure of how strong its commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples really is, because the preamble is non-binding. That, of course, is the kind of commitment that Liberals seem to prefer, the non-binding ones. That was evidenced in their rejection of a number of amendments that would have given UNDRIP real force and effect in the environmental review process. Putting that commitment in the preamble does not give UNDRIP real effect. They are nice words, but they do not get the job done when we have a government that is not interested in respecting the rights of indigenous people. What indigenous people needed was something with the force of law that they could take to court when the government trampled on their rights. The Liberals opted not to do that, and it really does not do it a service to say that it was a missed opportunity.
It is wrong for them not to have done that. It is wrong in principle, but it is also wrong in light of the commitment they just made in voting in support of Bill C-262 last week, which is essentially all about trying to implement UNDRIP within Canadian law. It is wrong, according to the claims of the Prime Minister, who often says that the nation-to-nation relationship is one of the most important relationships.
In light of all those things, it was clearly wrong for the government to do that.
It is part of a theme on a number of files within the government, where the attitude is that we should just trust the government. The government admits there is a lot of discretion, but it says discretion allows it to do the right thing, and it wants to do the right thing. It does not think it has to put the right thing in law or require itself to do the right thing, because it really wants to do it, so we should just take its word for it. That is what is happening with Bill C-69. That is what it means to maintain ministerial prerogative to decide on a project regardless of the evidence.
We heard the minister say something to that effect in the debate on time allocation earlier, when she said that the government cares about science and evidence and therefore it does not need to put a requirement in the law to make decisions based on science and evidence. She said that if we wait and look at the decisions the government makes, we will see, in hindsight, that they were based on science and evidence.
I do not think that this is what Canadians were asking for when they elected a government that said it was going to create a new process based on science and evidence. It is a bad way of making law. It means that a future government that comes in will not be required to do that, just as the current government is not.
Frankly, I do not think the Liberals are really committed, in many cases, to evidence-based decision-making. They would not have bought a 65-year-old leaky pipeline for far more than it is worth if they were actually serious about making information-based decisions. We could go down that road, but even if we do not, it is very clear that if one's commitment is to build a good process, this process should not rely on the goodwill of the government of the day. It should be a process that requires the government of the day to do the right thing, notwithstanding who is in power. This bill obviously fails that test.
We saw something similar with Bill C-49 with respect to voice and video recording devices in locomotives. The government said that we need not worry because it has no interest in invading the privacy rights of workers, and that it would look after it, but without putting it into law; it would just put it in regulations. The government asked us, when voting on the legislation, to trust that it would do the right thing later in regulation.
Never mind the fact that even if the current government does the right thing, and we have not seen that yet, it is still up to some future government to simply change the regulations by order in council without coming to Parliament, because it is not in the law. I do not think the government has done any great favour to workers in that industry by setting up a law that could be so easily abused.
We have seen a similar thing from the government when it comes to approving funding for all its new budget initiatives for 2018-19. It is asking for approval of over $7 billion up front. Department officials and ministers have been very clear in committee that they do not actually have a plan for the money yet. They do not know what they are going to do with that money yet. They have not designed the program, and it has not been to the Treasury Board. They do not know how many people they are going to hire. They do not know whether they will build a building, rent an office, or use existing space. They do not know if they will be travelling across the country. The government does not know what it is going to be spending the money on, but its answer is clear: We should just trust it that things are going to work out and that everything will be okay.
Canadians are looking to the government for leadership on a number of issues, whether it be fiscal responsibility, or being open and accountable, or the very important issues that Bill C-69 is at least nominally meant to address. I have given some indication that I am not convinced it actually addresses those issues.
Regardless of the issue, when Canadians are looking for leadership, they are looking for legislation that holds the government to account. If the government of the day is sincere in giving its word, it should not mind being held to a higher standard, allowing Canadians to test that in court if they have to. Hopefully it will not come to that and the government will keep its word, which remains to be seen.
Canadians deserve to have the tools to hold the government to its word. They also deserve to have future governments bound by those things. At the very least, if a future government wants to change that, it should have to come to Parliament to make the case to Canada's elected representatives, instead of being able to do it fly-by-night through regulation. That is the problem with Bill C-69.
View Robert Sopuck Profile
CPC (MB)
Mr. Speaker, I certainly stand by my assertion that not a single socio-economic indicator in indigenous communities will have improved after the term of the Liberal government. Let us just look at the numbers when the final term of the government is over.
