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Results: 1 - 6 of 6
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2019-06-19 21:56 [p.29445]
Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and I think if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the following motion.
I move:
That, notwithstanding any Standing or Special Order or usual practice of the House:
(a) the motion respecting the Senate Amendments to Bill C-91, An Act respecting Indigenous Languages, be deemed adopted;
(b) the motion respecting the Senate Amendments to Bill C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, be deemed adopted;
(c) Bill C-98, An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and the Canada Border Services Agency Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be deemed to have been concurred in at the report stage, and deemed read a third time and passed;
(d) Bill C-101, An Act to amend the Customs Tariff and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act, be deemed to have been concurred in at the report stage, and deemed read a third time and passed on division; and
(e) when the House adjourns on Thursday, June 20, 2019, it shall stand adjourned until Monday, September 16, 2019, provided that, for the purposes of any Standing Order, it shall be deemed to have been adjourned pursuant to Standing Order 28 and be deemed to have sat on Friday, June 21, 2019.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
View Kelly McCauley Profile
View Kelly McCauley Profile
2019-02-26 15:37 [p.25811]
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to stand to speak once again on Bill C-83, which amends the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.
The Liberals seem to have a long history and a running streak of putting forward bills focusing more on criminals' rights than on those of the victims, and in some ways this bill seems to be another one of those. It is mostly a poorly thought-out bill that provides no resources or thoughts to employee safety among those working in correction services.
The government should have spent time consulting with CSC workers, figuring out how it could reconfigure the prisons and how it would also pay for all of these changes. Bill C-83 is another example of the government making a big announcement and thinking that everything ends at the announcement, that everything is done, without putting any planning behind it.
We have seen this with the government and its infrastructure program. It announces $180 billion in infrastructure spending, but kind of overlooks the fact that $90 billion of it was commitments from the previous government.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer is not able to locate within the budget or the estimates a significant amount of the spending. The Senate committee did a study on the infrastructure spending, and it said that the only metric for success in infrastructure was how much money was spent, not how many roads were built or how many highways were upgraded; it was just how much money was spent.
We see the same thing from the Liberals with their housing plan. They make grandiose announcements, standing in this House again and again to say it is $40 billion. Kevin Page, the former parliamentary budget officer, reported that it is actually about $1.5 billion. The Prime Minister and the parliamentary secretary responsible for housing stood up in this House and said that a million families have been helped under this plan, believing that if they just make an announcement, then everything happens. It turns out that if we look at the departmental results plan, it was 7,500 families helped, not a million.
We see this again and again. Bill C-83 is no different. I will get to that later.
There are some things in Bill C-83 that I can support. The Liberal government is much like a broken watch, which is correct twice a day, and sometimes the government can be correct in its bills. The bill calls for body scanners to prevent contraband and drugs from getting into the prison. I fully support that. I wish the Liberals would modify it so that everyone coming in gets a body scan.
However, I do have to agree with the people I have talked to at corrections services. Why are we trying to stop drugs, but at the same time bringing in and handing out needles to the prisoners? These are needles that we have heard are being used as weapons against CSC workers.
I also like the fact that Bill C-83 gives more consideration to indigenous offenders. It is no secret that the indigenous population is overrepresented in prisons, and that has to be addressed, so I do agree with that measure. However, there are too many parts of the bill that would negatively impact the safety of corrections officers.
We all know of the Ashley Smith situation, which was a tragedy, and the government should do everything in its power to prevent such an occurrence from happening again. However, a poorly thought-out plan and an underfunded bill that just bans segregation is not the answer.
We have to keep in mind that it is not just inmates who are committing crimes who are going into segregation. Often it is a victim. They are put in there to assure their safety by moving them away from their abuser. They obviously do not want to name their abuser because of prison rules, so to speak, so the assaults continue unless the victim is moved into segregation. Unfortunately, that person eventually has to desegregate back into the prison system or change prisons. Nothing in Bill C-83 addresses that issue.
