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View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2013-06-19 16:05 [p.18583]
I wish to inform the House that pursuant to Standing Order 28(4), I have recalled the House this day for the sole purpose of granting royal assent to certain bills.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2013-06-19 16:05 [p.18583]
I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:
The Secretary to the Governor General
and Herald Chancellor
June 19th, 2013
Mr. Speaker,
I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, will proceed to the Senate Chamber today, the 19th day of June, 2013, at 4:00 p.m., for the purpose of giving Royal Assent to certain bills of law.
Yours sincerely,
Stephen Wallace
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2013-06-19 16:23 [p.18583]
I have the honour to inform the House that when the House did attend His Excellency the Governor General in the Senate chamber, His Excellency was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to certain bills:
C-321, An Act to amend the Canada Post Corporation Act (library materials)—Chapter 10, 2013.
C-37, An Act to amend the Criminal Code—Chapter 11, 2013.
C-383, An Act to amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act and the International River Improvements Act—Chapter 12, 2013.
S-9, An Act to amend the Criminal Code—Chapter 13, 2013.
C-47, An Act to enact the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act and the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 14, 2013.
C-309, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (concealment of identity)—Chapter 15, 2013.
C-43, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act—Chapter 16, 2013.
S-213, An Act respecting a national day of remembrance to honour Canadian veterans of the Korean War—Chapter 17, 2013.
C-42, An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 18, 2013.
S-209, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (prize fights)—Chapter 19, 2013.
S-2, An Act respecting family homes situated on First Nation reserves and matrimonial interests or rights in or to structures and lands situated on those reserves—Chapter 20, 2013.
S-8, An Act respecting the safety of drinking water on First Nation lands—Chapter 21, 2013.
C-63, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2014—Chapter 22, 2013.
C-64, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2014—Chapter 23, 2013.
C-15, An Act to amend the National Defence Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 24, 2013.
C-62, An Act to give effect to the Yale First Nation Final Agreement and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 25, 2013.
S-14, An Act to amend the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act—Chapter 26, 2013.
S-17, An Act to implement conventions, protocols, agreements and a supplementary convention, concluded between Canada and Namibia, Serbia, Poland, Hong Kong, Luxembourg and Switzerland, for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes—Chapter 27, 2013.
S-15, An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act and to make consequential amendments to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001—Chapter 28, 2013.
It being 4:24 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, September 16, 2013, at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Orders 28(2) and 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 4:24 p.m.)
The first session of the 41st Parliament was prorogued by royal proclamation on September 13, 2013.
Aboriginal land claimsAdjournmentAgreements and contractsBordersBulk waterC-15, An Act to amend the National Defen ...C-309, An Act to amend the Criminal code ...C-321, An Act to amend the Canada Post C ...C-37, An Act to amend the Criminal CodeC-383, An Act to amend the International ...C-42, An Act to amend the Royal Canadian ...
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View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to three petitions.
View Harold Albrecht Profile
CPC (ON)
View Harold Albrecht Profile
2013-06-18 10:04 [p.18505]
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.
In accordance with its order of reference of Monday, June 10, 2013, your committee has considered Bill S-15, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act and to make consequential amendments to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, and agreed on Monday, June 17, 2013 to report it without amendment.
View Peter Van Loan Profile
CPC (ON)
View Peter Van Loan Profile
2013-06-18 10:05 [p.18505]
Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among the parties and I am hopeful that you could find unanimous consent for the following motion:
That Bill S-15, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act and to make consequential amendments to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 may be taken up at report stage later this day.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2013-06-18 10:06 [p.18505]
Does the hon. government House leader have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2013-06-18 10:06 [p.18505]
Mr. Speaker, the bill has the unprecedented support of parties across this House. It has the support of the environmental non-governmental organizational community, and it has the support of the Nova Scotia government. However, one of my colleagues, who purports to support the environment, is blocking the passage of the bill. I am outraged.
View Joy Smith Profile
CPC (MB)
View Joy Smith Profile
2013-06-18 10:07 [p.18505]
Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from several hundred people across Canada, calling on the government to request that Parliament amend the Criminal Code to decriminalize the selling of sexual services and criminalize the purchasing of sexual services, and provide support to those who desire to leave prostitution.
The petitioners have said that the demand for commercial sex with women and children is the root cause of prostitution, and that trafficking, child prostitution and violence toward women have increased in countries where prostitution has been legalized.
View Olivia Chow Profile
NDP (ON)
View Olivia Chow Profile
2013-06-18 10:07 [p.18505]
Mr. Speaker, I have four petitions.
The first one is from people, mostly seniors, who are very concerned about the Conservative government making changes to the old age security program and changing the age of eligibility from 65 years to 67 years. They are calling on the government to reverse that measure.
View Olivia Chow Profile
NDP (ON)
View Olivia Chow Profile
2013-06-18 10:10 [p.18505]
Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from people who are very concerned about animal rights. They note that animals are sentient beings capable of feeling pain, that they are not property and that stray and wild animals are not sufficiently protected by animal cruelty laws under the property section of the Criminal Code.
Therefore, they are calling on the federal government to recognize animals as beings that can feel pain, to move animal cruelty crimes from the property section of the Criminal Code and to strengthen the language of federal animal cruelty laws in order to close loopholes that allow abusers to escape penalty.
View Olivia Chow Profile
NDP (ON)
View Olivia Chow Profile
2013-06-18 10:10 [p.18506]
Mr. Speaker, the third petition is from people in Oshawa who note that the Oshawa Port Authority is ruining the city's waterfront with a 12-storey ethanol plant that was rubber-stamped behind closed doors, and that the Oshawa Port Authority is ignoring the will of local residents, Oshawa city council, the mayor, and Durham regional council.
They are calling on the government to cancel the approved FarmTech ethanol plant, halt all construction, publish all documents pertaining to the FarmTech long-term lease and other Oshawa Port Authority lease agreements, and start negotiating with the City of Oshawa for the divestment of the port to the municipality.
View Olivia Chow Profile
NDP (ON)
View Olivia Chow Profile
2013-06-18 10:10 [p.18506]
Mr. Speaker, the fourth petition is from constituents in Toronto who note that a year and a half ago Jenna Morrison, a pregnant mom, died under the wheels of a heavy truck and that perhaps her death could have been prevented had the truck had side guards installed.
They are asking the Government of Canada to introduce regulations under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act requiring side underrun guards for large trucks and trailers, to prevent cyclists and pedestrians from being pulled under the wheels of these vehicles.
View Ted Hsu Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ted Hsu Profile
2013-06-18 10:10 [p.18506]
Mr. Speaker, I have a number of petitions today. The first one is from my constituents of Kingston and the Islands, and it concerns Bills C-38 and C-45, which gutted protection for ecosystems, especially around bodies of water.
The petitioners call on the government to recognize the importance of ecosystems to our well-being and prosperity, and they call on the federal government to restore federal statutory protections for fish and other natural habitats.
View Ted Hsu Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ted Hsu Profile
2013-06-18 10:12 [p.18506]
Mr. Speaker, the second petition from my constituents of Kingston and the Islands concerns climate change. The House might know that climate change is partially responsible for the low water levels in the upper Great Lakes and that Canada has shown a lack of international leadership.
The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to show international leadership in reaching agreements to keep the rise in average global temperatures to under two degrees, to take action domestically, to do its fair share and to measure progress through an independent validator.
View Ted Hsu Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ted Hsu Profile
2013-06-18 10:12 [p.18506]
Mr. Speaker, there are two petitions from my constituents of Kingston and the Islands concerning genetically modified alfalfa. The petitioners are concerned that the introduction of commercial genetically modified alfalfa will affect non-GM farmers, organic farmers and may affect international trade.
They are calling on the government to have a moratorium on genetically modified alfalfa until its study on farmers can be properly done.
View Ted Hsu Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ted Hsu Profile
2013-06-18 10:12 [p.18506]
Mr. Speaker, the last petition I have is from my constituents from Kingston and the Islands regarding corrections.
They are calling on the federal government to adopt rational best practices, including the avoidance of double-bunking in order to reduce recidivism, to improve the rehabilitation of offenders, to improve public safety and to avoid wasting money.
View Cheryl Gallant Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, the signatories on this petition range from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario, to Quebec. They are calling upon the federal government to replace the chief firearms officers from the provinces and territories with a single civilian agency that is service oriented, so that federal law is applied evenly from coast to coast to coast.
View Kennedy Stewart Profile
NDP (BC)
View Kennedy Stewart Profile
2013-06-18 10:13 [p.18506]
Mr. Speaker, I am presenting a petition today regarding bringing online petitions to the House of Commons. The constituents who have signed this petition say they believe the current paper petitioning system is antiquated and inefficient.
The petitioners would like the House of Commons to recognize online petitions as it recognizes paper petitions. This is similar to a motion that I brought forward in the House of Commons, and I hope the government will take it seriously.
View Wladyslaw Lizon Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by many Canadians residing in Ontario, many of them Venezuelan Canadians. They would like to bring to the attention of this House the fact that since the last presidential election in Venezuela, democratic, human and electoral rights have been shamefully violated.
The petitioners are asking our government to take a strong stand and help to peacefully resolve the current crisis in Venezuela.
View Anne Minh-Thu Quach Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by people from my riding, Beauharnois—Salaberry. Bill C-45, which is now law, made changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act. As a result, only 62 rivers, 97 lakes and three oceans will remain protected, while previously, that legislation protected all of Canada's waterways.
Bill C-45 shifts the burden of responsibility onto citizens, groups and municipalities, who now have to take project proponents to court themselves if their navigation rights are breached. The government made it impossible for anyone to comment on the minister's decisions or to hold public consultations on any projects proposed by proponents.
The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to take responsibility for protecting navigation rights, reverse its decision compelling citizens to take project proponents to court themselves, and guarantee that the right to navigate on all waterways and lakes in Canada will be maintained and that an environmental assessment will be conducted for all projects near any bodies of water.
View Ron Cannan Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ron Cannan Profile
2013-06-18 10:16 [p.18507]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise on behalf of numerous British Columbians who are calling upon the government to implement the new mandatory minimum sentencing for those persons convicted of impaired driving causing death and get tougher on impaired drivers.
The petitioners request that the Criminal Code be changed to redefine the offence of impaired driving causing death to vehicular manslaughter.
Also, as the summer is upon us, I would like to remind all Canadians to drink responsibly and to not drink and drive.
View Libby Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
View Libby Davies Profile
2013-06-18 10:16 [p.18507]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to introduce more petitions. I have been introducing these petitions throughout the session. I would like to thank the thousands of Canadians who have been signing this particular petition, as it deals with dogs and cats that are brutally slaughtered for their fur in a number of Asian regions.
Today's petitions come from Saskatoon, Vancouver, Windsor, Kitchener and right across the country. As I have said, I have been introducing these petitions now for a number of months, and obviously it is an issue that people are very concerned about.
The petitioners request that Canada join the U.S.A., Australia and the European Union in banning the import and sale of dog and cat fur. They support the private member's legislation that is before Parliament to make sure that this comes about.
I would like to thank the people across the country, who have been organizing this petition, for their hard and diligent on this very important issue.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2013-06-18 10:17 [p.18507]
Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning to present three petitions.
The first petition deals with the proposed northern gateway project, which increasingly has the people of British Columbia, the government of British Columbia and the first nations of British Columbia standing against it. These petitions are signed by residents of the Montreal area.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2013-06-18 10:18 [p.18507]
Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from residents of the Toronto area who are calling upon the government to refuse to ratify the Canada-China investment treaty. This treaty would lock Canada in, and future governments, for a period of not less than 31 years after ratification. It is time to step back from ratification and actually study that treaty.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2013-06-18 10:18 [p.18507]
Mr. Speaker, the last petition, and I am encouraged by its support from across the aisles, is primarily from petitioners in the Surrey area who are in support of my private member's Bill C-442, which calls for a national strategy to deal with the dreadful human tragedy that is Lyme disease.
View Rathika Sitsabaiesan Profile
NDP (ON)
Mr. Speaker, today I stand to submit some petitions on behalf of constituents from all over the GTA—from Etobicoke, Richmond Hill, Markham, of course the city of Toronto and Mississauga—with respect to the Rouge Park.
The current Rouge Park is home to endangered Carolinian and mixed woodland/plain life zones of Canada, the zones with one-third of Canada's endangered species. It is also the ancestral home of the Mississauga, Huron-Wendat and Seneca first nations and their sacred burial and village sites.
This is the last chance we will have to create a large national park in southern Ontario, an area with 34% of Canada's population and 77% of its land in agriculture and human settlement use, with only about 1/400th of the lands protected in national parks. The petitioners are requesting many things, but they are also requesting that the Government of Canada conduct a rational, scientific and transparent public planning process to create Rouge national park's boundaries, legislation and strategic plan and include first nations and Friends of the Rouge Watershed on a Rouge national park planning and advisory board.
View Matthew Kellway Profile
NDP (ON)
View Matthew Kellway Profile
2013-06-18 10:19 [p.18507]
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce two petitions to the House today.
The first petition calls upon the Government of Canada to accept the science of climate change and table a comprehensive climate change plan, to commit to attaining greenhouse gas emission reduction goals that are supported internationally and to contribute its fair share to fill the megatonne gap.