The member talked about indigenous communities. Let us take Baker Lake, for example. Agnico Eagle built a gold mine at Baker Lake. Does the member know what the unemployment rate at Baker Lake is? It is zero.
Near Yellowknife, a number of aboriginal communities participate in a diamond mining industry. At committee, I asked the head of the Mining Association of Canada specifically about the socio-economic indicators in those communities. More young people are going to secondary education. There is a spring in their step. They are happy to have jobs.
Chief Ernie Crey, a strong supporter of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, talked about the excitement his young people were feeling about the potential of getting trained for pipeline jobs, and how devastated they would be if this pipeline does not go through.
Again, the best route to self-sufficiency is economic development and jobs. We need to get natural resources developed near our indigenous communities so they can all benefit and better their lives.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2018-05-24 11:05 [p.19565]
Madam Speaker, there is something in the legislation that many indigenous people would see as a strong positive, and that is that it would mandate representation on the development advisory committee, which would ensure that there would be a strong indigenous factor. When we think of ongoing development into the future, one would think that would be a strong positive.
I am wondering if my colleague could provide her thoughts on that aspect of the legislation, which is an important part, because the advisory council, in good part, would provide strong leadership going forward with respect to this legislation and beyond.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2018-05-24 12:22 [p.19576]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments from my colleague from Winnipeg Centre, someone I have gotten to know and who I know is very sensitive on a number of files.
On the issue of sustainable development, I would ask for his thoughts from an indigenous perspective on just how important the environment is and why indigenous consultations take place on projects when it comes to matters of economic development.
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
2018-05-24 12:23 [p.19576]
Mr. Speaker, thanks to the member for Winnipeg North, my esteemed from colleague just north of me, from the member for Winnipeg Centre.
It is interesting that he should talk about sustainable development among indigenous communities. In Manitoba, six years ago, there was a flood. People were not planning for sustainable development for the environment, and an indigenous community was flooded just outside of both of our ridings. There was an NDP government at the time, and it is just recently that members of the community have been able to move back into their homes with funding from our government at the federal level. This is important, because these communities are often impacted by flooding because they are seen, or were seen, as being very unimportant.
We are looking at how to build bridges between different peoples and how to ensure that all peoples who make up the diversity of Canada are represented not only on the advisory council but in government decisions, using the whole-of-government approach to ensure we have not only a diversity of opinions but expertise from across all government agencies that have a role and an impact on sustainable development.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2018-04-30 12:48 [p.18893]
Madam Speaker, I believe that there is consistency and that the government has been very straightforward right from the beginning when taking office two years ago. Because of that consistency, unlike the Harper government, we have actually been successful in dealing with the environment and our oceans and ensuring that there is a pipeline. There have been consultations. Members across the way do not make reference to the many different indigenous groups that are in favour of what the government is doing and are in support of it.
The problem in the House, as I see it, is that the NDP policy is that the best type of pipeline is no pipeline. The New Democrats do not believe in pipeline expansion. They would prolong any sort of process just to kill the potential markets, not realizing how important it is for the national interest to have a pipeline. The Conservatives, on the other hand, completely disregard any idea of consultation and the environment.
I believe that we have done well as a government. Therefore, I specifically ask the member this: where is it that he believes there is no policy, when in fact we know there is a policy?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2018-04-30 15:27 [p.18921]
Mr. Speaker, Bill C-48 fulfills a commitment the Liberals made in the last election to put in a moratorium. The government has been very clear in terms of how important our oceans are. We have seen literally hundreds of millions of dollars over a number of years invested in protecting our oceans, our marine life, and so forth. At the same time, we have also seen a government working with indigenous people and many different stakeholders. Unlike the previous Harper government, which was not able to get a pipeline to tidewater, we were able to do that through a process that respects the importance of consultation, respects the environment, and respects the national interest.
Surely to goodness the member across the way would recognize that the bill fulfills a commitment made by the Prime Minister for a moratorium, while at the same time on another file, the pipeline, we were able to proceed with that too.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2018-04-30 16:38 [p.18930]
Mr. Speaker, it is truly amazing how the member across the way tries to give a false impression. Never before have we had a Prime Minister who has done such a fabulous job in trying to build and re-establish a relationship with first nations people.
For years in opposition, for example, I would say to the then Prime Minister Harper—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2018-04-30 16:38 [p.18930]
Mr. Speaker, when Stephen Harper was the prime minister, for years we were saying we wanted to have a public inquiry on the murdered and missing women and girls, but Harper closed a deaf ear to it. Within months we had one established. We have a Prime Minister who is committed to all the recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. What did Harper have to say about it? Nothing.