A CBC report says segregation is not the deterrent it once was. Prisoners now receive all of their possessions, their television and all of their belongings, within 24 hours of being put in segregation. Another CBC report quoted a couple of corrections officers. One of them stated that whereas the more violent inmates used to be in separate containers, now they are all in one bag, so they are just waiting for one to go off. That sets the rest of them off, and they end up with murder, stabbings, slashing, and officer injuries higher than ever.
Another one is saying that the inmates can get away with a lot more than they used to in the past, and that contributes to the growing violence and the crisis in corrections. Another says that all removing segregation does, especially disciplinary segregation, is soften reprisals for bad behaviour. Inmates know there is one less tool for corrections officers to use to maintain order and ensure their own safety.
In September 2017, with respect to a provincial study that I imagine would also cover federal, the CBC reported a massive upswing, a 50% increase, in inmate assaults over the five years that segregation had been removed or reduced.
Under this proposal, whenever inmates move from segregation to have their additional hours in the open, two officers will be needed to escort them. I have to ask where those resources will come from. If I look at the manpower figures in the departmental plan for the Correctional Service of Canada, which shows what its budget would be several years out, I see that the figures are identical in 2021 to what they are now. We are planning all this extra work for the officers, but there is no plan to provide extra officers. In fact, if we look at the plan, which has been signed off by the Minister of Public Safety himself, we see that the Liberals have cut the number of officers on staff from what it was when the Harper government was in charge. Again, where are the resources coming from?
As well, where are the added dollars coming from to renovate these new cells? I have heard the Minister of Public Safety stand and say that there is $80 million from the last budget and $400 million in the estimates. That is fine, but when we look at the departmental plans, again we see that from last year in 2017 to this year, the Liberals have cut $152.5 million from corrections services, and in the next couple of years, they are cutting an additional $225 million.
If they are spending $400 million on renovations and resources and the end result is $225 million less, where is the missing $600 million? I am sure the Parliamentary Budget Officer will be unable to find where this money is, as was the case with the missing infrastructure money.
Getting back to the departmental plans, these plans lay out the priorities for the government for this department. Again, the plans are reviewed and signed by the Minister of Public Safety. In this plan, there are 20 priorities, yet not a single one mentions or addresses officer safety or the safety of anyone working for corrections services.
The government, when discussing Bill C-83, brags about how it is the first time ever it has given the head of Correctional Services of Canada a mandate letter. I looked at the mandate letter. There are 1,400 words in the mandate letter for the head of the CSC. Let us keep in mind the government is so proud of this letter. Of the 1,400 words, 24 are about victims of crime, and just 52 are about the safety or well-being of corrections officers. The 52 words include this gem: “I encourage you to instill within CSC a culture of ongoing self-reflection.”
Can members imagine an inmate coming at them with a knife or a needle? What would their response be? If we looked it up in the manual, we would find “self-reflection”. Self-reflection sounds like something that would be more appropriate after being confronted after having groped someone at a concert, not when dealing with inmates in a criminal institution.
The president of the union of correctional officers, Rob Finucan, described how a guard in the Millhaven Institution was slashed across the face with a shard or knife. Why? It was because of the new rule that inmates can only be handcuffed in front and not behind. The inmate was cuffed and being moved to segregation. He had a shard of glass or a knife with him and cut across the face of the officer. Luckily, the officer's eye was not lost, but that happened because of rules we are putting into effect without any consideration for the officers.
In the minute I have left, I will end with the money set aside for mental health for inmates in the last budget. No one can argue with that, as it is obviously a very important issue.
Money has also been put aside for mental health for RCMP officers. There is 40% more money put aside per capita for inmates than for RCMP officers. That sums up the government's priorities in a nutshell: more money for criminals, less for the RCMP and less for our valued officers in prisons.