View Matthew Kellway Profile
NDP (ON)
View Matthew Kellway Profile
2013-06-18 10:20 [p.18508]
Mr. Speaker, the second petition, again signed by constituents from across Toronto, is with respect to genetically modified alfalfa.
The petitioners call upon the government to impose a moratorium on the release of genetically modified alfalfa in order to allow a proper review of the impact on farmers in Canada.
View Craig Scott Profile
NDP (ON)
View Craig Scott Profile
2013-06-18 10:20 [p.18508]
Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition from citizens in Toronto, especially in my riding of Toronto—Danforth.
The petitioners are concerned that the Don River was removed from protection under what was then the Navigable Waters Protection Act by Bill C-45 and are calling for its re-protection.
The petitioners also want to draw attention to the fact that the right to navigation should include non-mechanized vessels, such as canoes and kayaks.
The petitioners want a commitment from the government to meaningful public consultation prior to approval of any project that affects the Don River.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.
The Deputy Speaker: Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Joe Comartin Profile
NDP (ON)
View Joe Comartin Profile
2013-06-18 10:21 [p.18508]
There being no motions at report stage, the House will now proceed, without debate, to the putting of the question on the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.
View Bob Dechert Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bob Dechert Profile
2013-06-18 10:22 [p.18508]
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to participate in the third reading debate on Bill S-14, the fighting foreign corruption act. I would like to thank members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development for considering the bill so quickly and our witnesses for their thoughtful contribution to discussion. I note the chairman of the foreign affairs committee is here, and I just want to say to all the members of the House what a superb job he does chairing that committee.
Corruption, in all its unsavoury forms, is an affront to the values of good, honest and hard-working Canadians. Our government's position of zero tolerance in this area is clear. Canada needs to work to root out corruption wherever it lies, and these amendments to the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, or the CFPOA, offer a vital contribution in this regard.
Before I address the important amendments proposed in Bill S-14, I would like to first provide a sense of the considerable efforts Canada is already making in this area. It is a good story for Canadians and for Canadian businesses, and our government is convinced that the enactment of Bill S-14 would only make it better.
I would like to first establish where we are now; that is, firmly committed to combatting foreign corruption in all its guises. Our government's approach to tackling foreign bribery centres on two main thrusts, its prevention and its enforcement. This draws on contributions from a wide spectrum of stakeholders including federal departments, crown corporations and other agencies, all of whom collaborate closely. These actors have all worked constructively together to develop and implement the range of regulatory and legislative tools already in place to advance this worthy and indeed critically important cause. Canada is truly engaged in a whole of government approach to combatting corruption.
Clearly, the best means of addressing corruption is working to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Consultation and outreach figure heavily in such preventative work, and a number of government stakeholders are already engaged in this area. I would like to highlight a few of them and their contributions.
The Department of Foreign Affairs, for one, looks to prepare its diplomats to deal with the issues of corruption, before they serve abroad. Through the provision of information and training, the department educates its ambassadors and political and trade stream officers concerning the Canadian Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act and Canada's international obligations in the area of corruption.
In March 2010, DFAIT adopted and provided to its missions around the world the policy and procedure for reporting allegations of bribery abroad by Canadians or Canadian companies. That policy was adopted and circulated to provide guidance to Canada's missions on what they should take as appropriate measures when confronted with allegations that a Canadian business or individual had bribed or attempted to bribe a foreign public official and/or committed other bribery-related offences. The policy essentially instructs Canadian officers at mission to relay any such information received to departmental officials back in Ottawa, who in turn transmit the information to law enforcement authorities here, as per an established set of standard operating procedures.
It should also be noted that DFAIT regularly dispatches its legal officers abroad to deliver presentations and serve as panellists in various fora with a view to advancing the anti-corruption cause and building awareness of the wide range of Canadian activity in this area. As just one example, Canadian legal experts from DFAIT delivered a presentation to the 2011 Conference of the States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption concerning legal mechanisms for freezing the assets of corrupt foreign officials and for combating the bribery of foreign public officials.
As noted earlier, DFAIT is joined by other departments and stakeholders in such important preventative work. Public Works and Government Services Canada, for example, recently added the bribing of a foreign public official under the CFPOA to the list of offences that render companies and individuals ineligible to bid on contracts. That change became effective in November 2012, and it is hoped that it will serve as an added deterrent to companies and individuals contemplating or engaging in such activity.
Our government, through the combined initiative of several federal departments, also took steps in early 2012 to host a workshop in Ottawa on the subject of foreign bribery, with invited experts from various sectors including NGOs, academic institutions, Canadian companies and law firms. The workshop, entitled “New Ideas for Canada's Fight Against Foreign Bribery” was designed to help innovate and develop better measures for enhancing efforts in this area and saw more than 30 participants join officials in a discussion of several foreign bribery-related areas of interest.
The consultation covered topics such as the recognition of and resistance to the solicitation of bribery, voluntary disclosure, books and records offences, the discouragement of facilitation payments, advocacy concerning SMEs, education, training and focused awareness raising, as well as a discussion of the possibility of amending the CFPOA.
The consultation enabled the government to register preventative messaging with Canadian companies first-hand and to really contemplate how to best improve the enforcement of the CFPOA and seek stakeholder support in working to prevent bribery before it occurs and to detect it when it does. The workshop provided a pivotal platform for enhanced engagement and co-operation with these stakeholders as we look to upgrade efforts in this area. We continue to draw on the invaluable input received. The amendments before us today reflect some of that solicited feedback, and we will probably mine some of the good ideas heard for some time to come.
Prevention is only half of the story. Our government is working hard to ensure that we effectively enforce what already exists in the way of legislation and other instruments established to advance the fight against foreign corruption.
Of course the legislative centrepiece of Canada's work on foreign corruption is the CFPOA, which has been in force since 1999. I believe we are all familiar by now with the reasons for the CFPOA's development and its role in honouring Canada's international obligations in this area, as well as the principal purposes it serves and the main activities it criminalizes. I will not repeat those here.
Rather, I would like to use some of my time today to very briefly flag the indispensable contributions that our key law enforcement agencies are making to the enforcement of that existing legislation governing the corruption of foreign public officials. The RCMP serves as the primary enforcement body for the CFPOA and since 2008 has had an international anti-corruption unit in place enforcing and raising awareness about the CFPOA. With teams placed in both Ottawa and Calgary, the latter owing to its position as the largest hub for Canada's extractive industries and related business, this unit would only get better and more effective with the benefit of Bill S-14's enactment.
The Public Prosecution Service of Canada works hand in hand with the RCMP to tackle corruption. Since 2006 and its creation, the PPSC has stationed one of its counsel in Ottawa with the explicit mandate to advise and assist the RCMP's two teams in Ottawa and Calgary with their anti-corruption investigations. This collaboration is paying off. We have seen 3 convictions, and there are another 2 cases pending and 35 more under investigation. The penalties are increasing significantly with each conviction, and we can expect this trend to continue as our legislation gets tougher and we get better at identifying and holding these offenders to account. We are on the right track, and Bill S-14 would only drive us further in that positive direction.
Having touched on what exists already and where we are at, I would like to turn now to where we are going next. Bill S-14 is fundamental to our continued progress, and these reforms would make a significant contribution to our ongoing work to ensure that Canadian companies refrain from bribing foreign public officials and continue to act in accordance with the highest legal and ethical standards in the pursuit of freer markets and expanded global trade. This bill is compelling evidence of our government's commitment to this work, and its passage would send a crystal clear signal to other countries of our expectation that they should hold their own companies to the same account.
These six amendments seek to introduce nationality jurisdiction, specify which authority can lay charges, eliminate the facilitation payments exception, clarify the scope of the CFPOA, increase the maximum penalty and create a new books and records offence.
If I may, perhaps I will just refresh the House's memory as to what each of these amendments would provide for, in turn.
The first amendment, which would introduce nationality jurisdiction, seeks to expand the limited reach of the existing act. The CFPOA's current requirement that the prosecution demonstrate a “real and substantial link” between Canadian territory and the offence charged effectively acts to circumscribe the number of corruption cases we can bring to justice. The assertion of nationality jurisdiction would allow us to tackle possible foreign bribery engaged in by Canadians or Canadian companies regardless of where that bribery might take place, by enabling us to prosecute them on the basis of their Canadian nationality alone.
The second amendment would provide the RCMP exclusive authority to lay charges under the act. This would permit the RCMP to ensure that there is a uniform approach taken to the pre-charge stages of the CFPOA cases throughout Canada. It would also put Canadian businesses on notice that it is clearly the RCMP that is the lead law enforcement agency as far as investigations are concerned.
The third amendment proposes to eliminate the facilitation payments exception currently provided for under the CFPOA. In essence, any payments made to expedite or secure the performance by a foreign public official of any act of a routine nature do not constitute bribes for the purposes of the current act. Such facilitation or grease payments to move along a foreign public official's performance of something he or she is already beholden to perform are plainly open to abuse and should also be characterized as bribes, which are payments specifically made to extract a business advantage and are already illegal under the act.
Indeed, bribes are illegal under the legislation of every OECD country. This is important in light of any concerns that this amendment would place Canadian companies at a competitive disadvantage internationally. As noted in the bill, the entry into force of the specific amendment would be delayed to further address any such concern in recognition of the fact that some other countries continue to permit facilitation payments and, most importantly, to provide Canadian companies with a fair and reasonable amount of time to adjust their own practices, internal policies and operations should that prove necessary.
The fourth amendment, which proposes the elimination of the words “for profit” from the definition of business would ensure that the reach of the CFPOA is not unduly restricted. It clarifies that the scope of the CFPOA is plainly not limited to bribes paid to for-profit enterprises or in the course of profitable businesses. This is key if we are target those who pay bribes on behalf of companies that may not earn a profit in a given year, as well as organizations with a not-for-profit raison d'être. These entities would be caught within this proposed change.
The fifth amendment is straightforward: an increase in the maximum jail term for a foreign bribery offence under the act to 14 years. It is currently set at five. The current possibility of unlimited fines for such offenders would remain untouched.
The new books and records offence that composes the sixth proposed amendment is meant to prevent individuals and companies from cooking the books. While there are offences under the Criminal Code that criminalize the falsification of books and records, they are not specific to foreign bribery. Canada is required to put such specific measures in place in order to honour its obligations under international anti-corruption treaties to which it is a party. The amendment would add another enforcement measure to our tool kit and would be punishable by a maximum of 14 years' imprisonment and unlimited fines; the same severity that is in place for the offence of foreign bribery.
Bill S-14 was adopted by the other place as tabled and I would offer that it is plainly in the national interest that the House do the same. If adopted, the amendments I have just described would clearly and unequivocally demonstrate to interested parties in Canada and abroad that corruption is simply not the Canadian way of doing business, nor should it be the way of doing business anywhere. Ensuring a level playing field for international business is crucial to the global fight against foreign bribery. Legislation such as Bill S-14 is vital if economic growth and expanding global trade and prosperity are to flourish. Indeed, foreign bribery works to undermine that growth, trade and prosperity and to corrode the rule of law that is the foundation for the market freedom so absolutely vital to a trading nation such as Canada.
Bill S-14 seeks to ensure that our companies continue to embrace the highest legal and ethical standards in pursuing their business internationally. Canadians expect no less, and rightly so. Our government firmly believes that Canada can compete with the best and win fairly. Bill S-14 is an expansion of that belief and of our twin commitment to both strengthening the fight against corruption and securing jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity for all Canadians. I ask all hon. members in the House to work with us to ensure its passage into law as quickly as possible.
View Paul Dewar Profile
NDP (ON)
View Paul Dewar Profile
2013-06-18 10:36 [p.18511]
Mr. Speaker, we have certainly talked a lot about corruption recently in this place. As I have mentioned before, it is interesting that this bill on corruption comes from the Senate.
Let us look at what this bill would do. It is trying to bring us up to speed with other countries. There are some problems because it actually does not go far enough. My colleague will know where Canada ranks in terms of transparency internationally and it is low. We need to go further. We on this side have said that we need to strengthen our transparency measures. A communiqué came out of the G8 and we will be interested to see where Canada stands.
My question is this. Is this all the government is intending to do? It is clearly not enough. We have had only three cases of corruption dealt with in the last number of years, which I believe the member mentioned in his comments. We need to not only strengthen and amend the legislation, but go further. Is the government satisfied with just this? Is this going to be the status quo and is the government okay with it? Second, with respect to enforcement, we cannot deal with corruption unless we dedicate resources. The government has cut resources to deal with this issue, be it in the Department of Justice or the Canada Revenue Agency where it has cut resources.
I will summarize my two questions. First, is this all the government has on corruption and, second, what about enforcement?
View Bob Dechert Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bob Dechert Profile
2013-06-18 10:38 [p.18511]
Mr. Speaker, as the member knows from the hearings at the foreign affairs committee, this legislation arose out of some criticisms that were made about the current Canadian legislation by the OECD in its report in 2008.
We heard testimony from a number of witnesses, including Ms. Janet Keeping, president, Transparency International Canada, that this legislation addressed those criticisms that were raised in the OECD report. That was also reiterated and confirmed by government officials who had drafted the legislation based on the OECD report.