When it comes to the issue of the pipelines or the moratorium, this is something on which, after serious consultation with Canadians, we went into an election and we made a commitment. It is a fulfillment of an election commitment that we are witnessing. Only the Conservatives continue to be out of touch with reality and what Canadians expect a good government to do. Only the Conservatives want to oppose the bill, and for what reason? It is because they just want to oppose the bill. They disagree with having a moratorium and they try to come up with ideas as to why it is not a good government.
This is a government that is actually building the pipeline. This is my comment and we will let the member respond to the comments.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2018-04-30 17:10 [p.18935]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate a number of comments the member across the way has made.
Again, when we take a look at this particular bill, I see it as a positive bill that reflects the wishes and desires of a majority of Canadians in wanting to see the moratorium put in place. In that sense, it is a positive piece of legislation. I believe the Conservatives are going to be voting against it. They seem to want to vote against it because they are tying it to the pipeline issue and indigenous consultations. There have been consultations that have taken place. The pipeline is going to be built. This does not seem to fit the Conservative narrative of trying to divide and conquer.
It seems to me that the Conservatives are not in touch with what Canadians really want the official opposition party to be doing on such an important issue which is dealing with our oceans. Is the member not concerned that the Conservative Party continues to be out of touch with what Canadians want to see on such an important issue?
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
2017-10-24 10:08 [p.14432]
Niwakomacuntik Tansai Nemeaytane Awapamtikok.
[Member spoke in Cree]
[English]
Mr. Speaker, outraged by the toll alcohol is having in northern Saskatchewan, in 2015 a crown prosecutor took six months off work to talk to first nation communities and look for solutions.
Harold Johnson, an indigenous author of a new book called Firewater, took a critical look at the impact alcohol has had on the people in the north. Harold, who is based in La Ronge, Saskatchewan said:
...alcohol is responsible for much death and destruction in the north, and as a Crown prosecutor he's had a front-row seat to its effects.
Ninety-five percent of what we deal with in provincial court, the person who committed the offence was drunk at the time of the offence. It's every day.
Are we tired of going to the graveyard? Are we tired of burying our relatives? Have we had enough of this now?
As Johnson told the CBC, alcohol misuse permeates all aspects of society, whether it's the justice system, health, poverty or the economy.
Indeed, according to a 2011 study of northern Saskatchewan health regions, two-thirds of fatal motor vehicle accidents are alcohol-related. The rate of drug and alcohol use during pregnancy in the north is three times the provincial rate.
Moreover, the CBC reports that according to Johnson, it even affects the cost of infrastructure in the north, as contractors take into account absenteeism and lowered productivity because of hangovers and include those costs in bid prices.
It is an issue that has also touched Johnson in his own personal life. Two of his brothers have been killed by drunk drivers, and most recently in 2014. The Justice Department gave him six months to work with the Lac La Ronge Indian Band and the Montreal Lake Cree Nation in a search of answers to open a discussion. He says he is not hoping to work miracles, but just to get people talking. As he says, “Are we tired of going to the graveyard? Are we tired of burying our relatives? Have we had enough of this now?”
I am proud to be here to debate Bill C-46, which proposes substantive changes to modernize the provisions of the Criminal Code dealing with drug- and alcohol-impaired driving offences.
The purpose of the bill is to protect public health and safety by creating new provisions and strengthening existing provisions to deter impaired drivers and come down hard on anyone caught committing drug- and alcohol-impaired driving offences. This bill also aims to give police the resources they need to improve the detection of the presence of drugs and alcohol in impaired drivers and facilitate the prosecution of such cases. It is important to develop a regulatory policy to stop impaired driving.
Part 1 of the bill amends certain provisions that deal with offences. Among other things, the amendments seek to do the following: enact new criminal offences for driving with a blood drug concentration that is equal to or higher than the permitted concentration; authorize the establishment of prohibited blood drug concentrations; and authorize peace officers who suspect a driver has a drug in their body to demand that the driver provide a sample of a bodily substance for analysis by drug screening equipment that is approved by the Attorney General of Canada.
It is important not only in the big cities, but also in the rural areas and communities where I come from. I am proud to be here and to have the opportunity to express myself in Cree, English, and French, the founding languages of our nation.
People may have noticed that I did not provide a translation for the part of my speech that I delivered in Cree. I addressed those words to the people in our communities. I hope they will hear them. They need to hear discussions about what we once were and what we can become.