I think it is time for the government to show some self-reflection on this issue.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to stand and add my voice in support of Bill C-83, a piece of legislation that would make a number of changes to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. I am pleased to lend my support, as my colleagues have also done.
Bill C-83 proposes a number of important things. It creates the concept of patient advocates, as recommended by the inquest into the tragic death of Ashley Smith. Many of us in the House are very aware of the inquest and what happened to Ms. Smith, and the difficulties. We are very hopeful that Bill C-83 is going to help remedy some of those problems and prevent that from happening to some other young person.
The bill is meant to support inmates who need medical care, and ensure that they and their families can understand and exercise their rights. It would enshrine in law the principle that health care professionals working in the corrections system are autonomous and make decisions based on their medical judgment, without undue influence from correctional authorities.
It would enshrine in law the requirement that systemic and background factors be considered in all decisions involving indigenous people in custody, and it would expand the section of the law requiring the correctional service to be guided by respect for the diversity of the inmate population.
It would allow victims who attend parole hearings to access audio recordings of the proceedings.
It would create the legislative authority necessary for the Correctional Service of Canada to use body scanners to interdict drugs and other contraband, something that has been a problem for many years. There are people who have had to endure strip searches and so on. Having the body scanners would make it better for both the correctional service folks as well as for inmates. This technology is both less invasive than methods such as strip searches and less prone to false positives than the ion scanners CSC currently relies on.
It would also replace the current system of administrative segregation with structured intervention units, or SIUs, as they are referred to. This new system would ensure that when inmates need to be separated from the rest of the prison population for safety reasons, they would retain access to rehabilitative programming, mental health care and other interventions, something that was not happening before.
The bill deals with serious and challenging issues, and it is to be expected that Canadians and members of Parliament will have differences of opinion about them. So far, however, the Conservative contributions to this debate have been incredibly disappointing. At times, the Conservatives have blatantly contradicted themselves. For instance, in his speech, the member for Yellowhead complained that the changes made by the bill to administrative segregation are insignificant and superficial. However, in the very same speech, the very same member said that those very same changes would endanger inmates and staff. Which is it? Do the Conservatives think the bill is insignificant, or do they think it is catastrophic? It cannot be both.
At other times, the Conservatives have simply chosen to ignore the facts. They have been complaining over and over again that the government has not allocated resources to implement the bill, when they know that is not the case. On page 103 of the fall economic statement, issued by the finance minister last November, there is $448 million allocated to support amendments to transform federal corrections, including the introduction of a new correctional interventions model to eliminate segregation.
Also in November, the government sent the public safety committee a written response that went into more detail about the funding.
That response says that if Bill C-83 is adopted, the government will invest $297 million over six years and $71 million ongoing to implement the structured intervention units. The funding will be dedicated to providing focused interventions, programs and social supports and will include access to resources such as program officers, aboriginal liaison officers, elders, chaplains and others. That is in a document that all members of the public safety committee have had for over three months.
The document goes on to say that the remaining amount from the fall economic statement, $150.3 million over six years and $74.3 million ongoing, is for mental health care. That includes assessment and early diagnosis of inmates at intake and throughout incarceration, enhancements to primary and acute mental health care, and support for patient advocacy and 24/7 health care at designated institutions.
Again, this is all from a document that the Conservatives also have had since the fall, so when they complain about a lack of resources, they are either being disingenuous or they just have not had time to read the report.
The Conservatives' contributions to this debate have also been characterized by an unfortunate amount of self-righteousness. They position themselves as champions of victims, but it was legislation passed by the Harper government in 2015 that prohibited victims who attend a parole hearing from accessing an audio recording of that same hearing. Their bill said that victims who want recordings have to stay away from the hearing itself.
Parole hearings are often difficult experiences for many victims of crime, full of emotion, and the law should not expect them to retain every word of the proceedings at a time when they are immensely frightened and nervous and in an unfamiliar environment. The legislation before us today would finally let all victims access those recordings, whether they attend in person or not.