It does address the outstanding issues with our current Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. In addition, the government has created the special enforcement unit at the RCMP to deal specifically with foreign bribery. There 50 staff members working there, in Ottawa and Calgary. There are also special legal experts at the Department of Foreign Affairs and at other departments, such as the Department of Justice, who are made available to the RCMP and all government departments to deal with allegations of foreign corruption.
There is always more that can be done. The Prime Minister made a very important announcement on transparency in London last week, and legislation will be coming forward with respect to requiring Canadian companies to disclose what payments they make to foreign governments.
There is always more that can be done. We are certainly open to suggestions from that hon. member, his party and any international organization that sees a way we can improve our legislation. Of course, this is a key to Canada succeeding as a trading nation. Canadians can compete fairly and succeed, they do every day, and we want to enforce that all the time.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2013-06-18 10:40 [p.18511]
Mr. Speaker, I think my hon. colleague will agree that Canada's international mining presence is a major driver in our economy. We can actually set the standards for what could be seen as the best in the world.
Unfortunately, Canada's reputation has suffered because of the actions of some bad actors. They have damaged the legitimate companies and damaged our interests. It is really important that the government takes this seriously, to show the world that the Canadian standard is something that we should be proud of.
I would like to ask my hon. colleague a question in terms of the issue of bribery and corruption. We have very large corporate interests overseas, but we also have the small players. It is some of the small players that have gotten us into trouble. Should we be looking at different thresholds for what has to be revealed? For smaller players, 10,000 euros could be a huge amount of money in terms of getting a deal, as opposed to 100,000 euros. A lot of the areas that they are moving into could be bandit countries so money is being used all the time to grease wheels.
I would like to ask the member about thresholds for development, the development companies, the smaller players, the juniors versus the bigger players, and whether we need two standards.
The other question is on enforcement. It is happening overseas. It is happening in some pretty rough-and-tumble places where the rule of law simply does not exist. How do we ensure that we have the transparency to be able to say that we will hold these companies to account?
View Bob Dechert Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bob Dechert Profile
2013-06-18 10:41 [p.18511]
Mr. Speaker, the member is right that Canadian companies are amongst the largest and most prolific in the extractive industries in the world. A statistic I heard recently was that 50% of all the major mining companies in the world are actually Canadian-based, which I think is something to be very proud of.
The member mentioned threshold levels. I am not quite sure what he is referring to. The legislation does not set any minimum amount for bribery. All bribery is illegal, whether it is $1 or many millions of dollars. We do not have any minimum standard. We expect all Canadian companies, large and small, to live up to the highest ethical standard.
There is a very strict focus on small and medium-sized enterprises. I mentioned that in my speech earlier. We have done a lot of training and outreach to small and medium-sized enterprises across Canada to make sure they are also aware of the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act and their obligations thereunder.
We will continue to do so. Enforcement is important. As I said, there are 50 individuals in the RCMP, based in Ottawa and Calgary, and legal officers who are looking at the corruption of foreign public officials full-time, ensuring that Canadian companies, large and small, continue to live up to the highest ethical standards.
View Julian Fantino Profile
CPC (ON)
View Julian Fantino Profile
2013-06-18 10:43 [p.18512]
Mr. Speaker, as someone who has come from a law enforcement background, I can well appreciate and fully support the thrust of this bill, what it intends to do and how it is in keeping with the kinds of standards that we are employing in our dealings with development aid and so forth.
Could my colleague also speak to the co-operation that I know exists between the international law enforcement community and the Canadian enforcement community? How would Canadian enforcement of this initiative play into the international law enforcement community to investigate, track and chase down some of these allegations and the need for international investigations?
View Bob Dechert Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bob Dechert Profile
2013-06-18 10:44 [p.18512]
Mr. Speaker, Canada and the RCMP are members of Interpol. We have officers stationed with Interpol in various places around the world. We co-operate with Interpol and other foreign police forces to deal with allegations of bribery.
In addition, all of our diplomats abroad have been specifically trained on the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act and investigate any allegation they hear from anyone in the countries where they serve. Any Canadian or Canadian business involved in bribery or attempted bribery is reported to the RCMP, which then takes it forward with its counterparts in whatever country the bribery is alleged to have taken place.
It is obviously very important that international police forces co-operate very closely on these types of allegations to ensure that the evidence is discovered to bring forward successful prosecutions. I believe that is happening now. That is why we have seen several successful prosecutions recently and I understand there are at least 35 more investigations currently under way.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2013-06-18 10:45 [p.18512]
Mr. Speaker, I will certainly support the bill. I think Canada needs to bring our enforcement standards to the level that the OECD would see as the highest level of enforcement.
My question is a more general one. I think we have to face the fact that we have some problems that we never thought we would see as Canadians where corruption is becoming a larger issue. People are seeing it. We have the instance of SNC-Lavalin, we know that AECL used officials in the past. They say they were arm's-length, but we did have a South Korean contractor go to jail for the work in trying to entice that country to buy a CANDU reactor.
We have fallen on the Transparency International corruption index from sixth place, but we are still among the best in the world at tenth place, but at the time when we see charges of bribery and arrests of municipal officials in different places across Canada, we have seen a disturbing trend of lack of ethics, the kinds of things that are not governed by a rule book, but come from the sense that we actually care about how we are seen in the world and conduct ourselves in ways we would be proud for our children to hear about, not just in the way that we hope we are alright if we do not get caught.
Is there something more than can be done in terms of leadership to clean up our act as a society and practise good ethics, habituate ourselves to values instead of to vices in the way we organize our lives?
View Bob Dechert Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bob Dechert Profile
2013-06-18 10:47 [p.18512]
Mr. Speaker, enforcement is very important. The Prime Minister made a very important announcement in London last week about legislation that will be presented soon requiring Canadian companies to disclose all payments that they make to foreign governments. That is a big step forward.
The enforcement provisions under Bill S-14 and its penalty provisions are very important. They would be among the highest penalties in the world. Some have wondered why they should be. In fact, the penalties under Bill S-14 would be higher in some cases than the penalties for domestic corruption, but that just means that the Canadian Criminal Code probably needs to be updated as well.
We are setting the bar higher with the bill and we are sending a clear and strong message to Canadian companies and to people all around the world that Canada will not tolerate this kind of corruption, either here at home or abroad.
Another measure that I mentioned in my speech is that Canadian companies that engage in foreign bribery and are convicted of foreign bribery will no longer be able to bid on Canadian government contracts. That is a huge disincentive for them to do these kinds of things abroad. We think the combined suite of penalties and enforcement mechanisms we are introducing today would send a really strong message to Canadian companies and everyone in the world they need to compete fairly and ethically to succeed.
View Paul Dewar Profile
NDP (ON)
View Paul Dewar Profile
2013-06-18 10:48 [p.18512]
Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak, yet again, to Bill S-14. We on this side of the House have mentioned before that we support the bill. We believe that we could go further, as I mentioned in my comments and questions to the parliamentary secretary.
As I have done with all of these bills, I have to start off with our concern and my concern about the way the bill came to us. We have a bill on foreign corruption that has come to us from the other place. When a bill has an “S” in front of the bill number, it is an indication that it comes from the Senate. It has been said numerous times since we have been debating the bill that the government should have seen fit to start this bill here in the House. After all, the elected representatives, I think, are the best people to actually look at corruption, notwithstanding what is happening in the other place, speaking of corruption. Every day there is another story of corruption in the other place. I have to start by underlining that point.
The government seems to not even blush anymore when bills are sent over from the other place. At least on this bill, it should show some contrition that there is a bill, an act to amend the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, that would crack down on foreign corruption, yet it comes from the other place, an unelected body, that is mired in corruption right now.
It is rather stark to see this happening with the current government, which claimed that it was going to be different. Now it has become just like the other guys. The government brings in closure and uses the Senate, abuses the Senate, to do its toil. That is what the government has done with Bill S-14. No one even blushes anymore. It is just business as usual with the current government. It uses the Senate to do its bidding, even on something as important as foreign corruption.
The bill itself, as has been mentioned, would simply bring us up to the minimum standard of our allies. The government was embarrassed by our critique, on this side of the House, in terms of how the standards of our companies abroad have fallen in terms of enforcement on corruption and corporate social responsibility. We just saw a news report last night about what happened in Bangladesh. We should not forget that. The NDP called for hearings at the foreign affairs committee. We would like to see more done on that.
It is about Canada getting back into the game and actually leading. The bill does not go far enough.
I will just give a quick résumé. The bill would make four major changes to the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.
It would increase the maximum sentence, as was mentioned by the parliamentary secretary.
It would eliminate the exception for so-called facilitation payments, which is basically paying someone to grease the wheels to get a contract moving. Interestingly, we saw allegations of that happening in Montreal. Maybe we should be applying those rules more forcefully here. Maybe the government should be taking a look at who its candidates are when it recruits them and who it hires as staff when ministers hire ex-candidates. Hopefully, it will do a better job on that.
The bill would also create a new offence for falsifying or concealing books or records. We just received a communiqué from the G8, which came out half an hour ago. In fact, if the government is going to live up to what it has signed on to, it would actually have to amend the bill further, because there is an incentive in this communiqué for the government to do more in this area and to be more transparent in terms of books and records.
The fourth part of the bill would establish national jurisdiction such that Canadian nationals could be prosecuted for offences under the act that are committed overseas. They cannot go overseas and do something they could not do here.
I think it is important to put it into context. As I mentioned, we just received the communiqué from the G8 conference. It touches on many of the aspects we are dealing with in Bill S-14. It is a 10-point communiqué. I am not going to read all 10 points, because they are not all directly related to the bill we are debating.
The first point the G8 leaders signed on to is that “[t]ax authorities across the world should automatically share information to fight the scourge of tax evasion”.
When we talk about the corruption of foreign officials, a lot has to do with the way money moves around. I am delighted to see that this is in the communiqué. We will see if the government takes this seriously.
Second is that countries “should change rules that let companies shift their profits across borders to avoid taxes, and multinationals should report to tax authorities what they pay where”. This has been mentioned already by the parliamentary secretary. It would mean more transparency of companies' operations.
Third is that “[c]ompanies should know who really owns them and tax collectors and law enforcers should be able to obtain this information easily”. If we do not have this in place, the S-14 provisions would be very difficult to enforce, in some cases, because if we do not know who owns companies, we do not know who is influencing the companies. We do not have a full profile. In other words, if we were trying to establish that there was a payment to a company official, and we did not know who the company belonged to, it would be very difficult to prosecute.
We have heard from the G8 meetings that Canada was fighting this. We should be fighting back and getting the government to comply. It turns on the issue of beneficial ownership. That means that a company is hidden behind a shell. What the G8 is looking at, and what Mr. Cameron is pushing for and what number three in the communiqué is about, is that there be full disclosure. Companies can no longer have this parlour trick of hiding behind beneficial ownership. That means having a public registry of all companies showing exactly who owns them. We do not have that right now. Prime Minister Cameron said, “Personally, I would hope the whole world will move towards public registers of beneficial ownership”.
Aid agencies say that private registries would be second best. In other words, there would be a registry, but it would not be public; it would be in government. We are hearing that only the U.K. and the U.S. have committed to having public registries.
I hope the government will take this seriously, because if we are to deal with foreign corruption, we have to have transparency. If we are serious about this communiqué we have signed on to, we have to have a public registry of all companies, who owns them and where they sit. Otherwise, we will not be able to live up to the spirit of transparency.
Fourth is that “[d]eveloping countries should have the information and capacity to collect the taxes owed them—and other countries have a duty to help them”. This is critical when it comes to the issue of being able to influence foreign officials. What we often hear, on the ground, in emerging or developing economies is that officials are able to take advantage of their power to approve projects, et cetera, mainly because there is not a requisite tax system with the proper enforcement and oversight, so they can get away with it. This is what leads to corruption, because there is no proper oversight.
This is extremely important, because obviously, it would help benefit their citizens. It is also a way to deal with the potential for corruption. If there is full disclosure and sunlight, if you will, on who owes taxes and whether they have been paid, it is a disincentive for officials to use their power for corruption.
The fifth point is very important for us in the NDP: “Extractive companies should report payments to all governments—and governments should publish income from such companies”.
We have heard a positive message from the government that it will get behind this. We need to see legislation. From what we have seen and heard from the government, there is no requirement that these reports are to be made public. It is important that we fully embrace transparency and not go just halfway.
By the way, mining companies have said that they would sign on to this. I am hoping that all the extractives will get behind it.
Number six is very near and dear to my heart. It states: “Minerals should be sourced legitimately, not plundered from conflict zones”. As members know, this is the whole issue of conflict minerals. In places like the eastern part of the Congo, where there are human rights abuses and massive corruption, it is a conflict zone. Minerals that go into all of our devices, such as BlackBerrys and cell phones, come from a conflict zone. In essence, we are all, unknowingly for many people, carrying a piece of a conflict in our electronics, because we do not have the proper sourcing of minerals.
What the communiqué says is that “Minerals should be sourced legitimately, not plundered from conflict zones”. This is a challenge to the government. Are the Conservatives going to get on board? Bill C-486, which I put forward, would allow us to comply with what we have seen in the United States with Dodd-Frank. Legislation is in place to ensure that all minerals are from legitimate sources and are not aiding and abetting conflict. The Europeans are moving in this direction. The OECD, which we talked about in terms of this bill, has provided guidelines on ensuring that there is proper and appropriate oversight when it comes to sourcing minerals.