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
2017-10-24 10:20 [p.14433]
Madam Speaker, it is obviously a grave concern to me. I represent a riding that has an awful lot of social issues, even in my own case when I was at the University of Manitoba. I do not always wear a suit and I was walking around in a certain area of town in Winnipeg and, lo and behold, with my long hair and just wearing a T-shirt, I was stopped by police and questioned. It is nothing that ever happened to me when I was in Quebec City or Calgary but it happened to me in Winnipeg. I had many of my students say they were always being stopped, especially a lot of the men, indigenous men in this case with very strong aboriginal appearance, even stronger than mine. They were being stopped and questioned by police. It does create that potential, so we do have to be very careful in ensuring that, for instance, police forces receive adequate training and sensitization on the issue, to make sure that we continue to work with these communities.
The City of Winnipeg under the former chief of police, Devon Clunis who is a great moral man, was attempting to build bridges to get the police out of their patrol cars and into the community to speak with people and get people working together to have a discussion to build bridges. Often, if they do not have those bridges it becomes very easy to start seeing it as a war zone where it is us against them. Really, it is about serving communities.
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
2017-06-05 18:59 [p.12035]
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to talk about Bill C-44.
I would like to start with a quote by Pope Francis, who stated:
And every man, every woman who has to take up the service of government, must ask themselves two questions: “Do I love my people in order to serve them better? Am I humble and do I listen to everybody, to diverse opinions in order to choose the best path?” If you don’t ask those questions, your governance will not be good.
When I came to Parliament only 19 months ago, I was faced with choices, choices about who I will serve and who I will be working for day in and day out. For me, one thing that guided me throughout that time is that parliamentarians are here to serve all citizens, everyone. I am sure everyone in the House agrees that we must serve both rich and poor alike, but we also have a duty to remind the wealthy to help the poor, to respect them, to promote them, and to build them up. I am reminded of that every time I am in Winnipeg Centre. I am reminded of that when I look at my family and friends and when I am in my riding when I am not here.
A few months ago, on April 16, I was called by Radio-Canada. The journalist was asking questions and wanted comments about the flooding going on in Manitoba and what the federal government's probable response would be concerning those floods. I said I would certainly talk about the first nation communities affected. It was a Sunday and my wife goes to a soup kitchen every Sunday. It is her form of going to church. She does not enjoy the service so much when she goes to church, but she enjoys going to a soup kitchen run by St. Euclid church in North Point Douglas.
She goes there with about 50 other people who help serve the poorest of the poor of Winnipeg: people who sniff gas, young families, and people who have very little to call their own. She takes my two oldest children, who are 12 and 10 years old, Xavier and Jacob, and I am left to look after the three younger children, who are eight, six, and five years old. I told the journalist that I would love to do the interview on Sunday, but I have to look after my children, so I asked if we could meet somewhere in my riding downtown, to which he said, “Of course.”
My wife dropped me off on the south side of the Manitoba Museum. As we were doing the interview, a gentleman walked by. He was not dressed in an extremely rich way and did not look wealthy. As the interview was taking place, he asked very quickly if he could have a word with me once I was done the interview. He waited patiently until the interview was completed, my kids waiting patiently with him, and then we had the opportunity of speaking. He has been homeless for a number of years and has been forgotten for a number of years. People do not seem to have cared about him or his wife. They sleep under a bridge in Winnipeg. He told me about how many foster families he had been in throughout his life. He had been in 70, if anyone can believe it. He had been in 70 foster families throughout his life. He was taken by the government and thrown from family to family, with really no one to care for him. Imagine the type of individual who creates a sense of connection with others when no one, even as a child, really and truly wanted him.
He asked me what the federal government was doing for him. He said he did not read the newspapers and asked what it was doing for him. I was proud to say that in budget 2016, $69.7 million were given to the provincial government in Manitoba for social housing and infrastructure. I told him that funding is not yet on the ground to build the housing, but I am trying to work with the provincial government to see if it can get to that place to get him housed, get him something. He asked me to please not forget about them and that he voted for me. He said he had picked up beer bottles and managed to raise $10 to buy an ID card so he could vote in the election because it was so important to him. He said not to forget about him and his wife.
When I looked him in the eyes and saw the tears, I sensed at the same time that he is a little ashamed because he is homeless. One has to ask who we are here to serve. I asked myself what I am doing in Parliament and who I serve. I am reminded time and time again about that in my riding when I do meet and greets or go to the local Tim Hortons or Portage Place mall. The Portage Place mall had some racism issues. It was kicking indigenous people out of the mall about a year and a half ago when I was first elected, because they did not look right and were not welcome there.