The Conservatives also position themselves as champions of correctional employees. Let me remind the House what the national president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers said in 2014. Kevin Grabowsky was head of the union at that time, and he said, “We have to actively work to rid the Conservatives from power.” He said the Harper government was endangering correctional officers with changes to the labour code, cuts to rehabilitative programming and policies that resulted in overcrowding in federal prisons.
The main question raised at committee by both correctional officers and the Union of Safety and Justice Employees, which represents other CSC staff such as parole officers, was whether Bill C-83 would be accompanied by sufficient resources to implement it safely and effectively. As I have already made clear, the answer to that is a resounding yes.
Finally, the Conservatives' interventions in this debate have been reminiscent of the very worst of the Harper approach to the legislative process. They have been actually attacking the government for listening to stakeholder feedback and accepting some of those amendments. Under the Harper government, that kind of openness was unheard of, but I am proud to support a government that lets legislators legislate.
I thank all members who have engaged in a serious study of the bill and proposed thoughtful amendments, which is exactly what Canadians sent all of us here to do.
We have before us legislation that would make correctional institutions more effective and humane, accompanied by the resources needed to implement it safely. It is important that we move forward and pass the bill at this time.
View William Amos Profile
Lib. (QC)
View William Amos Profile
2017-11-21 17:31 [p.15399]
Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to speak on Bill C-45, because so many Canadians are talking about it right now. If one goes to a school in the Pontiac, and I have visited several, or to a municipal council to talk about what the federal government is doing that is new, much of the same thing is heard, which is that Canadians are interested and concerned. More than anything, they are open-minded about finding the right path on this issue of marijuana and cannabis legalization. Why? Simply put, it is because they know that what has been done in the past has not worked. At the end of the day, Canadians expect the government to not simply stick its head in the sand but to react to evidence and the problems of everyday communities, where we see rates of the consumption of cannabis by our youth that really concerns them.
It is very important that we are taking this opportunity today to debate this bill and to consider what our communities are saying. I would like to report a bit on what I have heard and speak about why I am hearing support from my constituents in the Pontiac for this bill.
Number one, there is an appreciation that a public health approach is being brought on this matter. At the end of the day, slapping criminal sanctions on individual Canadians for engaging in the consumption of cannabis is an approach that has not worked. It has landed a lot of people in jail, and in particular, it has landed a lot of indigenous Canadians in jail. That is a major concern for constituents in the riding of Pontiac.
It has allowed criminals, organized crime, to take advantage of a market and sell products in an uncontrolled fashion to the most vulnerable in our community. That is simply not acceptable. We need to do better.
I was playing ping pong the other day in a high school in Fort-Coulonge, and I was thinking about how great it was that we were able to play a sport in a school and have fun. I knew that just down hall, at some other point in the day, there would be an opportunity for a kid to buy marijuana. Why? It is because the market is uncontrolled. The market is unregulated, and it is being run by criminals. We can no longer hide, and we can no longer fail Canadians on this important issue.
Our youth deserve protection. It should not be easier to buy marijuana than it is to buy a pack of cigarettes or a six-pack of beer. It should not be that way.
I am proud of our government for acting and for all the consultation it has done. It has consulted with law enforcement, with health experts, and with safety experts, road safety experts in particular. There was a Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, and pursuant to its advice, this legislation was developed. This was not done in a hurry. It was done after careful consideration.
I am so pleased that caucus members, in particular the parliamentary secretary to the minister of health at the time, came to visit the Pontiac to discuss the concerns of our community. If we are going to get to a place where we legalize but strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis, we need to do so in a manner that has the full confidence of Canadians.
I appreciate that it is the opposition's job to oppose and to raise issues it is hearing from constituents as well, and that is a good thing. However, this issue of cannabis legalization and strict regulation and control has to be done with a view to the public interest.