The sixth point is very important, and it is something I have worked on with a lot of people, including people in this place, to get Canada on board and at least get us up to the standard that has been established by others.
Number seven is very important: “Land transactions should be transparent, respecting the property rights of local communities”. When it comes to the corruption of foreign officials, one of the biggest trends we have seen in the last while is the acquisition of land by foreign countries, particularly in developing countries. There is a massive land grab going on right now, particularly in Africa. I will name some countries. China is big into this right now. It is banking land, taking over land. We need to ensure that local communities are respected.
Let us be honest. We are not perfect here in Canada. When we talk about social licence for companies to do their work in extractives, oil and gas, we need to respect local communities. This is an extremely important and urgent issue in developing countries, because we are seeing massive land grabs. It is about food security and about certain countries banking land and keeping an eye on their needs for minerals, oil, gas, et cetera, and in some cases, even food.
Number eight states that governments should roll back some measures on trade that they think would be helpful for trade.
Number nine is about ensuring that things are streamlined, particularly at borders between countries. We certainly know that issue with respect to our friends south of the border. Mr. Speaker, representing your constituency, you do not have to be told that this is extremely important.
Number 10, the last part of the communiqué from the G8, states: “Governments should publish information on laws, budgets, spending, national statistics, elections and government contracts in a way that is easy to read and re-use, so that citizens can hold them to account”. That is actually for us. I am going to read that one again. It is cogent, because if we are going to talk about fighting corruption abroad, we need to be transparent at home. The G8 has signed on to this.
“Governments should publish information on laws, budgets”—think about the parliamentary budget officer here—“spending, national statistics”—this is very interesting, considering what we have done to Stats Canada—“elections and government contracts in a way that is easy to read and re-use, so that citizens can hold them to account”. Number 10 needs urgently to be brought into force here.
I have listed these G8 points that just came out in the communiqué, because as I said in my comments when I questioned the parliamentary secretary, this bill does not go far enough. If we are going to seriously deal with corruption abroad, and we are going to actually be leaders, then it is not good enough just to get up to a minimum standard. That is not the Canadian way. I feel that we are living in the past with the current government.
The way the current government seems to operate, and the parliamentary secretary said it well himself, is that the Conservatives brought forward Bill S-14 because the OECD had cited us as being laggards. It was not until that happened that the government decided to bring forward this legislation. That is not the Canadian way. We should be leading. We should be looking at our practices to see where we are in terms of other jurisdictions.
Everyone knew that we were laggards. Transparency International has been saying so for quite a while.
We can look at this 10-point communiqué of the G8. Are we going to at least meet the standard of our allies? I would like us to see us go further.
For instance, I am concerned when it comes to the issue that Prime Minister Cameron cited about companies being transparent about who owns them so that we can deal with tax evasion. We are hearing that Canada is not going to do that. We are not going to publicly publish who owns a company.
As I mentioned, we need to deal with corruption seriously. We need to have full daylight, and if the government is only going to go halfway on this initiative, we will again fall back. We will be back in this House debating a bill to bring the standard up yet again. The government should embrace what both the U.K. and the U.S. are planning to do and have public registries listing who owns which companies. It should stop the shell game, particularly this practice of “beneficial ownership”.
The point is to make sure that we are transparent when it comes to the extractive industry. The government talked about signing on to the initiative for ensuring that all payments made between foreign governments and Canadian companies are transparent, but to whom? Is the information going to be kept within government, or would it be public? Will we have to ATI to obtain it, or would government do what other governments have done and make it transparent?
As I mentioned before, we must ensure that we get up to the standard of other countries on the issue of conflict minerals so that we no longer are looking the other way when it comes to the sourcing of the supply chain for many of the things that we rely on in our technologies.
If we are serious about it, we would embrace these initiatives of being fully transparent on who owns what companies, being fully transparent and pushing transparency when sourcing minerals in the supply chain for our electronics, and being fully transparent about payments between companies and governments abroad. Then we would be at the same standard as our allies. If we do not meet that standard, then we will be left with what we are doing here, which is trying to catch up.
I will be a bit partisan: what we have seen from the Conservative government is that we have become laggards. We sign on to international treaties, but then we do not follow up with implementation that lives up to the treaty.
For example, we have been called out by Norway and the Red Cross on the fact that the cluster munitions treaty that we signed on to will be undermined by Bill S-10, the proposed implementation legislation, which we have debated. It would undermine this international treaty.
We must think about this for a second. The International Committee of the Red Cross never comes out and criticizes government, but they just did yesterday. It said that Bill S-10, the implementation bill for the cluster munitions treaty that we have signed on to, would actually undermine the treaty. It is shocking.
I am very concerned that when we sign on to this communiqué for the G8 that we actually follow up, live up to the spirit of what we have signed on to and not undermine it.
Another example when it comes to international treaties is the arms trade treaty we agreed to. Then we find the gun lobby taking it over from the government. It is astonishing.
Instead of embracing the future, these guys are living in the past. They are affecting our reputation. Instead of getting on board with progress, they are holding us back just because of their ideology.
Bill S-14 will be supported by the NDP simply because it is the least the Conservative government can do. However, what we want to see is full transparency. When we see the follow-up to the communiqué on the G8, we will be holding the current government to account to at least come up to the standard of our allies.
Personally, and I am sure I speak on behalf of my colleagues, we would like to see Canada lead and not be a laggard. It is something I think most Canadians want to see as well.
View Julian Fantino Profile
CPC (ON)
View Julian Fantino Profile
2013-06-18 11:09 [p.18515]
Mr. Speaker, I trust the member opposite knows better. Quite frankly, I find his broad-brush accusations of corruption in the other place obscenely disingenuous.
People who live in glass houses should not be casting stones. I happen to know that the overwhelming majority of Canadians, senators included, are decent, hard-working, honest people who deserve much more respect than the member opposite has decided to cast their way. For the member opposite to suggest otherwise is nothing more than a mean-spirited political exercise in character assassination.
In light of the member's self-defined righteous value system, can he then explain to Canadians how it is that his leader failed to immediately disclose his involvement in an attempted bribery offer some 17 years ago? How can the member consider such hypocrisy worthy of this honourable place?
View Paul Dewar Profile
NDP (ON)
View Paul Dewar Profile
2013-06-18 11:10 [p.18515]
Mr. Speaker, I did not mean to exercise the minister to the extent that he seems to be so exercised. I simply made a comment. I did not mention one senator.
I said it is ironic, irony being a literary device, that we are dealing with a bill, Bill S-10, which deals with corruption and which comes from the other place. That is all I said.
Maybe the member is feeling defensive about payments from the Prime Minister's chief of staff to a senator. I do not know what he calls it. I do not call it enlightened behaviour. I would call it enlightened behaviour when we have a party that calls upon us to bring ourselves up to an ethical standard and have integrity in how we do our business.
When a person makes a mistake, he or she owns up to it. We have not seen that from the Conservative government.
In case he was not listening carefully, I did not name any particular senator. I talked about the irony. I would encourage him not to get too exercised about it. Maybe I will use a metaphor later, but he should not take it personally.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2013-06-18 11:11 [p.18516]
Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the member could respond to the same question I asked the parliamentary secretary earlier.
I think we are seeing a general problem. I never thought I would see the day, for instance, when academics would forge their research in order to get grants. There is a decline in our general sense of "all I have is my good name", which people used to say in my grandfather's day. It used to mean something.
Celebrities seem to think that as long as they are in the media, it does not matter if the stories they are telling about themselves are good, bad or indifferent. The standard to which we hold ourselves is falling. There is no question about that.
The response from the minister was as if the member for Ottawa Centre had said something outrageous. Analogies, irony and metaphor have a place, even here.
My question to him is what would he do, and what would all Canadians do, when we hold up a mirror and look at ourselves, to know that Canada is the ethical country we think it is? How do we get rid of corruption, which seems to be on the increase across Canada?
View Paul Dewar Profile
NDP (ON)
View Paul Dewar Profile
2013-06-18 11:12 [p.18516]
Mr. Speaker, I want to touch on two aspects of my colleague's question. One is what we can do domestically. We need to be a lot more ethical in our standards, obviously, as politicians. We have to make sure that the people we appoint to senior posts are going to live up to that ethical standard.
In the case of Arthur Porter, here was someone who was appointed to essentially oversee national security and ensure that there was accountability there. Now we find him in a jail in Panama. That could have been avoided. We on this side think that we should have a public appointments commission that would allow for the vetting of appointments of senior officials.
However, the Conservatives are so stubborn on this issue. They just avoid it. They thought their guy, Gwyn Morgan, who they thought was somehow objective and unaffected by partisanship—and I leave it to others to look into that—was the only person out of 30 million who could do the job. Then they picked up their toys and went home. They killed the public appointments commission.
That is the problem with the current government. We should have that in place. We should have all ministerial staff abiding by an ethics code, as they do in the U.K. That was part of the NDP's platform in the last election. We should have ethical standards for advisers and we should have more accountability in ministers' offices. We should allow Parliament to be a little more autonomous from the executive branch. Clearly we have seen problems in that area with this government.
That would be a start. Maybe later on we could talk about what we could do internationally.
View Alain Giguère Profile
NDP (QC)
View Alain Giguère Profile
2013-06-18 11:14 [p.18516]
Mr. Speaker, corruption is an evil thing that is very similar to cancer. Unfortunately, when Canadian companies are allowed to get away with things too easily, once they become corrupt, it rubs off on the lives of Canadians as well as on our institutions and our representation.
All too often, at our embassies overseas—
View Joe Comartin Profile
NDP (ON)
View Joe Comartin Profile
2013-06-18 11:15 [p.18516]
I am sorry to have to interrupt the hon. member, but there is a translation problem. Can the member continue?
View Alain Giguère Profile
NDP (QC)
View Alain Giguère Profile
2013-06-18 11:15 [p.18516]
Mr. Speaker, the problem is that, unfortunately, at our embassies—
View Joe Comartin Profile
NDP (ON)
View Joe Comartin Profile
2013-06-18 11:16 [p.18516]
There is a problem with the equipment in the translators' booth, so we will suspend for a few minutes.
View Joe Comartin Profile
NDP (ON)
View Joe Comartin Profile
2013-06-18 11:24 [p.18516]
The hon. member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin has the floor and may continue with his question.
View Alain Giguère Profile
NDP (QC)
View Alain Giguère Profile
2013-06-18 11:24 [p.18516]
Mr. Speaker, if we are serious about fighting corruption, we should also discuss the often inappropriate behaviour of the Canadian government, which provides scholarships, immigration opportunities and jobs in our embassies to foreign students whose parents or families are associated with foreign governments.
Will our diplomats not only seek to enforce this legislation but also ensure that, ethically, they are beyond reproach?
View Paul Dewar Profile
NDP (ON)
View Paul Dewar Profile
2013-06-18 11:25 [p.18516]
Mr. Speaker, when we talk about accountability and oversight, it is important that all our officials abroad are going to be involved.
I heard the parliamentary secretary talk about the training of our diplomats to deal with issues like the one we are discussing today. However, it needs to have strong oversight when it comes to the government of the day being able to assure its citizens that everyone who is working abroad is doing it for the public good. That is why we have touched on the need for more ethics in ministers' offices, for instance. It is high time that the staff and advisors to ministers provide the highest ethical standards that they can provide to their ministers. We have asked to see that happen. The same has to happen with our diplomatic corps. We have to see that they are going to be abiding by the highest ethical standards.
However, I am more concerned now with the relationship between some who are involved in commerce abroad and dealing with foreign governments. The rules have not been clarified. Businesses will tell us that if there are clear rules they will follow them. The problem is that the government has not clarified the rules. We need to see more of that.
View Sylvain Chicoine Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague from Ottawa Centre for doing a great job as the foreign affairs critic for the official opposition. At the same time, I would say I am rather shocked that the minister has failed to recognize the hon. member's excellent work.
Indeed, judging by his question to my colleague, he seems to have been offended by some of the points he raised, yet my colleague was quite right when he said that this bill does not go far enough and will barely lift Canada out of Transparency International's bottom rankings, in terms of the transparency measures in its anti-corruption legislation.
My colleague mentioned several extremely interesting points. I would like him to talk about them a bit more. In particular, he stated that Canada is a laggard when it comes to bringing its legislation in line with the international treaties it signs. Often, Canada simply does not live up to these treaties.
What does my colleague think Canada can do to improve its image, which has taken a serious beating in recent years?
View Paul Dewar Profile
NDP (ON)
View Paul Dewar Profile
2013-06-18 11:28 [p.18517]
Mr. Speaker, simply put, we need to start living up to the treaties we sign. We need to make sure that when we bring in legislation to enact these treaties, we are not undermining them. We must also sign on to the ones we have agreed to, like the arms trade treaty.
That would perhaps get us going in providing more credibility in the international community. Our international image is suffering. The government is seemingly living in the past. It is time to get on with living in the real world and getting on with the standards that have been seen set by our allies.
On the G8, let us hope that this communiqué is not going to be just words and that we will see action from it.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-06-18 11:29 [p.18517]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to add my voice to the debate on Bill S-14, an act to amend the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.