We seem to have fixed that problem. I do my meet and greet there, so people who are poor and do not look quite right can go into the mall and sit down at the food court, and maybe I will buy them a cup of coffee. I get to hear their stories and what is going on in their lives.
I remember a young lady from an indigenous northern community, who on a Friday afternoon at 3:30 sat down in front of me, and—this is the troubling part—she smelled like she had been doused in kerosene. She was obviously a gas sniffer and had some addiction issues. She had the smell of alcohol on her breath. She had glassy eyes and she said, “Robert, help me.” She had been two weeks on the streets—
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
2017-06-05 19:05 [p.12036]
Madam Speaker, I did not realize I could not use my own name.
She asked me to help get her off the street. At 3:30, I started calling around to homeless shelters and addiction centres. At 3:30 p.m. on a Friday, it seemed that no one was around to respond to those needs. This is part of the issue about budgets. Budget are large macro things, but the issue goes far deeper. It is actually how we implement that budget on the ground, day in and day out. For me, that is the issue. How do I obtain services for this young lady? How do I get her the addiction counselling that she needs so that she can be successful because she was not happy working the streets?
She had come as a refugee from a northern community looking for better services, a better way, and she ended up slipping through the cracks. By 5:30 or 6:30, I had nothing that I could offer her. That is heartbreaking for an individual MP. All I could do was listen to her story and try to find whatever services existed, but no one seemed to respond on a Friday afternoon.
As we start moving forward in refastening the budget, I call upon the federal government to think about how our educated bureaucrats, who have bachelors' degrees and masters' degrees in urban design, social work, and finance, go about crafting the policy, how it actually impacts the people on the ground, how we ensure that we protect not those who do not need protecting but those who really need to be protected. This is the thing that pushes me to ask those bureaucrats to go in the trenches to talk to the people who need to be talked to.
I was proud to do town halls on homelessness recently, as well as on social housing. I went into a homeless shelter and asked homeless people what they want and need, to ensure that we get it for them.
With regard to the budget, I do not want to do a bunch of statistics because people forget stats, but we are contributing $11.2 billion over 11 years to a variety of initiatives to build, renew, and repair Canada's stock of affordable housing. I know we are trying to renew our federal-provincial-territorial partnership in housing. We are also trying to build a new national housing fund administered through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which is going to receive another $5 billion over 11 years. We are trying to target housing for people off reserve, and homelessness as well. However, these things are at the macro level, and I want to push our ministers to work for the people on the ground.
I will leave this with one final short quote from Pope Francis.
Each of us has a vision of good and evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is good. Everyone has his or her own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight the evil as he conceives it. That would be enough to make the world a better place.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2015-06-12 10:32 [p.15001]
Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to share some thoughts in regards to Bill S-7.
The Liberal Party will be supporting Bill S-7. I have had the opportunity in the past to stand and express a great deal of concern in terms of the title of the bill, but there are aspects of the legislation that do warrant support. Therefore, the Liberal Party will be supporting the bill.
However, I will pick up on an issue that my colleague for Trinity—Spadina just made reference to, which is the 1,200-plus murdered and missing first nations aboriginal women and girls, and the lack of action.
I bring this up, and I suspect my colleague brought it up, because if we take a look at this piece of legislation before us, it attempts to deal with gender-based violence or biases. We need to emphasize that every society has some form of gender-based violence.
This is one of the reasons we opposed the short title of the legislation, which has a lot more to do with the spin that the Prime Minister's Office wants to see than it does in terms of what Canadians want to see. That is the reason for the bizarre title, “Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act”, and many would suggest racially based rationale that the Conservatives threw in the word “cultural”. This has offended many people in every region of our country, many different stakeholder groups, because of the Conservative government's attitude toward culture.
When we talk about the violence and exploitation that takes place, as I said, every society has some form of gender-based violence. Here in Canada even, we will find it time and time again, and I am one of the members of Parliament, and only one, who has raised the issue of the first nations aboriginal women and girls who have been murdered and missing over the years. In fact, many of those young ladies and girls at one point were in Winnipeg North—
View James Bezan Profile
CPC (MB)
View James Bezan Profile
2015-02-04 16:40 [p.10707]
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak at report stage today in support of Bill C-32, the victims bill of rights act. This bill would change how victims are to be treated by the criminal justice and correction systems in Canada. It acknowledges their suffering and recognizes that they too have rights that must be respected.
The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights heard testimony from numerous witnesses who described the importance of this legislation. Many shared their own difficult stories of victimization and expressed their appreciation for the changes that the Canadian victims bill of rights would bring to other victims who will follow.