I do believe there is a strong consensus emerging in Canada that we can get there by learning from the mistakes and successes internationally, and that we can create a new framework that will ultimately protect our kids, clean up our streets, and get us to a healthier country because, at the end of the day, that is what we all want. We want safer communities, healthier Canadians, and protected kids. It is comforting to many of my Pontiac constituents.
I will admit quite frankly that many seniors in my riding have expressed concerns about whether this will just open the floodgates. The response is no, not at all. In fact, this bill, complete with the investments our government is making, which I will speak to in a moment, is the single best way to tighten the societal measures that will restrict access. When I tell constituents that this bill would make it a specific criminal offence to sell cannabis to a minor and establish significant penalties for those who engage young Canadians in cannabis-related activities, whether consumption or distribution, etc., they understand that this is not a free-for-all. It is absolutely not about that. It is about protecting our communities in a smarter and better way.
I would like to take a moment to talk about investments in public education and law enforcement. This is not just a law that our government is presenting; it is a whole investment program that will ensure that these protections and regulations are put in place. For example, our government promised to invest $46 million over five years in public education, awareness, and surveillance. These additional resources would allow the government to undertake a robust public awareness campaign so that Canadians, especially our children, are well informed about the dangers of driving under the influence of cannabis and other drugs.
The people in our ridings are well aware that, for a long time, young people across Canada have been making the poor decision to smoke, rather than drink, before getting behind the wheel because they think that it is somehow more acceptable or that they will not be caught. We all know that this is not true, but we need an awareness campaign, and our law enforcement officers need to be given the resources they need. We are making sure that happens. We have committed up to $161 million to train front-line officers to recognize the signs and symptoms of drug-impaired driving, build law enforcement capacity across the country, provide access to drug-screening devices, develop policy, bolster research, and raise public awareness of the dangers of drug-impaired driving.
This is a serious set of legislative measures and investments. What we are really doing is investing in the future of a smarter Canada, which does not stick its head in the sand, does not say there is no health issue, and does not ignore the fact that youth consumption of cannabis products is at unacceptable rates, but does accept that we can do better if we look at the evidence, go into it with our eyes open, and tell ourselves yes, we can do better.
View Christine Moore Profile
View Christine Moore Profile
2014-06-03 17:16 [p.6119]
Mr. Speaker, if I may, I would like to begin my speech with a quiz. What do the following organizations have in common: Alternatives, the British Columbia Teacher's Federation, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Common Frontiers, the Confédération des syndicats nationaux and the Council of Canadians?
Mr. Speaker, I know that I have the floor right now, but I would hand it over to you if you would like to answer my quiz, or I could give you the answer if you are having a little trouble.
The answer is that all these organizations have given the Canadian government seven warnings. Let me share their concerns. These various civil society organizations in Quebec and Canada are concerned that the free trade agreement currently being debated in the House of Commons will further undermine human rights and democracy in Honduras. That is the answer to the quiz.
Discussions on this free trade agreement began a few days after Juan Orlando Hernández was installed as president. He took power following the highly controversial presidential election in Honduras. Most international observers felt that the electoral results, which were marred with irregularities and obtained in a context of violence, were not valid.
The proposed legislation shows that Canada supports illegitimate governments if doing so serves the interests of the Canadian economy. That makes no sense.
This bilateral trade agreement was signed on November 5, 2013, shortly after that presidential election, in spite of widespread opposition and evidence suggesting that the agreement would exacerbate social tensions and human rights issues.
After the military coup in 2009 that resulted in the overthrow of democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya, the violence and repression reached unprecedented heights. Human rights and women’s rights advocates, members of the LGBT community, the Garifuna, indigenous peoples, union leaders, farmers and journalists were systematically threatened and in some cases, unfortunately, killed.
The unfortunate thing in all that is that Canada is exacerbating social conflict in Honduras. In addition to the free trade agreement, Canadian investments have contributed to social conflict, particularly in the mining and tourism industries and the export sector.