This bills makes six much-needed amendments to the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. First, it would remove the words “for profit” from the definition of business so that bribes involving non-profits and charities are included in the act.
Second, it would increase the maximum sentence of imprisonment applicable to the offence of bribing a foreign public official, from the current maximum of 5 years in jail and unlimited fines, to 14 years in jail and unlimited fines.
Third, it would eliminate the exception contained in the act for what are called “facilitation payments”. These are payments for carrying out acts of a routine nature. That exception would be eliminated.
Fourth, it would create a new offence relating to books and records, and the bribing of a foreign public official or the hiding of that bribery.
Fifth, it would establish nationality jurisdiction that would apply to all of the offences under the act, so that all Canadians, permanent residents, Canadian companies, etcetera, can now be charged for crimes taking place in foreign countries.
Finally, it would designate the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as the agency with the exclusive ability to lay charges associated with the act. This specifically refers to the RCMP international anti-corruption unit.
These changes, as we have already heard, are meant to bring Canada in compliance with the OECD conventions on combatting bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions, which this country ratified in 1998, as well as other international obligations. The Liberal Party will be supporting this bill, as it did through the Senate.
Despite widespread calls for Canada to step up its foreign anti-bribery measures, during the seven years the Conservatives have been in power, they have only begun to deal with the shortcomings of this statute that they propose to fix by this bill.
Bill S-14 updates Canada's anti-corruption laws and puts them in line with Canada's international anti-bribery convention commitments made with the OECD, as well as others made through the United Nations and the Organization of American States. In addition to meeting our commitments to various anti-bribery conventions, Bill S-14 allows Canada to be a country that demonstrates a high level of ethical standards for other countries.
There are important preventative measures that governments should be taking to ensure the RCMP has the resources to successfully investigate cases that are relevant to Bill S-14. A private member's bill, Bill C-474, proposed by the Liberal member for Scarborough—Guildwood, is one such measure, but sadly it is being opposed by the government.
Bill C-474 would attempt to make revenue transparency the norm in resource extraction industries. This transparency would allow for Bill S-14 to be more preventative instead of reactive.
Bill S-14, presently before the House, would result in more prosecutions and convictions for foreign bribery offences. Canada is a bit of a laggard in this regard, even accounting for size differences in population and economy. Canada falls behind, having only prosecuted three cases compared to other major economies. There were 227 cases prosecuted in the United States, 135 in Germany, 35 in Switzerland, 24 in France, 18 in Italy, and 17 in the United Kingdom, as examples.
This bill, as was indicated, would amend the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, which was passed in 1998 and came into effect the next year. Its passage meant that Canada ratified the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. The Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act also implemented Canada's international obligations under the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption. In 2002, there were several technical amendments that were made to the act because of amendments to the relevant sections of the Criminal Code.
The OECD working group on bribery has produced at least three follow-up reports on Canada's progress. The phase 1 report was released in July of 1999, the phase 2 report in March of 2004, and the phase 3 report in 2011. Each one commented on Canada's progress and set out areas where Canada needed to improve to stay on par with its international neighbours.
The phase 1 report, in 1999, was focused on the implementation of the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. It was almost entirely positive. It stated that the working group was of the opinion that the Canadian act met the requirements set by the convention. It did address the issues that might need to be discussed during the phase 2 evaluation in 2004, including the exemption for “acts of a routine nature”, which are the facilitation payments that I referred to earlier; the effectiveness of the penalties, including monetary sanctions; and the lack of the nationality jurisdiction. All of these things that were referenced in that phase 1 report, in July 1999, are now contained in Bill S-14.
Five years later, the recommendations contained in the phase 2 report included the following: giving a coordinating role to one of the agencies responsible for the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act's implementation; reconsidering the subsection 3(4) exemption for facilitation payments, which I referred to earlier; redefining the word “business” in section 2 to include “not for profit”; and reconsidering the decision to not establish nationality jurisdiction for the crime of bribing foreign officials. Again, all of these recommendations from the working group have been included in the provisions of Bill S-14.
In 2008, the RCMP formed an international anti-corruption unit, which became responsible for investigating bribes of foreign officials. It has two seven-man teams, one in Ottawa and one in Calgary, the latter being the centre of Canada's resource extraction industry. They work with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, which does the prosecutions in foreign bribery cases. As of May of this year, there are 35 ongoing foreign bribery investigations. There have been only three convictions against companies in the oil and gas sectors, with fines of $9.5 million and $10.35 million in two of those cases.
As the House is aware, one was the case of Griffiths Energy International, an engineering company that had an inappropriate financial relationship with the wife of the former ambassador from Chad. Another case was Niko Resources, for bribing a Bangladeshi official. SNC-Lavalin, Canada's premier engineering firm, was recently convicted on bribery charges in Bangladesh and has been barred from competing for World Bank contracts for the next decade.
In 2009, an attempt to implement similar changes to those that are in the bill before us today passed at second reading. It was at committee stage when it died, after the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament in December of 2009.
That brings us to the phase 3 report of the OECD working group from a couple of years ago. This report again found problems in several areas. These included only counting bribes for the purpose of gaining a business advantage for profit. These sanctions were not effective, proportionate and dissuasive. The extraterritorial jurisdiction issue, which I mentioned in connection with the nationality jurisdiction, only applies to bribery carried out overseas if there is a real and substantial link to Canadian territory. Considerations of national economic interest, the potential effect upon relations with another state, or the identity of the natural or legal persons involved, are only prohibited if improper.
In 2011, the Transparency International Global Corruption Report noted that Canada fell in the lowest category of countries since it had little or no enforcement in terms of following the OECD bribery standards and was the lowest ranked member of the G7.
As indicated, the measures contained in Bill S-14 are long overdue and are needed to bring Canada in line with its international obligations. They are measures that the Liberals will be supporting.
View Libby Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
View Libby Davies Profile
2013-06-18 11:41 [p.18518]
Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to my hon. colleague's comments on this legislation. I certainly agree with him that the bill is long overdue.
I just wonder whether he also picked up on the communiqué from the G8 that my colleague from Ottawa Centre mentioned earlier in the debate. One of the items that he focused on in looking at the G8 communiqué was the need to have a public registry, a need to have much better transparency for companies operating abroad, and to get away from the practice of hiding behind a shell company. Even if we do want to enforce the law, it is hard to know on whom it should be enforced.
Does my colleague agree that we need to go further than this legislation and adopt measures such as a public registry to avoid shell companies being set up?
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-06-18 11:42 [p.18519]
Mr. Speaker, I share the concerns expressed by the member. With Canada being such a significant player in the resource extraction industry worldwide, this is a real opportunity not just to meet and to be level with its international obligations, but to lead. An excellent example was just cited with respect to transparency. The private member's bill brought forward by the member for Scarborough—Guildwood would go a long way toward that goal of Canada being an international leader in transparency and ethical conduct.
Often, it is not good enough just to be level. In our case, there is a real opportunity to lead. This is an opportunity that should be seized both with respect to the initiatives that emanated from the G8 and with respect to the initiatives contained in the private member's bill, Bill C-474.
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
NDP (QC)
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
2013-06-18 11:43 [p.18519]
Mr. Speaker, in its 2012 report, Transparency International indicated that active enforcement was a real way of combatting this type of foreign bribery. We also know that the RCMP is the body responsible for conducting these investigations and reporting the facts.
I would like to know what my colleague thinks about the cuts that have been made to the Canada Border Services Agency and the RCMP in successive budgets.
Can he elaborate on that?
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-06-18 11:44 [p.18519]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her question.
This remains a problem. Time and time again, budget cuts are being made to very important services that affect the public. We have here yet another example. These organizations need to have sufficient resources to accomplish essential tasks, such as the ones set out in this report.
Most of the time, there is a lack of consideration. Not enough good ideas are being put forward and not enough effort is being made before budgets are cut.
I absolutely share the concerns expressed by my colleague from the NDP that all too often with this single-minded focus on trying to balance the books as a result of the financial mess that we have been thrust into by the government, we see very important front-line services, very important international obligations, compromised because of some wrong-headed and misguided assessment of priorities.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2013-06-18 11:45 [p.18519]
Mr. Speaker, it seems that we are increasingly seeing bills come before us in the House that properly should have begun in the House and then gone to the Senate. I am finding it strange. It has been raised before, but I am wondering if the hon. colleague from Charlottetown, having served much longer than I have in this place, could shed light on how it is that we are seeing this increased number of bills coming from the Senate as opposed to originating where they should, in the House.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-06-18 11:46 [p.18519]
Mr. Speaker, I have very high regard for the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, but I need to commence with a correction. I have been in this House exactly the same amount of time as she, having been elected for the first time in May 2011. Because of that relative newness, I cannot speak from a position of experience with regard to whether it is normal or whether it is not normal for bills to be emanating from the Senate.
In my view, this bill is something that has gone partway through the House, but was killed by prorogation. The fact that it is back before us is important. The House has had an opportunity to scrutinize it. It is fair comment that perhaps it is a troubling pattern that there are so many bills emanating from the Senate, but because this one is necessary, I do not think that we should be preoccupied by the manner in which it came before us. It is important to have it here, to get it done and to get Canada on an equal playing field with its allies internationally.
View Djaouida Sellah Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, first, it is important to point out that this bill originated in the Senate. In a report released in 2011, Transparency International ranked Canada as the worst of all the G7 countries with respect to international bribery. The organization pointed out that Canada rarely, if ever, enforces its negligible anti-corruption legislation.
There have been only three convictions under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. Does my colleague agree that this is an embarrassment to our country?
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-06-18 11:49 [p.18519]
Mr. Speaker, if I understood correctly, the question pertains to Canada's standing in the world with respect to anti-corruption regulations. Of course, we should be concerned and perhaps even a little bit worried about this.
That is why it is important to adopt the measures set out in the bill. The hon. member has reason to be a bit concerned about Canada's standing, but that is also why she should support the bill. Of course, the bill is not perfect. The bill could and probably needs to be improved, but it is a good start.
View Joe Comartin Profile
NDP (ON)
View Joe Comartin Profile
2013-06-18 11:50 [p.18519]
Before resuming debate, I understand there is an intervention by the hon. government House leader on a question of privilege.
View Peter Van Loan Profile
CPC (ON)
View Peter Van Loan Profile
2013-06-18 11:50 [p.18519]
Mr. Speaker, I rise to respond briefly to last night's further intervention by the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands on the question of privilege respecting Bill C-54, the not criminally responsible reform act. My intervention will be brief and I hope it will be the final of many interventions on this point.
On the report tabled on Thursday, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage pointed out last night that the hon. Minister of Justice had sought, and did in fact receive, unanimous consent to table that document. For example, page 433 of the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, at footnotes 111, 112 and 113, notes several examples when documents have, with unanimous consent, been tabled in only one official language.
Mr. Speaker, in the case currently before you, the Minister of Justice sought such unanimous consent to table the report for the very reason that it was produced in only one official language. Otherwise, he would not have had to seek such consent in the first place. The minister did so in the fullness of transparency, to provide members with the document as quickly as possible. Of course, once the translation is complete, the document will be tabled in the other official language as well.
On the tabling of a Microsoft Word track changes version of the document, it is my understanding that this was deliberately chosen as the means by which the House could most easily, readily and quickly determine what had changed between the two versions of the report. Rather than the member opposite trying to ascribe the most nefarious possible motivation to the minister tabling the track changes version, I would suggest that he, instead, consider the most plausible explanation: the minister was simply trying to be as transparent as possible. What he did was provide the House with an easy-to-reference version specifically highlighting the differences. For those not satisfied with that, he also provided the website address where a clean print of the updated version of the report could be located.
It is important to bear in mind that the original version of the report, which I will note was marked as final by the author in November 2012 and with consent to release, as tabled in a response to Order Paper Question No. 1169, was upward of 200 pages in length, thus making the need for track changes or the benefit of track changes rather obvious.
On the matter of the response to Order Paper Question No. 1169, I would refer to what was asked in the order paper question itself. In paragraph (a), the government was asked for certain information relied upon “in developing this legislation”. That is a very important part of the question. The material that was provided in answer to that was the earlier version of the report. I am left wondering how data received well after second reading debate started—that is, the revised report—could be responsive to a question related to the development of the bill, which was the question on the order paper.
Despite that, my colleague should be commended for noting in his response to that order paper question that a revised version of the report had been received. Therefore, not only was he responsive to the question, he was also transparent and open at the same time.
Finally, the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands offered some comments on a systemic remedy, which he proposed. Despite his creativity, I disagree that there is a prima facie case of privilege to be found here. As such, I need not respond further to his suggestion on how to craft an order of reference to the procedure and House affairs committee.
View Libby Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
View Libby Davies Profile
2013-06-18 11:54 [p.18520]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill S-14, an act to amend the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, and as we are debating this at second reading, it still has to go to committee.
I have listened with interest to the debate in the House today. It appears that all parties will be supporting this bill. We are debating it in principle but, nevertheless, it is important for us to go through the bill to examine it, as we should all legislation, and then it will go to committee.
I want to begin by saying that these last few weeks in the House have been particularly difficult because the government has used time allocation, a form of closure, I think 47 times, if I am keeping the tab correctly. It is really quite incredible that so much legislation has been rushed through.