The committee also heard from those who provide victims with much needed services. They too offered their support for the bill, explaining that the rights contained in the Canadian victims bill of rights and the accompanying amendments to the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act would improve the experiences of victims.
The victims bill of rights presents a completely new approach for victims of crime in Canada. There have been many questions about how the bill would actually work and how it would be implemented. This is understandable given its transformative nature.
I would like to take the opportunity today to address three issues that were the subject of discussions at the standing committee: the definition of victim, the steps that we will take to ensure awareness of the rights created in Bill C-32, and the enforceability of those rights.
Regarding the definition of a victim in Bill C-32, the committee heard from witnesses who felt that the definition was overly broad, as well as those who felt that it was not sufficiently inclusive. Concern has been expressed about how a definition of victim in federal legislation would co-exist with the definitions of victim found in provincial and territorial victim legislation. We also heard questions about why the bill contains more than one definition of victim and what each purports to do.
As members will know, Bill C-32 includes the new Canadian victims bill of rights and proposes amendments to four federal statutes. The Canadian victims bill of rights portion of Bill C-32 includes a broad definition of victim. This definition recognizes the various kinds of harm that an individual may suffer as a result of an offence, even if the offence were not committed against him or her personally. The definition acknowledges that individuals other than the direct victim can be victims of an offence. All the rights included in the Canadian victims bill of rights can be exercised by a direct victim, as well as others who have suffered harm, such as family members.
The bill would also amend the definition of victim in the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to ensure that those definitions align with the definition of victim in the Canadian victims bill of rights.
The first part of the proposed definition in the Criminal Code recognizes the same forms of harm that a victim of an offence may suffer as the Canadian victims bill of rights does. Under this part of the definition, only a person who has had an offence committed against him or her is a victim for the purposes of most Criminal Code provisions.
The second part of the Criminal Code definition includes individuals other than the direct victim for the purposes of certain Criminal Code provisions, including the victim impact statement provisions. This is consistent with established case law that recognizes secondary victims for the purpose of these provisions.
The Canadian victims bill of rights would not apply to Canadians who are victims of offences committed outside of Canada, over which Canada is not exerting extraterritorial jurisdiction. This is because the rights under the Canadian victims bill of rights all relate to the various stages of the Canadian criminal justice process, from the investigation and prosecution of an offence through to the conditional release process. For example, a victim's right to present a victim impact statement, to have a court consider making a restitution order against an offender, or to request information about an offender can only apply to offences processed through the Canadian criminal and corrections system. It is not possible for Canada to extend those rights to people or to criminal justice processes within another country's jurisdiction.
We have also heard concerns about differences between the definition of victim proposed in the Canadian victims bill of rights and those found in provincial and territorial legislation. Each province and territory has enacted its own victims of crime legislation with its own definition of victim. Some provinces and territories have multiple definitions for various purposes, such as eligibility for specific services or financial benefits programs. I note that this problem of various definitions of victim did not arise with Bill C-32 but is a result of the evolution of victims services in each jurisdiction.
It is simply not possible to have one definition of victim at the federal level that would incorporate absolutely all the different definitions of victim that exist at the provincial and territorial levels. Rather, the bill seeks to create a definition that is inclusive and that recognizes all the different forms of harm that victims may suffer as a result of an offence. These include physical or emotional harm, property damage, and economic loss. Most provincial and territorial definitions include similar elements in their definitions.
I will now turn to the issue of ensuring that victims are able to exercise their rights under the act.
The justice committee heard from witnesses who questioned how victims would be made aware of their new rights under the act. This is a very fair question. All the rights in the world will not benefit victims if they do not know about them.
A Government of Canada website will be developed making information on the Canadian victims bill of rights available to all Canadians. During last year's consultations, numerous stakeholders stressed the importance of a one-stop shop for victims to access information. The Government of Canada website will meet that need.
The committee also heard from several aboriginal groups that are concerned that aboriginal victims would not be able to exercise their rights in the same way as other victims. They noted the disproportionate impact of factors such as poverty, marginalization, and lack of safe housing for aboriginal victims and explained that they would therefore need extra support in order to fully exercise their rights in a Canadian victims bill of rights.
The government recognizes that every victim is different and has different needs. That is why budget 2014 committed to providing funding to the provinces and territories to assist with the implementation of the bill. The government recognizes that the provinces and territories will play a crucial role in the effective implementation of the bill and has been working with them through various fora—such as the meetings of the federal, provincial, and territorial ministers responsible for justice and public safety—to address the implementation issues
We need to continue to work with our provincial and territorial partners to ensure that the Canadian victims bill of rights brings about the changes in the criminal justice and corrections systems that we have promised victims.