The government of Canada provided technical assistance for the adoption of the General Mining and Hydrocarbons Law in January 2013. The new law ended the seven-year moratorium and imposed a 2% royalty on mining companies to fund state security measures.
The agreement also provided for new mining projects, and this revived social tensions and required a heightened military presence in the communities where the mining projects were located.
According to the Honduras Documentation Center, 52% of the conflicts arise out of the management of natural resources. The best-known example, unfortunately, is the Goldcorp mining company of Vancouver, which operates a gold and silver mine in the Siria valley.
From what we know, the mining project is apparently responsible for contaminating the water, drying up watercourses and causing the emergence of serious health problems in the surrounding communities. Unfortunately, the full extent of these problems has not even been identified.
In the clothing and textile exports sector, Gildan of Montreal, whose factories are located in northwestern Honduras, has come under heavy criticism. Gildan is said to be responsible for numerous work-related injuries due to excessively long work shifts and high production targets. It has allegedly fired workers for attempting to unionize.
In the tourism industry, Canadian investments have resulted in the displacement of indigenous and Afro-Honduran communities, without regard for their culture or their ancestral rights on those lands.
The Canadian government is misleading the public when it says this free trade agreement will result in improvements in the situation in Honduras. In fact, it is going to enormously reduce the capacity of the government to legislate in the public interest, and deal a hard blow to the rights of communities and individuals and to labour and environmental rights.
In the meantime, investors’ rights are taking precedence. Corporations will now be able to sue the government if it makes decisions that run counter to their interests. If the government in power seeks to protect its people and does anything that goes against investors, it will be sued. The Honduran government will thus be inclined to make decisions based on the interests of foreign investors, not those of its own population. That is an enormous risk.
The side agreements on the environment and the right to work include no mechanism to give them force and effect in law. Consequently, by favouring the economic interests of a few privileged investors, this free trade agreement will only force Honduras into even greater crisis and a heightened climate of violence.
I would now like to address the issue of police corruption and the militarization of the state. Police corruption is endemic in Honduras. Some senior officers are involved in criminal activities, and impunity undeniably reigns in the judicial system and law enforcement agencies.
Constantino Zavala, chief of police in the province of Lempira in western Honduras, was recently suspended as a result of drug trafficking allegations.
President Hernández has emphasized a return to military security, specifically by ordering the creation of the Military Police of Public Order funded by proceeds from a new security tax on major corporations.
The new military units will be responsible for patrolling residential neighbourhoods, new developments and public places in order to combat crime. However, human rights advocates in Honduras believe that they are witnessing a return of the death squads that assassinated women, youth and political dissidents in the 1980s.
During the November 24, 2013, presidential election, many Hondurans hoped that the country’s new political face would put an end to the two-party regime, which would be for the better. However, it would appear that, on the contrary, the questionable election of President Hernández has exacerbated the situation. Foreign observers and local human rights advocacy groups have reported widespread fraud in the form of vote-buying, voter registry irregularities, the sale of ballots, military intervention, bullying and even assassinations. Hernández has nevertheless been declared the winner, and that has plunged the country even deeper into crisis.
That is why many organizations are asking that the Parliament of Canada not pass this act respecting a free trade agreement between Canada and Honduras and that the Conservative government review its priorities with Honduras, focusing first and foremost on the welfare of its communities, its population and its workers.
I would like to conclude by saying that this trade agreement is not in Canada’s best interest. The volume of Honduran exports to Canada is much higher than that of Canadian exports to Honduras. This trade agreement does not benefit Canada.
In light of the political and social situation in Honduras, it would be really ill-advised for Canada to enter into a free trade agreement with this nation. Perhaps we could revisit the matter a few years down the road when a more favourable climate prevails. For now, the government should focus on free trade agreements with emerging countries that offer considerably more trade opportunities for Canada.
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