We serve our constituents in this place. We do our work in the constituency, but our role in this House is due diligence in examining legislation and going through it. Even if we are going to support it, we have to go through it. That is part of holding the government to account in our parliamentary democracy, so it is very disturbing that we see the pattern over and over again. It has become routine. Other colleagues in the House have commented earlier that bills are now pro forma. We are expected to have a couple of hours of debate and take a cursory look, and then there is a time allocation for going through committee, report stage, and third reading. It is all established by timelines.
As members well know, that is not the way to do parliamentary business.
I wanted to begin my remarks with that because, as someone who has been around here a few years, I have watched the erosion of parliamentary and democratic practice in this House.
I can almost hear the voice of Bill Blaikie in my head, the former member for Winnipeg—Transcona. He was one of those folks in this place who had the long-term memory to know what had changed over the years. When change happens incrementally, just a little snippet at a time, it is difficult to get that overview. I think it would be useful one day to have that overview and to actually look at how much certain practices have changed in the House, say, from 10 years ago or 20 years ago. I think we would all be quite shocked, actually, no matter what matter party we belong to.
In any event, we are debating this particular bill today.
I want to begin by saying, as others have remarked today, that the bill is long overdue. Canada has, really, an embarrassing record on corruption overseas, in terms of lack of legislation.
As many have pointed out today, Transparency International, a very credible organization that monitors corruption and bribery in terms of what happens in different places in the world, in its 2011 report, ranked Canada as the worst of all the G7 countries with regard to international bribery. It pointed out that we had little or no enforcement, based upon the very minimal legislation we had.
There is no question that this is absolutely long overdue. It begs this question. Why does it take so long?
We look at the legislative agenda and look at all of the little boutique bills that come through on the Criminal Code, when they do not need to happen. Why has it taken so many years for something as major as this, which would deal with crime and corruption? Why has it taken so many years for anything to come forward? Where is the balance here? Where are the priorities? We are sort of pulling apart the Criminal Code clause by clause and adding in more mandatory minimum sentences. We have had so many Conservative backbencher bills, yet with something as major as this, in terms of Canada's role in the international community, we are hauled on the carpet by an organization that monitors international bribery and corruption, which has said, “You guys have got a pretty bad record; in fact you're basically the worst of all of the highly industrialized countries”. This is an embarrassment.
Further, there have only been three convictions in the last number of years, in fact, since 1999, and two of those were in the last two years. This is a pretty appalling record.
Suffice it to say I am glad, at least, that we are debating this bill today. At least the bill would take some steps.
Just to focus for a moment on what this bill would do, for those who are watching the debate, there would be four main changes to the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. One of them would be to increase the maximum sentence of imprisonment applicable to the offence of bribing a foreign public official from five to fourteen years. That is a fairly significant change.
The second change in the bill would eliminate an exception that had been in operation for what is called facilitation payments, where foreign officials are paid to expedite the execution of their responsibilities. I will come back to this, because there are some concerns about it. While we agree that this exception should be eliminated, we have to examine the impact of that, for example, on NGOs that are operating in extremely difficult circumstances in political environments that are very risky and where they have to provide payments to get essential emergency humanitarian goods through—for example, going through police checkpoints. One does have to find that balance.
Third, the bill would create a new offence for falsifying or concealing books or records in order to bribe or conceal bribery of a foreign official. This is a very important change in terms of ensuring that transparency goes right the way down the line.
Finally, the bill would establish a nationality jurisdiction that would apply to all of the offences under the act. What this means is that Canadian nationals could be prosecuted for offences that are committed overseas. Again, that is a very important measure.
I want to say very clearly that New Democrats have long supported clear rules that require transparency and accountability by both Canadian individuals and corporations overseas. In fact, the NDP has had a number of bills in this regard. One of my colleagues, the member for Burnaby—New Westminster, had Bill C-323, which would allow lawsuits in Canadian courts by non-Canadians for violations of international obligations. The member for Ottawa Centre had Bill C-486, which would require public due diligence by companies using minerals in the Great Lakes region of Africa.
These are very important issues for Canadians, because we know that the extraction industry in Canada and the way it operates overseas is a major business concern. The way those companies do business is something of great concern to Canadians in terms of ethical practices. We have seen many movements here in Canada, including NGOs, the labour movement and individual citizens who have made sure they became active on this issue.
I want to point out something about a bill we voted on not that long ago, Bill C-300, which was a Liberal member's bill. When I raised transparency in the debate, the Liberal member for Charlottetown who replied to me pointed to Bill C-300 as another attempt to bring about better transparency and corporate accountability in foreign practices.
What is really interesting, and I am sure many members here will remember, is that it was defeated in part because 13 Liberal members voted against it. I remember the bill when it came up. There was intense advocacy for the bill from major NGOs across the country. They did an incredible job. The bill itself was very reasonable. It laid out basic standards for practice. However, there was, of course, a lobby against the bill. It was really quite shocking that 13 Liberal members voting against the bill resulted in the bill being defeated by a mere 6 votes.
We actually did come close to having that bill go through the House of Commons. I know that many of the organizations and individuals that had supported the bill were quite shocked that it had been defeated and were hugely disappointed about the amount of energy, time and effort that had gone into it.
It was a wonderful example of how Canadians look beyond their own border, look globally to see what Canada is doing. They had paid great attention to the need for Canadian corporations, companies and businesses to be accountable, to engage in ethical practices and to ensure there is not bribery and exploitative practices taking place in terms of labour rights or the environment.
These are things Canadians are actually very concerned about. I always feel very inspired when I see these organizations and people, whether they are putting out petitions or sending us emails. People really care about what we do in other parts of the world. We care about whether or not people are being exploited.
Just a little while ago, my colleague from Ottawa Centre talked about the situation in Bangladesh. I saw the story too, last night on CBC, and it is gut-wrenching and it makes us want to jump up and ask what we have to do to make sure these kinds of terrible, appalling conditions no longer exist.
We are talking about thousands of people who lose their lives because they work in terrible conditions where safety is disregarded, where people are not paid decent wages. If we layer on top of that all of the bribery and corruption that goes on, this is a multi-billion dollar business in terms of corruption and unethical practices.
I do not think the bill before us would address all of that, so the other bills we have before the House, particularly from the NDP members that I mentioned, are critical to ensuring there is a comprehensive approach to the way we are dealing with this situation.
We do have some concerns about the bill, which I would like to put on the record. assuming that the bill does get referred to committee. Because the bill would amend the definition of a business to now include not-for-profit organizations, we believe that this should be studied very closely at committee, and obviously witnesses need to be brought in to look at the impact of this particular change on charitable and aid organizations. As I mentioned earlier, the reality is that those organizations do sometimes, out of sheer necessity, have to make payments to expedite or achieve delivery of very essential items and humanitarian goods. This is something that is out there in the real world.
The bill is really tackling corruption and bribery, from the point of view that money is being made, money is being put in people's pockets and officials at embassies and so on are being bribed. That is what we are trying to get at, so I think we have to be very careful that we do not, by consequence, lay down a rule that could actually have a negative impact on organizations that are legitimately and in good faith trying to do very important work in some of these global areas where there is political, military and civil conflict going on. To make sure that kind of aid is delivered in a proper way is very important. We are hoping this issue would be examined more closely at committee.
The second item we think needs further examination is that the committee should also study the consequences of establishing an indictable offence punishable by up to 14 years in prison, because once 14 years is reached, it is actually the threshold at which conditional or absolute discharges of conditional sentences become impossible. It is obviously a much more serious penalty, and the committee, when it receives the bill, should examine that very carefully to make sure there is a balance in terms of our judicial system and conditional sentencing or the question of absolute discharges.
It is easy to make a blanket case, and again we have seen that so often with the Conservative government. It tends to make harsh, blanket rules that do not allow for discretion within our court system. Our court system has a history and a tradition of allowing judicial discretion, so judges can actually examine individual cases and the circumstances that warrant a harsher or a more lenient approach. That is what balance in the judicial system is about.
Therefore, one has to be very careful that in bringing forward new legislation we do not tip that balance and create a system that becomes so rigid that it becomes counterproductive. As the penalty is so harsh, people could end up pleading not guilty more frequently, or prosecutors may even be more reluctant to bring forward charges. There could be unintended consequences of having penalties that are so harsh. This is an issue that we think should be looked at in the bill. We support, in principle, the penalty being increased and the sentencing threshold being increased. However, we have to look more carefully at whether 14 years is the right cut-off.
Finally, in terms of changes that we think need to be looked at, there is the question of the rule on the facilitation payments that I spoke about earlier. We need to figure out how it impacts NGOs and non-profits. That issue would not be part of royal assent but rather would be under the consideration of cabinet, which is in the current text. That one aspect of the bill, if this bill were passed as is, would not go ahead with the rest of the bill. Therefore, that has to be examined. We need to know the reason that is being put aside. The discussion on the facilitation payments as they would impact NGOs might help inform that debate, but it is something we need to look at.
I also want to talk briefly about more current situations. We heard today from the member for Ottawa Centre, who updated the House on a communiqué he had received from the G8 that is currently taking place. It was quite interesting. He pointed out that in this communiqué the issues of corruption and transparency were quite prominent. His point was that we need to know that our own government is committed, not only to the words in these communiqués, but that it is actually going to follow up. I thought the member used a very good example when he spoke about international treaties that we sign for which there is no follow-up.
The example he used was Bill S-10 that was rushed through this House a few days ago, on cluster munitions. I was one of the people who spoke to that bill. The member pointed out very clearly in the debate on that bill that the NDP believes Bill S-10 would actually undermine the very international treaty that it is meant to be following up. The point is that when these communiqués come out and these commitments are made in places like the G8, we need to know they are actually going to be followed up. We need to know that those commitments mean something.
Again, we get back to this particular bill, Bill S-14, that has taken so long to come forward. Why has it taken so long? Why is there not a greater priority and emphasis on these kinds of bills? In the G8 communiqué, among the issues that were flagged, was the need to have greater transparency and a public registry.
The member for Ottawa Centre told us that one of the proposals is the need for a regime whereby companies would not be able to set up a shell company. Even if there is good legislation, if enforcement is to be taken on issues of bribery and corruption, it is very difficult. There could be a lack of political will, as I have just spoken about, or it could be that they are trying to figure out who the operatives are in a particular company. There is the idea of a public registry and the need for better transparency, as well as the notion that we should not allow elaborate legal complexities for the setting up of shell companies that in effect allow individuals and operatives to hide behind other entities. That makes it much more difficult to figure out who is doing what and where enforcement should be applied.
That is a very significant issue, and it is not covered in the bill, so it does show us that the bill does not go far enough. I think that was the member's point this morning.
Nevertheless, we are supporting the bill at second reading. We will pay great attention to it in committee. We will seek to improve the bill so that it lives up to its spirit and intent, which is ensuring that we tackle bribery and corruption by public officials in other countries.
View Deepak Obhrai Profile
CPC (AB)
View Deepak Obhrai Profile
2013-06-18 12:15 [p.18523]
Mr. Speaker, I was quite interested to understand that the NDP is going to be supporting the bill. To get the NDP to support any bill that deals with the growth of trade or business is quite welcome by our government, considering its opposition to all trade deals. However, we note also that, as usual, it has its caveats.
What is important is that this is a bill that would make Canadian companies accountable. We are talking about a public registry. Whenever a Canadian company is not accountable and it becomes a public issue, it is a message to other Canadian companies that the government and Canadians are very serious about transparency. That, by itself, would ensure that businesses comply with the legislation.
We are thankful that the NDP will be supporting it. Three convictions have already happened, and the publicity would ensure that Canadian companies will comply with transparency, as expected by all Canadians.
View Libby Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
View Libby Davies Profile
2013-06-18 12:16 [p.18523]
Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague with interest. I am a little surprised that he thinks three convictions over five years is a good track record. Surely, Canada can do better than that. That is a actually a bit shameful, to have such a minimal response from the Canadian government.
I would like to respond to my colleague by referring to what we heard today about the G8 communiqué, which he has likely seen because of the role that he has. We need a commitment from our federal government that it is going to live up to international treaties and that there is going to be follow-through, whether it is on this bill, or cluster munitions, or trade practices, or matters affecting human rights. The follow-through is so important, and I do not get that sense from the member.
He talks about accountability. He says the bill will send a message. However, if we do not follow it up with the proper enforcement and the transparency, then it is not worth the paper it is written on. Three convictions is not quite good enough.
View Wayne Marston Profile
NDP (ON)
Mr. Speaker, the speech from the member for Vancouver East, we would say is almost across the board. She has covered so many topics. However, when she started her speech she spoke of the fact that there have been so many time allocations in the House that our debate has been limited; I believe she said it has been 47 times.
The idea of this place and of committee is to take any bill that is put forward by anyone, be it a private member, government or the Senate, and to work together to try to make it better, yet what I find very troubling is that when we get into debate here, we oftentimes find that the government is not even engaging us. It asks the odd question, but government members are not getting up and giving speeches, putting forth a point of view and working back and forth on the bill.