I will turn now to the issue of enforceability.
Some have criticized Bill C-32 as nothing more than a statement of principle because they believe the enshrined rights to be unenforceable. This is simply not true.
The victims bill of rights includes a remedial scheme to address an infringement or denial of a victim's rights under the act. This is what distinguishes Bill C-32 from many provincial or territorial victims acts that have been found to be just statements of principle. Under Bill C-32, every federal department, agency, or body involved in the criminal justice system would be required to have a complaints mechanism in place that would review complaints and make recommendations to remedy any infringement or denial of a victim's rights under the act, and they would be required to inform victims of those recommendations. If victims were not satisfied with the recommendations made by the department, agency, or body, they could then raise the issue with an oversight agency where one exists, such as the RCMP public complaints commission. If no oversight body exists for a particular department, agency, or body, a victim could seek the assistance of the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, whose mandate includes reviewing concerns regarding noncompliance with legislation or established policies.
Complaints regarding a provincial or territorial agency, including police, the crown, or victim services, would be addressed in accordance with the applicable provincial or territorial legislation. In order to improve the remedies available to victims, the government will provide a limited amount of funding through the victims fund for provinces and territories to enhance or establish complaint bodies for victims of crime.
I hope members of all parties will join me in supporting the victims bill of rights to ensure that victims of crime in Canada receive the recognition and protection that they deserve.
View Joy Smith Profile
CPC (MB)
View Joy Smith Profile
2014-09-22 13:32 [p.7636]
Mr. Speaker, to be very candid, when we look at backpage.com and other advertisements, we will often see advertisements like “Asian women”, “young women”, “fresh women”. Those advertisements are done by organized crime and traffickers. They are selling their product.
There is a provision for the prostitutes themselves. If they want to individually advertise, that is fine. The bill would not touch that. What it would go after is the control of these women.
I am an honorary chief. I have been on reserves. I have the red shawl from the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. My own family is aboriginal. I have such a heart for the murdered and missing women. I can tell the House that there has been so much talk about inquiry and no action, and now we need to take action. We need to put the money into programming and into solving the problem.
View Steven Fletcher Profile
CPC (MB)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to assure the leader of the Green Party that the rumblings she is hearing are from my tummy. There are no other rumblings coming from the Conservative Party. We fully support this budget and what it does for Canadians.
Given all the great things this budget does for aboriginal people, homeless people, the environment, and the economy as a whole, why would the Green Party vote against all of these wonderful initiatives? Can the member answer that?
View Anita Neville Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Anita Neville Profile
2008-05-28 15:46 [p.6172]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to stand today to speak in support of the amended Bill C-21.
Members will recall that the bill was first introduced into the House in the 39th session of Parliament as Bill C-44. It has been re-introduced into the House as Bill C-21 and has gone through a very lengthy committee process. It has now come back to the House in its amended form for final conclusion.
To recap, members will remember that the act would repeal section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which excludes Indians who live or work on reserve from filing human rights complaints with the Canadian Human Rights Commission in respect of any alleged human rights violations that relate to any action arising from or pursuant to the Indian Act.
I want to make it very clear from the outset that this party, this official opposition, has supported the intent of the bill. The repeal of section 67 of the Human Rights Act has been a long time in coming and it is something that we support very much.
What we did not support was the manner in which the bill was brought forward, both in its initial introduction and in its subsequent introduction as Bill C-21. It was brought forward without any consultation with first nations communities. We heard that there were significant concerns about the legislation, but there seemed to be absolutely no will, commitment, effort or respect on the part of the government to address some of those concerns.
I am repeating myself, but I want to make it very clear. I said, at least 18 times, in the House or in committee, as did my colleagues, that we supported the repeal of section 67 of the Human Rights Act. We did not support the process in which the government chose, as one of the chiefs from Alberta said, to ram it down their throats.
We are proud to support the amended legislation. We are proud of the process that went on in committee. We heard from a host of witnesses who came before the committee. I emphasize that this is not a substitute for consultation; it was about hearing witnesses and their concerns. Out of the 21 or 22 witnesses we heard, only 1 witness supported the legislation in its original form. We heard learned presentations from academics. We heard from leaders in the aboriginal community. We heard from individuals in the aboriginal community. We heard concerns from the men and women who the bill would affect.