In her remarks toward the end, she talked about NGOs that bring supplies to places, and refugees from Syria might be an example. They come into a country and NGOs have to pay a gratuity, a tip, or a bribe, whatever they want to call it, to get those goods off of the ship and onshore. That is a reality in the world. That is not something that is high level. Do you think that people would be sideswiped by that unintentionally?
View Barry Devolin Profile
CPC (ON)
I presume the member was not asking me the question, but rather his colleague.
The hon. member for Vancouver East.
View Libby Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
View Libby Davies Profile
2013-06-18 12:19 [p.18523]
Mr. Speaker, I hope he was not asking you the question, as I would be happy to reply to him.
This is a very important point that the member has made. It is something that I focused on in my remarks. We have to make sure there are no unintended consequences for organizations that are trying to do the right thing by getting critical aid and humanitarian assistance to people who are literally dying or who are in severe conflict. This bill came down with a heavy hand. If it zeroes in on facilitation payments, on the basis that somehow that is bribery or corruption, I think we would be going down the wrong path.
The member makes a very good point. It is something we share in terms of understanding what enforcement will mean under this bill and getting it right.
View Cheryl Gallant Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, the member opposite spoke very well. I am pleased that her party supports this legislation.
However, I am concerned about the contradiction in the bill. Companies are forbidden to pay bribes to officials, but should NGOs be allowed to pay bribes to police at checkpoints where they do the shakedowns?
Police are supposed to uphold the rules of law. Some of the NGOs are actually tasked with the job of introducing, implementing, and helping out with democratic principles in these countries. Having the law on the side of the travellers, wherein they are not allowed to pay bribes, can help to act as a shield.
Letting the employer or a government get away without paying proper wages is not our role. How can the NDP support letting the employers of the police get away without paying the proper wages?
View Libby Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
View Libby Davies Profile
2013-06-18 12:21 [p.18523]
Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if I completely understand the member's point, or maybe she misunderstood my point.
My point was that we want to make sure that NGOs and non-profits that are delivering very important aid do not get prosecuted when they are just doing their jobs. I certainly agree that we need to focus on officials who are doing the bribery, and we do need to make sure that people are getting paid properly. The NDP has a long track record of saying that when we engage in trade deals and various international treaties, at the top of the list is ensuring that we have proper labour conditions, safety and human rights.
We are now seeing more and more situations around the world, the most recent in Bangladesh, of human misery and tragedy and what happens when there are not proper standards for corporations. They can literally get away with murder.
We are the ones who have been blowing the whistle on that for years. We have said that it is completely unacceptable and cannot continue.
View Kennedy Stewart Profile
NDP (BC)
View Kennedy Stewart Profile
2013-06-18 12:22 [p.18524]
Mr. Speaker, last night I had a very interesting conversation with our colleague from Windsor, who sits in your chair occasionally. We were talking about the evolution of the Speaker's position and how it has changed over time.
I cannot help but notice that all the bills we have been debating over the last week or so are from the Senate. I would like to ask my colleague, who has been here for a long time and has great experience in these matters, if she has noticed that change over her tenure in the House. Whereas the government should be bringing forward bills to the House, they seem to be bringing forward partisan bills through the Senate or through private members' business.
I wonder whether the member would care to comment on that and the dangers of going that route.
View Libby Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
View Libby Davies Profile
2013-06-18 12:23 [p.18524]
Mr. Speaker, there has been a very dramatic shift in this place. I tried to outline that at the beginning of my remarks. In some ways, we need to account for and look at that. However, certainly in the last three weeks since we have had these midnight sittings, I do not think I have ever seen so many bills at one time come through from the Senate.
We have had no explanation from the government as to why this is happening. I would be fascinated to hear what the Speakers think about it, but I am sure they are probably not allowed to give their thoughts on the matter. One has to ask why the government itself is not introducing its own legislation in the House of Commons. To me, it diminishes the role of the House of Commons. It diminishes the role of members who are elected to come to this place.
The government has been introducing legislation in the Senate, which itself is mired in scandal and corruption. We have begun the process with those people, who are not elected and are not accountable, and then say, “Oh well, we kind of have to go back to the House of Commons.”
The proper way to do this is to have legislation in the House of Commons. That is our primary responsibility, to debate and examine legislation and to represent our constituents. We need to talk about these things more and keep bringing them forward, so that Canadians can understand how much has changed under the Conservative government.
View Matthew Kellway Profile
NDP (ON)
View Matthew Kellway Profile
2013-06-18 12:25 [p.18524]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for Vancouver East for the benefit of her years of experience in this House in being able to talk about those issues.
I will be splitting my time with my friend from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord.
I rise today in the House to support Bill S-14, an act to amend the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, and I do so for a number of reasons.
The bill would make four main changes to the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. I will elaborate on a bit on these changes.
Bill S-14 would increase the maximum sentence of imprisonment applicable to the offence of bribing a foreign public official from five to 14 years. It would eliminate an exception for so-called “facilitation payments”, whereby foreign officials are paid to expedite the execution of their responsibilities. It would create a new offence for falsifying or concealing books or records in order to bribe or conceal bribery of a foreign official. It would also establish nationality jurisdiction that would apply to all the offences under the act so that Canadian nationals could be prosecuted for offences committed overseas.
Having noted my support for the bill, I want to take a moment to comment on the process by which this bill comes before us in this House.
It is of concern that we get to this place by way of a 2011 report from Transparency International. That organization ranked Canada as the worst of all G7 countries with regard to international bribery with “little or no enforcement” of the scant legislation that exists in this country on these matters. This is to say that Canada needed to be named and shamed publicly, internationally, for our lax legislation and approach to these issues of corrupting public officials in other countries.
I also want to comment on the timing of the bill, which reflects a curious pathology of the current government. The Conservatives have been in power through a minority and now a majority government since 2006. It seems to elude them that they have been here seven years and that all that they do, now that they have been in power so long, is really an indictment of their own conduct as a government. Implicit in this kind of legislation is an indictment of what they have failed to do over the previous seven years in government.
I note that earlier today the parliamentary secretary justified Bill S-14 on the basis of the fact that we are a trading nation. Well, we were a trading nation as well when the Conservatives came to power in 2006. In fact, we have always been a trading nation. We have always been a very open economy, with goods coming and going to and from this country to other places around the world. When did dawn break over Marblehead? When did the Conservative government realize that we have always been a trading nation? The issues that the bill is meant to address existed in 2006 just as well as they exist in 2013.
It seemed to have taken a series of national embarrassments, largely in the extractive industry, to get the Conservative government to recognize that it needed some legislation such as the bill that we have before us. However, it is still not clear, after all of this, that the Conservatives embrace this legislation.
We had Bill C-300 before in this House. It was a bill that would have required extractive companies receiving government support to meet certain standards. As well, it would have established a system for issuing and assessing complaints against such companies. The government saw fit to whip that vote and defeat that legislation.
We had as well the spectacle of the foreign affairs minister introducing Canadian firms to the transition government in Libya before the United Nations could even assess the needs of post-conflict Libya. Among the companies that our minister of foreign affairs took to Libya, according to media reports, was SNC-Lavalin, a company whose contracts are now being investigated in 10 different countries. It is a company that has been banned from bidding on World Bank projects for 10 years. This is a government that only very recently saw fit to take SNC-Lavalin back into Libya to introduce it to a transition government.
We know too that to date there have only been three convictions on these matters. Since 1999, I would cite the Hydro Kleen group being fined $25,000 in January 2005; Niko Resources Ltd. was fined in 2011 because its subsidiary in Bangladesh had paid for a vehicle and travel expenses for a former Bangladeshi state minister; Griffiths Energy International was fined $10 million in January 2013 after it agreed to pay a $2-million bribe to the wife of Chad's ambassador to Canada, and so on. There have been only three convictions since 1999.
All of this seeming reluctance on behalf of the government to bring forth legislation like this is confirmed by the source of this bill, and that is the Senate. The Senate is an institution with an enormous legitimacy deficit—
View Barry Devolin Profile
CPC (ON)
Order. The hon. member for Burlington is rising on a point of order.
View Mike Wallace Profile
CPC (ON)
View Mike Wallace Profile
2013-06-18 12:32 [p.18525]
Mr. Speaker, there has been consultation among the parties and I believe it is possible that you could find unanimous consent for the following motion:
That Bill S-15, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act and to make consequential amendments to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, be taken up at the report stage later today.
View Barry Devolin Profile
CPC (ON)
Does the hon. member have unanimous consent to propose the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): The members have heard the terms of the motion. Does the hon. member have unanimous support for the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Matthew Kellway Profile
NDP (ON)
View Matthew Kellway Profile
2013-06-18 12:33 [p.18525]
Mr. Speaker, I was in the process of commenting on the source of this legislation being the Senate and the enormous legitimacy deficit that exists in the Senate. I think that is historical, but it is particularly acute these days. In particular, the Senate really is in no position to be issuing bills on the issue of corruption, mired as it is in scandals of exactly that nature.
That said, irrespective of the source and as unfortunate as the source of this legislation is, we remain prepared to support the bill. One of the central reasons for doing so is found in the legislative history of members of this party in the House. We have long supported clear rules requiring transparency and accountability by Canadian individuals and corporations overseas.
The bill complements legislative efforts by NDP MPs to encourage responsible, sustainable and transparent management practices. I speak specifically of Bill C-323, put forward by the member for Burnaby—New Westminster, which would allow lawsuits in Canadian courts by non-Canadians for violations of international obligations, and Bill C-486, from the member for Ottawa Centre, which would require public due diligence by companies using minerals from the Great Lakes Region of Africa. These bills reflect the history of our party. They reflect a respect for the democratic aspirations of people in other countries and a respect for their aspirations for better labour standards and a healthier and safer environment.
We understand that effective environmental and labour standards in developing countries often depend on advocacy and activism by local populations, and it is very difficult for local people to hold their governments to account when the government has secret sources of revenue that remove the financial incentive to be accountable in the first place.
We support this legislation as well because the lack of anti-bribery enforcement in Canada has been a national embarrassment to us. I will skip to my conclusion on this point of the national embarrassment over the lack of legislation.
It is worth pointing out that in spite of our support for this bill, it is in effect totally underwhelming. One is left asking, is that all there is?
When the parliamentary secretary points to the openness of our country to international trade and puts forward this legislation as the solution to dealing with corruption issues in such an open and global environment, when Canadians take such pride in and value so highly our reputation on the international scene, the question of why the government always seems to aim so low arises. Why can the government not aspire to a leadership role, one that Canadians could justly take pride in? If it is worth putting forward such legislation, and we certainly believe it is, why not set new and higher standards internationally to ensure that Canadians overseas conduct their affairs to the highest levels of transparency and ethics?
View Deepak Obhrai Profile
CPC (AB)
View Deepak Obhrai Profile
2013-06-18 12:37 [p.18526]
Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the hon. member's response to this bill. Although that party is supporting the bill, I want to tell him quite clearly that this government has provided strong leadership not only around the world but also in Canada, and every given time the NDP opposes it.
The member talked about Canada being named and shamed internationally. The record is that the NDP leader goes overseas and has no shame in condemning Canada. What a pity. What kind of official opposition goes overseas to condemn Canada?
Most importantly, when I raised the point that three companies had been convicted, I received very strong laughter from members on the other side. They may think Canadian companies are corrupt and they may think Canadian companies are bad, but we are confident that Canadian companies are doing well. That we have few convictions for bribery speaks very well for Canada. Those members should not laugh at these things.
View Matthew Kellway Profile
NDP (ON)
View Matthew Kellway Profile
2013-06-18 12:38 [p.18526]
Mr. Speaker, I wish the parliamentary secretary across the way had listened more carefully to my speech, because my point was quite the opposite. The NDP is not arguing that we should be named and shamed. It is with regret that we note that this legislation comes forward only in response to a public report by a credible international organization that notes our lax legislation on these issues and the need for Canada to bring itself up to what the rest of the world is doing. The legislation would only put us on par with the rest of the world and in line with the practices of 36 of 39 other OECD countries.
With respect, by no means is the NDP condemning Canadian corporate conduct overseas. We know that Canadian corporations require and look forward to a consistent set of standards and consistent enforcement so that all corporations around the world can be sure that they are playing on a level playing field.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2013-06-18 12:40 [p.18526]
Mr. Speaker, one of the greatest hindrances in many countries is corruption. Until they are able to deal with that issue, economic prosperity will tend to elude them. That is why we want to see countries around the world, such as Canada, play a strong leadership role. That is why we have the United Nations Convention against Corruption. A unified grouping of countries has taken the approach that the best way to deal with corruption is to have countries like Canada being more aggressive in playing a progressive role in combatting corporate corruption. A number of countries have been taken advantage of or exploited. I have met with students in Winnipeg North in a high school setting who have even identified this as an important issue.
How much more do you feel the government could be doing? It had opportunities, such as with private members' bills, to act earlier, but it chose not to.
View Barry Devolin Profile
CPC (ON)
Order. Once again, I presume that the member is not asking the Chair the question but, in fact, would like it redirected to his colleague, the hon. member for Beaches—East York.
View Matthew Kellway Profile
NDP (ON)
View Matthew Kellway Profile
2013-06-18 12:41 [p.18526]
Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to the member that it is not just prosperity that is not shared because of corruption around the world. As I said in my speech, it goes beyond the material needs of people not being met. It goes to the democratic aspirations of people and their desire to choose the environmental standards they want to live in. It goes to fundamental issues of health and safety in the workplaces in which they work and the prospect of coming home at night after a long day's work.