We were concerned that there was no interpretive clause. We were concerned that there was no non-derogation clause. We were concerned that there was no attention given to the fiscal capacity. We were most concerned that the transition period was very short. We were also concerned that no study or analysis had been done on the impact the legislation would have on first nations communities. We know an analysis was done on what the impact would be on INAC, but no study was done to determine what the impact would be on first nations communities.
The amended legislation was a model of cooperation by the opposition parties, listening to the representations we heard from individuals, working together to amend the bill to make it a stronger, fairer bill for aboriginal people in our country.
Many times we heard in the House that we had gutted the bill. Far from it. Misrepresentations were mailed out to every household in my riding, misrepresenting my position and the position of my party as it related to the bill.
We proposed a number of important amendments to the bill. We proposed and passed through committee, a non-derogation clause, an interpretative clause, an extension of the time for implementation for three years. This is important. The government originally proposed six months. It was willing to extend it to 18 months, but not beyond that. I am pleased to see the government has allowed it to go in at three years now.
The implementation period of three years will allow first nations to determine their capacity and to look at the implications. It will allow them to prepare their communities for the actual final implementation of the bill.
As the House may recall, the government tried at one point, through a point of order, to remove the non-derogation clause and the interpretative clause. We are pleased that it has come back with amendments. Although they are not what we would have preferred, we will accept the amended non-derogation and interpretative clauses in the bill. They deal with the intent and the protection of the collective rights of first nations communities. We do, however, prefer the amendments put forward in committee, but as an expression of good faith and a desire to get the bill passed, we will support the amendments put forward by the government.
With the amendments, we would be able to grant human rights to first nations people in a way that balances their collective rights with individual rights as well as maintaining all existing aboriginal and treaty rights, as recognized under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
With respect to the transition period, first nations will now have an adequate amount of time to prepare for the legislation. In doing so, the government will have a chance to properly consult with all affected first nations peoples. I sincerely hope the government will take advantage of the opportunity to do this. I hope it will not just tell them but engage them in a meaningful consultation process whereby it will listen to them and work with them to implement the bill.
Once the bill comes into effect, first nations will work with the government to undertake the extensive preparation, the capacity, fiscal and human resources required.
The important part of this is the amended legislation, and it was amended not without acrimony or without challenge, is an example of parliamentarians working together to fix flawed legislation and amend it to reflect the best interests of first nations people.
As I said at the beginning, the Liberals have always maintained our support for the repeal of this section. It was not done in a way which we supported. Since the bill is now in front of us, we are proud to say that we improved flawed legislation to reflect the views of first nations communities throughout the country. They will be able to work with this legislation, and we are proud to support it.
View Pat Martin Profile
NDP (MB)
View Pat Martin Profile
2008-05-16 13:01 [p.5983]
Mr. Speaker, my question for my colleague is about the difference between the non-derogation clause that is recommended by his government and the one put forward by the standing committee. It must have contemplated other boilerplate versions of non-derogation clauses that exist in many pieces of legislation pertaining to first nations. I did not understand, in his speech, the difference between the language put forward by the committee and the language that his government would prefer to see. Perhaps he could explain it in a little more detail.
If a non-derogation clause is to ensure that nothing in the bill abrogates from or derogates from aboriginal treaty rights under section 35, why is this additional nuance important to the government he represents?
View Pat Martin Profile
NDP (MB)
View Pat Martin Profile
2008-05-16 13:18 [p.5985]
Very quickly, Mr. Speaker, I can illustrate the problem between the non-derogation clause put forward by the committee and the non-derogation clause contemplated by the government and put forward here today.
In regard to when any reference to customary laws and traditions is eliminated, I will give one example. I was part of the 1992 Charlottetown accord aboriginal rounds. We met with some aboriginal elder women. They did not want us to support the Charlottetown accord. One elder gave us an example. She said, “In my community, the women are not even allowed to run as chief”. We all shook our heads and said that sounded terrible. Then she said, “But the men aren't allowed to vote”.
I am trying to illustrate the Eurocentricity of some of what we do here. In their way, they had found a way to make sure there was gender balance. Yes, the women could not be chief, but the men were not allowed to vote. That would not pass the human rights commission today.
If we go for strict gender equality we are ignoring the customs and traditions of at least that first nation and maybe others. There are going to be these inherent conflicts between our Eurocentric view of human rights and equality and the culture, tradition, heritage and traditional customs of many first nations. That is the problem with the non-derogation clause being proposed here today as opposed to the one that was carefully crafted in a very sensitive way by the committee.
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