I hope I made it clear that there are higher standards around the world, in terms of transparency on these matters, that Canada could adhere to. Canada could aspire to even higher standards, if the government was so willing. However, it seems quite reluctant to do even the minimum.
View Dany Morin Profile
NDP (QC)
View Dany Morin Profile
2013-06-18 12:42 [p.18526]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill S-14, An Act to amend the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.
I would like to explain to those watching at home what this bill is about. It proposes four major amendments to the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.
First, it increases the maximum prison sentence for bribing a foreign public official from 5 to 14 years. Next, it eliminates the exception for facilitation payments, where a foreign public official is paid to expedite the execution of his or her responsibilities. It also creates a new offence for falsifying or concealing books or records in order to bribe a foreign public official or hide that bribery. Finally, the last major amendment establishes nationality jurisdiction that would apply to all of the offences under the act, such that Canadian nationals could be prosecuted for offences committed overseas.
The bill is very important for fighting corruption despite what the Conservative MPs might think. In this debate, the Conservatives are siding with the companies that unfortunately are engaging in corruption. I am very proud to be Canadian, but when companies think they are above the law and want to engage in corruption in Canada or abroad, the NDP is here to go after them and make them pay for their crimes.
Our position on this bill is very clear. We will support it at third reading. We were a bit disappointed to see that in committee, our proposals to improve the bill did not get the attention we would have liked. There is always room for improvement, even if the Conservatives across the way do not think so and believe that everything they do is perfect. The NDP has long been in favour of clear rules requiring Canadians and Canadian companies working abroad to be transparent and accountable. The bill builds on the legislative initiatives put forward by NDP members with the goal of promoting responsible, sustainable, transparent management practices.
Canada's deficiencies in enforcing anti-corruption laws are embarrassing. However, it comes as no surprise since our government likes to stick with corrupt and unethical people. It is no wonder that under the Conservatives', under this Prime Minister, our country has leaned toward corruption.
As members of the New Democratic Party of Canada, we are glad that the government is finally doing something about this problem, but it is disgraceful that it took so long and that Canada had to be criticized and discredited for the government to do anything about this. Later I will get into the types of criticisms our international allies were making.
Canadians want the companies that are representing Canada to do so in a responsible and respectable manner, and Canadian companies want clear and consistent standards when it comes to international trade. Enforcing rules without loopholes will level the playing field for all companies and protect the environment, labour and human rights, something we could all be proud of.
I would like to provide some background and talk about the criticism of our international allies. In a report released in 2011, Transparency International ranked Canada as the worst of all the G7 countries with respect to international bribery. The organization pointed out that Canada rarely, if ever, enforces its negligible anti-corruption legislation. Since then, the government has been working on resolving the problem. However, since 1999, there have been only three convictions, two of the them in the past two years.
The bill is of particular importance for the mining industry, where the NDP has been and continues to be a strong advocate for accountability. Take, for example, Bill C-323 sponsored by the NDP member for Burnaby—New Westminster, which would permit persons who are not Canadian citizens to initiate legal action based on violations of international law in Canadian courts, and also Bill C-486, sponsored by the NDP member for Ottawa Centre, which requires companies that use minerals from the Great Lakes Region of Africa to exercise due diligence.
It is clear that the NDP stands up for people abused abroad and for justice. We expect Canadian companies to have good standards. We are always disappointed when we learn that Canadian companies are involved in corruption.
The political elite that benefits from corruption, particularly in countries and industries where corruption is rife, is made up primarily of men. Men will try to get away with whatever they can. Unfortunately, that is why we should never expect people and companies, even Canadians, to always do the right thing. Protocols must be put in place to ensure that everyone, individuals and companies alike, does their part by obeying Canadian and international laws.
At the same time, it is primarily women who lack government protection. That is why the NDP is very proud to be listening to women across the country. This is also why we are always actively looking to engage women during elections and consultations. We believe in the principle of equality, unlike certain other parties that prefer women to be a minority in their party.
I would like to talk about some numbers and facts that people at home might find interesting. Earlier, I mentioned that there have been three bribery convictions, and I would like to talk about that some more.
Since the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act was enacted in 1999, there have been three convictions. Hydroclean Group was fined $25,000 in January 2005 for bribing an American immigration official at the Calgary airport. Niko Resources Ltd. was fined $9.5 million in June 2011 because its subsidiary in Bangladesh paid the moving and housing costs of Bangladesh's then-minister of energy and natural resources. Finally, the third conviction involved Griffith Energy International Inc., which was fined $10.3 million in January 2013 for agreeing to pay $2 million to the wife of Chad’s ambassador to Canada and to allow her and two other individuals to buy shares at a reduced cost in exchange for support for an oil and gas project in Chad.
Naturally, I hope that the Conservatives will condemn these acts and continue to flush out other companies or individuals involved in bribery. It tarnishes our international reputation. The Conservative government has done enough to tarnish it over the past seven years. This needs to stop.
Transparency International's 2011 bribe payers index ranks the oil and gas industry fourth and the mining industry fifth in the list of sectors most likely to engage in bribery. In addition, the mining and oil and gas industries are ranked second and third in the list of sectors most likely to give major bribes to high-level public officials and politicians. Bill S-14 is particularly relevant to those sectors.
To conclude, I would say that, unlike the Conservatives, the NDP is listening to the people. When the business sector tells us that Canadian companies want clear, consistent international business standards, we listen. Enforcing regulations that are free of loopholes will level the playing field for all companies.
In addition, the NDP is listening to environmental groups and task forces that want to ensure that local communities are not abused in the course of development.
Finally, we are listening to international stakeholders to ensure that Canadian companies have sound, responsible management practices.
View Ray Boughen Profile
CPC (SK)
View Ray Boughen Profile
2013-06-18 12:52 [p.18527]
Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my colleague's presentation. I have a couple of questions for him to consider.
If the member is aware of all these people who are in the corruption game and doing bad things, why is that not reported to the police so the officials can take the desirable action?
I also wonder, when he says that all this corruption is taking place in foreign countries, who made us the government of foreign countries that is going to clear up all this corruption, when it happens, wherever it happens.
The New Democrats showed us where they stood as far as the growth of Canada was concerned, and there was not any corruption. It was a trip to the U.S. to convince the Americans not become involved in engaging Canada as a working nation, which I found difficult to understand.
When it comes right down to it, I am looking at the word “convictions”, only three convictions since 1999. I wonder if the hon. member thinks we will just gather up some buddies and go and get some guys and get some convictions today because it is conviction day in the old corral. It does not work—
View Barry Devolin Profile
CPC (ON)
Order, please.
The hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord.
View Dany Morin Profile
NDP (QC)
View Dany Morin Profile
2013-06-18 12:54 [p.18528]
Mr. Speaker, I find the attitude of my Conservative colleague completely shameful. He does not really seem to think it is serious that Canadian companies are involved in corruption overseas.
He even asked what they, the Conservative government, are supposed to do. Are they supposed to play sheriff overseas?
I think that the government needs to show some backbone in the case of companies on Canadian soil that fall under federal jurisdiction, but are doing business overseas. We need to put forward legislation in Canada to protect people in other countries from Canadian companies.
If they obey the law and do not engage in corruption, they will have nothing to hide. However, because of the Conservative government's complacency, companies are currently involved in corruption and the Conservative government is washing its hands of the situation. I do not mean to insinuate anything, but I am not surprised.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2013-06-18 12:55 [p.18528]
Mr. Speaker, I was a bit disappointed in the question that was put forward by the Conservative member. He gives the impression that Canada has no role to play in combatting corruption of public servants beyond Canada's borders. Nothing could be further from the truth.
At the end of the day, there is not only a legal, but, many would ultimately argue, a moral responsibility for Canada to do what it can to combat corruption. Once all is said and done, we would like to think we should be following the advice of the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
That is one of the reasons we brought in legislation during the 1990s and acted on it. I believe it was in 1999 when Jean Chrétien was the Prime Minister. We have seen private member's bills, whether from New Democrats or Liberals, that have been brought forward to try to deal with this issue.
Does the member not agree that we could be doing a whole lot more in providing leadership on this particular issue?
View Dany Morin Profile
NDP (QC)
View Dany Morin Profile
2013-06-18 12:56 [p.18528]
Mr. Speaker, I find it rather ironic that my Liberal colleague is asking for my support and wondering if Canada can do more. Yes we can, and that is why the NDP introduced Bill C-300. That bill would have required mining companies that receive government support to comply with certain standards, but it would also have established a system for lodging and evaluating complaints against such companies.
Unfortunately, the government members voted against the bill. What people may not know is that 13 Liberal Party members, including the member who asked me the question, voted against the bill. Bill C-300 was defeated by six votes.
Yes, Canada can do more and so can the Liberals, by supporting NDP bills that are designed to strengthen these types of laws. We need to do more than just talk. We need to take action and vote the right way.
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
NDP (QC)
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
2013-06-18 12:57 [p.18528]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill S-14, An Act to amend the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. The bill talks about corruption and transparency.
I will be sharing my time with the member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert.
As an NDP member of Parliament and the proud representative of LaSalle—Émard, I want to say that it is very important to my constituents to have a transparent and corruption-free government, whether we are talking about this government or any other level of government. The same goes for all elected officials, at any level of government.
It is ironic that this bill was introduced in the Senate—a point that has already been raised—when we know very well that that place is severely lacking in transparency and ethics when it comes to corruption, for example.
However, when I see my Conservative colleagues rise in the House and say that a bill is a priority for this government, it always makes me wonder why the government did not introduce the bill itself if this was such a priority. I have asked myself that question about all of the bills that have recently come to the House.
This is not the first time this kind of bill has come up. In 1997, Canada signed the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. Canada ratified the convention in 1998. That was a while ago.
Then, there was the United Nations Convention against Corruption in 2004. This convention was ratified in 2007. That was not all. In 2008, the RCMP created an international anti-corruption unit, made up of two seven-person teams in Ottawa and Calgary. This unit focuses on detecting, investigating and preventing international corruption such as bribery, embezzlement and so on. The RCMP oversees this unit.
Canada and Canadians have been concerned about this issue for many years.
In March 2011, Canada and the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act were reviewed by members of the OECD working group on bribery. They welcomed Canada's efforts on this issue, but raised objections to the limits on the legislation's jurisdictional reach, the insufficient number of investigators working to uncover bribery of foreign public officials and the lax penalties that would be imposed upon conviction. These were the two criticisms presented.
Since we are part of this convention, it would be useful to conduct periodic reviews and evaluations on this.
They also made a list of recommendations, which is a little too long for me to read here. I would still like to talk more about some points related to the bill now under debate in the House.
Then, in September 2012, Transparency International, a non-governmental organization, released its eighth annual progress report on the enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, which I mentioned earlier. Moreover, the Transparency International board of directors is chaired by a Canadian, who indicated that Canada was in the moderate enforcement category.
This is one of the problems: despite ratifying these conventions for several years, Canada is still enforcing them only at a moderate level despite what the bill says. However, according to Transparency International, active enforcement is necessary to ensure that the legislation actually enables us to tackle this problem. We think that there are not enough resources specifically allocated to do this.
The report also made some interesting recommendations. It proposed ensuring that charges not fall under territorial jurisdiction, but rather be based on the principle of nationality. That is one of the interesting parts of this bill. In other words, any time a Canadian national bribes a foreign public official, the principle of nationality will facilitate the beginning of the legal process under the Criminal Code.
This recommendation, originally made by Transparency International, has been included in Bill S-14. The hope is that it will facilitate launching legal proceedings dealing with the bribery of foreign public officials. Clearly, whether we work here or abroad, we must always hold ourselves to the highest standards regarding ethics and transparency.
This is important for Canadian industries that operate here in Canada as well as abroad, because there is a cost involved any time Canada's reputation abroad is sullied. There is a high cost for the Canadian economy as well as the industries that operate here or abroad.
Canada also needs to show some leadership. We are a democratic nation that has ethical standards. We have established standards regarding working conditions, living conditions and the environment. It is therefore very important that we continue to lead by example, both here and abroad. It is very important to keep this in mind.
Canadians want businesses representing Canada overseas to do so in a responsible, respectable manner. Canadian companies want clear and consistent standards for international business.
View Andrew Cash Profile
NDP (ON)
View Andrew Cash Profile
2013-06-18 13:07 [p.18529]
Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague underlines the importance of Canada playing a leading role on the international stage in leading by example. Of course, we are mired in bad examples in the House of Commons and in the Senate.
Will my colleague like to comment on the ways in which Canada needs to shift focus to play that leading role, a role of an important example to the world community about how good governance on the international stage is achieved?
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
NDP (QC)
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
2013-06-18 13:08 [p.18529]
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for the question.
In fact, Canada often puts up obstacles instead of actively participating in implementing bills that tackle corruption or bills that will improve environmental standards here or elsewhere in the world. The same goes for Canada's participation in fighting climate change or banning terrible weapons such as cluster munitions.
If Canada actively addressed these issues at an international level, that would help make the world a better place.
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